McNicholas History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The story of the McNicholas family stretches back through time to the Viking settlers who populated the rugged shores of Scotland in the Medieval era. The name McNicholas was derived from from the personal name, Nicholas. McNicholas is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. The surname McNicholas arose out of the religious naming tradition. In Christian countries, the name Nicholas was popular, owing to the legends surrounding the 4th century Lycian bishop of that name. In Catholic countries in particular, this religious figure was revered. This accounts for its popularity as a surname in Scotland. The name Nicholas came from the Greek, Nikolaos, which means conqueror of the people. In Scotland, the earliest bearers of the surname McNicholas lived on the Isle of Skye, which is located on the western coast.

Early Origins of the McNicholas family

The surname McNicholas was first found in on the Isle of Skye, where the first on record was Ottar Snaekollson who was the Chief of the MacNichols and attended the Council of Chiefs, held by MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, at Finlaggan on the Island of Islay about 1240. One of the first records of the name in Scotland was Maucolum fiz Nicol, who rendered homage to King Edward I of England in 1296 and the Nicholsons of Skye have Englished their name from Macnicol. [1]

Early History of the McNicholas family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McNicholas research. Another 115 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1263, 1500, 1607, 1645, 1718, 1694, 1718, 1655, 1727, 1655, 1728, 1694, 1698, 1698, 1705, 1713, 1720 and 1725 are included under the topic Early McNicholas History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McNicholas Spelling Variations

Standards used to judge the accuracy of spellings and translations did not yet exist in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations in names dating from that era, are thus, an extremely common occurrence. McNicholas has been recorded as MacNichol, MacNicol, MacNicoll, Nicolson, Nicholson, MacNicholas, MacNickle, MacNickel, MacNickell, MacNiccol, MacNychole and many more.

Early Notables of the McNicholas family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was James Nicolson (d. 1607), Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland & Bishop of Dunkeld; Thomas Joseph Nicolson (1645-1718), a Roman Catholic bishop, Vicar Apostolic of Scotland (1694-1718); William Nicolson (1655-1727)...
Another 41 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McNicholas Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McNicholas family to Ireland

Some of the McNicholas family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States McNicholas migration to the United States +

The New World was far from the oppressive regime of the old country. It was a place where there was more land than people and political and religious freedom were far easier to come by. Many Scots even got the chance to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. In recent years, interest in this heritage has been generated by Clan societies and regular highland games in North America. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the McNicholas name:

McNicholas Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James McNicholas, who was naturalized in Indiana around 1839
  • Thomas McNicholas, who was naturalized in Georgia in 1844
  • Margrate and Thomas McNicholas, who arrived in New York in 1847
  • Anthony McNicholas, who was naturalized in Indiana between 1853 and 1857
  • Miles McNicholas, who landed in New York in 1863
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McNicholas migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McNicholas Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John McNicholas, who settled in Port Huron, Michigan in 1879

Contemporary Notables of the name McNicholas (post 1700) +

  • John Timothy McNicholas O.P. (1877-1950), Irish-born, American clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of Duluth (1918 to 1925) and Archbishop of Cincinnati (1925 to 1950)
  • John E. McNicholas, American Republican politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Gogebic District, 1948
  • Derek McNicholas (b. 1984), Irish sportsperson
  • Patrick J. McNicholas (1919-1990), Irish-born politician in Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Paul McNicholas (b. 1975), Australian-born, Irish professional rugby league footballer
  • Steve McNicholas (b. 1955), English director, composer and actor
  • Conor McNicholas, English editor of the music magazine "The New Musical Express"

The McNicholas Motto +

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: Generositate
Motto Translation: By Generosity.

  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3) on Facebook
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