I had the same issue with the Malvern. I couldn't get it to fit to save my life. I went with the Loake Pimlico (dark brown & dark brown suede) and got a great fit.
I wear a consistent 8.5D in AE and fit into a size 7F Pimlico . Of course, YMMV.
Regarding the Walnut: These are darker than other Walnut Jeffersons I've seen. It didn't happen over time, that was the first day wearing them
The Brown Jeffersons look pretty dark in person as well.
I agree that it is a very very dark brown, but my experience on seeing these in person is that you can still tell that they are brown. Sort of a dark chocolate color, IMO. These put out the same impression that navy blues do in that they can look black in certain lighting. I still think it is safe to buy them if you are wanting a dark brown shoe.
May I ask how old your Strands are? I ask because they seem to be exibiting a similar amount of wear to the soles in the toe area as my AE's do. Have you found that the wear in that area has reached a sort of "plateau" and not continued to progress? I can't quite bring myself to get into the metal/plastic taps realm, and I am hoping that they will slow down as they adjust to my walking pattern.