The surname Nicolay, with variations such as Nicolai, Nickolay, and other regional spellings, in Greek (Nikolaos) means "victory of the people", but keep in mind that this aristocratic name has an equally intriguing background.
In France, the House of Nicolay is noted by Count Antoine de Nicolai who became Marshal of France in 1775, in addition to several Generals of the Grand Master of Artillery, Colonels of the Regiment of Nicolay Dragons, Bishops, Knights, Magistrates, and more. Other notable members of the family include geographer Nicolas de Nicolay, magistrate Aimar-Charles-Marie de Nicolai, and arboriculturist Count Francois de Nicolay.
In Germany, those within the House of Nicolay were known for their love of the arts. Many notable members included Philipp Nicolai, Lutheran pastor, poet, and composer, as well as Otto Nicolai, conductor, composer, and founder of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Baron Ludwig Heinrich von Nicolai was a private tutor of Emperor Paul I of Russia, and his son Baron Paul von Nicolay became Russia's State Council and the Tsarist Ambassador to London, Copenhagen, and Stockholm.
As to some of the most elaborate Nicolay ancestral landmarks, the Chateau de Courances was the home of Marquis Aymard de Nicolay and his family from 1775 to 1830 that still today boasts a stunning French landscape, and the Chateau du Lude is known for being the most recent home of Count Louis-Jean de Nicolay and his family also, and has a lovely landscape that includes a rose garden, lovely topiaries, a magical labyrinth, and an enchanting botanical walk. With all said, the Nicolays indeed have a rather interesting background and fascinating family history.