Origins of Our Family: Before Ireland
Our Waller family is descended from Wallers who lived in a small rural town in Cambridgeshire, England in the 1500s, through an army lieutenant who settled in Ireland after the English Civil War of 1642-1646. Although there are many people in England and North America with the surname "Waller", it is impossible to know the exact origin of the name. Some have proposed a Norman or Old French origin. Some Wallers are likely to be of Norman ancestry, with a possible origin being de Valer, as in from the valley . A Middle English origin is also suggested, perhaps as a derivative of walle to furnish with walls  , or an occupational name well or weallan for someone who boiled sea water , or derived from the Anglo-Norman-French word galler or gallear meaning to be festive.  Some American Wallers of Scandanavian ancestry were originally Vaaler.
The greatest proportion of American Wallers (there were 52,189 American Wallers in 1995  ) has a different ancestry than those whom we know are related to us. Some can document descent from Wallers who came to America from England in the 1600s, primarily to Virginia in Staffordshire and Surry counties. . They may have descended from Normans, perhaps from Alured de Valer (alleged to be a landowner in Kent in 1183) although claims of Waller companionship with William the Conqueror are unsupportable . Early landowning Wallers descended from Sir Richard Waller (see below).
Jonathan Wathen-Waller, an 18th Century baronet who assumed the Waller name and arms, placed a plaque on the wall of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin at Speldhurst, near Tonbridge Wells, Kent, showing a Waller descent from an Alured de Valeur who lived in the twelfth century. . (Sir Jonathan was not himself of Waller descent, but married a female descended from Sir William through his son Thomas. He took the hyphenated Waller name in purchase of the baronetcy.) Without any other proof, J. Ralph Dickey in Waller: A Family History continued to promote the idea of Norman knighthood for a common Waller ancestor. He claimed that a Waller, also named Alured de Valeur, was named in the Domesday Book in Kent. Our review of the literature revealed several mentions of Alureds and Alfreds but no Waller or de Valer   Nevertheless, some more recent history he included may be reliable, so the book may remain of interest to Waller researchers. His book is available on microfilm from the Latter Day Saints Family History Libraries. 
Notable members of the descent listed at Speldhurst include Sir Richard Waller, a soldier from the Hundred Years War who, according to family legend, was knighted for capturing the Duke of Orleans at Agincourt in 1415. Certainly he was a jailer of at various times of the popular Duke and his less well-known cousin John of Angouleme.  Ransom money helped to maintain his residence, styled Groombridge, the home of this family for about 200 years. The crest of the usual Groombridge Waller coat of arms (pictured here, Fig. 1)  was depicted to reflect these events.  The most commonly represented coat of arms associated with Wallers - although there are several including vastly different blazons - show a black (in heraldic terms, sable) shield with three walnut leaves. The crest has an oak tree with a small shield hanging from it (an escutcheon pendant) with the arms of France (three fleurs-de-lis) represented thereon. Thus Sir Richard may be the earliest reliably proven Groombridge Waller ancestor.
Sir Richard Waller's descendants included Sir William Waller (1597-1668), the soldier and parliamentarian who served as general officer in the English Civil War. He was instrumental in organizing the structure of armies (a modern approach he called the new model army) but was relieved of his command after losing a crucial battle to the royalists. His regiment was broken up in the creation of the New Model Army. Sir William himself was put in command of the army in the West (where there was little conflict). A Presbyterian and former friend of the Kings nephew, he was probably considered somewhat suspect by Cromwell, and indeed he was later instrumental in brokering the Restoration. 
His cousin Sir Hardress Waller (1604-1666) was placed over Sir William's previous regiment. Sir Hardress gained notoriety as a regicide, one of the judges who signed the death warrant of King Charles I, and later as a marauder in Ireland. He died a prisoner after the restoration . Another cousin, Edmund Waller (1606-1687), was a much-loved poet and called the poet laureate of England in the 17th century. (Years later he was scorned by critics as a literary lightweight. Nevertheless he was a good friend to politicians, eulogizing both Cromwell and Charles II.) . We most likely do not descend from this line of Wallers, unless by an ancient descent which has long-since been forgotten. There is another possible descent from this family, also unlikely, but which will be discussed in the section Wallers in Ireland.
Our ancestors can be traced to the area of Bassingbourne, Cambs., England. Several Wallers are known to have lived nearby in Ashwell, Herts. and in Kneesworth as well. This family was known by the peculiar appellation "Warren alias Waller", which appeared both in wills and recorded pedigrees. We do not know the exact circumstance for the alias - but they adopted the Waller (or the Warren) name for reasons that are lost. The use of an alias did not have the nefarious connotation that contemporary usage would suggest. They claimed descent from the Warrens of Poynton (in Cheshire) and were granted arms reflecting the Warren checked blue and gold shield and a similar crest as the Warren family (Fig. 1) . The Warrens of Poynton were a family descended from the knight Sir Edward Warren, believed to be the illegitimate son of the eighth Earl of Warenne.
The late Antonia Waller wrote a monograph
 on our ancestry, arguing for a Warren
descent for the Wallers of Bassingbourne and Ashwell, but her work does
not in our opinion justify that conclusion, as it requires undocumented
genealogical connections. Likewise, she postulates reasons for the alias
 that seem quite unlikely. We believe
the most likely origin of the alias is that the family was of the name
Waller and someone began to assert with or without justification that
they were of Warren descent. The use of the alias asserts that, to them,
both names were acceptable surnames.
Children of William Warren alias Waller :
Descendents of William Warren alias Waller  and Elizabeth Hammond:
Five brothers who lived in the early 1500s were William  (the eldest), Thomas (who has no record of a will), John, Richard, and Anthony. The proposed connection with the Warrens suggested that they were descended from William Warren of Kneesworth, born in 1499. Further theory suggested that he was a grandson of Sir Laurence Warren (Lord Stockport). Again, we have no evidence to support this theory.
John gave his name as John Waller of Ashwell in his will dated 11th January 1566.  A grandson Robert became mayor of Bedford in 1603. Richard was known in his will as "Richard Warren als Waller," dated 28th March 1557. Richard was a Bassingbourn churchwarden in 1534/6. Anthony Waller of Kneesworth was born about 1510 and had a will dated 22nd January 1556. William Warren alias Waller  married Maud (or Maude) in about 1524. His children were William , Edward, Richard, Henry and John. Edward and Richard married daughters of Thomas Snagg, and John married Catherine or Katherine Lawrence. Henrys circumstances are unknown. William  married Elizabeth Hammond, who according to the researches of Antonia Waller was the daughter of William Hammond (of Much Monden) in 1550. William Hammond was the son of Christopher Hammond of the Hamonds of Yorkshire, an armigerous family . According to the Visitations of Cambridgeshire in 1619, Christopher Hammond descended of the Hamonds of Yorkshire. His son William Hamond "of Much Monden" in Herts. had a son William (m. Isabel Sherman of Litlington in Cambs.) whose son William (m. Margarett Brett of Norff.) had a son John Hamond of Wivelingham, Cambs., alive in 1619 and married to Elizabeth Faige.
The elder William Waller  was the grantee of arms in 1572.  It is noteworthy that, in the1634 Heralds Visitation of Herts., the family was listed as Waller alias Warren in all three generations. Williams will was made 3 May 1599 and was proved 18 Dec 1610. His eldest son William (married to Elizabeth Hammond) predeceased him in 1610; the younger Williams children included Edward , who married Margarett, daughter of Richard Glasscock of Essex . The Glasscocks (also spelled Glascotte, Glascote and Glascott) were an armigerous family (that is, they possessed a coat of arms) with a member who move to Ireland in the early 1600s; a female offspring years later married a Jocelyn. Their son, Richard Warren Waller  of Bassingbourn acquired Cully Castle (originally of the Ryan family, later rebuilt and renamed Castle Waller) and surrounding lands in the vicinity of Newport, County Tipperary, Ireland. The total grant was 1195 acres, including 614 acres of "profitable land plantation measure". The following table (Fig. 2) is copied from the Visitation of Hertfordshire, 1634  :
The description of the coat of arms (the blazon) in the pedigree of Fig. 2 suggests that there was a sixth (previously unknown) grandson of Lawrence Warren (of Poynton) who sired the Warren alias Waller family . This is supported by the "bordure" (a mark of differencing of arms from a parent) as well as the fleur-de-lis (in English Heraldry, a mark of differencing among children often given to a sixth son).  We cannot verify any of this, but a herald was sufficiently convinced of the pedigree as to grant Warren-based arms to this Waller family. (Or it was recorded and given official approval as may happen to long-used assumed arms. Heralds could legitimize arms that were informally adopted and used for several generations.) Whether of true Warren descent or not, the Waller arms of subsequent generations have been based on this pattern. In a later generation, Richard  dropped the alias and called himself Richard Warren Waller.
The Warrens of Poynton have a controversial descent. They once were argued to be from Reginald, a supposed nephew of the first Earl Warenne. This was asserted by Watson , whose work since has been criticized as being unconvincing and a likely fabrication (It may have been done to establish a certain ancestry for his sponsor .) That assertion likely is false, but some still cling to his view. The now generally accepted Warren of Poynton ancestry is found in the writing of George Ormerod  The Poynton Warrens are descended from Sir Edward Warren, a knight. Ormerod showed convincingly that Sir Edward was the illigitimate son of John, the eighth and last Earl of Warenne, by his mistress Maud of Nerford. John was a Plantagenet, descended from Hameline Plantagenet, the fifth Earl of Warenne and Surrey. The original Warenne line had long since died out, the Honour of Warenne having been given to relatives of the royal family. At present, we do not know if the "Warren alias Waller" family were Warrens who became Wallers, or (perhaps more likely) Wallers who aspired to be Warrens. If in fact the descent is from the Warrens of Poynton, then ours would be among the very few families with a male line descent from the medieval Plantagenet Kings .
Our Waller family has for many generations enjoyed using names based on old genealogy. For a century or so after Richard Warren Waller's generation , the "Warren" name was rarely used, only to reappear as DeWarrenne (sic) along with other ancient names originating from the family of the Earls of Surrey such as Gundred. Warenne names were used not only by Wallers who remained in Ireland, but also to some extent by their American cousins. It is interesting that the name "Hardress" appears in later generations  even though there is no blood relation, although Richard Warren Waller  might have served under Sir Hardress Waller in battle. (The original use of "Hardress" as a given name comes from his mother, Mary Hardress. Similarly, the name "Jocelyn" among the men in the family appeared after the marriage of a Waller to the woman Anne Jocelyn.) Sir Hardress eventually settled in Limerick, Ireland after the wars to found the line called the Wallers of Castletown.
Note: We have adopted a number/letter
code for each generation and entry in the pedigrees that follow (see
Overview), beginning with (1) *Richard Warren Waller
, the founder of the Wallers of Ireland. Each succeeding
generation is assigned alternately a number or letter, and children are
labeled consecutively although not necessarily in birth order. This makes
possible the coordination of all the various branches of the Waller descendents
of which we have knowledge. We hope that the cumbersome nature of this
system is offset by its simplicity and utility.
L. G. Pine, They Came With the Conqueror,
Evans Brothers, London, 1966. Pine does not state definitively that
the early Waller family is Norman, but does lend some credence at least
to the family legend as possibly based in fact.
Last updated: January 20, 2010