Show ContentsBelle History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Belle surname arose independently from several different sources. In some instances, it comes from the Old English word "belle" meaning "bell," and was most likely an occupational name for a bell ringer. It may have also been a name for someone who lived near a bell. Belle is also known to have arisen from the English and Scottish given name Bel, which derived from the Old French "beu" or "bel," meaning "handsome." [1]

"From Le Bel, a surname which frequently occurs in Normandy." [2]

Early Origins of the Belle family

The surname Belle was first found in Dumfriesshire. "John Bell appears as a notary in St. Andrews, 1248. A family of the name appears to have been hereditarily connected with the church of Dunkeld. Master David Bell was a canon there, 1263, and William Bell appears as dean, 1329-42. William Bel, vicar of Lamberton, witnessed a charter to Coldingham Priory, 1271." [3]

At one time, the Clan Bell was well known on the Scottish West March of the Scottish and English borders. But in 1587, the Parliament of Scotland passed a statute: "For the quieting and keping in obiedince of the disorderit subjectis inhabitantis of the borders hielands and Ilis." This statute disolved the Clan status. [4]

Early references to the name in England include Ailuuardus filius Bell listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 in Suffolk; Hugo Bel who was in Winton, Hampshire in 1148; Serlo Belle listed in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in 1190; as well as Roger del Bel, who was in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk of 1209. [5]

Robert le Bell was Mayor of Bristol in 1239. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had many entries for the name typically with the Old French spelling: Nicholas filius Bele in Bedfordshire; Ralph le Bele in Cambridgeshire; and Hugh le Bel, in Oxfordshire; Thomas le Bel in Suffolk. [6]

Early History of the Belle family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Belle research. Another 268 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1069, 1340, 1350, 1463, 1528, 1587, 1587, 1603, 1896, 1590, 1618, 1577, 1668, 1640, 1648, 1562, 1607, 1647, 1711 and are included under the topic Early Belle History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Belle Spelling Variations

During the era when a person's name, tribe and posterity was one of his most important possessions, many different spellings were found in the archives examined. Belle occurred in many references, and spelling variations of the name found included Bell, Belle and others.

Early Notables of the Belle family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name during their early history was The Blessed Arthur Bell (1590-1618), also known as Francis Bell, who was a Franciscan and English martyr; Sir Robert Bell (d. 1577) of Beaupre Hall, Norfolk, Speaker of the House of Commons; William Bell (died ca. 1668)...
Another 46 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Belle Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Belle Ranking

In the United States, the name Belle is the 7,433rd most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [7] However, in France, the name Belle is ranked the 3,013rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,000 - 2,500 people with that name. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Belle family to Ireland

Some of the Belle family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 83 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Belle migration to the United States +

Gradually becoming disenchanted with life in Ireland many of these uprooted families sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships often arrived with only 60 to 70% of their original passenger list, many dying of illness and the elements, were buried at sea. In North America, early immigrants bearing the family name Belle, or a spelling variation of the surname include:

Belle Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Belle, who arrived in Virginia in 1650 [9]
Belle Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jean Pierre Belle, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1754 [9]
Belle Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Peter Belle, aged 21, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1848 [9]

Canada Belle migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Belle Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Belle U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1783 [10]

New Zealand Belle migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Belle Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William S. Belle, aged 20, a farm labourer, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875 [11]

Contemporary Notables of the name Belle (post 1700) +

  • Bernard Belle (1964-2022), American four-time Grammy Award winning composer, producer, musician and songwriter for Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston
  • Ekkehardt Belle (1954-2022), German television actor, best known for his role as David Balfour in the 1979 HTV production of Kidnapped opposite David McCallum
  • Sylvia Belle Chase (1938-2019), American correspondent for ABC's 20/20 from its inception until 1985
  • Maggie Belle Hodges, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Louisiana, 1956, 1960 (member, Committee on Rules and Order of Business) [12]
  • Donna Belle Urquhart (b. 1986), Australian gold medalist squash player at the 2010 World Team Championships
  • La Belle Otero (1868-1965), Spanish-born dancer, actress and courtesan
  • Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869-1948), American literary critic, compiler of anthologies, and poet
  • Donna Belle Mullenger (1921-1986), birth name of Donna Reed, American Academy Award and Golden Globe winning film and television actress
  • Mary Belle Stallings, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1956, 1964 [13]
  • Willie Belle Boone, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1996 [14]

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. Fraser, George MacDonald, The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers HarperCollins Publishers, 1972: Print. (ISBN13: 9780002727464)
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. 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)
  10. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  11. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, May 19) . Retrieved from
  13. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from
  14. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 12) . Retrieved from on Facebook