Scholes Family Website
DERIVATION OF SCHOLES
a Place Name
is generally accepted that Scholes derives from Old Norse. There are two
From the word
skŕli, meaning hut or shed, or rough shelter, a building however primitive
that would serve as a landmark, or as an outlying building of a farm. Over time
some shelters became permanent and formed the nucleus of a settlement. Other
interpretations are ‘dweller by a hut or shed’, and also ‘shieling’,
that is, a pasture to which cattle or sheep are driven for summer grazing.
is one of a number of Scandinavian place-name elements that provide evidence of
the clearing of marginal land.
scala, meaning skull and used for a ‘cwm or hollow in the mountains where
a glacier starts’ or a 'hut high up a hill' providing a temporary shelter from
the weather. Summer shielings were located around the snow line and hence the
word became to be used for a shepherd’s hut.
is strongly related to scales, which also derived from skali
or scala. In
fact, the name Scales may well have
developed from Scholes with the vowel rounded. It is debatable whether Scholes
is a variant of Scales, or vice versa.
is both a topographical surname derived from features of the landscape, and a
locative surname from the names of specific places. There were three ways in
which a surname might have derived from a place name.
Where a person lived or was a
tenant; when he or she left the village for another place, the name of the
village of origin often served local people as an adequate description for the
A person often adopted the name of
a place where he or she owned land.
A person could bear the name of
the place where he was born.
are five places of significant size and several hamlets and smaller places in
Northern England called Scholes. While there are no definitive records it seems
likely that some of these were settled long before anyone in England acquired a
great majority of villages in England are listed in the Domesday
Book of 1086 but the coverage of northern counties is relatively sparse
largely because at the time of the survey much of the land was unsuitable for
use as agricultural use or as a result of the depredation caused by the Wars in
the North in the 20 years following the Norman Conquest. None of the places
called Scholes is listed.
surname Scholes and its variants first appear In Lancashire in registers of 1285
and in late 13th century tax returns, and in Yorkshire in the Court
Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield. The period 1250-1350 was the period during
which hereditary surnames were beginning to be adopted in England by land-owning
families and some other social classes; many of these early surnames were
derived from the place where the family lived. In the West Riding, most family
names became hereditary during the period 1275-1425 (Redmonds 1973).
to the generally accepted Norse origin, Bardsley (1980) suggests that Scholes
may have derived from ‘at the school or ‘schooles’. In fact, the Old
English word scol comes from the Latin schola (school). This seems
dubious and a Scandinavian origin seems much more likely, especially in the
north of England.
suggestion is that the name originates from scule
or scula, which in turn derive from
the Old Norse skuli and Old Danish skule.
other possibility is that Scholes is of Norman origin, with the surname Scoles
having derived from Scoville, a family from the village of Escoville or
Echoville, near Caen, some members of which came over with William the
Conqueror. In England the ‘E’ was dropped and the name took the form of
Scoville. This family acquired land in the parish of Corfe Castle in Dorset the
13th century. The family flourished in the County until the early 18th
century although the estate of ‘Scowles’ passed out of their possession at
the time of Henry IV. Scowles Farm, 2 miles south of Corfe Castle, is known
today as Scoles Manor and has the remains of a medieval chapel probably from the
original homestead. It is a listed Grade 2 building and, according to Peter
Bell, the present owner, is reputed to have a ghost!
Farm is mentioned extensively by H W Brainard in his Survey
of Scovils or Scovills in England and America; this book was privately published in 1915 and is being
transcribed by Winston Scoville of London, Ontario for web publication. However,
there is no reference to the usage of ‘Scoles’ and it seems likely that
‘Scoles’ is simply a corruption of Scowles quite unrelated to the locative
surname Scoles or Scholes.
to the United States (and to a lesser extent the UK) often assimilated their
surnames by a phonetic rendering or by adopting a similar sounding English name.
The names Scholes and Scoles were adopted mainly by settlers from Germany and
The Netherlands with surnames such as Scholl, Scholles, Schols, Scholsz, Scholtz,
Scholz, Schollass and so on.
Scoales and Schoales were at one time common variants of Scholes. Of these
surnames Scoles is the one that occurs most frequently today (especially in the
USA) with few occurrences of the other names. Bardsley (1980) suggests that
Schoales is an American variant.
are many less-familiar variants in the International Genealogical Index (IGI).
These surnames were probably dialect variations, phonetic spellings or simply
misspellings in parish registers and other documents. They include:
Scholas, Schooles, Scholle(s), Scholl(e)s, Scholer, Scolus, Scolas, Scoole,
Scolis, Scolys, Scols, Scolls, Scoyles, Shols, Shole, Sholes, and Skoles.
archaic variants have largely disappeared in England having been replaced in the
mid 19th century by ‘Scholes’ or ‘Scoles’.
number of other names with a similar derivation are related to Scholes.
name bears the strongest relationship to Scholes and has already been mentioned.
There are a number of places called Scales in north-western English counties;
and it is also a fairly common element of other place-names. Scales is also
found in Norfolk and it was common in the county as far back as the 13th
(1975) lists two early references to place names: Eschales c.1185, and Scales
1268 mentioned in The Chartulary of
Cockerstand Abbey. The adoption of
Scales as a surname dates back to the same period and, like Scholes, it
comes from the Old Norse, skali and
words that passed into Middle English as scale.
(1961) groups together Scale and Scales with Schoales, Scholes and Scoles as a
family of surnames. In medieval sources different spellings are often used for
the same individual. For example, William del Scholes of Pentwortham (near
Preston), an early 14th century landowner, is also referred to as
William del Schales (McKinley 1982). There are some examples in the IGI of
Scholes being wrongly entered as Scales, and Boyd’s Marriage Index
transposes Scholes as Skales in some cases.
include Scale, Scailes, Scayles, Skale, Skales, Skayles and Skailes.
surname derived from skali and the Old English erg, probably
‘dweller by the shieling with a hut’. Variants include Scholer, Schollar,
Scholler, Scouler and Scouller.
common surname in Lancashire and Yorkshire, Schofield comes from skali
and the Old English feld, probably ‘dweller by a field with a hut’.
Variants include Schoefield, Scholefield, Scholfield, Scolfield, Scofield.
common surname in Yorkshire, which comes from skali and the Old English eg,
probably ‘dweller by the low lying land with a hut’. Variants include
Schooley, Scolay, Scoley, Scholay and Scholaye, some of which developed in the
16-17th centuries into Scholes or Scoles.
relatively uncommon name may have derived from Scoles via Scoyles, but it is
more likely to be a quite distinct name that came over to Norfolk with the Danes
(Skoyles 1994). Many Skoyles have resided in the Yarmouth area of Norfolk since
the 16th century. However, Redmonds (1973) has suggested that the
name is a dialect variation of Scholes.
Skoyles has researched Skoyles and also Skoils, Scoles and Skayles. His
suggestion is that Skoyles (and possibly Scholes) came from the ancient names
Scule, Skule or Scula, or from Escul(e) mentioned in Domesday. In fact, Reaney
(1976) suggests that the late 13th century name Scowle or Scoule may
have come from Scule. These names are all from the Old Norse skuli and
Old Danish skule, probably from skyla,
‘to protect’. There are references to Scule dating back to 930-947;
and Earl Sculle ruled in Wicklow during the reign of King Edgar.