Recorded as Boyle, the rare Boyall, and in the past O' Boyle, this is generally regarded as an Irish surname of great antiquity. However it may also be English of Irish origin or English of French origins! If Irish it derives from the early Gaelic surname O' Baoighill, meaning the male descendant of the rash one! Traditionally Irish clan names were taken from a nickname for the original chief of the clan, and were usually prefixed O', or Mac, which is as equally Irish as Scottish. The O' Boyles were a strong clan in County Donegal for many centuries,and were known for their ruddy complexion! In England the origin could still be Irish, but for some nameholders at least, was French. As such the name was a transposition either of Boileau translating literally as "water wood," or Boille, a nickname of endearment for a small, rounded person, and introduced after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Richard Boyle (1566 - 1643) it is claimed was from Kent in England, but if so he almost certainly had very Irish ancestry. Inspite of a chequered record including a spell in the Tower of London, he held considerable power at the English court. In 1619 he acquired the estates in County Waterford of the executed Sir Walter Raleigh, and subsequently became the first Earl of Cork. Fourteen of the fifteen Boyles listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography" belong to this Anglo-Irish family. The coat of arms depicts a gold shield charged with green oak tree eradicated. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.