In modern Gaelic the name of this clan takes the form MacNeacail, the English version of the name taking the form MacNicol or Nicolson, depending on location.
Tradition gives one branch of the family an extremely ancient origin in the lands between Assynt and Durness on the north coast of Scotland. Another tradition gives an equally ancient past in the Hebrides, where the Nicolsons held the lands of Scorrybreac, in Skye, as the principal tenants. “MacNicol of Portree” it is said, was one of the sixteen men who formed the famous council of the Lord of the Isles. Local legend has it that over one hundred chiefs of the clan were borne to their last resting place from the old house of Scorrybreac..
The last chief of the clan to reside in Skye was Norman Nicolson of Scorrybreac who emigrated to New Zealand. His line continues in Australia, where the present chief of the West Highland Nicolsons has a sheep station named Scorrybreck..
The name of Nicolson is found scattered throughout Scotland, with MacNicols being numerous is Argyll. There are even cases of the name Nicolson having roots as far south as Tyneside and Yorkshire..
Many of the Nicolson clan became known for literary pursuits, one of the most famous being Alexander Nicolson who published the well-known “History of Skye”.
Nicolson Clan History