Recorded in many patronymic forms including Nicholson, Nickelson, Nickinson, Nickerson, and even Nicklinson, this is a surname of the British Isles, but one which is ultimately biblical. Introduced into Europe by returning Crusader knights from the Holy Land in the 12th century, it derives from the ancient Greek name "Nikolaos", which translates as "victory-people" . The name was also popular in Europe because of a late veneration during the Christian Revival of the early medieval pewriod, for the martyrd St. Nicholas of Lycia, in the 4th century. There are an estimated three hundred spelling forms found throughout Christendom, although the patroymics in Britain seem to date from the late 15th century. William Nicholai, in an early form of a patronymic was recorded in Scotland as early 1219, with William Nicolson of angus in 1489, and John Niccolsonne of London in 1559. Amongst the amy famous nameholders who have distinguished themselves over the centuries are Sir Francis Nicholson (1660 - 1728). He was one of the earliest governors of Virginia colony in New England, whilst General John Nicholson was a hero of the Indian Mutiny in 1856 - 1857. Pilot Officer James Nicholson won the Victoria Cross in the Battle of Britain (July to October 1940), only to be killed later. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Michael Nycholson, which was dated 1443, in the "Land Charters of Cupar in Angus", during the reign of King James 11 of Scotland, 1437 - 1460. 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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