McNicoll History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The story of the McNicoll family stretches back through time to the Viking settlers who populated the rugged shores of Scotland in the Medieval era. The name McNicoll was derived from from the personal name, Nicholas. McNicoll is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. The surname McNicoll 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 McNicoll lived on the Isle of Skye, which is located on the western coast.

Early Origins of the McNicoll family

The surname McNicoll 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 McNicoll family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McNicoll 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 McNicoll History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McNicoll 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. McNicoll has been recorded as MacNichol, MacNicol, MacNicoll, Nicolson, Nicholson, MacNicholas, MacNickle, MacNickel, MacNickell, MacNiccol, MacNychole and many more.

Early Notables of the McNicoll 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 McNicoll Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McNicoll family to Ireland

Some of the McNicoll 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 McNicoll 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 McNicoll name:

McNicoll Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Peter McNicoll, who arrived in Cincinnati, Oh in 1829 [2]
  • Maggie McNicoll, aged 1, who immigrated to the United States, in 1892
  • Mrs. T. A. McNicoll, aged 25, who landed in America from Londonderry, in 1893
  • T. A. McNicoll, aged 28, who settled in America from Londonderry, in 1893
  • Fred. McNicoll, aged 25, who landed in America, in 1894
McNicoll Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Alex McNicoll, aged 16, who landed in America from Kirriemur, in 1900
  • Wm. McNicoll, aged 41, who immigrated to the United States from Glasgow, in 1903
  • Robert McNicoll, aged 42, who landed in America from Paisley, Scotland, in 1907
  • Charles McNicoll, aged 26, who landed in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1907
  • Frank McNicoll, aged 22, who immigrated to the United States from Glamis, Scotland, in 1908
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McNicoll migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McNicoll Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John McNicoll, who landed in Canada in 1820

New Zealand McNicoll migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

McNicoll Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Charles McNicoll, aged 30, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ambrosine" in 1860
  • Rachel McNicoll, aged 30, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ambrosine" in 1860

Contemporary Notables of the name McNicoll (post 1700) +

  • William J. McNicoll, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for Texas State Board of Education 7th District, 2002, 2004
  • Steven McNicoll, Scottish actor, playwright and comedian
  • Helen Galloway McNicoll (1879-1915), Canadian impressionist painter from Toronto
  • Sylvia McNicoll (b. 1954), Canadian children's writer from Burlington, Ontario
  • Air Marshal Iain Walter McNicoll CB CBE FRAeS (b. 1953), retired Royal Air Force officer, former Deputy Commander-in-Chief Operations, RAF Air Command
  • Brigadier General Sir Walter Ramsay McNicoll KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (1877-1947), Australian teacher, soldier, and colonial administrator
  • Sir Alan McNicoll (1908-1987), Australian naval officer, Chief of the Australian Naval Staff in 1965-68


The McNicoll 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)
  2. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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