Show ContentsCarlisle History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Carlisle was first used in the Scottish/English Borderlands by an ancient Scottish people called the Strathclyde-Britons. It was a name for someone who lived in the city of Carlisle in the county of Cumberland.

Early Origins of the Carlisle family

The surname Carlisle was first found in Cumberland, at Carlisle. "It was anciently called Caer-Luil, or Caer Leol, signifying "the city of Luil," a British potentate, who is reputed to have been its founder. The Romans, on selecting it for a station, changed the name to Lugovallum, which is probably derived from Lugus or Lucu, a "tower" or "fort," in the Celtic tongue, and Vallum, in allusion to Adrian's vallum, which passed near. From its earliest foundation till the union of the English and Scottish kingdoms, the town suffered those shocks of incursive warfare to which, as a border town, it was peculiarly exposed, and by which it was repeatedly overwhelmed. " [1]

"The surname crossed the Border, the spelling undergoing slight changes. Still it is easy to see that Thomas Carlyle was born and brought up not very far from the city whence his ancestors originally sprang." [2]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 pointed to the wide spelling variations that were in use at that time: Thomas de Carlell; Willelmus de Karleyll, osllr; and Walterus de Carlhill. [2]

Slightly further to the north in Scotland, "the first of the name who appears in Scotland is Odard de Carlyle, who witnessed a charter by Uchtred, son of Fergus, lord of Galloway, to the Hospital of St. Peter at York between 1158-1164. He appears to have also held the land of Hoddam as he is described as Odard de Hodelme. Evdone de Karleolo or Eudo de Karliol, c. 1207, was witness to a charter by Eustace de Vescy of 20l. per annum out of the mill of Sprouiston to the Abbey of Kelso." [3]

Early History of the Carlisle family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Carlisle research. Another 152 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1500, 1795, 1881, 1551, 1593, 1629, 1664, 1622, 1680, 1691, 1682 and are included under the topic Early Carlisle History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Carlisle Spelling Variations

The many spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names result from the fact that scribes in that era spelled words according to sound. Translation too, was an undeveloped science, and many names were altered into complete obscurity. Over the years Carlisle has been spelled Carlisle, Carlysle, Carleill, Carlyle, Carlile, Carliell and many more.

Early Notables of the Carlisle family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Christopher Carleill (1551?-1593), English military and naval commander, son of Alexander Carleill, citizen and vintner of London. Lodowick Carlell (fl. 1629-1664), was an English dramatist, who held various positions at court under Charles I and II. [4] Robert Carliell (d. 1622?), was a poet and author of a scarce volume entitled 'Britaines Glorie; or an Allegorical Dreame with the Exposition thereof: containing the Heathens Infidelitie, the Turkes Blasphemie, the Popes Hypocrisie, Amsterdams Varietie, the Church of...
Another 82 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Carlisle Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Carlisle Ranking

In the United States, the name Carlisle is the 1,399th most popular surname with an estimated 22,383 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Carlisle family to Ireland

Some of the Carlisle family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Carlisle migration to the United States +

To escape the uncertainties and discrimination faced in Scotland, many decided to head out for North America. Once they arrived, many Scots fought with relish in the American War of Independence; some went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Many ancestors of these Scots have recovered their lost national heritage in the 20th century through Clan organizations and Scottish historical societies. Among the settlers to North America were:

Carlisle Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Carlisle, who arrived in Maryland in 1666 [6]
  • Jone Carlisle, who landed in Maryland in 1666 [6]
  • Susan Carlisle, who landed in Maryland in 1666 [6]
Carlisle Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Carlisle who settled in Augusta Virginia in 1730
  • Alexander Carlisle, who arrived in New England in 1743 [6]
Carlisle Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Geo Carlisle, who landed in America in 1806 [6]
  • Mary Carlisle, who arrived in America in 1806 [6]
  • William Carlisle, who settled in New England in 1806
  • John Carlisle, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [6]
  • Allen Carlisle, aged 25, who arrived in Virginia in 1812 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Carlisle migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Carlisle Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Robert Carlisle U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1783 [7]

Australia Carlisle migration to Australia +

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

Carlisle Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Carlisle, (b. 1777), aged 36, British Convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 14 years for coining, transported aboard the "Earl Spencer" in May 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1815 [8]
  • John Carlisle, aged 38, a painter, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Epaminondas" [9]

New Zealand Carlisle migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Carlisle Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. J. B. Carlisle, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Derwent Water" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 26th November 1861 [10]
  • James Carlisle, aged 25, a labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Parsee" in 1873
  • Miss Minnie Carlisle, (b. 1856), aged 22, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Invercargill" arriving in New Zealand on 2nd October 1878, en-route to Ivercargill, South Island, New Zealand [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Carlisle (post 1700) +

  • Jack Mason Carlisle (1929-2021), American head football coach at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee from 1978 to 1982
  • Brandon Carlisle (1978-2015), American punk rock drummer for the Teenage Bottlerocket
  • Mary Carlisle (b. 1912), retired American actress and singer, one of the "WAMPAS Baby Stars" in 1932
  • Kitty Carlisle (1910-2007), born Catherine Conn, American singer and actress, best remembered as a regular panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth
  • John Griffin Carlisle (1834-1910), American politician, 35th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (1883-1889)
  • Jodi Carlisle (b. 1960), American actress, active since 1982
  • Cooper Morrison Carlisle (b. 1977), American NFL football guard
  • Cliff Carlisle (1903-1983), American country and blues singer
  • Belinda Jo Carlisle (b. 1958), American pop vocalist, best known as the lead vocalist of the Go-Go's
  • Orville H. Carlisle (1917-1988), American inventor of model rocketry [11]
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

USS Arizona
  • Mr. Robert Wayne Carlisle, American Seaman First Class from Texas, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [12]

The Carlisle Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Humilitate
Motto Translation: With humility.

Suggested Readings for the name Carlisle +

  • A Family History of Zachariah and Jennie Colwill Carlisle by Robert Z. Carlisle.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th September 2021). Retrieved from
  9. South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) EPAMINONDAS 1852. Retrieved
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  11. Orville Carlisle. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Orville Carlisle. Retrieved from
  12. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook