Quayle Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Quayle Surname Meaning

Quayle is a Manx name, i.e. from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Manx surnames are usually of Celtic origin (Manx Gaelic being a fully-fledged Celtic language), but have tended to develop their own distinctive island traits.

An analysis of Manx surnames at the beginning of the 19th century showed that 65 percent of them were of Celtic origin and another 30 percent of them of Norse-Gaelic origin.  Many of these surnames had started with the Mac (“son of”) prefix, then dropped the Mac, but ended up with the hard “k”-sounding prefix instead.

The origin of Quayle appears to be the Celtic MacPhail or MacFail, meaning “son of Paul:”

  • Gilbert MacQuaile was a member of the House of Keys in 1422
  • while MacQuayle and the shorter version of Quayle were both recorded as Abbey tenants in 1540.

There were various spellings of the name until around the middle of the 17th century when Quayle became generally accepted. Quayle was the second most common surname on the Isle of Man by the 19th century.

Quayle Surname Resources on The Internet

Quayle Surname Ancestry

  • from Isle of Man, England (Lancashire) and Ireland
  • to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

Isle of Man. One Quayle Manx family can be traced back to the 1580’s, starting with Thomas Quayle who owned a manor at Clychur and was a member of the Manx House of Keys. The most conspicuous of these Quayles was George Quayle who lived in the late 18th century at Bridge House in Castletown. He appeared to be an inventive man who got up to a bit of smuggling on his yacht.

The parish of Kirk Michael on the Manx west coast provided a number of early Quayles, including:

  • Catherine Quayle, born there in 1599
  • William Quayle, born in 1651
  • John Quayle, born in 1691
  • and Henry Quayle, born in 1706.

Quayle’s Farm (Ballyquayle) near present-day Douglas had a Quayle association from the 16th century. In the 1880’s there were two accomplished cabinet makers along Wellroad Hill in Douglas:

  • one Ned Quayle, whose son was the well-known artist EC Quayle,
  • and the other Thomas Quayle, whose son Robert emigrated to Chicago in the 1880’s and whose progeny included an American Vice-President, Dan Quayle.

An exodus from the Isle of Man had started in the 1830’s, due to hard times, and then picked up steam in the 1840’s and 1850’s. The initial destination was America. Then Canada, Australia, and New Zealand became places to go. Quayles either set off in groups with other Manxmen or they went by themselves.

England. A number of Quayles left the island for the work opportunities that nearby Lancashire on the English mainland provided.

Perhaps the earliest record was that of Philip Quayle who married an Ann Bell at St. Nicholas church in Liverpool in 1784. The flow increased in the 19th century. Thomas Quayle, for instance, arrived in the 1860’s. He was a lamplighter in Liverpool. Anthony Quayle, that well-known English film actor of the 1950’s, was born of Manx roots in Southport, Lancashire.

The English stage actor Douglas Quayle was born John Quay in London in 1900.  Both his children – Anna and John Quayle – became actors as well.

Ireland.   The Qauyle name, initially Queale, was to be found at Ballinamore in county Leitrim.  Michael Queale was born there in 1767.  William Quayle emigrated from there to Canada in 1825.

America. The first Manx group settled in Warrensville, Ohio near where Cleveland now stands. Thomas Quayle arrived there in 1827. Twenty years later he started a shipbuilding business and he and his sons built wooden boats for the Great Lakes trade until 1890.

Another Manx settlement in America which included Quayles was the Laxey/Bloomfield area in Wisconsin.  Daniel Quayle departed England with his family in 1843 and bought land in Kenosha county, Wisconsin.  John Quayle meanwhile was an early convert to Mormonism and set out from Liverpool with his wife Catherine in 1841. Another Quayle, James, followed him to Utah in 1853.

Two Quayles embarked for America and became for a time sea captains. One was Charles Quayle who eventually returned to England; the other William Quayle who set out for Texas in the 1850’s and fought in the Civil War there.

Canada.  William Quayle emigrated from Ireland to New Brunswick in 1825.  His descendant Perley Quayle, born in 1893, was a school teacher, author and speaker at Williamstown in Northumberland county.

Australia and New Zealand.  Daniel Quayle and his family departed for Melbourne in 1852 on the Eagle.  Thomas and Catherine Quayle arrived in Melbourne a little later.  They made their home in Amphitheatre, Victoria.

Two Quayle brothers – Philip and William – from Douglas in the Isle of Man came to New Zealand in 1875.  They were early settlers in the small town of Motueka on South Island.  Philip’s son John Joseph was killed fighting on the Western Front in 1918.  The local High Street was recently renamed Quayle Street after this family.

Quayle Surname Miscellany

Quayle and Manx Surnames.  There were 8,870 heads of household recorded in the Isle of Man census in 1881.  The following were the five leading family names at that time:

Name Number
1. Kelly   409
2. Quayle   267
3. Cain   243
4. Corlett   236
5. Christian   187

At that time, the Isle of Man accounted for 60 percent of all the Quayles in the United Kingdom.  Another 25 percent were to be found in Lancashire and the balance of 15 percent elsewhere.

George Quayle and the Peggy.  The Nautical Museum at Castletown on the Isle of Man holds as its main attraction the 18th century yacht named Peggy.  Built in 1789, its was the love of George Quayle, a lively and inventive man.

The Quayle family of Bridge House and Crogga were a prominent Manx family then living in the capital of the island, Castletown.  The Peggy, named after George Quayle’s mother, was launched into Castletown harbor in 1791. From this harbor she saw many years of smuggling and trade.  In 1796 she sailed to England and then was brought over land to Lake Windermere to participate in a regatta.  She barely made it home through rough seas.

Not long after George Quayle’s mother died, he locked the Peggy up in her boathouse for the last time. There she would lay for almost a hundred years until re-discovered in 1935, still in the boathouse.   George Quayle had led such a life of mystery that none would dare enter his boathouse or rooms until his last family member had died.  The boathouse had been bricked up and forgotten before being rediscovered by workmen.

Thomas Quayle and The Manx Breed of Cattle.  Manx cattle became extinct about 1815.  Manx people called them boaghans.  A description of these animals was made by Thomas Quayle in his General View of Agriculture in the Isle of Man, written in 1812 for the British Government in London.

“The original Manx breed of cattle were low, deep-chested, hardy animals, of a dingy black, often with the ridge of the back and ears brown or wholly of a dark brown color, having seldom white or light colored spots.  They were short jointed, but not full at the hind quarter.  The horn was very thick at the root and rather curving upwards.  They gave rich mills, but in small quantities.  They were easy to feed and to fat, although not of early maturity.  It would seem a breed well adapted to the climate and the then state of culture.

From the influx of a variety of other breeds, this original race is disappearing.”

Reader Feedback – Quayles in Leeds.  I am a descendant of the Quayle family on my maternal side. My mother’s maiden name is Quayle.  She came to Leeds from the Isle of Man via Lincolnshire and Liverpool. There are a number of Quayles in Leeds.  Some emigrated to Australia in the 1950’s and some more recently in 2007.

Chris Wilks (chrisjohnwilks@googlemail.com).

Manxmen in Ohio.  It was in 1826 that the first Manxmen arrived in what was then called the Western reserve in Ohio.  Three Manx families had started off on this pioneering journey.  After a voyage of seven weeks in a sailing vessel, they landed in New York and thence made their way visa the Erie Canal and Lake Erie to Cleveland, then a small town of only six hundred inhabitants.

Warrensville was selected as the most desirable place to buy farms; and soon the area was swarming with Manxmen.  Almost every farm for miles around was owned by a Manxman.

Quayles were not among the initial families which came.  But they soon arrived.  Thomas Quayle, who afterwards became a noted shipbuilder on the Great Lakes, arrived with his parents in a party of fifty Manx people in 1827.  He married Isabelle Kelly, a Manx lady, three years later.  Then came Robert Quayle, considered, because of his work with Manx festivals, to be “one of the most popular Manxmen who ever lived in Cleveland.”  John Quayle married a Mary Corlett there and John K. Quayle an Agnes Halbeall.

John Quayle and the Mormon Call.  The first Manx Mormon emigrants departed from Liverpool on the Rochester in 1841.  They included John Quayle and his wife Catherine. Their son Thomas was to recall forty years later:

“When the missionary John Taylor told my father that in America a farm could be had for the clearing and fencing of the land, he was greatly interested.  He inquired more deeply into the new religion and found it to his liking.  He invited the missionaries to stay in our house and became the first and firmest convert in our parish. John’s conversion led rapidly to his emigration.  However, his wife Catherine was an unhappy emigrant, upset by the pressures from the missionaries to leave.

There are three things that I can remember about our departure: my mother’s tears, my father’s hopes, and the lights of Liverpool Quay.”

John Quayle’s reaction was not uncommon.  Most British Mormon converts were poor.  As Nauvoo was made to sound like the Garden of Eden they eagerly responded to the call to emigrate.  And the 1840’s was the hungry decade, with poor harvests, potato famine, and industrial depression.

An Adventurous Quayle Family.  Like all Quayles, their roots were Manx, but Charles H. Quayle had been born in Bolton in the 1820’s.  He emigrated to upstate New York when he was young.  After he married he lived for a while in the Caribbean, Trinidad de Cuba, before returning to England in the 1870’s.  Charles was said to have been a sea captain in the Caribbean, but back in England he worked as an engineer.

Sons Daniel and John left England to work on the Panama Canal. They subsequently became US citizens.

Dan Quayle and the Media.  Throughout his time as US Vice President, Dan Quayle was widely criticized in the media for being an intellectual lightweight. His way with words in fact contributed to a general impression of incompetence.

Dan Quayle’s most famous blunder was when he corrected William Figueroa’s correct spelling of “potato” to “potatoe” at an elementary school spelling bee in Trenton, New Jersey.  The following were some of his verbal statements which the press picked upon:

  • “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind.  Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful.  How true that is.”
  • “I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy – but that could change.”
  • “It isn’t pollution that is harming the environment.  It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”

Reader Feedback – Queale from Ireland to the Caribbean.  My great great grandfather was Joseph Queale who was born in Leitrim, Ireland in 1815. He moved to St Croix, Virgin Islands and became an owner of sugar plantations there.

Ruth Pugano (rlprob52@gmail.com).

Quayle Names

  • George Quayle from a well-known Manx family was a smuggler who lived a somewhat mysterious life in the late 18th century.
  • E.C. Quayle was a prominent Manx artist and painter of the first half of the 20th century.
  • Anthony Quayle was a well-known English film actor of the 1950’s.
  • Dan Quayle was the US Vice President for George Bush senior.

Quayle Numbers Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous in the Isle of Man)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in California).
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).


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Written by Colin Shelley

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