James Brydon Nicoll Esquire
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, James Brydon Nicoll established a thriving wine and spirit business in Nethergate, Dundee.
Subscription value in 1863:
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Relative to income compared to 2021:
Personal details and history
James Brydon Nicoll
Date of birth
Circa 1821 - baptised 1821
Married - 22-6-1852 at St Edward's Church, Romford, Essex
Name of spouse
Maria Martha Hayward de la Mare
Charlotte Harriet (1853-1941): Brydon Hayward (1855-1934): James Schnobel (1856-1915): George Duncan (1857-1921): Edith (1859-1950): Percy de la Mare (1862-1954):
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Scottish Episcopalian: assumption based on the marriage forms of James' daughter Edith
Subscriber 25 – Messrs J H & A Bell – James Henderson Bell was briefly James Brydon Nicoll’s brother-in-law, having married his sister, Charlotte Nicoll.
Subscriber 52 – Messrs James Carmichael & Co – James Brydon Nicoll’s daughter Edith married James William Carmichael, son of George Carmichael
Subscriber 170 – Andrew Ogilvie – a named executor for the estate of James Brydon Nicoll
Subscriber 173 – John Ogilvie – a neighbour of James Brydon Nicoll at 4 Park Place
Subscriber 207 – Dr Sturrock – a neighbour of James Brydon Nicoll at 2 Park Place
Career and worklife
Wine & Spirit Merchant
Place of work
James B Nicoll, Wine Merchant
Career to date:
At the time of the 1851 census, James Brydon Nicoll, a young man in his mid 20s, was listed as Commission Agent. At the time, he lived with his widowed mother at 10 Hawkhill Place (the lands and properties of Hawkhill Place belonging to the representatives of his father's estate). Not until a year later, in 1852, when James married, did he venture to embark on a path as a wine and spirit merchant. His first listing in the local directory as such, appeared around 1853-54. At that point, his business was located at 33 Reform Street, Dundee. James had moved out of his mother's home to begin family life, a stone's throw away, at 6 Hawkhill Place. James' business premises remained at 33 Reform Street until 1858-59, when his listing changed to 50 Reform Street. Regular advertisements in the local press gave an indication of the extent of his expanding business. At the time of pledging his subscription towards the building of the Albert Institute, James Brydon Nicoll had relocated his business premises to the hub of Dundee's commercial quarter at 9 and 13 Nethergate.
James Brydon Nicoll was born to Thomas Nicoll and Charlotte Robertson in Kingston Jamaica in 1821. His father, Thomas, had been a Captain in the Army in Kingston. Curiously, on his return to Dundee, Thomas Nicoll and Charlotte Robertson registered their marriage in August of 1823, 2 years after James’ birth. The entry stated that ‘Thomas Nicoll, late of Kingston, Jamaica, and Charlotte, this parish (Dundee), daughter of Ebenezer Robertson Esq, late attorney in the Island of Jamaica, now in Beverley, Yorkshire,‘ were wed on 18 August 1823.
James Brydon Nicoll’s father, Thomas was thereafter listed as a merchant and shipowner, living in Hawkhill Place.
The family history of James Brydon Nicoll more than gives a hint of the turbulent, colonial history of Kingston, Jamaica.
As already declared, James’ mother, Charlotte Robertson, was the daughter of Ebenezer Robertson. Ebenezer had at least 7 offspring by Margaret Dunbar (a Scottish sounding name) although not believed to have been his wife. Margaret Dunbar was described, at that time, as having been ‘a free quadroon,’ indicating both her status and her ethnicity. His daughter Charlotte’s death record gives no indication of her mother (declared ‘unknown’) and, although the informant was her son James, it could be surmised that her mother’s name may have been deliberately withheld.
Charlotte’s father, Ebenezer Robertson, in his will, refers to Margaret Dunbar ‘of Duff Street, Kingston’ and also, on the second page, gives reference to Thomas Nicoll and his wife, Charlotte Robertson, of Hawkhill Place in Dundee – possibly confirming connections among all named.
Another curiosity arises in James’ name. ‘Brydon’ was not a name which appeared in previous family generations. However, one of his (and wife Charlotte’s) father’s contemporaries in Kingston was a James Brydon (1763-1840), a merchant, attorney and slave-owner. James Brydon, together with his partner, Andrew Scott, operated the firms of ‘James Brydon & Co’ and later, ‘Scott & Brydon.’ Between the years 1817-1832, James Brydon ‘owned’ upwards of 61 slaves. After an Act was passed in 1816, more particular, informative returns were required to keep a stricter check on any movement of slaves. These returns were made until 1834.
Whether James Brydon Nicoll was named after this fellow is speculation but there remains that possibility.
The 1860s would seem to have been a prosperous decade for James Brydon Nicoll. Not only did he establish a most central location for his business, but he also procured what was to become his final residence at 3 Park Place. The property was purchased by roup, for the sum of £1,000 in 1863.
- Church of England Parish Register Transcripts. Jamaica. Baptismal Transcripts. (1664-1879). Ancestry website.
- Brechin Advertiser, 29 June 1852, p.3. Findmypast website.
- Dundee People's Journal. 7 February 1863. p.5. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1885). 282/ 1 366. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier, 31 July 1885, p2. Findmypast website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Marriages. 1887. 282/ 2 209. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1869-70, pp.45 and 186. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Courier. 3 December 1869. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Directory, 1853-54, p.197. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Advertiser, 29 January 1862, p.1. Findmypast website.
- Dundee Courier. 27 march 1886. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 24/ 25. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1858-59, p.169. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Advertiser, 2 October 1862. p.1. Findmypast website.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1824). 282/ 150 227. ScotlandsPeople website.
- The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1703. Ancestry website.
- Legacies of British Slave-Ownership. Department of History. University College of London website.
The information above about James Brydon Nicoll has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.