The surname of WATLING was a baptismal name 'the son of Walter'. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066, and Whatlingus (without surname) who was recorded in 1200 in County Durham, appears to be the first of the name on record. The name was originally derived from the Old English word Hwaetling. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Other records of the name mention Geoffrey Wateling who was recorded in the year 1273 in County Norfolk, and Thomas Whatlin of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Later instances of the name mention Abraham Watling who married Katherine Clance in London in the year of 1639 and Robert Watling was baptised at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in the year 1689. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
Ulster King of Arms 1884.
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