Hunter Nicols
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Our pioneer ancestor was Andrew Hunter Nicol, born lst March, 1829 in Leslie, Scotland where his father was the Minister for the Scots "Kirk on the Green".  His mother, Eliza Hunter was a 'close relative' of the famous Hunter family in Scotland which produced two prominent medical people.  One was Dr. Wm. Hunter, Obstetrician to Queen Anne and founder of the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University; the other was John Hunter, surgeon, sometimes regarded as the 'father' of modern surgery, and founder of the Museum at the College of Surgeons in London - which museum incidentally he began with $5 borrowed from the King's Bookseller, George Nicol!

Andrew and his brother William sailed from Leigh on the 7th May, 1849 and arrived in Port Phillip, Australia where Andrew became a pilot at Gelibrand Point for the princely sum of 816d a year.  He was also attracted to the Victorian gold fields, and with his cousins discovered some gold.  William did not stay in Australia and died in New Zealand in 1855.  He was a school teacher and his father had high hopes he too would enter the ministry because he left his books and watch to him on condition he became a Minister.  Andrew married Ellen Lewis, an Irish lass, who had migrated in 1853 and who went into service with her brother-in-law in Geelong.  Their first two children James and John were born there in 1858 and 1860.  However, the lure of the new state of Queensland was too much and by September 1861, when their third son William was born, they were at Melangol Station near Banana, in Central Queensland, having travelled North in the old paddle steamer "Shamrock".   Although some mention is made of Andrew's helping with the rescue of the "Dunbar" in NSW, hard evidence of their time there is hard to find.

Charles was born in November 1864 at Gladstone, Lewis  in 1867 at Bowen, Eliza at MacKay in September 1869 and Margaret in August 1872 at Bowen.  As can be seen, the family was very mobile in the early years, whilst Andrew was establishing himself in the farming and dairying industries.

Andrew was an early pioneer in the attempts to establish a cotton growing industry in North Queensland.  His father-in-law owned a cotton mill in Scotland; the American civil war would have been having an effect on cotton supplies and it appears that Andrew and others were attempting to meet the new demand for the fibre.  He finally settled in Bowen where his occupation was with the carrying trade and he plied the route from Bowen to Muttaburra in Central Queensland.  During his latter years he lived on a property he named "Leslie" and he and his wife both died in 1911 within about ten days of each other.

Of his children James, William and Lewis all married daughters of George Hayward, a dairy farmer at Muttaburra.  James and William carried on their father's carrying trade before going into partnership in the establishment of a sugar cane farm near Proserpine, following the government's invitation for tenders to take up land for the purpose of developing the sugar industry.   They were also at least partly responsible for the setting up of the local saw mill to provide timber for the expanding housing industry and had contracts to bring the machinery for the new sugar mill from the nearby port of Bowen.  In 1897, their brother Charles, who worked at the sugar mill, was killed at Kelsie Creek in an accident involving a small steam locomotive.  This type of engine was used for pulling cane trucks running on light temporary railway lines laid around the farms during the crushing season.  Their brother John was also working in the area as Shire 'engineer' and was heavily involved in the establishment of the first government school at Proserpine in 1896, as shown by copies of letters held in the state archives.   In 1907, William sold his share in the farm to James and, in partnership with his brother-in-law Jack Hayward, took up a grazing property "Hillview" near Muttaburra  and a cattle property, "Ulcanbah" to the south. The partnership was dissolved about 1917 with the Hayward family retaining "Ulcanbah" and the Nicols, "Hillview", which remained in the family until 1951.

Many of Andrew and Ellen's descendants remained on the land with interests in the sugar, wool, cattle and wheat industries.  Five members of the Hunter Nicol family are also members of the Queensland Branch of Clan MacNicol.

Anyone wishing to comment on this presentation or having information about the history or family connections of the Hunter Nicols, please clickB HunterNicolFamily to send an e-mail or phone (07) 33761503.  Your suggestions for improvements to any part of this web site will be most welcome.