Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 40.djvu/430

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


in the king's cause. Up to that time he had been Charles's most hearty supporter. ‘There is none,’ Charles had written to the queen on 18 Jan. 1645–6, ‘doth assist me heartily in my steady resolutions but Nicholas and Ashburnham’ (Charles's Letters to the Queen, Camden Soc. lix. 11). On 24 April 1646 Nicholas wrote to Montreuil on the proposition that Charles should take refuge with the Scottish army (Clarendon State Papers, ii. 209 seq.; Egerton MS. 2545; Gardiner, Civil War, ii. 470). Charles quitted Oxford on 22 April 1646, and on 5 May he entered the Scottish camp. The preparations for the flight were concerted, apparently at the last moment, by Ashburnham and Nicholas (Peck, Desiderata Curiosa, ix. 9, 19, 24); but the secretary's private opinion seems to have been that it were better for Charles to stay and perish honourably (ib. p. 20). Eleven days later the king instructed Nicholas to treat for the surrender of Oxford on the terms of the Exeter surrender. Nicholas read the letter to the lords and gentry of the town on 10 June, and the place yielded on the 24th. Under the terms of capitulation leave to go abroad was given inter alios to Nicholas. His passports gave his wife and six servants permission to accompany him (Hoare, Wiltshire, v. 88–96; Egerton MS. 2541, ff. 330, 335).

Nicholas embarked at Weymouth in October 1646, and intended to make his way to Jersey to attend Prince Charles there. On 16 Aug. the king had written to him from Newcastle that he was ‘confident you will be well received there’ (Evelyn, iv. 178). But if he went to Jersey his stay was brief. He ultimately settled at Caen in Normandy. He remained in name Charles I's secretary of state till the king's execution, and subsequently made vigorous efforts to serve Charles I's son in a like capacity. On 24 Nov. 1648 Charles wrote to him from Newport, enclosing ‘a direction to our son on your behalf, to give you that reception and admission to his confidence which you have had with us’ (Evelyn, iv. 184). From Caen Nicholas constantly corresponded with Chancellor Hyde [see Hyde, Edward, Earl of Clarendon] at Jersey (Clarendon, x. 151).

Nicholas left Caen on 8 April 1649 for Havre, en route for Holland (Ormonde Papers, i. 225, 255–8; Nicholas Correspondence, i. 114). He now stoutly opposed Charles's design of hastening to Ireland, fearing that he would capitulate to the catholics, when all things would ‘be managed by the queen, Lord Digby, and Lord Jermyn’ (Ormonde Papers, i. 258, 270–2). He had at first favoured the project as an alternative to the proposals made by the Scottish presbyterians. Throughout his exile he maintained an attitude of hostility to both Scottish presbyterian and Irish catholic.

In May he returned to Caen at Charles's command to await him in France (ib. i. 225). In the middle of the month the queen summoned both Hyde from Jersey and Nicholas from Caen to wait on the prince at the Louvre, ‘though everybody knew his [Nicholas's] presence was no more desired than the chancellor's’ (ib. xi. 23). Hyde met Nicholas, with the old Earl of Bristol and Cottington, at Rouen, and the four lived ‘very decently’ together, waiting instructions from the prince. On finding that the prince had embarked at Calais for Holland, they removed to Dieppe (ib.; {{sc|Peck, Desiderata Curiosa, ix. 48). At the moment of setting out Nicholas was recalled to Caen by a dangerous illness of his wife. On 17 June 1649 he arrived in Paris on a visit to his relative Sir Richard Browne, who still remained chargé d'affaires at the French court. In August 1649 Evelyn met him, Hyde, and Cottington together there (Evelyn, i. 261). In the following month Charles joined his mother at St. Germains, being then ‘strongly resolved’ for Ireland, where he had been proclaimed (Ormonde Papers, i. 295). Nicholas, ‘not having been hitherto employed in, or made acquainted with, any of his majesty's business,’ was desirous of being formally admitted to the council (ib.). Accordingly, in obedience to Charles's command of 11–21 Sept., he waited on Charles in Jersey on 13 Oct. (ib. p. 321; Addit. MS. 4180, f. 10 b). Nicholas read to Charles (31 Jan. 1649–50) a long paper strongly recommending the institution of a sworn council, and defending his own claim to the secretaryship.

Nicholas's honesty and dislike of intrigue had moved the ill-will of the queen (Ormonde Papers, i. 206), and her anger was much increased by his ‘roughness and sharpness’ in pressing Charles II to raise money by selling her jewels (Nicholas Correspondence, i. 156). Her influence led to Nicholas's practical exclusion from the prince's counsels (see Clarendon, Rebellion, xii. 63–5; Nicholas Correspondence, i. 130). Though Charles had promised him the post of secretary at St. Germains, he preferred to employ the queen's private secretary, Robert Long; but gave Nicholas a written promise to enrol a council and establish him as principal secretary of state ‘so soon as we shall dismiss Robert Long from our service’ (14–24 Feb. 1649–50; Evelyn, iv. 191, 194). The diplomatic struggle at Jersey ended in the triumph of the Scottish over the Irish proposal, Nicholas ‘and all the