Walters Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Walters Meaning
Walter and Walters are surnames of German origin, from
Old German name Waldhar (from wasl meaning “rule” and hari
“an army”). The Walter surname has been
common throughout Germany. Walter was
also the early surname in England and Wales.
The transition to the patronymic (“son of”) form of Walters
began in the
14th century and somewhat later in Wales.
An alternative English spelling is Waters (probably from the medieval
pronunciation of Walter as Wauter). The
current breakdown of these names in the English-speaking world is Walter 18%,
Walters 50%, and Waters 32%
the Dutch equivalent of the surname is Wouter, the French Gautier..

Walters Resources on

Walters Ancestry

There are some 90,000 in
Germany today with the surname Walter plus an additional 15,000 in
Austria and
Switzerland. An early example of Walter
appearing as a surname was Conrad Walteri in Wurzburg in 1214. The Walter name first came to England around
the time of the Norman Conquest and to America with the religious
refugees from
the Palatine that started arriving in the 1720’s.

The Walters family was a
prominent family in Pembrokeshire in SW Wales for well over two hundred
years. The first in this line was John
Walter, born in 1470, who held the title of Approver and Chancellor of
the county. He apparently adopted his
mother’s surname.

The family homes in Pembrokeshire were at
Garn and Roch castle, although the latter was burnt down during the
War. William Walters lived through this
troubled time in London. His daughter Lucy Walters
became the mistress of Charles II. Their
son James, created the Duke of Monmouth,
started an ill-advised revolt against James II in 1685 which resulted
in his

The Walters name extended
eastward into Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan.
John Walters, the 18th century cleric and scholar, was the son
of a
timber merchant from Llanedi in Carmarthenshire who died when he was
young. John moved to Glamorgan where he
was instrumental in setting up the county’s first printing press on
which was
printed his English-Welsh dictionary.
His son John was a clergyman as well and also published poetry.

England. Richard
Wartyr was a merchant in York and
recorded there as its mayor in 1436 and 1451.
A descendant was said to have been Robert Watter of Crundal,
mayor there in 1591 and 1603. He died in
1612 and the following inscription was put on his gravestone:

“Sir Richard Watter, knight, alderman and
twice lord mayor of the city. A father
to the poor, a friend to the communality of this city, and a good
benefactor to
this church of the Crux, who died May 12, 1612.”

Later Waters in England seem to have been
more concentrated in Shropshire and other English counties bordering
Wales. Waters at Ludlow date from the
1500’s and Waters from Shropshire were among the early settlers in
Virginia a
century later.

The alternative spelling
in England was Walter which, like in Wales, generally became Walters. William Walter was prominent in the affairs
of Salisbury as early as 1410; while the Walter name continued to
flourish at
bridge and at Blandford in Dorset in the 17th and 18th
centuries. An account of these and other
Walter families
in England was given in Frederick Walters’ 1907 book The Family of
of Dorset and Hants.

The name
William Walters was recorded in the subsidy toll of Staffordshire in
1327. It
was said that the illegitimate children of Walter de Elmedon, the
rector of
Weston, took the name of Walters and made their home in Pylatonhale. Staffordshire has had subsequently sizeable
Walters numbers.

Ireland. Waters was
the spelling in Ireland. The name could
either have been brought from
England or have been an anglicization of a Gaelic name.

Waters in Cork is thought perhaps to have
been derived from the Anglo-Norman name Auters.
This Waters merchant family of Cork was expelled
from the town in the 1640’s but returned and were to be found at
Tramore in the
19th century. Eaton Walters narrated the
family history in his 1939 booklet The Waters Family of Cork. A related Waters family at Newcastle in
county Limerick fled to Paris at the time of the siege of Limerick in

The Gaelic septs of O’hUisce
in Donegal
were two septs which sometimes anglicized
their name to Waters.

Walters, and Waters all came to America.
In terms of ship arrivals, the largest numbers were
Walter, coming from Germany, followed by Waters and then Walters. There were more Waters and Walter in the 1840
US Census than Walters.

However, the
largest numbers of these names in America today are Walters, suggesting
many with the surname Walter in particular anglicized their name to
Walters. There were also later families
that adopted the Walters, such as the Jewish forebears of the TV
Barbara Walters.

Waters. Edward Waters was an early arrival in
Virginia, after many adventures, in 1617.
He died in England in 1630 but left his family back in Virginia.

One line through John Waters settled in Maryland. A
Waters home there in Montgomery county, known as Pleasant Fields,
built in 1755 and was home to five generations of Waters (they lost
their home
after the stock market crash in 1929).
Another Waters home in the county over roughly the same time
period was Belmont. The
Waters line in Baltimore extended
to Francis E. Waters who operated a successful lumber business in the
late 19th

The Waters name also occurred
at an early date in Salem, Massachusetts.
Richard Waters, a gunsmith from London, was recorded there in
1637. His descendants, who moved to
carried on his gunmaking tradition. This
line was traced in Wilson Waters’ 1882 book Ancestry of the Waters
Line of
Marietta, Ohio.

Walter. The early Walters in America
from Germany
were migrants from the Palatinate who arrived in Pennsylvania in the
1700’s. Hans Conrad Walter, aged 58,
left there with his two sons Hans and Bernard in 1732.
The family settled in Northampton county and
were farmers. Jacob Walter was a
merchant miller there in the late 19th century and a charter director
of the
Easton & Northern Railroad that ran through his property.

Frederick Walter came to Philadelphia from
Germany sometime in the 1760’s. His son
Joseph was a bricklayer in the city, his grandson Thomas Walter the
famous architect who designed the dome of the US Capitol in Washington
DC in
1850 and saw it completed fifteen years later.
Thomas’s grandson Thomas was also an architect, practicing in
Birmingham, Alabama at the turn of the century.

Christian Walter, from the lower Rhine provinces of Holland, came to
America around 1780, settling first in Pennsylvania and then migrating
Tuscawaras county, Ohio. John and
Catherine Walter were another family who moved from Pennsylvania to
Ohio in the
early 1800’s, in this case to Stark county.

Fred Walter meanwhile had arrived in Ohio with his parents direct from
Germany in 1833. He was drawn to
California by the Gold Rush in 1850, prospered there as a brewer, but
then in
1868 returned to Ohio where he ran a liquor business in Richland county.

A southern Walters line
began with Robert Walters from Scotland who had come to Pittsylvania
county, Virginia
sometime in the 1740’s and later moved to Georgia.
His family was covered in Bettye Watters’
1993 book Walters, Watters, Waters.

Six of his sons remained in Georgia. But
Moses migrated south to Mississippi and
then in the 1830’s to Texas. Moses’
daughter Elizabeth Walters
had an
illicit affair while they were in Mississippi.
His son Robert lived on Walters’ Bend on the Sabine river in
Texas where
he operated a ferry.

An English
Walters family came to central Pennsylvania in the 1790’s.
A descendant was William T. Walters, born in
1820, who moved to Baltimore as a young man and made his fortune in the
and railroad businesses. He and his son
Henry became avid art collectors and their collection has formed the
basis of
the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

The Walters family of
Lunenburg in Nova
Scotia were mariners and fishermen, starting with Captain William
Walters who
died in Newfoundland sometime in the 1850’s.
His seafaring life was passed down to his son Elias and to his
grandsons, Angus and John. Angus
became famous as the man who built and raced the
Bluenose schooner
in international competitions, winning five titles in the 1920’s.

John Walter from the Orkneys, like his
father, enlisted in the Hudson Bay Company and departed for Canada. He headed for Edmonton in 1870 and
stayed. He was one of the city’s pioneers,
beginning with boat-building and expanding into lumber and other
industries. On his death in 1920 the Strathcona

is no more
progressive and public spirited citizen than John Walter.
All in all he
has probably done more for the city than an
y other of
its residents.”

Australia and New
Aaron Walters was a seaman in 1814 on the Broxbornebury
which numbered among its passengers the convict Susannah
Libemont. As the vessel was approaching Sydney, Aaron for some
jumped ship. A reward was put out for his capture. In any
case he married Susannah in Sydney a year later. He went
on to farm in St. Albans, NSW, raise a family there, and keep a
house known as The Industrious Settler Inn.

William and Catherine Walter were free settlers from the small
village of Bradworthy in NW Devon who came to Australia in 1851 and
settled in
Dunkeld, Victoria. Another William, this time Walters, came to
Zealand in 1846 with his father John, a copper miner from
William married in Auckland in 1848 and later founded the Glenora Park
Stud and
Takanini racecourse.


Walters Miscellany

Walter, Walters, and Waters Today

thousands Walter Walters Waters
UK     5    31    22
America    18    35    22
Elsewhere     7    19    15
Total    30    84    59
Percent   18%   50%   32%

Lucy Walters, the King, and Their Progeny.  Lucy Walters, mistress to King Charles II, had connections with some of the leading county families of
west Wales.  Her great grandfather
William Walter had purchased Roch Castle in Pembrokeshire in 1601 and
father William had been born there four years later.
During the Civil War Roch Castle was
taken by the Parliamentarians,
recaptured by the Royalists, and then fell once again
to Cromwell’s forces before being burnt

William and his daughter Lucy,
however, spent much of this time in London.
How Charles II, then the
young Prince of Wales, came to
meet Lucy Walters is not
known.  She was
with the exiled
court at the Hague in the summer of 1648 and subsequently in Paris.  Their
son, James, was born in
Rotterdam a year later.

In 1656 Lucy
returned to London and was arrested as a suspected spy and lodged in the
Tower.  She was later discharged
deported.  She died two years later in
at the tender age of 28.

II, who
acknowledged the paternity of James, got possession of the child. After
the Restoration James was
created the Duke of
Monmouth.  In 1685 he led a doomed rebellion
against King James II and lost his own life as a result.

The Walters of Stalbridge in Dorset.  The first Walter appeared in the parish records there in 1606.  But
their presence in the village grew when Peter Walter acquired
Stalbridge Park
in the 1690’s.  He was a scrivener (money
lender) and thereby became a wealthy man, although not a respectable
one.  Jonathan Swift wrote of him as

rogue of genuine
ministerial kind,
half the peerage
by his arts bewitch,
twenty lords to make
one scoundrel rich.”

He was a neighbor at Stalbridge of the writer
Henry Fielding who used him as a model for Peter Pounce, the rascally
in his novel Joseph Andrews..

When Peter died in 1746 he left
estates in Dorset, Somerset, and
Surrey and a fortune estimated at over
£300,000.  This
eventually went to his grandson Edward.

Edward was able to live the life
of a country gentleman,  Although he
served as the local MP for twenty years he had
little interest in Parliament.  Only the one vote recorded below was made by him over all those years in
the House.  A fellow MP wrote of him in

“Before I
left town I had a
visit from Mr. Walter, a man of near £10,000 a year in the west; not
respectable for that but for his way of living likewise, which is
generous and
open.  He
wished through me to
request your Lordship to make his sister-in-law Mrs. Cockburn
bedchamber woman
to the Queen.  He said
it was the only
request he should ever make.”

died without male issue in 1780 and the line ended there.

Edward Waters’ Adventures in the New World.  In 1610 Edward Waters, a gentleman, joined Sir
George Somers in his expedition to Virginia that was shipwrecked in the
islands.  Sir George died shortly after
reaching the islands.  His men embalmed
his body and set sail for England to bury him, leaving three men – including Edward Waters – behind.

Marooned on the
islands, the men decided
to try to
build a boat in order to reach  Virginia.  No sooner
had they made that decision than they
spied a sail standing near the shore.  This
turned out the be an
English ship
captained by Master More.  Waters departed
with More.  Later he embarked on a voyage
with More again to these waters.  But
they got lost en-route and ended up in the Canaries.

In 1617 Edward Waters did get to
Virginia.  There he married the fifteen
year old Grace O’Niiell.  A son William
and a daughter Margaret were born to them.

family was caught
in the great Indian massacre
of 1622.  Practically
all of the
white inhabitants in the area were murdered, but Edward Waters, wife, and two children were
made prisoners by the
Nandsamund Indians. During a
storm, a boat load of supplies was washed
ashore on the Nandsamund. The Indians
holding the Waters
discovered this and
became so preoccupied with looting that the Waters family
managed to make
their escape in a canoe and
crossed about 10 miles of water to an
English settlement at Kecoughtan.

that Edward’s family remained in Virginia.
But in 1630 Edward returned to England where he died.  His will was executed in part by his brother
John of Middleham in Yorkshire.

Elizabeth Walters and William Taylor.  Elizabeth Walters was born in 1814 in a part of the
Mississippi territory that later became Madison county, Alabama. She
was the
only daughter of eight children born to Moses Walters and Elizabeth
Moses later moved his family to the newly created Attala county in

Elizabeth began a relationship there with a married man
William Taylor.  As a result of this
relationship, she gave birth to two children – William Taylor in 1834
Lavina Taylor in 1836.  By the time of
the birth of the second child, Elizabeth had moved to Texas with
members of the Walters family.  There is no
evidence to indicate that Taylor accompanied Elizabeth and her family
on their
move to Texas or that he was present when Lavina was born.

After living for
three years in Texas, Elizabeth married Zachariah Bottoms in Cherokee
county.  The Walters family believed that
Bottoms was part Choctaw Indian and had traveled west from Georgia in
1831 with
his father and others on the “Trail of Tears.”

The story of
Elizabeth’s early life is an interesting one, a life in which she and
Taylor had apparently defied society’s conventions of the time. But her
is also one that illustrates how living in remote areas during pioneer
was not conventional at all.

Thomas Walter and the Construction of the US Capitol.  By the time the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter in April 1861, the US Capitol
building in Washington DC had been
under construction
for more than a decade. The new Senate and House wings remained
unfinished and its dome
rose to less than half its final height. The Civil War that would
test whether the nation would survive was a trial for the building
itself, and
also its long-suffering Philadelphia architect, Thomas Ustick Walter.

In May 1861
the project
was halted “until after the war.” Thus Walter was forced to leave his
work unfinished.  In
addition, after getting
his wife and son to the safety of Philadelphia, Walter abandoned the DC
townhouse that he had designed
and built for his family in the 1850’s.

family was numerous.  He fathered
13 children,
10 of whom were still living
at the outbreak of the Civil War. Like so
many families at this time the Walters were divided by the war.  Sons
Horace and Robert and son-in-law Martin
Harmstead joined the Union Army, but Walter’s namesake, Thomas, joined
Confederate Army in Virginia. In an angry 1862 letter to his “traitor”
son, the
architect recounted how his own views of the war and slavery had taken
180-degree turn following the outbreak of hostilities.

By the
spring of 1862, when fears of an imminent
Confederate invasion of Washington had subsided, work on the Capitol
officially restarted.  This was
good news
for Walter, not only because he was once more receiving a paycheck, but
allowed him for the next three years to continue his work unmolested by
political infighting that had harried him for much of his Washington

Apotheosis of
was the
crowning achievement for the Capitol’s
interior. Inspired
by the Panthéon in Paris, Walter designed a concave canopy to be
suspended over
the interior dome with sufficient space between to allow natural light.  Work on
the painting was
begun in 1863 by the Italian-born
artist Constantino Brumidi.  The
completed in
January 1866 and Walter, who had by now
retired, called
it a “decided

Angus Walters and the Bluenose Schooner.  In the early 1900’s, there existed a
friendly rivalry between the fishermen of the United States and Canada along the East Coast to
determine who had the
fastest boat.  This
rivalry resulted in 1920 in the
first International Fishermen’s Race being held
between the fishermen
of Gloucester, Massachusetts and those of
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Angus Walter’s
schooner broke a mast and he lost the trial for the race.

that a group of
Halifax businessmen, wanting to give Canada a better chance to win,
a racing committee. They approached a Halifax marine architect to
design a
ship. Walters was approached to be the captain and shipbuilders
Smith and
Rhuland were chosen to build Bluenose.
In March
1921 the Bluenose was

In October
1921 the
first race was held and Walters led Bluenose
to victory.  He was
now in a position to
represent Canada in the Second International Fishermen’s Race.  Bluenose won and continued to win five
international titles under Walters’ command.


Walters Names

  • Lucy Walters was a mistress
    of Charles II
    who bore him the
    ill-fated Duke of Monmouth. 
  • John Walters was a notable 18th century Welsh
    who published An English–Welsh Dictionary in
    fifteen parts
  • Thomas Ustick Walter was the architect who designed the dome of the US Capitol in Washington DC in 1850 and finished it fifteen years later.   
  • Catherine Walters, known as “Skittles,” was one of the last great courtesans of Victorian London.
  • Barbara Walters, from a Jewish family, is an American broadcast journalist and author. 
  • Julie Walters is a popular English actress.

Select Walter/Walters Numbers Today

  • 36,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Hampshire)
  • 75,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 26,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Walter/Walters and Like Surnames   

Patronymic surnames can be with either the “-son” or the shorter “s” suffix to the first name.  The “s” suffix is more common in southern England and in Wales.  Here are some of these surnames that you can check out,




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