Doyle Surname Genealogy
name Doyle is the anglicized form of the Gaelic DubhGhaill, pronounced “Du-Gall,”
which contains the elements dubh,
meaning “black” or “dark,” and gall,
meaning “stranger.” In Scotland, the same Gaelic name produced
the surname McDowell which came to Ireland and the Scots names
Dougall and MacDougall which are in fact closer in pronunciation.
- Doyle Genealogy. Doyle names in history.
- The Doyle Page. The clan Doyle.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A biography.
- The Doyle Family of Doylesburg. Doyles in Pennsylvania.
Ireland. The Doyles are to be
found along the coast of Ireland – tending to support the
view that they were originally Viking arrivals by sea. The main
cluster of Doyles was and is in SW Leinster (the counties
of Wicklow, Wexford, and Carlow). It was said that when the
Normans took possession of Wexford in the 12th century, they settled
most of the Danes in places now known as Kosslare and Ballymore where
their old pursuit of fishing.
Doyles, notably William Doyle at Girtin in Kilninor parish, were later
substantial landowners in north Wexford, that is until the Cromwellian
confiscations. Afterwards, the failure of the Jacobite rebellion
in 1690 saw many Doyles flee into exile.
During the 1798 Irish Rebellion, much of the heaviest fighting took
place in Wexford. The Doyles here were involved on
both sides. Many Doyles enlisted as United
Irishmen and took part in the
Rebellion. Others such as Sir John Doyle upheld the British
Government side. Early 19th century records for Wexford did show
a sizeable number of Protestant Doyles who had a stake in the status
quo. But the most famous Doyle
from Wexford at this time was JKL Doyle. At the age of 33 he
became the Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin and led the campaign
for Catholic emancipation in Ireland (which was finally passed in
However, there had begun the steady flow of emigration which reached a
flood in the mid-19th century at the time of the potato famine.
population of SW Leinster (Doyle country) dropped by more than 20
percent at that time, due to death or emigration.
In the 1880’s, Michael Doyle of Tagoat in Wexford was an active
Land Leaguer. This Michael was also the father of Canon
Patrick Doyle, a parish priest of Ferns and later President of the
renowned St Peter’s College in Wexford. Later the Doyles of the
area were split again in their loyalties – during the convulsions of
the Easter Rebellion and the Anglo-Irish and subsequent Treaty
England and Scotland. The
whimsically named village of Bramblestown in Kilkenny nurtured a unique
family. Between 1756 and 1856 came a dynasty of military men,
most of whom ended up settling in England. In 1911, a descendant,
Colonel Arthur Doyle, did his utmost to sort them out in his book, One Hiundred Years of Conflict: Being Some
Records of the Services of Six Generals of the Doyle Family.
John Doyle was the Irish forefather of a generation of Doyles who were
to contribute greatly to the artistic and literary world in
London. Foremost among these Doyles was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the
creator of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.
But most Doyle immigrants were poor and came with little of their
advantages. They headed for the industrial towns of Lancashire or
to Glasgow. The lives of few were recorded. Dan Doyle,
son of an Irish immigrant, did become Scotland’s first
footballing superstar in the 1890’s.
America. Perhaps the first Doyles to reach America had
been indentured servants from Ireland, John Doyle into Maryland in 1677
and Edmund Doyle into Pennsylvania in 1683.
Doyles of more
substance came later:
- Edward Doyle bought land in Bucks county,
Pennsylvania in 1730 in what is now called Doylestown.
- and around the
same time Dennis Doyle arrived from Ireland. He settled in
Albemarle county, Virginia and, before his death, had amassed an
estate along the Moorman
river where he grew tobacco. His son John fought in the
Revolutionary War and later moved to Kaskaskie in Illinois where he had
been granted 400 acres of frontier land.
The main influx of Doyles came in the mid-19th century after the potato
famine. The statistics show
that most Doyles settled in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania on
the Eastern Seaboard. Their best known legacy is probably
their bars. Doyle’s Cafe is an institution
in Boston. John Doyle, father and son, have run bars in
Philadelphia since the 1930’s. Mike Doyle once famously ran
twenty bars in that town, including Slainte
which is the first sign visitors see greeting them on leaving the train
A number of Doyles ventured further afield. John Doyle from
Wexford settled in Iowa. As did Bobbie Doyle
who had entered the country via Canada. Dennis Doyle, born in
Kilkenny, reached Minnesota in 1856 and gave the name of Kilkenny to
the village in which he settled.
state legislature and for forty one years dispensed justice in the
village and town of Kilkenny. He lived to see his little claim
grow and become a thriving little city and the country which, when he
arrived was the heart of a virgin forest, develop into the finest
farming country in the world.”
Robert Doyle, also from Kilkenny, settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in the
1870’s. From these roots came the Doyles who rejuvenated the
Democratic Party in Wisconsin, including Jim Doyle the Governor from
2003 to 2011.
Manville Doyle, who as a little boy had met Abraham Lincoln,
set off from Illinois for California in 1850 and became a leading
banker in the new state. Doyle Drive, built in the 1930’s to
connect with the Golden Gate Bridge, was named after a
Thomas and Mary Doyle from Boston reached San
Francisco in the early 1850’s. Thomas died soon after in a
boating accident. But Mary remained to raise a family.
Canada. A number of
Doyles came to Canada after the 1798 Rebellion failed, Arthur Doyle to
Newfoundland and Laurence Doyle to Nova Scotia. His son became a
lawyer and political figure in Halifax.
born in Newfoundland, started out as a sea captain plying the waters
between St. John and Bristol. Later he was strongly involved in
the work of the Benevolent
Irish Society which did much to alleviate the plight of poor Irish
Australia. The first
Doyle to arrive in Australia was probably Michael Doyle, convicted in
London to seven years transportation and onboard the third convict
fleet which arrived in 1791. The numbers swelled after the Irish
Rebellion of 1798, with a total of twenty Doyles being arrested, tried,
and transported to Australia between 1800 and 1806.
One of these Doyles, however, soon prospered through land holdings in
New South Wales. Andrew Doyle began accumulating land along the
Hawkesbury river in 1804. His possessions were greatly expanded
by his son Cyrus and his family moved among the elite pioneer families
of the new colony.
More Doyles arrived in the 1850’s. John Doyle was the son of
Doyle immigrants during the gold rush in Western Australia. He
became a pioneer of the timber industry in Queensland, starting his own
sawmill on the upper Mary river in the 1890’s. The present
Doyle’s Timber and Hardware stores are run by fourth generation
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
JKL Doyle, the Bishop of
Kildare and Leighlin in the early 19th century, was a church organizer,
campaigner for Catholic emancipation, and the builder of Carlow
John Doyle, better known by his
pen-name H.B, was an Irish painter and political cartoonist who came to
London in 1822 and made it in fashionable society there.
Patrick Doyle was a leading
political and business figure in Newfoundland in the first half of the
Dennis Doyle was a big game
hunter and explorer in southern Africa in the 1880’s and 1890’s.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, born in
Scotland of Irish roots, was the creator of the famous detective
Doyle founded the
Australian Broadcasting Company to provide a national wireless service
(it was taken over by the Australian Government in 1932).
Jack Doyle, known as “the
gorgeous Gael,” was a well-known boxer and playboy of the 1930’s.
PV Doyle was a larger-than-life
hotelier in Dublin in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Roddy Doyle is the teacher
turned author who has written such books as The Commitments.
Jim Doyle is the present
Governor of Wisconsin.
- 32,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 45,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 65,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)
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