Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Variants: Tickel, Tickell, Tickhill
Category: 1 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is in its early stages.
DNA website: www.familytreedna.com/groups/tickle/about
Contact: Mrs Melody McKay Burton
This study came about through an interest in my father's line. He was descended from Tickles who, in the 19th century, ran a thriving blacksmith and farrier business close to the Liverpool docks. In researching his family tree I came across numerous records pertaining to other Tickle families, both in the UK and overseas, and decided to collect the data to provide a resource for other researchers interested in this name.
A main variant is Tickell. My father changed the spelling of his own surname from Tickle to Tickell in the 1930s (he thought it sounded more professional...) In historical records the name may be spelt Tickel, Tickal, and Tickl. The names Tichel, Digel, and Dickelle may be related.
The name is frequently transcribed incorrectly and may appear as Fickle, Sickle, Bickke etc.
Most websites and publications state that Tickle is a locational surname, and usually give its origin as being from Tickhill, in West Yorkshire, England. My research leads me to believe that there are multiple origins.
If you are a Tickle in North America, for instance, you may have no connection with Yorkshire. Your surname may come from a German name, such as Digel.
Tickhill appeared as "Tichehilla" in the Yorkshire Register of Antiquities (c. 1150), and as "Ticahil" in the Yorkshire Charters (1157). There is a possible link with the Norman baron, Roger deBusli, who participated in the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and later erected a castle at Tickhill.
The name itself is composed of the Olde English personal name "Tica", or the Olde English "ticce", kid, plus "hyll", hill. It could well be that there were other villages with a similar name elsewhere in England, such as Devon and Cornwall, where the name is also found in early records.
During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wider dispersal of the name.
In the UK, the Tickle surname is far more commonly found in Lancashire than Yorkshire. I have not found an explanation of this, other than a branch of the family settled there. My own family folklore has it that we are descended from a German gardener employed on Lord Derby's estate, but I have yet to find any corroborative evidence.
Tickles in North America and elsewhere may have no connection with any place in England. An alternative origin of the name is that it is derived from a German or Dutch name, such as Tichel or Digel. In countries where there were large numbers of immigrants many either changed their name themselves or had it changed by immigration authorities.
Early records of the name include:
In 1380, Richard II of England introduced a new tax called the Poll Tax, which everyone on the tax register had to pay. These are Tickle entries on the register at that time.
The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is a database of genealogical records compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) from various sources. It contains these early entries:
Migration to North America
Peirce Tickle settled in New England in 1699.
Migration to Australia
Tickles who migrated to Australia in the 19th century include Thomas Tickle in 1840, Joseph Tickle in 1848, and James & Mary Tickle, with infant daughter, Ellen, who arrived in 1849. They all arrived at Adelaide.
There are approximately 5,250 people in the world with the name Tickle. It is most prevalent in the USA and UK, each of which has over 2,000 people bearing the surname. The UK figure is currently around 2,320, making the surname the 4,011th most common.
This means that, out of every million people in the UK, about 37 will have the surname Tickle.
In addition, approximately 1750 people have a surname that is one of the main variants, of which about 910 are Tickells, mainly in the UK, Australia and the US.
The map below, created by Named shows where the Tickle name is now most common in the UK. The 'hotspot' in Lancashire can be clearly seen, as well as other areas where the name is more common.
Maps created from UK census data show an initial concentration in Lancashire, Cheshire, and Devon in 1841. Over the years the distribution of the name gradually spreads to adjoining counties and further afield. The 1881 census showed 209 Tickles in Cheshire, 805 in Lancashire, and just 6 in Yorkshire.
The name and can also be found in many other countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
I am in the early stages of the study and I have begun by focusing on three groups that interest me:
I also hope to include data from some Tickles in other areas of the US, and some in Nova Scotia and Australia.
If you have records that would add to the study, please get in touch with me.
I have registered my DNA on Ancestry and GEDMATCH and hope to persuade some male relatives to take a DNA test.
Data on Tickle surname from 1881 UK census
Distribution of surname in 1881 and 21st century England & Wales
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