Show ContentsBales History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Bales is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bales family lived in Norfolk, where they were found since the early Middle Ages in England from ancient times. The surname, however, derives from the area of Besle in Normandy, where they lived prior to the Norman Conquest in 1066. There is some debate as to whether this name is related to the name "Bailey", which is of occupational derivation, and refers to a Norman civil office similar to that of a sheriff or viscount.

Early Origins of the Bales family

The surname Bales was first found in Norfolk at Bale, a village within the civil parish of Gunthorpe which dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was listed as Bathele. [1] The place name literally means "woodland or clearing where there are springs used for bathing." [2] The All Saints parish church dates back to the middle of the 14th century.

Early History of the Bales family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bales research. Another 77 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1461, 1495, 1503, 1547, 1563, 1564, 1590, 1595, 1610, 1617, 1624 and 1654 are included under the topic Early Bales History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bales Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Bale, Bales and others.

Early Notables of the Bales family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Sir John Bale, 1st Baronet (1617-1654), was High Sheriff of Leicestershire in 1624; Peter Bales (1547-1610?), was an English calligrapher, one of the inventors of shorthand writing
  • The Venerable Christopher Bales (Bayles) (1564?-1590), was an English Catholic priest and martyr. Born at Coniscliffe near Darlington, County Durham, he was arrested and tortured by Richard Topliffe...
  • Peter Bales (1547-?1610), was an English caligraphist, whose name appears also as Balesius, speaks of himself in the year 1595 as being 'within two yeares of fiftie,' which gives the date of his birth...

Bales Ranking

In the United States, the name Bales is the 2,585th most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [3]

United States Bales migration to the United States +

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Bales or a variant listed above:

Bales Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Tho Bales, aged 18, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 aboard the ship "Primrose" [4]
  • Thomas Bales, who landed in Maryland in 1665 [4]
Bales Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Francois Bales, who arrived in Louisiana in 1719 [4]
Bales Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Bales, who arrived in America in 1801 [4]
  • John Bales, who landed in America in 1808 [4]
  • S Bales, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [4]
  • C Bales, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [4]
  • Daniel Bales, who arrived in Arkansas in 1894 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bales Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Ester Bales, aged 20, who landed in America, in 1902
  • Esther Bales, aged 10, who immigrated to the United States, in 1904
  • Elizabeth Bales, aged 13, who settled in America from Liverpool, in 1904
  • Fredk. Bales, aged 36, who landed in America, in 1905
  • Harry Bales, aged 49, who settled in America from Bristol, in 1905
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Bales migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bales Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Henry Bales, aged 27, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1915

Australia Bales migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bales Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Bales, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Clyde" on 20th August 1830, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • Mr. William Bales, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 5th November 1835, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land)1836 [6]
  • John Bales, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Caroline" in 1851 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Bales (post 1700) +

  • Steve Bales, NASA engineer and flight controller, a key figure in the Apollo 11 lunar landing
  • Wesley Owen "Lee" Bales (b. 1944), former American Major League Baseball player
  • Kevin Bales, American author and slavery expert, President of Free the Slaves
  • James David Bales (1915-1995), American Bible professor
  • Burt Bales (1917-1989), American jazz pianist
  • Barry Bales (b. 1969), American musician
  • Alison Marie Bales (b. 1985), American WBNA basketball player
  • Robert Freed Bales, American psychologist
  • Raymond Arthur "Billy" Bales (1929-2023), English international motorcycle speedway rider who reached the final of Speedway World Championship in 1955
  • Gerald Bales (1919-2002), Canadian organist and composer
  • ... (Another 2 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Miss Alice Bales (1893-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [8]

Suggested Readings for the name Bales +

  • Passing the Words Along: A Continuing History of the Alonzo L. Bales Family by Miriam Halbert Bales.

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 19th February 2021). Retrieved from
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th January 2020). Retrieved from
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CAROLINE 1851. Retrieved
  8. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from on Facebook