Nigil History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Nigil family

The surname Nigil 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 Nigil family

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

Nigil Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Nigell, Nigel, FitzNigel, FitzNigell and others.

Early Notables of the Nigil family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Nigil family

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Nigil name or one of its variants: Philip Nigel, who settled in Baltimore in 1834; and John Nigal, who arrived in Boston in 1849.



  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


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