Gale Surname Genealogy

The most likely explanation for the Gale surname is that
it was a nickname for a cheerful or boisterous person.
The root may have been either the Old English
gal or the Norman name Geil, both of
which had that
meaning.  It has also been suggested that
Gale could have been an occupational name for a jailer, deriving from
French word gaiole. Gayle is a
spelling variant of the name today

Gale Resources on

Gale Ancestry

Early Gale sightings were in Yorkshire and the west

Gales at Scruton in north Yorkshire (in what was then
dated back to around 1500 and possibly earlier.  Oliver Gale of Scruton had two sons who both made their
mark in York –
James as a merchant there and George by trade a goldsmith who was its
mayor in
1534 and again in 1549.

George was the great great grandfather of that noted
antiquarian Thomas Gale, born in Scruton in 1636, who himself had two
antiquarian sons Roger and Samuel.  It was Roger
who built Scruton
Hall which stood from 1705 to 1988.  However,
in 1795 the direct Gale male line died out.

Other Gale lines from Scruton were:

  • John Gale who established the Gale family in
    Jamaica.  He had arrived with the first English colonists in 1655.
  • Miles Gale, another antiquarian whose
    son Christopher was Chief Justice of North Carolina in the early 1700’s.
  • whilst
    later Gale lines in Yorkshire were to be found at Bedale, Whitby and

The Gales of Whitehaven in Cumbria were possibly related
as they shared similar coats of arms.  From Robert Gale came his
grandson John Gale who grew
up in Whitehaven where
he was employed as Sir
John Lowther’s steward from 1677 to 1707.
In this capacity he did tobacco business with Lawrence
Washington in
Virginia.  He was the father of Colonel
George Gale who settled in Maryland

West Country
.  The west country Gales have been more
numerous and remain more numerous.  The
first appearances seem to have been in south Devon.

William Gale, according to
the Visitations of Devon, was living in
Dartmouth in the mid/late 1400’s.  His
descendant John Gale, born in Crediton in 1516, was a Devon MP in the
1540’s.  The Devon origins of Theophilus Gale are
uncertain.  He became vicar at
Kingsteignton in 1620 and married Bridget Walrond as his second wife
two years
later.  His church had the following
dedication to them.

lieth Theophilus Gale, doctor of divinity and vicar of Kingsteignton,
Bridget his wife who both departed this life in the month of May 1639.”

son, born in 1628, was the famous Puritan theologian Theophilus Gale

The Gale surname subsequently spread eastward to
Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire. 

Gales were recorded in the Wiltshire village of Lacock
from the late 1500’s.  They were
carpenters in the 19th century.   John
Gale built the camera obscura for Fox Talbot’s research into
photography in the
1840’s.  Another Wiltshire family, based
in Cliffe Pypard, began with the birth of Richard Gale in 1603.

The main base
for the Gales in Dorset seems to have been the village of Powerstock.  The first Gale marriages appeared there in
1657.  John Gale was recorded in 1757 and
later Gales held Knapp farm.  From
Powerstock the name looks to have spread to Loders and Bridport.  Some were involved in the rope industry in
Bridport in the 19th century and moved to Poole when the rope industry
moved to

Richard Gale who married Hannah Brown at Catherington church in
Hampshire in
1759 was the forebear of the George Gale who established his brewery at
Horndean nearby in 1847.

“Gales Brewery took its water from its own well situated
under the
brewery which was fed from the South Downs.
The yeast and local water, coupled with the local brewing style,
beers with a sparse head, quite dark in colour.”

Gales remained independent until its sale to
Fuller’s Brewery in 2005.

Isle of Man.  Gale can also be a Manx name.  It
has Irish roots here, from the Gaelic giolla meaning
“servant,” which could become Gale or Gell or Gill.
The Gale name has cropped up at Malew and

Ireland.  The Ashfield Gales of
Killabban parish in
Queens county (now Laios) supposedly began with Colonel Oliver Gale who
said to have come to Ireland at the time of Henry VIII.

But it was Anthony Gale,
more than a century later, who was the first holder of the Ashfield
estate at
the time of the Cromwellian confiscations.
A later Anthony Gale was the father of two Gales in America –
Anthony and
his younger brother Malachi – and of the Galway mayor Parnell Gale.  The Gales remained at Ashfield until 1851 when
the family was impoverished by the potato famine.

America.  Richard Gale, sometimes called Gael, arrived in
Massachusetts around the year 1640 and was one of the founders of the
town of
Watertown.  The line from his son Abraham
led to:

  • Jonathan Gale of Weston, a
    soldier in the Revolutionary War.  His
    grandson the Rev. Amory Gale was a Congregational minister at Norton in
  • and the Rev. Nahum Gale, minister
    at Westborough in the early 1800’s and his son Monroe, a
    foreman at the New York Times.

Some of the family
moved to Vermont after the Revolutionary War.
George Gale, born there in 1816, was a pioneer settler, judge,
legislator in Wisconsin

Colonel George Gale from Whitehaven,
active in the trade of Virginian tobacco, had married George
grandmother, the widow Mildred Washington, in 1700.
Although she died of typhoid the
following year, he did cross to America and started his Tusculum
plantation in Kent county, Maryland.  His
descendants George and son Levin Gale were Maryland Congressmen

The line from Christopher Gale, the Chief Justice of
North Carolina in 1703, became Gayle later in the century and led to
Gayle, the Governor of Alabama from 1831 to 1835.  His
home in Greensboro, Alabama still stands

IrishAnthony Gale of the Ashfield Gales arrived in 1798 and applied for
joined the US Marine Corps.  He was
briefly in 1820 its Commandant before being dismissed.

George Gale had been a captain of the
Dragoons and came to America in 1799.  He
moved around a lot with his family – first to Baltimore, then to
Virginia and
the Ohio River Valley, and finally to Missouri in 1840.
He left behind in Washington county,
Ohio a remarkable succession of Gale doctors – his son George
Washington, his
grandson George Thomas, and his great grandson George Hays Gale.

Major John Gale who arrived in 1655 was the
forebear of the Gale plantation-owning family of St. Elizabeth
parish.  Gale’s Valley sugar estate in
Trelawney appeared around the year 1800.
The Gayle spelling is also to be found in Jamaica, as with the
Chris Gayle.

Canada.  John and Mary Gale were married at Bridport in Dorset in
1768 and later settled in western Newfoundland.  They are believed
to be the ancestors of the Gales of Codroy and White Bay.

There were two notable Gale arrivals in Australia from the west country
in the year 1853:

  • John Gale from
    Cornwall came on the American Lass initially
    as a Methodist missionary.  He settled at
    Queanbeyan, NSW and was there
    at various times a
    clergyman, printer,
    journalist and MP.  He was also known for
    promoting Canberra as the new federal capital.  He
    died in 1929 at the grand age of ninety eight.
  • while a Gale family from Hampshire came
    to Tasmania
    where they were farmers.  Their
    descendants held a family reunion in 1976.

Another Gale departed Australia that year.
Henry Gale had come out from Wiltshire in
1834 as a young sixteen year old in search of opportunity.
But in 1852 he and his family were baptized
into the Mormon faith and the following year they departed on the Envelop for California and from there onward to Salt
Lake valley

Gale Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Gale Names

Theophilus Gale was a 17th century English
Puritan theologian.  

John Gayle
 was the Governor of Alabama from 1831
to 1835.  

Joseph Gale
a fur trapper and pioneer settler in Oregon in the 1830’s
George Gale founded Gales
Brewery in Horndean, Hampshire in 1847.

Select Gales Today

  • 17,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Hampshire)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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