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

Origins Available: English, German

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

The name of the Nicholas family is derived from The surname Nicholas is a patronymic surname, belonging to the category of surnames known as hereditary surnames. Nicholas is derived from the personal name Nicholas. It was a popular given name in the Middle Ages. This surname came to England with the Bretons, who accompanied Duke William of Normandy when he invaded England in 1066. The Bretons were from the peninsula of Brittany in the northwest of France. Formerly known as Armorica, a possession of the Roman Empire, this land consists of a plateau with a deeply indented coast and is broken by hills in the west. However, the region was renamed Britannia Minor by the Romans, following the emigration of six thousand Britons across the English Channel, an event which took place at the behest of the Roman Commander in Britain.


Since the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules, Breton surnames have many spelling variations. Latin and French, which were the official court languages, were also influential on the spelling of surnames. The spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. Therefore, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England after the Norman Conquest, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. The name has been spelled Nicholas, Nicholl, Nichol, Nicholls, Nicolas and many more.

First found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nicholas research. Another 233 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1525, 1611, 1658, 1657, 1594, 1661, 1593, 1669, 1595 and 1667 are included under the topic Early Nicholas History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 97 words(7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nicholas Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Nicholas family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 47 words(3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Investigation of immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Nicholas:

Nicholas Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Austin Nicholas, who arrived in Plymouth in 1621
  • Austin Nicholas, who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621
  • Jon Nicholas, who landed in Virginia in 1636
  • Walter Nicholas, who landed in Massachusetts in 1636
  • Richard Nicholas, who arrived in Virginia in 1639

Nicholas Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Mary Nicholas, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1703
  • Edwd Nicholas, who landed in Virginia in 1711
  • Sarah Nicholas, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1714
  • Lodwick Nicholas, aged 34, landed in Pennsylvania in 1738
  • Jacob Nicholas, who came to Philadelphia in 1741

Nicholas Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Daniel R Nicholas, aged 23, arrived in Louisiana in 1812
  • Dn Nicholas, aged 27, landed in New Orleans, La in 1820
  • Robert Nicholas, who landed in New York in 1834
  • Robert H Nicholas, who arrived in New York in 1837
  • Jean Nicholas, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838

Nicholas Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • James Michele Nicholas, who arrived in Alabama in 1922


  • Samuel Nicholas (1744-1790), American Marine Corps officer
  • Wilson Cary Nicholas (1761-1820), American politician, governor of Virginia from 1814-1816
  • Brigadier-General Richard Ulysses Nicholas (1890-1953), American Engineer, 2nd Army (1945-1946)
  • C H Nicholas (1894-1966), English RAF Air Commodore
  • Sir William Nicholas (1872-1949), English painter
  • Sir Herbert Richard "Harry" Nicholas (1905-1997), British trade unionist and political organiser
  • Herbert Nicholas (1911-1998), British Oxford Historian
  • Henry James Nicholas VC, MM (1891-1918), New Zealand recipient of the Victoria Cross


  • The Nicholases of Pennsylvania in the Civil War 1861-1865 by Jerry F. Peter.

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  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  2. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  3. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  5. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  6. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  7. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  8. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  9. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  10. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  11. ...

The Nicholas Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Nicholas 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 26 March 2014 at 10:07.

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