Peel Surname Genealogy

The Peel surname may have had Norman origins,
deriving from the French word pel
meaning a “boundary marker.”
The name Radulphus Pele
occurred in Normandy in 1180 and Robert, son of Robert le Pele, gave
lands in
Monk Bretton, York, to the abbey there around that time.
However the name can also be topographical and describe somebody who
lived inside a palisade or piel.
From this origin developed the concept of the Peel
, a tall defensive structure which was a relatively common
feature of
the countryside in the Border country between England and Scotland.Mention should also be made of the term “peel” being used for the
long-handled paddle that was used to remove loaves from deep-bread
ovens. The Baker’s Peel in
London was the site of early Quaker meetings there in the 17th and 18th

Peel Resources on

Peel Ancestry

Peel is very much a name of northern England.

Although Peel towers are associated with the
border with Scotland, not that many Peels came from the counties there. One family that did was the Peel yeoman
family of Caldbeck in Cumberland, including
John Peel, the huntsman of D’ye
ken John Peel
fame. The Peel
name also existed in the Newcastle area, the most famous holder being
Peel, the fishwife and smuggler of the early 1800’s.

the main Peel numbers have been in
Yorkshire and Lancashire.

George Peele, the Elizabethan dramatist and contemporary
of Shakespeare, was born in London, although some think that his family
originated in Devon.

The family of Sir Robert Peel, the great Victorian
statesman, was also originally Peele.

“William del Peele was the first to take
the name of Peele in the late 1300’s; and Thomas Peele was said to have
at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Peeles
settled in west Yorkshire near Skipton.”

These Peeles were subsequently to be
found at Hole House and Peele Fold near Blackburn in
Lancashire. They became Peels by the late 1600’s.
They were
a family of yeomen farmers of middling
status who, like others in the
Lancashire hills, combined farming and domestic textile production, at
any rate
from the mid-1600’s onwards. Sir
Robert’s grandfather, known as Parsley Peel, still hawked his goods
about the
countryside and only moved into the town of Blackburn in 1750.

This Robert Peel established a calico printing firm in
Blackburn in 1764. His eldest son
Robert became a wealthy cotton merchant.
And his son Sir Robert Peel was the famous

Subsequent Peel lines were active in many directions:

  • many became politicians, like Sir
    Robert. His eldest son Robert served as
    Lord of the Admiralty, his second son Frederick as
    railway commissioner,
    and his youngest son Arthur as Speaker of the House of Commons. His third son William meanwhile had been a
    Royal naval officer who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the
    Crimean War.
  • from Sir Robert’s brother Edmund came the
    wealthy Peel cotton merchants of Egypt, based in Alexandria. Sir Teddie Peel of this family was
    well-known for his sporting activities.
  • while Sir Robert’s cousin Thomas, as a
    promoter of the Swan River Colony, was an early settler in 1829 in

Ireland. There were Peels in Ulster, presumably of English origin,
from the
1700’s onwards. The main line appears to
have been along the Antrim/Down border.
Many Down Peels
were to be found in Lisburn and the nearby townland of Ravernet.
Some early Peels in Armagh were
Hannah Peel, a young Irish singer/songwriter, originates from

America. There are roughly equal
numbers of Peeles and Peels in America today.

The forebear of most American Peeles seems to have been Lawrence
origin in England unknown, who came to Jamestown, Virginia on the Margaret and John in 1621 and survived
the Indian massacre a year later. There
four generations of Robert Peelles in Virginia who farmed at the Sleepy
Hole plantation
in Nansemond county. Sometime in the
these Peelles became Quakers.

The fourth
of the Robert Peelles came to North Carolina in the 1740’s. The spelling here soon became Peele. Robert
and Mary Peele
started the family
cemetery at Laurinburg, North Carolina in 1856. A
later descendant, William Walter Peele, was made
head of the Methodist church in 1938.

Carolina today has the largest concentration of Peeles in America. A Peele Quaker branch has continued in Ohio.

Peels. Many of
the Peels in America seem to have had Irish origins.

Thomas Peel from county
Down came to Pennsylvania and fought on the American side in the
War. Afterwards he and his family
migrated to Virginia and Tennessee before settling in Independence
Arkansas in 1815.

Samuel Peel, a
descendant, was a Civil War veteran who, at the end of the war, had risen to the rank of colonel but was rendered
penniless. He later prospered as a lawyer
and politician in Arkansas and was able in 1875 to build himself a fine
in Bentonville, now known as the Peel Mansion Museum.

Other Peels who came to
America from Ireland included:

  • Richard
    Peel, his wife Mary and son William, also from county Down, who arrived
    other settlers on the Brittania in
    Rev. George Galphin’s party to Savannah in 1772. On
    arrival they all trekked around a hundred
    miles to virgin land on the banks of the upper Ogeechee.
    William later moved to Georgia.
  • and Allen Peel from Belfast came to
    in 1831 and settled with his wife Margret much later, in 1856, in Iowa.

Hunter Peel’s origins are uncertain.
But he was to be found in Bedford county before the
Revolutionary War. His son Volney migrated
south to Mississippi
where, around 1840, he started a cotton plantation at Hickory Park near
Galena. Volney’s daughter Mary married
in 1846 at the young age of sixteen.
Her husband died in a hunting accident before the year was out
and she
was recorded as insane in 1850 and died a year later.
His son Albert was killed during the Civil
War. Another son Robert became a doctor.

Some Pihls of Swedish ancestry may have
become Peels.

Australia. Jonathan Peel
from county Armagh came out to Australia in the 1850’s at the time of
Victoria gold rush. He ran a store there
which made enough money for him to return to Ireland and build himself
a home
where Belfast airport now stands.

Peel Miscellany

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

Peel Names

John Peel was the legendary
huntsman in Cumberland in the early 19th century who maintained his own
for over fifty years.
Sir Robert Peel
the British 19th century Prime Minister and statesman who earlier
founded the
Metropolitan Police.

Bobby Peel
was an English
cricketer, primarily a left-arm spin bowler, who played for Yorkshire
England in the 1880’s and 1890’s.
John Peel
, born Robert Ravenscroft, has been
the longest-serving BBC Radio One disc jockey, broadcasting regularly
from 1967
until his
death in 2004

Select Peels Today

  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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