Nicholson, Thomas Joseph (DNB00)

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NICHOLSON, THOMAS JOSEPH (1645–1718), the first vicar-apostolic of Scotland, son of Sir Thomas Nicholson of Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, by Elizabeth Abercromby of Birkenbog, Banffshire, was born at Birkenbog in 1645. Having devoted himself to literary pursuits, he was chosen one of the regents or professors of the university of Glasgow, and he held that office for nearly fourteen years. In 1682 he joined the Roman communion, and proceeded to Padua. Afterwards he studied theology for three years, and in 1685 was admitted to holy orders. In December 1687 he returned as a missionary priest to Scotland. At the revolution in November 1688 he was apprehended, and, after being in prison for some months, was banished to the continent. For three years he was confessor in a convent of nuns at Dunkirk. In May 1694 the Congregation De Propaganda Fide resolved that a bishop should be appointed to govern the Scottish mission, and on 24 Aug. in that year Nicholson was nominated bishop of Peristachium in partibus infidelium, and the first vicar-apostolic of all Scotland. He was consecrated at Paris on 27 Feb. 1694–5. In November 1696 he came to England, but was apprehended in London immediately on his arrival, and kept in confinement till May 1697. On his liberation he proceeded to Edinburgh, and entered on the exercise of his episcopal functions, which he discharged without much molestation for upwards of twenty years. During his latter years he resided generally at Preshome, in the Enzie, Banffshire, where he died on 23 Oct. (N.S.) 1718. He was succeeded in the vicariate-apostolic by James Gordon (1664–1746) [q. v.], bishop of Nicopolis.

[Blakhal's Brieffe Narration of the Services done to Three Noble Ladyes, pref. p. xxviii; Brady's Episcopal Succession, iii. 456; Catholic Directory, 1894, p. 60; London and Dublin Weekly Orthodox Journal, 1837, iv. 82; Stothert's Catholic Mission in Scotland, p. 1.]

T. C.