Recorded as Wales, Wailes, Waleis, and Walis, this most interesting and unusual surname, of early medieval English origin, has a number of possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, it may be a patronymic form of the pre 7th century Old German anbd Anglo-Saxon personal name "Walo" meaning foreigner. The cognate Anglo-Norman French terms "Waleis" and the Olde English "Wealh" also denoted a foreigner or more specifically a Celt. In various parts of Britain this term was used to describe variously Welshmen, Bretons, Strathclyde Britons, and Scotsmen.Walo (without surname) appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 for Sussex, and a Ricardus filius Wales or Walis was noted in the 1175 Pipe Rolls of Berkshire. It may also be of locational origin from the country of Wales or from Wales near Sheffield in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The latter place, recorded variously as Wales and Walis in the Domesday Book of 1086, is so called from the Olde English "Walas", the Welsh, and is identical in origin with Wales, the country. Early examples of the surname include: Robert Waleis iof Norfork in the year 1169, Amicia de Wales of Suffolk, in 1327, and William Wailes of Lancshire in 1587. A notable bearer of the name was William Wales (1734 - 1798), mathematician, and astronomical observer to Captain James Cook's second voyage, 1772 - 1774. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert Waleis of Warwickshire in 1156, during the reign of King Henry 11nd , 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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