The Origin of the Surname Ballenger

There are many spelling variations of the name Ballenger: Ballinger, Bellenger and Bellinger, Baranger are a few. The name itself bears a strong resemblance to the French word "boulanger", meaning "baker", pointing us to France as a possible starting point. Following are three of the current theories for the source of the Ballenger surname; all of them dovetail together rather well.

From Germany...

In ninth century southwestern Germany, near the Black Forest, a town was founded by an upper class family by the name of "Ballo". They named their town Bellingen. Residents were known as Bellingers. Over the next two centuries, these "Bellingers" migrated south into what would become France, establishing themselves in Picardy.

to Northern France...

The Bellengers became Knights of Facomberg in Picardy (northeast of Normandy), their name likely blending with that of the French Boulanger family, who were chevaliers (knights) of Hainaut and Flanders. It was from northwestern France that a wave of emigrants set out for America between 1650 and 1800. A wave of a different sort set out for England around 1066 - an invasion wave!

to the Middle of England...

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invaded England in 1066 AD. After defeating the Anglo-Saxons at the battle of Hastings, William began to introduce Norman (French) customs and government into the country, giving away land to aristocratic families from France who would govern the country. The Bellenger family was granted land by William in Nottingham, England. Establishing themselves in England, early emigrants to America are found arriving in New York at the end of the 17th century.

to America.

That is the tale of the Ballenger name (as I see it). By no means is this research conclusive; it merely draws upon existent sources to create a plausible story. Most of that tale lies so far back in time that it seems a bit out of reach - the immediate pertinence to this researcher is where his ancestor(s) left Europe from; England or France. In America, the variations of Ballinger and Ballenger seem to have been used interchangeably up until 1900. An example: Thomas Wood used the name Ballinger when he enrolled in the Confederate States Army, 9th Missouri Infantry. Yet most of the census records list the name Ballenger - this spelling remains consistent to current times.

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