Nicolls History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Nicolls is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Nicolls comes from the given name Nicholas. Nicholas derives from the Greek Nikolaos, which is made up of the words nikan, meaning to conquer, and laos, meaning people. [1]

Early Origins of the Nicolls family

The surname Nicolls was first found in Cheshire, where Nicholas D'Albini, who was of the junior line of the Dukes of D'Albini in Normandy, settled in 1054, and his successor William became Baron of Malpas. Waleram Nicholai was listed in Suffolk in 1198 and Nicholaus was listed in Lincolnshire in 1147-1166. [1] By the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273, the name was scattered as seen by: William filius Nicoll in Shropshire; and John Nicole and Stephen Nichole in Oxfordshire. [2]

Some of the family were anciently found in the parish of St. Kew, Cornwall. "Trewane or Trewarne in this parish, was formerly a seat of the Nicholls family. The heiress of Nicholls, whose mother was a daughter of Sir Joseph Tredenham of Tregonan in St. Ewe, married Nicholas Glynn, Esq. and dying in 1771 without surviving issue, bequeathed her mansion and barton of Trewane to Thomas Glynn, Esq. of the borough of Helston." [3]

Continuing our quest for family in Cornwall, we found this interesting geneological record: "Trereife [in the parish of Madern] has been the family estate of the Nicholls's from time immemorial. Dr. Nicholls, physician to George II. who opened the body of the king for the purpose of ascertaining the cause of his death, which he described in a paper addressed to the Royal Society, was second son of John Nicholls. This family intermarried with the families of Godolphin and Foote. William John Godolphin Nicholls, Esq. the last survivor of the elder branch of the family, died May 9, 1815, and bequeathed all his estates to his mother." [3]

Early History of the Nicolls family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nicolls research. Another 83 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1307, 1500, 1542, 1658, 1678, 1550, 1589, 1555, 1584, 1559, 1616, 1590, 1668, 1587, 1642, 1619, 1683, 1624, 1672, 1630, 1687, 1672, 1673, 1699, 1778, 1681, 1727, 1727, 1658, 1640, 1640, 1648, 1664, 1712, 1756, 1850, 1779 and 1818 are included under the topic Early Nicolls History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nicolls Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Nicholl, Niccolls, Nichel, Nichol, Nicholls, Nichols, Nickel, Nickle, Nickles, Nicolls, Nicol, Nycol, Nuckles and many more.

Early Notables of the Nicolls family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Blessed George Nichols (c. 1550-1589), an English Catholic martyr; John Nicholls (1555-1584), a controversial author; Sir Augustine Nicolls (1559-1616), a judge; John Nicoll (c.1590-1668), a Scottish chronicler; Sir Francis Nicolls, 1st Baronet (c. 1587-1642), Member of Parliament for Bishop's Castle and Northamptonshire; Sir Edward Nicolls, 2nd Baronet (c. 1619-1683); Richard Nicolls (1624-1672), the first English colonial governor of New York province; Matthias Nicoll (1630-1687), American politician, 6th Mayor of New York City...
Another 79 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nicolls Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Nicolls family to Ireland

Some of the Nicolls family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 129 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Nicolls migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Nicolls or a variant listed above:

Nicolls Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Nicolls, who arrived in Virginia in 1650 [4]
  • Frances Nicolls, who arrived in Maryland in 1666 [4]
  • William Nicolls, who arrived in Maryland in 1666 [4]
  • Sarah Nicolls, who arrived in Maryland in 1670 [4]
  • Nicholas Nicolls, who landed in Maryland in 1680 [4]
Nicolls Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Nicolls, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1712 [4]
Nicolls Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Nicolls, aged 24, who landed in New York, NY in 1833 [4]
  • Thomas Nicolls, aged 24, who arrived in New York, NY in 1834 [4]
  • W Nicolls, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [4]

Canada Nicolls migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Nicolls Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Nicolls, aged 21, who landed in Quebec in 1834

Australia Nicolls migration to Australia +

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

Nicolls Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Nicolls, aged 24, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Prince Regent" [5]

New Zealand Nicolls 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:

Nicolls Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Robert Nicolls, (b. 1836), aged 25, English farm labourer, from Leicestershire travelling from London aboard the ship "Royal Stuart" arriving in Lyttlelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th October 1861 [6]
  • Mrs. Sarah Nicolls, (b. 1840), aged 21, English settler, from Leicestershire travelling from London aboard the ship "Royal Stuart" arriving in Lyttlelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th October 1861 [6]
  • Miss Nicolls, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Trevelyan" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 28th March 1874 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Nicolls (post 1700) +

  • Sir Edward Nicolls (d. 1717), 3rd Baronet
  • Oliver Nicolls (1801-1808), English Commander-in-chief of Bombay
  • Lieutenant General Sir Jasper Nicolls KCB (1778-1849), English Commander-in-Chief, India
  • Jasper Hume Nicolls (1818-1877), Canadian Anglican priest, the first Principal of Bishop's College (now Bishop's University)
  • General Sir Edward Nicolls KCB (1779-1865), Irish officer of the Royal Marines, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence (1925–1927)
  • George Nicolls (b. 1942), Irish politician and solicitor


The Nicolls 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: Fide sed cui vide
Motto Translation: Trust, but in whom take care.


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCE REGENT 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851PrinceRegent.htm
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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