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This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin (found mainly in the South of England and the Midlands), and is a topographical name form someone who lived in a valley. The name is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "vale", the Old French "val", from the Latin "vallis" a valley. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names. The surname is also common in Ireland, where it has been Gaelicized as de Bhal, now known as Wall. The name development since 1190 (see below) includes the following: Walter ate Vale (1327, Sussex), John Vale (1382, Cambridgeshire) and Nicholas Vayle (1623, Yorkshire). The modern surname can be found as Vale, Vail and Vaile. Among the sample recordings in Wiltshire are the christening of Robert, son of Edward and Susana Vale, on December 1648 at Trawbridge, and the marriage of John Vale and Olive Self on November 18th 1639 at Melksham. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wido de la Val, which was dated 1190, The Pipe Rolls of Northumberland, during the reign of King Richard 1, "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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