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"Thrice hallow’d the land of our Minstrel’s birth,
The fields that once gladden’d his eye,
The echoes that rang to is woe and his mirth,
And the mountains that bounded his sky!
Lo! there is the scene of his own Vision-dream--
The mantle his Coila then wore,
Still flower’d with the forest, enstriped with the stream,
And fringed with the fret of the shore!




"That is the mark of the Scot of all classes -- that he stands in an attitude toward the past unthinkable to an Englishman, and remembers and cherishes the memory of his forbearers, god and bad; and there burns alive in him a sense of identity with the dead even to the twentieth generation." ....Robert Lewis Stevenson

Most Kyles of Scottish/Irish descent probably trace their lineage back to the Kyle District of Ayrshire in southwest Scotland, often with a detour of generations through Ireland (See Note below for other possible derivations).

The Kyle district is the proud center of much that is Scottish. The first King of the Scots, Fergus was crowned in Kyle, after defeating Coelius. William Wallace was probably born and raised in Kyle. Robert Bruce came from neighboring Carrick. The Stewarts, later to be Kings, ruled half of Kyle, called "Kyle Stewart," and even today HRH Prince Charles retains the title, Baron of Kyle. Golfers will know that a few miles down the coast is Troon which hosts The Royal Troon Open and Robert Burns himself was a Kyle man.

Despite this, Kyles endured much hard fortune in the centuries of border disputes, religious wars and other troubles that afflicted Scotland and particularly the Lowlands. Many Kyles hoped to find opportunity in Ireland but often found more hardship in the "persecutions" of Presbyterians. Many migrated further primarily to the US, Canada and Australia.

"...I want to pay my respects to the pioneering spirit of the Kyle (Kile) family. The point that stands out in this history is the willingness with which each generation was ready to pioneer in new lands and new ideas. Neither persecution nor physical hardship stopped them. Love of freedom and independence were dominating characteristics."   O. M. Kile, Family Historian.

We'll sing auld Coila's plains an' fells,

Her moors red-brown wi' heather bells,

Her banks an' braes, her dens an' dells.

Robert Burns



Early History of the Districts of Kyle



It is now well understood that the Celts originally came out of the east. Guest, in his Origines Celticoe describes the routes by which they streamed across Europe and along the north coast of Africa in a bygone century. The migration did not stop till it had reached the shores of the Atlantic. The Celtic flood was followed within the Christian era by the migrations of succeeding races— Huns, Goths, Vandals, Franks, these variously called themselves—and before the successive waves the Celts were driven against the western coast, like the fringe of foam driven up by wind and tide upon a beach. This process was seen in our own islands when the British inhabitants were driven westward by the oncoming waves of Saxons, Angles, and Danes in the fifth and following centuries. Thus driven against the western shores these Celts were known, down to the Norman Conquest, as the Britons or Welsh of Strathclyde, of Wales, and of West Wales or Cornwall. --- The Highland Clans

Kyle was originally populated with the people called the North Welsh or "Men of the North Country." Taliesin (Radiant Bow), the Bard of Arthurian times says the North Kingdoms were ruled by "Coel ae kanawon' (meaning Coel and his whelps). For early history (400AD) and Old King Cole see HERE.


After the Roman withdrawal, Kyle was a part of the Kingdom of Rheged. Rheged royal genealogies trace later kings back to Coel Hen (Old King Cole), who appears to have ruled in the early 5th century (a matter supported by the word 'rheged' meaning Liberated, free, in free continuance). The victories of its kings Urien Rheged, and his son Owen mab Urien, over the chieftains of Bernicia in the second half of the sixth century, were celebrated by the bard Taliesin. Following Bernicia's union with Deira to become the kingdom of Northumbria, Rheged itself was annexed into Northumbria, at some time before AD 730. There is some evidence that Rheged was incorporated into Northumbria by royal marriage in 633. The language of the Rheged ruling classes, and quite likely of the majority of the population, was a Brythonic language similar to Welsh.

The earliest written record of the Kyle district was in 750 when Eadberht, King of Northumbria added the plain of Kyle (or Cyll) to his Galloway domain.


Kyle was later incorporated in to the Kingdom of Strathclyde, which was also Brythonic speaking. Strathclyde's capital was at Dumbarton Rock, or Alt Cluid, on the Firth of Clyde. Dumbarton was attacked by Vikings in 870 AD, and seems to have ended its role as an independent kingdom shortly afterwards, around 900. As well as its fortress capital at Dumbarton, Strathclyde had a religious centre at Govan, and a royal residence at Partick, both of which are in modern-day Glasgow.

The Vikings had laid siege to Dumbarton for four months in 870, eventually defeating the inhabitants when they cut off their water supply. The Norse king Olaf returned to the Viking city of Dublin in 871, with two hundred ships full of slaves and looted treasures. Olaf came to an agreement with Constantine I, king of Scots, and Arthgal f Dyfnwal, king of Strathclyde, was executed. Rhun f Arthgal, brother-in-law of Constantine, became king of Strathclyde, apparently as a client or sub-king of Constantine.

Rhun was to die c. 878, possibly in the same battle as Constantine, who was killed fighting the Norse. He was succeeded by Eochaid f Rhun, who allied himself with Giric f Dungal of the Scots. The two reigned jointly over Alba and Strathclyde until 889, when they were expelled, effectively ending Strathclyde's status as an independent state, c. 890. Following their expulsion, Donald f Constantine became king of Strathclyde. This marked the merging of the kingships of the Scots from Dalriada and the Britons of Strathclyde. Strathclyde kept some independence, but its kingdom was essentially one subject to Scottish rule.

Strathclyde's history beyond this point is at best sketchy, although there is evidence which suggests that some of the Strathclyde nobility fled to Gwynedd in north Wales. Lands previously belonging to Strathclyde seem to have become a sub-kingdom under Scottish control.

The first source of evidence which refers to the exodus to Wales c. 890 is the Welsh Chronicle of the Princes:

"The men of Strathclyde, those that refused to unite with the English, had to depart from their country and go into Gwynedd."

It should be noted that this source is not always seen as reliable, and that the "English" referred to are almost certainly in fact the Scots. On their arrival in Gwynedd, the Strathclyde Britons were welcomed by Anarawd ap Rhodri of Gwynedd. They were soon to help him in battle against the Saxons. It remains uncertain whether Eochaid travelled to Gwynedd with his people, since the date of his death is unknown, but other evidence supports and corroborates the possibility of a small group of Strathclyde nobility travelling to Gwynedd c. 890.

Firstly, the migration would explain the growth of the cult of St Kentigern in north Wales. Jocelin's Vita Kentigerni tells a strange tale about a period of exile in Gwynedd for St Kentigern. There are dedications to him at St. Asaph and elsewhere in north Wales, and also many dedications in Cumbria.

Secondly, Glasgow remained obscure as the cult centre of St Kentigern, until it was revived by Earl David between 1113 and 1124. Perhaps this obscurity dated back to 890 and later years, although this may be ambitious, and is not borne out by the Inquisitio David. Jocelin's Vita Kentigerni, however, might well date back to the eighth and ninth centuries in its earliest sections, which could perhaps have been written by a Glasgow scriptorium, active until the later ninth century, and folding with the Strathclyde exodus.

A third clue that would back up the migration theory is that the pedigree of Rhun f Arthgal has been preserved in Welsh lore. Other traditions relating to the 'Men of the North' may also have some bearing, and the 'Welsh' poem, "Gododdin" might have travelled to Wales with the Strathclyde exiles.

Following the flight to Gwynedd, the Strathclyde kings seem to have been client or sub-kings of the kings of Scots. Donald f Aed, for instance, was definitely part of the royal Scottish dynasty, and some other Strathclyde kings may also have been. Strathclyde's independence effectively came to an end with the death of Ywain (Owen) the Bald, who died in 1018, when the dynasty of Kenneth f Alpin began to rule the region.

The influence of the Norse in Strathclyde during the period from 870 onwards cannot be ignored. Five "hogback" house-shaped gravestones of Norse design are to be found at Govan Parish Church in modern-day Glasgow, a site that had religious importance for the Strathclyde kings. A road leads from the churchyard to Doomster Hill, a large earthen mound used as an assembly place, in a manner similar to that found at Tynwald in the Isle of Man, where, the church of St John is linked to the Manx parliament hill by a straight processional route. The links to the Norse kings of Man of the ninth and tenth centuries suggest a strong Norse influence in Strathclyde at that time.

The "Scots"

Exactly how these Scots came into the sister isle is not now known. According to their own tradition they derived their name from Scota, daughter of one of the Pharoahs, whom one of their leaders married as they passed westward through Egypt, and it is possible they may be identified with the division of the Celtic tribes which passed along the north coast of Africa. According to Gaelic tradition the Scots migrated from Spain to the south of Ireland. According to the same tradition they brought with them the flat brown stone, about nine inches thick, known as the Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny, on which their kings were crowned, and which was said to have been Jacob’s pillow at Bethel on the plain of Luz. From Ireland they began to cross into Kintyre—the "Headland "—in the sixth century. Their three leaders were Fergus, Lorn, and Angus, Sons of Erc, and their progress was not always a matter of peaceful settlement. Fergus, for instance, made a landing in Ayrshire, and defeated and slew Coyle the British king of the district, whose tumulus is still to be seen at Coylesfield, and whose name is still commemorated as that of the region, Kyle, and in popular rhymes about "Old King Cole."  ---- The Highland Clans

In 740 Kyle was invaded by Alpin, king of the Scots, who landed at Ayr with a large body of followers. He is said to have wasted the country between the Ayr and the Doon as far inland as the vicinity of Dalmellington, about sixteen miles from the sea. There he was met by an armed force under the chiefs of the district, and a battle having ensued, Alpin was slain, and his army totally routed. The spot where the king was buried is called at this day Laicht-Alpin, or the Grave of Alpin (This date given as 840 in other accounts).   Source: Paterson, History of the County of Ayr

Over time people of Saxon origin encroached by degrees on the ancient Kyle and Galloway. The names of places in Cuningham [the district north of Kyle] are generally Saxon. The name of the country itself is Saxon. In Kyle there is some mixture of Saxon. All the names in Carrick [the district south of Kyle] are purely Gaelic."--Lord Hailes, Annals of Scotland, vol. i., p. 118

Norman Conquest

Bayeux Tapestry, Norman Knights


William De Colville (the name sounds similar but is not known to be related) was granted baronies of Oxnam and Heton in Roxburghshire together with other lands in Ayrshire after the Norman Conquest. This ancient Norman name originates from the town of Coleville-Sur-Mer in Normandy, France. Meaning "Col" dark and swarthy and "ville" village.  Today the Viscount Colville of Culross is the Chief of Clan Colville.


In 1205 William the Lion, King of Scots, grouped the feudal territories of Cunninghame, Kyle and Carrick into the Sheriffdom of Ayr. Kyle was sub-divided into two parts. To the north of the River Ayr was "Kyle Stewart," lands held by the Fitzalan's since the 11th century (the future Stewart Kings of Scotland). To the south was Kyle Regis or King's Kyle, lands historically retained by the monarch under royal authority from the royal castle at Ayr (On May 16, 1975 Ayr County Council officially disbanded these old districts and burghs).


In 1236 Kyle Port is listed in Ayr on the High Street beside the "Auid Tour."


One of the earliest existing maps of Great Scotland, made by Matthew de Paris, a monk of St. Albans, about the year 1250 A.D. shows the name Cola in what is now the District of Kyle.


Until the middle of the 19th century the tower of Kyle Castle stood in the Kyle District near Muirkirk.  Today only a small section of wall remains. That the castle stood for so long has raised a possible explanation for the spread of the name.  It was not uncommon for residents of a major castle area to adopt the name of their residency, and take the name with them as they spread throughout the District. However, although Castle Kyle is believed to be roughly 600 years old, the district name is certainly older, at least 600 (maybe 1,000) years older than the castle.


William Wallace


Tradition offers evidence that William Wallace was a Kyle resident:


Bot efter he made his dwelling in Comnok in his owen contrie, wheir he was borne, altho the Englishmen as yitt was masteris thaire.'

'Then William Wallace keiping a royall howse in Comnok withe a garisone of michtie men.'

Alexander Brunton



The first extract refers to Wallace's return to his dwelling in Cumnock, after the murder of his wife by the Sheriff of Lanark. Brunton appears to suggest that Wallace was born at this dwelling. However, 'his owen contrie, wheir he was borne' is probably a general reference to the "contrie" of Kyle. The second extract reinforces Dr. Watson's observations that Brunton's story is similar to that of Blind Harry, with Wallace and his bodyguard returning to Wallace's crown lands at Cumnock, i.e. to Harry's Black Crag.When and how William Wallace came to have his home at the Blackcraig, New Cumnock is unknown. If Blackcraig is the crown property of his father's tenancy then the possibility of Wallace being born there cannot be dismissed, despite the list of assumptions growing, i.e. Alan was William's father; Alan was a crown tenant at Black Crag, Cumnock; Black Crag is Blackcraig; Blackcraig was crown land and not part of Earl of Dunbar's barony of Cumnock in the late 13th century. The last assumption suffers a 16th century setback. For at this time the four-merk land of Blackcraig along with a host of other properties in Glen Afton, was in the barony of Cumnock, and was held by the Dunbars of Cumnock and Mochrum, descendants of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar.


Following the re-discovery of William Wallace's seal in 1999, the Ayrshire case has began to gather momentum. The seal identifies Wallace as the son of Alan Wallace and not Malcolm and Alan Wallace appears in the Ragman Roll of 1296 as a 'crown tenant in Ayrshire'.Dr. Fiona Watson in 'A Report into Sir William Wallace's connections with Ayrshire' (March 1999), carries out a detailed reassessment of William Wallace's early years and concludes 'Sir William Wallace was a younger son of Alan Wallace, a crown tenant in Ayrshire'. On reading this report the renowned Wallace historian, Andrew Fisher, concedes 'If the Alan of the Ragman Roll was indeed the patriot's father, then the current argument in favour of an Ayrshire rather than a Renfrewshire origin for Wallace can be settled' . The historian John Major referred to Wallace - albeit more than 200 years after this death - as the "King of Kyle."


The name Wallace, or Wallensis, derives from the Welsh speaking people of Strathclyde (an area which included Kyle).

When Robert Bruce reestablished Scottish independence, in part through the great battle of Bannockburn in 1313, histories relate that great numbers of his soldiers were from nearby Ayr, Kyle being the third district to join his cause after Carrick and Galloway, Bruce’s native home. On 26th April 1315, Ayr saw the first meeting of a Scottish Parliament since the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. As part of the struggle, Thomas Bruce, who claimed close kinship with the royal house, organized with Robert the Steward (later Robert II) a rising in Kyle against the English in 1334. He received in recompense part of the Crown lands of Clackmannan.


In 1366 Annabella the beautiful, daughter of Sir John Drummond, became the wife of John Stewart of Kyle. John was crowned Robert III, the second Stewart King. She was also the mother of James I. The royal families of Scotland and England claim their heritage from Robert and Annabella.

In 1424 "WALTER OF KYLE" was recorded as having been granted a document which would guarantee his safe conduct into England. These safe conduct passes were only given to people of importance and were respected by both England and Scotland.

The "Lollards" were the first challenge to the authority of the Church in a thousand years and Kyle was the center of this early Protestant movement in Scotland in the late 14th century. The Lollards believed that one's knowledge is derived from within rather than through the senses. They rejected the Roman church, preferring a church comprising the body of the elect with all authority derived from the scriptures - 'lordship depended on grace' - and denied transubstantiation and believed in the spiritual Eucharist rather than the physical one. They wanted the church reformed and its wealth removed.  In 1494 thirty lesser lairds (lords) from Kyle with George Reid of Barskinning their spokesman, put forward Lollard ideas. They were summoned by the Archbishop of Glasgow and tried for heresy. Partly by their own scriptural answers and partly by the King's favor they were admonished but liberated. In the end however, the Lollard movement suffered brutal retribution from Church and State including inquisitions, burnings etc. One of the founder's, Wiclif's, remains were accordingly dug out of the churchyard at Lutterworth, and thrown into the Avon as those of a condemned heretic. For More on Lollards See BBC History

In the schisms that marked the development of religion in Great Britain and Scotland, Presbyterianism became the religion of choice for Scots, and that religion was dominant after the Reformation around 1525.  Scottish Kyles were part of this movement.

In Edinburgh,  Scotland in 1637, GEORGE KYLE was elected a Member of Parliament.                              Scottish Parliament 1707                         

From Irvine, Ayrshire, JOHN and THOMAS KILE were also members of Parliament in the 1637.

Bleau’s Atlas issued in 1654 marks this district "Ayr-Ky-O-lle"  and "Koila," and "Coila."  In the district one can find Coylton (Kyle town), the river Kyle, the “Craigs of Kyle,” the plain of Kyle, Coilsfield Park etc., etc.

 Bleau's Atlas of Scotland, 1654


The main city in Kyle is Ayr descibed as follows in Bleau's atlas:

A small city, but a large spirit clings to its strong people,
Inferior to none in the nobility of its men.
Most pure, it draws its climate from the plains of the air
And a lighter breeze rests on its gentle soil.
Hence I believe it was called Airy before Ayr,
For what right does lightness have with harshness?
But if one may compare lower thing with higher,
Perhaps it should have been first called Aureate.


When the Covenanters defied the king in a fifty year struggle from 1638 to 1688, many Kyle's were numbered in that group.




The Battle of Drumclogby, Ayrshire 1679:

   A Group of Covenanters, Persecuted for their Religious Convictions, Defeat Government Dragoons Sent to Execute Them




Also in 1679,  "William Kyle, since the revolution, a minister in Galloway, and at this time a preacher" was "taken" by the Dragoons who "made a very strict search there for inter-communed ministers, field preachers, and all others obnoxious to the standing laws."  ---   Extract from "The Sufferings of the Church of Scotland from the Restoration to the Revolution" by the Rev. Robert Wodrow (1679-1759), Vol. III, CHAP.I, SECT.1, (‘Of the proceedings against Presbyterians for conventicles, and other breaches of non-conformity, in the beginning of this year,1679’), pages 16/17.


Below, Monument to the fallen at the battle of Airds Moss where 63 souls with Reverend Richard Cameron were surrounded and cut down by government Dragoons while worshiping. Cumnock, Kyle District, Ayrshire:


Photo Courtesy of


James Renwick, probably the last preacher to be executed for his covenanting beliefs, preached at a conventicle, on Oct 11t 1684,  at John Kyle's, "house and yeard," at Cleyholes, Kirkcudbrightshire. PC10.615. (cf. pp. 257, 258 of this vol.) Privy Council Records, National Library of Scotland.

For more on the Covenanters struggle see The Covenanters



Land of the Bruce and Wallace, where patriot hearts have stood:
And for their country and their faith like water poured their blood;
Where wives and little children were steadfast to the death,
And graves of martyr'd warriors are in the desert heath.

--- Martyrs' headstone at Kilmarnock Parish Church










The Kyle Family in Ireland (also see: The Scots/Irish)


 Play Eamonn, Marcus and Aide:


There appear to be several waves of migration beginning around 1600 or later that are relatively well documented, if one does not insist on tying the settlement to a specific Kyle. These migrations were not unique to the Kyles alone but were common to many of the Lowland families.  The great majority of these Lowland settlers of this time period spoke neither Gaelic nor English. Their language was "Scots," a Germanic tongue with common origin with early Anglo-Saxon and the everyday language of the Lowlands. Around this time, the last group of the Kyle’s from Ayrshire, Scotland moved, and most moved into Ireland. This was during the period, which was known as the “Plantation of Ulster.” In Ulster, one branch of the family gained great prominence and was referred to as the well known “Kyle’s of Laurel Hill” after the name of their estate in Londonderry County.


1606 Migration



                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hugh O'Neil            

The first wave was a consequence of English-Irish conflicts that arose when King James I, a Scots Presbyterian, sent troops to Ulster to unseat the Earl of Tyrone, head of the O’Neil clan, who had set himself up as the King of Ulster.  Upon the defeat of O’Neil, King James lay claim to his and his followers vast estates, and parceled them out including some land to the Kyle's around the year 1606. King James gave Sir William (Kyle) land in Tyrone County Ireland where he moved with his family from Scotland. This was only about 20 miles from the Borders of Scotland.



In October 1641, a rising was organized by the Irish Catholic clergy of Ulster, with the aim of ousting the entire protestant population; they were to be chased of their land, bereaved of their belongings, even stripped of their clothes. They also were to be refused food and shelter. Many were killed, others starved and froze to death in the winter that followed. Only a few fortified places, such as Londonderry, held out; most of Ulster was under the control of Catholic Irish rebels, lead by Phelim O'Neill. The numbers of those who fell victim to this attempt at ethnic cleansing is given as 37,000. King Charles I sent an army under the Earl of Strafford to restore law and order, and there were acts of retaliation.

Then, the Scots rebelled against the enforced introduction of the Book of Common Prayer in their country; King Charles I. recalled the English parliament, asking for taxes to fight the Scots; Parliament demanded redresses, the situation escalated into the English Civil War (which also was an Anglo-Scottish War). Neither (English) King nor (English) Parliament had attention or funds to invest in Ireland.

Lord Strafford had been recalled to England to fight the Scots. The English Army in Ireland remained unpaid.

In 1642 a Synod was held at Kilkenny, which decided the establishment of an Irish Parliament, the Confederation of Kilkenny, which was dominated by landowning nobility, both Catholic and Protestant, who wanted to restore tranquility rather than escalate the war (
The Kyle's are mentioned at this historic Synod in Kilkenny).


Most of Ulster, however remained under the control of the rebels, now lead by Owen Roe O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone.  


  Oliver Cromwell   

According to O.M. Kyle, the brothers Robert Kyle, James Kyle and William Kyle fought under Oliver Cromwell beginning August of 1640 in Ireland against Owen Roe O'Neill, a nephew of Hugh O'Neill. Owen commanded a hundred officers from Catholic King Charles I of Spain in their invasion of Ireland. As a reward the Kyle brothers were awarded grants of land in Derry, Tyrone and nearby counties in Ulster in Northern Ireland around 1649 (However researcher Mr. J. O'Hart searched the National Archives in Dublin for Kyle land grant applications made by soldiers of the Commonwealth from 1650 onwards but no Kyle names were found).


William Kyle's grave, still visible under the pulpit of the local church, bears his statue with his coat-of-arms and crest, “The Bloody Hand and Dagger." William Kyle was a member of the Church of England although many Kyles were Presbyterians.


Cromwell Bombards Drogheda, Ireland,1649


Cromwell, to his shame, presided over a great slaughter when Drogheda fell as retribution for the 1641 uprising


Around this time, the last of the Kyles from around Ayrshire, Scotland moved, to Co. Derry and the Kyle name has since become numerous there, especially in Derry and Antrim. The descendents of this group of 1649 Kyles, mostly Presbyterians, got caught in later religious disputes between themselves and Irish members of the Church of England who, in the 1660’s through the early 1700’s controlled the Irish Parliament.


Another group of Kyles, settled in Tyrone, possibly before the 1649 dispersing of lands by Oliver Cromwell.  


In one of the Churches in Northern Ireland a monument to a Kyle has a “Cross and an Urn” on it, which was the usual symbol indicating a crusader in search of the Holy Grail. In 1759 a monument was erected in the wall of Castlederg Church located in Tyrone County, Mournebeg Ireland carved in stone dedicated by John Kyle to his brother Robert Kyle that included a KYLE Coat of Arms (three candles) with a crest of an arm and dagger, motto "Faith Fears Not."


The Parliament enacted a series of laws causing much difficulty for Irish Presbyterians. Among them were the Act of 1662 that required all to conform to the rites of the Episcopal Church.  Other laws enacted during the reign of Queen Ann (1704-1714) deprived Presbyterians the right to hold office in Ireland; required all to pay tithes to support the Episcopal clergy; declared illegitimate the children of any marriages but those performed by a Roman Catholic or Episcopal minister, etc. 


The result of this series of hardships for many Presbyterians, including many of the Kyle family, was migration to the then colonies, often Pennsylvania. During the 18th century more than 200,000 Ulster-Scots Presbyterians left for the new world.


Another group of early Kyles from Ayrshire in Scotland settled in Camnish, Londonderry County, in northern Ireland, arriving in the latter part of the reign of Charles II. Many of their progeny followed the migration to America


This group numbers among their ancestors Samuel Moore Kyle, born in 1770, who became Bishop of Cork and Ross and, as Bishop a member of the House of Lords. Although he was born and reared a Presbyterian, he joined the Church of England and became a minister.  Although the Bishop of Cork, he lived primarily in Dublin and was in charge of Trinity College where the "Kyle Prize" for Gaelic is still awarded annually to this day. (see Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland.)  Bishop Kyle died in 1848; his son, also named Samuel, became Arch-deacon of Cork.


Samuel Moore Kyle, Bishop of Cork and Ross




Sir William Emmet Kyle (sometimes spelled Kile in the records)  was notable. Born in the Craig of Kyle – a mountain town – in Ayr, in 1752, he married Ann Gibson and was sent with his regiment to Tyrone County Ireland in 1785. After action ended, he took up his residence in that county. He was knighted “Sir William the Belt,” meaning, the brave.       ------  Notable Southern Families, Volume V, pg 57


The migrations of Irish to the colonies in the late 1600’s and 1700’s were accelerated by English tariffs against Irish woolens and linens, enacted to protect the English textile industry, culminating in 1698 with a law forbidding Irish to make woolens and linens even for Irish-only use.  The stream of Irish or Scotch-Irish to the Americas and Australia included Kyles from all branches.



Related Site: Kyle History by Joseph Kyle


Related Articles










Other Derivations of Kyle Name

Most Scots/Irish Kyles probably trace their name to the ancient Kyle District of Scotland. In those simpler days a person was often referred to by his residence ie "John of Kyle."


The system was widespread in the middle ages. Adam de Balfour would come from Balfour in Fife ( Balfour:= settlement at the mouth of the Ore, where the river Ore flows in to the river Leven), William de Couper would come from the Royal Burgh of Cupar. These territorial names became permanent surnames.   --- Territorial Designations, the correct form, by Stuart Morris of Balgonie, yr.

In Kyle itself, the origin of the name is traditionally attributed to King Cole.  In addition to the local tradition in Kyle, Ayrshire that the name derives from Old King Cole (aka Coelius), there are a number of other possible derivations of the same phonetic name as follows:

  1. Harrison’s Surnames of the United Kingdom identifies the name and its major variants of Keil, Kile, or Kyle, as being of Celtic origin from the word Coal “narrow.” It defines it as “Dweller at the Narrow or Strait”. Even today many Scottish straits retain that name i.e. the “Kyle” of Lochash, "Kyle" of Sutherland, etc. PLAY "KYLES OF BUTE." (As an aside, there are actually no "Kyles," meaning "narrows" or "straights," in the District of Kyle, Ayrshire.)

  2. Some Variations might have stemmed from European forms (Kyle from Sweden, Kehl, Keil, Keyl, Coil, Kail from German and Dutch families; Kuyle from Flemish).

  3. Robert Chalmers of Ayrshire in his History of Scotland, said the word Kyle means “a woody region.”

  4. Another possible connection is that in Gaelic Cill  means 'church, churchyard'

  5. One source claims that  “kylle” in old Scotland meant candle.

  6. R.A. Kyle of Belfast contends the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon "Cil" meaning "Ship" and is related to the names "Kail" and "Kaile."

  7. In Modern Welsh (the language closest to the ancient Brythonic language of Kyle), Coel means "Omen or Belief." Coelio means "to Believe or Trust."

  8. One source asserts that the Irish Gaelic equivalent of Kyle is Mac Suile, and claims this to be corroborated by the summary of returns of local registrars, published by Matheson in 1901, where it is recorded that in the Ballycastle district (Co. Antrim) “Kyle” and “MacSuile” were used as synonyms by members of the same family.

  9. Coyle, a not uncommon surname in Co. Cavan Ireland, derives from the Irish name Mac Giolla Chomgaill, or “Son of the Devotee of St. Comhghal”-- Comhghal (pronounced Cowal) being a two-fisted priest of the 7th Century who founded Bangor Abbey, at one time the largest monastery in Ireland. (Comhghal also accompanied the better-known St. Columba on his trip to Scotland to convert the Picts and confront the Loch Ness Monster.) The same name is sometimes anglicized as MacIlhoyle or MacCool.

  10. There is a phonetic similarity to the word "kyloe" also "kyley;" one of the small long-horned breed of Highland cattle (Old English cy-leah – cow pasture) – Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology – contributed by Roland Symons.

  11. 'Kyles' was a form of skittles (bowling) and some might have been given the name as a nickname. The game is apparently quite old as there are two 14th century manuscripts which show a game called club Kayles-- from the French "quilles" or skittles see The Battle Of Sherramuir. Source: Sorbie Pages and Skittles History (see below)

  12. The name Coelestius or Caelestius was a common first name in the Late Roman Empire among Christians meaning "Heavenly."  One Coelestius, a Roman educated Briton was the instigator of the Pelagian heresy at the time of King Cole. PF Turner in "The Real King Arthur" postulates this as King Cole's given name.

  13. Finally, there was a well known Roman Family or “Gens” called Coelius (aka Caelius) for which, see discussion below under Old King Cole.

  14. In Ireland the Kyle- names are from either Ir. cill, a chapel, or coill, a wood. Source: Surnames of The United Kingdom- a Concise Etymological Dictionary; by Henry Harrison; page 258.

A game of Kyles, with trophy in readiness, pictured at Burnbank in 1883