This very interesting surname is English but is ultimately of Greek origins. It derives from the personal name Nikolaos, meaning 'The people conqueror'. As a personal name it is found in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as such was probably introduced by the Normans or the early crusaders, which was much the same thing. The surname dates back to the late 12th century and early recordings include John Nichole (circa 1270), in Unpublished documents in the Essex Records Office, Chelmsford, and William Nicholas, in a catalogue of Ancient Deeds, for Berkshire. The development of variant spellings commenced in medieval times, being a result of poor spelling allied with very strong local dialects. Nichols, and these variants including Knuckles, Nockalls, Nockells, Nockles, and many others are all the same name. Early examples of recordings include Mary Knuckles, who was christened at the famous church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, London, on May 21st 1619, Christian Necolds at St Brides Church, London, on April 24th 1660, John Nockalls who married Elizabeth Horne by civil license in London on November 11th 1666, and Christopher Nockells christened at St Andrews by the Tower, London, on January 31st 1695. A coat of arms granted to a family of the name has the blazon of a blue shield, two ermine bars, in chief three gold suns. 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 "The 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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