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The Stapletons are a Norman family which took its name from an English village, but coming to Ireland in the wake of the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1170 settled in counties Kilkenny and Tipperary and became hibernicized. Some branches of it adopted a Gaelic patronymic, viz., Mac an Ghaill (son of the foreigner: Irish gall) which in due course was anglicized Gall, Gale and Gaule. Gale was formerly pronounced Gall. Both names, Stapleton and Gaule, are still we11 represented in the south-eastern counties in the proportion of approximately 2 to 1. Three hundred years ago, when Petty's "census" was taken, they were then comparatively more numerous than today, but in similar proportions as the enumerators recorded for Gaule 17 families in the barony of Ida and 9 in Lower Ormond, while Stapleton families numbered 34 in Eliogarty and 20 in Middlethird baronies. In the Ormond Deeds we find them frequently mentioned under both names, one of the earliest being Robert de Stapleton, who was sheriff of Waterford in 1287. An interesting sidelight on the Reformation policy of Henry VIII, as compared with his Protestant successors, was the granting of a pension to Elicia Gaalle, a "displaced nun" of Co. Kilkenny in 1540.

They penetrated into north Leinster too, for we find them at Drogheda in 1423 and in 1428 John Gale was one of a party of O's and Mac's who plundered the Prior of Fore (Co. Westmeath) of livestock and goods. A number of Gaules are among the "old proprietors" in the Co. Kilkenny Book of Survey and Distribution. The adjective gallda formed from gall gave the epithetic surname Gault which occurs often in seventeenth century Inquisitions for northern counties. Some of the Stapletons were called Gallduff (gall dubh, black foreigner) notably Fr. Theobald Stapleton, alias Gallduf, (1589-1647) whose Catechismus vel Teagasc Criostui (in Latin and Irish) was published in Brussels in 1639: he was captured by Cromwellian soldiers in the cathedral at Cashel and put to death on the spot with another priest called Stapleton. Like so many of the hibernicized Norman families the leading Stapletons espoused the Jacobite cause and were forced into exile by its defeat. John Stapleton, of Thurlesbeg, Co. Tipperary, settled at Nantes where an Irish colony was established; his son John Stapleton was ennobled as Comte de Treves. The French departmental archives contain records of many naturalizations of Irish-born Stapletons during the first half of the eighteenth century. Of the same stock was Brigadier-General Walter Valentine Stapleton (d. 1746) of the Irish Brigade, who in his youth had distinguished himself in 1690-91 at the siege of Limerick (where his relative, Col. Stapleton the deputy-governor was killed in a sortie) and later again at Fontenoy; he was fatally wounded at the battle of Culloden.

John O'Donovan, in his introduction to the Topographical Poems of O'Dugan and O'Heerin, refers to the adoption by the Stapletons of the name Gaule; nevertheless the Galls or Gaules of Gallstown, Co. Kilkenny, are of different origin. O'Donovan (whose mother was of that family) states that they were called Gall or Gall-Burke, Walter Gall de Burgo being M.P. for Co. Kilkenny in 1650. His son William became Count Gall von Bourckh of the German Empire and other sons served in the Spanish and Austrian armies.

The Gaelic patronymic Gallduv mentioned above in connection with the Stapleton family was also adopted in some cases by the Stacpooles. First known as de Stakbolle (from the place in Pembrokeshire) they came to Ireland from Wales in the thirteenth century and were prominent among the Anglo-Normans of the Pale in the mediaeval period. By the end of the sixteenth century they had become more numerous in Co. Clare than elsewhere; and up to quite recent times Stacpoole was one of the leading landlord names in that county. One important branch remained Catholic: this is now represented by the Duc de Stackpoole of Tobertynan, Co. Meath. A branch of the Clare family went to Cork city early in the eighteenth century and prospered as merchants. They spelt their name Stockpole. One of them married David Aikenhead, apothecary, and their daughter was Mother Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the Irish Sisters of Charity, whose centenary was commemorated by the issue of a special postage stamp.

Coats of arms

Stapleton: Argent a lion rampant Sable. This coat of arms is one of the oldest on record and can be dated to at least 1373. It has been used by the family for centuries with minor variations. A number of coats of arms of the Stapletons include a Moor's head as the crest. This dates back to Sir Bryan Stapleton of Yorkshire who went on the Crusades and killed a Moor before any of the kings of England, France or Scotland managed the same feat. There doesn't seem to be any one family motto. Several are listed but the most common is "fide sed cui vide".

Stakepowle, Stakepool or Stakepoll: Azure a chevron Argent between three crescents Or.

Gaul (The Gaul Burke): Quarterly Or and Vair, a cross Gules. Crest: A demi lion rampant Azure holding a cross Or.