It is doubtful if there can be many surnames whose origins are more complex than 'Bel(l)ward'. In our opinion there are at least four possible sources, two English and two 17th century French, but there may be others. The first, and considered the most likely, is as a variant dialectal form of the Olde English 'Bull Ward', and as such occupational for a keeper of bulls. Secondly it may be a derivitive of the surname 'Bel(l)wood', a name popular in Yorkshire, and one which is believed to have derived from a 'lost' medieval Lincolnshire village of that name. Lastly, it may derive from one of two French nicknames, the first being 'Beliard' which translates as 'machine of war' but specifically describes 'a battering ram' (!), whilst the second is from 'Berard' and translates as 'the good looking one' (Beau + 'ard). The latter names are recorded as 'Huguenot refugee'. An example being Henry Belliard, who appears in the registers of the French Church, Threadneedle Street, London, on January 10th 1693. As Bulward the name is recorded as early as 1524 in East Anglia (see below), whilst Belwood is recorded in London in 1541. In 1572 Alice Bellard is recorded at St Dunstans Church, Stepney, and the unusual spelling of Belvard appears in 1705, when Thomas Belvard married Elizabeth Hutton at the church of St Katherines by the Tower, on March 2nd of that year. The first recording as Bellward may be that of Robert Bellward at All Hallows Church, London Wall on April 3rd 1716, whilst on August 21st 1732, Mary Belward married John Scarf at St. Giles Cripplegate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Bulward, which was dated 1524, the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as 'Bluff King Hal', 1510 - 1547. 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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