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This ancient surname recorded in a number of spellings including Welch, Welsh and Walsh, has two distinct sources. The first is medieval English, and the second of Irish origin. The English form of the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon (German) word "wealisc" meaning a stranger or foreigner, and this was originally given as an ethnic name to the "natives" of the lands that were being conquered. Early English examples of the surname from this source include Simon Welsche of Bedfordshire, in 1279, and Roger Welch of Colchester, Essex, in 1334. In Ireland the principle spelling form is Walsh, now the fourth most numerous surname in Ireland after Murphy, Kelly and Sullivan. It is said that it is an Anglicised translation of the Gaelic "Breathnach", meaning British, and also found in the surname Brannagh. Either way Walsh became established in all four Irish provinces soon after the Cambro-Norman Invasion of 1169 - 1170. They are claimed to descend from Philip, the Welshman, the father of the first recorded bearer of the surname, and the leading members of this family established themselves as landed gentry at Castlehowel in County Kilkenny; and at Ballykileavan in County Leix. Other examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include James, the son of Thomas and Elinor Welsh, christened at Southam, Warwickshire, on Devcember 21st 1595, whilst on June 2nd 1653, Jeane Welsh married Daniell Goldsmith at St. John the Evangelist, Dublin. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Hayden Walsh, which was dated 1170, in the "Ancient Records of Ireland". This was during the reign of Rory O'Conor, the last native High King of Ireland, 1166 - 1175.

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