This interesting surname has three possible origins; firstly, it may be a pet form of the personal name "Nicholas", itself coming from the Greek "Nikolaos", from "nikan" meaning to conquer, plus "laos", people. Secondly, it may be from a Middle English personal name derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Cola", from "col" meaning (char)coal, presumably denoting someone of swarthy appearance, synonymous with the Old Norse given name "Koli". Finally, it may be of Scottish and Irish origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "MacGill Chomhghaill" (Scotland), "MacGiolla Chomhghaill" (Irish), meaning son of the servant of (St.) Comhghall, a personal name of uncertain origin, borne by an early Irish saint. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century (see below). Early recordings include Richard Cole (1185) in the Records of the Templars in England in the 12th Century, Warwickshire, and John le Col (1321) in the Feet of Fines of Essex. London Church Records list the marriage of Alicia Cole to William Hattrell on April 30th 1554, at Heston. One Clement Cole, aged 30 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Suzan and Ellin" in April 1635, was an early emigrant to the New World, settling in New England. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Cole, which was dated 1148, in the "Winton Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. 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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