Last name: Wallace

Is this the most famous Scottish surname? It is certainly near the top of the tree given the exposure of tradition, myth, and Hollywood, who manage to combine both. It is therefore a surprise to most people to know that for many nameholders, the origin may not have been Scottish at all, but English, Welsh or Breton! Recorded in the spellings of Wallace, Wallice, Walles, Wallis and Wallas, and first recorded in England, the surname derivation is from the Norman French word 'waleis', meaning a 'foreigner'. In England this was generally taken to mean a Welshman or a person living in the border counties of England and Wales, or a Celt from Cornwall, or a former Breton who settled in East Anglia after the Norman Conquest of 1066! Quite a range of possibilities. To add to the confusion the old 12th century British kingdom of Strathclyde, which nominally at least owed sovereignty to the king of England, extended north from the west end of what is now the English-Scottish border, upto and beyond the Clyde Valley. The inhabitants of this region were known as 'walensis', and it was here that Sir William Wallace was born. The surname is first recorded in England in the mid 12th Century (see below), and early recordings include Robert Walleis in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk, in the year circa 1168. The surname is first recorded in Scotland in 1190 when one Richard Waleis witnessed a charter relating to Kelso Abbey. Sir William Wallace (1272 - 1305), the Scottish patriot, hero of romance, and joint Warden of Scotland, (he was also known as the "Terror Anglorum"), organised the Scottish army in 1296 and for ten years kept the invading armies of Edward 1st of England at bay. He was ultimately betrayed, taken prisoner, and executed as a traitor in London on August 24th 1305. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert Waleis, which was dated circa 1156, in the "Book of Seals" of Warwickshire. This was during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, and known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2014

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll
Share |

Robert Francis Wallace
My family left County Laios (Queen) circa 1850. Believe three brothers, John (my great grandfather), Matthew and Finton all left for Windsor Locks Ct around that time. John and Finton were blacksmiths. Both John and Finton had large families. John was married to a Walsh and Finton to a Doran

Nicole McCurry
My family originates from Berkshire, England. And their last name was Wallace

Stuart Wallace
email me and I will give you instructions on how to find the family line. sd.wallace@virgin.net

Katriona Wallace
My grandfather on my father's side are Wallace but are not sure which part of Ireland they are from. They move to Carluke in Scotland at some stage as my grandmother's family marry into the Wallaces in 1951. They mostly stayed around the Lanarkshire area. How would I go about tracing the Wallaces?

Stuart Wallace
go to the Ancestry website, there are 2 ares in Scotland where the Wallace name is found Ayrshire and Dumbarton.

Walsh
Welsh or foreigner was what the Saxons called the natives after their invasion. These peoples were driven to the western extremes hence the Welsh and CornWALL. The surname Walsh was adopted by Philip the Welshman and his brother David the Welshman (it is believed David's descendants took the name to Scotland where it became Wallace). They were Welsh nobles who took part in the Cambro-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1170. They were members of the Fitzgerald family and were nephews to Strongbow who led the campaign. They settled in Ireland and the name Walsh was established there.

Ray
In answer to Josie, No! "Wallace" or "Walshe" or other similar names, were names which the French speaking Normans called the Native, Celtic Britons; as the earlier Anglo-Saxons, (the English), called them "Welles". So there may well be Wallaces in Brittany, but like all the Bretons, their origins are from these islands.

Josie
Does this mean that Wallace is a French surname, and that people who have it are partly of French ancestry?

Eamonn Wallace
In Irish the surname Wallace is de Bhailís which is usually taken to mean from Wales but it could also mean "from the walls" or from what is now Brittany which in the tradition of my family is the same root as De Gaulle...No idea if it's true but it's a good story:)