This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "old", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "eald", meaning old. The word was probably used as a nickname, not necessarily implying old age, but rather used to distinguish an older from a younger bearer of the same given name. A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress, and occupation. The modern surname can also be found as Old, Ould, Aude, Olman and Oldman. Examples of the surname from London Church Registers include the marriage of Elizabeth Ault and Abraham Young on June 9th 1685, at St. Mary's, Marylebone Road, while Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander and Martha Ault, was christened on November 30th 1702, at St. Olave's, Southwark. A Coat of Arms granted to the Ault family is ermine on a chief red two griffins respecting each other silver, the Crest being a cherub's head proper wings in saltire. The Motto "Virtute et constantia" translates as "By valour and constancy". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wulfstan Ealda, which was dated 1060, in the "Old English Bynames", Kent, during the reign of King Edward, known as "The Confessor", 1042 - 1066. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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