A Thousand Years of Maul(e)

Arms of Patrick Maule b. 1585, 1st Earl of Panmure, Baron Maule of Brechin and Navar.  Clementia et animis – “With leniency and bravery”

I’m not sure what inspired me to start doing a bit of Maul(e) family historical research this morning, but one thing led to another, and hours of research later a quick post evolved into an epic essay of Maul family history.  As suspected, our family name is of Norman origin. “Of Maule” meaning from the village of Maule in the Yvelines department of Île-de-France region, about 40km west of Paris. Records indicate a “Guarin de Maule” alive in the year 960, is possibly the grandfather of Peter the “seignior of Maule” or “rich Parisian” mentioned by Benedictine monk Orderic Vital (1075 to 1142) in his Historia Ecclesiastica, one of the great contemporary chronicles of 11th and 12th century Normandy and Anglo-Norman England. He informs us that Peter made a donation to the Priory of Maule, a satellite of the Benidictine Abbey of Saint-Evroult, in 1076, with the consent of his wife Widesmouth and his sons Ansold, Theobald and William. The Gurain de Maule who is the common ancestor of the English and Scottish Maules was born in 1047. Gurain is the son of Peter, brother of Ansold, both whom participated in the Norman Conquest with William the Conqueror, and fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Records indicate that Ansold was knighted in 1065, just before the Conquest. Gurain stayed in England, but Ansold is later mentioned as having accompanied the Duke of Guiscard on his expedition to the Balkans where he distinguished himself at the Battle of Durazzo in 1081, culminating in the defeat of Emperor Alexius Comneus of Constantinople. Ansold succeeded his father as the aforementioned Seigneur de Maule in 1100. At the end of February 1106 he mediated a dispute between himself and the Monks of Maule following the appearance of a great comet. Shortly before his death his wife reluctantly consented to dissolve their marriage so that he could take holy orders. He was accepted as a monk on the 24th of December 1118 and died in the Priory at Maule three days later.

King Edward I – Wikipedia Commons

As his share of the spoils of the Conquest, Guarin acquired the Lordship of Hatton, in Yorkshire. Upon his death in about 1100, one of his two sons, Robert, attached himself to David, Earl of Huntingdon, and was granted lands by the Crown in Lothian, Scotland. Sir Peter de Maule, direct descendant of Robert, acquired the baronies of Panmure and Benvie in 1224, as the only heir of William de Valoniis (The Valoniis were one of the most eminent families of the Conquest). Peter built Panmure Castle, and appears to have had two sons, Thomas and William. The older son, William, inherited the title of Earl of Panmure. Thomas, the younger, was governor of the castle of Brechin, the only fortress to successfully interrupt the conquests of the English King Edward I. Though interrupted, Thomas was mortally wounded during a siege of the castle in the First War of Scottish Independence after holding out for 20 days. Sir William Maule, while serving as sheriff of Forfarshire (Angus) during this time, swore fealty to Edward I on 10 July 1292 at St. Andrews, preserving the claim to the barony subject to the English crown. 

William’s descendants hold the Barony of Panmure until 1715, when James, 4th Earl of Panmure forfeits his title after his arrest at the Battle of Sheriffmuir and exile to France due to his support of James Francis Edward Prince of Wales who unsuccessfully attempted to claim the Crown in the “fifteen” Jacobite Rising. James Maule was twice offered after attainder of Parliament restoration of his land and title, but declined, maintaining his support for James, Prince of Wales until his death in Paris in 1723.

It wasn’t until 1831 that the Barony was reclaimed by a direct descendant of George Maule, 2nd Earl of Panmure. William Maule was a Scottish politician and member of Parliament in 1796 and again between 1805 and 1831. William’s original surname had been Ramsay, as the son of George Ramsay, 8th Earl of Dalhousie and Elizabeth Glen, but in 1782 he succeeded to the Maule estates on the death of his great-uncle General William Maule, 1st Earl Panmure (Peerage of Ireland), and assumed by Royal licence the same year the additional surname and arms of Maule.

NPG 2537; Fox Maule-Ramsay, 2nd Baron Panmure and 11th Earl of Dalhousie by Thomas Duncan
Fox Maule-Ramsey, 2nd and final Baron of Panmure, and 11th Earl of Dalhousie – Wikipedia Commons

William Maule had nine children with his first wife, Patricia Heron Gordon, including his first son, Fox Maule-Ramsay, who inherited the title of Baron Panmure in 1852. Fox served as the Secretary of State for War under Queen Victoria from 1855 – 1858, but died childless in 1874, and the Barony of Panmure became extinct. William’s second son, Lt. Col. Hon. Lauderdale Maule, followed in his father’s footsteps also serving as Member of Parliament for Forfarshire, from 1852–1854. Never married, Lauderdale died in Constantinople in 1854 after contracting cholera at the British camp at Varna, during the Crimean War.

Other significant “Maules” in this line traced back to William the Conqueror include Patrick Maule, b. 1585, father of George, 2nd Earl of Panmure. Patrick accompanied James VI, King of the Scots, into England in 1603 as a “gentleman of the bedchamber” to that monarch. He held the same office under Charles I, who appointed him keeper of the palace and park of Eltham Palace, and sheriff of County Forfar. King Charles I held Patrick in such high regard that he was elevated on 3 August 1646 as Baron Maule of Brechin and Navar, and Earl of Panmure. Patrick Maule married three times, but his title passed to his first son from his first wife, George, mentioned earlier.

Eltham Palace, engraved by Peter Stent, as it appeared about 1653 – English Heritage

Not much is known about his children from the other two wives as Patrick’s first son George inherited his issue, as did George’s descendants. Looking at frequencies of more common surname variants of Maule, the surname “Maul” only begins appearing in English and Scottish records after 1600. One theory is that upon accompanying James VI to England, and his subsequent residency as keeper of Eltham Palace, it is likely the “e” was dropped by one of the offspring by his second or third wife and gave rise to the Maul phonetic variant (minus the “E”) from which our line of ancestors are descended. Of variant Maule surnames, “Maul” only represents 8% of the total between 1600 and 1699, 35% (highest percentage of all variants) between 1700 and 1799, 26.5% between 1800 and 1850, and way back down to 7.5% between 1850 and 1900. The last known Maul we can trace our family history back to without interruption is buried in London and died in the late 19th century.

Scene 52 from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting mounted Norman soldiers attacking Anglo-Saxons at the 1066 Battle of Hastings – Wikipedia Commons

While it’s impossible to know for sure what line we come from, it is likely that the common ancestor of all Mauls, Maules, and Maulls (the only three remaining phonetic variants) probably descend from the one and only Guarin, son of Peter, brother of Ansold of Maule, born in the town and lordship of Maule, Île-de-France, in the year 1047. It’s also entirely possible that the phonetic variation “Maul” is from an earlier or later second or third marriage branched from the original Maules of Panmure, a subsequent immigration of Maules from France, or a confused spelling of another name entirely. We can rule out the Mauls and Maules that emigrated to the United States and elsewhere prior to the 20th Century if only because none of the confirmed ancestors of Mauls in the known family tree are thought to have come from outside the UK. One thing is for sure, however, and that is tracing your family back from the present is probably much more straightforward than focusing on the theory of a shared common ancestor.

A primary source for this post and a great suggestion for further research into family history of British or Scottish origin includes the invaluable reference by John Burke (1832), A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, published by H. Colburn and R. Bentley, Baronetage, London. Another source is the treasure trove of information available on the Maule Family History webpage found at maulefamily.com. Of particular interest are the biographical notes on outstanding and interesting Maules of the past thousand years, as well as the previously mentioned statistics on phonetic variations of the family name. Many sources also reference as a starting point the three-volume work by Wilhelmina, Duchess of Cleveland (1819–1901), published in 1889, entitled The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. This text is cited extensively in the 1066 Project, especially references to Ansold, father of Peter Lord of Maule, and excerpts of which are available on the New Zealand based web page 1066.co.nz. Wikipedia is also an excellent source for additional references for genealogical research, as are the articles compiled for various noteworthy family members. Analyzing the degrees of separation between articles can also be helpful in tracing origins.

The Mauls, Maules, and Maulls of 2017 are spread worldwide, and according to the genealogy research engine forebears.io, population clusters exist in some quite unexpected places. Mauls are most prevalent in Germany, the United States, and Russia, with approximately 18,000 people worldwide having this variant of the surname. The English Mauls number just 183, continuing the downward trend mentioned earlier when the they were once the most common phonetic variant in the 18th century. Maules are even less common with just under 12,000 people clustered in India, the United States, Italy, and England.

While our origins may be uncertain, the history of the family name is full of exciting adventures worth volumes of dedicated research. This post only offers a glimpse into the past thousand years, since the Norman Conquest. What will the next thousand years bring? The only thing I know for sure is that as far as my branch goes, I’m the last in line. No pressure.

4 thoughts on “A Thousand Years of Maul(e)

  1. My maternal grandmother is a Maule, and I had no idea before today that it was French origin — she only ever talks about our Scottish roots. Thank you for this!

    1. The name origin is more complicated than the original post indicates. There is a Maul family from what is now Germany, some of whose descendants changed it to Maule during WW1. Maull is Maule misspelled because of a “too large” lower-case “e” at the end in a London record in the 1600s. There is Mawle, which also became Maule and could be sourced from Maule. There is the Maule – de Mauley puzzle. Lots more about the name origin at maulefamily.com/maule_name.htm

  2. Not sure when you last visited http://www.maulefamily.com, but it certainly has been updated since 2010. The main page has been changed in 2012 and 2017, and subsidiary pages changed many times since 2010. The site is surely not defunct . . . it’s still alive, and so am I ! I’d welcome anything you can add in terms of your branch of the family. — Jim Maule, one of a handful of Maule family historian/researchers.

  3. It’s rather mind Boggling !! My name is also Watts and I hope that would be more interesting !!
    However I’d much rather be able to know the Mauls , Kemps and Watts who will pass the name on ! Love, G’ma Grace Maul

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