Some elements of the name Nicolson are thought to derive from the Norse personal name Olsen and "Nic" - the Gaelic for "daughter of". Another origin could be a corruption of Nicolassen - Haakon, the last Norse king to attempt an invasion of Scotland, sent a war party to Scotland under Anders Nicolassen and tradition says that he settled in Scotland after the Viking defeat at the Battle of Largs in 1263 and the Treaty of Perth in 1266. The Nicolson clan chief of that line is said to have died in 1340, leaving no sons.
There was also a Lowland origin of the name with Norman ancestry - Malcolm fiz Nicol rendered homage in 1296 and William Nicholai was a burgess in Glasgow from 1419-21.
The Nicolsons of Lasswade were established in Midlothian for many generations and a knighthood was conferred in the 17th century. In the 18th century, Sir William Nicolson married four times and had 23 children.
While MacNicol is a Highland variation on the name, a branch in Skye Anglicised the name to Nicholson and that form is now found around the Hebrides. Alexander Morison Nicolson became a successful shipbuilder in China and he founded the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway. The Skye line established a chief of "Clann Mhic Neacail Scorrabreac" which is now known as Clan MacNicol. That line continues in the person of Ian Nicholson, a sheep farmer in New South Wales. In 1983 another Nicolson was granted recognition as chief of "Nicolson of that Ilk" as he was a descendant of the Nicolsons of Lasswade.
The Nicolson clan motto is "Generositate" which means "By generosity" and that for MacNicol is "Sgorra Bhreac" which means "Grey Ridge".
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