This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and derives from the Middle English male given name Nicol, the vernacular form of Nicholas, ultimately from the Greek "Nikolaos", from "nikan", to conquer, with "laos", people. This personal name, popularly taken to mean "victory-people", was a favourite among 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 and pawnbrokers. The name was found in England before the Conquest of 1066, usually borne by a monk, and is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Nicolaus". One Stephen Nichole was noted in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, and in 1296 Maucolum fiz Nicol of Scotland rendered homage to the king of England. Notable bearers of the name are John Pringle Nichol, regius professor of astronomy at Glasgow University, 1836, and his son, John Nichol, who was appointed professor of English language and literature at Glasgow, 1862 by Queen Victoria. 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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