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Nicoll, John, Writer to His Majesty's Signet, c. 1585-1668
green mail Nicoll, John, Writer to His Majesty's Signet, c. 1585-1668 (Revised Nov 21)
John Nicoll (surname also spelled Nicholl, Nichol or Nicol), solicitor, diarist and Writer to His Majesty's Signet, was born in Glasgow before 1590 and worked most of his life in Edinburgh. On 21 Oct 1606 he married Bessie, dau. of James Thomson, Edinburgh merchant; when she died in Aug 1627, the following 12 Dec he married Magdalene, dau. of Andrew Hutchinson, another Edinburgh merchant. Records indicate that he had at least one son, John Nicoll, Jr., 1609-1685. John, Jr. (aka "the Younger", who also grew up to be a Writer to H.M. Signet) had at least two sons, John (b. 1635) and Robert (b. 1638), both by wife Jonet Kingyean (Janet Kinyon?) I have tentatively identified this line as part of my patronymic ancestry, and would like to find a living descendant of the male Nicoll line to arrange a y-DNA test for verification.

Post Revised: 2021
Edinburgh, Midlothian


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The earliest-documented fact I have about John Nic(h)ollmy earliest proven paternal ancestor-- is that he arrived in Dorchester County, Maryland Province, American colonies in the late 1660s, transported as an indentured servant from York County, Virginia by a wealthy English land speculator named Bartholomew Ennals (I know this because in March, 1669, Ennals recorded the names of those in his household in order to claim head rights eligibility to be granted extra land for bringing in new settlers-- from the Maryland Land Office in Annapolis.). Thanks to the online Maryland State Archives, I have been able to trace his life from 1669 until his death in 1708. As of this date, the second-earliest-documented fact about John Nicholl is that he was born about 1636, as he testified to a survey boundary in a Maryland Provincial Court affidavit in 1696. Just where that birth occurred has not been positively identified, but all three surviving American branches of his descendants, who now fashion the surname Nichol/Nichols (the Y-DNA record clearly confirms kinship, even after almost four centuries), have passed along the tradition that he was an Ulster Scot. Research thus far has led me to believe strongly that this John Nicholl was born in Dunluce Town, Antrim, for shortly before the time of his birth two householders named John Nicholl, Sr. and Jr., were recorded there in the 1630 Muster Roll. By googling nicoll + dunluce I discovered Rev. George Hills 1873 book, An historical account of the Macdonnells of Antrim, in which I learned that in1635 John Nicholl, Jr. of Dunluce was on record as a notary public in the employ of Randal Macdonnell, Earl of Antrim; he, like his father before him, subsequently spent much time in Edinburgh as a type of notary-cum-solicitor known as a Writer to His Majesty's Signet It is not much of a stretch to imagine that a third John Nicholl was born in 1636 to this line of real estate professionals, and learned surveying skills before he turned up in the Colonies as a 33-year-old; he would have left the dying town of Dunluce (Macdonnell had already moved to Glenarm) about ten years before it slipped beneath the Irish turf and out of memory. In the 1669 Hearth Money Roll of Dunluce, only one John Nicholl (likely the John, Jr. mentioned above and a widow Nichol were still there to represent the surname.

Other Entries for this Member

NICHOLL (NICHOL, NICHOLLS), John, b. 1636 Antrim Antrim County Antrim
Nicoll, John, Writer to His Majesty's Signet, c. 1585-1668 Glasgow Lanarkshire
PRATT, Pascal Fitz, 1852 - c. 1935 London, The County of County of London
John Hutchinson, born c. 1737 Wensley Yorkshire, North Riding

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