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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Irish

Where did the English Wales family come from? What is the English Wales family crest and coat of arms? When did the Wales family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Wales family history?

The name Wales is an old Anglo-Saxon name. It comes from when a family lived near a stone-built wall. Wales is a local surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Other types of local surnames include topographic surnames, which could be given to a person who lived beside any physical feature, such as a hill, stream, church or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. The surname Wales referred to a person who lived beside a large stone wall, which was used either for the purpose of fortification, or to keep back the encroachment of the sea. Members of the Wales family were established in Gloucestershire prior to the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066. By the time of the Conquest, they were major landholders in that county.

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Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Wales were recorded, including Wall, Walls, Wale, Walles and others.

First found in Gloucestershire where they held a family seat from very ancient times and appeared as holders of lands in the Domesday Book compiled in 1086 by King William of England. The name was from the Anglo Saxon Wal, meaning a stranger.


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Wales Early History



This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wales research. Another 267 words(19 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1210, 1620, 1679, 1647, 1728, 1588 and 1666 are included under the topic Early Wales History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Wales Early Notables



Another 129 words(9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wales Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Wales In Ireland



Some of the Wales family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 147 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Wales family emigrate to North America:

Wales Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Nathaniel Wales, who landed in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1636
  • Halbert Wales, who arrived in New Jersey in 1685

Wales Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • James Wales, who arrived in New England in 1718

Wales Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • George Wales, who landed in New York in 1820
  • John Wales, aged 64, landed in New York in 1832
  • Henry Wales, who landed in New York in 1842
  • G W Wales, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Joseph Wales, aged 34, arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1852

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  • Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales (b. 1966), American Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of the Wikipedia
  • Joseph Howe Wales (1907-2002), American ichthyologist
  • Thomas Crane Wales (1952-2001), American federal prosecutor and gun control advocate who was killed in his home, eponym of the Thomas C. Wales Foundation and the annual Tom Wales Memorial 5K Run
  • Wally Wales (1895-1980), born Floyd Taliaferro Alderson, an American film actor who appeared in over 220 films between 1921 and 1964
  • Peter Wales (b. 1928), English cricketer
  • Gary Wales (b. 1979), Scottish professional football striker
  • William Wales (1734-1798), British mathematician and astronomer


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  1. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  8. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  11. ...

The Wales Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Wales Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 18 November 2013 at 08:38.

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