How the Name Originated
The name (and its derivations) first originated in the Isle of Wight in the 10th Century. It is Norman in origin deriving from 'de L'Isle', meaning in Latin 'Of the Isle (of Wight)'. The 'original' de L'Isle was Hugh, one of the sons of William Fitzstur, son of Stur of Tourlaville, near Cherbourg, France. They both came from the line of the hereditary 'Castellans of Lille' descended from the noble Fleming, Saswalo of Phalempin, and their charter surname was that of 'de Insula'.
Hugh (de Estur) came across to England with William the Conqueror's Norman army in 1066 and was granted lands for distinguished services rendered at the Battle of Hastings. He and his brothers Roger, Nigel and Gervase, held lands in the IoW and Hampshire in 1086, as listed in the Domesday Book. They also used the name 'de Insula', which is the latinised version of 'de L'Isle'. (The name 'de Stur' (The Ox) later gave rise to the 'Steer' surname).
A change in the language employed in recording from Latin to Norman-French is the explanation of how the name 'de Insula' became 'de L'Isle'. When Norman rule ended, the 'de' was dropped, and from the remainder came the surname as it now appears.
It was from Hugh's line that later sprang the great Lisle Barons of the IoW, also the Northumberland branch, and from there the Scottish line in the late 1100's.
In trying to trace the family connections, we find recorded 'By charter, probably temp. William II, Hugh de Insula, son of William2, son of Stur of the Isle of Wight gave to the Abbey of Marmoutier the tithe of the mill of Touralvilla, which he held by hereditary right. The 'Infuedationes militum' of 1172 show William son of Estur holding half a knights fee in the district near Cherbourg. Although it is not completely certain that Touralville was the original home of the family, the name not being territorial, it seems clear that William came from the Cotentin'. (William the Conqueror, was Duke of Normandy before he became King William I of England).1
Similarly recorded is that the family was already on the Island before the Conquest. Before 1066 Galfridus de Insula is said to have been holding the Manor of Wodyton as a free holder under Queen Edith3 He may have been a brother of William, Son of Stur. This might explain why the de Insulas were later found in possession of property held by the Sturs4, though marriages are also recorded between the Sturs and de Insulas. Another version is that the Lisles came to the Island in the train of the de Redvers, Earls of Devon, which gave lords to the Island from 1107-1293. After the Norman Conquest the lordship of the Island was given to the Conqueror’s chief favourite, William Fitz-osborne, who founded the Benedictine Abbey of Lira in Normandy. Son of Fitz osborne plotted against the King and so ended his days in prison. The estates were then given to Richard de Redvers, with the Earldom of Devon and the lordship of the Island by Henry I.
A trusted adherent of the Richard de Redvers was Jordan de Insula. His brother Hugo settled at Shorwell, Jordan settled at Wodyton.
Origins of the Names: Lisle, Lyle, Lyall, Lyell, Lille by Mr. Lan Lale, New Milton
1. The origins of some Anglo-Norman Families by Lewis C. Loyd. 1951 pg. 99
2. Pedigrees of the Families in the County of Hants. by William Berry, 1833 pgs 173-174 and 193
3. Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club
4. They came with the Conqueror.