CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3518
TitlePapers of Sir William Robertson Nicoll and his family, Old Manse, Lumsden
Date1715 - 2000s
Extent37 boxes, 1 large box, 4 volumes and 13 framed items: 13 linear metres
Creator NameSir William Robertson Nicoll (1851 - 1923), journalist and editor of The British Weekly.
Mildred Robertson Nicoll (1898 - 1995), alias Mildred Robertson Kirkcaldy, writer and editor.
Administrative HistoryWilliam Robertson Nicoll was born at Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, on 10 October 1851, the son of Rev. Harry Nicoll (1812 - 1891), Free Church minister of Auchindoir, Aberdeenshire, and his wife, Jane Robertson (1829 - 1859). He graduated from the University of Aberdeen, MA 1870, and was ordained to the Free Church of Scotland in 1874, for which he held charges in Dufftown, Banffshire, 1874 - 1877, and in Kelso, Roxburghshire, 1877 - 1885. Serious illness forced him to give up the ministry in 1885, and he moved south to Norwood, East London, where he was appointed, and remained until his death in 1923, editor of Hodder and Stoughton's monthly theological magazine, The Expository Times. In 1886 he was appointed editor of their new publication, The British Weekly: a Journal of Social and Christian Progress, and in 1891 founded his own literary periodical, The Bookman . The success of this was followed in 1893 by The Woman at Home , an illustrated magazine to which Annie S. Swan (Mrs Burnett Smith) (1859 - 1943) became one of the main contributors. In the early twentieth century he became heavily involved in politics, and, through his position as editor of The British Weekly, came to exercise considerable influence upon liberal members of the Cabinet. He was knighted for his political services in 1909 and made C.H. in 1921.

William Robertson Nicoll was married twice. By his first marriage to Isabel Dunlop (d 1878), he had two children, Isa Constance Nicoll [Constance Miles] (c 1882 - 1962), poetess and author (children's books and short stories), and Maurice Nicoll (1884 - 1953), psychiatrist, psychologist and author. By his second marriage, in 1897, to Catherine Pollard, author of Bells of Memory and Under the Bay Tree, he had one daughter, Mildred Robertson Nicoll (1898 - 1995).

Mildred Robertson Nicoll married Grange Inglis Kirkcaldy in 1920, and had three daughters, Rosemary Melville, Prudence Elizabeth Struan, and Pamela Janet Grange. Under her maiden name she was editor, with A.C. Harwood, of Anthroposophical Quarterly , from 1956 - 1978. She also edited The Letters of Annie S. Swan (London: Hodder and Soughton, 1945); Family Post Bag (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1947); and R. Steiner, The Redemption of Thinking (London: Hodder and Soughton, 1956). She also wrote and published under her married name, Mildred Robertson Kirkcaldy.

There are also some papers of other family members including; Harry Nicoll (William Robertson Nicoll's father), papers of Henry James Nicoll (William Robertson Nicoll's brother) and papers belonging to the Pollard Family (Catherine Robertson Nicoll's family).

For further details see William Robertson Nicoll's entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1922 - 1930, T.H. Darlow, William Robertson Nicoll: Life and Letters (1925) and 2 privately published pamphlets: 'Mildred Kirkcaldy: Her Literary Legacy' and 'Memories of Grange I Kirkcaldy' (both edited by William Milne, 2014 and 2016). Brief biographies of Mildred Robertson Nicoll and other family members are also deposited with the collection.
SourceDeposited in the University in July 1996, by Mildred Robertson Nicoll's daughters, Prudence E.S. Kennard, Pamela J.G. Jackson, and Rosemary M. Morrison. Additional deposits received, 1997 - 2017. Papers gifted in 2017.
DescriptionThe papers included in the deposit are mainly personal papers of William Robertson Nicoll (1851 - 1923), his second wife Catherine Robertson Nicoll nee Pollard (1863-1960) and his daughter, Mildred Robertson Nicoll (1898 - 1995). They comprise correspondence, interviews and records of conversations with leading political figures, newspaper cuttings, diaries and miscellaneous papers, photographs, drawings, and plans. Correspondence includes family letters, buisness papers, letters on religious and theological topics. Newspaper cuttings from the British Weekly and various cuttings about William Robertson Nicoll. Diaries and miscellenous papers belonging to William Robertson Nicoll and Catherine Robertson Nicoll. The collections also has photographs of members of the family and significant figures in British politics. Correspondents represented in the collection include Herbert Asquith, Thomas J. Barratt, J.M. Barrie, Alister Birnie, John Buchan, James Denney, Professor Cameron Hazlehurst, Arthur Conan Doyle, Marcus Dods, P.T. Forsyth, Edmund Goss, Thomas Hardy, Beatrice Harraden, Dr. Jones, David Lloyd George, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Lord Milner, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Lord George Riddell, Lord Rosebery, Annie S. Swan, John Watson, and Winston Churchill.

The collection also includes registers of Auchindoir Parish school from 1835 to 1841, as part of the papers of Rev. Harry Nicoll.
ArrangementThe bulk of the papers were sorted into named bundles by the family and these have been placed in individual folders. There was no obvious clear arrangement but in general the loose letters, articles, books and pamphlets have been roughly sorted into those concerning William Robertson Nicoll, his daughter Mildred Robertson Nicoll and his second wife Catherine Robertson Nicoll. The materials originally organized by the family have been since re-organized to a limited extent by the Special Collections Department. Where items have had a previous reference, that will be found in the AltRefNo field.

Arrangement -

Papers of William Robertson Nicoll
Papers of Catherine Robertson Nicoll
Papers of Mildred Robertson Nicoll
Papers of other family members and associates: Harry Nicoll (William Robertson Nicoll's father), Henry James Nicoll (William Robertson Nicoll's brother), the Pollard family (Catherine Robertson Nicoll's family) and the Hastings family.
Family accounts and papers relating to disposal of household contents
Photographs, drawings and plans
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialPapers of and relating to Annie S. Swan (1859 - 1943), alias David Lyall, alias Mrs Burnett Smith, novelist, 1900 - 1946 (GB 231 MS 3517)

The Nicoll family library, from the Old Manse, Lumsden, extending to some 100 m, mainly accumulated by Rev. Harry Nicoll (1812 - 1891), Free Church minister of Auchindoir, Aberdeenshire, with nevertheless considerable additions by Sir William Robertson Nicoll (1851 - 1923), his wife Catherine, their daughter Mildred (1898 - 1995), and successive member of the family, was given to the University of Aberdeen in 1996, where it is held as one of the named special collections of printed books (shelfmark ref. Nicoll). The content is largely theological, but includes works on a wide variety of subjects reflecting the various personal interests of members of the family.

Material collected by the Pollard family (mainly relating to Egypt) has also been deposited with the University Museums (many objects but also photographs, notebooks, watercolours, sketchbooks, volumes of press cuttings and a map).
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