The mists of time
The Nicholson family has it's ancestral home in Portree, on the Isle of Skye.
It was reckoned by Carrol Nicholson in his book 'Some Relatives of Carroll and Nancy Nicholson' that this branch can be traced back to a Peter Nicholson in Snizort on the Isle of Skye, baptized about 1715. Peter had a son Neil, and Neil, along with his wife Effie had a son Donald. I have not been able to substantiate these facts or the connection to this family.
The story really gathers some weight with Donald Nicholson who was apparently born in Snizort and came to Ulverston where he married Ann Metcalf in September 1794. The supposed facts about Donald don't really add up; although Donald was said to have been a revenue officer in Liverpool in later life, his marriage certificate has him as illiterate. He died in Liverpool in 1842.
Alexander, fishing patriarch
Alexander married Martha Davies who is supposed to have been descended from a first cousin of George Washington (but this is unverified). Alexander and Martha had eight children, and all but two seem to have lived to their adulthood. Most of the surviving children lived close to the sea in the fishing village of Hoylake (or Hoose), west of Liverpool, and census records indicate that they often lived in the same street, mingled in with houses containing in-laws and other family both close and extended. Further, many of them were fishermen (or married fishermen) or had other work connected with the sea - one was a sailmaker, and another was a timekeeper for a shipping company. For Alexander and his children it was a family affair.
However, their was a notable exception. Alexander's second son Donald was educated at Cambridge, became a schoolmaster - and if this wasn't enough of an exception - moved to the United States and became the managing editor of the New York Tribune, America's leading Republican newspaper of the time. When he remarried, he reputedly married the daughter of a judge and died at the age of eighty at his house in Pleasant Valley.
Donald Nicholson of Liverpool
Going back to Donald Nicholson (I) the revenue officer of Liverpool, he had a son - also a Donald (II) - who for many years worked as a hatter but later in life became a warehouseman and ultimately a salesman.
This Donald (II) married Jane Wetherell and together they had some 12 children over a twenty year period. However, all did not got well for them - five of their children died very young. Even more tragically, another four of their daughters died between the ages of 19 and 22, all within a five year period. Only three sons out of all their children out-lived them.
One son, Walter, became an umbrella manufacturer and emigrated to Quebec late in life, All of his children lived substantial lives, but another son of Donald (II), Parker, lost four of his six children in a seven year period. Parker was seemingly a clerk all of his life and committed suicide at the age of 65.
The third son of Donald (II) was another Donald (III) and there are some aspects of his life that are a mystery. He married Elizabeth Anne Medhurst at the age of twenty two and had at least 5 (and perhaps as many as eight) children with her between 1857 and 1863. Elizabeth died in 1865 at the age of twenty eight, and Donald remarried to Euphemia Scott Gibb, an Aberdeen schoolteacher. They had another five children together.
Donald Nicholson (III) and his wife decided to emmigrate to The Colonies and departed with their children in February 1883. What is unknown is what happened to the children from Donald's first marriage - only one has been traced. It must be supposed that at least some of the others died young.
Donald (III) made a success of himself in Tasmania, living until the age of 89. While he was a bookkeeper in England, in Tasmania he became an accountant, auditor and bank manager, working until he was 85. His wife Euphemia opened a school.
His youngest son, George Gibb Nicholson became an academic success. He returned to England, graduated from Balliol College in Oxford, then returned to Sydney where he was professor at Sydney University for many years, becoming noted in the field of Linguistics and author of a textbook.
His second son, Angus became a mariner like other members of this family.
His daughter Lily became a painter and married into the Fooks family at the age of 39, dying unexpected less than a year later.
His first son, Charles found some measure of financial success but seemed to live in the shadow of his younger, more lauded brother George (and perhaps seemed less substantial than his father). He had a number of positions, including sharebroker and commission agent, manager of a prospecting firm, and a miner. He petitioned for bankruptcy in 1915 at the age of forty-two.
Charles had two sons and a daughter. 'Bon' was a salesman early in life and later served in both the Second World War and Korea as an officer. Hubert became an electrical engineer involved in technical training and was also an Australian Army officer and became involved in the atomic testing at Maralinga, events that ultimately had negative effects on his mental health.