Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 41.djvu/38

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Nicholson
Nicholson
32

attendances at fairs and country gatherings as singer or piper, he turned his attention to theology, and conceived himself specially commissioned to urge in high places the doctrine of universal redemption. In 1826 he visited London, and was much disappointed on failing to secure an interview with George IV. Befriended by Allan Cunningham and other Gallovidians, he had some curious adventures before returning to Scotland in the autumn. He was again in England a year later as a drover. Nicholson died at Kildarroch, Borgue, on 16 May 1849, and was buried in the churchyard of Kirkandrews, Kirkcudbrightshire.

Nicholson's ‘Tales in Verse and Miscellaneous Poems, descriptive of Rural Life and Manners,’ appeared in 1814, with a manly and unaffected preface, in which Hogg is specially thanked for his ‘generous and unwearied attention.’ The second edition, with a memoir by John m'Diarmid, was published in 1828, and a third edition, with new memoir by Mr. M. M'L. Harper, appeared in 1878. Nicholson's highest achievement is the ‘Brownie of Blednoch,’ a charming contribution to ballad folk-lore, which is appreciatively noticed in John Brown's ‘Black Dwarf's Bones’ (Horæ Subsecivæ, 2nd ser. p. 355, ed. 1882). With a befitting air of remoteness, the ballad is memorably weird and vivid in conception and development. ‘The Country Lass,’ ‘The Soldier's Home,’ and others, are faithful and dexterous narratives; while the miscellaneous pieces and the ‘Ballads and Songs’ all indicate an energetic fancy and a poetical and tuneful temper. ‘Will and Kate’ is an appropriate reply to the ‘Logan Braes’ of John Mayne (1758–1836) [q. v.] Several of the songs—such as ‘Dark Rolling Dee’ and ‘Again the Breeze blaws thro' the Trees’—are kindred in spirit with Motherwell's pathetic lyrics, being marked by sympathetic tenderness and graceful melody.

To Nicholson's memory a monument was erected by his brother, John Nicholson, publisher, of Kirkcudbright. John Nicholson (1777–1866) had been a handloom weaver and a soldier, but he found his true vocation in Kirkcudbright as antiquary, local historian, and publisher. He owned the ‘Stewartry Times,’ and he published several works of local importance, especially the ‘History of Galloway’ and the ‘Trades of Galloway.’ He died at Kirkcudbright on 11 Sept. 1866 (Harper, Rambles in Galloway, 1876).

[Second and third editions of Nicholson's Poems, as in text; Harper's Bards of Galloway; Rogers's Modern Scottish Minstrel.]

T. B.

NICHOLSON, WILLIAM (1816–1865), Australian statesman and ‘father of the ballot,’ son of Miles Nicholson, a Cumberland farmer, was born at Tretting Mill, Lamplough, on 27 Feb. 1816. Educated at Hensingham and Whitehaven, he became a clerk to the firm of m'Andrew & Pilchard, fruit merchants at Liverpool, about 1836. Subsequently he went out to Melbourne in October 1841, and set up in business as a grocer. ‘By the sheer force of intellect, energy, and character’ (Kelly) he rose to fortune, developing his business into the mercantile firm of W. Nicholson & Co. of Flinders Street.

In Nov. 1848 Nicholson was elected to the city council of Melbourne for Latrobe ward. Early in 1850 he was created alderman, and on 9 Nov. 1850 became mayor of Melbourne. His year of office was one of the most eventful in the history of the colony, being that of the gold discoveries, and the erection of Victoria into a separate government. Resigning his seat on the corporation soon after his mayoralty expired, he contested the city unsuccessfully in the first election to the mixed legislative council, and in October 1852 was elected for North Bourke. He quickly came to the front in the council. In December 1852 he seconded an unsuccessful vote of censure on the government. During the same session he was elected a member of the committee to inquire into the state of the goldfields, and that upon the Savings Bank Laws. In the following session he was on the committee for revision of the constitution.

It is stated that Nicholson, as mayor of Melbourne, defeated by his casting vote in 1852 a motion in favour of vote by ballot (McCombie), and that in his first address to the electors he had declared himself opposed to the ballot; but he now completely changed his views, and on 18 Dec. 1855, after unsuccessful suggestions to the ministers to adopt the ballot, he moved a resolution to the effect that any electoral act should be based upon the principle of voting by ballot. The ministry made this a test question, and, being defeated by eight votes in a house of fifty-eight, resigned office. Nicholson had previously made arrangements to visit England, which he abandoned with some reluctance on being unexpectedly sent for by Sir Charles Hotham [q. v.], amid popular acclamation. His attempt to construct a cabinet was the first instance of the kind in the history of the colony, and was ultimately unsuccessful, owing to the divergence of views among his supporters. On the governor's death Nicholson abandoned the attempt; but, in spite of this failure, the victory of the