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"What's the use of their having names" the Gnat said, "if they don't answer to them?"
"No use to them" said Alice,"but it's useful to the people that name them, I suppose"
"If not, why do things have names at all?"
( Alice Through the Looking Glass )

The use of surnames began with the Normans in the 12th century but took another two centuries to become widely adopted. Many of the surnames first used never became proper hereditary names and in the 13th and 14th century people could be known by two or three different names. But gradually the practice of having a fixed surname became established and by the 15th century this was widespread in England.

The origins of family names are sometimes quite easy to trace. Those which denote occupations, such as Butcher, Baker, Miller, Carpenter or Smith are obvious examples. So are those modern names which indicate geographical features (Hill, Field, Wood, Ford, Banks etc.)

Others can be less easy, especially those whose origin extends back a thousand years or more.
The name HALE falls into this last category, as it comes from the Old English, or Anglo-Saxon halh, or healh, meaning nook or hollow.

The precise meaning (and spelling) seems to depend on which part of England the individual came from, but they all have a fairly common origin.

We sometimes get asked "who were the original HALEs ?" The answer must be that there was no single family which first took the name; it emerged independently across many parts of the kingdom - they took their name from where they lived. People who lived in a halh, - which was a specialised term for for the slightest hollow which could afford shelter to a settlement, as opposed to the larger cumb or valley - could be found all over the country.

Because of it's similarity with the more modern, and totally unconnected HALL, and because the names were frequently confused with each other, some people have suggested that the derivation of the two names are the same.
They aren't. (HALL ="inhabitant of, or worker at, the HALL, or large house.") See Red dot Footnote

As far as we can assertain the origins suggested by the following sources are the correct ones: