From the lands of Balneaves, in the parish of Kinkell, in Angus, Scotland, where a manor house existed until the 18th Century. The origin of the name is probably Norman French. The first recorded spelling suggesting such an ancestry. An interesting name bearer was Henry Balnaves (d.1579), Scottish reformer, educated at St. Andrews and at Cologne where he became acquainted with Swiss and German reformers. He was Lord of the session in 1538 and again in 1563, having, in the meantime, held the offices of Secretary of State to the Regent, and deputy-keeper of the Privy Seal, 1542. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Laurence de Balnavis. which was dated Circa 1395, Kyrknes and Louchor. during the reign of King Robert Stewart of Scotland 1371 - 1420. 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.