Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 41.djvu/23

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Nicholson
Nicholson
17

Street. Retiring about 1821 (he died at Stoke Newington 25 April 1825), he was succeeded by his son, the third John Nicholson (1781–1822). The last-mentioned was the author of two anonymously published plays:

  1. ‘Pætus and Arria,’ Cambridge, 1809; a tragedy, which was announced for performance at Drury Lane on 2 Jan. 1812, but was never acted, and is described by Genest as ‘insipid to the last degree.’
  2. ‘Right and Wrong,’ London, 1812, a comedy.

William Nicholson, a printer of Wisbech, who died in 1792, was a brother of ‘Maps.’

[Gent. Mag. 1792, i. 91, 1796, ii. 708; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iv. 170–1, 376–7; Gunning's Reminiscences of Cambridge, i. 198–200; Genest's Account of the English Stage, viii. 274, x. 230.]

B. P.

NICHOLSON, JOHN (1790–1843), ‘the Airedale poet,’ eldest son of Thomas Nicholson, was born at Weardley, near Harewood, Yorkshire, on 29 Nov. 1790. Receiving an elementary education at Eldwick, near Bingley, whither his family had removed, and at Bingley Grammar School, under Dr. Hartley, he became a wool-sorter in his father's factory at Eldwick, and followed that occupation to the end of his life, allowing for intervals when he was hawking his poems. In 1818 he left Eldwick for Red Bech, working at Shipley Fields mill until 1822, when he removed to Harden Beck, near Bingley. Remaining for a short time at Hewnden, he went in 1833 to Bradford, and was employed in the warehouse of Titus (afterwards Sir Titus) Salt [q. v.] Through life Nicholson spent much time in dissipation. He married his first wife, a Miss Driver of Cote, in 1810, and her death shortly afterwards changed his character for a time, and he became a methodist local preacher. Marrying again in 1813, he gradually resumed his intemperate habits, and had several times to be assisted by friends, as well as by contributions from the Royal Literary Fund. His death, on 13 April 1843, was the result of a cold following upon immersion in the Aire. He is buried in Bingley churchyard. His second wife, by whom he had a large family, survived him thirty years, when she was accidentally burned to death.

Nicholson's first published work was ‘The Siege of Bradford’ (Bradford, 1821; 2nd edit. 1831), a dramatic poem which, along with a three-act drama, ‘The Robber of the Alps,’ he had written for the Bradford old theatre. There were one or two short poems in this work, but it was not until the appearance of ‘Airedale in Ancient Times’ (Bradford, 1825) that Nicholson's claim to rank as a poet was generally recognised. The success of this volume was unique. The whole impression was sold in a few months, and a second edition followed in the same year. The poem, which gained for him the title of ‘the Airedale poet,’ is the best of his larger pieces. It contains some fine descriptions of the scenery of the district and of the various stirring incidents connected with its history. It was followed by the publication, mostly in pamphlet form, of separate pieces, such as ‘The Poacher,’ ‘The Lyre of Ebor,’ &c., which were collected in a complete edition of his ‘Poems,’ with a life by John James, F.S.A., published at Bradford in 1844 (second edit., Bingley, 1876). Nicholson was a comparatively uneducated man; but, despite the consequent defects of expression and composition, some of his minor pieces are gems of their kind, full of originality, grace, and feeling; and the local colouring of his verse has naturally made his name a ‘household word’ in the West Riding.

The best edition of Nicholson's works, giving portrait and photographic illustrations of the text, is that edited by W. J. Hird (Bradford, 1876). His portrait was painted by his friend, W. O. Geller, and a steel engraving of it appears in the editions of 1844 and 1876.

[Lives by John James and W. J. Hird as above; Scruton's Pen and Pencil Sketches of Old Bradford, which gives an illustration of his birthplace; private notes from William Scruton, esq.]

J. C. H.

NICHOLSON, JOHN (1821–1857), brigadier-general, eldest son of Dr. Alexander Nicholson, a physician of good practice in Dublin, was born in that city on 11 Dec. 1821. Dr. Nicholson died in 1830, leaving a widow, two daughters, and five sons. The family moved to Lisburn, co. Wicklow, where Mrs. Nicholson's mother, Mrs. Hogg, resided, and thence to Delgany, where good private tuition was obtained for the children. Nicholson was afterwards sent to the college at Dungannon. His uncle, James Weir Hogg [q. v.], obtained a cadetship for him in the Bengal infantry. He was commissioned as ensign on 24 Feb. 1839, and embarked for India, arriving in Calcutta in July. He joined for duty at Banáras, and was attached to the 41st native infantry. In December 1839 he was posted to the 27th native infantry at Firozpúr.

In October 1840 he accompanied the regiment to Jalalabad in Afghanistan. In July 1841 he went with the regiment to Peshawar to bring up a convoy under Major Broadfoot, and on the return of the regiment to Jalalabad they were sent on to Kabul, and thence