This interesting surname has two origins. Firstly, it is of Anglo-Saxon origin, being a name for a Celt, from the Middle English "walsche", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "waelisc" meaning foreigner. Secondly, it is of Irish origin, being a translation of the Gaelic name "Breathnach" meaning British, Welsh. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below). Further recordings include: Rose la Walesche (1277) in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset; John le Walsche (1327) in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk; and John Walshe was juror on an inquest held at Roxburgh (1360) in the Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland. Church Records show the christening of John Walshe on June 27th 1540, at St. Stephan's, Coleman Street, London, and the christening of Pierce, son of Tady and Elizabeth Walsh, on March 13th 1662, at St. Michan's, Dublin. Among the famous namebearers are the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Walsh of Waterford (died 1585), who is remembered as the man who introduced Irish type to the native printing press, and James Walsh, of Ballynacooly in Kilkenny, who commanded the ship which brought James 11 to France after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Haylen Walsh, which was dated 1170, son of "Philip the Welshman" in the "Ancient Records of Ireland", during the reign of Rory O'Connor, "Last Native High King of Ireland", 1166 - 1175. 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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