Our Nickle Family

Ira C. Nickle Jr.

Excerpt from Ira C. Nickle Jr., "Nickle-Auld-Brown-Burchett-Brown-Petzold"

Our Nickle family is Ulster-Scot (Scotch-Irish). In Ireland the name Nickle was most common in Ulster, especially Counties Antrim, Derry and Tyrone.
According to Black, in Surnames of Scotland, Nickle is a later form of Nicol. He cites Weekley's Surnames as his source for the information that the Normans transformed Lincoln, into Nicol.

In the 1100s and 1200s men named de Nicol, de Nicole, de Nichole and de Lincoln were witnesses to the charter of the lands of Molle near Kelso, Roxburghshire, the Border, Scotland.

In the 1100s men named de Lincoln and de Nichole granted a portion of land in Molle to the Abbey of Kelso. Nicholl also derives from Nicol and is common only in Ulster.

There was a great variation in the spelling of family names before the end of the 19th century. Dr. John A. Oliver in his article "Some Ulster-Scots and Their Origins in Scotland," that appeared in the 1987 issue of Familia states, "People are of the same blood who live in the same general area, who have the same, or nearly the same, surname, who have the same Christian names, who have the same occupations and religion and who have similar social and educational standing."
In Ulster the family name has been spelt: Nichol, Nicholl; Nicol, Nicoll; Nickall, Nickoll; Nickell, Nickill; Nickel and Nickle. Nicholl now seems to be the current spelling of the name in Northern Ireland.

Our place of origin in Scotland has not been established. Our family may have been one of the Presbyterian families who were driven out of the Lowlands and over to Bute and the Kintyre Peninsula.

In the last quarter of the 16th century the McDonnells, of County Antrim, whose lands in Northern Ireland had been granted them by Queen Elizabeth, encouraged these families to move across the few miles of the North Channel to North Antrim. There these Presbyterian families settled in The Route. The Route is land that lies between the Bann and Bush rivers and refers to the route to Scotland.

During the Irish Rebellion of 1642, the Planters, Sir William and Sir Robert Stewart each commanded a regiment of the Scottish Army in Ireland. Walter, Robert, John, Thomas, James and David Nicholl served in their regiments.

Sergeant John Nicoll served in Captain, Sir Robert Murray's company and William Nicoll served in Captain John Crawford's company.

NOTE: Professor David H. Fischer, professor of history at Brandeis University, said the Scotch-Irish brought a culture based on centuries of fighting between England and Scotland over the border lands they inhabited.

William Logan, secretary to William Penn, made the observation that the Scotch-Irish were troublesome settlers to the government and hard neighbors to the Indians.

NOTE: James Stewart Nickle of Ballywatt, Dervock, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, corresponding in 1919 with Reverend Oliver H. Nickle of Seneca, Venango County, Pennsylvania, wrote that the Nickle family was descended from a Captain Oliver Nickoll who came to Ireland during the Cromwellian era.

Captain Nickoll apparently leased land in the townland of Benvardin that had been acquired by Major Montgomery from Sir Francis Naughten. Captain Nickoll was said to have served with Major Montgomery.

At some time the Nickoll family lost their lease and became linen dressers on the River Bush near Bushmills.

Captain Nickoll was said to have been six feet, four inches in height and weighed 210 pounds. He was said to have married at age 65 a Mrs. Young and had two sons, Daniel and William, and a daughter Margaret.

Daniel and William moved to Scotland. Daniel married Elizabeth Atkins and remained in Scotland. William returned to Ireland and married. After 12 years his wife died childless.

William married a second time and had two sons, Joseph and William. Joseph's children were: John, William, Thomas, Robert, Samuel (father of James Stewart Nickle) and Alexander. Joseph's brother William, was said to be the ancestor of our branch of the Nickle family. It has not been possible to verify this information.

NOTE: John Nicholl, of Dunluce village; Widow Nicoll of the townland of Ballylecken, Dunluce; and Duncan Nicoll of the townland of Ballybogey, Dunluce appeared in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1663. (A tax of two shillings was levied on each hearth.)

It is believed our Nickle family of County Antrim were tenants of the Earl of Antrim. They lived in the Barony of Lower Dunluce, Parish of Dunluce, that included the most fertile parts of the Route.

The Nickles were said to be large of stature, strong, sturdy and industrious. They were tenant farmers and Protestants of the Presbyterian faith. Their homes were in the townlands between the village of Dunluce and the town of Bushmills famous for its whiskey.

Bushmills is near the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce is near old Dunluce Castle. The castle was built by the Norman, Richard de Burgh. The last occupiers were the MacDonnells, Earls of Antrim.

On an estate map of the Earl of Antrim, dated 1739, were listed the chief tenants who rented directly from the Earl. Under tenants were not named. The chief tenants listed were:

1. Daniel Nickall leased 78 acres of the 137 acres of the town land of Boneyclassagh.
2. James Nickall leased 43 acres of the 157 acres of the townland of Gortnee.
3. William Fullerton, Dunluce townland.
4. Captain James Stewart, Ballywatt townland.
5. Widow O’Cahan, Lower Ballycraige townland.
6. Daniel Todd, Lower Ballycraige townland.
7. Mrs. Neile McNeile, Toberdoney townland

The Nickles occupied Boneyclassagh for over 100 years starting on 28 November 1727 when Robert and Daniel Nickle and David and John McKinlap leased (lease number D265/239) the townland from the Earl of Antrim. Boneyclassagh lies two miles west of the town of Bushmills.

(Daniel Nickle is the Daniel Nickall listed on the 1739 estate map of the Earl of Antrim as chief tenant of the townland of Boneyclassagh.) The Boneyclassagh lease was renewed every 16 years.

In 1740 Robert and Andrew Nickoll and David and John McCandless of Dunluce village were listed in the survey of Protestant householders.

On 20 April 1743 Alexander Stewart, land agent to the Earl of Antrim, leased the townland of Boneyclassagh (lease number D265/277) to Robert and Daniel Nichol and John and David McCanless.

The lease ran for the life of John McCanless, Jr. and for the lives of William Nichol, first son of Robert Nichol, aged 16 years (born 1727) and Andrew Nickel, third son of Daniel Nichol, aged 17 years (born 1726).

Daniel Nicholl of Boneyclassagh was listed as a freeholder in the 1776 General Election Poll Book of County Antrim.

The basic qualification for a 40 shilling (£2 pound) freeholder was that the person hold a lease for lives valued at 40 shillings, after rent and other charges had been paid. The land could be passed on by inheritance.

From 1727 to 1793 only Protestants with freeholds worth forty shillings (£2 pounds) had a vote and were entitled to be called gentlemen.

In 1829 after Catholics got the vote, qualification for voting was raised to £10 pounds causing the electorate of Ireland to fall by 80%.

In 1803 Daniel, George and Samuel Nickall with Simon Nickel were resident in Boneyclassagh. All four were listed in the Agricultural Census of that year.

In 1823 Daniel Nickle had a lease of eight acres of Boneyclassagh according to the Tithe Applotment Book of that year. In the same book, Andrew Nickle had three acres of the townland of Ballycraig which is approximately three miles west of Boneyclassagh. George Nickle had 10 acres and widow Nickle had three acres of the townland of Ballintrae. Ballintrae adjoins Boneyclassagh to the east.

Daniel Nickle of Boneyclassagh and George Nickle of Ballintrae were listed in the Tithe Applotment Book of 1828. (Sometime between the Tithe Applotment of 1828 and the General Evaluation of 1861 the Nickles disappear from Boneyclassagh.)

The old church of Dunluce dedicated to Saint Cuthbert lies one-half mile south of Dunluce Castle. The first church was built by the Quillans and the second was built by Catherine, wife of Randal the first Earl and second Marquis of Antrim between 1637 and 1640.

The Girona, a Spanish Armada ship, was wrecked at the Causeway in 1588. It is tradition that the Spanish sailors, who drowned, are buried south of the church.
The castle of Dunluce was besieged during the rebellion of 1641 but the church escaped and remained a place of worship until 1821 when the church in Bushmills was built.

In the church burying ground adjacent to the townland of Boneyclassagh, are the following Nickle gravestones:

1. William Nickle of Boneyclassagh who died on 28 June 1782 aged 58 years. On the same stone is commemorated the death of Elizabeth, daughter of James Nickle, age seven months.
2. William Nickle, son of Samuel Nickel of Park, who died on 20 December 1831
aged 30 years. (Park lies in the townland of Revellagh.)
3. George Nicholl of Ballintrae died in 1836 aged 55. Also commemorated on the
same stone: daughter Mary Jane died 1867 aged 35; wife Mary died in 1865 aged 72; Jane, wife of son John, died in 1881 aged 55; George’s son John died in 1902 aged 84.

(In the General Evaluation of 1861, John Nickle of Ballintrae, leased a farm of 30 acres from Henry Leslie. John was the son of George Nicholl of Ballintrae.)

NOTE: In 1710 Daniel Nickle and Gilbert McFall paid 12 bushels of oats rent to the Earl of Antrim for lease number D265/193 in the townland Lislagan, town and Parish of Ballymoney. In 1803 Alexander, James, James, John, John, Thomas and William Nickle were listed in the Agricultural Census of the Parish of Ballymoney.

NOTE: In the graveyard of Dervock Presbyterian Church is the gravestone of Andrew Nickle, of Drumroan, who died in 1826, aged 62.

NOTE: In Derrykeighan Old Church is the following gravestone: In memory of Samuel Nicholl late of Orble who departed this life on 14 February 1835 aged 72. Also his wife Nancy who died on 4 May 1855 and also his son William.

Samuel Nickle was probably a son of Samuel Nicholl of Orble who was buried in Derrykeighan Old Church graveyard. Samuel Nickle’s residence was Cross Roads House, Toberdoney in the townland of Orble which is about four miles south of Bushmills.

In Samuel Nickle's family Bible, bought by him on 28 March 1828, the family name was changed twice. Samuel was born on 2 May 1798 and married on 2 May 1822. His sister, Peggy Nicol, was born in 1802. In the Tithe Applotment of 1824 is the record: Sam Nickle – Urble – 11 acres. Samuel's death was recorded: Samuel Nicholl, aged 87, died at his residence, Cross Roads House.