Billem History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
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Early Origins of the Billem family
The surname Billem was first found in Yorkshire in the West Riding where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Bilham. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book,  indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands of Bilham, held by a steward of the Count of Mortain, half brother of Duke William of Normandy who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086.
Important Dates for the Billem family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Billem research. Another 82 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Billem History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Billem Spelling Variations
Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Bilham, Billem, Billam, Billame, Billom and others.
Early Notables of the Billem family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Billem Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Billem family
For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Billem or a variant listed above were: Auguste Billon, aged 32, who arrived at Ellis Island from Grenoble, in 1904; and Herve Billon, aged 49, who arrived at Ellis Island from Houlgate, in 1903..
- ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)