Belleville was originally the site of a village known as Asukhknosk, inhabited by Canada’s indigenous Mississauga peoples in the 18th century. The future location of the city was settled by Loyalists, after which it became known as Meyer's Creek after prominent settler and industrialist John Walden Meyers.
The city was renamed Belleville in honour of Lady Arabella Gore in 1816, after a visit to the settlement by Sir Francis Gore and his wife.
Belleville became an important railway junction with the completion of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1855. In 1858, the iron bridge over the Moira River at Bridge Street became the first iron bridge in Hastings County.
Belleville's beautiful High Victorian Gothic city hall was built in 1872 to house the public market and administrative offices.
In 1998, Belleville was amalgamated with the surrounding Township of Thurlow to form an expanded City of Belleville as part of Ontario-wide municipal restructuring. The city also annexed portions of Quinte West to the west.