M Rev. Alexander Nicolson

 of Shebster
Minister of Thurso

  • Born in 1724 - Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, Scotland
  • Deceased 28 August 1785 - Thurso, Shebster, Caithness, Scotland,aged 61 years old
  • Minister of Thurso
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  • Minister of Kiltarlity

     Spouses, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren





    Individual Note

    ALEXANDER (Rev'd), born 1724; died 1785. Of Shebster; Minister of Thurso. Married i) Mary Dunbar. Issue: Margaret, Patrick (Rev'd), James, MD. Married ii) Mary Honyman, of Graemesay. Issue: Jessie [1].

    ALEXANDER NICOLSON, bom 1724, son of Patrick N., min. of Kiltarlity ; educated at King's College, Aberdeen; M.A. (27th March 1740); licen. by Presb. of Garioch 24th June 1747 ; pres. by George Sinclair of Ulbster in June, and ord. 2nd Sept. 1752 [Minister of Thurso] ; died 28th Aug. 1785. He marr. (1) 6th July 1754, Mary Dunbar, who died 1st May 1759, and had issue Margaret, born 14th April 1755 ; Patrick, his successor ; James, M.D., born 16th Jan. 1759 : (2) 15th Feb. 1765, Mary (died at Edinburgh, 5th Nov. 1817, aged 89), daugh. of Patrick Honyman of Graemesay, and had issue— Janet, born 27th Sept. 1769 (marr. (1) Alexander Macleod of Lynegar : (2) William Sinclair, writer, Thurso).

    The church of Thurso was dedicated to St Peter. It belonged to the Bishop of Caithness. The ancient fabric was rebuilt in the earlier part of the seventeenth century and was then made the Cathedral of the restored See of Caithness. Its ruins still stand. Like other churches of its time, it is cruciform, and is a quaintly interesting example of the curiously mixed architecture then in vogue. There was in this parish a chapel of the Holy Rood, known as the Cross Kirk. Other chapels stood at Pennyland, Brims, and Murkle. There was another chapel, Kirk Ebb, which stood on the sea-shore, but all vestiges of it have been swept away by the sea. There was also a chapel between Stainland and Bleachfield . Thurso held fairs on Petermas, Georgemas, and Marymas. [2]

    The Reverend Alexander Nicolson, son of Patrick Nicolson, minister of Kiltarlity, was minister of Thurso from 1752 to 1785, when he died, aged 61. He acquired Shebster, which for several generations had belonged to the Munros, by purchase. He was twice married—first in 1754, and secondly in 1765. By his first wife he had two sons :—
    1. Patrick, his successor.
    2. Dr. James Nicolson.

    His second wife was Mary, daughter of Patrick Honyman of Graemsay, who died in 1817, aged 89. By her he had a daughter, Jessie, who was twice married — first, to Alexander M'Leod of Lynegar, son of Donald M'Leod, sometime writer, thereafter Sherifif-Substitute of Caithness (son of ___M'Leod, musician in Thurso). They had a son, David, who died young, and two daughters—Mary, who died young, and Jemima, who married Mr. Hepburn of St. Vincent, who died in 1868, leaving issue.
    Jessie Nicolson was married, secondly, to William Sinclair, writer in Thurso, by whom she had two sons - Alexander, accountant in Edinburgh, who died without issue, and Gordon, who died in the West Indies, also without issue.
    Patrick Nicolson of Shebster was minister of Thurso from his father's death in 1785 down to 1805. He married, in 1787, Mary Maxwell, daughter of Captain Thomas Dunbar of Westfield and his first wife, Janet, daughter of Sir William Dunbar of Hempriggs. She died in 1806, and by her he had two sons and four
    1. Alexander, who sold Shebster in 1808, with consent of his curators, and died without issue.
    2. Major Malcolm, who married his cousin, Jessie, daughter of James Moodie of Melsetter, by whom he had a son. By a second marriage he had several children.
    1. Janet Dunbar, who married Dr. Featherstone, and had issue.
    2. Mary, who married Major Jackson.
    3. Isabella, who married Dr. Simon Nicolson, and had issue.
    4. Margaret, who married Lieutenant-Colonel Western, and had issue.[3]

    Thurso's history stretches back to at least the era of Norse Orcadian rule in Caithness, which ended conclusively in 1266. The town was an important Norse port, and has a later history of trade with ports throughout northern Europe until the 19th century. In 1330 Scotland's standard unit of weight was brought in line with that of Thurso at the decree of King David II of Scotland, a measure of the town's economic importance. Old St Peter's Kirk is said to date from circa 1220 and the time of Caithness Bishop Gilbert Murray, who died in 1245. Much of the town, however, is a planned 19th-century development. A major expansion occurred in the mid-20th century when the Dounreay nuclear power plant was established at Dounreay, 9 miles (14 km) to the west of the town. Within a period of about five years, Thurso's population expanded rapidly, from around 2,500 to about 12,000 between 1955– 58, as the nuclear plant attracted skilled migrants from all parts of the United Kingdom. By 1960, it dropped back to around 9,000, after a lot of the initial Dounreay construction crew left the area. Thurso is also the name of the viscountcy held by the Sinclair family in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The present Viscount Thurso is also the local MP.


    • Individual: [1] Nicholson Nicolson Compilation of Family Trees, Volume 1; Rev'd Canon Nigel Nicholson and Rosemary Kitson; The Nicholson Family Library, The Rectory, Cranleigh, Surrey GU6 8AS, Second Edition 2003; pp 44-47 'Nicolsons of Thurso Kiltarlity and Calcutta.
      [2] Hew Scott, D.D; Fasti Ecclesiasticae Scoticae, The succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation - in 8 volumes, vol 7 - Synods of Ross, Sutherland and Caithness, Glenelg, Orkney and Shetland; Printed in Great Britain by Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, Tweedale Court, 1928, p. 137.
      [3] John Henderson, "Caithness Family History" (D. Douglas, Edinburgh, 1884.), pp. 317-318.
      [4] Hew Scott D.D., Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, in 8 volumes (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1915-1950); vol 06 - Synods of Aberdeen and Moray, pg. 469, "Kiltarility and Glen Convinth".
    • Birth, Spouse 1, Spouse 2, death: Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae - Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, 8 volumes - Hew Scott D.D. - Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1915-1950. - vol 07, "Synods of Ross, Sutherland and Caithness, Glenelg, Orkney, Shetland, The Church in England, Ireland and Overseas": p. 137.

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    Rev. Donald Nicolson, 12th Chief Clan Macneacail ca 1620-1697 nn nn John Fraser  ? ?

    Rev. Patrick Nicolson 1692-1761 Grizzel Fraser ca 1690-1777

    Rev. Alexander Nicolson, Minister of Thurso 1724-1785