This is a very unusual surname. It appears to be locational and English, but may well be a nickname and French! Our research suggests that probably the name is a variant form of the French surname 'Noquet', meaning 'clenched teeth', and as such introduced possibly into England in the late medieval period and probably as a result of the persecution of the Huguenot refugees in France. The precise reason when anybody should be called 'clenched teeth' is open to conjecture. If not French then the name could just as easily be English and probably locational. What is certain is that no such place as Norquay (The north quay?) exists as a place name, although this is not to say that it may not have done in the past. At least five thousand British surnames are known to originate from now 'lost' medieval places of which the only reminder in the 20th century, is the surname, often in myriad spellings. We are not helped by the appearance of the earliest known recordings in England. They could be French but equally could be English. Taken from the earliest known surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London, they include such examples as Nicholas Norphey at the famous church of St Botolophs without Aldgate, on September 23rd 1582, Thomas Norquit, a witness at St Olave's church, Southwark, on December 11th 1771, and Henry Norquay, who married Elizabeth Fairbrother at St Botolphs Bishopgate, on August 1st 1808.
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