Welcome to the Serle Family History

The Site Owner

The Site Owner

Alan's mother Bessie

Alan Serle (Dad)

This site is dedicated to the SERLE family name. It represents years of work and is very much a "Work in Progress".
From this page you will find all the usual Family Tree stuff but also some not so usuall stuff.
My aim is to not just display a family tree but to explore their lives, how they lived, invetions of the day, ect.
You will find stories and anectdotes in the magazine pages. What were the things that made us laugh? What music did we listen to?
What TV did we watch? Who remembers Emergency Ward 10? Crackerjack? Van de Valk? I bet you're humming the tune right now!
Wether you are researching the SERLE name or remembering times gone by I hope you'll find something of interest on these pages.
You can always leave a comment in our visitors book. See the link at the bottom of the page.

The Buttons in the left-hand Menu Bar are linked to the magazine pages of our key families. These are the "front pages" to stories, anecdotes, photos and myths. In fact just about anything. If you are a family member and you would like to contribute we would love to hear from you. On the Serle side you'll find info on George Henry who died in 1918 in Greenwich but was buried days later in St. Dominick? How a typo changed our surname from Serle to Searle. William Serle and Son Bootmakers. The Pentillie Castle myth. The Serle's as musicians. How the Serle's moved a station building from North Wales to Sussex. Not forgetting the Searle brother's first business venture TELSTAR DISCO.

The Origin of the SERLE name

The origin of the SERLE name is believed to Norman and a reference to Serlo of Normandy. This is borne out by Lower in "Patronica Britanican" who states of SERLE/SEARLE "Probably from SERLO, a Norman personal name, the common origin of SARL, SAREL, SARRELL, SERRELL" ect. In "Family Names And Their Story" page 241 Baring-Gould concurs writing "SORELL, not met with before the reign of Henry II.[Henry II 1207 - 1272] Now SARELL and SERLE and SEARLE, the Norman SERLO, a personal name."
Henry Guppy's book "Homes of Family Names" seems to agree with Baring-Gould stating that SERLE was a Cambridge family name as far back as the Thirteenth century with SEARLE
common in Devon and Cornwall. If you are researching the Searle name with the SEARLE spelling fellow researcher Keith Searle has a website with information that may be of interest. You can follow the link to Keith Searle's Website and Libby Shade has info on some Searle's in Australia. Libby's Website.

Serlo the 1st SERLE?

Abbot Serlo

Abbot Serlo


Mont Saint Michel

There seems little doubt that SERLE originates from SERLO but there is some difference of opinion as to when Serlo came to England. Some report that it was with William de Perci in 1066 but others state that William de Perci did not arrive until 1096. The Battle Abbey Roll and the Domesday book are often used as sources of authentication.
Baring-Gould writes under the Roll of Battle Abbey “William de Perci was a tenant of the Duke of Normandy. He and Serlo de Perci came over in the time of the Conqueror, but neither of them is mentioned as having been present at Hastings.” Serlo was a monk at Mont Saint-Michel around 1067. In 1072 he was appointed abbot of Gloucester Abbey on the recommendation of Osmund (Bishop of Salisbury). William I was Osmund’s uncle and it is clear that Osmund had great influence with him. It is known that Serlo was present at the Christmas court of King William II in 1093 which was held at Gloucester. Records show that Serlo secured "gifts" from the King and the return of lands to the monastery. During his thirty-two-year stay he was very successful, he increased the number of monks to about 100, and was responsible for building the nave and transepts of Gloucester cathedral. Serlo died in 1104 and is buried in the cathedral at Gloucester where his statue stands by the doorway. There is a mistaken belief that the Normans were French but in fact they were Viking. Henry Harrison in his book "Surnames of the United Kingdom a concise etymological dictionary" writes that the surname Serle, Serrell, Serrill, and the Old Teutonic (Germanic) variations such as Serlo, Sarla, Sarl, Sarilo, Serilo. Refer to Armour or Arms. The Old English "Searo", it is the equivalent of the Old High German "Saro" which is the same as the old Norse " Sorus" meaning armour arms, skill or device." It was usually formerly written with a final vowel. Serlo is recorded in the Domesday Book and Richard Serle in the Hundred Rolls


Distribution of the SERLE name in England between 1841 and 1911

Source UK Census returns 1841 - 1911


Distribution of the SERLE name in England 1891

Records suggest that by the 14th Century the SERLE name had become established in both London and Plymouth. Data from the 1891 census shows that the majority of SERLE’s lived in the West country between Gloucester and Cornwall. Derivatives of the SERLE name can be found spelled as SEARLE, SEARLES, SEARL, SARL, SARRELL and other variations. This was largely because few of the population could read or write and the records were spelled phonetically based upon how it was spoken by its bearer. This accounts for changes in spelling of a surname sometimes even between a father and son. Indeed, it was a spelling mistake that accounted for the change of spelling of my own surname. Take a look at Alfred John Serle in The SERLE PAGES for more!
The data from the available census records shows a gradual decline in the Serle name. The "hotspot" with the most Serle's has changed over the decades but Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire and London all have high concentrations of the Serle name. One interesting statistic is the "spike" in Kent in 1871 and I'll be looking into that further. We allready know that dock trades people migrated between HM Dockyard Devonport and HM Dockyard Chatham as the work came and went.
Research is on-going and I will post updates as they become available.

There comes a point in most people's life when you ask questions about your past and develop a desire to record it before it gets lost in time. Recent TV programmes such as “Who do you think you are” and on-line genealogy such as “” or “Find my” have created a renewed public interest in Family History.
It has never been easier to take a look into your past. I have recently discovered and made contact with a cousin in Canada that I never knew that I had.
Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote in 604BC the much quoted "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step".
I'm sure that he won't mind me paraphrasing it.

"The Journey of a Lifetime starts with a single step" - Where will your journey take you?


Acknowledgements & Thank You's

The Site Owner would like to thank the following people and Organisations:-

Contact us

email imageIf you have any questions or comments about the information on this site, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Our Guestbook


A bit of fun - Do you remember?

One of my aims in producing this site was to document things that we did TV that we watched, music that we listen to ect. So here is a little quiz. See if you can remember and answer these. No cheating!!

Popular Music and TV

  • Q1. In the children's TV program UFO what did SHADO stand for?
  • Q2. "Live from Norwich it's the quiz of the week" refered to what TV quiz show?
  • Q3. John Thaw starred in "The Sweeney" which is cockney rhyming slang for what?
  • Q4. "It's frothy man" was used as a catch phase for which soft drinks brand?
  • Q5. What did he like so much that he bought the company?
  • Q6. The lyrics "A ray of hope flickers in the sky, a tiny star lights up way up high" are from which christmas number 1? And what was the the year?

quiz pic 1 quiz pic 2 quiz pic 3 quiz pic 4

Q7 to Q10 Name the TV shows from the pictures above.
Answers on The Serle magazine page.

The Family Surname Cloud - is your name here?


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