Recorded in over forty spellings including Wall and Walle (English) Wall, Wallmann (German) Wahl and the ornamentals Wallenberg and Wahlberg (Swedish), it is recorded in many parts of Northern Europe. It may also have Irish origins. All nationalities are slightly different in meaning. If English or German it means a defensive wall as described below, if Swedish a grassy bank or flood barrier, and as an ornamental name 'Pasture-hill', or for something completely different the Irish translation, which derives from the ancient Gaelic 'de Bahl' and means a stranger! In Sweden ornamental surnames were introduced in the 18th century to try to obtain variety from the patronymics such as Anderssen or Tomsen which formed the overwhelming numbers in the lsist making identification very difficult. In England and Germany residential surnames were among the earliest created. Natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In England where the earliest recordings are to be found, the various early recorded forms of the name are interesting: with Alexander super le Wal appearing in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire in 1279, and a Walter ope the Walle in the Colchester Court Rolls of 1312. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere is shown to be that of Robert de la Walle, which was dated 1195, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex". Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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