Charlotte Nicol

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Charlotte Nicol
Picture kindly supplied by the Nicol family.
Mrs Nicol's obituary in the Shetland Times.

Charlotte Nicol neé Stuart (b. 1864, Montrose, d. 25 November 1954, Breiwick Hospital, Lerwick) was a teacher and the first woman to ever be elected onto the highest level of Local Government in Shetland, representing the Lerwick Town Council between 1933 and 1937.


Charlotte was a native of Banffshire, and upon leaving school became a teacher. She taught in Banff, Abedeen and Fraserburgh until she married Alexander Bisset Nicol (b. 1864, d. 14 November 1905, Yarmouth) who was a member of the firm Smith & Schultz, a fishbroker and herring merchant firm. Alexander was reported missing on 17 November 1905 while on business with the firm in Yarmouth, and his body was located a month later in the Breydon water.

Returning to teaching in 1896, Charlotte taught at Braemar and Helhevie where she was headmistress for four years. She then took up residence in Lerwick, where Alexander had conducted some of his business, and started teaching at the Lerwick Central School on 19 January 1908, and continued until her retiral on 22 August 1928.

She and Alex had two sons, Charles Robert Stuart Nicol (b. 7 October 1891, d. after 1950) who became a banker in Canada and Alexander Bisset Nicol (b. 1893, d. 27 August, 1917, France). The latter son died from injuries sustained during the attack on Frezenberg, east of Ypres, during the subsequent operations from the Battle of Langemarck.

Political Career

Elected in 1933 as the first female ever elected to a position in Shetland, she was a member of the Education Committee, as well as the Food Control Committee and Price Control Committe. She was a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland and a member of that Council.

The Shetland Times obituary described her as a "vigorous and outspoken critic, a very-well informed woman" who was "forthright and emphatic in the expression of her views" doing so in "a frank and fearless manner"

At the 1933 meeting of the Ratepayers Association, Charlotte Nicol stated that she was standing in the 1933 Town Council election as a "woman representing women". The Shetland Times, reporting on the event and the prospect of the first potential female Town Councillor described the 1933 election as "an opportunity to put women's rights at the front".

She was successfully elected twice, at the 1933 and 1935 Lerwick Town Council election.

Political Career

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