Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2

William Nicol 1747-1797

Teacher of the The High School

William Nicol was one of the teachers of Latin in the High School. No one knows how or when the two men first met. Though a good teacher Nicol, because of his irascibility, was no favourite in Edinburgh society, and he does not feature among the lists of celebrities and friends whom Burns met at Edinburgh parties and whose names he recounted in his letters. But on 1st June 1787, Burns, on his Border tour, addressed his only surviving letter in Scots to 'Kind honest hearted Willie'. Nicol accompanied Burns on his Highland tour when, by Nicol's wish, they travelled in a chaise. He proved a tiresome travelling companion, for when Burns was invited to dine at Castle Gordon, Nicol, piqued at having been kept waiting at Fochabers inn before being invited to join the party, insisted on pressing on with their journey immediately, if necessary alone.


Burns called one of his sons William Nicol, because, as he told George Thomson in a letter of May 1795, of: 'that propensity to witty wickedness and manfu' mischief, which even at twa days auld I foresaw would form the striking features of his disposition....'