Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 41.djvu/33

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Nicholson
Nicholson
27

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.

NICHOLSON, WILLIAM (1591-1672), bishop of Gloucester, the son of Christopher Nicholson, a rich clothier, was born at Stratford St. Mary, Suffolk, on 1 Nov. 1591. He became a chorister of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1598, and received his education in the grammar school attached to the college. He graduated B.A. in 1611, and M.A. 1615. He was a bible clerk of the college from 1612 to 1615. In 1614 he was appointed to the college living of New Shoreham, Sussex. He held the office of chaplain at Magdalen from 1616 to 1618. He was also chaplain to Henry, earl of Northumberland, during his imprisonment in the Tower, from 1606 to 1621, on suspicion of complicity in the gunpowder plot, and was tutor to his son, Lord Percy. 'Delighting in grammar,' in 1616 he was appointed master of the free school at Croydon, 'where his discipline and powers of instruction were much celebrated.' He held the post till 1629, when he retired to Wales, having been presented to the rectory of Llandilo-Vawr, in Carmarthenshire, in 1626. In 1644 he was made archdeacon of Brecon. The year before he had been nominated a member of the assembly of divines, probably through the interest of the Earl of Northumberland, but he speedily withdrew, together with the greater part of the episcopalian clergy (Neal, Puritans, iii. 47). When deprived of his preferments by the parliament he maintained himself by keeping a private school, which he carried on in partnership with Jeremy Taylor [q. v.] and William Wyatt [q. v.], afterwards precentor of Lincoln, at Newton Hall ('Collegium Newtoniense'), in the parish of Llanfihangel, in Carmarthenshire. Heber says 'their success, considering their remote situation and the distresses of the times, appears to have been not inconsiderable ' (Heber, Life of Jeremy Taylor, vol. i. pp. xxvi, cccxiii). Wood speaks of 'several youths most loyally educated there, and afterwards sent to the universities.' One of these was Judge John Powell [q. v.], 'who bore a distinguished part in the trial of the seven bishops' (ib.) How long this scholastic partnership lasted is uncertain, but it came to an end long before the Restoration. Meanwhile, like his friend Taylor, he actively employed his pen in the defence of the doctrine and discipline of the church of England, and in illustration of her teaching. His 'Exposition of the Apostles' Creed' and 'Exposition of the Church Catechism' were both written for the instruction of his former parishioners at Llandilo.

At the Restoration Nicholson returned to his parish, and resumed his former preferments, to which was added a residentiary canonry at St. Davids. In 1661 he was consecrated bishop of Gloucester by Sheldon, bishop of London, and Frewen, archbishop of York, on 6 Jan., in Henry VII's chapel. He is said to have owed his appointment to Lord Clarendon, whom Wood maliciously insinuates he had bribed with 1,000l. (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iv. 825) . Such a charge, however, is entirely inconsistent with all we know of Nicholson's character; his 'unshaken loyalty and bold and pertinacious defence of the church during its most helpless and hopeless depression had given him strong and legitimate claims on the patronage of the government' (Heber, Life of Taylor, p. cccxiii). Nicholson himself, in the preface to his 'Exposition of the Church Catechism,' with greater probability ascribes his promotion to Sheldon. The revenue of the see being small, he was allowed to hold his archdeaconry and canonry together with the living of Bishops Cleeve in commendam. He preached in Westminster Abbey on 20 Dec. 1661, at the funeral of Bishop Nicolas Monk, brother of the Duke of Albe-