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Professional historians used such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book (compiled in 1086 by William the Conqueror), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace Poem, the Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, the curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, tax records, baptismals, family genealogies, and local parish and church records to establish that the first record of the name "Hall", was found in Lincolnshire [England] where they were granted lands after the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The Normans were commonly believed to be of French origin but, more accurately, they were of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 AD, under their king, Stirgud the Stout. Later, under their Jarl, Thorfinn Rollo they invaded France about 940 AD. The French king, Charles the Simple, after Duke Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceded defeat and granted northern France to Rollo. Duke William who invaded England in 1066, was descended from the first Duke Rollo of Normandy. After distributing the estates of the vanquished Saxons, many nobles were dissatisfied with their lot. They rebelled. Duke William then took an army north, and wasted the northern counties. Many Norman nobles fled north and were granted lands over the border in 1070 by King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland.
Upon entering England with the Norman Conquest, the Hall's were actually "FITZ WILLIAM'S", they being settled in Greatford Hall in Lincolnshire, and being directly descended from Wentworth, Earl FitzWilliam. The younger son of this noble house, Arthur FitzWilliam, was called "Hall", to distinguish him from his senior brother. Hence Arthur Hall would be the first on record about the year 1090 AD. The line continued in Lincolnshire, and intermarried with the Crispins, and the Earls of Chester. In Cheshire [England], the Hall's were a cadet branch of the Kingsley Hall's of that county. By 1340 AD, the name had moved northward at the invitation of Earl David of Huntingdon, later to become King David of Scotland. In Scotland, they were granted lands in Berwickshire, specifically the lands of Glenryg in the barony of Lesmahagow.
The first Hall of Fulbar in Renfrewshire was Thomas de Aula [Latin] for Hall], surgeon, who for his faithful service obtained from King Robert II a grant of land in the tenement of Staneley, barony of Renfrewshire, in 1370 AD [The register of the great seal of Scotland, volume I, pages 407, and 540]. The direct line of Hall of Fulbar ceased circa 1550 AD.
The author and historian, George MacDonald Fraser, describes the activities of the Hall's for the next three or four centuries as "A large, widely-spread clan, at one time the most powerful in Redesdale [England], the Halls were well-hated and feared on both sides [of the border].". The Hall's were considered to be a clan "to whom no quarter (mercy) should be given.". Fraser listed the notorious Hall's as Eddie Hall, "the famous thief", and George of Bordupp, who served with Phillip in the Low Countries (Belgium and Holland). George of Bordupp is mentioned in 1597 by Ralph Mansfield, the Keeper of Redesdale, when he was accused of enlisting help from "a notorious thief and murderer" in his Border patrol. He justified himself by stating that George Hall was receiving recognition for his "martial experience in the Netherlands" and was being allowed to settle in Redesdale.
Author Robert Bain contends that as far back as the sixteenth century Border families were described as clans. The Scottish Parliament in 1587 passed an Act "for the quieting and keeping in obedience of the ... inhabitants of the Borders, Highlands and Isles," that contained a list of "the clans that have Captains, Chiefs and Chieftains ... as well on the Borders as the Highlands," proves Border families were described as clans.
The Hall's were one of the sixty (60) major riding families of the Anglo-Scottish border and were involved in reiving as other border clans were. During one of the "Day of Truce" occasions, a Robert Spragon "fyled" a complaint against two Halls that had rustled 120 sheep. The traditional homes of the Hall's were at Redesdale in England; East Teviotdale, and Liddesdale, in Scotland. Click here to see a Border clan map. Some notables in the Scottish East March were: John Hall of Newbigging; George Hall (called Pats Geordie there; Andrew Hall of the Sykes, and Thom Hall in Fowlscheils. Other Hall's lived in Aynstrother; Glenryg, in the barony of Lesmahagow; Garvald; Irvide; Glasgow; Sancharmvr, in Preswick; and Perth.
The village of Otterburn, known for the famous battle and border ballad of the same name, contains an old Pele tower that was owned at one time by the Umfravilles. The property passed into the possession of the Hall family. A Hall by the name of "Mad Jack Ha'" lived here and was also hung at Tyburn for his participation in the Rebellion of '15.
The border ballad "The Death of Parcy Reed" describes an incident that involved the "fause hearted Ha's of Girsonfield".
Feuding was common and was like a cancer on the border. Feuding was not limited to Scots versus English, but Scots would feud with Scots and English with English. It was very hard to establish law and order. Loyalty to the crown, whether it be English or Scottish, came second in many cases to loyalty to the family. It has been said that there were three kingdoms...Scotland, England and the Borders. Fear of starting a feud contributed to chaos in the close of the sixteenth century. Robert Carey, one of the wardens of the border marches, wrote in his memoirs: "The country dare not kill such thieves for fear of feud... If they be but foot loons and men of no esteem...it may pass unavenged, but if he is of a surname, as a Davyson, a Young, a Burne, a Pringle or Hall...then he who killed or took him is sure himself, and all his friends (specially those of his name) is like, dearly to buy it, for they will have his life, of 2 or 3 of his nearest kinsmen, in revenge."
Sir Walter Scott has reference to a "Sym Hall" in his poem "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" in Canto Third:
For so the Dwarf his part did play;
And, in the shape of that young boy,
He wrought the castle much annoy.
The comrades of the young Buccleuch
He pinch'd, and beat, and overthrew;
Nay, some of them he well nigh slew.
He tore Dame Maudlin's silken tire
And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire
He lighted the match of his bandelier,
And woefully scorch'd the hackbuteer.
By 1600 AD, many branches had developed in England and Scotland: Lord Llanover, Sir John Hall, Bishop Hall of Bristol, Bishop Hall of Wearmouth, and at the same time, continuing their interest and seats at Skelton Castle, Yorkshire, Greatford Hall in Lincolnshire, and Gravell House in Middlesex. Notable amongst the family at this time was Hall of Berwickshire.
The surname Hall contributed much to local politics and in the affairs of Scotland. During the 12th century many of these Norman families moved north to Scotland, following Earl David of Huntingdon who would become King of Scotland. Later, in the 16th and 17th centuries England and Scotland was ravaged by religious and political conflict. The Monarchy, the Church and Parliament fought for supremacy. The unrest caused many to think of distant lands.
With the union of the crown, King James dealt with the borders rather heavy handidly. The borders between the two countries of Scotland and England were abolished by renaming them as the "Middle Shires". Many families were forcibly exiled to Ireland or conscripted into military service in the Low Countries. The Halls were no exception, but none of these measures were totally effective as many borderers found ways of returning to their homeland. There was a John Hall of Elsdon, known as Long Parcies Jocke, in Northumberland that was reported to have "returned out of Ireland by what passe we know not, a ryotous liver, ill reputed and much suspected, having nothing to maintain himself with but by keeping an alehouse". This information was gleaned from a survey of "all notorious, lewde, idle, and misbehaved persons in Redesdale".
In Ireland, settlers became known as the "Adventures for land in Ireland". In Ireland, the Hall's settled in Ulster (Northern Ireland). Hall is a rare name in Connacht, well known in Munster, common in Leinster, and very common in Ulster, especially in counties Antrim and Armagh. One of the twenty most numerous names in England, and among the fifty most numerous names in Scotland, and listed by the Social Security Administration in 1964, as the twenty-fourth most common surname in the United States.
The attractions of the New World spread like wildfire. Many sailed aboard the fleet of sailing ships known as the "White Sails".
In North America, migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the family name Hall, of variable spellings of the family name included Christopher Hall who settled in Virginia in 1623; Alexander Hall settled in Virginia in 1654; Ann Hall settled in Barbados in 1660; Daniel Hall settled in Delaware in 1682; David Hall settled in Maryland in 1684; Edward Hall settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1630; George Hall settled in Nevis in 1670; and many, many more. From the port of arrival many settlers joined the wagon trains westward. During the American War of Independence some declared their loyalty to the Crown and moved northward into Canada and became know as the "United Empire Loyalists".
There were many notables of this name Hall: Sir John Hall, Director, Bank of America; Admiral Geoffrey Hall; Harold Hall, Judge; General Kenneth Hall; Professor Peter Hall, Geography; Sir Noel Hall, Principal, Brasenose College; Professor William Hall, Nuclear Physicist, and many, many more. In addition, David Hall was a partner of Dr. Benjamin Franklin in their printing establishment. The wife of Sir William Shakespeare was a Hall. Finally, the Rev. Dr. Lyman Hall, MD, DD, for whom Hall County, Georgia was named, signed the American Declaration of Independence as a delegate from Georgia.
Information on these pages is courtesy of the Clan Hall Society. Special thanks to Dana Hall.