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Inventory of the Nicoll Family Papers, 1801-1933
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Additional Related Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Nicoll Family Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1801-1933
    Creator: Nicoll Family
    Extent: 3 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The collection was donated to the Library by Barbara Lee Van Holt in July, 1998.


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Nicoll Family Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Biographical Note

    The Nicoll family was a prominent family of New Haven Con., related, by marriage, to the families of Deall, Bishop, Lynde, Law and Palmers.
    The founder of the Nicoll family was Matthias Nicolls (1626-1687), a noted jurist, who came to America in 1663 and became the provincial secretary of New York. The first generations of the Nicolls lived in New York.
    In 1778, John Nicoll (1756-1831) married Jane Deall of Brunswick, Long Island. On April 30, 1784, the couple moved to New Haven, Conn. with their children Elizabeth Deall and Augustus. Their second son Charles was born in New Haven in 1797.
    Elizabeth Deall married John Hart Lynde, and, after his death, became the third wife of Abraham Bishop (1763-1844), a noted politician and educator. Charles Nicoll married Caroline Bishop, daughter of Abraham Bishop and his second wife, Elizabeth (Betsy) Law. In 1828 Abraham Bishop built for the newlywed couple the house at 13 Elm St. New Haven, Con. Charles and Caroline Bishop Nicoll had five children - Elizabeth Law Nicoll (1829-1909), John (1831-1909), Charles Edward (1838-1916), Cornelia Bishop (1835-1904), and Caroline Bishop (1837-1866). Cornelia Bishop and Caroline Bishop attended the Young Ladies' Collegiate Institute in New Haven. Caroline died in 1866, reportedly of smallpox. Cornelia Bishop Nicoll and Elizabeth Law were not married.
    Charles Edward Nicoll married Mary Ann Palmer (1842-1880). The Palmer family of New Haven Conn. was founded by Francis Richard Palmer (1777-1853), the only son of Lord Joseph Palmer of Lambert in Surrey, England. As he married "beneath" his social station, Francis Richard Palmer was disinherited, the money going back to the Crown. His friend, an aristocrat, came to his rescue and made him "Master of Hounds" of his estate in England. Following the death of Francis Richard Palmer, his widow, nJe Henrietta Sophia Smart, came to New York with her eight children. Her son Francis Richard Palmer (1809-1895) married Martha Louise Doolittle (1818-1880) of New Haven. The Palmers had three daughters - Mary Ann, Elizabeth, and Eleanore. Elizabeth Palmer became a teacher. Mary Ann's first marriage to Wesley J. Randall ended in divorce in March 1861; her son from this marriage, Francis Palmer Randall, later took the last name of his stepfather.
    In the early 1870's Charles Edward and Mary Ann Nicoll moved to Minneapolis, Min. They had had five surviving children -- John Edward (1867-1908), Edward Bishop (1868-1962), Caroline Louisa (1781-1936), Charles Joseph (1876-1919), and Mary Elizabeth (b. 1878). After Mary Ann Palmer Nicoll, died in 1880, Mary Elizabeth (Mary) and Caroline Louisa (Carrie) were in care of their aunt, Elizabeth Law Nicoll. Caroline Louisa Nicoll married Francis Bland of Wobrun, Mass. in 1912. Charles Joseph and his wife Della Victoria Welchel lived in Napa and San Francisco, but in 1901 had to move north, due to lack of job and a "labor fight" in San Francisco. In 1909, Charles Edward Nicoll moved to California.
    Edward Bishop Nicoll moved to California in the 1880's. In 1889-1923 he was Vice-President and treasurer of Carl Entenmann Jewelry Co. in Los Angeles, and in 1923 opened a sole retail jewelry business. In 1899 he married Emma Matilda Walter, "a native of Germany;" the couple had one daughter, Florence Edna (b. 1912). He was ex-sergeant of Signal Corps 1st Brigade of National Guards, an active member of the Turnverein Germania, and president of Pasadena Glen Improvement Association.

    Scope and Content

    The collection numbers 119 pieces of letters and manuscripts and 150 pieces of photographs and ephemera. It has been fully cataloged and available for research.
    Letters, manuscripts, documents, photographs, and ephemera. Family and business correspondence of John Nicoll, Charles Nicoll, Charles Edward Nicoll and Edward Bishop Nicoll. The Nicoll family papers depict the evolution of the home and family life throughout the nineteenth century, details of the business activities, maintaining a home, child rearing, and leisure, especially thought and activities of married women.
    The collections contains a note signed by Samuel Bishop, the collector of the port of New Haven. He appointed his son, Abraham Bishop, an ardent supporter of Jefferson, a deputy collector. In 1801 President Jefferson removed the Federalist collector of the port and assigned the place to Samuel Bishop. As his father was in feeble health, it was generally considered that the appointment was in effect that of Abraham himself, a reward for political services.
    The letters of John Nicoll contain his business correspondence, and the letters to his son, Charles Nicoll, who was attending Middlebury college in Vermont, and later worked in New York. His business correspondence contains a letter from John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), in which the famous financier inquires after certain transactions with John Nicoll and John Ebbits, husband of John Nicoll's niece Sarah Nicoll Woodland (b. 1774).
    The letters of Charles Nicoll to his wife describe construction works on canals in Montague and Greenfield, Mass., where he worked in the 1830-40's. In his letter of Feb. 27, 1858, William Law wrote to Charles Nicoll: "Kansas affairs seem to get deeper and deeper... Gov. Walker has been bought and thus forfeited any claim to honour and honesty ... I look however for better times -- in Missouri they are coming up to the help of free soil and Freedom - in Russia they have taken a good stand and they speak out like honest men for freedom."
    Letters written by Mary Ann Palmer Nicoll to her relatives and friends in New Haven - Martha Loiusa Doolittle Palmer, sisters Eleanore and Elizabeth Palmer, and others, contain family news, description of domestic and social life, and also poems written by Mary Ann Palmer Nicoll.
    The papers of Edward B. Nicoll include his business and private correspondence, and the journal of the automobile trip that he undertook with his wife in August of 1909 from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The letters of Charles Edward Nicoll of 1909-1911 contain reflections on aging, comparisons between the life in the Midwest and California..
    The collection also includes the family scrapbook and photographs of Los Angeles and Long Beach in 1910-30's. Among the photographs are pictures of the aftermath of the earthquakes in San Francisco April 13, 1906 and Long Beach in March 3, 1933, and the costumed balls staged by the Los Angeles Turnverein in 1920's.
    Ephemera include a Catalogue of the Instructors and Pupils in the Young Ladies' Collegiate Institute New Haven, Con. During the Year Ending August, 1849. (New Haven, William H. Stanley, Printer, 1849), and issue of The Mother's Assistant and Fireside Miscellany (Boston, C. Stone & Co.,) 1855, Vol. X, No. 4., an issue of American Friend, a newspaper published in Marietta, OH (Nov. 19, 1819), and a membership card to an "Aloha Beach Club".

    Additional Related Information

    • A copy of the genealogical chart of the Nicoll family is available at the library. The original is the property of Barbara Van Holt.
    • A data base containing records for all items, with full subject indexing is available for consultation at the Department of Manuscripts.