Scottish Shipbuilder vs England War of Roses

We are probably a descendent of James Nuckolls one way or another most likely through a female. Here is where the confusion really starts. I have looked up everything about the Nuckolls name online that I could find and the name is identified with England not Scotland. The origin of the name is evidently in northern Germany. A book our school in Bellville Ohio had of surnames identified the origin with Germany. Strangely enough the name leaves Germany comes to the British isles probably with William the Conqueror and is of a family given land in northern England particularly on the Scottish border. This is what the Domesday book seems to suggest though this is questionable. Chester County Cheshire England is prominently identified with this family. I have known German people and they consider Nuckolls a "German" name. I guess this is because etemologically the name does not match Gaelic or even English very well but does northern Germany. How does a "Scottish" shipbuilder get an English/German name immigrate to America then bring all this nonsense about the Nuckolls Family fighting for the House of York during the War of the Roses? This is too tangled to be true. The next entanglement here is the whole religious affiliation. At that time Scottish folks were Church of Scotland or Presbyterian and still are today. Now I know James Nuckolls the 2nd seemed to go the way of the Church of England. William supposedly dropped the second L because of his conversion to the Baptist faith and his hate of the Anglicans. Even by the Civil War in the US most Southern Aristocracy who were English were Anglican and those who were Scots were Presbyterian. Baptists and Disciples of Christ tended to be low class people even by then but this changed after the war. I just wish it would be easy just to have a plain English family name such as Lee or Smith or a plain Scottish name such as MacDuff but seemingly with this Nuckolls name there is no clear answers to anything and no real connections. The name sounds German but lies in either England or Scotland. Then someone says we were nobility in Northern England.


My family my father's name is Walter Knuckles and my Grandfather Leonard Knuckles 85 yr old are both alive and well. I am probably not going to tell him about this DNA deal though I would if my grandmother was alive because she was the most racially open person I ever knew and being from the Appalachians where neither slavery nor slaves were high on the popularity chart she was a 100% saint. Now that she is gone however I think he would find this an embarrassment if this is in fact true. The next question I have is this. Why cant we find Williams grave, extract his bones if there are still bone or teeth left and finally clear this whole mess up about descent?

The more research I do the more questions I find.

Hi Sandi:

Please consider the following email for NWKS distribution. Personally, I remain more convinced that our surname origination is that of Scots. Many names sound similar in differing languages. Nicholas can be Greek, there was a Czar Nicholas in Russia, for instance. Heck, the name that sounds like Nuccol could have originated from the ancient Pict language of Scotland. Who knows???

I'm beat and have to get up VERY early tomorrow. Have a wonderful evening!



First, please let me preface that I'm not sending this email to contradict anything that Nathan wrote in his previous emails that you forwarded recently regarding the strong Germanic influence of our surname. I wish to highlight responses two Scottish gentleman sent to me earlier this year regarding our surname and its spelling differences. These postings/responses can be found on <>. When on the website, conduct a search using "Nuccol". Here is what the first wrote:

"In Southern Scotland, any (contemporary) working-class Scot would be quite unable to pronounce the fairly common surname (and first name) "Nichol", "Nicol" or "Nicholl" any other way than "Nuccol/Knuckle" or "Nuchol" (pronounced as in "loch", sort of "NuXul", emphasis very much on 1st syllable, not "Nutchol", as an English person would) while talking among themselves.

They think they're saying "Nicol", but they don't widen the lips sideyways over the teeth when they say the "i", probably because their mouths would instantly fill with ice-cold driving rain if they did. And you have to sort of shout it, to be heard over the constant roar of the wind (ever met a quietly-spoken Scotsman (apart from some Gaels)? No? Well that's why. Honest. I'm not being rude.) Give it a try.

In my local phone book (Scottish Borders) I've got 61 Nichol, 7 Nicholl, 4 Nicholls, 5 Nichols, (then a cartload of Nicholsons/Nickersons), 35 Nicol, 8 Nicoll.

No Nickell, oddly. I think that's how it appears on t'other side of Hadrian's Wall, although there's a solitary Nichall down by Berwick. Then we could go off wading into the Nixons, Nicolsons etc. as they're sons of Nick too, but you can have too much of a good thing

I understand that the MacNicols/Nicholsons are an entirely different kettle of brits, being Gaels from away up the opposite corner of the country."

Now that we have that explanation, here is another posting from another Scotsman regarding the surname. My original posting precedes his response:

"QUOTE (St. Louis Steve @ May 30 2008, 03:00 AM)

Hi everyone,

Some of us cannot be extremely specific due to lack of evidence. My ancestor, James Nuccol (Nuckolls), is reported to have come to Virginia around 1650 either from England or Scotland. Many much smarter than me haven't found any kind of paper trail for this dude. According to some Scottish clan or tartan finders, Nuccol is purported to have been altered from Nicol and, thus, Clan MacNicol of Ross and the Isle of Skye "back in the day." If memory serves, Clan MacNicol ran out of patriarchs, someone married into Clan MacLeod, and thus went the clan...or so I have read.

I have seen another report that James Nuccol may have lived in Clackmannshire (Scotland) since there are several with the surname Nuccol still around there. There is a town in Clackmannshire which once was a port on the Forth (I think) that led to the sea. The speculation of the relative is that James could have possibly sailed from there. Who knows? The son of this James Nuccol, James Nuckolls, was born in 1670 and is a signatory to the Blisland Complaint. The Nuckolls surname spelling lasted in my line until my great grandfather was born with the surname spelling Nuckolls, was married as Knuckles, and is buried as Knuckolls--quite confusing. It was his son, my grandfather, who first began using our current spelling--Knuckles.

If James Nuccol came to Virginia as early as 1650, one would think that he would have been a documented traveler--at least when he reached the new colony. The saga continues...and so does the quest for my paternal ancestral story. I hope I haven't bored everyone!

Steve in St. Louis"

"I must have missed this post the first time round, and only caught it just now when I read a recent reply from Stevo.

Nicol is a common surname all over Scotland, and also occurs as a first name. When I taught English to apprentices in a further education college in Glasgow in the 1970s, the head of the engineering department was called Nicol McNicol! Showing a lack of imagination on the part of his parents.

In Lowland Scotland the short -i- sound is often pronounced with a back -u- sound. So, for example, fish sounds like 'fush'. In the good old days before spelling became standardised, those who could write, like parish clerks, would write somebody's name down the way it sounded. Emigrants from these islands to America might find their own pronunciation of their name being written down as they said it, so if you're a McLeod from Skye, your name gets written McCloud; if you're a Nicol, but you say Nuckol, that's how it gets written. So Nuckol etc. is really just a mis-spelling of Nicol.

As for the s on the end, that's a common phenomenon I've often noticed. I had ancestors from further north called Spink, but once they moved to Fife they were referred to as Spinks. My mother's birth-certificate gives her name as Jessie Spinks Peebles, but the grandmother she was called after was actually Jessie Spink. The name Rodger, common in various parts of Scotland, becomes Rodgers. And - maybe of interest to Stevo - the common north-eastern surname Stephen (common in Aberdeenshire) sometimes becomes Stephens when the holder of the name emigrates southwards. Or abroad.

The Clackmannanshire port in question is probably Alloa. Other ports nearby are Bo'ness and Grangemouth.


Did this clear up anything? Heck no! haha As I stated earlier, this evidence is not meant to contradict anyone but simply to add to the evidence of the strong Scottish influence this surname has had. Could it have originated somewhere else? Quite possibly; however, from what I have read, Clan MacNichol (Son of Nichol) was quite the clan--along with Clan MacLeod--in the Hebrides and Rosshire during the early to mid parts of the second millenium.

Here is my question for thought--could we be dealing with TWO originations for this surname? I have also read that MacNichols existed in both the abovementioned areas AND in southern Scotland--from where both of these gentlemen wrote their responses to my questions.

Our saga continues...

Thanks everyone,Steve KnucklesImperial, Missouri

Hi Sandi,

Nice to hear from you -- thanks for the update. Looks like Larry, Mr. Etheridge, John Moore and I are all in a group together. I'm a 36 for 37 match with all of them. John Moore's story is a bit interesting too -- his grandfather claimed to have been born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but there's not a trace of him to be found prior to his appearance in Indiana where he begot a family then abandoned them. There was a Bunch connection with Hattiesburg that George Young (John's cousin) and I tried to chase down, but I don't think it ended up being productive. A side benefit of this is that I've learned a lot of US history that I previously knew nothing about!

One observation: When you hear "Peterson" you may think Scandanavian, but it's also a common Scottish name -- the Swedes and Norwegians controlled the Hebrides Islands and much of northeastern Scotland as far south as the Moray Firth for a good stretch. Of course, there's also a Scottish connection for Nuchols, Moore and Bunch too, as you already know.

I think the Bunch/Nuchols connection goes back at least to Virginia. It's hard to say whether the others connect prior to the East Tennessee Melungeons, but my working theory is still that the line resided in one of the English-controlled islands in the western Atlantic (e.g., Barbados, Bahamas, Bermuda...) before hopping ashore to the Virginia mainland. I haven't devoted much time to researching this because I've been occupied setting up my extended family tree at, but I hope to get to it some time early next year. I did discover a couple of Bunches referenced in wills from Barbados from the late 1600's/early 1700's, so I'm pretty sure the Bunches were there at least.

(Mark Bunch)


I have a strong suspicion we are dealing with two originations of the name. All the research from the various "Coat of Arms" people says England and before then Germany then we have the whole mysterious Scottish connection to which there is no solid connection to any particular clan. I am inclined to believe that two things either happened. One is that we had an English family who came to possibly live in Scotland. Evidence for this would be the whole Church of England religion thing and this mysterious fictional story about the White Rose. Where this gets bizzare is the fact that Surname books connect this name to North Germany. I am inclined to believe there are TWO seperate families we are dealing with. One could be the "Nuckolls" family in Britian who supposedly had their family manor in and around Cheshire England. The other is with James Nuccol. I am starting to believe James either was a distant relative of this English family as it was not uncommon for E!

nglish families to marry Scotch families for land and holdings. The other possiblity is that James Nuccol was a Scot who somehow came to use the name Nuckolls which was probably already a family name in England where it had been brought from Germany in 1066. Here is my evidence for this. Number one is books dealing with surname origin. Surname origin books put this name in Northern Germany probably Saxony. Much of the other evidence points to the fact that the name Nuckolls was in England. A book on Confederate Colonel Joseph P Nuckols of Kentucky says he was born of good Cavalier stock and was a descendent of William so this identification with England and not Scotland was evidently either real or concocted for more "prestige". Anyway the links I find about the names origin either say North German or English or English/Scottish. As for me I am leaning toward the stance that the Nuckolls name existed seperately in England as a name of an old landed family and James Nuccol came to take this name and spelling to cover up his common Scotch origi

n. Here is a mystery though. Where are the English Nuckollses? If the various family crest companies claimed they existed then they must have but obviously between 1066 and 2009 the family name must have died out either from the Black Death, plagues, or just the Nuckolls men somewhere reached a point where they didn't have any offspring. Whatever the case this English part of the mystery needs to be cleared up. Then there was another confusing document that somehow identified James Nuccol with York England which I will not get into because I think i have muddied up the water enough. The whole of the evidence seems to show me that James Nuccol or Nuckolls {I'm not sure which because his son spelled it Nuckolls} either misspelled because he was uneducated or his sons changed the common Nuccol to Nuckolls to identify with an English Noble family. Thoughts?

Sandi, (8/10/2009) <>

My name is Crystal Rose and I have a male cousin that has just received the results from our Peters line. I know you guys are really trying to figure out the whole Nuckles/Bunch connection having e1b1a show up in the DNA but here's one to really throw a twist. We are a match on 24 of the 25 markers tested to the Bunch line and Nuckles came up in the Ysearch databank as well. Our earliest ancestor that we can find is Gilliam Peters, born about 1765 in either VA (along the border somewhere) or NC in the Northampton County NC area. He first appears in Northampton County with a land deed in 1797. His estate is settled in 1816 in Northampton County, when 2 of his children's guardianship is granted to the Squire family, one Squire and his son in law, Moore. His son Washington (my line) is varying between Free Persons of Color and White in the census records. There are various estates and administrations of the "white" families living in Gaston district of Northampton County that involve these Peters men directly. There has NEVER been any documentation or stories of them ever being enslaved. Truth be known, our first assumption was Native American due to the fact that they are located 10 miles southwest of the old Fort Christanna which was the last place that Alexander Spotswood had them placed, located in Brunswick County VA. The Peters of Northampton County are one of the core families that make up what is known as the Portuguese Settlement. We have never found any documentation for the Portuguese title, even having the ambassador or Portugal to visit after an article was run in the VA Pilot in 1956 about the condition of education and discrimination that was ocurring for these families. The offer was put on the table for them to return to Portugal, in a repatriation movement, in which each and every one declined. There is a strong oral history of "Blackfoot" blood. Blackfoot being the slang in NC for the Indians living along the border. Today, they are known as the Saponi. Some of the lines coming from this area are the Occaneechi Saponi, the High Plains Sappony, The Haliwa Saponi, the Appalachicola Saponi, the Ohio Band of Saponi. Now, the DNA is stating a different scenario. I would be very interested in knowing if any of the Bunch or Nuckles lines has Peters anywhere in it. Just thought I would love to know. I have never looked in the Louisa County although my children go camping there every year. How coincidental.

Hope to hear from you soon

Crystal Rose


I had no idea that the Etheridge contacted you. That is my cousin. The name was changed to Peterson in the mid 1900's but it is originally Peters. He and I are the same line that I wrote you about being Gilliam Peters. I will be in touch with him next week. After I speak with him, I will be back in touch with you.

Mark Bunch 8/2009

Hi Sandi,

Thanks for the interesting e-mails.

I think the battle that Doris Dell referred to may have been the Battle of Dunbar, about 1650 or so, at the close of the English Civil War. The Scots came in to the war on the side of the king (King Charles II? of the Scottish Stuart line), partly in hope of instituting a presbyterian, non-episcopalian (no bishops) state religion in England along the lines of the church in Scotland. The Scots came a bit late to the table, and by the time they did their green troops were facing battle-hardened English roundhead troops. The Scots lost, the king fled, the kingship was outlawed and a commonwealth was instituted. This situation didn't last, as within about 10 or 15 years the king was asked to come back. In the mean time, many of the defeated Scot soldiers were packed off to the plantations in Ireland, America and the English-held islands of the western Atlantic. At one time, my guess about John Bunch's origin was that he was an exiled Scot from the Battle of Dunbar, given the date of his arrival in Virginia. However, the African roots of my line have thrown a wrench in the works of that theory (unless John's line was carrying an African y-chromosome before his departure from Britain, which seem unlikely but not impossible). It's a very interesting fact, in any case, that the Nuckolls name was present in the Barbados at an early date, as were the Moores (from your other post) and Bunches.

I had never come across the Afrigeneas site before you pointed me to it, so the information about the Moore line in Barbados was news to me. Thanks for the tip!

About the Saponis, you might let Crystal Rose know that there may be another Louisa county connection for them after all. One of the first facts cited about them in the online Wikipedia article is that their original main village was believed to be in the area of Charlottesville, Virginia (which is Albemarle County, I think, but right next to Louisa). About 15 miles due east of Charlottesville, just to the west of the highway, is a catchment pond for Bunch Creek. Very near there is the old Bunch plantation probably first belonging to John Bunch born about 1690. The Saponis seem to have relocated southward beginning about 1670, but there may well have still been some in the Louisa County area about the time the Nuckolls and Bunches moved there.

Interesting stuff!-Mark


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