This week I received an email from Thomas O. Miles from Maine, USA asking about the origins of our joint surname. I thought it a good way to begin this blog in earnest, and with Thomas' permission I am using his email and both our subsequent answers to give viewers some idea of the 'Miles' background.
Thomas - many thanks for your input, I look forward to conversing with you again soon.
I was wondering if you knew the origin of the surname Miles/Myles.
My family came from Co. Mayo but originally were from Co. Tyrone. Is it Welsh or Cambro-norman in origin.
Any info would be wonderful. Your art is amazing, you are very talented.
Thank you for any help on the surname.
Thomas O. Miles
Many thanks for your kind comments about the paintings.
With reference to the name - I was always led to believe it was of English descent - somewhere around the 'Shires or middle England.
It could tie in with your Cambro-Norman theory - with the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons pushing the native British peoples Westwards towards all things (and places) Celtic.
The fact that there are variations in the spelling could be simply put down to local trends etc. There is also the theory that over the centuries the name was also bastardised from the Irish name of Millar or Miller which was prevalent in County Antrim in the North of Ireland, namely - Ó Muilleoir.
That said, Miller is, I believe, of Scottish origin, apparently from the Clan McFarlane (although I would have the right to wear the Gordon Clan tartan from the other side of my family).
I was also under the impression as far as my own family goes anyway, that my descendants came from middle England as I have said, and migrated during the1700-1800's for financial benefit (the Scottish especially benefiting from free land taken from the locals to encourage trade with Great Britain.
There is a new trend catching on in the last few years for a local language - Ulster-Scots (with similarities to Irish Gaelic) but the truth is that it is simply a modern day political wooden spoon, used by the protestant peoples political representatives (and I use that term VERY loosely!) of Northern Ireland to create a 'cultural identity' to rival that of Gaelic (there are a lot of grants to be had if you belong to an ethnic minority!).
It has to be remembered that Ireland was considered no better than a colony at that time and there to be taken advantage of without thought to the locals (therefore leading to the famine etc.etc. of which you are probably well aware).
In County Antrim's east coast (Scotland being only 20 miles away and visible from some areas of the coastline) the Scottish influence on the dialect is very strong and it is amazing to hear the difference between the far North of Ireland to the far South around Cork, for example - only a distance of 300 or so 'miles'(sic).
I'm sure you are aware also, that in an effort to strengthen commercial links with Great Britain, the Fathers of the city of Derry (in Gaelic I believe it is spelt Doire) changed the name to Londonderry (another political headache for modern generations to fight over! Let's not go there....).
Sorry Thomas! I'm diversifying madly here!
The point being - my people come from the northern Antrim area around Ballymena (again strong Scottish connections - which is why 'Miles' is not a terribly common name in that area, and therefore stands out), but as far as I'm aware, originally came from England as previously explained.Sorry I can't be of more help.
It's a bit vague I'm afraid, but I wish you luck in your search.
If you find out anything of note please do email and let me know, as it would be nice to trace 'the roots' so to speak.
With kindest regards
Its been raining here in Maine for a week straight (good Irish weather??)!!
There has been a lot of flooding and its difficult to get around.
You may use our Miles Clan e-mails on your blog if you like, I would be honored.
I have found a little more information on the Miles name, in latin it means "soldier", and it is an english version of the gaelic word "mael" or "moel" which means bald.
The first person I can find with the name Miles is - Miles de Cogan in 1123. Cogan is a parish near Cardiff in Wales. He was a Welsh-Norman born in Glamorgan, Wales and accompanied Strongbow to Ireland in the Cambro-Norman invasion of Ireland. He was granted lands in Cork and Limerick for his service.
There was a mayor of Waterford names Thomas Myles (1752) and a Sir Thomas Myles of Limerick (1820) who was a surgeon and an advocate of home-rule for Irish independence.
The surname miles/myles seems fairly common in Ireland and Britain. You had mentioned Scottish roots on your other side of the family.
My mothers side of the family came from Co. Antrim in the early 1800's, from Carrickfergus. The surnames were Johnson, Jackson, MacLucas, and MacArthur. I have never been to Antrim only Belfast and Tyrone in 1998.
I will keep picking away at the "Miles roots" to see what I can find. I'll have to pick one of your paintings for my home, they are all so good.
Thomas O. Miles
Sanford, Maine USA