Learning from the past: The life and adventures of Mr George Robertson Nicoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

‘Archives inform the future by helping us to learn from the past’, so argues John Pelan writing in this journal in 2018. His words have particular resonance when we consider the potential contribution that family history stories have to make to our understanding of the past. This article explores one such family history story, that is, the story of George Robertson Nicoll (1824–1901). Born in Dundee, he followed his father and grandfather into the blockmaking trade and at the age of twenty-two married Sarah Baird, a linen power loom weaver from Errol in Perthshire. Like many others before and after him, George and his young family became part of the mass exodus of people which characterised the nineteenth century, as Scots headed to the new colonies in search of fortune. What makes George Robertson Nicoll’s family history story noteworthy is firstly, that he kept a journal of his ‘life and adventures’ and published this as a book before he died, and secondly, that his journal and book have both survived in public and private archives, leaving a detailed account of life in Dundee before and after his emigration to New South Wales, Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
Pages (from-to)72-84
Number of pages13
JournalScottish Archives
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • emigration
  • Dundee
  • New South Wales
  • nineteenth century
  • Scottish history


Dive into the research topics of 'Learning from the past: The life and adventures of Mr George Robertson Nicoll'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this