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Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

Research of our Ashpole ancestries in London produced the realisation that most London Ashpoles in the early 19th century belonged to one genetic family, that the name is quite rare and prior to the 20th century, rather limited in its geographic distribution.  This prompted our study with these objectives:
  • To determine whether all persons of the name belong to one genetic family.
  • To use the global study and data collection to help those connected with the name to fill in gaps in their individual histories.

Consequently we welcome all enquiries for further information so do please get in touch using the contact details at the foot of the page.

Variant names

Today Ashpole, Ashpool and Ashbolt are the variants in use with Ashpole the most common although in the late 17c around the time of the hearth tax it seems to be rather rarely found.  At that time one will find Ashpoole or Ashbolt.  One family used the variation Ashfull for a century but it now appears to be extinct.  Including misspellings, misrecordings and so forth we have probably counted around thirty to forty other permutations including occasional drifting into other viable€™ names such as Aspull, Aspel, Aspall.

Name origin

Reaney in his 'A Dictionary of English Surnames' suggested that Ashpole, Ashpool and Ashbolt all derived from Archbold or its variants.  Archbold itself he interpreted as descending from the Old English Erchenbald meaning 'precious-bold'.  The overwhelming majority of persons bearing our names today do indeed appear likely to have derived their names from this source although this is not yet conclusive.  Such persons fall into three genetically distinct groups:
  1. Ashbolt/Ashpole - This group includes all individuals currently bearing the Ashbolt name with one sizeable branch that has been using Ashpole since the 1830s.  Ashbolt suddenly appears in south-east Bedfordshire in the late 16th century but in fairly close geographic proximity to a small family of Archbolds.
  2. Ashpole/Ashpool/Ashfull - This group is made up of two significant sub-groups currently linked solely by DNA evidence.  Both date to marriages in 1716/17; one in north-west Bedfordshire, the other in eastern Buckinghamshire. Circumstantial evidence suggests they probably descend from Archbold families in northern Buckinghamshire and/or southern Northamptonshire.
  3. Ashpoole/Ashpole - This group dates back to the 1670s in Shoreditch, London, beginning as Ashpoole but becoming Ashpole by the 1720s.  The sudden appearance of the name at this time (following which the family remained there for 150 years) may suggest a migration there, perhaps as refugees from the Great Fire of London.  One possibility being considered is that here the name may derive from Achepohl or Achelpohl, coming from Continental Europe.

Aside from these three groups a further significant pedigree is divergent from Reaney's proposition:

  1. Asphull/Ashpoole/Ashpool - This pedigree has been credibly traced back to the 1280s, that is before surname formation and here it certainly appears to be of a locative origin, being rendered as 'de Asphull'.  This tree arises in Denbighshire and it has been suggested elsewhere that the name springs from the village of Aspull in Lancashire following English settlers in the wake of the Edwardian Conquest.  No primary evidence has yet been found to support this view. Unfortunately this pedigree appears to be extinct in all male lines leaving no male who could assist with a DNA test.

There is one other major grouping in the world today:

  1. Ashpole - This is, so far, an isolated pedigree confined to persons of Jamaican descent.  The earliest discovered instances of the name on the island date to around 1824.  The island's diverse cultural heritage could suggest one of several possible origins, the early 1824 references showing the name being used by Maroons and one of the earliest and notable English settlers of the 1655 invasion was an Archbold.
There is much evidence for the Archbold to Ashpoole change with several confirmed instances in 16th century London of the names being used interchangeably for the same individuals.  The key in these cases may be the old use of €ch€™ where today we would use €˜s€™ (as in €˜chirurgeon€™ for surgeon) possibly suggesting that €˜Arch€™ may have been pronounced long and soft (as in machine or chevron) rather than short and hard.  This would have made the first syllable more obviously a confusible when it came to be written down.  Several of these Londoners had Irish connections and in Ireland the Archbold/Ashpole interchangeability is particularly pronounced although the change doesn't appear to have ever 'fixed' as it did in England.  Despite several suggestions of Ashpole having an Irish origin there is no trace of that variation surviving into the modern period in Ireland.
If you'd like to ascertain which of these groupings your Ashpoles, Ashpools or Ashbolts come from do please contact me using the details at the foot of the page.

Historical occurrences of the name

  • Adam de Asphull (earliest reference 1307) - appears to have been a post-Edwardian Welsh Conquest settler probably in the retinue of the De Greys of Ruthin.
  • Reverend Ellis Ashpoole (1667-1728) - headmaster of Brentwood School, Essex in the late 17th/early 18th centuries.
  • John Ashbolt (1755-1783) - soldier, convicted of bigamy in Cambridgeshire and highway robbery in Devon. Executed at Exeter.
  • Sir Alfred Ashbolt (1882-1930) - Agent-General for Tasmania in the early 20th century. Knighted in 1925.
  • Alfred John Ashpole (1892-1990) - English musician, conductor and composer of Brass Band music. Works include Hinchingbrooke, The Rivals and Suite Ancienne.

Name frequency

Around 1880 we have counted something over 400 individuals with the name worldwide.  By 1900 these numbers had grown to over 600 individuals and today we estimate there are perhaps something approaching 900 people that may bear one of these names.

Distribution of the name

Prior to 1825 no proven instance of the name occurring outside England and Wales has yet been found.  By 1851 identified persons numbered 206 in England heavily concentrated in the south-east primarily in Bedfordshire and its surrounds, 23 in the USA heavily concentrated in New York state, 7 in New Zealand (Wellington) and 2 in South Africa.  There were also people using the name in Jamaica by this time but numbers are unknown.
Around 1880 the individuals we've identified were distributed thus: 318 persons in England primarily in the south-east, a further 54 within the USA primarily in the mid-west, perhaps 15 in New Zealand, 20 in Australia and just 4 in South Africa.  Numbers for Jamaica are unquantified but undoubtedly small.
These numbers had expanded considerably by around 1910 with the individuals being distributed thus: 517 individuals in England, 97 in the US and Canada, 57 in New Zealand and Australia, 8 in South Africa.  Again Jamaican numbers are unquantified.  Twentieth century migration means that today instances of these names can be found in many countries.  The overwhelming majority however are still located in countries with an historical connection to the British Empire.


Systematic data collection began in October 2002.  Current status is (bracketed percentages show entries reconciled to the five major trees):
  • Births, Marriages and Deaths database - GRO Indexes complete for England & Wales 1837 to 2009 and Ireland 1865 to 1958, ongoing for overseas. Contains 5,229 entries (98%).
  • Census Database - All indexed entries collected for the 1841 to 1911 UK censuses and 1850 to 1930 US censuses with substantial progress on other local ones.  We presently have 3,151 names (99%).
  • Parish Registers Database - Initially sourced from the IGI but now heavily expanded to contain approximately 3,052 entries (87%).
  • Probates Database - Includes all national probate and death duty records 1811 to€“ 2004, PCC wills and admons pre 1858 plus a growing number of local probates.  Over 960 persons are mentioned within the records (89%).
  • Miscellaneous Databases - A growing collection of other references in national and local archives, newspapers, passenger lists, military records and so forth.
  • Pedigrees - The five main trees account for most persons in the late 19c censuses and many earlier fragments represent our work in progress.  Additionally substantial amounts of Archbold data have been collected from Southern England to progress testing the theory of it begetting our names.


Our Y-DNA study of males bearing any of the variants of our names was initiated in May 2007 and to date we have samples from eleven participants. Its object of determining how our major documentary pedigrees relate to each other is well on its way to be being realised thanks to a very good cross-section of samples so far.  However we still have gaps and we'd particularly welcome hearing from any German descended Achepohls/Achelpohls, English descended Archbolds or Jamaican descended Ashpoles.  Please get in touch through the contact details at the foot of the page.