Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Variants: Tickel, Tickell, Tickhill
Category: 2 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way, but currently in some countries only.
DNA website: www.familytreedna.com/groups/tickle/about
Contact: Mrs Melody McKay Burton
I’m Melody McKay Burton, born a Tickell. 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 others interested in this name.
I've discovered that there are two distinct sets of Tickles - those with British ancestors and those with German ones. The German line originally had the surname Digel or similar but members of the family who emigrated to North America changed this to Tickle. The study includes both the British and German lines.
There are three main variants in the study to date. In early census and other records, the same person my have their name spelt Tickle on some records and Tickel or Tickell on others, but families tended to settle on one or other variant in more modern times.
This is the name the study is registered under, as it is the more common variant in the UK, US, and Australia. Most families from Lancashire use this spelling.
This variant of the surname is more commonly found in Devon, Cornwall, London, and Cumberland. There were also Tickells in the landed gentry of Ireland. My father changed the spelling of his own surname from Tickle to Tickell in the 1930s (I believe he thought it sounded more professional...)
I have rarely come across Tickells in the US.
This is another common variant, found in both England and the US. Within family trees, you may find some lines using Tickle, and others Tickel.
Other Variants and Deviant Spellings
The name is frequently transcribed incorrectly in online records, for example as Fickle, Gickle or Sickle. I’ve also come across it as Teekel or Teacle, but know from earlier and later records that it is the same family.
Most websites and publications state that Tickle is a locational surname, and usually give its origin as being from Tickhill, in West Yorkshire, England. Although this may be one origin, my research leads me to believe that there are multiple origins. In the UK, the name is far more common in Lancashire and Devon and Cornwall than in Yorkshire, which would be surprising if the sole origin was Yorkshire.
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.
Another theory is that the name comes from the Olde English word "ticce", kid, plus "hyll", hill, and could be connected with someone who kept young goats on a hill or people from an area where goats were kept. It’s possible that there were villages with a similar name in different parts of England.
During the Middle Ages, people began to migrate to different areas for work. They often took their former village name as a means of identification, and this led to a wider dispersal of surnames. One of my interests in this study is seeing whether there is any link between the Tickles/Tickell’s in different areas.
Y-DNA evidence from males who carry the name may help to answer this.
As I mentioned earlier, if you are a Tickle in North America, your surname may come from German ancestors, rather than from England. Many US Tickles trace their ancestry back to a Johannes Digel, who came from Wurrtemberg in south-west Germany. You can read some of my blog articles about this line here.
My own family folklore had it that our Tickles are descended from a German gardener, also called Johannes Digel, who was employed on Lord Derby's estate, but I have yet to find any corroborative evidence. Y-DNA tests to date indicate that the German Tickles have a completely different halplogroup to the Lancashire ones.
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
A number of US Tickles trace their ancestry back to German immigrants whose original name was Digel. You can read about their story in the blog section of the Tickle Trees website.
There were also Tickles from England who emigrated to the US and Canada and I will gradually add information about them to the Tickle Trees website. A branch of my own family emigrated to Galveston, Texas, and you can read about them here.
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. I am compiling a list of families who emigrated to Australia which you can see here.
The Tickells of Carnolway
One of the families that I have discovered are landed gentry, initially from Cumbria, who became the Tickells of Carnolway, in Ireland.
They later moved to the Cheltenham area and London. You may see the crest on the right when looking for Tickle records, but unfortunately, it's unlikely you are connected to this family.
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, meaning 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 on the right, 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.
In the Data section of the Tickle Trees website you will currently find these records for Tickle / Tickell, extracted from various sources:
If you have records that would add to the study, please get in touch with me. Please also join the Tickle Trees Facebook group.
We have a DNA Project for the surnames. Although still relatively new, we have 10 males with the surname who have taken a Y-DNA test. Y-DNA is passed down the male line and can find genetic matches far back in history.
This has enabled us to identify two different predicted haplogroups for the Tickles/Tickells of English origin to those with German forebears. We still have a long way to go to find out more and welcome anyone with the surname who would like to participate. You'll find the DNA project here.
I'm currently working with descendants of the German Tickles to identify Y-DNA and autosomal connections.
You can see all the current DNA results here.
To see more information and/or to get involved in the study please use these links. I would love to hear from any Tickles or Tickells anywhere in the world.
Tickle Trees Facebook Group
'Among the Tickle Trees' website
Tickle / Tickell DNA Project
Data on Tickle surname from 1881 UK census
Distribution of surname in 1881 and 21st century England & Wales
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: