The exact etymology of the
family name is unknown. The Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de
famille et prénoms de FRANCE by Albert Dauzat (1951), the Dictionnaire
des noms de familles et des prénoms by Philippe Lagneau and Jean Arbuleau
(1980), Le Glossaire des Vieux Parlers Poitevins by Robert Mineau and
Lucien Racinoux (1981) and the works by other authors are hesitant to state its
origin. They propose the
following meanings :
from the south of France NEF, boat : name of sailor. Note that
"nef", in Greek "naus", means a boat.
the result of dropping an initial syllable from Arnaud or Renaud, nouns used in
the south of France
signifies "new " in the south of France. The usage is found in the
names of localities (e.g. CASTELNAU which means CHATEAUNEUF in northern France.
signifies "new " in the south of France. The usage is found in the
names of localities (e.g. CASTELNAU which means CHATEAUNEUF in northern France.
a large ship, an axe, a casket, a boat, (in southern France)..
a variation of Christmas (Nöel), (in northern France).
Noël (also No, Noue, Nouel, Na, Naou); " husk of NAU": "log for
Noël"; little NAU :Noël; great NAU : the Epiphany.
of Noe (Noue), a variant of Noë, changed sometimes to Noë : topographical word
(domain, hamlet, ancient fiefdom) used frequently especially in the west of France and the
central area signifying "humid land" (n. Gallic : nauda).
However, it can be asked
whether the family name does not trace its origin, like many other family
names, to the name of one of the communes of FRANCE, whose name is derived in a
Latin form (NEAUX), or even from several Roman individuals (NEAUX,
ST-LOUP-DE-NAUD), unless he was born in FRANCE’S mountainous region, and was
called the "new one" (NAU in the language of southern FRANCE), who
came to take up residence there!!
The question remains
unanswered and nothing has been authenticated to this day.
NAUD, NAUDO, NAUL, NAULT, NAUST, NAUT, NAUX, NEAU, NEAUD, NEAULT, NEAUX, NO,
NOD, NOS, NOT, NOO and
patronymic variations KNOWLES, NEW, NOWE, DEN(E)AU(LT), LABRIE, LABREE.
It is not possible to be
definitive about it, but the family most probably traces its origins back to
the western regions of FRANCE.
The archives of the Department of Maine-et-Loire have documents relating to the
NAU that date back to 1466. The NAU have been traced back to the 17th century
in the present Departments of Vendée and Maine-et-Loire. The birth certificate
of a certain François NAU was registered on April 6, 1597, at Souzay. A very
large concentration of the family name is found in Charente-
Maritime, Maine-et-Loire and Vendée. There are also important family lines
found in Germany and in
We have traced a Christian
NAU to Bleichstetten (a suburb of Würtingen) in 1652 and we
have discovered references to many NAU whose origins go back to 1718 in the Petite-Roselle
(Moselle). Are these NAU branches from the
source in western FRANCE,
branches, which were displaced in the 17th or 18th centuries? The research continues.
The family name in cited
in several places in the Indicateur du Grand ARMORIAL GÉNÉRAL de FRANCE in
the special edition of 1696 by Charles D'Hozier:
NAU: Caen, Guyane, Paris (6), Poitiers
(12), La Rochelle, Tours (3)
NAUD: Bourbon (2)
NAUS: Provence, Picardie
NEAU: La Rochelle
and in the Dictionnaire
de la NOBLESSE by Chenaye-Desbois and Badier (1868):
in Anjou, a noble family dating back to 1560.
NAU des ARPENTIS (1668)
de la BOISSELIÈRE, a family in Paris, ennobled
in the month of May,1605. This branch results in the birth of Claude NAU de
FOSSAMBAULT. Two of his granddaughters, Catherine and Michelle, would come to CANADA. The
genealogical lines are : NAU de MAISON-ROUGE and NAU du PONT from which
branched NAU de CHAMPLOUIS.
de la VILLEYROUET, a Breton family declared nobility on March 21, 1671.
Closer to us, the work Essai de catalogue de l'aristocratie française
titrée contemporaine (Réponse au libelle de Charondas) Tome XII, by D. Labarre
de Raillcourt (1979) cites the following names:
Marie NAU (also NAU de Beauregard),born in Lyon, September 3, 1823, to a family
living in Paris and ennobled by his office as Counsellor to the Chatelet de
Paris, August 2, 1720 (or 1780 ?). He was made " Comte Romain " in
NAU de Maupassant,born at Saumur in 1810, named " Comte Romain " by
decree on December 28th, 1859, and Pierre Barthélemy NAU de Maupassant, named
" Comte Romain " by Pius XII in 1950.
The NAU of Turquant origin
were never members of the nobility in FRANCE. The Coat of Arms of the l’ASSOCIATION
DES FAMILLES NAU INC. thus makes no reference to nobility. At the request of
the ASSOCIATION, the HERALDIC AUTHORITY of CANADA granted the Coat of Arms on
January 15, l996. Hommage was rendered to the ASSOCIATION for its contribution
to the preservation of the family patrimony and for its spreading of historical
and genealogical information about the NAU families.
Today, one finds the NAU
in many countries of the world. The NAU name is inscribed in telephone
directories in: Germany, Belgium, Argentina,
The Netherlands, New Zealand, Luxembourg,
Switzerland, Australia and, of course, in FRANCE, the UNITED STATES and CANADA.
How many NAU are there in
total? We don’t know. But the family name is undoubtedly carried by more than
50,000 individuals. The most significant number is found in the country of
origin, followed by CANADA
and the USA.
alone, we estimate that the number surpasses 16,000 people. We have on file
1,959 telephone inscriptions in the USA
and 3,056 in
Certain authors give the
impression that all the NAU of AMERICA
are the descendants of one or the other of the following two pioneers:
from Turquant (Maine-et-Loire),FRANCE, arrived in CANADA in 1666.
Pierre NEAU also LABRIE, originally
from Brie-sous-Matha, Bishop of Saintes (Charente-Maritime), FRANCE.
Then, many otherNAU came
NAU did not leave any descendants, but this was not true for all of them. We
often do not know the origins of those who settled here, the paths they
followed in AMERICA
and the importance of their ancestral lines. Correspondents, however, have
helped us to track down some of them:
NAU, born in 1881 Bettershausen, GERMANY, immigrated to India the to the United States. His son John NAU was
married in New Orleans, LA, in 1949.
NAU, originally from Casel, GERMANY, settled in Washington in 1866. One of his descendants
moved to Toronto, CANADA in 1970.,
NAU died in 1915 in
South Easthope, Ontarion, CANADA, at the age of 76. Born in GERMANY, he came to settle in CANADA around 1835, while his brothers, at the
same time, took up residence in Wisoncin, in the USA.
François NAU, born in March 1869
in Candes (Maine-et-Loire), FRANCE, married louise
Ordway on Januraty fifht in Oakdale,
Many other NAU came to America in the
XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. The Passenger and Immigration List Index, edited in Detroit, MI,
by P. William FILBY and Mary K. MEYER mention a good number of them. The
following list is taken from this imposing work. It classifies the NAU by
chronological order of their year of arrival in America, indicates the place of
immigration and cites within brackets, , the year of the volume consulted:
his wife and two children; VA 
Peter Hans NAU, his wife and three children, left Holland; New-York 
Anton NAU an his brother Jacob NAU; Pennsylvania
Conrad NAU; NS, CANADA
Anna Magdelena NAU; NS, CANADA
Theodorus NAU; NS, CANADA
Anna Barbara NAU;
Marga NAU; NS, CANADA
NAU; Lunenberg, NS, CANADA 
Margreta NAU; Lunenberg, NS, CANADA 
Theodorus NAU; Lunenberg, NS, CANADA 
1757 Barbara NAU; Lunenberg, NS,
1763 .?. NAU; Amérique 
Johan Adam NAU; unknown port 
René NAU; New-York 
J. NAU; 32 years, New-Orleans,
John NAU; 29 years, Baltimore,
1 year, Baltimore, MD 
Maria NAU; 30 years, Baltimore,
T. NAU; 24 years, Baltimore,
Aa. Ma. NAU; Baltimore, MD 
1834 A.M. NAU; Baltimore, MD
Andr. NAU; Baltimore, MD 
Casper NAU; Philadephia, PA
1848 Franz NAU; 48 years, Missouri 
Ludwig NAU; 25 years, New-York,
Nicolaus NAU; 28 years, New-York,
Johannes NAU; 30 years, New-York,
NY. Passenger on ship GOETHE
Christine NAU 21 years and Balthasar NAU, 2 years; Baltimore, MD.
Passengers on ship GOETHE 
Heinrich NAU, 14 years and August NAU, 15 years; New-York, NY
Heinr NAU; New-York, NY 
Jacob NAU; Allegany County,
Johannes NAU; 22 years, New-York,
1866 Henry NAU; Amérique 
Henrich NAU; 22 years, New-York,
Carl NAU; 26 years, New-York,
Const. NAU; 21 years, New-York,
Julius NAU; Philadelphia, PA 
John NAU; Philadelphie, PA 
Gottlied NAU; 24 years, New-York 
Gertrude NAU; New-York 
Bernhard NAU; Allegany County,
Allegany County, PA 
Henry NAU; OH 
Johannes NAU; 25 years, KS 
Matthias NAU; Iroquois County,
Joseph Martin NAU; America
Jacob NAU; MN 
We all know of certain NAU
who have became well known during the centuries. There have always been and are
NAU in all spheres of activity: political, artistic, cultural, social,
religious, professional, . . . etc. The NAU have embraced all the crafts and
all the professions and present a remarkable display of competency in all
One finds among the
descendants of François NAU (1646-1709) , originally TURQUANT:
NAULT, cousins related to Louis Riel, who were at his side when he brought an
end to the topographical registry of Métis lands in Saint-Vital on October
11th, 1869. This was a turning point leading up the creation of the Province of Manitoba.
NAUD (1848-1916), Mayor of Saint-Marc-des-Carrières (1905), a Conservative
member of the National Assembly for the district of Portneuf in 1904.
Neault (1860-1924), a pioneer and Mayor of the city, Grand-Mère (1910-1916.
1919), Liberal member of the National Assembly for the district of Champlain
Neault (1910-1995), daughter of the preceding and founder of the French
catholic Girl Guides movement in CANADA.
But did you know that:
Héroux (1876-1963), journalist for Le Nationaliste, collaborator with
Henri Bourassa and editor-in-chief for the daily Le Devoir, winner of
the Olivar-Asselin Award in 1960, was the son of Adélaïde Nault (1856-1875), the
sister of the preceding Pierre-Calixte Neault.
NAULT (1920-), Knight of the National Order of Quebec,
member of the Order of Canada,
dancer and choreographer with the Grands Ballets Canadiens, is the pseudonym of
Fernand Noël Boisonneault.
NAUD (1837-1923), daughter of Joseph NAUD, farmer (1772-1851) was the
grandmother of the man of letters, member of the French Academy and French film
director, Marcel PAGNOL. (1895-1974)
the first Gongourt Award was won on December 21, 1903, by John-Antoine NAU,
pseudonym of the writer Eugène Léon Édouard Torquet (1860-1918) for his novel Force
most famous celebrity of Sables-d’Olonne was Jean-David NAU (1630-1671), also
known as "Pol l’Olonnois". He was a celebrated rogue. He had a
reputation for savagery and lived in Saint-Dominque. He was killed, torn apart,
smoked and devoured like a real buccaneer.
celebrated family of architects from NANTES, one
of whom was Théodore-Jacques NAU (1805-1865), contributed largely to the
construction and restoration of many civil and religious buildings there: Hôtel
Barbier, the Choir of the Church of Sainte-Croix, the Church
of Saint-Jacques, the Church of de la Madeleine, the Grand Seminary,
Hôtel Melient and Maison Poidras.
maternal great-grandmother of the Marshal of FRANCE, Jean-Marie de LATTRE DE
TASSIGNY (1889-1952), was Jeanne-Marie-Joséphine NAU, whose ancestor Pierre NAU (1657-1713) had
been a farmer in Bourneau, in the district of Vendée.
was the birthplace of at least two men of letters with the family name: Émile
NAU (1812-1860), a journalist and historian, and Ignace NAU (1808?-1845), poet
The family name has been used, on many occasions, to name places. In FRANCE and in CANADA especially, the family name
has been used much more often than we might realize. The etymology of many of
these words is still unknown but we are continuing to explore the circumstances
to discover the reasons why the family name has been retained. This is the
situation for several places listed in FRANCE:
Rue Robert NAU (Street) in Blois (41000 -
Rue Joseph NAUD (Street) in Nantes (44000 -
NEAU (Street) in Sables-d'Olonne (85100 - Vendée)
La Crique de la NAU (Bay) at Sète (34200 -
is at least one street and one commune in FRANCE, which take their name from
the family name:
NAU (Street) in the 5th and 6th districts of Marseille. It is named after a
certain NAU (or NAUD) who lived in this area. Between 1780 and 1787, a Commissioner for
the Charity, l’Oeuvre de la Petite Miséricorde, who distributed alms on the
Plain of Saint-Michel, was named NAU.
La CHAPELLE AUX NAUX (37130 - Indre et Loire). A
NAU family passed on its family name to this commune situated some 25-km below Tours, on the left bank of the Loire.
Actually, in 1505, Guillaume NAU constructed the first chapel built in
Saint-Jean de Laneais in 1627. It later became a parish after the Revolution
(Saint-Clément-de-la-Chapelle-aux-Naux). Nearby, one finds the so named LE CLOS
NAUX and LA PERRÉ AUX
And one NAU Street in CORSICA
honors John-Antoine NAU, who won the first prize of the Gongourt (1903). Other
places in FRANCE
have the family name, but without any known connection:
(77650 - Seine-et-Marne), The place seems an amalgam of SAINT-LOUP or
SAINT-LEU, Bishop of Sens in the VIIth century, and of a Roman landowner,
NAUDO, who lived on the hill. In the Middle Ages, the place was called SAINT-LOUP DE
(53150 - Mayenne) near d’Évron. According to the Latin forms discovered in
mediaeval texts [Nyell (989), Nael (1125), Neel (1203, 1229), Nigelle (1218,
1479), Nael alias Nigel (XVth century)] the toponomy comes from the name of a
Roman person NIGELLUS, signifying "black".
(42470 - Loire). The toponomy is derived from
the Latin form NOVALS, which signifies "land recently cleared".
NOD-SUR-SEINE (21400 - Côte d'Or). NOU
in 1158. An ante-Roman sound with an uncertain origin, perhaps close to NOUE
"rich and humid earth", or from NOD, NODUNUM in Celt, "from on
high", or from NODA in Latin "swampy place" (sometimes a pond).
the use of the family name is important. We have, in fact, enumerated: ten
waterways [NAUD (5), NAULT (4), NEAULT (1)]; twelve lakes [NAUD (2), NAULT (4),
NEAU (2), NEAULT (3), NEAUX (1)]; two capes [NAUD, NAULT]; a bay [NAULT]; a
conservation area [NAULT]; one island [NAULT].
Many of these places are found in QUEBEC.
The Toponomy Commission has listed some 33 official place names related to the
family name in Quebec.
Besides the uses cited above (lakes, waterways, a bay), the family name is
found in the naming of avenues, streets, paths, an inlet, a bridge, a cape, a
public park, and even an electoral riding. The etymology in certain cases is
well known, but in others remains obscure. The use of the name is sometimes
found to have been established but its origin unknown. In this case it is
traced to municipal actions. However, the etymology of a certain number of them
can be stated:
From the name of Albert-G. NAUD, founder of NAUDVILLE (Alma), first mayor of
district of Albert-NAUD, Alma.
From the same Albert-G. NAUD.
Pont François-NAUD (bridge), Portneuf. In
honor of François NAUD,a pioneer in 1829 from St-Alban.
NAUD (Road), La-Doré, local family.
NAUD (Street), Portneuf, local family.
NAULT (Cape), Notre-Dame-de-Pontmain, the name
of a pas resident of the cape during the summer.
NAULT, Lyster, recalls the NAULT families who lived on this road.
NAULT (Stream), Sainte-Cécile-de-Lévrard, named after its first owner.
Amédée-NEAULT, Sainte-Cécile-de-Lévrard in honor of a resident of the area,
Amédée NEAULT (1885-1958), married to Angéline Paquin in 1908 at
NEAULT (Street) in La Tuque was named in honor of Pierre-Calixte NEAULT
(1860-1924), pioneer and mayor ot the city of Grand-Mère (1910-1916, 1919), Liberal Member
in the National Assembly for the district of Champlain (1900 - 1912).
NEAULT (Lake) in Upper Saint-Maurice honors
the same Pierre-Calixte NEAULT
As we can see, all these sites, identified by their etymology, render
homage to some NAU descended from our ancestor, François NAU, originally from
TURQUANT. We can’t, however, conclude that those places whose origin we cannot
account for are also related to our ancestor. This is certainly not the case
for those locations, which were so named to recall certain places in FRANCE:
Lac NEAU (Lake), Dozois Reservoir. The
name is a plce name in FRANCE.
Lac NEAU (Lake), Lac-Ernest. The
name comes from the commune NEAU (Mayenne) cited previously.
Lac NEAUX (Lake), Lac-Ashuapmushuan. The
names comes from the commune NEAUX (Loire)
Copyright © 1996 Association des Familles NAU inc.
Last modification : July 29, 2012