Select Nichols Miscellany

Here are some Nichols/Nicholls stories and accounts over the years:

The Nicoll Inscriptions in Islip Church, Northamptonshire

John and Ann Nicoll, 1467

"Here lies John Nicoll and Ann his wife
They had twelve children in their life
Six sons, six daughters, they had over
Three sons went to London to work, to learn
To his children he was full kind
May God in heaven maybe it find
He was a good man to God and to holy Church
For he caused many good deeds there to work
His soul has passed to God in full even
The year our our Lord 1467
On whose soul God have mercy
Amen for charity."

Matthias Nicoll who died in America in 1687

"The screen together with the stalls and reredos were erected by Delaney and Benjamin Nicoll of New York in the year 1911 to commemorate their ancestor Matthias Nicoll who as secretary for the Duke of York’s expedition departed to America in 1664 and after the capture of New Amsterdam became Mayor of New York in 1671, Speaker of the First Colonial Assembly, writer of the Duke’s laws, and died on December 22, 1687 and was buried at Manhasset, Long Island."

The Nicholls of Trereife in Cornwall

These Nicholls date back to 1590 when William Trereife married Elizabeth Fleming at Madron in 1590 and their oldest son assumed the name of William Nicholls.  The family resided at Trereife House on the outskirts of Penzance. 

John Nicholls, a successful London barrister in the early 18th century, rebuilt the house into the mansion which stands today.  There is a plaque to him in Madron church:

“Near this place in the grave of his fathers whom he honoured lies interred the body of John Nicholls of Trereife esquire, who being born in the year of our Lord 1663 was sent to London in the year 1680 and having served a laborious clerkship was in 1688 sworn as one of the Clerks of the High Court of Chancery.  Having with great industry and integrity increased the paternal estate of his family, he was in the year 1705 called to the Bar by the Middle Temple.  Having for some years practiced with success there, he retired to the seat of his ancestors and, having made many improvements, departed this life the 3rd day of August 1714 in the 53rd year of his life.”

His nephew Frank, born in 1699, practiced medicine in Cornwall and later became physician to George II.  Frank’s son John went on to become an MP and took the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds.

The Nicholls line at Trereife ended when William Nicholls, also a London barrister, died unmarried of the ossification of the joints in 1815 at the age of  28.

London's Harvey Nichols Store

In 1831 Benjamin Harvey opened a linen shop in a terraced house on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street in London. The business passed onto Harvey's daughter on the understanding that she went into partnership with a Colonel Nichols, selling Oriental carpets, silks, and luxury goods alongside the linens. 

Their Knightsbridge store was opened in 1880 and Harvey Nichols position as an upmarket department store began.  In 1919 Harvey Nichols was bought out
by Debenham.

Nichols and Nicholls Worldwide

Nicholls is more common in England, Nichols in Americe.  They following are estimated numbers today.

Numbers (000's)

The Nichols of Rhode Island

Most of the Nichols families of Rhode Island are descended from Thomas Nichols, the first of that name to settle in the state.  He married Hannah Griffin in Newport in 1659 and they raised a large family. 

Where Thomas came from is unclear.  Reference can be seen in the literature to two brothers, Thomas and Edmund, from Llandwit Major in Glamorgan who escaped the turmoil of the English Civil War
in their own boats, heading first for Barbados and then for New England.  It is hard to know what truth there is to the story.

It does seem that much confusion and mischief was caused by the publication in 1919 of a monograph titled Origins of the Nichols Family by Leon Nelson Nichols, an 8th generation descendant of the first Thomas Nichols of Newport, Rhode Island.  He was a librarian in the New York City Library system and availed himself of the resources of the library to pursue his family research interests. 

In this monograph, he discussed his supposed findings on the European origins of his family.  He found various historical connections to documented individuals and families of prominence in Britain, including:
1) the Nichols family at Llandwit Major in Glamorgan
2) the first Norman bishop at Llandaff, Wales (Urban)
and 3) a chieftain of Normandy (Nigel or Niel Aubigne). 
He further embellished his tale by using documents and books which did not refer to the Nichols family at all. 

Most of this research was exposed as a fraud by George Louis Nichols in a forward to the 1988 revision of his book A Nichols Genealogy, which he entitled: “Nichols Family History as Told by Leon Nelson Nichols is a Fairy Tale.

The Death of Rowland Nichols in Kerr County, Texas

The following report appeared in Bob Bennett’s book Kerr County 1856-1956.

“In 1859 there lived five miles above Kerrville a settler named Rowland Nichols. One evening, he went out about a mile from home to kill a turkey. When he failed to come back at night the family became alarmed and the neighbors were notified.

Daniel Adolphus Rees, first county clerk of Kerr County, was one of those who responded, but nothing could be done until morning. In company with others, Rees followed the trail of the missing man up a draw to a point about one mile from his home. Here the trail turned abruptly in another direction and the plain trail of numerous Indian tracks told the tale.  Nearly a mile from this point the body of Nichols was found against a tree.

Nichols had halted there and got the tree between himself and the Indians. The tracks showed that the pursued man had circled around the tree repeatedly; the bark was raked from the tree all around where he had held to it with both hands in a vain endeavor to keep the trunk between himself and his foes.  The settler had one arrow in the breast and one arrow and one bullet wound in the body.  The bullet and arrow had first struck the left arm about halfway between the elbow and shoulder and then penetrated the body not more than a half-inch apart.

Going back to the spot where the Indians sign was first discovered, it was evident that here was where the settler had received the arrow in his breast from ambush. The prints of his knees were in the sandy soil where he had come down to either fire his rifle, or from the shock of his wound.  If from the latter, he dropped his gun without firing, but recovered and ran to the spot where the body was found.  His gun was discovered after a search, covered up in the sand where the Indians had left it. The gun was still loaded.” 

Despite Rowland’s death the Nichols family proliferated in and around Goat Creek Road in Kerr county and have frequently held reunions.

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