This long-established surname is of Old French origin, and is an occupational name for a wet nurse or foster mother, deriving from the Old French "nurice, norrice", ultimately from the Latin "nutrix", genitive "nutricis". Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Early examples of the surname include: Matilda Nutrix and Maria le Noreyse (Cambridgeshire, 1273); Alice la Norisse and Agnes le Norice, mentioned respectively in the Court Rolls of the Borough of Colchester, Essex, dated 1310 to 1337; and Joan Nurys, recorded with Magota Nuris in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Margery Nourse to Mathewe Smyth at St. Bride's, Fleet Street, London, on February 2nd 1594, and the christening of Elizabeth, daughter of Peter Nurse, at St. Mary's, Stoke Newington, on January 25th 1601. An early settler in the New World was Robert Nurse, registered as a landowner in St. Michael's parish, the Barbados, in 1680. A Coat of Arms granted to the Nurse family of England is a black shield on a silver saltire, a fleur-de-lis of the first, the Crest being a pair of balances proper, and the Motto: "Justitia", Justice. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roberta la Norice, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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