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About the study
The PILE one-name study began in 1994 when I started to try and identify possible family members in my mother's photograph album. I followed the trail back to 1794 but, failing to find the birthplace of an elusive 3x great-grandfather George Pile, I decided to track back every George with the PILE/PYLE surname from the mid-19th century. Of course, this collection of names spread way beyond the first set parameters and rapidly grew into a large database which was registered with the Guild of One Name Studies in 2010.
The registered variants of the name are PILE and PYLE. There are many instances where these two spellings have been mis-read or mis-spelt in various ways and these instances have generally been collected and noted in my database but not registered. Another variant spelling, PEILE was used, but not consistently, and is generally found in Kent. Further confusion has been caused by the sound of the name so that sometimes PAUL and POWELL have been found but these instances have not been collected. The similar continental surname PIHL and variants are also to be found in the UK censuses but have also not been collected.
The PILE/PYLE surname is a locative one with potential sources in place-names in the Somerset and Bristol areas. A significant percentage of families with this surname are found in these areas. PIL forms the prefix of a number of place-names in England which must be Anglo-Saxon or earlier in origin but the town of Pyle in Mid-Glamorgan was established in the 15th century. Many of that surname found in South Wales will usually be found to have their origins in North Devon.
Historical occurrences of the name
A number of this surname have achieved fame or been on the edges of it. Richard Pile was one of the Serjeant surgeons to King Charles II and was paid £100 for opening and embalming the King's body in 1685. Francis Pile of Honiton is and was respected as a clockmaker of the mid-1700s. The Rev. Edmund Pyle was attached to the court of King George II and his correspondence appeared in the Memoirs of a Royal Chaplain 1729-1763. Sir Francis Pile, one-time Sheriff of Berkshire was responsible for the beautiful Compton Beauchamp House and a Wiltshire farmer, Robert Pile, commissioned a white horse carving in the chalk downs only to find he was diddled out of his money and had to pay twice for it.
Distribution of the name
As well as the Somerset and Bristol areas mentioned above both variants are commonly to be found in the counties of the east and south coasts of England and in the heart of London on both sides of the river, but the same town and village names come up time and time again. Many of these places, when mapped, can be seen to be along the ancient trading routes.
From the beginning the data was collected and sorted into family groups. The Excel program allows this to be done and sorted in a multiplicity of ways very easily. The facility for inserting comments allows for extra information about an individual to be added and accessed with ease. I am aware of the material for America and Australia and this is added when the family grouping is proved.
It would be most worthwhile to find out if there are any links between the PILE/PYLE families in the different counties of England and I should be very interested in getting a DNA project started.