The Polish surname of WALKOWIAK was derived from the Latin Valentinus - a name meaning 'one who was strong and healthy'. It was the name of a 3rd century Roman Saint and Martyr whose chief claim to fame is that his feast day falls on the 14th February, the date of the traditional celebration of spring going back to the Roman fertility festival of Juno Februata. A 5th century missionary bishop of Rhaetia of this name was venerated especially in Southern Germany, being invoked as a patron against gout and epilepsy. Other spellings of the name include WALLENSTEIN, VELTE, VALEK, VALASEK, WALASZCZYCK, WALASIK and WALISZEK. The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavic given names, began to give way to saint's names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families. Albrecht Wenzel Herzog von WALLENSTEIN (1583-1634) was the Bohemian general, born in Hermanice, Czech Republic. During the Thirty Years' War he became commander of the imperial armies and won a series of victories (1625-9) gaining the titles of Duke of Mecklenburg and 'General of the Baltic and Oceanic Seas'. His ambition led to his dismissal in 1630, but he was reinstated to defend the empire against Swedish attack. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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