Recorded in many spelling forms including Nicol, Nicoll, Nichol, and Nicholl, this interesting surname is early medieval English and Scottish. Introduced into Europe by Crusader knights during the 12th century, it ultimately derives from the male given name Nicol, a short form of Nicholas, and ultimately from the Greek "Nikolaos". The translation is "people conquerer", what may be regarded today as a provocative name, but not so a thousand years ago. The personal name 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 when found in England before the Norman Conquest of 1066, was usually borne by a monk, and one called Nicolaus was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Early recordings include Stephen Nichole in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1273, and in 1296 Maucolum fiz Nicol of Scotland rendered homage to the king of England. Notable bearers of the name were 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, by Queen Victoria. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Waleram Nicholai. This was dated 1198, in the Curia Regis Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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