Recorded in over two hundred variation of the spelling from the traditional English Nicholas, Nichols, Nicklas, Nickless, Nicholds etc. to the Gaelic McNicol and McNickle, this is a surname of ultimately of Ancient Greek origin. It derives from the male personal name "Nikolaos", composed of elements "nickan", to conquer, with "laos", people, and popularly translated as "victory-people". This personal name was a great favourite amongst Christians throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, partly due to the fame of the 4th Century St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who is regarded as the patron saint of children, sailors, pawnbrokers, and wolves, and was venerated in both Eastern and Western Churches. The personal name was in use in England before the Norman Conquest, and usually applied to a monk. It is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Nicolaus. Amongst the many early recordings are those of John Nichole of London in 1270, William Nicholas of Bedford in 1311, Gylbred Nycholay of Scotland in 1446, and William Nickless of Suffolk in 1783. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Waleram Nicholai, which was dated 1198, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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