Donald Nicholson was born in the Parish of Assynt in Scotland in 1812. At the age of 27 he and his sister and her husband emmigrated to the Colony of new South Wales to take up a new life. This was probably in response to the Highland Clearances.
He and his brother-in-law were brought by an 'H. Scopes', probably Henry Scopes, an ex-convict who was to pay them £2 2s a week without board. One of Henry's interests was as an undertaker - did Donald make coffins for him?
Two years after landing he married Margaret Brown, another Scot that had been in the colony for almost two years. She had come out with her parents and siblings; her father was a timber merchant so it is possible that Donald knew her through this connection. In any even they both lived in Parramatta, so it is unlikely that he was still working for Henry Scopes.
Almost immediately after the wedding Margaret fell pregnant but the boy died young. Another boy, James Brown Nicholson was born in 1843 and died in the same year. A girl Margaret Nicholson was born in 1845. By this time, Donald and Margaret had moved to Balmain (see map below).
Margret's parents and siblings had apparently settled in Balmain, so it is possible that Donald and Margaret were amoungst people that they thought of as family.
However, it was not to last. Another 4 years saw them having made the 280km journey from Sydney to Archibald MacCallum's Good Hope homestead in the Yass region where Donald had presumably found carpentry work (see map below). Three more boys were born in quick succession: Donald Henry Nicholson, John Nicholson and another James Brown Nicholson born about 1849.
They stayed in the Yass district for perhaps another decade, and Donald became involved in the establishment of the Yass Presbyterian Church. At least 5 more children were born here; Susannah Alletta Nicholson, Mary Jane Nicholson, Charles William Nicholson, Frances Nicholson and Daniel Malcolm McBean Nicholson with all but Charles surviving to adulthood.
The following years saw changes as they moved another 220km to Forbes, where they stayed for at least another 3 years. Their daghter Margaret married Hugh Joseph Sutherland at their home in 1865.
Only a few years later they moved to Parkes, and their family started to head off in their own directions. Their son John moved to Parramatta at some point and became a butcher, but never married. Another son James moved to Trunkey Creek, and their oldest son Donald married in Sydney before returning to Parkes.
Their youngest son Daniel relocated to Queensland where he stayed for many years. Their youngest daughter Fanny married a famous runner named John Aplitt and their other two daughters married as well.
Sadly, Margaret died in 1874 after a riding accident.
From this point on, it isn't known what the last 15 years of Donald's life is life. He may have remained in Parkes (his daughter Mary lived them for all of her adult life, or he may have gone with his oldest children to the Cobar region, another 350 km away. In any event, he almost certainly sprent the remainder of his days between the two.
Unfortunately, his oldest daughter Margaret died in childbirth in 1883, and his daughter Susannah's husband Michael Bourkedied of alcohol poisoning soon after.
For these years, family life seemed to be focussed around Hillston, Parkes and Bourke (with James, Mary and Fanny respectively)
For these years, family life seemed to be focussed around Mount Hope, Parkes and Bourke (with James, Mary and Fanny respectively).
Donald finally enters the picture here, but only through his death; he died at Byrock just before the turn of the century. Byrock is hot and dry; so different to the Scotland of his youth. His daughter Fanny was the informant for his death; was he living with her in his final years? At the time of his death he had at least 43 grandchildren still alive.