The surname of NOEL was a baptismal name 'the son of Noel' a name given to a child born on Christmas Day. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function of the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Early records of the name mention Ralph Noel, 1273 County Huntingdonshire. Noel atte Wynde was documented in Somerset during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Peter Noel of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The Rev. Rowney Noel and Maria Boothby Skrymsher were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1768. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
Edward Noel (1640-1688) was created Earl of Gainsborough by Charles II in 1682. This was a reward for the family's loyal support during the Civil War. He was descended from Robert, son of Noel, who brought lands in Warwickshire in the 12th century. The earldom became extinct on the death of the 6th Earl in 1798. His estates passed to the Edwardes family, who adopted the name Noel by royal licence. The earldom was re-created in 1841 for Charles Noel who died in 1866.
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