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«P.H.REANEY Litt.D., Ph.D., F.S.A. Third edition with corrections and additions by R.M.WILSON M.A. LONDON AND NEW YORK First published as A Dictionary ...»

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Richard de Bestayn 1297 MinAcctCo (Y). From Beeston (WRYorks), Bestayn 1297 MinAcctCo, a place called ‘by the stone’, OE bī, be and ON steinn, alternating with OE stān. (iii) Ralph de Bestune 1279 RH (C). Ralph came from The Beesons in Sutton (Carabs), Estounesende 1302, Beestoun 1348 ‘(the place) to the east of the hamlet’, in contrast to Westounesende de Sutton (PN C 239). (iv) William Besteton, Ralph Biesteton c1248 Bec (Ha); Ralph Byeston 1256 RamsCt (Hu). ‘(The man who lived) to the east of the hamlet’, OE bī ēastan tūne.

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: Gilbert Betyl’ 1248 AssBerks; John Betel 1317 AssK; William Betill 1502, John Betytt 1544 FFEss. Anglian bētel, West Saxon bītel, ‘a beetle, an instrument for driving in wedges, ramming down paving-stones, &c.’. Metonymic for a maker or user of this.

The dictionary 241

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: Beton de Wath 1379 PTY; Bete or Betune (Betryse) c1440 PromptParv; John Betoun 1311 ColchCt; Richard Beton 1327 SRDb. Beton, a diminutive of Bete (Beatrice), still used as a christian name in Cornwall in 1630 (Bardsley).

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: (i) Edwin le bege 1214 P (D); Henry Begge 1327 SRSo; Robert Begge 1503 TestEbor.

Perhaps OFr bègue, a variant of OFr béguin ‘a member of a 13th-century religious sect’.

(ii) Malcolm beg c1208–14, Malise Beg 1300 Black. Gaelic beag ‘little, of small stature’.

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: Richard Beggere 1210–11 PWi; Adam le Beggare 1275 SRWo; Adam Beggere 1314 IpmW. OFr begart, begar(d) ‘beggar’. The feminine form also appears: Avelina Beggestere 1301 FS.

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: William Belch 1185 Templars (O); William le Belch 1295 ParlR (Ess); Robert Balch 1327 SRSo; Richard le Balch 1332 SRSx. ME balche, belche, belke, from OE bælc (bælce), (i) a belch, eructatio, (ii) stomach, pride, arrogance. From this latter sense a surname could arise. cf. PRIDE. The word probably had also in ME the same meaning as OE balca ‘balk, beam, bank, ridge’, and le Balch, le Belch may have meant ‘the beam’, used metaphorically for a man of stout, heavy build. Belk was also used as a topographical term: Henry del Belk 1252 Ipm (Nt), probably ‘dweller by the bank or ridge’.

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: Thomas Belcher 1219 AssY; Richard Belecher 1274 RH (Gl); Alexander Belcher 1453 FFEss; Margaret Bewcher 1530 SIA (Sf); William Bewshawe 1539 FrY; Henry Bowschere 1575 Oxon; Henry Belsher 1662 HTEss. OFr bel(e), beu and chiere, originally ‘fair face’, later ‘fair look’, one of a cheerful, pleasant demeanour. The surname was often confused with BEAUSIRE, and in the York Plays is used as a term of address, often derogatory: Herod addresses a messenger, ‘Bewcher! wele ye be’, and when Annas orders a boy who has been bound to be brought in, the soldier announces, ‘Lo, here is the belschere broght that ye bad bring’. cf. GOACHER, GOODFAR.

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: Godfrey, Richard Beledame 1296, 1332 SRSx. AFr beledame ‘fine lady’, a derogatory nickname. ME beldam ‘grandmother’ is not recorded before c1440 and the sense ‘aged woman, hag’ not until the 16th century.

The dictionary 245

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: John Belverage 1685, Thomas Belfrage or Beveridge 1690 Black. A Scottish form of BEVERIDGE, with intrusive l as in Calmeron for Cameron and Chalmers for Chambers.

In Fife, the name also occurs as BERRIDGE: John Berrage, Berrige 1675, 1711 Black.

A dictionary of english surnames 246

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: (i) Ailuuardus filius Betti 1086 DB (Sf); Ricardus filius Bell 1279 RH (Hu); Osbertus filius Belle 1297 SRY. Bell may be a pet-form of Isabel. Bella is probably a latinization of Bele, OFr belle ‘beautiful’. v. BEAL. Bellus is a Latin form of OFr Bel ‘beautiful’, otherwise unknown as a personal-name. (ii) Seaman Belle 1181–7 ELPN; Serlo Belle 1190 P (Y). OE belle ‘bell’, probably metonymic for BELLMAN or BELLRINGER. (iii) Hugo bel 1148 Winton (Ha); Robertus bellus ib.; Robert le bel 1186–1200 Holme (Nf).

OFr bel ‘beautiful, fair’. (iv) Roger del Bel 1209 P (Nf); Robert de la Belle 1222 DBStP;

The dictionary 247 John atte Belle 1332 SRLo. The last example denotes one who lives at the sign of the Bell. This type of name is not so cotnmon as has been suggested and the other examples are unusually early. They may denote a dweller by the church or town bell or bellhouse or be metonymic for the bellman or bellringer.

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: Hamo Beler c1166 DC (L); Hamond Beler 1211–2 FFWa; John Bellars 1432 FFEss. Fr belier ‘ram’, a nickname. cf. Kirby Bellars (Lei). Sometimes, perhaps, a derivative of OE belle ‘bell’, and metonymic for a bellringer or a bell-founder.

A dictionary of english surnames 248

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: Gregory de Belassis 13th Lewes (Nf); Robert de Beleassise 1305 FrY; Peter Belassise 1351 AssL. From Belasis, Bellasis (Du), Bellasis (Nb), Bellasize (ERY), or Belsize (Herts, Nth). There was also a Jewish name which may have contributed to the surname:

Beleasez Judea 1181 P (O); Jacobus Belasez 1209 P(Ess).

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: Bussell de Bellebi, Leftham de Belleby 1202 FFY. From Belby (ERY).

Bellchamber, Bellchambers, Belchambers : Thomas Belchambre 1369 LLB G. This surname has been regarded as a corruption of Bellencombre. The family of William Belencumbre (1235 Ass) settled in Essex and has long been extinct. Their name survives in Belcumber Hall in Finchingfield and there is no evidence that the name ever took the form of Belchamber. The solitary example above (nearly 500 years earlier than the first example in NED) was earlier atte Belchambre. The bellhouse was originally a detached structure. The belfry (c1440 NED) was generally attached to the church and later (1549) was used of the room or storey where the bells were hung. This must also have been called the bellchamber. A man could hardly live in this and if he lived by the bellchamber, a more natural name would have been atte church. Hence, the surname probably refers to the keeper of the bellchamber or the ringer of the bells, often, no doubt, the same man.

The dictionary 249

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: Belet 1188 BuryS (Sf); William Belet, Belot 1086 DB (Do); Herueus belet 1130 P (O);

Adam Belot 1279 RH (Hu). Belet, which was very common, may be a nickname from a diminutive of OFr bel ‘beautiful’. Both Belet and Belot are diminutives of Bel, a pet-form of Isabel.

A dictionary of english surnames 250

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: Gilbert de Beleawe c1160 Black; Thomas de Bellew, de Bella Aqua 13th PN Ch iv 95;

John de Belewe 1274 IpmY; John Belewe 1367 FFY. From Bellou (Orne). Later examples may be from Belleau (L).

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: Ernald Belhus 1167 P (Nf); Richard de Bellus, de Bellehus 1206 P (Y), 1230 P (Ess);

Walter atte Belhous 1266 LLB C; Richard Bellus 1572 RothwellPR (Y); William Bellas 1653 FrY. From residence near a detached bell-house or tower, OE bell-hūs.

The dictionary 251

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: William de Belingham 1274 RH (Nf); John de Belyngham 1327 LLB E; Harry Belyngham 1401 Paston. From Bellingham (K, Nb), or Bellingham Fm in Highworth (W).

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: (i) John ap Elys 1513 Chirk; John Bellis 1747 Bardsley (Ch). ‘Son of Ellis.’ cf.

BOWEN. (ii) For BELLOWS, of which the regular form was bellies until the 16th century, whilst bellis, bellice are still found in the dialects (NED). cf. Ursula Bellies 1610 Bardsley.

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: Nicholas Belesmains 1210 Cur (Herts); John Belemeins 1237 Colch (Herts). OFr belle and mains ‘beautiful hands’.

A dictionary of english surnames 252

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: William Belman 1300 Crowland (C); Katerina Beleman 1327 SRC; Gilbert Belman 1398 Black. OE belle and mann ‘bellman’, in York and Scotland, used of the town-crier.

Beleman may mean ‘servant of Bele’ (v. BEAL) or it might be a hybrid, OFr bele ‘beautiful, fair’ and ME man. cf. FAIRMAN, BELLHAM. In the Denham Parish Register (Suffolk) the surname appears as Beleman, Belleman, Belliman (1585–1606), Billeman (1776), Billyman (1784) and in that of Rushbrook as Billeman and Billerman (1760, 1791). The persistent medial vo wel suggests that this is for ME beli-man, from ME beli ‘bellows’, ‘bellows-blower’. cf. BELLOW.

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: Peuerel de Belloc’ 1137 Eynsham; Bidan de Beauluc merchant of Burdeux, Bydan de Beaulok of Gascony 1305 LLB B. A dialectal form of the common French place-name Beaulieu. There seems also to have been a personal name: Gospatric filius Beloc 1163 P.

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: William Beli 1178 P (Wa); Ralph Belewe 1253 Oseney (O); John Below 1379 PTY;

John Byllow, Below, Bellow 1464–79 Oseney (O). ME beli, belu, below, from OE bel(i) 3 ‘bellows’, used only as a singular until 1400; here, metonymic for a bellows-blower. cf.

William Belymuð 1275 RH (Nf), ‘bellows-raouth’.

The dictionary 253

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: (i) Thomas Beleson 1317 AssK; John Belessone, Bellesson’ 1339, 1341 Crowland (C).

‘Son of Bele’ (v. BEAL) or of Bell(Isabel). (ii) Belsante, Belsant 1185, 1190 Oseney (O);

William Belsent, Belesent 1327, 1332 SRSx. OFr Belisant, Belisent (f), OG Belissendis.

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: Ernisms filius Bence 1175 P (Y); Ærnulfus filius Benze 1178 P (Nb); Osmund Benz 1066, 1086 DB (Db); William Bence 1279 RH (O). OG Benzo. A diminutive Benzelinus occurs in DB (O, W) and gave rise to a surname in Suffolk (Seman Bencelyn 1327 SRSf), side by side with Bence (Roger Bence 1327 SRSf), whilst the feminine Bencelina is found in Kent (1207 Cur).

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: Robert Benche 1279 RH (C); Thomas atte Bench 1327 SRSo. ‘Dweller by the terrace, bank, river-bank’, from OE benc ‘bench’. cf. Roger le Bencher 1279 RH (O).

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: Roger le Bencher 1279 RH (O); Adam le Benchere 1296 SRSx; Robert Bencher 1674 HTSf. ‘Dweller by the terrace, river-bank, or bank’, from a derivative of OE benc ‘bank’.

The dictionary 257

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: Thomas de Benedish 1315–16 FFEss; Thomas Bendissh 1393 FFEss; John Bendyssh 1450 Paston. From Bendish (Herts), or Bendysh Hall in Radwinter (Ess).

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: Goduin de Benefette 1066 DB (Herts); Robert de Benefeld c1 160–9 YCh; Jul’ de Benefelde 1296 SRSx; John Benefeld 1381 AssWa. From Benville Manor in Corscombe (Do), Benfield Fm in Hangleton, a lost Benfield in Twineham (Sx), or ‘dweller by the bean-field, or by the bent-grass field’, OE bēan/beonet, feld.

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: Beniamin 12th MedEA (Nf); Roger Beniamin 1166 P (Nf). Hebrew Benjamin ‘son of the south’, interpreted in Genesis ‘son of the right hand’, much less frequent than Adam.

The surname is also found in Berkshire, Cambridgeshire and Wiltshire before 1250.

A dictionary of english surnames 260

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: Henry de Benleia 1203 P (Lo); Adard de Benekg’ 1221 SPleas (Wo); Henry Benle 1332 SRSx. From Benley Cross in Chumleigh (D), or ‘dweller at the bee frequented wood or clearing’, OE bēo, pl. bēon, lēah.

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: Benne de Ecclesille 1246 AssLa; John son of Benne 1306 Wak (Y); Leuuinus Benne 1066 DB (Sf); Siuard Benne c1190 Gilb (L); Thomas Ben 1275 SRWo; Thomas Bennes 1524 SRSf. Whether the later Suffolk surname (1327, 1381 SRSp is identical with the DB Benne is doubtful. This Tengvik explains as a nickname ‘the plump, lumpish one’, or from OE Bynna or Beonna for the post-Conquest use of which there is no clear evidence.

The 13th-century Benne is more likely to be a pet-name of some common christian name, of Bennet rather than of Benjamin.

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: Walter de Benhala c1165 StCh; Nicholas de Benewelle 1279 RH (C); John Benhale 1379 AssEss. From Benwell (Nb), Benhall (Sf), or Banwell Fra in North Mundham (Sx).

Bennet, Bennett, Bennette, Bennetts, Bennitt, Bennitts: Beneit Kernet 12th DC (Nt);

Beneit, Benedictus Kepeherm 1193, 1200 Oseney (O); Roberlus filius Benite 1301 SRY;

Robert Beneyt Hy 2 Gilb (L); William Benet 1208 ChR (Du); Robert Benyt 1327 SRC;

Thomas Benetes 1327 SRSt. OFr Beneit, Beneoit, Lat Benedictus ‘blessed’, a common christian name from the 12th century.

The dictionary 261 Benneworth, Benneyworth, Benniworth : Roger de Benyngworda c1150 Gilb (L); Margaret de Benigwrda 1214 P (Nb); Sibilia Benigworyd 1275 RH (L). From Benniworth (L).

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: (i) Ralph Benny 1301 SRY. A dirainutive of Benn, a short form of Bennel. (ii) Hugh de Benne or Bennef c1201–7, James Beny or Bynne 1321 Black. From Bennie in Alraond (Perth).

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: Thomas Beynsskyn 1473 CantW; William Benskyn or Benchekyn 1508 CantW; Jamys Bynskyn 1525 SRSx; Edmund benchkyn 1548, benskyn 1549 StaplehurstPR (K). A diminutive of Benn, a short form of Bennet.

The dictionary 263

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: (i) John Benneson, Adam Bensome 1326 Wak (Y); Alan Benson 1332 SRCu; John Benesson 1393 FrY. ‘Son of Benn (Bennet)’. (ii) Peter de Bensinton 1208 Cur (O); Henry de Benson 1269 Oseney (O). From Benson or Bensington (Oxon).

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: John de Bentestede 1200 P (K); John de Benstede 1311 LLB D; Edward Benstede 1402–3 FFWa. From Benstead (Ha), Banstead (Sr), Benestede DB, Binstead (Wt), or Binsted (Ha, Sx), all three Benestede DB.

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: Nicholas Bent 1256 AssNb; Henry, Adam del Bent 1327, 1332 SRSt. ‘Dweller by the grassy plain, heath’, ME bent, from OE beonet ‘stiff grass’.

Bentall, Benthall, Bendall, Bendell, Bendle

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