Quayle Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Quayle 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 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.

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Select Quayle Ancestry

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
  • 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 emigrated to
Chicago and whose progeny included an American Vice-President, Dan

An exodus
from the Isle of Man 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.

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 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.

Elsewhere. By the end of
the 19th century, Quayles had spread as far west as
British Columbia and as far south as Australia and New Zealand.


Quayle 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

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
, 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.”

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

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.”


Select 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.

Select 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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