Scholes Family Website



The Ancestral Database

Some years ago, Fred Scholes of Manteca, California began work on a database of Scholes families which now holds more than 13,000 names of individuals dating back to the 14th century. The information has been abstracted from the IGI and other sources such as as marriage indexes, parish registers and probate records, as well as from family histories contributed by correspondents.

The first version of the database with about 10,000 names was posted on the Scholes Family Website in March 2004. Of these names, more than 5000 are for Scholes mainly in England but also elsewhere in the UK and Ireland, and some in the United States. It is described by the author as “work in progress” and the intention is to refine the data and eliminate duplication, and to extend coverage on a progressive basis especially in the United States.

Individuals are listed alphabetically and by their given names with dates of birth or christening (where available), and an outline family tree. A search engine has recently been added on an experimental basis to help locate individuals.

Of particular interest are the many hundreds of Scholes from the 16th and earlier centuries. Of these early records roughly three-quarters originated in the northern counties, Lancashire and Yorkshire, mainly the former.

The 1881 Census

The 1881 Census Disks (which exclude Ireland) list 3900 entries for Scholes and its variants (including 135 for Scoles) of which 59% were born in Lancashire and 20% in Yorkshire. The geographic distribution at the time of the census is shown in figure 11, obtained using Harry Wykes’ software program.

The number resident in the United Kingdom is approximately 4500. This figure is based on the the Electoral Roll as listed in the UK-Info Disk 2004. This Disk lists persons over the age of 18 who were registered to vote at the time of the 2002 elections, that is, roughly three-quarters of the population of about 59 millions. The numbers have been corrected to provide rough estimates of actual numbers of Scholes. The greater majority were in England with almost two thirds in the historic counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire; there were about 130 both in Wales and Scotland, and 25 in Northern Ireland. (The occurrence of the surname in the island of Ireland is discussed in a separate Section.)  


Fig11: Distribution of Scholes in the 1881 census

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The incidence of spelling variants in 1881 and 2002 is of interest (Table 1).

Spelling Variants

1881 Census Disk

Based on the 2004 Electoral Roll

























 Table 1. Incidence of spelling variants of Scholes


Scholes in Yorkshire

In the former West Riding of Yorkshire, a large proportion of the early entries IN the IGI for Scholes are for parishes in Leeds and to the south-east of the city, particularly Rothwell and Kippax. One of the earliest is for the birth of John Scholes in 1524 of Kippax. There are also localised concentrations of Scholes elsewhere in the West Riding, for example, in Doncaster, Pontefract and Huddersfield. The 1881 Census lists 747 Scholes born in the historic county of Yorkshire.

The number of Scholes based on the 2002 Electoral Roll is 850 with the main localised concentrations shown in Table 2. Somewhat surprisingly, there are few if any Scholes registered in the four Scholes Villages.



Bradford and Leeds


South Yorkshire incl. Sheffield






Table 2. Main concentrations of Scholes in Yorkshire in 2002

Early Families

There are references to Scholes in early, official documents and in manorial rolls. Some are listed below.

West Riding Poll Tax, September 1379

All persons over the age of 16 were subject to the subsidy “excepting only real beggars, and the particular sums pertaining to each according to their state and station, for the said subsidy granted to king Richard II…were given at Doncaster before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross….in the 3rd year of the reign of the said king”. Registers in the Public Records Office list the following (who paid 4 pence, possibly equivalent to about £11 in present-day value):


Richardus del Scoles and Sibilla his wife, and Petrus del Scoles and Alicia, of Kimberworth in the Wapentake of Tickhill


Johannes del Scholes and his wife. and Richardus del Scholes and his wife, of Shipley in the Wappentake of Morley


Ricardus del Scholes and his wife, of Hundesworth in Morley


Robertus del Scholes and his wife, Willemus del Scholes and his wife, of Heton in Bradfortdale in the Wapentake of Morley


Thomas de Scholes and his wife, Newton Abey in Ledsham Parish


Randolphus del Scholes and his wife, Barwick-in-Elmet


Thomas de Scholes and his wife, Newton Waeys in the Wappentake of Barkeston

Patent Roll, May 1416.


Pardon of outlawry to Robert Skot of Wakefield , for not appearing before the justices of the Branch of Henry IV to answer John Scoles of York, vynter, touching a debt of 46s 8d.

Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, 1284

The manor of Wakefield was very extensive with lands covering a large part of the West Riding. The court rolls mention numerous members of Scholes or Scoles families who were living in the area during the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in Holne, now part of Holmfirth

The manorial court was a regular meeting of tenantry presided over by the lord of the manor or his steward, and dealt with matters both administrative and judicial. The transcripts of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society for the period 1274-1297 contain many references to land dealings and to petty misdemeanours of tenants. For example:


T’omas de Scholes gives 6d for licence to take half an acre of land in le Scholes .... to himself and his heirs for ever; pledge (or surety) Richard the Grave (a steward) .... and .... gives 6s 8d for licence to take half an acre of land called Jodel from the Earl, of the new land to himself and his heirs for ever, paying 2d rent.


Adam del Scholes, for the escape of a pig and 4 hogs, 6d; pledge Holde the Forester .... John del Scoles complains of Adam del Scoles for trespass; pledge Richard son of Michael .... It is presented that John del Scholes made an unfounded complaint against Adam del Scholes, fine 6d.


Richard de Scholes for the escape of 6 beasts, 12d; pledge John de Scholes. Thomas Assholff sues John del Scholes, saying they agreed for .5 mark of silver John should .... and find the said Ellen food and raiment for .... but he afterwards drove the said Ellen from his house and beat her so that she could not remain with him .... John brings a cross suit against Thomas saying that when he married Ellen, d. of the said Thomas .... so that the said Ellen removed from his house with all her goods and cattle.

Survey of Manors in the Honour of Pontefract. 1341

This survey (mentioned earlier) lists several bondsmen (or villains) named Scholes/Scoles in Scholes in what is now the parish of Barwick:


Richard de Scholes holds 1 messuage (dwelling), 10 acres and 3 rods rendering 9s.


Nicholas de Scoles holds 2 messuages and 31 acres rendering 28s. 3d.


William de Scholes holds 1 mesasuge and 16 acres rendering 13s.


Walter de Scoles holds 1 messuage and 14 acres rendering 9s. 6d.

Also listed are several farmers who rented land holding “capital messuage at common for its true value, rendering annually 20s at Michaelmas” including:


Robert, son of William de Scoles


Roger, son of Walter de Scoles

(s–shilling and d–penny in pre-decimal currency)

As distinct from the county of Lancashire, there seems to be little or no documentary evidence of land-owning families in Yorkshire with the surname Scholes. It may be that the Yorkshire ‘clan’ took their surname from one or other of the places called Scholes in the manor of Wakefield.

Fred Scholes has identified a number of early families in Yorkshire mainly in the Leeds area. This work, which is mentioned later, is part of a major project to record all the Scholes in England listed in records from all sources. Among these families are those of:

William Scoles of Thorp (or Thorpe) on the Hill, between Morley and Rothwell, south of Leeds. He was born in 1536 and married Jennet Croft in 1566; there were six children. William died sometime after 1573 and his will has survived in the Probate Registry at York (10, 16); it is reproduced in an Appendix. The will provides a challenge of interpretation but William was obviously a man of substance. Bequests were made to his two eldest sons on condition that they taught the two younger sons their occupations. Also his “greatepanne” (cooking pot) to his daughter, Jennet, after the death of his wife. William seems to have been involved in the building of Metheley bridge, probably across the river Aire, six miles east of Thorpe.

Richard Skoles (1532-1587) of Hunslett Hall, who had six children. There is now a Hunslet Hall Drive in the suburb of Beeston, five miles from the centre of Leeds. Richard who married Gayle in 1564 at Leeds Parish Church and the database records five generations of descendents.


Scholes in Lancashire

McKinley, in Surnames of Lancashire, states that medieval occurrences of Scoles are not numerous in Lancashire, and are dispersed in different parts of the county. In the 16th century Scoles became a common surname in certain parts of Salford Hundred, such as Chadderton, Eccles and Prestwich. It is in these places that the surname occurs in numbers in the 1642 Protestation Oath Returns of the Salford Hundred, that is, “to live and die for the true Protestant religion”. Evidently the surname had begun to multiply in the 16th century and by the middle of the 17th century become numerous in certain townships, mostly around Oldham and Prestwich. Certainly there are entries for Scholes in the IGI for Middleton by Oldham that date back to 1543.

McKinley has tabulated documentary references to Scoles in medieval and later sources (per 10,000 names): Lancashire – 1332, 5; Salford Hundred – 1642; 42; and West Derby and Lonsdsale Hundreds – 1692, none.

In the IGI, a large proportion of the early entries are for the parishes of Oldham, Chadderton, Prestwich and Middleton.

The 1881 census disks list 2157 Scholes born in Lancashire.

There are now about 1800 Scholes living in areas that formed part of the historic county with the largest concentrations shown in Table 3. (These data are based on the 2002 Electoral Roll. Localities where there are clusters  of, say, 20 -30 include Chadderton in Oldham, and Middleton and Radcliffe in Manchester.






Liverpool & Merseyside








 Table 3. Concentrations of Scholes In Lancashire


Early Families

Listed below are some documentary references to Scholes in Lancashire in the 14/15th centuries. There is also reference to land-owning families in the County in VCH Lancs Vol. 3, and this is supplemented by the research of Stafford Scholes centred on Prestwich and Chadderton. Additional information is contained in an article that appeared in Lancashire Life in the 1970s.

Norris le Scoles of Eccleston near Preston, 1311 - Chartulary of Cockerstand Abbey

William del Scoles, 1342 - Feet of Fines for Lancashire

Henry de Scholes of Cuerdale and Maud his wife, 1360 - Duchy of Lancaster Assize Rolls.

Hugh de Scholes, in 1429, chaplain in St Nicholas’ Chantry in the collegiate Church of Manchester; he was involved in the lease of Chantry lands in 1468

In 1291/1292, Richard, son of Adam De Scholes, laid claim to a number of tenements (farms, holdings of land) in Wigan. The surname became quite common in the Prestwich and Oldham areas by the 16th centuries and Stafford Scholes has suggested a connection with the Standish family who originated near Wigan but owned land elsewhere in the County. Wigan does, of course, have a district in the town called Scholes.

In the year 1577, ten Scholes (out of a total of 19 people taxed) contributed to ‘the Sessment for the Fifteenth of all the Towne of Chadderton’, all were tenants of the Standishes. The latter family were possibly an important factor in the distribution of the Scholes surname in Lancashire. They never lived on their lands in Chadderton and may well have put Scholes serfs to work these lands as their agents.

In Chadderton, the name of Rauffe (Ralph) Scolles appears in the Subsidy Roll of 1524. George Scholes and Peter Scholes are named as churchwardens at St Mary’s Church in Prestwich in 1524. By the time of commencement of the Parish Register in 1603, already seven or eight families were christening children at the Church. Polefield Hall in Prestwich was built and owned by a John Scholes in the middle of the 18th century and Scholes Lane in the town commemorates this particular family.

James Scholes (or Skolys) held land in Okeden or Ogden, and is on record as having contributed ‘for goods’ to the Subsidy Roll of 1526. Okeden is situated in Chadderton adjacent to Foxdenton Hall (in Oldham) owned by the Radcliffe family. In 1577, John Scholes contributed as a mesne (or intermediate) tenant and at the time of death in 1589 held a dwelling house and 23 acres of land (in Okeden) of the lords of the manor in socage (tenure) by a rent of 6d.

John, the son of James, born about 1580, was involved in a dispute over his holding. John died in 1630, his own son William inheriting the estates. According to Stafford Scholes, the family extended their holdings of land towards Manchester over the years, and Scholes Drive commemorates the family. A William Scholes was baliff to the Radcliffes in 1526; he appears in the Subsidy Roll for 1541 and may well have been father or uncle to John Scholes.

Robert Scholes contributed to the Subsidy Roll of 1622, and Richard and William were liable for assessment in Chadderton in 1641.

In 1670, Jonathan Chadwick gave Sidgreaves in Nuthurst (in Oldham) to James Scholes and in 1679, James the younger of Oldham, gave it to Thomas Stevenson.

In 1747, Samuel Scholes gave rent charges worth £12 on land in Glodwick and £1 on a property in Oldham, for the education of poor children. Another James Scholes was patron of the living of the church at Leigh from 1767 to 1785 when the advowson was sold. The ‘late Mr S Scholes’ estate, near Earnshaw Lane’ in mentioned in Butterworth’s Oldham (1817).

Another Scholes family lived in Salford where George Scholes died in 1653, leaving a son, George, born in 1591. He was a successful chapman (itinerant dealer) and lived in Millgate. His son, Jeremiah Scholes M.A., born in 1629 became curate of Stretford and vicar of Norton in Derbyshire. He died in Manchester in 1685 owning lands in Norton Lees and houses in Millgate, Salford and York. He left five shillings to his cousin John Scholes of Manchester and was succeeded by his son Nathaniel, a nonconformist minister.

Edmund Scoles of Prestwith, 1600 - List of 200 Lancashire Men Delivered to the Queen’s Army at the Port of Chester.

In addition, Fred Scholes’ database has many other Scholes families in Lancashire mainly in the parishes north of Manchester. 


Scholes in Other English Counties

Some examples of Scholes mentioned in early documents are given below.

Coventry and Lichfield Diocese Ordination Register


Johannes Scholes, orders celebrated in the cathedral church of Lichfield by the Reverend father, lord William, bishop of Panados 1523


John Scholes by title of the priory of Repyngton (Repton?), 1524


Willimus Scolys by title of his office, in the cathedral church of Lichfield, by the Reverend lord W, bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, 1434


Robert Scolus, by title of the house off Stone, to all sacred orders, in the church of Ecclehale, by the Venerable father, lord Robert, bishop of Killaloe, 1436


Robertus Scolys, by title of the house of St. Wulfhad of Stone, to all sacred, by the Reverend lord. W. etc, 1437

Nottinghamshire Coroner’s Court


William Scolys, juror at the inquest, in may 1534, on Alice Stely, drowned in the river Trent when her horse slipped and fell into pit while crossing the river.

Ancient Deeds in the Public Records Office


Richard Scoles, bailiff, one of those endorsing a charter of feoffment in Kingstion-on-Hull in the name of William de la Pole, earl of Sussex, October 1437

There is evidence in the IGI of 16/17th century families in other counties apart from Yorkshire and Lancashire.

In Oxfordshire there were Scholes in the adjoining parishes of Shirburn and Lewknor near Stokenchurch. Fred Scholes’ database includes five generations of the family of Richard (1510-1551) and Agnes of Lewknor.

There are Scoles in Norfolk where the derivation may be different to that in Northern England; in former times the surname may have been associated with the village of Scole. Alternatively, Scoles could be a corruption of Skoyles, a surname strongly affiliated with Great Yarmouth.

In Lincolnshire, there were Scholes in the parish of Edenham, about 7 miles north of Stamford. According to Des Scholes of Nairn, the first mention of a Scholes in Stamford was Richard Scholes in 1690; there is also a record in 1602 of a Scoles who is thought to have come from Scoles in Norfolk to work at Grimsthorpe Castle close by Edenham.

Des Scholes’ website has two interesting stories of Mary Ann Bacon of Stamford who married James Scholes, landlord of ‘The Chequers’ who was killed while trying to stop his team of dray horses who “started off while James was partaking of refreshment” in the ‘Black Horse’. Mary’s son, James Fuller Scholes, was featured in local newspapers in 1928 on the eve of his 94th birthday as “Stamford’s eldest man”. He was reported as having worked in 13 different trades during his lifetime. James’ recipe for long life was “hard work, good plain food, temperate habits, and plenty of fresh air”, but sadly he died soon after attaining fame in the local press. The 1881 Census Disk lists 10 Scholes families in the town of Stamford.

Scholes in Scotland

Scholes is a relatively uncommon surname in Scotland with only 37 names listed in the 1881 census returns. This number had increased to about 130 by 2002.

It is interesting to note that the earliest record in the Ancestral Database is that for Isabella Malise Scholes born in Stathearn in Orkney in 1322. There was an Isabella of Orkney, a daughter of Malise, the Earl of Strathearn.

No other records have so far been found for Scholes in Orkney.

Scholes in Ireland

The surname is not generally thought of as an Irish name but there is certainly an ‘Irish connection’. MacLysaght (1989) suggests that Schoales, which is found in South Ulster, is a variant of Scales, a surname of Anglo-Norman origin found in County Limerick since the 14th century. But it seems more likely that the surname came mainly from Lancashire with English settlers in the 17/18th centuries.

The IGI lists about 180 events in the island of Ireland but with surnames widely different in spelling. Schoales and Scoales are most common with Scoles and Scholes in a minority. The largest concentration of IGI events is in Co. Fermangh where there is a place in the parish of Enniskillen called Scholes Corners.

The Primary Valuation Survey of Ireland made in 1848-64 lists the number of households in each county of Ireland for the surnames Scholes and Schoales (there is no listing for Scoles).

This survey enumerates 27 households scattered across 10 counties with the largest number (10) in Co. Fermangh. This suggests a total population at that time of Scholes/Schoales of, say, 150.

There are several examples in Internet family trees of emigration from Ireland to the United States, some of which are mentioned in the next section.

The surname is today relatively uncommon in Ireland. The UK Info Disk lists only 23 persons with the names Scholes/Schoales/Scoales in Northern Ireland; and 8 in the Republic of Ireland. (There are 8 Skoyles in the island of Ireland.)


Scholes in the United States

The IGI records for the USA are difficult to analyse because of the extent of duplication. In an analysis conducted in the year 2000 about 690 entries were noted for Scholes, 430 for Scoles and 25 for Schoales. There were few events listed for Scholes in the 18th century, half-a-dozen at the most with the earliest in 1770, but 25/30 were listed for Scoles. In the latter case, the events date back to 1730 with the earliest that of the christening of Mary Scoles who married an Edward King. 

Gale’s Index of Immigration Lists has several 17th century entries for ship’s passengers named Scholes/Scole/Scoles. George Scholes was the first of these: he arrived (at Lynn in Massachusetts) some time between 1620 and 1650.  Later arrivals included John and James Scoles who landed in Pennsylvania in 1685; there was also a Henry Scholes in the same year. But there appear to be no records of descendants of these early settlers.

Only limited information is available about early immigrant families. But I am indebted to Jaira Hill Scoles for the story of John Scoles, b.1732 at Scholes Corners, Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh, who was sentenced at Lincoln in England to seven years jail; the sentence was reprieved to transportation to the American Colonies in 1752. He went to Baltimore in that year and in 1760, after completing his bondage, returned to Ireland for a visit later sailed for America with his youngest cousin, also named John, who changed the spelling of his surname to Scholes in an attempt to avoid confusion. In 1761 John Scoles married Esther Byng, a descendant of Admiral Byng.

The cousins lived in Maryland and raised large families eventually moving in about 1815 to Harrison County, Ohio. They are thought to have descended from an English family, possibly from Yorkshire, who settled in Ireland in the 17th century. There are also a number of postings in Genforum where the cousins are sometimes referred to as ‘Big John’ and ‘Little John’.

Phone and address listings in the website (available in 2000) totalled 609 for Scholes, 534 for Scoles and 32 for Schoales (12 Skoyles were also listed). The database used was a collection of 87 million persons listed in ‘White Pages’ published by the Acxion Corporation in 1998. If this database was reasonably complete and if we assume (or guess) that each entry represented a household with an average of 2½ persons, then the number of Scholes/Scales in the USA was roughly 3000. The proportion of Scoles in the total Scholes/Scoles population is much greater in the USA than in the UK.

While most of those listed in the database will be descendants of English immigrants, a proportion will trace their descent from German and Dutch settlers who anglicised their surnames to Scoles/Scholes on arrival in the USA. I am grateful to Ellen Kotzin for the story: of two brothers, James and John Scholz, bc.1660 in Holland, who went to Ireland as “followers” of William of Orange. John is believed to have been killed at the battle of Carrickmacross in 1690. When William became King he gave the town of Radeery in Co. Monaghan to James who adopted the name Scholes. James raised a large family; and several descendants emigrated and settled in Birdsall, Allegany County in upper New York State, where there is a strong association with the name to this day.  Family members are buried in the Angelica Cemetery, better known as the ‘Until the Day Dawns’ cemetery.

Public Profiler - Worldnames 

At Public Profiler is a tool which maps the occurrence of particular surnames around the world: "The world family name mapping website uses many new and up to date sources to tell you where in the world people with your family name are found. Additionally, we provide lots of interesting facts and figures about the people who share your family name". The following images are of the prevalence of Scholes in the UK, Europe and the World, showing concentration in the UK in Lancashire and Yorkshire, but also around the world in Australia, New Zealand and North America. Try the website yourself; it is really interesting. (added 2009)

scholes uk.jpg (84394 bytes)  scholes eur.jpg (109264 bytes) scholes world.jpg (46505 bytes)

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