The Whale surname was derived from a nickname for (no surprise) a person of large girth who “rolled” as they walked, according to the Internet Surname Database. Charles Bardsley, author of A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, wrote a bit more poetically: “probably affixed like Oliphant, i.e., the elephant, on account of the ponderous and ungainly build of the bearer.”
House of Names links the surname to a family that lived in Berwickshire at Le Whele after migrating to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. Interestingly, they link the occurrence of the name as perhaps being derived from someone who lived in Wales.
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