Coles History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The earliest origins of the Coles surname date from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. Their name reveals that an early member was a person with a dark complexion. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old English word col, which meant dark.

Early Origins of the Coles family

The surname Coles was first found in Somerset or Wiltshire at Cole. The Somerset hamlet is in the parish of Pitcomb, union of Wincanton, hundred of Bruto; while the Wiltshire parish is in the union, and hundred of Malmesbury, Malmesbury and Kingswood. [1]

"Essentially south of England names, especially in the south - west, rarely occurring north of a line drawn west from the Wash. Cole is best distributed and has its principal homes in Devon and Wiltshire. Coles is most numerous in Somerset. Both names, strangely enough, are rare in Cornwall. Cole was a very ancient Teutonic name; there are places of the name in Somerset and Wiltshire, a circumstance that may perhaps explain the frequency of both names in Somerset and of Cole in Wiltshire." [2]

Much farther to the north in Scotland, the name was "one of the many forms assumed by the name Macdowall." [3]

Early History of the Coles family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Coles research. Another 43 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1608, 1688, 1640, 1680, 1617, 1676, 1617, 1650, 1616, 1697, 1659, 1660, 1773, 1843 and 1773 are included under the topic Early Coles History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Coles Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Coles are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Coles include: Coles, Coals and others.

Early Notables of the Coles family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Elisha Coles (ca 1608-1688), an English lexicographer and stenographer, chorister of Magdalen College, Oxford His nephew Elisha Coles (1640?-1680), was a lexicographer and stenographer, son of John Coles, schoolmaster of Wolverhampton. [4] Gilbert Coles (1617-1676), was an English divine, son of Edmund Coles, priest...
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Coles Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Coles World Ranking

In the United States, the name Coles is the 2,131st most popular surname with an estimated 14,922 people with that name. [5] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Coles is ranked the 215th most popular surname with an estimated 200 people with that name. [6] And in Australia, the name Coles is the 721st popular surname with an estimated 5,421 people with that name. [7] New Zealand ranks Coles as 687th with 1,036 people. [8] The United Kingdom ranks Coles as 427th with 15,107 people. [9]

Ireland Migration of the Coles family to Ireland

Some of the Coles family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Coles migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Coles or a variant listed above:

Coles Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Coles who settled in Warwick coming with Winthrop's Fleet to Ipwich Massachusetts in 1630. he was one of the original purchasers of Warwick and the Provident Plantations in Rhode Island
  • Robert Coles who settled in Warwick, coming with Winthrop's fleet to Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1630. He was made a freeman in 1631 and was one of the original purchasers of Warwick, and the Providence Plantations in Rhode Island
  • Robert Coles, who landed in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1630 [10]
  • Eliza Coles, aged 23, who arrived in America in 1635 [10]
  • Richard Coles, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Coles Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Susannah Coles, who arrived in Virginia in 1713 [10]
  • Joseph Coles, who arrived in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1733 [10]
Coles Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Coles, who arrived in New York in 1819 [10]
  • J Coles, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1822 [10]
  • Manuel Coles, aged 35, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1827 [10]
  • Juan Coles, who arrived in Florida in 1838 [10]
  • Anthony Coles, who arrived in Somerset County, Pennsylvania in 1849 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Coles migration to Australia +

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

Coles Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Euseby Coles, British Convict who was convicted in Northamptonshire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Earl St Vincent" on 20th April 1826, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [11]
  • George Coles, English convict from Somerset, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on March 5th, 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [12]
  • Mr. John Coles who was convicted in Somerset, England for life, transported aboard the "Circassian" on 4th November 1832, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [13]
  • Mr. John Coles, English convict who was convicted in Buckinghamshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Duncan" on 10th December 1840, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [14]
  • Mr. Joseph Coles, (b. 1815), aged 26, English convict who was convicted in Somerset, England for 10 years for theft, transported aboard the "David Clarke" on 3rd June 1841, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [15]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Coles 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:

Coles Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Florence Coles, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of the Deep" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 14th June 1854 [16]
  • Louisa Coles, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1864
  • George Coles, aged 24, a fireman, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Chile" in 1873
  • John Coles, aged 31, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1874
  • Mary Coles, aged 33, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1874
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Coles migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [17]
Coles Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Margaret Coles, aged 21, who landed in St Christopher in 1635 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Coles (post 1700) +

  • Leslie Stephen Coles (1941-2014), American co-founder and the Executive Director of the Gerontology Research Group
  • Charlie Coles (1942-2013), American college basketball coach and the former head men's basketball coach at Miami University
  • Charles "Honi" Coles (1911-1992), award-winning American actor and tap dancer
  • Edward Coles (1786-1868), American politician, Governor of Illinois (1822-1826)
  • Robert Coles (b. 1929), American author, child psychiatrist, awarded the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Kimberley "Kim" Coles (b. 1962), American actress and comedian
  • Kaines Adlard Coles, English yachtsman and founder of Adlard Coles Nautical, a nautical publisher in 1947, now with over 300 books in print
  • Neil Chapman Coles MBE (b. 1934), English professional golfer
  • Elizabeth Coles (1912-1975), popular English novelist and short story writer
  • Ms. Joanna Coles O.B.E., British recipient of Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to journalism and the media industry [18]
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. William Charles Coles, British Lead Signalman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [19]
  • Mr. Henry James Coles, British Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [19]
  • Mr. Albert G Coles, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [19]
Prince of Wales colliery
  • Mr. George Coles (b. 1830), Welsh coal miner who was working at the Prince of Wales Colliery in Abercarn, Wales on the 11th September 1878 when there was a coal mine explosion; he died [20]


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  6. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  8. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  9. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  10. ^ 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)
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th September 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-st-vincent
  12. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Argyle voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1831 with 251 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/argyle/1831
  13. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 8th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/circassian)
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/duncan
  15. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd June 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/david-clarke
  16. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  17. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  18. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 31 October 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/62310/supplement/B1
  19. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  20. ^ Entombed in flood and flame (retrieved 3rd August 2021). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20120603025705/http://www.crosskeys.me.uk/history/prince.htm


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