The surname of WALD was a locational name 'at the weald' from residence near a wood or waste land. After the extensive clearances of forests in England before the Norman Conquest, the Old English term WEALD also came to denote open uplands and waste land brought into cultivation. The name could also have meant an occupational name for someone whose job was connected with wood, such as a woodcutter or lumber merchant. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. In the middle ages it was customary for a man to be named after the village where he held his land: this name identified his whole family and followed him wherever he moved. It could have been his place of birth, or the name of his land-holding. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as 'de', 'atte', 'by' or 'in'. The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. The name is also spelt WALDE, WAUD, WOULD, WEALD, WALDER and WALDNER to name but a few. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Walter de la Wolde who was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Willelmus del Weld of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. William Kerry married Rose Weld at St. Mary Aldermary, London in 1656. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. A family of the name WELD trace their descent from William de Welde who was the sheriff of London in 1352. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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