Ref: "The Steel Bonnets" - George MacDonald Fraser (c) 1971

NIXON (or Nicksoun)

Scottish and English. Upper Liddesdale, Bewcastle, Line rivers.

Often described as having many "loose men". Chief branch, Steile.

The sons of Nick were a troublesome breed, and an important part of the Armstrong-Elliot-Nixon-Croser confederacy. Although a smaller and less compact family than the Armstrongs, they were important enough to have Thomsons, Glendennings, and Hunters living "under them", which is another way of saying associated with them. Like other Liddesdales, they sometimes allied with England.
Notables: Fingerless Will Nixon, Archie of the Steile, Ill-drowned Geordie.
Common on West Marches.

Nixon is a sept of two different clans - Armstrong and MacNicol. Technically, though, the Armstrong association is not a sept-clan association, but rather an associated family situation. The Nixons, along with several other families like the Crosiers, Crozers, Fairbairns, and Groziers, lived in the lands controlled by the Armstrong Lairds (which happened to be on the border with England). They rode with them on cattle raids, fought in wars with them, and otherwise served as members of the clan. Over time, Nixons were on both sides of the border with England, and often crossed back and forth, either moving or raiding. During the Highland Clearances, the Armstrong chiefs and their families were hunted down and killed, and the remainder of the families were scattered. Many went to Ireland, and then on to America.

The other group of Nixons, the MacNicol Nixons, lived on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of Scotland. The MacNicols were loosely associated with the MacLeods and the McDonalds at different points. The main MacNicol stronghold was a place called Scorrybreac, the name of which is their war cry. Recently, the MacNicol family associations of the world pooled their money and bought back some of the land, including the castle. The current clan chief lives there now.

If you want more information on either of these clans, or on other clans, check out this web page -

1100 A family of Strathclyde Briton origin before the year 1100. Appears first in the records in Cumberland. (
1273 Henry Nix and William Nix of Oxfordshire mentioned in the Hundred Rolls.
1379 Margaret Nikeson and William Nicson entered in Yorkshire Poll Tax.
1500 Nixon raids.
1514? Fingerless Will et al burning Haltwhistle, Hexham and other villages.
1517 Duke of Albany granted a respite to the Elliots, Nixons and other clans.
1525? The Archbishop of Glasgow's 1500 word "monition of cursing."
1526 Liddesdale lawless. Armstrong-Elliot-Nixon-Croser causing trouble.
1528 They raid Cumberland by night, and kill,kidnap,pillage along the English side. Came to Carlisle by day to buy in the market, drink at the inns.
1528 (Aug) About 30 Nixons & Crosers crossed the frontier into Bewcastle and carried off a small herd of cattle from Thirwall, also kidnapped a tenant of Dacre's. The Warden's men gave chase but were ambushed by hundreds of armed riders (Armstrongs,Elliots,Nixons). At least 40 were taken prisoner. Of these, 11 were cut down on the spot after surrendering!
1542 (Oct) Dand Nixon, a Scottish spy warned Norfolk that James was preparing an attack.
1543 Wharton got the Elliots (assisted by 60 Nixons; 30 English, 30 Scottish) to burn a village near Jedburgh.
1544 Sir Ralph Eure burned Jedburgh. His troops included great numbers of Scottish Nixons & Crosers who had sworn allegiance to Henry. They wore the red cross of St George and helped destroy their own countrymen.
1545 (Feb) Angus & Arran set out south to attack the Crosers, Nixons, Teviotdale renegades. Eure hurried to protect them. Buccleuch's riders & Fife cavalry helped Angus ambush him. The Scottish riders tore off their red crosses and turned on their English allies.
1565 Elliot-Scott feud. 300 Elliot,Croser,Nixons devastated & killed over a wide area of Buccleuch's territory. The Scotts struck back at Liddesdale.
1569 The people of Liddesdale were so bad that the Scottish East & Middle Marches in a memo to the Privy Council, declared themselves enemies to all thieves of Liddesdale, Annandale, Ewsdale, Eskdale and especially to all Armstrongs, Elliots, Nixons, Crosers, Littles, Batesons, Thomsons, Irvines, Bells, Johnstones, Glendennings, Routledges, Hendersons, and Scotts of Ewesdale.(Mar) Moray & 4000 men attacked Liddesdale, devastated the whole valley and destroyed Mangerton. Attacked them again (Oct). Vast numbers of pledges given at Hawick on Oct 20th.
1583 Musgrave's list of English Nixons.
1584 "The Last Years of a Frontier, pp.26-8" muster roll of the English Marches.
1586 (Jul) Scrope records English Nixons at feud with unspecified opponents.
1590 (Apr) A Middle March bill.
1606 The list of declared outlaws had risen to 300 - Armstrongs, Elliots, Johnstones, Kerrs, Irvines, and Nixons for the most part.
1609 (Jul) A mass hanging of thieves taken by Cranston was held at Dumfries, with Dunbar presiding.
1611 List of 38 to hang, others cautioned, about 60 still fugitive. Elliots, Nixons, Armstrongs, Irvines, Johnstones, and even Grahams are among those marked for death, warning and banishment.