Nicholson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the Nicholson family

The surname Nicholson 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 Nicholson family

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

Nicholson Spelling Variations

Spelling variations are extremely common among Scottish names dating from this era because the arts of spelling and translation were not yet standardized. Spelling was done by sound, and translation from Gaelic to English was generally quite careless. In different records, Nicholson has been spelled MacNichol, MacNicol, MacNicoll, Nicolson, Nicholson, MacNicholas, MacNickle, MacNickel, MacNickell, MacNiccol, MacNychole and many more.

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

Ireland Migration of the Nicholson family to Ireland

Some of the Nicholson 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 Nicholson migration to the United States +

Those who made the voyage were greeted with ample opportunity to acquire land and a political climate far away from the oppressive monarchy of the old country. They settled along the east coast of what would become Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence, those who remained loyal to England traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In this century, many Scots living in North America have begun to recover their rich heritage through festivals, highland games, and Clan societies. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Nicholson:

Nicholson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Garret Nicholson, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Elizabeth Nicholson, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [2]
  • Garret Nicholson, aged 23, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [2]
  • Eliz Nicholson, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [2]
  • Georg Nicholson, who landed in Virginia in 1638 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Nicholson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Richard Nicholson, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [2]
  • Peter Nicholson, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [2]
  • William Nicholson, who arrived in Maryland in 1720 [2]
  • George, Nicholson Jr., who arrived in Virginia in 1724 [2]
  • Geo Nicholson, who landed in Virginia in 1724 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Nicholson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Nicholson, who landed in America in 1808 [2]
  • Duncan Nicholson, who arrived in North Carolina in 1809 [2]
  • Christopher Nicholson, aged 31, who arrived in Maryland in 1812 [2]
  • J M Nicholson, aged 21, who arrived in New York in 1812 [2]
  • S Nicholson, aged 26, who arrived in North Carolina in 1812 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Nicholson migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Nicholson Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • William Nicholson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. James Nicholson U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 member of the Penobscot Association [3]
  • Mr. John Nicholson U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 [3]
  • Mr. Robert Nicholson U.E. who settled in Home District [York County], Ontario c. 1784 [3]
  • Mr. Robert Nicholson U.E. who settled in Eastern District [Cornwall], Ontario c. 1784 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Nicholson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Nicholson, aged 35, a farmer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Samuel" from Liverpool, England
  • Robert Nicholson, aged 30, a farmer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the ship "Samuel" from Liverpool, England
  • Mr. Richard Nicholson, aged 40 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Manchester" departing 5th June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 17th July 1847 but he died on board [4]
  • Dond Nicholson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1848
  • J C Nicholson, who landed in Victoria, British Columbia in 1862
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Nicholson Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • F Nicholson, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Nicholson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Nicholson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Nicholson, English convict who was convicted in Stafford, Staffordshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Mr. Peter Nicholson, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 18th June 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • Thomas Nicholson, aged 20, a shoemaker, who arrived in Kangaroo Island aboard the ship "Buffalo" in 1836 [7]
  • G. Nicholson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1839 [8]
  • James Nicholson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Indus" in 1839 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Nicholson 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:

Nicholson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • E. Nicholson, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Brougham" in 1842
  • Thomas D. Nicholson, aged 30, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "John Wickliffe" in 1848
  • Alison Nicholson, aged 29, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "John Wickliffe" in 1848
  • Catherine Ria Nicholson, aged 4, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "John Wickliffe" in 1848
  • Janet Dickson Nicholson, aged 3, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "John Wickliffe" in 1848
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Nicholson (post 1700) +

  • John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson (b. 1937), three-time Academy award winning American actor, film director and producer
  • Robert James "Jim" Nicholson (b. 1938), American Secretary of Veterans Affairs from January 2005 to October 2007
  • Ms. Lindsay Nicholson M.B.E., British Editor for Good Housekeeping, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Journalism and Equal Opportunities [10]
  • Mrs. Wendy Jane Nicholson M.B.E., British National Lead Nurse for Children, Young People and Families for Public Health England, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to Nursing for Children and Young People [11]
  • John Nicholson (1941-2017), New Zealand racing driver from Auckland
  • Sir Sydney Nicholson (1875-1947), English choir director, founder of the Royal College of Music
  • Paul Nicholson (b. 1954), Canadian NHL ice hockey forward
  • Edward Max Nicholson (1904-2003), Irish environmentalist, ornithologist and internationalist, and a founder of the World Wildlife Fund
  • Sir Charles Nicholson (1808-1903), 1st Baronet, British-Australian politician and explorer
  • Elliot Nicholson (1871-1953), English rugby union player
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Air New Zealand Flight 901
  • Miss Christine Margaret Nicholson (1953-1979), New Zealander passenger, from Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand aboard the Air New Zealand Flight 901 for an Antarctic sightseeing flight when it flew into Mount Erebus; she died in the crash [12]
HMAS Sydney II
HMS Cornwall
  • John Edward Nicholson, British Sub Lieutenant (E) aboard the HMS Cornwall when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [14]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Thomas W Nicholson (b. 1916), English Cook serving for the Royal Navy from Gateshead, County Durham, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [15]
  • Mr. Alfred F Nicholson (b. 1912), English Petty Officer serving for the Royal Navy from Alverstoke, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [15]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. William Barlett Nicholson, British Corporal, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [16]
  • Mr. Nicholson, British Canteen NAAFI, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [16]
HMS Royal Oak
  • William Daniel Nicholson (d. 1939), British Petty Officer with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [17]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Charles Duncan Nicholson, Canadian 2nd Class passenger from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [18]
RMS Titanic
  • 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 [19]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Glen Eldon Nicholson, American Electrician's Mate Third Class from North Dakota, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [20]
  • Mr. hancel Grant Nicholson, American Seaman First Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [20]


The Nicholson 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)
  3. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  4. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 91)
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/baring
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HMS BUFFALO 1836. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1836Buffalo.htm
  8. ^ State Library of South Australia. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) ASIA 1839 from London with Captain Benjamin Freeman and 245 passengers, arrived Port Adelaide on 16-07-1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Asia-list.htm
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) INDUS 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Indus.htm
  10. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 4 July 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/62310/supplement/B1
  11. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, www.thegazette.co.uk/honours-lists
  12. ^ Mount Erebus, Memorial, Roll of Remembrance (Retrieved 2018, February 21st). Retrieved from http://www.erebus.co.nz/memorialandawards/rollofremembrance.aspx
  13. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  14. ^ Force Z Survivors Crew List HMS Cornwall (Retrieved 2018, February 13th) - Retrieved from https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listcornwallcrew.html#A
  15. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  16. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  17. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  18. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  19. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  20. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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