A Family Reunited

This story I am about to share with you is very special to me and really has changed me as a person. For so long I have felt that I am on this lone journey of discovery in relation to my family, god this sounds so cliched I know but it is true. I’m basically the last in the line that I can find in both the Macvean’s and the Nicoll’s or so I thought. Did you pick up on that hint? Subtle is what they call it.

So going to my old friend Trove, they have this awesome feature where by once you sign up with an account you can start creating lists of information you have found from anywhere on their site. I have set up multiple lists for a lot of the different branches of the family tree. The Nicoll list by far is the most prevelant with over 500 articles saved. One of the additional awesome features I discovered is that you can create a description heading for the list describing what the list is about for other user’s who might be interested. Remember I have said before, family history research is like fishing, you put out the bait and you see what bites. This is a copy below.

Figure 1: Courtesy of National Library of Australia

The only catch to this that I wasn’t aware of, is that if anyone does make a comment on your List, there is no notification that comes through. You can see where this is going cant’ you?

So fast forward to a year later and I get this what I think is a pretty dodgy message on Facebook. I immediately thought it was one of those phishing messages, I don’t have a copy of it to show you but it was from a name I didn’t recognise but the message said that they were researching immigration history to Australia. This stopped me from deleting and I then sent this message.

Figure 2: Macvean Family Archives

I mean come on, why would a Emerita Professor be messaging me? This was the response I received on the 24th April 2019.

Figure 3: Courtesy of Facebook

You can probably imagine the excitement that was building for me after reading this. I jumped straight on to Trove to have a look.

Figure 4: Courtesy of National Library of Australia

I couldn’t believe it, over a month since Viv sent the message on Trove and I had no idea that it was there. This was when she decided to try and track me down on Facebook and I am so thankful that she did. I jumped straight back into Messenger and so it began. An amazing wonderful dialogue of shared discoveries, (again sounds so trite but this is definitely how I feel) about our family. There were no brakes or anything engaged we just both jumped straight in. Often when someone connects with you on Ancestry, in the few experiences I have had, it can be quite impersonal and bit standoffish but with Viv there was nothing like this. Viv is a descendant of James Robertson Nicoll Brother to my 3x Great Grandfather George Robertson Nicoll of the Nicoll Manuscript fame.

James Robertson Nicoll
Figure 4a: Courtesy of Sherrel Godwin (Cousin)

How incredible is that? a picture of James. Now I’m jumping the gun a bit here but Sherrel is now another Cousin we have welcomed into the fold thanks to Viv but I will return to this story at a later stage.

Figure 5: Courtesy of Ancestry.com.au

It didn’t take too long to put Viv into the Family Tree and according to Ancestry.com.au she is officially my 5th Cousin. Viv has shared that she has been researching the Family for decades and that it was her wish to set up a Facebook page for others who might be interested in the Family and the immigration aspect. Viv did this and more Nicoll descendants have been discovered.

Figure 6: Courtesy of Facebook

Viv also shared that she was writing an academic blog on George and his Wife Sarah and their immigration journey. Unlike this blog which is at best gossip mag like and visual, (speaks volumes of the author), Viv’s is very much an academic and sociological view on the impacts of immigration through the lens of our shared ancestors George, Sarah and the rest of the Nicoll’s who followed. It is a fascinating read. Copy below and the link. Hopefully you will still be able to find this in 2169.

Figure 7: Courtesy of the University of Edinburgh

I received this message from Viv in October 2019. She and her partner Alan had booked their flights and would be in Sydney late Oct’ early November.

Figure 8: Courtesy of Messenger

We organised to meet. I sent out a message on Ancestry to see if anyone else was interested in coming along. I didn’t let Viv know just incase no one made contact. Had a few responses from people who are actually based overseas and couldn’t make it. No committment right?

I have organised a get together for Saturday 2nd November 10am at Rookwood Cemetery Cafe, right opposite the Function Center. (Just inside the Weeroona Road entrance immediately on the left on Memorial Drive)

Vivienne Cree who is a desendent of James Robertson Nicoll, George Robertson Nicoll’s Brother is visiting from Scotland and would love to meet as many of the Australian Nicoll’s and descendents as possible. Viv is writing an academic paper on Emmigration to Australia in the 19th Century focussing on the Nicoll Family’s journey. Below is the link to her blog on the subject.

You might be thinking that it was a strange place to meet, Rookwood, Australia’s oldest burial ground but Cemeteries have undergone a transformation recently. Most now have Cafe’s and function centres. The Village at Rookwood is a fantastic spot to catch up.

Figure 9: The Village Cafe Rookwood Cemetery

Jan Bond is my Maternal Aunt, Greg Nicoll is her Cousin. He is the Son of my Grandfather’s Brother Douglas Nicoll. Shirley and Lea are descendents of Annie Schofield who married Bruce Randolf Nicoll one of George and Sarah Nicoll’s Great Grandsons. They still live in Earlwood where Blink Bonnie George Wallace Nicoll’s estate was situated. Shirley has vivid memories of visiting the home as to does my Aunty Jan. Such a shame that the home is now demolished and gone.

As above with the addition of our Boys, Xander in the front and Calan on my left. Alex was the photographer for us, very sneaky at not getting into the photos.
Figure 11: Macvean Family Archives

No wait, Xander had a couple more photos from the day and had one of all of us. So will sneak another one in.

As above, with the addition of Alexandra Macvean, behind Xander’s hat and a very close family friend, Carol behind Alex with the glasses and the blonde hair.
Figure 11a: Macvean Family Archives
Back Row: Greg Nicoll, Viv Cree, Jan Bond nee Nicoll, Alan (Viv’s Partner)
Front Row: John Macvean, Shirley Stevenson, Lea Stevenson
Figure 10: Macvean Family Archives

The reunion was fantastic! That Saturday was a beautiful day and we sat and had coffee and bacon and egg rolls and chatted for about 3 hours. We worked out that it is about 118 years since the two sides of the family had seen each other. Viv shared that George and his Brother James were very close from what she had been able to uncover. It was not lost on us the significance of this reunion and how it occured by happen chance.

We then toured around to all the Nicoll graves, they had money back in their day and most have fantastic marbled monuments.

Nicoll Monuments
Figure 12: Macvean Family Archives,
Collage courtesy of, https://www.photocollage.com/

After that we went to a little Cafe on Sydney Harbor and had a late lunch and you guessed it, kept talking.

Nield Park Lunch
Figure 13: Macvean Family Archives,
Collage courtesy of, https://www.photocollage.com/

It really was an amazing experience and all of us reported back that we couldn’t believe how everyone just seemed to click.

It certainly has had an amazing effect on me, a physical connection to that history that really to that point has been a digital experience.

Viv and Alan have very kindly invited us to visit them in Scotland, which was going to happen at the end of this year but the Covid 19 pandemic has put that on hold for the moment. Now that the family has been reunited it will happen.

Cousin Viv and Alan
Figure 14: Courtesy of Viv and Alan
Collage courtesy of, https://www.photocollage.com/

This wasn’t the only family reunion 2019 offered up. Backtracking to March when I turned 50 another amazing reunion happened but this time the link was with the Macvean side of the family. This story coming in a future post.

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