Recorded in several spellings including Nettle, Nettell, the patronymic Nettles, and probably others, this is a medieval English surname. It has at least two possible origins. The most likely is a nickname for a person with the prickly personality, or given the Chaucerian humour of the period, perhaps the reverse! Secondly it may have been occupational. Nettle being a popular herb, much used for medicinal potions, as well as being an early vegetable much used in soups and broths, as such it could describe a herbalist.Surprisingly the popular dictionaries of surnames fail to mention the surname at all, but this may be because of its relative rarity. It is well recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London from the time of the infamous King Henry V111th (1510 - 1547). He did not do much good but he did introduce church registers on a national basis. Examples from these registers include William Nettles who was christened at the church of St Leonard Eastcheap, on March 8th 1542, and Richard Nettle christened at St Margaret's Westminster, on March 2nd 1676.
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