Recorded in the spellings of Belson and Bellson, this is an English pre-medieval surname. It is unusual in that it originates from the pre 10th century Olde French female personal name "Belisante", and is a metronymic. In other words it is the opposite of the usual patronymic, and is a (sur)name derived from the mother not the father. For centuries women were entitled to most of the same rights of property as men. This was gradually changed through the Middle Ages. As the country became more "civilised", and women, certainly those of property, came to lose their rights. Not until 1870 in England was this reversed, and since then womens rights have returned to a more Anglo-Saxon situation of equality. "Belisante" was introduced by the Norman-French invaders after the 1066 Invasion, and is unusual in that whilst it "created" the modern surname, it does not seem to have survived in any spelling as a female personal name. In view of its early introduction to the English lists, it is not surprising that the surname is an early recording. Examples taken from charters and rolls of the medieval period include John Belessone of Crowland Abbey, Cambridge, in the year 1327, and William Belsent of Sussex, in the same year. The first known recording of the name is probably that of Thomas Beleson, in the Assize Register of the county of Kent, in the year 1317. This was during the reign of King Edward 11 of England, known as "Edward of Caernafon", reigned 1307 - 1327.
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