Rev 3: 1/15/2005


| History | Album | Roster |

Notice a change? Click here for more info.

Carlile / Carlisle:
One American Family

First Generation
James / Ann Irvine
Second Generation
James / Margaret Boles
Third Generation
Francis / Mary E. "Betsy" Grant
Fourth Generation
S.J.Y. / Elizabeth Leak
Fifth Generation
William M. / Emma Thompson
Sixth Generation
Lucile / Clifford C. Sarrett

Diocese of Carlisle

The sign in the photo reads Diocese of Carlisle, Parish of St Oswald, Grasmere. The church is located in Carlisle, England. Photo contributed by Anne Carlyle Thompson.

Carlile/Carlisle: One American Family

Tracing our Carlisle family history begins in Bartow County GA where our branch took root in 1854. Prior to that, we have to look to Randolph County AL, Abbeville District, SC, Ulster Province in Northern Ireland, the wiles of Scotland, and before that the richly historic though turbulent border region of Scotland and England.

The Carlisles originated from the area around what is now Carlisle, England and the Scottish border. Few areas in Britain have produced as many notable family names in world history as the border region of England and Scotland. Archaeological investigations have determined that Castle Carlisle stands just north of the city of Carlisle, England on high ground on the site of a probable Roman fort, and that its timber structures, perhaps from the fifth century, replaced Roman stone buildings. Noblemen in the area took the name of the castle when surnames began to be used. Adam Carlisle was believed to be the first to take the name, and since it was such a small family at it's beginning, most Carlisles are said to be related. Our ancestors surely were among the thriving Dark Age community to live in or around the old fort.

Researchers have confirmed the first documented history of the Carlisle name in lowland Scotland and northern England, tracing it through many ancient manuscripts, including private collections of historical and genealogical records, the inquisition, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, The Ragman Rolls, The Hearth Rolls, the Domesday Book, parish cartularies, baptismals, and tax rolls. The first record of the name Carlisle was found in Cumberland where they were seated from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

In searching the archives, researchers find many references of the surname Carlisle and its different spellings including Carlysle, Carlyle, Carlile, Carliell, and Carlill. Changes in spelling frequently occurred even between father and son because scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded.

The family name Carlisle is believed to be descended originally from the Strathclyde Britons. This ancient founding race of the north were a mixture of Gaelic/Celts whose original territories ranged from Lancashire in the south, northward to the south bank of the river Clyde in Scotland.

Tracing its ancient development, the name Carlisle was found in Cumberland where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Carlisle in that shire. Hildredus de Carleil held the manor of Cumwhinton in the parish of Wetherall on which the present city of Carlisle now stands. After the Norman invasion, the Carlisles moved north into Scotland and acquired territories at Hoddam. Sir William de Carleil sold his lands in Carlisle and acquired Kynemund, a grant from King William the Lion of Scotland. The only English lands he retained were in Sowerby in Yorkshire.

Turf wars over the centuries forced our ancient Carlisles to move back and forth across the border of England and Scotland until they eventually become known as one of the border clans or border reiver families, an altogether rowdy group to say the least. The border region was sort of a no-mans land ruled by neither England nor Scotland, but by the resident clans who governed themselves with their own form of frontier justice. Known for enjoying a good fight, many of the border clansmen down through the ages took up the cause of one side or the other, battling with Scotland against England and vice versa, with no particular allegiance to either.

By the year 1000 A.D., border life was in turmoil. In 1246, six chiefs from the Scottish side and six from the English side met at Carlisle and produced a set of laws governing all border clans. These were unlike any laws prevailing in England or Scotland or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world. For example, it was a far greater offense to refuse to help a neighbor recover his property, wife, sheep, cattle, or horses than it was to steal them in the first place. Hence the expression "Hot Trod" or a hot pursuit from which we get the modern "hot to trot." For refusal of assistance during a hot trod, a person could be hanged on the spot without trial.

Frequently the offspring of these clans or families apologetically refer to themselves as descending from cattle or horse thieves. However, livestock thievery was in fact an accepted code of life on the border.

Troubles for the Carlisles and other border clans began when King Henry VIII of England attempted to wage war on France, Scotland's old ally. Scotland was defeated by King Henry's army at Flodden Field in 1513, and bad feelings fueled by religious differences between the two countries simmered throughout the middle of the sixteenth century. Changes in the church gave rise to a breakdown in the uneasy peace. Reformation resulted in the rise of Presbyterianism in Scotland and England's Anglican church. King James V tried to assert Scottish power over the English, but Henry's army invaded Scotland and defeated the Scots at Hadden Rig near Berwick in 1542. A counter attack by the Scots at Solway Moss resulted in a crushing defeat for James' army. The border clans inflicted further damage during the battered Scottish Army's retreat by plundering and pillaging the soldiers for whatever booty was to be had.

Dejected, King James V died soon after the Solway Moss defeat and his infant daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, assumed the Scottish crown. Motivated by his continuing desire to rule France, King Henry VIII tried again to gain control over Scotland under the Treaties of Greenwich in 1543 by proposing marriage of the infant, Mary, to his infant son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Infuriated by Scotland's rejection of the treaties, Henry's army invaded Scotland in 1544 on orders to kill, burn, and spoil. For the next 100 years the English and Scots engaged in a fierce tug of war over control of Scotland. Each side was motivated by deeply rooted religious beliefs, and the entire region stayed in a constant, confused state of turmoil.

In 1603 the unified English and Scottish crowns under James I campaigned to disperse the unruly border clans. The ruling parties, feeling the unified government was in danger and the old border code should be broken up, banished the border clans, which had loyally served in defense of each side, to England, northern Scotland, and Ireland. Some were outlawed directly to Ireland, or the American colonies.

Our Carlisles retreated to Dumfries in northern Scotland. Their clan influence grew as they joined their great allies, the hard-riding Bells, and engaged in a feud with the Grahams and Irvines.

During the 1640's, with Presbyterian forces once again in control in both Scotland and England, the two countries joined in an effort to preserve the peace. But peace was short lived. Oliver Cromwell refused to accept the religion in current favor, and seized the victory at the Battle of Dunbar in 1651-1652. The remaining Scots who were able, including our ancestors, were banished to the Plantations of Ulster, Northern Ireland, in exile.

Up until Cromwell's victory, the Ulster Plantations comprised three counties in Northern Ireland, and was the site of massive migrations of Scottish and English settlers during most of the first half of the sixteenth century. But with the Scots' final defeat by Cromwell and the last exodus of the Scottish refugees, the great 'Plantation' grew to include a fourth county, Monaghan, the northern most of the four historic provinces of Northern Ireland. Monaghan was originally part of the Gaelic kingdom of Oriel which dates from around 330 A.D.

Although Protestants in Ulster were in the minority, the overwhelming majority of those were Presbyterian, including our ancestors. No doubt our Carlisle clan took advantage of land grants that were available to those in County Monaghan who undertook to remain protestant. Henceforth known as the "undertakers," many Scottish refugees became proudly Irish.

Because of their minority status, the Presbyterians and the Catholics were discriminated against by Irish Penal Laws imposed by the controlling Anglo-Irish Anglicans. The Presbyterian Ulsters were better off economically than their Catholic neighbors, and lived in tight-knit communities which lessened the effects of the prejudices. Nonetheless, they had fled or were driven out of Scotland originally to escape religious persecution and, therefore, found the Penal Laws to be intolerable. The majority of Ulster Presbyterians were poor, small land holders, artisans, weavers, and laborers, and were most vulnerable to crop failures, smallpox, and livestock diseases. Adding to the hardship, landlords continually raised rents.

The Irish migration to America rose and fell throughout the eighteenth century largely affected by the prosperity, or lack thereof, in the linen trade. So intertwined were the two that ships bringing flax seed for making linen from America often returned with a cargo of emigrants. The famine of 1740-1741 in Ireland gave rise to a sharp exodus which rose steadily through the 1760s when our ancestors came to America.

Equally driving the migration to America was the promise of land. In the colonies, the former Scottish clans found they could maintain a continuity of religion and culture ingrained for centuries in Scotland, and they distinquished their separateness by calling themselves Scotch-Irish. In the colonial South Carolina upcountry on Long Cane Creek, a Little River tributary flowing into the Savannah, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians began coming in significant numbers in 1763. Enticed by grants of land to strengthen the region against Indian attacks, our Scotch-Irish Carlisles would find a home among other like-minded emigrants.


Bartow County Georgia Marriage Records

The Carlile Family: From 1750's Ireland to 1996 America by Michael Steve Carlile, courtesy of Clinton D. Carlile; unpublished.

Library, Hall of Names

Anne Carlyle Thompson

Tommy R. Carlisle

Raymond Carlisle

Trip Report, July 11-14, 1994 by William R. Carlisle and Tommy R. Carlisle, unpublished.

1850 Randolph County AL Census

1860 Cass (later Bartow) County GA Census

1860 Cass (later Bartow) County GA Slave Census

1880 Bartow County Census

General William T. Sherman's 1864 map of Cass (later Bartow) County GA (from the Etowah Valley Historical Society collection).

Chantal Parker letter dtd Sep 6, 2002 to owners of "Carlisle Homeplace" at 24 Gaines Rd., Cassville, GA, unpublished.

The Carlile Family of Abbeville County, SC, Henry and Cobb Counties, Georgia by R.L. Guffin, Cobb County GA Genealogical Society, Inc., Jun 1995
Scots-Irish and the Clearances: The Movement of People Between Scotland and Ireland - And Onward Emigration to North America, Australia, and New Zealand, by Iain Kerr (

Destiny of the Scotch-Irish: An Account of a Presbyterian Migration 1720-1853, by H. Leonard Porter III, The Porter Company, Winter Haven, FL, 1990.

Battle of Cowpens:

Kettle Creek:

The History of Lowndesville, S.C., by H. A. Carlisle, Heritage Papers, Danielsville, GA, 1987.

Historical Records of Randolph County, Alabama 1832-1900, compiled by Marilyn Davis Barefield, Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1985

Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution by Bobby Gilmer Moss, Limestone College, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. Baltimore, 1983

Linda M. Benefield, history of Green's Chapel, Wedowee, AL

Conversations with and e-mail from a whole lot of Carlisles