This interesting surname is locational and dialectal, being one of the many developed forms of the village names Belfield or Belford. 'Belfield' was a separate township but now forms part of Rochdale in Lancashire, whilst Belford is a small market town in Northumberland, near Berwick. It seems that a place called Bellanforda was recorded in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles for 848 a.d., and this may be the Northumberland town which appears in the rolls of 1242 as Beleford. On the other hand 'Belfield' in Lancashire is found as Belafeld in Domesday Book and later as Belafelt, a form which would clearly suggest that it is almost certainly the origin of the surnames Belfit, Bulfit, Bilfoot, Bilsford, as well as Bellfield. However it is often difficult with locational surnames to be absolutely certain of the origin, local dialect and rudimentary spelling, something which still exists in the 20th century, plus a surprising mobility of population in the late medieval period, making absolute decisions impossible. The examples of the recordings include Mary Belfelt who married James Graves at Manchester Cathedral on February 5th 1586, William Bellfellde of Rochdale on June 18th 1568, and Humphrey, the son of John and Catherine Belfit, christened at St Michaels Church, Ashton under Lyne, on April 8th 1838. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Matheary Bellfet, which was dated February 24th 1574, christened at St Stephans Church, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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