It was in the village of Calbost, South Lochs, in the island of Lewis, that Donald Nicolson first saw the light of day, as did his parents before him. His father, Murdo Nicolson, served in the Royal Navy and, as a result of enemy action, was lost at sea in 1916. He left eight of a family, of whom the youngest was then not yet born. Donald, born in 1911, was the third youngest and would have been five years of age when his father’s death occurred. Bringing up a large family could not have been easy for the war-widow but, whatever the hardship, it was accomplished. Two sons died while still young; the remaining four sons and two daughters all reached maturity. When Donald died on 11 February 2001, he was the last member of that large family to go the way of all the earth. Both his father and his mother were communicant members in the Free Church.
At an early age Donald found employment as a fisherman and followed the fishing not only in Lewis but also on the east coast of Scotland, as was customary at that time. (It might be said that his interest in fishing continued throughout his life and even in his late eighties, when he had the opportunity, he was wont to go out lithe-fishing in his little dinghy which was moored at Calbost.) It would appear that while still a teenager he began to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and, although nothing is known of his spiritual experience at the time, it would appear that he came to a saving knowledge of Christ early in life and made a public profession while still in his early twenties. Around 1938 he became a lay-preacher or missionary and as such served in many places. As the Free Church missionary in Applecross he made the acquaintance of the well-known and highly-respected John MacAulay who, at that time, was our Church’s missionary in that area. He also spent some time in Dundonnell, Tiree, and Grimsay in North Uist, but eventually, in 1947, he applied to be received as a student and, having been accepted, he began his studies for the ministry in the Free Church College, Edinburgh. There he apparently proved himself to be an excellent student and it appears that he had a special aptitude for Hebrew studies, being awarded the prize in that subject. After completing his studies and after licensing, he was appointed an assistant to the Rev Kenneth A MacRae in the Stornoway congregation.
It is somewhat perplexing to us that Mr MacRae continued to support the Free Church’s constitutional position vis-