Rule History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Rule surname evolved from two sources. In some instances, it came from the medieval personal name Roul. It was also a habitational name derived from "the lands of Rule, now included in the parish of Hobkirk, Roxburghshire. The territory in turn derives its name from the Water of Rule, an affluent of the Teviot. Retween 1214 and 1249 (REG., 148), we find Alan de Rule, Richard de Rule, and Thomas de Rule appearing as witnesses to charters. Adam de Roule and Thomas de Roule, both of the county of Rokesburk, rendered homage in 1296." [1]

Other sources postulate the name could have been from "St. Regulus, who brought the relics of St. Andrew to Scotland" [2] or from Rule in Staffordshire, England and included the early spellings: Rewel(e), Rewell, Rewyl, Ruwel and in the 12th century, Ruwell. [3]

Two other sources note that it was more likely derived from the "Norman personal name Raoul." [4] [5]

Early Origins of the Rule family

The surname Rule was first found in the Domesday Book of 1086 which records the name Rolf in Northumberland and Norfolk, Routf in Leicestershire and Turstinus filius Rolf, Rou, Roffi. [6] [7]

Saint Rule or Regulus ( fl. 8th century?), was the legendary founder of the see of St. Andrews. "He is a leading character in the story of the journeyings of the relics of St. Andrew. Accordingly to ancient writings, "after some wandering, Regulus reached Scotland, and on a hill called Rigmond (Kil-rymont, or St. Andrews) met the king of the Picts at the head of an army. The king was Ungus, son of Urguist, who had already been warned in a vision to offer the tenth part of his inheritance to St. Andrew in order that he might be victorious in the war he was waging against the Britannic nations. The king then dedicated that place to St. Andrew, to be head of all the Pictish churches." [8]

Back in Scotland, we found "Adam de Roule, c. 1300, made a grant of four acres of land in Molle to the monks of Kelso which is witnessed by Hugh de Roule and William de Roule. John de Roule witnessed a quitclaim by Robert de Colleuyll in 1328, and Walter de Roule. precentor in Glasgow, is mentioned between 1321 and 1333. In 1348 Thomas Ruwell was witness in a Justiciary Court case in Dundee, another Thomas de Rowle was a tenant of the Douglas in Dalfubill in 1376. William of Roule or Roulle witnessed the grant of the Forest of Eteryk to John Kerre in 1358, and was juror on an inquisition at Roxburgh in 1361." [1]

Early History of the Rule family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rule research. Another 330 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1214, 1249, 1296, 1335, 1429, 1479, 1507, 1526, 1567, 1570, 1671, 1629, 1701, 1690, 1701, 1629, 1651, 1656, 1660, 1662, 1665, 1650, 1685 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Rule History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rule Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Rule, Wrule, Roul, Rulle, Roulle, Roull and others.

Early Notables of the Rule family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name during their early history was Dr Gilbert Rule (1629-1701), Scottish nonconformist divine, Principal of Edinburgh University (1690 to 1701.) He was "born about 1629, probably in Edinburgh, where his brother Archibald was a merchant and magistrate. He was educated at Glasgow University, where he gained repute as a regent, and in 1651 he was promoted to be sub-principal of King's College, Aberdeen. About 1656 he became perpetual curate of Alnwick, Northumberland. At the Restoration Major Orde, one of the churchwardens, provided a prayer-book. Rule, however, preached against its use, whereupon Orde indicted him (August 1660) at...
Another 117 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rule Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rule Ranking

In the United States, the name Rule is the 5,649th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [9]

Ireland Migration of the Rule family to Ireland

Some of the Rule family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Rule migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Rule Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Dorothy Rule and her husband, who settled in Virginia in 1639
  • Dorothy Rule, who landed in Virginia in 1639 [10]
  • Anthony Rule, who settled in Virginia sometime between 1671 and 1672
  • Thomas Rule, who arrived in Virginia in 1679
Rule Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Nicholas Rule, who settled in New York in 1710
  • Judith Rule, who landed in Virginia in 1711 [10]
  • Peter Rule, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1727 [10]
  • James Rule, who arrived in Virginia sometime between 1734 and 1735
Rule Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Henry Rule, aged 47, who arrived in Vermont in 1812 [10]
  • James Rule, aged 47, who landed in Massachusetts in 1813 [10]
  • John Rule, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1819
  • Mr. Henry Rule, (b. 1810), aged 26, Cornish settler departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Royal Adelaide" arriving in the United States on 11th May 1836 [11]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Rule, (b. 1807), aged 29, Cornish settler departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Royal Adelaide" arriving in the United States on 11th May 1836 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Rule Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Willie Rule, (b. 1896), aged 5, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Teutonic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 25th July 1901 en route to Silver Bow County, Montana, USA [12]
  • Miss Ida Rule, (b. 1891), aged 10, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Teutonic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 25th July 1901 en route to Silver Bow County, Montana, USA [12]
  • Mr. Albert Rule, (b. 1899), aged 2, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Teutonic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 25th July 1901 en route to Silver Bow County, Montana, USA [12]
  • Mrs. Annie Rule, (b. 1871), aged 30, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Teutonic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 25th July 1901 en route to Silver Bow County, Montana, USA [12]
  • Mr. Eddie Rule, (b. 1893), aged 8, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Teutonic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 25th July 1901 en route to Silver Bow County, Montana, USA [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Rule migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Rule Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Samuel Rule, (b. 1858), aged 45, American miner returning from Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Lucania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 1st August 1903 en route to British Columbia, Canada [12]

Australia Rule migration to Australia +

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

Rule Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Rule, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • John Rule, a sawyer, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • James Rule, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839 [14]
  • Thomas Rule, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839 [14]
  • Edwin Rule, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Bruce" in 1846 [15]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Rule 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:

Rule Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Rule, aged 27, a miner, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duke of Roxburgh" in 1840
  • James Oliver Rule, aged 11 months, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duke of Roxburgh" in 1840
  • Mrs. Sarah Rule, (b. 1843), aged 19, Cornish settler departing on 2nd September 1862 aboard the ship "Echunga" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 24th December 1862 [16]
  • Mr. William Henry Rule, (b. 1841), aged 21, Cornish farm labourer departing on 2nd September 1862 aboard the ship "Echunga" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 24th December 1862 [16]
  • Mr. William Henry Rule, (b. 1841), aged 21, British farm labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Echunga" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 24th December 1862 [17]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Rule 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. [18]
Rule Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • William Rule, who settled in St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635
  • William Rule, aged 20, who arrived in St Christopher in 1635 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Rule (post 1700) +

  • Albert "Bert" Lyman Rule (b. 1891), American composer & arranger
  • Bobby Frank Rule (1944-2019), American NBA basketball player center who played from 1967 to 1974
  • Ann Rae Rule (1931-2015), née Stackhouse, an American true crime author of The Stranger Beside Me, the true story of her co-worker Ted Bundy
  • William Rule (1839-1928), American newspaper editor and politician, founder of the Knoxville Journal
  • Janice Rule (1931-2003), American actress
  • Jane Vance Rule CM OBC, (1931-2007), American-born, Canadian writer
  • Jack Rule Jr. (b. 1938), American PGA professional golfer
  • Elton Rule (1916-1990), American television executive, former president of the American Broadcasting Company
  • Christopher Rule (1895-1983), American comic book artist, the first regular Marvel Comics inker
  • Albert Leroy Rule (1886-1943), American World War I documentary film producer & director
  • ... (Another 16 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Dorsetshire
  • Albert Henry Rule (d. 1945), British Stoker 1st Class aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [19]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Samuel James Rule, aged 58, English Bathroom Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking by escaping in life boat 15 [20]


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  3. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  4. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  6. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  7. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  8. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  9. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  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. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to New York 1820 - 1891 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_new_york_1820_1891.pdf
  12. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  13. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  14. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BUCKINGHAMSHIRE 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Buckinghamshire.htm
  15. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LADY BRUCE 1846. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846LadyBruce.htm
  16. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  17. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  18. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  19. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html
  20. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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