Peel Surname Meaning, History & Origin
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
Monk Bretton, York, to the abbey there around that time.
lived inside a palisade or piel.
From this origin developed the concept of the Peel
tower, a tall defensive structure which was a relatively common
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
Meanwhile Peel could become Peele or Peelle in America.
Peel Resources on
- The Peele Family in America
Peeles in North Carolina.
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.
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.
a family of yeomen farmers of middling
status who, like others in the
Lancashire hills, combined farming and domestic textile production, at
from the mid-1600’s onwards. Sir
Robert’s grandfather, known as Parsley Peel, still hawked his goods
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:
- 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
- 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,
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
in Nansemond county. Sometime in the
these Peelles became Quakers.
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:
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
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
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
where Belfast airport now stands.
Peel Towers. The Border counties of Northumberland and Cumberland have more castles and fortified
buildings than any other part of England.
These fortifications included stone Pele or Peel towers with
to four feet thick. Most were inhabited
by reivers. But the vicar’s Peles were
inhabited by local clergy.
Charles Bardsley in his 1896 A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames commented as follows on the Peel name:
“Many old mansions still bear the name of the Peel in
the north of England. Peel Castle in
Furness is well-known and no doubt John Peel of Cumberland hunting
got his name from that spot. The name is
still well known in that county. Within my recollection almost every
in the dales of Rede and Tyne was what is called a peel-house, built
securing the inhabitants and their cattle in moss-trooping times.”
Lyrics of D’ye ken John Peel. The first verse and chorus are the best known:
“D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay?
D’ye ken John Peel at the break o’ day?
D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far a-way.
With his hounds and his horn in the morning?”
“For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed,
And the cry of his hounds which he oftime led,
Peel’s “View, Halloo!” could awaken the dead,
Or the fox from his lair in the morning.”
The words were written by Peel’s friend and hunting
companion John Graves in the Cumbrian dialect. He tinkered with the
the years and several different versions are known. They were set to the
a traditional Scottish rant Bonnie Annie. The
most popular arrangement of it in Victorian times was William
version in 1868.
From Peele to Peel in Lancashire. Robert Peele left the parish of East Marten-in-Craven west of Skipton in West Yorkshire and settled at Hole
House in the hundred of Blackburn, Lancashire where his descendants
since been connected. He died in 1608 leaving a son William Peele who
Margaret Livesey in 1619 and died in 1651.
His son Robert Peele of Hole House
sons. The younger, the Rev. Nicholas
Peele, was curate at Blackburn; the elder, Robert Peele of Peele Fold,
Anne Ward in 1681 and died in 1733.
William Peele of Peele Fold, married Anne Walmesley in 1712. Their eldest son was Robert Peel of Peele Fold
who married in 1744.
Sir Robert Peel and Bury. Sir Robert Peel was born in the town of Bury on February 5, 1788. It being Shrove
Tuesday on which pancakes are a universal feast in England and his birthday recurring
on that day, the boys of his own age fixed on him the name of ‘Pancake
It was said that, having been insulted on a visit to Bury and later as an
the cry of ‘Pancake Bob,’ he ever afterwards avoided the town.
Bury was famous
for its cakes. His later years were identified with the untaxing
and Bury was the first to propose a monument to his memory in gratitude
that legislation. This monument was completed and opened to
public view in
1852. It bore the following
inscription, quoted from one of his most recent speeches:
“It may be that I shall leave a name
sometimes remembered with expressions of goodwill in the abodes of
lot it is to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, when
recruit their exhausted strength with abundant and untaxed food – the
because it is no longer leavened by a sense of injustice.”
Robert and Mary Peele in North Carolina. Robert Peele was the 8th generation descendant of the original
immigrant to Virginia, Lawrence Peelle, in 1621. He
and his wife Mary Adams were buried in the Laurinburg
family cemetery in North Carolina which was first begun in 1856 when
their son Jonathan was buried there. Four
subsequent generations of Peeles have also been
Robert and Mary were Quakers who at one time attended the Piney Grove
Quaker Meeting House in Marlboro county. Later
he and his family became
Methodist. But when you view his tombstone today marked with one
American flags, look at the bottom of it and there you will see that
his age written
in the old Quaker style – years, months, days.
- John Peel was the legendary huntsman in Cumberland in the early 19th century who maintained his own pack
for over fifty years.
- Sir Robert Peel was the British 19th century Prime Minister and statesman who had earlier founded the
- Bobby Peel was an English cricketer, primarily a left-arm spin bowler, who played for Yorkshire and
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 Peel Numbers Today
- 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 4,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
- 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
Select Peel and Like Surnames
From our surname selection here, these are the names of those who have risen in British politics to become Prime Minister from the time the office was first established in the 1730’s (although missing here are noteworthies such as Palmerston, Gladstone, Disraeli, Attlee, and Thatcher).
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