Whats in a name ?
"The Scottish surname, Nimmo ( also found as Nemock) is ultimately of Latin origin, and it arrived in Scotland in the Fifteenth century from France. The surname traces it's root to the Latin word "nemo" meaning "no-one" or "nobody" and was a nickname for one whose parentage was obscure or who was found abandoned. The nickname frequently came to be used as a forename for such a "son of the abandoned one" or "son of Nemo". In France the surname is traditionally associated with the Seine Inferieure, whence it spread to West Lothian in Scotland, probably through the activities of Scottish soldiers of fortune who served in the French Army against England. For many years it was believed that the Nimmos were descended of French Huguenots who settled in Scotland after the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572. However, records show that the surname is documented at Liston over a century earlier; one Johannes Newmoch was a juror on assize in the town in 1459 and appears in the manuscripts of Edmonstone of Duntreath. In 1490 one Agnes Nemoch was married and is noted in the "Scottish Antiquities", while in 1587 one Alexander Nemok was a witness in Glasgow recorded in the archives of the City. One Alexander Nemo was retoured heir of John Nemo de Mydilmount in Kylestewart in 1616, one Marion Nimoke was married in Edinburgh in 1618 and one James Nimmo, a covenantor, fought at Bothwell Bridge in 1679."
There are variations on the surname the further back you go and it is accepted wisdom that you may interchange "Nimmo" with "Newmoch"; "Nemock"; "Nimmons""Nimock", "Nimok", "Nimoch", "Nemoch", "Nemok", "Nemock","Nimoke" and similiar variations, the idea being that the various surnames have common ancestors and that in days gone past the spelling of a surname varied between individuals depending on their education
It was believed that the Nimmos originally came to Scotland as French Protestants following the St Bartholomew massacre of 1572. This was the belief of George F Black a writer on surnames in an attempt to support his theory that the surname derived from a place in France called Ne Mot . As you can see from the above, there were Nimmos in Scotland before 1572 and it is probable that movement of people is not so defined that there will not be a gradual perhaps sporadic appearance of a partciular surname although this may be supplemented by short sudden migrations from one area to another. At this time, Scotland and France were natural allies in the "Auld Alliance" against England.
The probable appearance of Nimmos in Stirlingshire derives from a Sir Bernard de Neufmarche who was one of William Conqueror's Norman nobles and a possible half brother. He took lands in Wales and his descendants took the surname Newmarch before some of those descendants settled in Scotland. One John Newmoch who bought lands in Stirlingshire in 1459. His descendants may have altered the surname along the way to Nimmo. Tenuous in modern day buit plausible given the varation in spelling prevelent at that time and the evoluntion of names.
Nimmos & The Landed Classes
There is an instance of a Nimmo or two marrying into local nobility suggesting that there were of sufficient standing to warrant favourable marraiges in the social system of the days gone by. Henry, third lord Cardross's grand daughter Mary married a James Nimmo. Around 1690 a Patrick Nimmo married the daughter of the second son of John Sandilands, 4th Lord Torphichen .
Alexander "the elder" christened 1768 was described on some documents as a "portitioner" ie someone who inheritted a share of land amongts other co-heirs. There are legal documents held in the Stirling Commissary Court records for a James Nimmo dated 22nd October 1722 who is described as a portioner of Crownerland, parish of Muiravenside Stirling Commissary Court . Even earlier is a document relating to Margaret Nimmo dated 5th May 1636, spouse of George Airthor, portioner of Balquhatstaine, parish of Saint Lawrence ( St Lawrence was the old name for the parish of Slamannan where some of our predecessors lived )
There is mention too of a Nimmo Family of Bridgehouse in the records of Torpichen and grave stones dating from 1645 - 1701. Apparently several were ministers suggesting that this Nimmo were not peasants. Indeed, one minister of the Nimmo surname gained some respect as a naturalist & historian . Rev William Nimmo was minister of Bothkenner and published in 1777 a History of Stirlingshire. He was also responsible for writing the parish entries for Slamannan and Muiravonside in the Statistical Accounts of Scotland. ( There is an entry in the links page below where you may read this document on line.)
There would appear to be a concentration of Nimmo families in Stirlingshire which goes back as early as any other area but which appears in greater frequency than in other "hot spots" in Edinburgh, Carriden and Ayrshire. There is evidence that the Ayshire Nimmo "clan" sired by a Claud Nimmo who married in 1764 ; a Nimmo in Linlithgow marrying in 1699 ; A James Nimmo who was christened in 1688 in Torpichen ; a William Nimmo who married in Carriden in 1794 ; A Nimmo family resident in Edinburgh by 1720.
Robert Burns & Nimmo
The Nimmo not only appear to have cultured connections with the landed classes but also the arts. A Miss Erskine Nimmo lived in Alison's square in Ediburgh and was an acquentance of Robert Burns the poet. She is described in a letter of 1787 from Mrs M'Lehose to Robert Burns as follows....." 'Miss Nimmo can tell you how earnestly I had long pressed her to make us acquainted. I had a presentiment that we should derive pleasure from the society of each other.' and in another letter as 'lineally descended from 'My Uncle Toby'; has hopes of the Devil, and would not hurt a fly'. Apparently Burns saw Miss Nimmo on a number of occasions on visiting Edinburgh but she did not cede to his to his request that she accompany him on his visit to Harvieston.
The Nimmo wanderings are not limited to within Scotland. Like many Scots, we get fed up with the rain, poverty and the the prebyterian society and left to start a new in a land of plenty or two. One Thomas Nimmo emigrated to Ontario in the early 19th Century, another Andrew Nimmo came to Australia in 1874 on the "Roxburghshire" from Stirlingshire. Another Nimmo family from Strathaven also moved to America. Some of the first settlers in America were James Nimmo who settled in Virginia in 1716; John Nimmo settled in New England in 1772; and Archibald Nimmo settled in Philadelphia in 1864
Nimmo & Slaves
Not only do the Nimmo families seem to have connections with landed gentry and emigration to the new world, there is evidence that at least some were not adverse to using their wealth to purchase slaves. There is a record of a ship "Pravo", a brig captained by John H Cousins which called at the port of New Orleans on 14th April 1838 carrying a 14 year old black slave called Paul Nimmo, presumably having been given the surname of his owner at one time. There is also an archive record of a letter from a James Nimmo to James Young concerning the slave Sam,property of Phineas Dana (1763?1808) of Norfolk. This later record is one of a collection concerning the mercantile career of the said James Young.
The Nimmo Murder & "The White Lady"
There is a record of an murder committed by one Christian Nimmo, the neice of her victim, James Baillie of Torwoodhead and Lethan, second lord Forrester in 1679. The second lord forrester was by all accounts an unfortunate individual who having stood against Cromwell by calling on all men in Mid Lothian to stand against the English, was fined by Cromwell in 1654 and his estates over run by English soldiers. The debts he incurred led to his estate income passing primarily to his creditors with the result that he retired to the Black Bull pub in Corstorphine where he was said to spend most of his time. He had "carried on an intrigue" with his neice by marraige and on 26th August 1679, she sought him out having called at Corstorphine Castle to be told that he was in the Black bull alehouse. He, having heard that she was looking for him left the Black Bull and their paths crossed beneath a sycamore tree which stood at the gate to the Old Parish Church at the east end of the high street. There they quarrelled ( she was apparently a fiery character who carried a sword beneath her gown ) and she stabbed him with his own sword. The story does not end there though for although she was tried in Edinburgh on 28th August 1679 and sentanced to be executed, she escaped from imprisonment on 29th September 1679 dressed as a man only to be recaptured the next day. She was beheaded at the cross of Edinburgh on 12th November that year and is said to haunt the sycamore tree where the murder took place known locally as "the white lady".
Whether the above event had anything to do with a William Nimmo, Taylor in West Calder being indicted for rebellion along with other tennants of Lord Torpichen for "rising in rebellion and being at the fight at pentland hills" is not known and I cannot determine as yet the date of that fight.
Witches, beer & Ghosts
Perhaps the story of this mudrer created an intrinsict mistrust of women amongst Nimmo men such that it may have motivated one Robert Nimmo of Carriden who in 1704 accused an Anna Wood of being amongst a group of six witches who had chased him home along the Carriden shore. The local church Kirk session tried her in her abscence and were swayed by Robert's evidence that he had witnessed her changing form from a cat to a person and from a bird to a person. She fled the area and was never seen in Bo'ness again. More likely, a fondness of alchahol motivated Robert as it did for other Nimmos in another way.
There was a brewery run in Castle Eden by a Nimmo Family which is now a hotel and which claims to be the location of sightings of ghostly figures resembling the Mr William Nimmo who built his home there in 1828 and who owned and ran the brewery which produced "Nimmo's Ale" and "Castle Eden Ale". The brewery ran for 200 years and was taken over in the 1960s by Whitbread. His home has been used as a coaching inn, courthouse, jail and presently is run as a hotel.
Nimmo at War
The Casualty List of British officers and soldiers in the 2nd Afghan War (1878-1880) records on Lieutenant Colonel Nimmo of 28th Bombay N.I. died of "severe wounds" on 16th August 1880.
"On 9/10 April 1944 a 103 Squadron Lancaster ND420/PM-G when returning from a mine laying operation to Danzig Bay was shot down by a night fighter. It crashed into the hospital garden in the township of Brande, Central Jutland, Denmark. (3 Lancaster's of 460 Sqd. were lost over Jutland that night). In the crew of seven in ND420 were 6 Australians and a Scotsman. Two of them, the airgunners, baled out to land safely. Pilot of the Lancaster was P/O James Andrew Harold NIMMO, A401638. After the war his father, Major General R.H.Nimmo, GCO Northern Command Headquarters, Victoria Barracks, Brisbane, wrote to rear gunner K. Clohessy, W.A. asking for information regarding the air fighting. He would be pleased if Clohessy could provide such as, quote: "that would be of great interest to me and also my daughter". I would very much like if this daughter of general Nimmo can be found as since the un-veiling last April 10th on the 55th anniversary of a memorial stone on the crash site with names of the lost air crew and the publication of the ceremony that took place a per-sonal item which belonged to Jim Nimmo has come to light. The committee that collected the means and arranged the erection of the stone would very much like to obtain Nimmo's sisters address (or that of relatives) in order that this item (a wristwatch with the name Nimmo inscribed) will end in the hands of the family where it rightly belongs. In the unfortunate case that none of the family can be traced this item will remain in the Brande museum where it is placed for safekeeping"
Another story from the second world war tells of a Ralph E. Nimmo born May 26,1923 who died Sept. 7, 1944. He was killed in Jauche, Belgium. Nimmo first was wounded, then the Germans returned to finish him off. First buried in Belgium; later reinterred in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Nimmo is honored in Jauche every year in September on the date of his death. He was the first American soldier to be killed in the liberation of the town. The townspeople took his body and laid it "in state" for a day, covered with wreaths and flowers. When a military officer came to take Nimmo's body to a military cemetery, "the townspeople, led by the mayor, begged him to let them bury Nimmo in their own cemetery, saying he was their hero," according to a letter the chaplain wrote the family. When the officer said that wasn't possible, the mayor took down Nimmo's name and vowed to erect a monument in his memory.
There are some items held in Kinross Museum that were donated in 1873 by a Captain Alex Nimmo of Westbank Falkirk ; a Zulu knobkerry and a South American Indian spear. There is one other example of a charitable donation of sorts by a Nimmo which I have found, that of the Nimmo Bursary, a two-year Bursary for students donated by a Dr J R Nimmo and administered by the President of The Old Southportonians' Association at The Southport School. It is awarded at a rate of $3,000.00 each year for two years for students who intend to pursue a career with a medical or science degree. In memory of my own Father, South Lanarkshire Council award "The Donald Nimmo Memorial Sheild" donated by the family, to the best child's garden each year in the area.
Nimmo & Entertainment ( of sorts )
Derek Robert Nimmo was born in Liverpool on 19th September 1930 and achieved some fame in mainly light weight roles in Uk Film and television. He died on 24th February 1999 having contracted Pneumonia having fallen at home on 2nd December 1998. Julie Nimmo of East Kilbride ( no relation ) has made some success of her career through comic appearances in "Chewin' the fat" and is a regular on Radio Scotland's Fred McCauley show. There is a Nimmo Cheer Leader, one Claire Nimmo who hails from Craigend and is a "Scottish Rockette".
Nimmo the author
The Narrative of Mr. James Nimmo (1654-1709) written for his own satisfaction to keep in some remembrance the Lord's way dealing and kindness towards him, ( also described as "An Account of God's Providence in My Life" , edited by his descendant, WG Scott-Moncreiff (1889), is a characteristic record of the religious experiences of a devout Covenanter. This is not the same James that fought at Bothwell Bridge.
Nimmo & Sports
There is a Lance Nimmo who plays left tacle for West Virginia University grid iron team. Scotland produced a Pamela Nimmo who started playing squash at the age of 10 and progress to one of the top 15 squash players before deep vein thrombosis brought on by frequent transatlantic flights forced her into leaving squash until her recovery was complete.
Nimmo the location
There is a "Nimmo Bay" in British Colombia in Canada which is the location for a tourism resort specialising in adventure holidays and helicopter fishing trips into the wild.
(C) 2004 J Nimmo. All Rights reserved.