Nigel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Nigel family

The surname Nigel was first found in Cheshire where the family is descended from the tenant of the lands of the Baron William FitzNigel who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086. [1]

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 (1189-1198) and Treasurer of England (c.1158-1198). [2]

"Tradition says, that the site of the manor of Borstall, in Buckinghamshire, was given by King Edward the Confessor to one Nigel, for his services in slaying a wild boar which infested the forest of Bernwood, to be held by cornage, or the service of a horn; and that the mansion built by him on this land was called Boar-stall, in memory of the slain boar. It appears from an inquisition taken in 1265, that Sir John Fitz Nigel or Fitz Neale then held a hide of arable land, called the Dere-hide, at Borstall, and a wood, called Hull-Wood, by grand serjeantry, as Keeper of the Forest of Bernwood; that their ancestors had possessed these lands, and this office, before the Conquest, and held them by the service of a horn, as the charter of the said forest: that they had been unjustly withheld by the family of Lizures, of whom William Fitz Nigel, father of Sir John, had been obliged to purchase them. It is certain that Borstall passed by marriage from the Fitz Neales to the family of Handlo." [3]

Early History of the Nigel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nigel research. Another 108 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1510, 1600, 1424 and 1189 are included under the topic Early Nigel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nigel Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Nigell, Nigel, FitzNigel, FitzNigell and others.

Early Notables of the Nigel family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Nigel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Nigel migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Nigel or a variant listed above:

Nigel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Philip Nigel, who settled in Baltimore in 1834

Contemporary Notables of the name Nigel (post 1700) +

  • Mr. Julian Nigel West B.E.M., British recipient of Medallist of the British Empire Medal 29th December 2018 for services to the community in Woodchurch, Kent [4]
  • Mr. Ian Nigel Forster M.B.E., British recipient of the Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to education and to the British community in Moscow [4]
  • Mr. William Nigel Dougherty M.B.E., British Principal for Ebrington Primary School, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to Primary Education and to the community in Londonderry [4]
  • Mr. Peter Nigel Boorman O.B.E., from Portslade, Brighton and Hove, England, English Regional Lead for Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response, for the NHS England (London), was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to Emergency Response [4]
  • David Nigel Sims (1931-2018), English footballer who played as a goalkeeper from the 1940s through 1967
  • Francis Nigel Forman (1943-2017), British Conservative politician, Member of Parliament for Carshalton and Wallington (1976-1997)
  • Sir John Nigel Milburn (1918-1985), 4th Baronet of Guyzance, Northumberland, English peer
  • Peter Nigel Fluck (b. 1941), English caricaturist, one half of the partnership known as Luck and Flaw, creators of the satirical TV puppet show Spitting Image
  • Christopher Nigel Walley (b. 1941), early English bass player for The Quarrymen
  • Antony Nigel Martyn (b. 1966), former English football goalkeeper


  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  4. ^ "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


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