Papers of William Robertson Nicoll and his family, Old Manse, Lumsden

Scope and Content

Papers from the Old Manse, Lumsden, family home of the Nicoll family, 1867 - 1995. The papers included in the deposit are mainly personal papers of William Robertson Nicoll (1851 - 1923)and his daughter, Mildred Robertson Nicoll (1898 - 1995). They comprise correspondence, newspaper cuttings, diaries and miscellaneous papers, including letters of sympathy to Lady Robertson Nicoll on the death of Sir William Robertson Nicoll, 1923; William Barclay articles; copies of Anthroposophical Quarterly, 1956 - 1978; photograph album containing George Washington Wilson postcards, literary and church photographs; pictures; local pamphlets; Annie S. Swan related material; and academic certificates. Correspondents represented in the collection include Asquith, Thomas J. Barratt, J.M. Barrie, Alister Birnie, 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, Quiller-Couch, Lord George Riddell, Lord Rosebery, John Watson.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Robertson Nicoll William Robertson Nicoll was born at Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, on 10 Oct 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 (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 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.

For further details see William Robertson Nicoll's entry in Dictionary of National Biography, 1922 - 1930 and T.H. Darlow, William Robertson Nicoll: Life and Letters (1925). Brief biographies of Mildred Robertson Nicoll and other family members are deposited with the collection.


None observed - listing in process

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the University in Jul 1996, by Mildred Robertson Nicoll's daughters, Prudence E.S. Kennard, Pamela J.G. Jackson, and Rosemary M. Morrison. Additional deposits received, 1997 - 1999.

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures


No accruals expected

Related Material

Papers of and relating to Annie S. Swan (1859 - 1943), alias David Lyall and 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.


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Additional Information

This material is original