This surname of WALBURN is of varying origins. It was an Ashkenazic Jewish name, which according to Jewish tradition was taken from the German word WAHL meaning election, choice. The name was adopted by many people who claimed descent from Saul Katzenellenbogen (1541- circa.1617), who according to a Jewish legend was elected king of Poland for a single day at the time when Poland was an elective monarchy. The name was also a topographic name for someone who lived by a stone-wall, one used to fortify a town or to keep back the encroachment of the sea. The name was rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form VALLUM (rampart, palisade). As a Swedish surname it was a name which was applied to someone who lived by a grassy bank or grazing ground. It is also a German female personal name, composed of the elements WALD (rule) + BURG (fortress). St. WALBURGA who died in 779 was an English missionary who accompanied St. Boniface on his mission to Germany, and became abbess of Heidenheim. Her cult became very popular in northern Germany in the early Middle Ages. Her bodily remains were later transferred to Eichstatt, according to legend on Ist May, which then became to be known as WALPURGISNACHT. This is also the date of an ancient pagan fertility festival, welcoming the return of summer, and associated with witchcraft and revelry. The name is also spelt WALLBURG, WOLBURG, VALPERGA, WALPL, WABBEL, WOBBE, WOBB, WOBCKE, WOBBEN, WOBKEN and WOBBEKING. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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