A locational name derived from the 'lost' village of Belshaw or Balshaw in Lancashire. The name means 'the dweller at the fenced (bal) wood (shaw)' from pre 7th Century Olde English. Like most locational names, the original holder was either the Lord of the Manor, as in this case, or the name was given to a former inhabitant who moved voluntarily or otherwise, to another area. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Balschagh. which was dated 1311 Baines Lancashire Register (Rochdale). during the reign of King Edward 11, 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.