[Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute; Quarterly Musical Magazine, 1823; Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 1824; Hogarth's History of the Philharmonic Society; Grove's Dictionary of Music.]
NICHOLSON, CHARLES (1795–1837), flautist and composer, son of Charles Nicholson, flautist, was born at Liverpool in 1795. Trained under his father, he went to London when quite young, and soon gained a position in the front rank of flautists. On the foundation of the Royal Academy of Music in 1822 he was appointed professor of the flute, and soon after became principal at the Italian Opera. He played also at Drury Lane and at the Philharmonic Society's concerts, where several of his compositions for the flute were performed from 1823 to 1842. As a soloist he was much engaged, both in London and the provinces, but, owing to improvident habits, was in the end reduced to absolute poverty. He died in London on 26 March 1837, having been supported in his illness by Messrs. Clementi and Messrs. Collard. His father greatly increased the tone of the flute by enlarging the finger-holes, and the son still further improved the instrument. He had some talent for composition, but was imperfectly educated, and had often to obtain the aid of professional musicians in arranging his works. His best original composition is the ‘Polonaise with “Kitty Tyrell,”’ and his ‘Complete Preceptor for the German Flute’ (London, cir. 1820) was at one time extensively used. A complete list of his compositions, including concertos, fantasias, solos, and other pieces, all for the flute, is given by Rockstro (p. 614).
NICHOLSON, Sir FRANCIS (1660–1728), colonial governor, obtained a commission in the army as ensign 9 Jan. 1678, and as lieutenant 6 May 1684. He subsequently complied with the requirements of James II by kneeling when mass was celebrated in the king's tent at Hounslow. When, in 1686, the whole body of colonies north of Chesapeake Bay were formed into a single province under Sir Edmund Andros [q. v.], Nicholson was appointed lieutenant-governor, and remained at New York to represent his superior officer. Although in other situations in life he displayed considerable intelligence and a fair share of energy and executive power, it cannot be said that he showed any of these qualities during his term of office in New York. In the spring of 1689 the news of the revolution reached New England, and the men of Boston rose and deposed Andros. Nicholson contrived by indiscreet language to fall out with the commander of the New York militia, and to excite a belief that he was meditating violent measures of retaliation. The people, headed by Jacob Leisler, a resolute, illiterate brewer of German origin, rose and took possession of the forts at New York. Nicholson, feeling possibly that his position as lieutenant-governor was not one of full responsibility, took ship for England. A commission to him was actually on its way from the newly established sovereigns William and Mary. In the absence of Nicholson this fell into the hands of Leisler. Thus Nicholson's flight was largely the cause of the subsequent troubles, ending in the execution of the rebel leaders.
In spite of this failure Nicholson was appointed lieutenant-governor of Virginia in 1690, and his discharge of that office forms perhaps the most creditable part of his colonial career. He devoted his energy with no little success to the foundation of a college, named in honour of the sovereigns the College of William and Mary, to the establishment of schools and to the improvement of the condition of the clergy. He contributed 300l. to the first of these objects. In all these matters he was aided by James Blair, who had been appointed commissary for Virginia by the Bishop of London. Nicholson's despatches at this time are full of interest. In two important matters he thoroughly anticipated the colonial policy of the next century. He urged on the English government the necessity of seeing that the colonists were adequately supplied with commodities, especially with clothing. Otherwise, he thought, they would no longer devote themselves exclusively to tobacco-growing, but would manufacture, and so compete with the English producer. He also urged the need for an effective union of the colonies against Canada. Nicholson no doubt had many faults. He was passionate, high-handed, and a loose liver. But no public man saw more clearly the need for a vigorous policy against Canada, or dinned it more emphatically and persistently into the ears of the English government.
In 1694 Lord Howard of Effingham, the titular governor under whom Nicholson was deputy, died. The post was conferred, not on Nicholson, but on Andros. Nicholson and his friends resented his neglect. It was deemed expedient to remove him from the colony altogether, and in January 1694 he was appointed governor of Maryland. Here his good fortune deserted him. Maryland, founded by a Romanist proprietor, had now become largely imbued with nonconformity and whiggery. Nicholson, a churchman, a tory, and a rake, was wholly unacceptable, and the State Papers are full of his disputes with the colonists and their attacks on him.
In 1698 he returned to Virginia as governor.