This most interesting and unusual surname has three possible derivations, and is one of the few surnames which have retained the original spelling as found with the first recorded namebearer (see below). Firstly, it may be of Germanic origin from a personal name "Walo", from "walh", foreigner, also used as a nickname for a newcomer to an area. Secondly, it may be of early medieval origin from the Middle English "wale", good, excellent, a general laudatory expression and nickname for a good man. Finally, the surname may have been a topographical name for someone who lived near an embankment, ridge, from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "walu", a bank or ridge. The personal name appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 in Sussex as "Walo". Early examples of the surname include: Richard de Wale (the Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire, 1196); Lewin Wale (Suffolk, 1221); Hugo le Wale (the Curia Rolls of Worcestershire, 1220); and Richard le Wale (the Feet of Fees of Hampshire, 1250). Sir Thomas Wale, one of the Founder Knights of the Garter, was described as "a knight of great virtue and worthiness". He was granted a Coat of Arms, circa 1350, which depicts a red lion rampant on a gold shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Wale, which was dated 1169, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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