Dole Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Dole Surname Meaning

The surname Dole came from France but spread to both Germany and England. The root is the Old French dole, meaning “hurtful,” from which comes the English word doleful. It was perhaps a descriptive name for someone who appeared troubled or anxious.

Dole Surname Resources on The Internet

Dole Surname Ancestry

  • from France and England
  • to America and Hawaii

The French Dole numbers are not large, around 2,000, and seem to be mainly concentrated in the Franche-Comte region of the Jura. The town of Dole was the capital of Franche-Comte until Louis XIV captured the area.

England. The Dole name is fairly rare in England. The 1881 census showed only 330 Doles and these were widely spread. Gloucestershire provided the first Dole arrival in America. But there were only 11 Doles recorded in Gloucestershire in 1881. The small village of Great Little Marsden near Nelson in Lancashire contained more Doles. The preferred spelling in the west country, particularly in Wiltshire, seems to have been Doel.

America. The forebear of most Doles in America is reckoned to have been Richard Dole from Ringworthy in Gloucestershire who came to Newbury, Massachusetts as an apprentice clerk in 1639 and later developed his own business there as a leather craftsman.

One line through Enoch Dole settled in Littleton in the 1740’s. His son Amos was among the minute-men who responded to the Lexington alarm in 1775 and was a sergeant during the Revolutionary War. Afterwards he moved to Maine. There was another Dole line that settled in Shelburne, Massachusetts.

Nathaniel Dole of the same Dole line, born in 1739 in Newport, was the father of eight children, a number of whom also moved to Maine:

  • one was Daniel Dole the silversmith
  • another was Ebenezer Dole, an early anti-slavery activist and
  • a third, the youngest, was Wigglesworth Dole, a cabinet-maker who was to be the patriarch of the Hawaii Doles.

Daniel Dole, a missionary who came to Hawaii in 1840, was the first of the Dole line in Hawaii that became so influential there – politically through Sanford Dole, the first territorial governor of Hawaii in 1900, and commercially through James Dole and his pineapples. The family history was recounted in Susan Dole Cole’s 2014 book Dole Family History.

A second Dole line began with John Dole the Quaker who married Mary Williams in Jericho, Long Island in 1688. He may have been related to the immigrant Richard Dole, but there is no linkage known. John and Mary later moved to a Quaker settlement in New Jersey. Some descendants headed west to Ohio in the 1830’s and then to Kansas in the 1890’s. Bob Dole was the US Senator for Kansas from 1961 to 1996.

The Dole name, however, has remained on Long Island. Around the time of the Civil War, John Dole began to dismantle derelict ships on Huntington beach to recover their metal hardware. Reportedly Cornelius Vanderbilt’s famous yacht, The North Star, met its demise on Dole’s Beach. More recently, a Dole family has been operating a heating oil service out of Huntington since the 1970’s.

Dole Surname Miscellany

Richard Dole, the First Dole in America.  Ringworthy near Bristol in Gloucestershire had been the residence of his grandfather, Richard Dole, and his father William had inherited the homestead there.  Afterwards William, then living in Thornbury, indentured young Richard to John Lowle, a glover of Bristol (who later gave his name to the town of Lowell in Massachusetts).

When the brothers John and Richard Lowell and their father Percival came to Massachusetts on the Jonathan in 1639, they brought young Richard Dole, aged just 17, with them as a clerk.  The Lowell family settled in Newbury and Richard Dole continued as a clerk in their employ for a time.

After his service with the Lowells, Richard entered into great activity and enterprise and built his own business.  Being a leather craftsman, he primarily made jerkins and boots for early settlers.  He married his first wife Hannah Rolfe in 1647 and they raised ten children.  He died in 1705 at the age of 83 and was buried in the Old Burial Ground in Newbury.

Reader Feedback: Doels in Wiltshire.  My mother’s family are Doels of High Wycome, Buckinghamshire. Their forebearers were from Wiltshire.  These Doels were originally Flemish weavers who had emigrated to England, but not from the Dole region in Franche-Comte, France.  The small town named Doel was located outside Antwerp. Its remnants were supposedly in danger of demolition a few years ago due to the expansion of the port of Antwerp, so I do not know if it is still in existence.

One other brief addendum.  I remember a number of years ago one of my Doel aunts had consulted one of the heraldry or genealogy companies, She later sent me a copy of their “report” which suggested that the Doel name was a derivation from the Irish name Doyle.  While I suppose that could be a possibility for some Doels or Doles. Family history and other sources supported the Flemish origins.

Jeff Ryan (

The Dole Silversmiths.  Daniel Noyes Dole was the first of the Dole silversmiths.  He had a shop in Newbury, Massachusetts around the year 1800, but it was burned out in the great fire of 1811.  He then moved to a shop on Water Street in Wiscasset, Maine.

He was particularly clever in the manufacture of silverware and spoons, noted for their long, graceful handles, and well-turned bowls tapering to a artistic point.  He hired a watchmaker to do repairing while he devoted himself to silversmithing.  He was known to be very exact in his habits so much so that people set their clocks by his movements about town.  He died in Hallowell, Maine in 1841.

His son Ebenezer carried on his father’s work.  He worked as a silversmith and engraver from 1825 to 1880 (when he was 75) from a shop on Front Street in Hallowell.   He would advertise offering watches, clocks, jewelry, silver spoons, and spectacles.

The Dole Line in Hawaii

  • Wigglesworth Dole (1779-1845), married Elizabeth Haskell
  • – Daniel Dole (1808-1878), the missionary to Hawaii, married Emily Ballard.
  • — George Hathaway Dole (1842-1912), married Clara Rowell.
  • — Sanford Ballard Dole (1844-1926), the first territorial governor of Hawaii in 1900.
  • – Rev. Nathan Dole (1811-1855), married Caroline Fletcher.
  • — Rev. Charles Fletcher Dole (1845-1927), Boston minister, married Frances Drummond.
  • — James Drummond Dole (1877-1958), the pineapple king who started the Dole Food Co.
  • — Nathan Haskell Dole (1852-1935), a Boston and New York writer and translator.
  • – Isaiah Dole (1819-1892), married Elizabeth Pearson.
  • — Edmund Pearson Dole (1850-1928), served as the first Attorney General of Hawaii

James Dole and the Pineapple.  The pineapple is believed to have originated in the verdant lowlands of Paraguay. It was carried aboard 15th and 16th century trade ships.  Christopher Columbus brought pineapples home from his travels in the New World. George Washington even grew them in his Mount Vernon hothouse.

Captain John Kidwell is credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry.  In the 1880’s he imported and tested a number of varieties and selected Smooth Cayenne for its cylindrical form and uniform texture. But it was James Dole, after whom the Dole Plantation was named, who pioneered the industry and became popularly known as the “Pineapple King.”

Dole was able to corner the pineapple market and turn it into one single mighty industry.   First, he invested in a new machine that could peel and core thirty-five pineapples every minute (before this invention each pineapple had to be peeled and cored by hand). Second, he purchased the island of Lanai and developed it into a vast pineapple plantation. It became the largest plantation in the world with over 20,000 acres devoted exclusively to growing pineapples.

Utilizing large mechanized production and importing large numbers of foreign workers who were paid at indentured servitude levels, Dole managed to reduce the price of his pineapples to such a level that it drove every other producer out of the business.  With this vast pineapple acreage at the company’s disposal, Lanai produced over seventy-five percent of the world’s pineapple crop,

However, because pineapples take two years to grow to maturity, the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the resulting decrease in demand caused Dole’s company to lose money.  James Dole was removed from its management in 1932.

Bob Dole, Hometown Boy from Kansas.  The Dole family had been living in the small town of Russell, Kansas since the 1890’s and Bob Dole was born there in the family home in 1923.

His formative years were the Depression years which severely impacted Kansas and its residents.  Dole’s father earned money by running a small creamery. As a boy Bob Dole worked as a soda jerk at the local drug store.  When times became tough the Dole family moved into the basement of their home and rented out the upper floors to transient oil workers to raise money.

Bob Dole was molded at this time by a strict, perfectionist mother, a hard-working, wisecracking father, and a sparse existence made harsher by the Depression and the Dust Bowl.  Even when he became the long-serving US Senator for Kansas and afterwards, he would still return to Russell to sleep in what was his parents’ bedroom in the red-brick house at the corner of 11th and Maple.

It was very much as they left it, with black rag dolls warming the floor and a stark white quilt stretched taut across the brass bed.  His mother’s spice bottles were lined up on the kitchen counter.  Her oversized rotary telephone, outdated 30 years ago, sat on a table in the middle of the long, narrow living room.  Her sense of order continued to permeate this small corner house.

Growing up “hardscrabble” as he liked to put it, taught Dole about regular people and their problems, he said during a recent interview.

“We got along fine in our family, but you know we didn’t have all this,” Dole said, motioning outward with his left arm, the one he’s used since getting shot up in the war. “So, I think it’s sort of, you get a little closer look at reality.”

His roots, Dole continued, help him to “know about people – whether they’ve got a disability, whether it’s a farm problem, whether it’s a veteran’s problem. And I know they’re real, I know the problem’s real because I know the people.”

Dole Names

  • Daniel Dole was the Protestant missionary who first brought the Dole name to Hawaii in 1840. 
  • James Dole, known as the “Pineapple King,'” was the man that developed the pineapple industry in Hawaii and began what became the Dole Food Company. 
  • Bob Dole was the US Senator for Kansas from 1961 to 1996 and a Presidential candidate in 1996.  He died in 2021 at the age of ninety eight.

Dole Numbers Today

  • 300 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 1,200 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 700 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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Written by Colin Shelley

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