This name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from one of the places thus called in Northumberland and in Kent. The former is taken to mean "the homestead (Olde English "ham") of the dwellers at the bell, from the Olde English "belle" used in a transferred sense of a bell-shaped hill. The latter translates as "the homestead of Be(o)ra's people" - a byname meaning "bear". It is interesting to note that all the early recordings of the surname come from Norfolk county records, leading one to suspect that a small place thus called once existed in Norfolk. In his "Patronymica Britannica", M.A. Lower states that "a family of Bellinghams in Co. Sussex sprung from Belingeham, a manor near Hastings, mentioned in Domesday". One Richard Bellingham, of Sussex, was listed in the Register of the University of Oxford in 1578. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts, on a gold shield, a bugle-horn black garnished silver on a branch twisted gold and blue leaved green, and the Motto, "Ainsi il est", translates as "Thus it is". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Belingham, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.