The surname of NACHITGALL was a nickname for one who sang as sweet as a nightingale. Early records of the name mention Alan Nightingale, 1260, County Lancashire. Ralph Nikegale, 1273, County Norfolk. Richardus Nyetgale was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward 11. (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. A notable member of the name was Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) the pioneering English nurse who transformed the nursing profession. She came from a Derbyshire family originally named Shore. Her father changed his name to Nightingale on inheriting the fortune of an uncle of that name. Joann Maria Lind (Jenny) Swedish soprano singer (1820-87) was called the 'Swedish Nightingale ' because of her wonderful voice. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. Another notable member of the name was Gustav NACHTIGAL (1834-85) the German traveller, born in Eichstedt. He studied medicine, served as army surgeon and in 1863 went to North Africa. He travelled across the Sahara from Tripoli to Cairo via Tiberti and Lake Chad, which resulted in the first detailed description of the south-eastern Sahara.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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