Clan Nicolson is a Lowland Scottish clan. In the 1980s Sir David Nicolson, 4th Baron Carnock was recognized by Lord Lyon King of Arms as Chief of Clan Nicolson. Not content with this, Ian Nicolson, an Australian, petitioned Lord Lyon to be chief of the Nicolsons of Scorrybreac, and in 1988 was regonized as Ian MacNeacail of MacNeacail and Scorrybreac, Chief of the Highland Clan MacNeacail.



Origins of the clan

The surname Nicolson means son of Nicol. Nicol, a diminutive of Nicholas (Greek: Νικόλαος “Victory People“), was first brought to the British Isles by the Normans, and was a very common medieval name. Today the surname Nicholson is distributed in high concentrations in Northern England (postal areas: Carlisle, Newcastle upon Tyne, Lancaster, Darlington, York) also in Scotland (postal areas: Outer Hebrides, Inverness, Dumfries and Galloway). It is thought by some that the surname could perhaps be derived from the personal name Olsen, ‘Nic’ in Gaelic signifying ‘daughter of’.

The surname NicRolson found in the Hebrides is an anglicization of MacNeacail (Scottish Gaelic). The MacNeacails/MacNicols first populated the Isle of Lewis, but eventually made their home and chief seat at Scorrybreac in Skye. Although the Clan MacNicol of the west Highlands and islands are, according to their heraldry, apparently linked to the Nicolsons of that Ilk, there is little genealogical evidence available to explain this. The chiefs of both clans bear gold shields charged with the heads of birds of prey, with red hawks for MacNeacail and red falcons for Nicolson.



16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries

In 1636 Thomas Nicolson, became the first Baronet of Carnock near Stirling. Sir Thomas, third Baronet of Carnock, married Jean, eldest daughter of Archibald, second Lord Napier, in 1668. When the third Lord Napier died in 1683, his nephew, Sir Thomas’s son, then fourteen years old, became the fourth Lord. He had been the fourth Baronet since his father’s death in 1670.

Sir George, the sixth Baronet, served as a professional soldier in the Netherlands, retiring to live at The Hague in 1746. All three of his sons were officers in Scottish regiments in the service of the States of Holland. The last of this line, Sir David Nicolson, died at Breda in 1808.

Of the chief’s line, the Carnock title then passed to another cousin, Major General Sir William Nicolson, only son of George Nicolson of Tarviston. The general saw service in America, India, Ireland and Mauritius. He died in 1820 to be succeeded by his son, Admiral Sir Frederick Nicolson. The admiral’s eldest son, Frederick, was killed fighting the Zulus in 1879, and it was his second son, Arthur, who succeeded in 1899.



Clan profile



MacNicol/Nicolson tartan.

      Clan Chief: David Henry Arthur Nicolson, 4th Baron Carnock.

      Motto: Generositate (by Generosity)

      Badge: Juniper




The MacNicol/Nicolson tartan that appears in the MacIan/Logan work represents a woman wearing a tartan shawl. Logan even admits they had never encountered a tartan for the MacNicols/Nicolsons, and that “it is probable they adopted that of their superiors”

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