Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nichols, John Gough
NICHOLS, JOHN GOUGH (1806–1873), printer and antiquary, eldest son of John Bowyer Nichols [q. v.], was born at his father's house in Red Lion Passage, Fleet Street, London, on 22 May 1806. Richard Gough [q. v.] was his godfather. He went to a school kept by a Miss Roper at Islington, where, in 1811, Benjamin Disraeli, his senior by eighteen months, was a schoolfellow. From 1814 to 1816 he was educated by Dr. Waite at Lewisham, and in January 1817 he was placed at Merchant Taylors'. At an early age he kept antiquarian journals and copied inscriptions and epitaphs. He went with his father to the meetings of the Royal Society and Society of Antiquaries, and corresponded with the author of the ‘Curiosities of Literature.’ In 1824 he left school for the counting-house in the printing offices of his father and grandfather. His first literary work was in connection with the ‘Progresses of James I’ of his grandfather, John Nichols (1745–1826) [q. v.], which was completed and edited by young Nichols in 1828, two years after the author's death.
From about this time to 1851 he was joint editor, and from 1851 to 1856 he was sole editor, of the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ and, besides contributing many essays, compiled the very useful obituary notices. His first separate publication—on autographs—was issued in 1829. The following year he visited Robert Surtees in Durham, and made a Scottish tour. On the foundation of the Surtees Society in 1834 he was elected one of the treasurers. In 1835 he became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and was afterwards its printer. The following year he was chosen a member of the committee of the Royal Literary Fund, and all his life devoted much attention to its affairs. He was one of the founders of the Camden Society (1838), and edited many of its publications; the ‘Athenæum’ says (22 Nov. 1873), ‘There is scarcely a volume among the long series which does not bear more or less marks of his revision.’ In 1862 he printed a ‘Descriptive Catalogue’ of the eighty-six volumes then issued. A new edition of the ‘Catalogue’ appeared in 1872. One of the most important books from the press of Messrs. Nichols was Hoare's ‘Wiltshire;’ to this great undertaking Nichols contributed an account of the ‘Hundred of Alderbury’ (1837). In 1841 he made an antiquarian tour on the continent. He was an original member of the Archæological Institute (1844). In 1856 ill-health compelled him to resign the editorship of the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ and the property was transferred to John Henry Parker for a nominal consideration. Nichols was then able to devote himself to the publication of the ‘Literary Remains of Edward VI,’ printed by the Roxburghe Club, 1857–8. He gave a general superintendence to the new edition of Hutchins's ‘History of Dorset,’ undertaken by William Shipp in 1860. He had long contemplated the establishment of a periodical which might continue the work he had relinquished in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’ This took shape in the ‘Herald and Genealogist,’ of which the first volume appeared under his editorship in 1862. His love of obituary-writing caused him to found the short-lived ‘Register and Magazine of Biography’ in 1869. In 1870 he undertook to edit a new edition of Whitaker's ‘Whalley,’ of which the first volume appeared in 1871.
He died at his house, Holmwood Park, near Dorking, Surrey, after a short illness, on 14 Nov. 1873, aged 67. He married, on 22 July 1843, Lucy, eldest daughter of Frederick Lewis, commander R.N., and had one son, John Bruce Nichols (b. 1848), and two daughters. The son's name was joined in 1873 to those of his father and uncle as printers of the ‘Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons.’ A portrait of Nichols at the age of twenty-four is contained in a family group in water-colours, by Daniel Maclise (1830). A medallion, representing him and his wife, by L. C. Wyon, was struck in commemoration of their silver wedding in 1868.
Nichols was the third in succession, and not the last, of a family which has added to the unblemished record of a great printing business an hereditary devotion to the same class of learned studies. The following list of separate publications, particularly those issued by the Camden Society and the Roxburghe Club, include many valuable contributions to the materials of English history and topography. His heraldic and genealogical researches are of great importance. As president of the Society of Antiquaries, Earl Stanhope testified to the loss of Nichols as making ‘a void which it is no exaggeration to call irreparable as regards the particular line of inquiry to which he devoted himself’ (Annual Address, 1874).
His works are: 1. ‘Autographs of Royal, Noble, Learned, and Remarkable Personages conspicuous in English History from Richard II to Charles II, accompanied by Memoirs,’ London, 1829, large 4to. 2. ‘London Pageants:’ (1) ‘Accounts of Sixty Royal Processions and Entertainments in the City of London;’ (2) ‘Bibliographical List of Lord Mayors' Pageants,’ London, 1831, 8vo (also 1837). 3. ‘Annals and Antiquities of Lacock Abbey, Wilts,’ London, 1835, 8vo (with W. L. Bowles). 4. ‘The Hundred of Alderbury,’ London, 1837, fol. (with Sir R. C. Hoare; it forms part of ‘Modern History of South Wiltshire,’ vol. v.). 5. ‘Description of the Church of St. Mary, Warwick, and of the Beauchamp Chapel,’ London , 4to (seven plates; an abridgment in 12mo was also published). 6. ‘Ancient Paintings in Fresco discovered in 1804 on the Walls of the Chapel of the Trinity at Stratford-upon-Avon, from Drawings by T. Fisher,’ London, 1838, fol. 7. ‘Notices of Sir Rich. Lestrange’ (in W. J. Thoms's ‘Anecdotes,’ Camden Soc., No. 5, 1839). 8. ‘The Unton Inventories relating to Wadley and Faringdon, Berks, 1596–1620,’ London, Berkshire Ashmolean Soc. 1841, 4to. 9. ‘The Fishmongers' Pageant on Lord Mayor's Day, 1616; “Chrysanaleia,” by Anthony Munday [q. v.], in twelve plates by H. Shaw, with Introduction,’ London, 1844, large fol.; 2nd edit. 1869. 10. ‘Examples of Decorative Tiles sometimes called Encaustic, engraved in facsimile,’ London, 1845, 4to. 11. ‘The Chronicle of Calais in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII to the Year 1540,’ London, 1846, 4to (Camden Soc. No. 35). 12. ‘Camden Miscellany,’ London, 1847–75 (various contributions to vols. i. ii. iii. iv. and vii.). 13. ‘The Diary of Henry Machyn, 1550–63,’ London, 1848, 4to (Camden. Soc. No. 42). 14. ‘Pilgrimages to St. Mary of Walsingham and St. Thomas of Canterbury, by Des. Erasmus, newly translated,’ London, 1849, sm. 8vo; 2nd edit. 1875. 15. ‘Description of the Armorial Window on the Staircase at Beaumanor, co. Leicester,’ London, privately printed , 8vo. 16. ‘The Literary Remains of J. S. Hardy, F.S.A.,’ London, 1852, 8vo. 17. ‘The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Q. Mary,’ London, 1852, 4to (Camden Soc. No. 48). 18. ‘Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London,’ London, 1852, 4to (Camden Soc. No. 53). 19. ‘Grants, &c., from the Crown during the Reign of Edward V,’ London, 1854, 4to (Camden Soc. No. 60). 20. ‘Literary Remains of Edward VI, with Notes and Memoir,’ London, 1857–8, 2 vols. 4to (Roxburghe Club). 21. ‘Narratives of the Days of the Reformation chiefly from the MSS. of John Foxe,’ London, 1859, 4to (Camden Soc. No. 77). 22. ‘Catalogue of Portraits of Edward VI,’ London, 1859, 4to. 23. ‘The Armorial Windows erected in the Reign of Henry VI by John, Viscount Beaumont, and Katharine, Duchess of Norfolk, in Woodhouse Chapel, by the Park of Beaumanor,’ 1859, 4to and 8vo (privately printed). 24. ‘The Boke of Noblesse addressed to Edward IV, 1475, with Introduction,’ London, 1860, 4to (Roxburghe Club). 25. ‘Notices of the Company of Stationers,’ London, 1861, 4to. 26. ‘A Descriptive Catalogue of the Works of the Camden Society,’ London, 1862, 4to; 2nd edit. 1872. 27. ‘The Family Alliances of Denmark and Great Britain,’ London, 1863, 8vo. 28. ‘Wills from Doctors' Commons, 1495–1695,’ London, 1863, 4to (with John Bruce; Camden Soc. No. 83). 29. ‘The Heralds' Visitations of the Counties of England and Wales,’ London, 1864, 8vo. 30. ‘History from Marble,’ compiled in the Reign of Charles II by Thomas Dingley,’ London, 1867–8, 2 vols. 4to (Camden Soc. Nos. 94 and 97). 31. ‘History of the Parish of Whalley and Honor of Clitheroe in the Counties of Lancaster and York, by T. D. Whitaker,’ 4th ed. revised, London, 1870–6, 2 vols. 4to (the 2nd vol. posthumous). 32. ‘Bibliographical and Critical Account of Watson's Memoirs,’ London, 1871, 4to. 33. ‘The Legend of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton,’ London, 1874, 4to (Roxburghe Club). 34. ‘Autobiography of Anne, Lady Halkett,’ London, 1875, 4to (Camden Soc. new. ser. No. 13). Nos. 33 and 34 were posthumous.
Nichols contributed many articles to the ‘Archæologia of the Society of Antiquaries,’ 1831–73, vols. xxiii–xliv.; the ‘Journal &c. of the Archæological Institute,’ 1845–51; the ‘Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archæological Association,’ vols. i–iv.; and the ‘Collections of the Surrey Archæological Society,’ vols. iii. and vi.
The following periodicals were edited by him: ‘The Gentleman's Magazine,’ new ser. 1851–6, vols. xxxvi–xlv.; ‘Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica,’ 1834–43, 8 vols., large 8vo; ‘The Topographer and Genealogist,’ 1846–58, 3 vols. 8vo; ‘The Herald and Genealogist,’ 1863–74, 8 vols. 8vo.[The chief source of information is the Memoir of J. G. Nichols, by R. C. Nichols, Westminster, 1874, 4to (enlarged from Herald and Genealogist, 1874, viii.), with photographs; see also the Athenæum, 22 Nov. 1873; Journal of Massachusetts Historical Soc. 1873, p. 122; Transactions of London and Middlesex Archæological Soc. 1874, iv. 488; Times, 15 Nov. 1873; Annual Register for 1873, p. 159; Life of Robert Surtees, 1852; Bigmore and Wyman's Bibliography of Printing, ii. 76–7.]