Recorded in a wide range of spellings including Nevis, Neeves, Novis and Novice, this unusual English name has several possible origins. The first is as a variant of the ancient Hebrew name Noah, introduced into Britain after the 11th century by Crusaders returning from the Holy Land. Noah has several modern spelling alternatives including Noice and Noise. The second possible origin is as a variant of the early surnames Norris and Norrish and meaning "The man from the North", possibly an early reference to a Viking, and the third possibility is as a development from the Latin 'Novitas' - the novice. This "title" was usually applied to a monk or nun, and for obvious reasons, very rare as a surname. In fact for the few nameholders that may have descended through this origin, it is more likely that the original surname was a medieval nickname for one who acted the part of a novice in the travelling plays of the period.. Finally there is a faint but possible Italian connection -, the word " novi" being a medieval job description for a shoemaker, and recorded heraldically from about 1680 in the city of Bologna. Early recording include Mary Novice, the daughter of Richard Novice, christened at St Mary Whitechapel, London, on April 10th 1736, and Thomas Novis, who married Mary Wilson, at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on July 14th 1818. The first recorded spelling of the family name in the modern spelling may be that of Robert Nevis, which was dated January 8th 1586, in the register of the church of St Mildred Poultry, London. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth Ist, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603.
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