Horatius Bonar Macnicol

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In loving memory of the Rev. Duncan Clark MacNicol, B.D., born Lochranze, 14 February 1861, died Sidmouth, 24 February 1910, in the 25th year of his ministry, Minister at Dunipace, Gorbals, Glasgow and Stockbridge, Edinburgh; Horatius Bonar MacNicol, Second Lieut., 1/10 Royal Scots, who was drowned in Bellhaven Bay while attempting to save a comrade on 30 July 1915, aged 19; Emily Florence Bonar, widow of Rev. D. C. MacNicol, born 1861, died 1937.

CWGC: Horatius Bonar MacNicol, 2nd Lieut., Royal Scots 10th Bn, d. 30 July 1915, a. 19; son of the Rev. D. C. and Mrs. E. F. Macnicol of 74, Grange Loan, Edinburgh.

Horatius Bonar MacNicol was born in Glasgow on 13 April 1896, the elder son of the Rev. Duncan Clark MacNicol (1861-1910) and his wife Emily Florence Bonar (1861-1937).  

Duncan Clark MacNicol was a Free Church minister and Emily Florence Bonar was the daughter of Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), Free Church minister in Kelso North from the Disruption until 1866 when he moved to Edinburgh to become the first minister of the Chalmers Memorial or Grange Free Church (now St Catherine’s Argyle) in Grange Road.  

Duncan MacNicol and Emily Bonar married in 1894 and moved from Dunipace to the Gorbals the following year and then to Stockbridge, Edinburgh, in 1904.  Duncan MacNicol died in 1910 as a result of injuries received in a bicycle accident the previous summer leaving his widow with four children – two sons and two daughters – to bring up.  Horatius was educated at Edinburgh Academy 1904-1911 and then at Trent College in Derbyshire. 

Horatius was gazetted a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1/10th Royal Scots in April 1915.  The 1/10th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force was based at East Linton as part of the Coast Defences at North Berwick.  On 30 July 1915 a detachment of the battalion had been bathing at Belhaven Sands, west of Dunbar, when a private named Alexander Watson got into difficulties.  Horatius, who had been a good swimmer while at school and had won prizes for life-saving, went to help him, together with another man, Corporal Rothwell of the Lothians and Border Horse.  Only Rothwell survived.  Horatius’s body was recovered relatively quickly but Watson’s was only picked up by a fishing boat well out to sea nearly two weeks later.

De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919