Charlotte Nicoll was my 4x great-grandmother and wife of William Duff Sr. I knew from her gravestone in the Kirkstyle Cemetery in Perthshire, Scotland that she had been born 20 Sept 1766 and had died at Berryhill, the Duff Family Farm, on 15 May 1846.
Today, while doing some web searching, I came across a mention of “Robert Nicoll’s Monument”, which is very near Berryhill (literally just a walk across a field). The name obviously caught my attention given the nearness to the Duff family property. You can see the proximity of the monument to Berryhill in this map:
This is a photo of the monument itself:
It’s a 50-foot high stone obelisk that’s to honor Robert Nicoll (1814-1837), who was a poet who grew up on the farm called Tulliebelton (also spelled “Tullybelton”), just down the road from Berryhill. Given his age and name, I thought there was a very good chance that Robert was a nephew or cousin of my grandmother Charlotte Nicoll. We know Charlotte’s father was named Robert Nicoll and that she had a sister named Margaret who married Robert Duff (her husband’s brother). This rather lengthy bio of the poet is very good: http://gerald-massey.org.uk/nicoll/.
There is also an article about the monument itself here.
I decided to do some looking into the Tulliebelton Nicoll family and found some great results.
From what I have found so far, Robert Nicoll and his wife Jean Chalmers at Tulliebelton had the following children at Tulliebelton:
Elizabeth Nicoll (b 20 May 1768)
Helen Nicoll (b 28 Jan 1770)
James Nicoll (b 2 Feb 1772)
Kathrine Nicoll (b 30 Jan 1773)
Jean Nicoll (b 12 Jan 1777)
Margaret Nicoll (b 1782)
and the big discovery was the attached record for my grandmother Charlotte Nicoll, who was born 20 Sept 1766 at Tulliebelton!
20 Sept 1766. To Robert Nicol, miln of Tullibelton (sic), a daughter Charlott (sic).
So we now know that the Charlotte Nicoll lived, literally, on the next farm over from Berryhill, and that she was almost certainly related to the poet. I’m not sure exactly how yet, but it seems likely he was her nephew. The birth record for Robert is attached (you can see two children for Robert Duff and Margaret Nicoll are listed there also).
The poet Robert Nicoll’s parents were Robert Nicoll and Grace Fenwick, also of Tulliebelton. I’m guessing there was another boy, Robert, born to Robert and Jean above who is the missing link. The poet’s father seems to have been born about 1774, so he was perhaps born between Katherine and Jean Nicoll listed above. Robert and Grace had a son named “Charles Duff Nicoll”, so one can see that the two families were close.
This book of Robert’s poetry contains an interesting tidbit of Nicoll family history:
“[The poet] Robert Nicoll was born on the 7th January 1814 in the farm-house of Little Tulliebeltane, in the parish of Auchtergaven, in Perthshire, which lies nearly half-way between Perth and Dunkeld. His father, Mr. Robert Nicoll, was at that period a farmer in comfortable circumstances for his station and locality; his mother was Grace Fenwick one of the daughters of that venerable Seceder, “Elder John”, of whom Nicoll speaks so frequently and affectionately in his poems. Robert [the poet] was the seond son in a family of nine children. His elder brother died in childhood, and Robert thus became the “eldest son.” Both the families from which [Robert the poet] immediately sprung had been settled for generations in the same neighborhood, and counted a long pedigree of the kind that is still the proudest boast of rural Scotland, decent, honest, God-fearing people. By the recollection of his mother [Grace], Robert, when nine months old, could speak as infants speak; at eighteen months he knew his letters; and when five years old he could read the New Testament. His mother had up to this time, had leisure to be the teacher of her intelligent and lively child: but now, woeful reverse was impending over the family. Mr. Nicoll [the father] had become security to the amount of five or six hudnred pounds, for a connection by marriage, who failed and absconded; and the utter ruin of his own family was the almost immediate consequence. He gave up his entire property to satisfy the crditors of this individual; he lost even the lease of his farm, and, with his wife and several young children, left the farm-house and became a day laborer on the fields he had lately rented; with nothing to sustain his wife and himself save the consciousness of unblemished and unblamed integrity. [The poet] Robert Nicoll was thus, from the date of his earliest recollection, the son of a very poor man, the inmate of a lowly home, the eldest of a struggling family. Field labor was the daily lot of his father, and at certain seasons of the year, of his mother also, as far as was compatible with the care of her young and increasing family; and the children as soon as they were condidered fit for labor, were one by one, set to work.”