Dr. Alexander Murray Nicolson, High Commissioner of North America has passed away

Clan MacNicol is greatly saddened by the sudden death of Dr. Alexander Murray Nicolson, Chieftain of Clan MacNicol and High Commissioner for the Americas. We have lost the single most important founding figure of our Clan Society who dedicated over thirty five years of his life to the Clan in North America, Scotland and worldwide. Without him, very little would have happened. Without his efforts, the Clan lands of Scorrybreac would not have been obtained.

Murray, as he was known to his friends, passed away on Saturday, April 1, 2023 surrounded by his beloved family. He was 84 years old. Murray was born in Edinburgh, Scotland the son of the late James and Anne Nicolson. He leaves his wife Barbara, and son Edward and his wife Valerie and their three children Eleanor, Walter, and James. His home was in Concord, Massachusetts.

Murray was a graduate of Edinburgh University earning his BSc and PhD in Electrical Engineering. After a period of time at the Radar Research Establishment in England, where he met Barbara, the married couple emigrated to the USA where he worked for General Electric. After a year, Murray changed jobs to work at Sperry Rand Research center before completing his career with Instron Corporation, both in the U.S.A. and the U.K. At Instron Murray led the development of a new generation of materials testing machines.

Murray had many interests including sailing, music, amateur radio, and, most importantly, his Scottish heritage. He built and sailed a mirror dinghy, completed sailing certificates, and sailed around the Chesapeake Bay. He adored classical music concerts, including outdoor concerts at Tanglewood and the Hatch Shell in Boston. He supported many musical organizations, including Indian Hill Music in Groton. Murray obtained a ham amateur radio license and enjoyed communicating with other radio operators all over the world.

Murray’s strong interest in genealogy and the origins of his Nicolson ancestry led him to dig through many church archive records in Scotland back to the 1700s in an attempt to trace his family roots back to the Nicolsons of Portree on the Isle of Skye. While researching this genealogy Murray became aware of land up for sale near the town of Portree that was destined to be developed with housing. The land was near the ancestral home of the Clan MacNicol chief, Scorrybreac. Working with locals and benefactors in the USA Murray was able to have the land purchased and put into trust, thus creating the Urras Clann MhicNeacail. (https://clanmacnicol.org/lands-scorrybreac ) Since the creation of the trust, the lands have been popular with locals and tourists alike for walking and sight-seeing. Murray also earned the ranks of Sennachie, Chieftain, and High Commissioner for the Americas allowing him to wear two eagle feathers in his cap.

Murray’s enjoyment of music and dancing led him to become a certified instructor for the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Murray and Barbara enjoyed weekly dancing with the local dance groups and especially enjoyed New Year’s Eve dances, with many of their hosted after-parties lasting well into the wee hours of New Year’s Day.

Murray was also very active with St. Anne’s in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, serving on the vestry and working with parishioners on many capital and improvement projects, outreach to the greater community, and support for families overseas. Murray will be greatly missed for his adept wit, generosity, and dedication to doing the right thing for others. Services will be held at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church on April 11th, 2023 at 11am with reception to follow. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the St. Anne’s in-the-Fields Episcopal Church.