National Records of Scotland

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Nicol Smith (1873-1905)

Nicol Smith (1873-1905)

Footballer

Nicol Smith was a lace weaver in Ayrshire who played for local football teams. He was a talented defender and capped at junior international level. In 1893 he joined Glasgow Rangers Football Club (FC) as a professional player. He eventually made 205 appearances and helped them to win their first Scottish Cup as well as all their matches in the 1898/1899 season. This was followed by league championship wins from 1900 to 1902. Nicol Smith played for Scotland 12 times and captained the side twice. His career was cut short by his untimely death. His son, John, followed in his footsteps, playing for Aberdeen.

Birth in 1873

Nicol Smith was born at 8:00 am on 25 December 1873, the son of Alexander Smith, muslin weaver, and Margaret Muir. The entry in the statutory register of births for the parish of Loudoun in the County of Ayr gives his place of birth as East Main Street, Darvel. Although he was born in 1873 this entry is indexed under 1874 because the birth was registered on 12 January of that year. The statutory indexes are for year of registration not year of birth.

Birth entry for Nicol Smith

Birth entry for Nicol Smith (53 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1873/603/6

1881-1891 censuses

In 1881 Nicol Smith, 7, scholar, was enumerated at Uplawmoor with his family. The census return for the parish of Neilston in the County of Ayr shows the household included his three younger brothers and that their places of birth were Darvel, Govan and Neilston. His father's occupation was recorded as police constable.

1881 census return for Nicol Smith

1881 census return for Nicol Smith (53KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1881/572-1/5, page 22

In 1891 Nicol Smith, 17, lace weaver, was enumerated at 8 Burnbank in Darvel with his family. The census return for the parish of Loudon in the County of Ayr show that his father and brothers were chenille and carpet weavers.

1891 census return for Nicol Smith

1891 census return for Nicol Smith (65 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1891/603/9, page 42

Marriage in 1894

Nicol Smith, 20, lace weaver, married Annie Lochore on 13 April 1894. The entry in the statutory register of marriages for the parish of Loudoun in the County of Ayr gives the place of marriage as Brown's Institute in Darvel after the forms of the Evangelical Union Church. His brother, James, was one of the witnesses.

Marriage entry for Nicol Smith

Marriage entry for Nicol Smith (95 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1894/603/11

Death in 1905

Nicol Smith, professional football player, died at 06:00 am on 6 January 1905, aged 31. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for the parish of Kilmarnock in the County of Ayr gives the cause of death as typhoid fever, haemorrhage. The place of death was The Infirmary and his usual residence is recorded as West Donnington Street, Darvel. The entry also shows that he was a widower - Annie Smith had died on 20 December 1904 of the same disease. His father, a night watchman, and mother were both still alive. His father was the informant of the death.

Death entry for Nicol Smith

Death entry for Nicol Smith (58 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1905/597/9

Testament of 1905

Nicol Smith died intestate leaving an estate worth £1,049, 15 shillings (s) and 2 pence (d). This would be in the region of £82,500 in today's money (based on The National Archives currency converter) which is modest compared to the wealth of top modern footballers. The inventory was registered at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court. It includes shares in Rangers FC and some that he had held in trust.

Detail from inventory for Nicol Smith

Detail from page 208 of the inventory for Nicol Smith (71 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC7/28/2, pages 208-210

1911 census

In 1911 Nicol Smith's five orphaned children - Alexander, James, Nicol, John and Jeanie - were enumerated with their grandmother, Margaret Smith, at 68 East Main Street in Darvel. The census return for the parish of Loudoun in the County of Ayr shows that the two older boys were working as apprentice card cutters for local lace manufacturers.

1911 census return for the children of Nicol Smith

1911 census return for Nicol Smith's mother and children (87 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1911/603-2/5, page 14