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Thomas Nicol (1871-1949)

Born 1871 Rosemarkie - died Sydney, Australia 1949
Great Great Grandson of David Nicol & Janet Bremner.

Thomas Nicol was born in Rosemarkie to John and Christian Urquhart Nicol. He worked as a gardener like his father before him and left Ross Shire as a young man to work in England. The 1891 census showed him working as a gardener's apprentice at Bedale, Yorkshire. Subsequently he worked in London where he met his future wife, a parlour maid named Annie Eliza Broome who hailed from Bromfield in Shropshire. It was in London that Tom met his future employer, Sir Hugh Dixson, who had a position for him in Sydney, Australia. Sir Hugh Dixson was a tobacco manufacturer and philanthropist as well as a horticulturist. He had a 30 acre estate called 'Abergeldie' at Summer Hill in Sydney. His garden contained many exotic and rare plants, and this is where Tom would work.

In 1899, Tom migrated to Australia. During the voyage on the 'Ophir' Tom wrote a diary. He begins:

After spending a most enjoyable holiday amongst my native Hieland Hills in Ross Shire I had to face the most trying ordeal in all my life up to now that of saying goodbye to all my nearest and dearest friends, but although I am going far away from them it is with the firm conviction that I will be able to render them better service than I ever could if I stayed with them.

Thomas Nicol & Annie Broome, 08 January 1902

Jock & Alick Nicol circa 1925

Ken Nicol born circa 1930


Life on board ship as a third class passenger in 1899 was fairly basic.  It is hard to imagine the privations that must have been endured daily on a voyage of 3 months.  Tom gives us a clue in his diary.

Sat 16th Sept.  The heat has become intense today and we were kept for several hours without water, which made it almost unbearable.  They say it is because the allowance for today has been used up and does not say much for the Orient Co seeing that they carry more passengers than they can provide for.  There are over 700 on this boat altogether but I have heard of no scarcity of water amongst the first and second classes.

Annie Broome migrated to Australia in 1901, and Tom and Annie were married at St. James Anglican Church in Sydney in 1902.  They initially lived in a cottage on the Abergeldie Estate and it was here that their first child, a daughter, Mary (Molly) was born in 1903.  Soon after this Tom and Annie moved to Lindfield on Sydney's  north shore where John (Jock) was born in 1905. 

In 1905 Tom purchased a large block of land at Killara so that he could provide a home for his growing family.  Here at No. 1 Wattle Street Killara, Tom built a 2 bedroom Federation style house where he lived for the rest of his life. Two more boys were born: Alick in 1908 and Kenneth in 1909.  The house was later extended but in the early days the boys slept on the verandah.  Tom worked as a nurseryman and propagated plants in a greenhouse in the backyard behind the old tin shed.  He had a truck and also worked as a general carrier.   During this time Tom planted many trees in what is now a park near the railway line.  The trees still stand and tower over the park, providing shade and serve as a living reminder of Tom and Annie's early life in Sydney.

Our memories of our grandfather, Tom, are of a lovely  man with a very warm nature.  He used to take the older grandchildren with him to the local dairy at Turramurra to collect cow pats from the paddocks for use in his nursery.  However, as young children, we were also a little afraid of him.  We used to make bubbles with a blue plastic substance Tom kept in his office.  But when we heard his old truck rattle down the driveway beside the house we would quickly burst the bubbles and make ourselves scarce in case we were caught.


Tom and Annie both died in 1949 the year Ian was born.  Ian was the sole grandson and had the distinction of being the only grandchild who was visited by his grandfather in hospital.  Tom died 3 weeks later.

The three boys, Jock, Alick and Ken all grew up with a devilish sense of humour. Throughout their lives, the three boys called each other 'Pong' every time they met. The reason for this will be left unsaid.   

Mary (Molly) was a very kind, gentle, highly intelligent woman, who became a school teacher.  She later stayed at home to care for her aging, ill parents.  Molly married Frederick Allgood later in life, and they had no children.

John (Jock) became an electrician, working firstly at Cockatoo Docks in Sydney and later with the Sydney County Council.  He married Gladys Gunner and is survived by his 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Alick was a landscape gardener and also worked with Tom in his carrying business.  He married Adella Hammond, and had 3 daughters. He is survived by Two daughters, 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.  Ken worked for the Post Master General's department and married Florence Haslam. They had no children.

Contributed by the Nicol Family, NSW Australia


Mary Nicol & Fred Allgood Wedding Day 1946



©Wendy Margaret Brindle

With contributions from Nicol relatives around the world, this research was compiled/researched
by Wendy McBain Brindle for the July 2007 Clan Reunion in Inverness.
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