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

Origins Available: English, German, Scottish

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

Nicholson is an ancient Anglo-Saxon name that is derived from the personal name Nicholas. The Latin form of this name was Nicolaus, and it was derived from the Greek name Nikolaos, which is derived from the words nikan, which means to conquer, and laos, which means people. However, the name is best remembered by an American corruption of his name: Santa Claus. The surname Nicholson features the common patronymic suffix -son.

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Nicholson has been spelled many different ways, including Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Nicholson, Nichaelson, Nichalson, Nicherson and others.

First found in Cumberland 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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nicholson research. Another 149 words(11 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1296, 1669, 1688, 1683, 1688, 1655, 1728, 1694, 1698, 1712, 1714, 1720 and 1725 are included under the topic Early Nicholson History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 79 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nicholson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Nicholson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 145 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Nicholsons to arrive on North American shores:

  • George, Jane, John, Phillip Nicholson settled in Virginia

Nicholson Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Garret Nicholson, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Elizabeth Nicholson, who arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Garret Nicholson, aged 23, arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Eliz Nicholson, who landed in Virginia in 1637
  • Georg Nicholson, who landed in Virginia in 1638


Nicholson Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Richd Nicholson, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Peter Nicholson, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Wm Nicholson, who arrived in Maryland in 1720
  • George, Nicholson Jr., who arrived in Virginia in 1724
  • Geo Nicholson, who landed in Virginia in 1724


Nicholson Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Patrick Nicholson, who landed in America in 1808
  • Duncan Nicholson, who arrived in North Carolina in 1809
  • Christopher Nicholson, aged 31, arrived in Maryland in 1812
  • J M Nicholson, aged 21, arrived in New York in 1812
  • S Nicholson, aged 26, arrived in North Carolina in 1812


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  • Robert James "Jim" Nicholson (b. 1938), American Secretary of Veterans Affairs from January 2005 to October 2007
  • John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson (b. 1937), three-time Academy award winning American actor, film director and producer
  • Elliot Nicholson (1871-1953), English rugby union player
  • Sir Sydney Nicholson (1875-1947), English choir director, founder of the Royal College of Music
  • Mr. Arthur Ernest Nicholson (d. 1912), aged 64, English First Class passenger from Shanklin, Isle of Wight who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking and was recovered by CS Mackay-Bennett
  • Geoff Nicholson (b. 1953), British novelist and non-fiction writer
  • Ben Nicholson (1894-1982), English painter and sculptor
  • Admiral Sir William William Coldingham Nicholson KCB (1863-1932), British Royal Navy officer, Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy
  • Joyce Nicholson (1919-2011), Australian author
  • Norman Nicholson (1914-1987), British Poet

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Per Castra ad astra
Motto Translation: Through the camp to the stars.

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  1. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  2. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  3. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  4. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  5. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  6. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  7. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  8. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  9. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  10. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  11. ...

The Nicholson Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Nicholson 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 9 May 2014 at 21:09.

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