ORIGINS OF THE MOYLE NAME
Almost certainly, the MOYLEs were Celtic in origin. By the 12th century, when surnames were coming into common usage, Celts in the British Isles were concentrated in Ireland and, on the main Isle, to the north in Scotland, the west, in Wales and the southwest in Cornwall.On the Continent, many Celts settled in Brittany and the Iberian peninsular.
MOYLE was one of a number of regional and pronunciation variations ¡V the use of surnames spread far more quickly than standardised spelling and literacy. Other variations included MOYLES, MOULES, MULES, MILES, MAULL, MULL.
There were several common sources for surnames, including place of origin; occupation, which frequently was passed from generation to generation; physical characteristics; and the father's forename .
These common sources have given rise to several suggestions about the origins of the surname MOYLE.It is known that there were MOYLEs both in Ireland and in Cornwall from the 13th century.
„X . The District of MOYLE is located in Northern Ireland, (where the Giants¡¦Causeway is located). There were periodical waves of emigration from Ireland to Wales and Cornwall over the centuries. In some parts of Wales, I am told, all immigrants from Ireland were called "Moyles", possibly referring to this District. Perhaps, our ancestors in Cornwall and Wales were given their surname because they were originally immigrants from Ireland, whether from the District of Moyle, or not.
„X . Cornish mules, which have been used as beasts of burden both above ground and in the mines, were called "moyles". Some hard-working ancestors may have earned this name for us.
„X The Gaelic word "maol" meaning "bald" may also have been a possible source of the name.
„X There were Jewish settlers and miners in Cornwall from ancient trading days. Ancient Phoenician artefacts have been found in Cornwall, suggesting trade with the Mediterranean countries before the Christian era, probably in tin and copper.Jewish "moyals" were responsible for ancient religious rites, including infant male circumcision. Perhaps there was a Jewish influence in our ancestry.
„X The following extract was taken from an Irish website dealing with sources of Irish surnames:-
"MOYLE, MOYLES, MILES
MOYLES is more numerous than the other two. Up to 1750 MOYLES hardly appeared at all while MOYLE was often met from an early date. Hugh MOYLE was a Kildare witness in 1235, two MOYLES were jurors in Waterford in 1312, two other MOYLES give a pledge at Clonmel in 1457 and MOYLES are named among the 1544 muster of kern in all parts of the country, a MOYLE of Co. Wicklow was among the men outlawed for participation in the Rising of 1641, etc. The name is derived either from the Latin miles (a soldier) or from the forename Milo. In some of the earlier instances MOYLE may be the word maol (bald, this might be expected among the kern).Birth registrations show that a century ago the name MOYLES was quite numerous in Co. Mayo but little known elsewhere, while MOYLE was already extremely rare."
The answer to why out ancestors first earned the surname MOYLE might never be known - even this brief review raises possibilities of Irish, Roman, Jewish or military influences as well as Cornish.
Nevertheless MOYLEs in Cornwall were found in both noble and yeomen families.
The MOYLEs of Bake, just to the west of the Tamar River, provided a Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, responsible in the 16th century, for trials for treason (among other things), a Speaker of Parliament in King Henry Vlll¡¦s day, and three Sheriffs of Cornwall, in 1624, 1671 and 1737, when that office, created by the Monarch, was the first and most powerful office in the Duchy. Members of this family, through marriage and inheritance, assumed a baronetcy in Yorkshire, after changing their name by Act of Parliament from MOYLE to COPLEY, and an Earldom in Kent, the Earls of Winchelsea, and were connected with many of the prominent Cornish families.
My own Cornish MOYLE ancestors from the 19th century and earlier times, always remained, so far as I can tell, among the working, yeomen, class. Their occupations were stonemasons, occasionally a blacksmith, agricultural labourers, farmers and miners.
The spread of the MOYLE name around the world, particularly the English speaking world, probably reached its peak in the first part of the 19th century, under the influence of famine, change and sometimes political and economic oppression at home and social, economic and political opportunity abroad.
LGC (Bill) Moyle
3 November 2003