Wales History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Wales family

The surname Wales was 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. Wales is a parish, in the union of Worksop, S. division of the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill in the West Riding of Yorkshire. "This parish, in the Domesday Survey called Walise, belonged to Morcar, Earl of Northumberland, in the reign of Edward the Confessor." [1]

Early History of the Wales family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wales research. Another 134 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1210, 1303, 1352, 1620, 1679, 1647, 1728, 1588, 1666, 1760, 1789 and are included under the topic Early Wales History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wales Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Wales family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir Thomas Wale (1303-1352), an English soldier and co-founder of the Knight of the Garter; William de Wall, the knight who accompanied Strongbow; Saint John Wall, O.F.M., (1620-1679), an English Catholic Franciscan friar, apprehended under suspicion of being a party to the Titus Oates plot, was executed and later honored...
Another 55 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wales Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Wales family to Ireland

Some of the Wales family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 80 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Wales migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • Nathaniel Wales, who landed in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1636 [2]
  • Halbert Wales, who arrived in New Jersey in 1685 [2]
Wales Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Wales, who arrived in New England in 1718 [2]
Wales Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Wales, who landed in New York in 1820 [2]
  • John Wales, aged 64, who landed in New York in 1832 [2]
  • Henry Wales, who landed in New York in 1842 [2]
  • G W Wales, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [2]
  • Joseph Wales, aged 34, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1852 [2]

Australia Wales migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Wales Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Edwin Wales, aged 21, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Samuel Boddington" [3]
  • Edward J. Wales, aged 21, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Samuel Boddington" in 1849 [3]
  • Rebecca Wales, aged 20, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Samuel Boddington" in 1849 [3]
  • Samuel Wales, aged 14, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Oregon" [4]
  • John Wales, aged 28, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Nabob"

New Zealand Wales migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Wales Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Priscilla Wales, (b. 1856), aged 18, Cornish servant departing on 7th May 1874 aboard the ship "Eastern Monarch" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 22nd July 1874 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Wales (post 1700) +

  • Wally Wales (1895-1980), born Floyd Taliaferro Alderson, an American film actor who appeared in over 220 films between 1921 and 1964
  • 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
  • Joseph Howe Wales (1907-2002), American ichthyologist
  • Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales (b. 1966), American Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of the Wikipedia
  • Gideon Wales, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New York, 1872 [6]
  • George Edward Wales (1792-1860), American politician, Representative from Vermont 3rd District, 1825-29; Probate judge in Vermont, 1847-50 [6]
  • Danforth Wales, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Chenango County, 1843 [6]
  • Bradford L. Wales, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Massachusetts, 1860 [6]
  • Boyd Wales (b. 1873), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from South Dakota, 1924 [6]
  • B. Roger Wales (1879-1929), American Republican politician, Member of New York State Senate 40th District, 1925-29 [6]
  • ... (Another 14 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  3. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) SAMUEL BODDINGTON 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849SamuelBoddington.htm
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The barque OREGON, 521 tons - 1851 voyage to South Australia. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Oregon.htm
  5. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 28) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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