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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(Alloa, co. Clackmannan, 1733). Motto—Sedulitate. Azure on a fess argent three mascles of the first, in chief a ship with sails furled and rays across the mast of the second, in base a globe proper and two anchors in saltire argent. Crest—A dexter hand holding a quadrant proper.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Nicol Coat of Arms and Family Crest

Nicol Origin:

England, Scotland

Origins of Nicol:

According to early recordings, this name has many spelling forms such as Nicol, Nicoll, Nichol, and Nicholl. This interesting surname is of ancient English and Scottish origin. Popularized into Europe by the Crusaders during the 12th century, it originally evolved from the male given name Nicol, a short form of Nicholas, and clearly from the Greek "Nikolaos". The translation is "champion people", which may be seen today as an inspirational name, but not so a thousand years ago. The specific name was a favorite name of Christians all over the Europe during the Middle Ages, slightly because of the popularity of the 4th Century St. Nicholas, priest of Myra, who was recognized as the leader saint of children, shippers, and moneylenders. The name when found in England before the Norman invasion of 1066, was frequently used by a priest, and one named Nicolaus was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Ancient recordings of the surname contain Stephen Nichole in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1273, and in 1296 Maucolum fiz Nicol of Scotland provided a tribute to the king of England. Remarkable name bearers were John Pringle Nichol, regius scholar of astronomy at Glasgow University, 1836, and his son, John Nichol, who was selected as a teacher of the English language and literature at Glasgow, by Queen Victoria.


More common variations are: Nichol, Nicoll, Nicols, Nicole, Nichols, Nicholl, Nicolle, Nickols, Nickoll, Nicholls.


The origins of the surname Nicol were found in Cheshire where Nicholas D'Albini, who was of the youngest of the Duke of D'Albini in Normandy, came in 1054, and his follower became Baron of Malpas.

The very first recorded spelling of the family was shown to be that of Waleram Nicholai, dated about 1198, in the in the Curia Regis Rolls of Suffolk. It was during the time of King Richard 1st, who was known to be the “Lionheart," dated 1189 - 1199.


Many people with surname Nicol had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.

United States of America:

Individuals with the surname Nicol settled in the United States in three different centuries respectively in the 17th, 18th, and 19th. Some of the people with the name Nicol who settled in the United States in the 17th century included John Nicol arrived in New Jersey in 1685.

Some of the people with the surname Nicol who settled in the United States in the 18th century included Johanees Nicol would eventually settle in Pennsylvania in 1739, and Johannes Nicol arrived in Philadephia in the same year 1739.

The following century saw many more Nicol surnames arrive. Some of the people with the surname Nicol who settled in the United States in the 19th century included Alexander Nicol in New York, NY in the year 1822. James Nicol arrived in Missouri in 1848. William Nicol arrived in Allegany Division, Pennsylvania in 1853. Georg Heinr Nicol arrived in America in 1854 and Henry Nicol landed in St Clair Division, III in 1857.


Some of the people with the surname Nicol who settled in Canada in the 18th century included William Nicol and William Nicol at the age of 40 arrived in Nova Scotia in 1815. Catherine Nicol at the age of 20 settled in Saint John, New Brunswick in the year 1784.


Some of the people with the surname Nicol who settled in Australia in the 19th century included Peter Nicol aboard the ship “Buckinghamshire” and John Nicol and Isabella Nicol arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the same ships “Platina” in the same year 1839. John Nicol arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship “Ducan” in 1849.


Some of the people with the surname Nicol who settled in New Zealand in the 19th century included Charles Nicol, Ann Nicol, and Margaret Nicol; all these people arrived in Nelson aboard the same ships “ Fifeshire” in the same year 1842. James F Nicol and Elizabeth Nicol both arrived in Nelson aboard the ship “Mariner” in the same year 1849.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Nicol: United States 6,143; England 6,389; Australia 3,361; Canada 3,654; South Africa 2,685; Scotland 4,994; New-Zealand 1,472; Philippines 2,900; Sierra Leone 7,690; France 5,400.

Notable People:

Alex Nicol was an American artist.

Andy Nicol was a Scottish rugby player.

Bobby Nicol was a Scottish football player.

Eduardo Nicol was a Spanish-Mexican specialist in philosophy.

Eric Nicol was a Canadian comedian and entertainer.

Nicol Coat of Arms Meaning

The three main devices (symbols) in the Nicol blazon are the mascle, ship and quadrant . The two main tinctures (colors) are azure and argent.

Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 1. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 2.

Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 3. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 4.

The mascle is a close relative of the lozenge or diamond shape, but with the centre cut away revealing the background underneath. 5. Guillim, writing in the 17th century reckoned the mascle to represent the mesh of a net, being the biblical symbol for “persuasion, whereby men are induced to virtue and verity”. 6

We do not need to look far to find the symbolism in the presence of a ship in a coat of arms, they appear regularly in the arms of port towns and merchant companies and families. They usually appear as a three masted wooden vessel known as a lymphad 7 but are often described in some detail as to the disposition of their sails, presence and colours of flags and standards and so on. 8

Quadrant in heraldic use refers not to the geometrical figure, but to the navigational device 9. It is a very rare charge and probably specifically used to refer to some sea-faring or navigational feat in the holder’s past. ARMSTRONG of Scotland includes a figure of Hercules sighting a star with a quadrant.

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  • 1 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 2 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150
  • 3 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 4 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 5 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Mascle
  • 6 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P234
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Shiop
  • 8 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P294
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Hercules