Recorded in over fifty spellings including Le Noire, Le Noir, Lenoir, diminutives Noirel and Noiret, (France), Negri, Negro, Lo Nero (Italian), Nieddu (Sardinia), this is an ancient surname. Originally from the Roman (Latin) word niger, and the later French noir, it does literally mean dark or black, it has several possible origins, all medieval nicknames. The first is ethnic and used by the inhabitants of Northern France or Italy to describe somebody of swarthy appearance. Secondly it may have been a nickname for a person who habitually wore dark clothing perhaps as some form of uniform, and thirdly it may have described a night worker, or at least somebody who was associated with the night. It is probable that there as many possible explanations as there are spelling s of the name. That there are over a dozen coats of arms granted to this surname would indicate its importance and standing in past times,.and most in some form or another, show a negroes head as part of the blazon. This is what is known as a canting, where the name and the blazon follow the same concept, however it is highly unlikely that the original nameholders were truly black skinned. The surname is widely recorded in both France and Italy. Early examples from surviving registers include Pino Negri of Lipari, Messina, Italy, on June 19th 1604, Didier Lenoire at Cirey-sur-Salines, Meurther et Moselle, France, on June 15th 1676, and Donato Negro of Grottaglie, Taranto, on January 24th 1705.
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