Show ContentsBalson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Balson family

The surname Balson was first found in Cambridgeshire at Balsham, a rural village and civil parish which dates back to Saxon times when it was known as Bellesham in 974. In 1015, Balsham was destroyed by Viking raiders and a marker on the village green commemorates the sole survivor of the attack who escaped by hiding in the parish church. By the Domesday Book of 1086, the village was known as Belesham [1] and literally meant "homestead or village of a man called Baelli," from the Old English personal name + "ham." [2] At that time, Balsham was a small village with a Mill. Other sources concur the name is: "from Balsham in Cambridgeshire, which Fuller characterizes as 'an eminent village,' and the only one in England bearing the name. " [3] [4]

Early English rolls provide us a glimpse of the spelling variations used through Medieval times. Today we typically need to look beyond the spellings of these entries and concentrate on on a phonetic sound of the entries. Pinna de Belesham was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. [1] Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands of Balsham who was a Norman noble named Hardwin of Scales who held his lands from the Abbot of Ely who was recorded in the Domesday Book. Later, Margaret de Balsham was listed in the Assize Rolls for Cambridgeshire in 1260. Years later, William Balsham was found in the Assize Rolls for Kent in 1317. [5]

Adam of Balsham (Latin: Adam Balsamiensis or Adam Parvipontanus) (c. 1100-c. 1157) was an Anglo-Norman scholastic and churchman born in Balsham, near Cambridge.

Hugh de Balsham (died 1286), a Benedictine monk was Bishop of Ely and founder of Peter-house College, Cambridge. He was born and is interred here. A brass in the church at Balsham, Cambridgeshire of the bishop can still be seen today. He "was born in the earlier part of the thirteenth century, most probably in the Cambridgeshire village from which he may be presumed to have taken his name. Matthew Paris, in the only passage where he mentions the bishop by name, calls him Hugo de Belesale, which is doubtless the reason why Fuller introduces him as 'Hugo de Balsham (for so he is truly written)' 'It was fashionable,' says Fuller, 'for clergy-men in that age to assume their surnames from the place of their nativity;' and 'there is no other village of that name throughout the dominions of England.' The bishop's supposed birthplace lies about ten miles from Camhridge and nine from Newmarket, in a pleasant neighbourhood, which justifies to this day Henry of Huntingdon's description of it, cited by Fuller, as 'amœnissima Montana de Balsham.' The village is one of those specified in 1401, in connection with a long-standing controversy between the bishops of Ely and the arch-deacons of Ely who called themselves arch-deacons of Cambridge, as under the direct jurisdiction of the bishops (Bentham's Ely, 269). At one time the place was an episcopal manor-seat, and Bishop Simon Montague from time to time abode there. The church, which has been recently restored, contains some ancient monuments, among them a small brass figure on a slab, said to be that of Hugh de Balsham." [6]

Early History of the Balson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Balson research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1260, 1317, 1523 and 1642 are included under the topic Early Balson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Balson Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Balsom, Balsam, Balsham, Balson, Ballsom, Ballsam and many more.

Early Notables of the Balson family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Balson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Balson migration to the United States +

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Balson name or one of its variants:

Balson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Balson, who settled in Maryland in 1674
  • Jahn Balson, who landed in Maryland in 1674 [7]

Canada Balson migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Balson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Balson, who settled in Canada in 1893

Australia Balson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Balson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Richard Balson, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Earl Grey" on 27th July 1838, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Anne Balson, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "Clara"
  • Miss Lavinia Balson, (b. 1839), aged 24, Cornish dressmaker departing from Liverpool on 1st February 1863 aboard the ship "Clara" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 28th April 1863 [9]
  • Miss Susan A. Balson, (b. 1843), aged 20, Cornish housekeeper departing from Liverpool on 1st February 1863 aboard the ship "Clara" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 28th April 1863 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Balson (post 1700) +

  • Robert Balson Dingle (b. 1926), distinguished British Physicist and Educator

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  7. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th August 2021). Retrieved from
  9. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from on Facebook