This name DENATALE was a French nickname for someone who had some particular connection with the Christmas season, such as owing the feudal duty of providing a yule-log to the lord of the manor, or having given memorable performances as the Lord of Misrule. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form NATALIS (birthday, to be born). It was also used as a given name for someone born during the Christmas period. The name is also spelt NOEL, NOWELL, NOWILL, NADAL, NADAUD, NADAL, NATALI and NOELLET. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. 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. Edward NOEL (circa.1640-88) 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 bought lands in Warwicks 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 surname NOEL by royal licence. The earldom was re-created in 1841 for Charles NOEL (died 1866).
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