The recent publication of the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland has brought a new explanation of the origin of the surname Walne. (Oxford University Press, 2016; available online:, accessed 15 January, 2017).

In my part of the world I am lucky enough to have access to this new work with my library card.

It is postulated that Walne is a variant of Wawne, a locative name from the parish of Wawne in Yorkshire, or potentially (wia Wawne) an English/Scottish variant of Walwyn.

The list of early bearers includes no East Anglian references though, and the name has existed in these parts since at least the mid 1500s.

Of course, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the first East Anglian Walne popped down the coast, but I am a way away from accepting that this is the single origin of the surname.

I have also been told in the past that Walne could have come from ‘Walloon’ – particularly in the East. Alternatively, many of those bearing the name have no doubt been to Walney Island and had their photo taken with the sign…another possible origin. (In case you’re wondering, I haven’t, yet…) The origins of the name ‘Walney Island’ also appear to be shrouded in mystery.

My ‘old aunts’ insisted that an ancestor had been knighted at Crecy and the original ‘de Walney’ appeared with Willy the Conk. [The College of Arms wrote in 2013 to say there was no date of a grant made to a Walne in Brockdish. Several of my ancestors, particularly in Pulham Market and Brockdish, used a coat of arms on their tombstones.  The arms were attributed to Walne/Wolney in Blomefield and Papworth and appear to have been used by my family in Norfolk from around about the 16th century. It remains to be seen whether these were officially granted at an earlier stage, or whether they were simply used by one branch of the family without official authorisation].

I hope that one day further evidence will come to light through my study so that I can draw my own conclusions.

So…on with the research.



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