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Nicolson (Husabost)

For family tree see Malcolm Nicolson on Ancestry (subscription required)

Malcolm Nicolson (1789-1852) was born in Kylerhea in the parish of Strath (Skye) where his father, Alexander Nicolson, was the innkeeper. His brother John became a minister of the Church of Scotland on Skye and Malcolm's son Sheriff Alexander Nicolson (1827-1893) was a noted Gaelic scholar For an fuller account of his life and background see Norman Macdonald's 'Malcolm Nicolson of Husabost', from where the images in this entry are taken.

According to Macdonald, when Malcolm returned to Skye 'he had already made significant money through having been the owner of a sugar plantation in Berbice'. In 1823 he succeeded his father-in-law, Donald Grant, as tacksman of Ullinish, a small estate on the west of Skye.

Malcolm Nicolson’s role in the business and social affairs of Skye, spanning almost 30 years after his return from the West Indies until his retirement to Edinburgh, covers all the themes important on the island from the influx of money, the tenancy of important properties, the trade in cattle, the introduction of sheep and the whole question of people removal. Speaking before the Napier Commission in Glendale on 21st May 1883, John MacKinnon, a crofter from Feriniquarrie, said that “The township of Scorr was depopulated by Mr Nicolson.” [Norman Macdonald]

No Malcolm Nicolson appears in the 1802 Naam-lyste of planters and in the1817 Slave Returns there is only a William Nicolson (1 slave) and a Peter Nicolson (11 slaves). This Peter Nicolson was probably Malcolm's brother Peter Nicolson (1792-1855), who became the part owner of Adelphi, a sugar plantation on the Canje River, about 1838 [Titles to Land Commissioners]. Peter had a daughter, Mary Jane Nicolson (1837-1915), born in Berbice - who married her cousin, John Grant Nicolson (1821-1868), son of Malcolm.

 

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