This interesting name is one of the patronymic forms of the surname from the personal name Nicholas, which is ultimately of Greek origin, from "Nikolaos", composed of elements derived from the verb "nikan", to conquer, with "laos", people. The given name is popularly taken to mean "victory-people", and 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, 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, and is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Nicolaus". That the given name was popular is borne out by the large number of surnames derived from "Nicholas", among them the patronymic forms Nichol(l)s, Nickol(l)s, Nic(c)olls, and Nicholes. One William Nicholls was one of the earliest settlers in the New World colonies, arriving in Virginia on the "Dutie" in May 1619, and recorded as resident near "Charles Cittie", in 1624. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Nicholes, which was dated 1322, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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