This very interesting English, Irish and occasionally Scottish surname was originally a personal name. It is generally accepted as deriving from the personal name Nicholas, itself of Ancient Greek origins, or it may have derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century byname 'Cola', meaning black. This presumably denoted one of dark or swarthy appearance and may possibly have described a Dane or Anglo-Sazon. 'Cola' and 'Cole' as personal names are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, although the surname was only some seventy years behind (See below).The patronymic form of the now more popular 'Coles' is not recorded until the 16th Century, when George Coles appears in the register of Freemen of the City of York in 1555. In the modern idiom the surname has a number of variant spellings including Coale(s), Coule(s), Cowle(s), and Coleson. Examples of the surname recording include Johannes Cole in the Yorkshire Poll Tax rolls of 1379, and Elias Cole in the same register. A later example is that of John Coles who married Margarett Warton, at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, London, on June 24th 1565, whilst one of the earliest settlers in the American colonies was Edward Coles, who on June 15th 1635, at the age of 20 yrs, embarked on the ship 'Thomas and John' of London, bound for Virginia. The Coat of arms originally granted in the time of King Henry 1V of England, has the blazon of a bull passant, within a black border, bezantee armed, in gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Randolphi Cole, which was dated 1148, The Winton Rolls of Hampshire, during the reign of King John of England, known as 'Lackland' 1199 - 1216. 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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