Recorded as Bull, Bulle, Bool, Bools, Boyle, Bole and Boles, this is a famous Anglo-Irish surname. It has two possible origins. The first derives from the Gaelic name O' Baoighill, meaning the male descendant of Baoigheall, a personal name of the pre 10th century which derives from "baoth" meaning rash, and "geall", a pledge. Traditionally, Irish family names were taken from some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by O', as above, or Mac, denoting son of. The O' Boyles were a strong sept in County Donegal, and they shared the leadership of the North West. As a clan they were noted for their ruddy complexion. Secondly it may be English from the pre 7th century word 'bula' meaning a bull. This could have been a nickname for a person of bullish characteristics, or it may have been topographical for one who lived at a house with the sign of a bull. Richard Boyle was a Jacobean adventurer from Kent. He acquired the lands of the executed Sir Walter Raleigh in County Waterford, and later became the 1st Earl of Cork. Fourteen of the fifteen Boyles listed in the National Biography belong to this Anglo Irish family. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wulfin le Bule of Hampshire in 1170. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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