Nicolson Clan Crest: A lion issuant Or armed and langued Gules.
Nicolson Clan Motto: Generositate (By generosity).
History of Clan Nicolson/ MacNicol/ MacNeacil:
The surname arises in the Lowlands of Scotland around Glasgow and Dumfries, but is also found on the Isle of Skye and on the Island of Lewis. It is agreed, however, that the name is of Norse origin, probably originating from Anders Nicolassen, one of King Haakon IV of Norway's Chief Barons, who was sent to plunder the Island of Bute prior to the Battle of Largs in 1263. In all likelihood, it is his immediate descendants who colonised Lewis and who were eventually subjugated by their kinsmen of Clan MacLeod.
A Maucolum fiz Nicol rendered homage to Edward I in 1296, and, in 1436,
Patrick Nicholai appears as Dean of Brechin, in Angus. The family re-emerges
in Scottish history in the 16th century when a James Nicolson married Janet
Swinton, and their eldest son John acquired the estate of Lasswade, near
Edinburgh, while their younger son James became Bishop of Dunkeld.
It was James's grandson who founded the Shetland branch of the family. In 1629, John Nicholson of Lasswade was created a Baron of Nova Scotia as Nicolson of that Ilk and of Lasswade.
In 1637, another branch of the family became Baronet of Carnock, by Stirling. This title passed to the Nicolsons of Tillicoultire. then to the Nicolsons of Tarviston. In 1916, Sir Arthur Nicolson of Carnock (1849-1928), a British diplomat and politician, was created Baron Carnock of Carnock, and, in 1985, the 4th Lord Carnock was recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms as Nicolson of that Ilk and Chief of Clan Nicolson.
However, to acknowledge the different lines of Nicolson, Highland and Lowland, the Lord Lyon in 1988 recognised Ian Nicolson of Scorrybreac, as Chief of the Highland Clan MacNeacail, requiring him to officially change his surname to MacNeacail.
William Nicholson ( 1783-1849) was born at Borgue and became known as “The Pedlar Poet of Galloway.”
William Nicholson (1781-1844) became a popular portrait painter and was the first Secretary of the Royal Scottish Academy.
Brinsley Nicholson (1824-92) was born at Fort George and served in Africa, China and New Zealand. He edited The Best Plays of Ben Jonson.
Sir Harald Nicolson (1886-1968), son of the 1st Lord Carnock, was a British diplomat as well as an author. In 1937 he purchased the Shiant Islands off the east coast of the Island of Lewis.
Surname distribution in Scotland: The Nicolson name is most commonly found in the Outer Hebrides (or Western Isles) and the Shetland Islands (Zetland).
Places of Interest:
Scorrybreac, Isle of Skye. Ancient seat of the Clan MacNeacil.
Shiant Islands, Isle of Lewis. Owned by the Nicolson Family.
The Nicholson Institute, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. The only secondary school in the Western Isles, was founded in 1873 with a bequest from Alexander Morrison Nicholson, who had become a successful shipbuilder in China.