Hoyle History

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Bad news – Mom said we’re not related

Posted on June 15th, 2008

I loved school and always scored excellent grades in History classes. I didn’t care if it was American or World History, I loved anything to do with famous people and events from the past.

During my studies I always had a nagging curiosity about where my ancestors would have been and what they were doing during major historic events. Were some of my ancestors famous knights going on the Crusades? Were others soldiers during the Napoleonic wars? Were any involved in the American Revolution or the Civil War? If so, who’s side were they on? Were they “johnny rebs” or did they wear Union blue? Did any of my family meet George Washington or Robert E. Lee in person?

I’d hope that I would see the name “Hoyle” show up as I studied. Maybe a famous general, a pioneer like Lewis and Clark, maybe a soldier at the Alamo. Every time I picked up a history book, I’d look at the index to see if my surname was listed. There seemed to be lots of Howes, Hoyts, and Holts in the indices, but never a Hoyle.

I was so happy the first time that I heard the expression, “According to Hoyle.” I had no idea what it meant, but my mother (Patricia [Jarvis] Hoyle) told me that anyone using the phrase meant “this is a fact” or “that’s the rule.” She further explained that it referred to “some Englishman (Sir Edmond Hoyle) from hundreds of years ago” who defined and wrote a book about all the rules of various card games and the expression caught on and remained fairly common, especially among older people.

Of course my elation at first hearing about this famous person with my last name was quickly deflated. When Mom said, “I don’t think we’re related to him” I was so disappointed. I’d finally found out that there was a really famous person named Hoyle, only then to discover that I was probably might not related at all.

Instead of that news discouraging me, it made me only more determined to find out if I did have any famous ancestors. What I found over the years is that most were not famous in the modern sense, but many were notable and honorable in their service to their countries and for their accomplishments in so many other meaningful ways.

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