Gales History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The earliest origins of the family name Gales date back to the Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It was a name given to a person who was known for their cheerful personality and their jovial disposition. The surname Gales was originally derived form the Old English word gal, which described a person as being pleasant and merry. [1]

Early Origins of the Gales family

The surname Gales was first found in Yorkshire where the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list Johanna del Gaylle; Agnes del Gaylle; Johannes del Gayle; and Willelmus Gayle as all holding lands there at that time. [2]

One source claims the name is a "Scottish Highlander," [3] and in Scotland, "strangers to the Gadhelic people were called Gall, and this gave rise to surnames such as Gauld, Gall, and the Lowland Galt. Gall in the common speech was pronounced 'Gaw.' A rather common surname in Perth and especially in the Muirton of Balhousie during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. John Gal was witness to a grant to the Blackfriars of Perth in 1334." [4]

Early History of the Gales family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gales research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1534, 1546, 1596, 1597, 1628, 1678, 1635, 1702, 1671, 1701, 1680, 1721, 1647, 1721, 1670, 1735 and 1660 are included under the topic Early Gales History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gales Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became incorporated into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Gales include Gale, Gail, Gaile, Gales and others.

Early Notables of the Gales family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include George Gale, Mayor of York; Dunstan Gale (fl. 1596), an English poet, author of a poem entitled 'Pyramus and Thisbe,' supposed to have been printed for the first time in 1597. [5] Theophilus Gale (1628-1678), was an English educationalist, nonconformist and theologian of dissent from Kingsteignton, Devon; Thomas Gale (1635?-1702), an English classical scholar, antiquarian and cleric from Scruton, Yorkshire; Mildred Gale (1671-1701), born Mildred Warner in the Colony of Virginia, paternal grandmother of President George Washington; and John Gale (1680-1721), an English Baptist theologian; and his son...
Another 95 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gales Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gales Ranking

In the United States, the name Gales is the 8,739th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [6] However, in France, the name Gales is ranked the 5,513rd most popular surname with an estimated 1,000 - 1,500 people with that name. [7]


United States Gales migration to the United States +

A great wave of immigration to the New World was the result of the enormous political and religious disarray that struck England at that time. Families left for the New World in extremely large numbers. The long journey was the end of many immigrants and many more arrived sick and starving. Still, those who made it were rewarded with an opportunity far greater than they had known at home in England. These emigrant families went on to make significant contributions to these emerging colonies in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

Gales Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Gales, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1877 [8]

New Zealand Gales 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:

Gales Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Gales, who landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1840

Contemporary Notables of the name Gales (post 1700) +

  • Lawrence Bernard "Larry" Gales (1936-1995), American jazz double-bassist
  • Joseph Gales Jr. (1786-1860), English-born, American journalist, son of Joseph Gales
  • Kenny Gales (b. 1972), American former NFL football player for the Chicago Bears (1995)
  • Winifred Marshall Gales (1761-1839), American novelist and memoirist
  • Eric Gales (b. 1974), American blues-rock guitarist
  • Joseph Gales (1761-1841), English journalist, newspaper publisher and politician, Editor of the Sheffield Register (1787–1794)


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. 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. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  8. ^ 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)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook