Select Cole Surname Genealogy

Here are some Cole stories and accounts over the years:

Old King Cole

Old King Cole does appear to have some basis in history.   Coel Hen was an early ruler in the post-Roman world of the 5th century.  His territory, that of the Kingdom of the Rock in the western lowlands of Scotland, lasted for several centuries before its disappearance under the waves of invasion from the Celts, Picts, Vikings, and others.

Not much is known about Coel Hen's life.  He apparently spent much of his time campaigning in Aeron (present-day Ayrshire).  The end of his life was not so merry.  He was said to have drowned in a bog at Tarbolton in Aeron.

The Coles of Slade in Devon

The following is the main line of these Coles, starting with Simon Cole in the early 1400's:
  • Simon Cole (1437-1497), married Alice Larise
  • John Cole (1463-1543), married Thomazine Walcott
  • Thomas Cole (1489-1541), married Jane Hill
  • William Cole (1518-1547), married Elizabeth Champerson
  • Phillipp Cole (1538-1590), married Joan Williams 
Other Coles from the family settled nearby in Buckland.  The main Cole line in Slade ended with Richard Cole in the 1630's.  It then passed to a Cole family in London.

William Cole in Ireland

The first Cole to come to Ireland was William Cole, a professional soldier born in London but from the Cole family in Slade in Devon.  He in fact claimed - as can be seen from his magnificently emblazoned pedigree - that he was descended from an ancient Conquest family.  Having first served in the Low Countries, Cole arrived in Ireland in 1601 to seek his fortune.

Six years later he was appointed Captain of the longboats and barges at Ballyshannon and Lough Erne.  His future prospects were uncertain for a while.  But then came the Flight of the Earls and in particular the flight of Cuchonmacht Maguire of Enniskillen.  His departure gave Cole his opportunity.  In 1609 he was made constable or governor of Enniskillen and moved into the castle there.

Cole became one of the principal promoters and implementers of the Protestant plantation in Fermanagh, receiving extensive grants of land in and around Enniskillen and acquiring others by purchase.  The building of the town was largely a Cole initiative (there were only some 180 inhabitants there in 1630).  Soon Enniskillen became what a parliamentary reformer of 1790 called: "the private property of the Earl of Enniskillen; the provost and the twelve burgesses were the confidential trustees of his appointment."

Cole had a narrow escape from a treacherous death during the 1641 uprisings.   He raised a regiment and fought at its head, despite advancing years, in the confused wars of the 1640's.  He espoused the Parliamentarian cause and successfully defended Enniskillen against the marauding Maguires.

George Cole of Twickenham

George Cole was a barrister and a member of the Middle Temple in London.  He lived in Petersham and married his wife Frances at St. Peter's there in 1585.

Cole died in 1624 and he and his family are commemorated in the monument in the chancel erected at the time.  Under an arch lies his effigy habited in a black robe and a cuff.  Within the rails of the communion table are the tombs of his son and grandson.  The family vault lies under the chancel.

He had taken a lease on a manor in Petersham park in 1610.  When that property was lost after Petersham park became enclosed to form part of Charles II's hunting grounds, the Cole family built and lived in another property nearby, Douglas House.

Cole in America

Joseph Curtis who wrote about an early Cole family in America in his 1909 book The Descendants of Elisha Cole described the Coles as follows:

"In the annals of this country the Cole family is old.  It has been seen and participated in everything of moment from Puritan days to the present time.  In the records of great achievement it is not particularly noted, but as a race the Coles have proved themselves sturdy, courageous, self-reliant, and independent.  Theirs seem to have been the story of fair intelligence, solid respectability, innate piety and consistent mediocrity.

To be sure, they have produced good soldiers, prominent lawyers, fairly eminent divines and accomplished physicians, although the tenor of their ways has been mostly in the field of pioneer agriculture.  Nevertheless they have had no criminals and very few drunkards.  They have clung to the sturdy religious principles and hardworking habits of their Puritan ancestry and throughout the length andf breadth of America have spread the example and gospel of the sturdier virtues which go to make a nation great."

A Cole Family in Georgia

Three Cole brothers - James, John and William - arrived in west Georgia from South Carolina after the Gold Lottery of 1832.  They settled in the area surrounding modern-day Dallas in Paulding county.  The Cole surname remains prevalent in that area to this day.

William Cole, the youngest, made his home in Villa Rica, then part of New Georgia.  He was a farmer who, according to family lore, did not - unlike his brother James - own slaves because it was against his moral principles.  His wife Margaret is thought to have gone by the name of Peg.  There is a Peg Cole Road in the area where the Cole farm once existed.  William Cole was listed as the head of household in the census records for 1840, 1850, and 1860.

Late Coles of the family migrated to Atlanta.  George Cole, for example, moved to Atlanta in the early 1900's and became a police officer there.

George Coles in Australia

George Coles, the son of a commercial traveller in London, arrived in Australia in 1854.  He and his family went out to the goldfields in Victoria where he made his living as an engineer working on the gold crushing machines.  In 1858 George, the first of his six children, was born.

George junior, owing to family illness and the early death of his father, became responsible for providing for his family.  He started work as a butcher on horseback and, after a couple of years, obtained a shop in the local town.  By the 1880's George was well established as a country merchant and was running a store at Jung.  He bought the North Eastern store at St. James in northern Victoria in 1892.  Although the population there was only 150, the business proved to be very successful.   The North Eastern store sold everything from farming to household stores.

However, ten years later with his health failing, George sold his St. James store to his eldest son George for the sum of 4,500.  Young George was just twenty four at the time.

By 1913 young George had paid off his father in full and also made 2,000, which was at that time quite an achevement.  He sold the store and took a trip around the world to find out for himself the best kind of business to operate.  In America George was fascinated by the nickel and dime stores he saw there.

In January 1914 he arrived back in Melbourne and with his brothers Jim and Arthur made plans to open the first 3d, 6d and shilling stores in Australia.  They successfully tendered for some insolvent business premises in Smith Street, Collingwood and opened that year on the Thursday before Easter.  They had distributed 10,000 fliers around the neighborhood, the principal attraction being "nothing over a shilling."  Thus began a business which revolutionized retailing in Australia.

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