Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2000-01 > 0947836006

From: Lesley Albertson <>
Subject: BALCH - into Somerset out of Wales?
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 18:46:46 +1100

Hi All,

Can I fly a kite here? The surname BALCH - my variant is BAULCH - is
widespread in Somerset, and is present in many villages when their
parish records begin.

Thomas Willing Balch, in Balch Genealogica (Allen, Lane and Scott,
1907), lists four division for this family:

1. The Higham-Horton-Illminster group

2. The North Curry group

3. The Bridgwater group

4. The Wells-Bruton group.

His own idea of the name's derivation is "either of Norman French or
English and not of British derivation". There's a persistent notion that
it's German - that has just come up again, on the Balch genealogy forum.

It certainly *occurs* in Germany - quite a few listings in the current
phone directory - but that's not evidence the BALCHs in Somerset have
German ancestry. I noticed with some pleasure that Thomas Willing Balch
himself was born in Germany. But his parents were *American* - father
was practising International Law there at the time. And, the family's
origins were in Somerset, UK.

Who's to say, in any case, that the name has only *one* origin, in
related languages?

But the idea I have at present is that it may be Welsh.

One well-researched book, T.J.Morgan and Prys Morgan, Welsh Surnames.
(Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1985) gives the name a Welsh

Balch = Valch = fine, proud, splendid

Along with that, Thomas Willing Balch's book includes, as a footnote on
p.1 of Balch Genealogica:

(1) Somerset, the land of the Sumorsætan, is one of the West-Saxon
shires which grew by gradual conquest from the Welsh [...]

So, why not a BALCH conquerer - or several of them - bequeathing their
name to Somerset? Or were there marauding Germans in Somerset, too, at
the time surnames were being formed?


(Melbourne, Australia)

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