The Origination of the Kyle Clan

The terms Scotia and Scot was first applied to the Gaelic natives of Eirinn (present day Ireland), but later came to be applied to Ireland’s northeastern neighbor, Alba (present day Scotland). By the seventh century the Northmen were calling Scotia, Eire pronounced “Ir” or “Ire” and the Britons called it “Ireland”. The Irish were settling Alba (present Scotland) as early as the third century and pretty much dominated Alba by the 7th century. More by marriage than just conquest the Picts just seem to disappear from Alba. These areas were also refereed to as Scotia Minor (present Scotland), and modern Ireland referred to as Eire or Scotia Major until about the 11 century when the present names of Ireland and Scotland became commonplace. So, Scotland was populated and ruled by Irish royal line until Alexander the Third died without heir in 1287.

The KYLE Family spelling can be traced back to the year 1056 where HUGH KYLE the Great was commander in Chief and his brother was his assistant in the First Crusade. KYLE is a Scottish place type name taken from the Celtic language “caol”, which means “narrow or straight”. Most European languages were influenced by Latin, which did not use the letter “K” or “Y”. Early spellings include CEOL; CIL, which was Anglo-Saxon, the German and Dutch, used KEHL, KEIL, COIL, and KAIL. The English form was KAIL, KYLL, KAILE, and KILE. The Anglo-Saxons introduced the letter “Y” to replace the “I”. The “C” when pronounced “K” was changed to “K” after it was introduced, which leads to the modern spelling of “KYLE”. Records show some people used these different spellings interchangeably. A Clerk with an IRISH tongue could readily spell KYLE as COYLE, CEOL, COIL or KOYLE. Since very few people were well educated spelling suffered greatly throughout written records.

One will find a simple explanation of the Kyle name today as: “In early times, the man who lived by an important river was referred to by the name of the river. In England, the Kyle River was the “narrow” river. Today Kyle is referred to as an English Place name.” This of course is a modern explanation. The KYLE clan originally took their surname, before the alphabet had a “K” or “Y” from where they lived in southwestern Scotland in Auchlinleck Parish, KYLE District in Ayshire, near Muirkirk by the river Ayr. I think many Kyle’s would have been very offended to be referred to as English!

Thus the original place referred to as “CAOL”, is today the town named (KYLE TOWN) between Rivers Irvine and Doon is by the water of Coyle (Kyle), found in County Ayr. County Coylton is due east of Ayr. A local stream is called KYLL. • This is also the area known for King Arthur, also of Celtic stock, legend has it, he fought a battle where the Glen Water meets the River Irvine at Darvel in Ayshire about the year 542. In 1236 Kyle Port is listed in Ayr on the High Street beside the Auid Tour. One of the earliest maps of Scotland, made by Matthew de Paris, a monk of St. Albans around 1250 AD shows the name “COLA” in what is now the District of KYLE one of the three subdivisions of Ayr County. KYLE District was divided by the River Ayr into two parts, KING’S KYLE and STEWART KYLE. These two Kyle districts on the old maps prior to 1700, consisted of half of Ayr. On May 16, 1975 Ayr County Council officially disbanded these old districts and burghs.

In 1334 Thomas Bruce and Robert the Stewart (Later Robert II) organized a rising in District of Kyle against the English.

In 1424 “WALTER OF KYLE” entered into the records as having been granted a document, which would guarantee his safe conduct into England. These safe conduct passes were only given to people of importance and were respected by both England and Scotland. In 1440 recorded devastation in Ayrshire of the lands of Colville of Ochiltree . In 1494 Protestant ideas in Ayshire came from thirty lesser lairds (lords) from Kyle with George Reid of Barskinning their spokesman and were tried for heresy and admonished. In 1498 Sir William Colville had his dependents received an exemption from jurisdiction by the Sheriff of Ayr. In Edinburgh, 100 years after it became the Capitol City of Scotland in 1537, GEORGE KYLE was elected a Member of Parliament. In the same year, in a place called Irvine, JOHN and THOMAS KILE were also members of Parliament. In Glasgow in the year 1606 a ROBERT KYLE appears on record as leaving his estate to his heir ANDREW KILE. Lord Colville is listed in Colville in 1651. One of the KYLE’s is involved with the coopers trade in Edinburgh in 1662 (a cooper was a highly skilled craftsman making water tight barrels out of hand carved wooden staves). The lands belonging to lord Coville of Ochiltree became extinct in 1728. In 1740 there is a reference of a Kyle from Dairy that introduced “bowls” (as in a kitchen bowl) at Kilmarnock.

Bleau’s Atlas issued in 1654 marks this same physical location in Scotland as “Ayr-Ky-O-LLE”. Therefore this family had been there for over a thousand years. The old KYLE castle was still standing there as late as 1863. The registry of castles in Scotland list the Kyle castle as an early 15th century keep. A recent picture of that castle found in Old Cumnock parish in Ayshire is being used as the background on this webpage. The local farmland was called KYLE, but the property was owned by Marquis of Bute, with most memory of the locals of the earlier owners lost by 1863. Ayr and Coylton and Old Cumnack parish, in the District of Kyle of Ayrshire County is located in southwest part of Scotland.

This area was presumably named after COILUS, 53rd King of the Britons, descendant of Brutus the 1st king of the Britons, descendant from the line of Noah, as written in chapter 18 of Nennius’ Historia Brittonum. King Brutus was the first to colonize the British mainland after the Flood. COILUS’s son Lucius, the 54th King of the Britons, was the fist Christian king, he died in 156 AD. The nursery rhyme “OLD KING COLE” (COEL) is about another ancestor, COEL the 59th King of the Britons. In 702 Scots invaders were defeated at Coilsfield by Coilus, a British king. Old King COEL (as in the nursery rhyme) founded the city of Colschester that still bears his name.

Robert Bruce, Boswell and the famous poet Robert Burns were born and lived in KYLE District by the River Ayr. Burns wrote in his “Farewell Song to the Banks of Ayr” using the ancient from of the word Kyle:

And in his poem “The Vision” he writes:

“Farewell, old Coila’s hills and dales
Her healthy moors and winding vales,”

“There, where a sceptr’d Pictish shade
stalked round his ashes lowly laid”

A footnote by Burns says the lines refer to KING COILUS who lies buried, near the family seat of the Moatgomeries of Coilsfield. Other historians also state the famous “OLD KING COLE” (pronounced COUL) nursery rhyme and the name KYLE and COLE are the same. Old King Cole’s grave was opened in 1837 finding artifacts indicating a personage of distinction. COEL’s grandson was the 61st King of Briton, Constantine I, the famous Emperor of Rome who legalized the Christian Religion.

The history of the KYLE family finds generation after generation fighting for religious freedom and many generations of members being in the clergy. The earliest Protestant recorded times show the KYLE’S have been Presbyterians, in the main. It was in Scotland that Presbyterianism emerged as a great national religious institution as noted in 1494 District of Kyle above. John Knox was the leader of the Scotch Presbyterian Church after the Reformation, around 1525, and later.

The Kyle’s move to Ireland

In the years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in Ireland, Conn the Lame, & Baron of Dungannon died. Shane the Proud slew his half brother, the next Baron, and was inaugurated the O’Neill in Ulster. Mercenaries from Scotland were hired to assist Queens’ O’Donnels, Queens’ O’Neills and the red coats to oust Shane the Proud and their Catholic supporters. Years later, Shane’s sons and Red Hugh O’Donnell escaped from the English and swept through Ulster driving out the English sheriffs starting the “Nine Year War”. The Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill, head of the O’Neill clan in Northern Ireland, rebelled against English rule, cast off his title of Earl, and set himself up as King of Ulster. Elizabeth recalled her best soldiers from the Spanish war in Belgium to send to Ireland. This war continued with the King of England, King James I, himself a Scotch Presbyterian until the “Flight of the Earls”, with the defeat of O’Neal and the other Irish chiefs who had supported him and fled into exile with their families. The English Crown took over the vast estates and parceled them out which included some land to the Kyle’s around the year 1606. King James gave Sir William (KYLE) a belt of land in Tyrone County Ireland where he moved with his family from Scotland. This was only about 20 miles from the. Boarders of Scotland. KYLE’S supported William Wallace and when the Convenanters defied the king in 1638 many KYLE’S were numbered in that group. The Kyle’s survived the uprising of the Irish on October 21, 1641 and are mentioned at the historic Synod in Kilkenny in May of 1642 which created the Parliament.

The brothers ROBERT KYLE, JAMES KYLE and WILLIAM KYLE fought under Oliver Cromwell beginning August of 1640 to uphold Protestantism in Ireland, against Owen Roe O’Neill, a nephew of Hugh O’Neill, and commander of a hundred officers from Catholic King Charles I of Spain, and their invasion of Ireland. As a reward they were awarded grants of land in Derry, Tyrone and nearby counties in Ulster located in Northern Ireland around 1649. Around this time, the last of the KYLE’S from around Ayshire, Scotland moved, and most moved into Ireland. This was during the period, which was known as the “Plantation of Ulster”. In Ulster the family gained great prominence and was referred to as the well known “KYLES OF LAUREL HILL” in later years. Some other of the KYLES must have moved into Northwest Scotland where today there is a town called “Kyle of Lochalsh”.

In one of the Churches in Northern Ireland a monument to a KYLE has a “Cross and an Urn” on it, which was the usual symbol indicating a crusader in search of the Holy Grail. In 1759 a monument was erected in the wall of Castleberg Church located in Tyrone County, Mournebeg Ireland carved in stone dedicated by JOHN KYLE to his brother ROBERT KYLE that included the words “Mournebeg House” and the KYLE coat of Arms.

The KYLE coat of arms has been tracked back to around the year 1000. This is also the time true surnames, in the sense of hereditary appellations were found around England and required by the conquering Normans. Probably the Oldest recorded KYLE coast of arms was that shown in Lyndsay’s Heraldic Manuscripts, hand painted in 1630 and described below.

ALSO, in the general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales first published in 1842, lists REVEREND SAMUEL KYLE, D. D. BISHOP OF CORK, whose family was long seated at KYLE, N.B. And whose immediate ancestors settled Camish County, Derry, Ireland is listed with a similar coat of arms and uses the family motto of “Tibisoli”. The Lyndsay manuscripts were reproduced in color in 1878 and consisted of only 130 pages. This was dedicated to mostly kings and Nobles including the arms of about 500 of the principal families including the Kyle’s.

The Kyle Coat of Arms is Argent (silver which denotes sincerity and nobility) with three candlesticks (religious significance) in sable (black which denotes repentance or vengeance). Over the years a candlestick would be changed to denote a special accomplishment or the bearer was not the eldest son. Under heraldic rules only the first son of each generation may use their exact ancestors Coat of Arms. History denotes the third candlestick has been replaced with a mullet (star) in Gules (red) to denote military fortitude) or a lion rampant (standing and facing) in Gules (red) on azure (blue representing loyally and splendor) background. Sometimes over all is found a Saltire (Saint Andrews Cross) in Gules.

The crest was added in the 13th century and contained a ducal coronet surmounting a helmet, Dexter, arms in armor elbowed, holding a dagger.

The family motto AFIDES NON TIMET is Latin for “Faith Fears Not”.

The KYLE men were known to be of powerful physique, both tall and broad shouldered. The KYLEs were fair of skin, fair hair, and blue eyes with little exception. Long life was another common characteristic. The KYLE VOICE is mentioned over many generation and described as “very pleasant” and unquestionably a useful feature in the ministry.

Much of this information came from U.S. Senator from South Dakota (1891-1901) THOMAS HENDERSON KYLE; Miss EMMA KYLE BURLESON’s, daughter of Postmaster General Albert Sidney Burleson, of Texas, research in London in 1911 with the help of R.A. KYLE and others of Belfast Ireland; The book “Kyle, Kile Family History”; the eighth century work of Nennius, the “Historis Brittonum”, 1. Ayrshire, the story of a County by John Strawhorn 1975 & Ayrshire Archaeological and Natural History society, and information passed down in our own family.

The Kyle’s move to America

Thus many of the KYLE’s of today are descendent of the Scottish/Irish Kyle’s that migrated to the United States of America beginning @ 1720 because of religious persecution of Staunch independent Presbyterians who refused to support the Church of England during the previous 60 years.