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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the German Nail family come from? What is the German Nail family crest and coat of arms? When did the Nail family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Nail family history?

The surname Nail is a German occupational surname that evolved in the region known as the Rhineland. Germans at first used only one name, but population growth and increased travel in medieval times caused confusion between people of the same name, forcing the people to adopt hereditary surnames. These names often identified people by the kind of work they did. Nail is a name for a carpenter, builder or a person who made or sold nails. The name Nail is derived from the Old German word "nagal," which means "nail." There are also numerous places named Nagel in Germany.

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One can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames: in early times, spelling in general, and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized; and later, spellings would change with branching and movement of families. Variations of the name Nail include Nagel, Nagle, Naegel, Nageli, Naegeli, Nagell, Nagler, Nagele, Naegele, Naegelen, Negel, Negele, Nail, Neil and many more.

First found in Westphalia, where this family made important contributions toward the development of this district from ancient times. Always prominent in social and political affairs, the family formed alliances with other families within the Feudal System and the nation.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nail research. Another 277 words(20 lines of text) covering the years 1224, 1451, 1562, 1649, 1769, 1773, 1836, and 1851 are included under the topic Early Nail History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 39 words(3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nail Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Hundreds of thousands of Europeans, including many Rhinelanders, made the voyage to North America between the 17th and 20th centuries. It was an escape from religious persecution and poverty and also an opportunity for people to start over and own their own land. Most landed at Ellis Island, off New York before moving on to the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, and California. Some also landed in Canada and settled in Ontario, while others headed west to the prairie provinces. A study of passenger and immigration lists has shown a number of people bearing the name of Nail, or one of its variants, reaching North America shores very early:

Nail Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James Nail, aged 19, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Thomas Nail, aged 35, landed in Connecticut in 1812
  • John Nail, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1840

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  • David Brent Nail (b. 1979), American country music artist
  • James Bradford "Jimmy" Nail (b. 1954), English singer-songwriter, actor, musician and film producer


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  1. Rupp, Daniel L. A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants to Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2000. Print. (ISBN 978-0806303024).
  2. Schenk, Trudy. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index Volume I-VIII. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1986. Print.
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
  5. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Kneschke, Dr. Ernest Heinrich. Neues allgemeines Deutsches Adels-Lexicon 9 Volumes New General German Aristocracy Lexicon. Leipzig: Friedrich Voigt, 1859. Print.
  8. Garland, Mary and Henry Garland Editions. Oxford Companion To German Literature 3rd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print. (ISBN 0198158963).
  9. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial general by J. B. Rietstap 6 volumes in 3. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1976. Print.
  10. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  11. ...

The Nail Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Nail Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 12 April 2013 at 08:24.

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