There is a process in language in which a letter migrates from one word to another. I forget what it is called. He claimed that the phrase became "atte nale" with the same meaning and thus gave the name to the family.
He made reference to William Langland's "The Vision of Piers Plowman" in which "atte nale" could be found with the meaning of at the alehouse. I have located the passage, Passus 6.114:
I have since found an example in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales". In the Friar's tale, line 1348:
Years later, while still living in Oregon, I requested and received a sheet of text from Halberts which confirmed at least part of the story and a picture which supplied the coat of arms.
Here is the important part of the text:
"The Nale Coat of Arms illustrated left was drawn by an heraldic artist from information officially recorded in ancient heraldic archives. Documentation for the Nale Coat of Arms design can be found in "Rietstap Armorial General". Heraldic artist of old developed their own unique language to describe an individual Coat of Arms. In their language, the Arms (shield) is as follows:
'D'azur al la fasce de gu., acc. de quatre equerres du meme adossees, 2 en chef et 2 en p.'
When translated this Arms description is:
'Blue; a red horizontal band with four red carpenter's squares back to back, two in the top and two in the bottom.'
Above the shield and helmet is the Crest which is described as: 'Trois pl. d'aut.; d'azur, d'or et de gu.'
A translation of the Crest description is: 'Three ostrich feathers; blue, gold and red.'
The sheet further says that the surname Nale appears to be locational in origin, and is believed to be associated with the English and Irish, meaning, 'dweller at, or near the ale-house.'" (It then suggests relationships of name with Nail, Nales and Nails.)
"Census record available disclose the fact there are approximately 300 heads of households in the United States with the old and distinguished Nale name."
(It then predicted a total of 960 people bearing the name.)