This most interesting name has a number of distinct origins. Firstly, it may be a Norman locational surname, introduced into England and Scotland after the Conquest of 1066, from the place called "Bethune" in Pas-de-Calais, Picardy. The placename was recorded in the 8th Century in the Latin form "Bituinia", and is thought to be so called from an ancient Germanic personal name "Betto", from "berht", bright, famous. Secondly, it may be derived from the medieval given name "Be(a)ton", a diminutive of a short form of either the female personal name Beatrice, originally "Viatrix", meaning "traveller" or the male personal name Bartholomew, from the Aramaic "bar-Talmay", son of one rich in land. The latter applies to some extent in Scotland, where the name is found mainly in the Angus and Fife counties, but also in Skye from the mid 16th Century. Early examples of the surname recordings include Baldwinius de Betun, who may be the same as the first nameholder as shown below, and William de Bettoyne in the 1282 London rolls. Walter de Betonia was recorded in Devon in the 1273 Hundred Rolls, whilst Richard de Bettyne was Lord Mayor of London in 1399. An interesting story, but surely a fable is that 'a Dr. Beton was sitting on the upper deck of the "Florida" of the Spanish Armada when it blew up in Tobermory Bay in 1588'. He was thrown 'a good way off', but apparently lived several years after. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Baldwinus de Betton, which was dated 1195, in the pipe rolls of the county of Berkshire, during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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