Copyright (C) 2020 by Patrick's People all rights reserved Updated 12 September 2020
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NISBET, William
(About 1819-)
HAIMES, George Hairdresser, DNA Linked
(About 1806-)
TAIT, Helen (DNA Linked)
NISBET, Alexander Sandilands (DNA Linked)
HAIMES, Isabella (DNA Linked)
(About 1840-0005/1890)
NISBET, William


Family Links

1. CURRAN, Sarah

2. CALDWELLS, Margaret

NISBET, William 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

  • Born: 11 May 1860 at 2.30 pm, Newtonport, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland 3 4 8
  • Marriage (1): CURRAN, Sarah on 30 July 1880 in North Esk Manse, Inveresk, Edinburgh, Scotland 1
  • Marriage (2): CALDWELLS, Margaret on 31 December 1886 in 2 Greenhill Place, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Died: 17 September 1915 at 1.00 am, Longmore Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland

   Cause of his death was malignant disease of the bowel over 1 year.

  General Notes:

When William was born in 1860 it was his father 'Alex. Sandilands Nisbet' who gave notice of his son's birth before Thomas Henderson, registrar, on 21 May 1860 at Haddington, signing his name as noted here.

William Nisbet was recorded by the 1861 census for his birthplace Haddington, East Lothian, when he was just 11 months old, living in Market Street with his parents, Alexander and 'Isebella' Nisbet. Side by side with them lived William's uncle George and Aunt Jane Haimes with their three children: Eleanor, aged 5 years, Alison aged 3 years, and George Haimes, aged 3 months. William's father was a moulder by trade and his uncle George a tailor. William's uncle, George Haimes, was the brother of 'Isebella'.

The 1871 census for the civil parish of Edinburgh High Church, in the registration district of St Giles, recorded William Nisbet aged 10 years, the eldest child of five children living with their parents at 1 Milne Square in the centre of Edinburgh. The census entry noted that William was a scholar and had been born in Haddington.

On 4 June 1880, William Nisbet and Sarah Cairns were witnesses at the marriage, in Haddington, of William's cousin, Eleanor Haimes, to Sarah's brother, Hugh Curran. In July 1880 William Nisbet married Sarah Cairns.

William and Sarah Nisbet's first child, Rebecca, was born at Inveresk on 29 August 1880. On 16 September 1880 William Nisbet, who had been present where the birth occurred, gave notice before the registrar at Musselburgh of his daughter's birth. He stated that his occupation was journeyman plumber, and that he and his wife, Sarah Cairns, had been married on 30 July 1880.

The 1881 census for the civil parish of St Cuthbert's Edinburgh, the registration district of Newington, recorded William and Sarah Nisbet and their 7 month old daughter, Rebecca, living at 11 Davie Street, Edinburgh. William was recorded as aged 20 years, and as having been born in Haddington. He was a plumber by occupation.

1882 was a catastrophic year for William Nisbet. It started well. On 9 February 1882 Sarah Nisbet gave birth to their second daughter, Isabella. However, before the child was more than a week old, and before her father had time to register the baby's birth, Sarah Nisbet's health had taken a turn for the worse. On 16 February 1882 Sarah died. On the same day, William went to the registry office to give public notice both of the birth of his daughter Isabella, and of the death of his young wife Sarah.

Widowed in his very early twenties, William Nisbet remarried in 1887 to Margaret Caldwell. With this marriage was to come a new family in the years that followed.

In June 1890 William's father, Alexander Sandilands Nisbet, died. Then, a few months later, in December 1890 Isabella Nisbet, William's mother, died. William, of 1 Buccleuch Street Edinburgh, gave notice of the death of his mother Isabella before the registrar at Edinburgh, H. Murray, on 11 December 1890.

The 1891 census for the registration district of St Giles in the civil parish of St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh recorded William Nisbet living with his second wife, Margaret, and three children at 1 Buccleuch Street. The three children were William's daughter, Rebecca, from William's earlier marriage, and Alexander and Nelly from his marriage with Margaret. William was recorded as 30 years of age and had been born in Haddington. He worked as a plumber. His daughter Isabella Nisbet was not included in this census entry.

When William Nisbet's son William was born in 1894, William was the informant of the child's birth, and was recorded as a plumber by occupation.

By 1901 William Nisbet was 40 years of age and head of a household of seven people living at 31A Minto Street in the registration district of Edinburgh Newington in the civil parish of Mayfield. In addition he had two adult daughters from his previous marriage resident elsewhere. He was a plumber, 'working on own account' as the census entry notes. William was recorded as having been born in Haddington. The rest of the household comprised Margaret Nisbet, William's second wife, and five of their children aged from 12 years to 3 years.

William Nisbet' daughter Rebecca married in 1904 and his daughter Isabella in 1906. He was recorded as a plumber in both marriage certificates. Between them, they made William a grandfather many times over.

The census of 1911 for Newington, Edinburgh, recorded the Nisbet family living at 291 Causewayside. William Nisbet, born in Haddington, was recorded as aged 50 years and a plumber-employer. His wife Margaret, also born in Haddington was aged 48 years. They had been married for 24 years, and Margaret had given birth to nine live children, seven of whom were still living. Six children were living in the household, all of whom were single and born in Edinburgh: Alexander, aged 22 years, employed as a plumber; Nellie aged 20 years, of no recorded occupation; William aged 17 years, employed as a tinsmith; Mary aged 13 years, George aged 9 years and Margaret aged 7 years, all at school.

In 1915 William died. His death certificate recorded him as 'William Nisbet aged 56 years plumber married to Margaret Caldwell'. His usual residence was noted as 39 Causewayside. His parents were deceased. His mother's name was mistakenly, but not unusually so for death certificates, rendered as 'Janet Nisbet maiden surname Haimes'. His son Alexander from his second marriage was the informant and would have been a very young child when Isabella Nisbet nee Haimes, his grandmother, died in 1890.

In the 1921 marriage certificate of his son William, William Nisbet was recorded as a "Plumber (deceased)".

When William's daughter Rebecca died in 1964, her son William Bell was the informant of her death before the registrar. By then both of his grandparents were already deceased. He stated that his grandfather William Nisbet had been a 'plumber (master)'. 1 2 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

  Research Notes:


William was born in Haddington, about eighteen miles east of Edinburgh, and his first child was born in Inveresk, eight or nine miles east of the capital, but for most of his adult life William Nisbet lived very centrally at several different points of a roughly two mile length of Edinburgh that stretched from Lawnmarket to Minto Street.

Milne's Square, designed 1684-8, where William lived as a boy of ten with his family, formerly stood in the High Street opposite the Tron Church. It was demolished in 1890 to allow for the widening of the North Bridge. Robert Mylne bought up the old tenements and closes fronting the Lawnmarket, demolished those to south and centre, forming the square.

In the 1880s he lived, as a young adult, and grieved as a husband, in Davie Street, quite near Brown Street where his parents, and probably, later, his second daughter Isabella, lived. Both streets were situated in Newington very near to Queen's Drive and Holyrood Park.

1 Buccleuch Street, where a 30 year old William Nisbet lived with his second family, was further south from the centre than Davie Street, between Clerk Street and George Square, but was almost certainly a flat in a tenement block, Edinburgh style. As with other parts central of Edinburgh inhabited by William, Buccleuch Street's plan and image never stays still. The city constantly designs, makes, redesigns, and remakes itself as decades pass. It is not a tourist's Edinburgh. It is the Edinburgh of cafes, restaurants, shops and tradesmen.

Minto Street was further south again but still less than two miles from Princes Street. From Princes Street, you would head across North Bridge to reach Minto Street. Number 1 Minto Street was situated at the junction of Newington Road going in to Minto Street, and Salisbury Place and Salisbury Road intersecting. Historic Scotland's listed building report for number 2 Minto Street states that it adjoins number 1 and describes its layout:

Information Supplementary to the Statutory List...
Map sheet: NT27SE Category: C(S) Date of Listing 14-DEC-1970
Early 19th century with later 19th century additions. 2-storey, 3-bay classical house; single storey wing with additional later storey to S. Base course; dividing band course; cill course to 1st floor windows; cornice and blocking course.
W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: doorway to outer left; panelled door; plate glass fanlight; doric columns to corniced doorpiece; single window above. 4-light, painted, canted window to ground floor outer right; stylised anthemion cast-iron railings to parapet; single windows to remaining bays and to 2-storey wing.

Plate glass, timber, sash and case windows; 4-pane to 2-storey wing. Grey slate piended roof; coped, mutual stack to N; coped, rendered wallhead stack to S; moulded cans.

INTERIOR: not seen 1995.
BOUNDARY WALLS: low, coped boundary wall to street; higher, rubble, mutual walls; replacement railings.
Adjoins No 1 Minto Street (see separate list entry).

Crown copyright, Historic Scotland."

By 1901 when William and Margaret Nisbet and their five children lived there, William was 40 years old, a plumber who was 'working on own account' as the census entry has it. The rather genteel air of Minto Street matches this stage of his life and career. Still quite near to The Meadows and Holyrood Park, it was a good choice for a successful man with family commitments. For the 21st century visitor it offers an abundant variety of accommodation in the form of hotels and guesthouses, but with a little imagination one can transport oneself to a decorated and festive Minto Street of 1903 when the newly crowned King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra road along that very street in their coronation coach to the hysterical delight of the onlookers.

In the latter part of his life William Nisbet remained in or close to Minto Street. But he did move just a little towards the heart of Edinburgh. He died in Longmore Hospital in Salisbury Place, a hospital set up in 1875 for people with incurable illnesses, almost on the junction with Newington Road. His death certificate states that his residence then was 39 Causewayside, about five minutes walk from Minto Street along Salisbury Place. Causewayside runs parallel with Newington Road on one side and Sciennes on the other. So, in the middle of a great city, William Nisbet found his last silence.

  Medical Notes:

The cause of death was certified by R. H. Blaikie MD.

Alexander Nisbet, son of the deceased, who had been present, gave notice of his father's death on 17 September 1915 at Edinburgh before James Craig, registrar. The informant's address was noted as 11 Ratcliffe Terrace Edinburgh.

William married Sarah CURRAN, daughter of Hugh CURRAN OR CAIRNS (DNA Linked) and Rebecca ADAMS (DNA Linked), on 30 July 1880 in North Esk Manse, Inveresk, Edinburgh, Scotland.1 (Sarah CURRAN was born 19 March 1860 at 3.00 am in Esperston Lime Works, Borthwick, Midlothian, Scotland and died 16 February 1882 at 0.25 am in 11 Davie Street, Edinburgh, Scotland 15.). The cause of her death was puerperal fever over 3 days.

  Marriage Notes:

The marriage took place after banns according to the forms of the Established Church of Scotland at Inveresk Manse. The minister of North Esk Parish Church, Henry Moncrieff MacGill, conducted the service. The witnesses were Thomas Carnes [sic] and Maggie Wood.

William Nisbet, a plumber journeyman, aged 20 years, was an unmarried man resident at 5 Brown Street, Edinburgh.

Sarah Cairns worked as a housekeeper. She too was unmarried and aged 20 years, of Millhill, Musselburgh.

The marriage was registered on 3 August 1880 at Musselburgh.


William next married Margaret CALDWELLS, daughter of James CALDWELLS and Margaret CAIRNS, on 31 December 1886 in 2 Greenhill Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Margaret CALDWELLS was born on 7 December 1862 in Market Street, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland 3 10 16 and died 10 August 1936 at 1.00 am in Eastern General Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland 10 17 18.). The cause of her death was cerebral thrombosis.

  Marriage Notes:

The marriage took place after banns according to the forms of the Church of Scotland. The Minister of Lady Yester's Church, Charles McGregor, presided. The witnesses were G. Nisbet and Ellen Caldwell.

William Nisbet was a widower of 26 years living at 5 Brown Street Edniburgh. He worked as a plumber.

Margaret Caldwell was a domestic servant and unmarried. She was aged 24 years and of 19 Mayfield Gardens Edinburgh.

The marriage was registered on 6 January 1887 at Edinburgh, R. W. Charlton being the signing registrar.


1 GRO Scotland, Marriage certificate Edinburgh/Inveresk 1880 July 16.

2 GRO Scotland, Marriage certificate City of Edinburgh Newington district 1906 Nov 29/daughter Isabella.


4 GRO Scotland, Births Haddington 1860 no 79.

5 Old Parish Registers, St Nicholas Parish Aberdeen Baptisms 1662.

6 GRO Scotland, Newington Edinburgh Marriages 1921.

7 GRO Scotland, Newington Edinburgh Births 1894.

8 GRO, Newington Edinburgh en d 25 page 8.

9 GRO Scotland, Death certificate RDS 685/5 No 145 Edinburgh/Newington 1882/wife.

10 GRO, Edinburgh St Cuthbert's St Giles reg dist 685/4 en d 67 page 2.

11 GRO Edinburgh (2002), Newington Midlothian 685/5 en d 81 page 5 31A Minto Street.

12 GRO Scotland, Marriages Morningside Edinburgh 685/6 no 51 1904.

13 GRO, Haddington 709 en d 6 page 17 Market Street.

14 GRO Scotland, Marriages Haddington 709 no 13 1880.

15 GRO Scotland, Death certificate RDS 685/5 No 145 Edinburgh/Newington 1882.

16 GRO Scotland, Haddington East Lothian Births 1862.

17 GRO Edinburgh (2002), Newington Edinburgh 685/5 en d 81 page 5 31A Minto Street.

18 GRO Scotland, Leith Edinburgh Deaths 1936.

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