This interesting surname is a patronymic of the given name "Cole" which has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be a Middle English pet form of the personal name Nicholas or it may have derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century byname "Cola" meaning coal black, presumably denoting one of swarthy appearance and would have originated as a nickname to someone with raven black hair or a dark complexion. "Cola" and "Cole" (without surname) are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. One Geoffrey Cole, appears in the Winton Rolls of Hampshire (1148), but the patronymic form is not recorded until the mid 16th Century (see below). In the modern idiom the surname has seven variant spellings including Coales, Coules, Cowles, and Coleson. On June 24th 1565, William Coles married Margarett Warton, at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, London. One of the earliest settlers in the American colonies was one Edward Coles, who in June 1635, at the age of 20 yrs., boarded the vessel "Thomas and John" in the port of London, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Coles, which was dated 1555, in the "Register of the Freemen of the City of York", during the reign of Queen Mary 1, known as "Bloody Mary", 1553 - 1558. 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.
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