This interesting surname, of English and Welsh origin with variant spellings Nicholls, Nichols, Nickols, Nickolls, Nicolls, Niccols, Nicholes, Nickoles and Nickels, is a patronymic from the given name "Nicholas", itself coming from the Greek personal name "Nikolaos", deriving from "nikan", to conquer, and "laos", meaning "people". As a personal name it is found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below), and further early recordings include: John Nichole (circa 1270), in "Unpublished documents in the Essex Records Office", Chelmsford, and William Nicholas, in "A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, Berkshire". Recordings from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Ellen Nickolls and Humfry Walden on October 26th 1589, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and the marriage of Elizabeth Nichols and Brian Webster on December 3rd 1592, in Prescot, Lancashire. One William Nicholls was recorded as resident in the parish of "Jordans Jorney", near "Charles Cittie", in Virginia in 1624, having arrived on the "Dutie" in 1618. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is on a blue shield, two ermine bars, in chief three gold suns, the Crest being out of a gold ducal coronet, a silver demi lion rampant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Waleram Nicholai, which was dated 1198, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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