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Surname Wallace - Meaning and Origin

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Understanding the Significance of My Surname “Wallace” Through iGENEA DNA Test

Obtaining the results of my iGENEA DNA test was a defining moment in my life. The connection between my surname, Wallace, and origins in the Scottish Clan Wallace was more than a fascinating revelation. It was a journey of self-discovery, weaving together the loose strings of my lineage, and appreciating the rich narrative embroidered by my ancestry.

A. Wallace

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Wallace: What does the surname Wallace mean?

The last name Wallace is of Scottish origin and is derived from a place name that was derived from the Old English word 'wael' meaning 'stranger'. Thus, those bearing the name of Wallace originally hailed from or were associated with a place of strangers; people who were likely foreign to the area.

The name Wallace itself became popular in Scotland during the reign of William the Lion (1165 – 1214) and is strongly associated with the bravery of William Wallace, a hero of the 12th and 13th century Scottish Wars of Independence. The lion rampant of Wallace is still a proud symbol of Scotland to this day.

Latterly, Wallace immigrants may be found scattered throughout the western world and the surname may be found in more than 40 countries on five continents. With as many as 53 million living bearers of the name, Wallace is amongst the most widespread surnames on earth and is also the most popular surname in Scotland.

Throughout history, Wallace has acquired various connotations; strength, courage and nobility being among them. With the range of countries and immigration, Wallace has begun to mean something a little different to each bearer of the name. Some may embrace the traditional Scottish origin, while others may find more resonance in modern global context in which the name is now found.

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Wallace: Where does the name Wallace come from?

The last name Wallace is most commonly found in Ireland and Great Britain today. It is thought to be derived from the Norman term le Waleis which means foreigner or stranger in French. The surname first appeared in Scotland in the late 12th century and since then has become a common spelling throughout the British Isles and beyond.

In Ireland, Wallace is one of the 20 most common surnames. It ranks #12 in Northern Ireland and #7 in the Republic of Ireland. As Irish migration ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries, many Irish people with the Wallace surname moved beyond the British Isles, likely being carried to the United States and Canada during the great waves of Irish immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Today, Wallace remains a fairly common surname in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In Scotland alone there are currently upwards of 45,000 Wallace records, and the name is estimated to have been held by roughly 0.7% of the country’s population.

In the United States, Wallace is the 503rd most common last name, according to the 2020 US Census. Taken as whole, the Wallace surname ranks as the 146th most common name in the world.

Variations of the surname Wallace

Wallace is a Scottish surname of Anglo-Norman origin derived from the French name, le Waleys, meaning "foreigner". It is the anglicised form of de Walles/de Valles/de Vaux/Wallis and was brought to Scotland by William le Waleis in the 12th century. The name is widespread throughout Scotland and is popular in other parts of the U.K. and Ireland as well as in Northern Ireland.

There are numerous variants and spelling variants of the name Wallace, including Walace, Wallis, Wolley, Wolle, Walleys, Walleis, Walleyse, Walis, Walys, Walisse and Wallcey. The Wallace spelling of the name is generally restricted to Scotland and Northern Ireland, while Wallis and Wallice are most commonly used in England. Variant spellings of the surname may be found in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as the Wallace family spread over the centuries.

In addition to these variants, there are also a number of surnames of the same origin as Wallace, such as Walshe, Walsh, Welch, Welsh, Walch, and Welsch. These variants are all derived from the same roots, suggesting a common ancestor.

The Wallace surname has also been used for many patronymic surnames such as Wallace-Smith, Wallace-Jones, Wallace-Davies, and Wallace-Birch. These surnames indicate that the original bearer’s father had the surname Wallace, so the surname was added as a suffix to the surname of the father.

Famous people with the name Wallace

  • Mike Wallace: American journalist and media personality
  • Chris Wallace: American journalist and media personality, son of Mike Wallace
  • David Foster Wallace: American novelist, essayist, and short story writer
  • George Wallace: American Governor of Alabama and former presidential candidate
  • Johnny Wallace: English football player
  • William Wallace: Scottish knight and freedom fighter
  • Alfred Russel Wallace: Naturalist and explorer
  • Randall Wallace: American screenwriter, director, and actor
  • Marc Wallace: British tailor
  • DeWitt Wallace: Co-founder of Reader's Digest
  • Leah Wallace: American professional wrestler
  • Gwendolyn Wallace: American Grammy-award winning singer
  • Edward Wallace: American actor
  • Mike Wallace Jr.: American investigative journalist, son of Mike Wallace
  • Chauncey Wallace: American actor, comedian, and musician
  • William A. Wallace: American Major General
  • Lila Wallace: Co-founder of Reader's Digest
  • Chris Wallace-Crabbe: Australian poet
  • Lorenzo Wallace: American writer
  • Summer Wallace-Minger: American actress

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