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Nowell Coat of Arms / Nowell Family Crest

Nowell Coat of Arms / Nowell Family Crest

The surname of NOWELL was a baptismal name 'the son of Noel', an ancient and still popular personal name. 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 Nuuel of the County of Yorkshire in 1209. 'General Pardon to Nowell Harper, late of Boyleston, County Derbyshire, gent, July 16th 1486. James, son of Nowell Mathew, was baptised at St. Columb Major in 1580. John Nowell of the County of Sussex, gent, was registered at Oxford University in 1578. 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. Most of the European surnames 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.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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