An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Nigell, Nigel, FitzNigel, FitzNigell and others.
First found in Cheshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book,  indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands of the Baron William FitzNigel who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086. He was preceded by Nigel of Cotentin (c.1070-1080,) who was the hereditary Constable of Chester. Another early mention is of Nigel (d. 1169,) who was an Anglo-Norman bishop of Ely, and Lord High Treasurer for both Henry I and Henry II of England. His son Richard FitzNigel, (d. 1198) was Bishop of London (1189-98) and treasurer of England (c.1158-98).
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fitznigell research. Another 215 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1189, 1424, 1510, and 1600 are included under the topic Early Fitznigell History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fitznigell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Fitznigell or a variant listed above: Philip Nigel, who settled in Baltimore in 1834; and John Nigal, who arrived in Boston in 1849.
The Fitznigell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Fitznigell 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 19 May 2011 at 15:19.