Nicholas, Abraham (DNB00)

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NICHOLAS, ABRAHAM (1692–1744?), was son of Abraham Nicholas, who wrote ‘The Young Accomptant's Debitor and Creditor: or an Introduction to Merchants' Accounts, after the Italian Manner’ (1711; 2nd edit. 1713), and kept a school, according to his prospectus, ‘in Cusheon-Court, near Austin Friars, Broad Street,’ where youths were boarded and given a sound commercial education. Another Abraham Nicholas (d. 1692), probably father of the last-named, was the writer of ‘Thoographia, or a New Art of Shorthand,’ 1692. This was edited by Thomas Slater, who states that the author had not completed his work at the time of his death. He was a schoolmaster near St. Mary Magdalen's in Southwark.

Abraham Nicholas the third was a private schoolmaster, first at the sign of the Hand and Pen in Broad Street, London, and afterwards at Clapham, where he established a boarding school. He was favourably known as a specialist in writing. George Bickham, the engraver of copybooks, says, in a letter to John Bowles, printseller at Mercers' Hall, that he ‘never saw any pieces that were wrote with greater command of hand than the originals’ of one of the copybooks of Nicholas (Massey). About 1722 Nicholas left England, but it is uncertain to what country he went. Massey says: ‘I am informed [he went] to Virginia, but in what employ I have not been informed; that I remember only that he died about the year 1744.’

He published three copybooks: (1) In 1715 ‘A Small Copy-Book’ (mentioned, without name, by Massey), with fifteen plates engraved by George Bickham; (2) in 1719 ‘The Penman's Assistant and Youth's Instructor, containing Examples of round, small, and large Hands, in Letters, Words, and Sentences;’ (3) ‘The Compleat Writing Master,’ containing thirty-one long folio plates of useful and ornamental examples of penmanship ‘in all the hands.’ There is an elaborately ornamented portrait of the author, by George Bickham, as frontispiece. The work is dedicated to his successful pupil, John Page, esq. It contains one piece of writing by his brother, James Nicholas, who succeeded him at Clapham, and ‘supported’ the school ‘with reputation.’ Besides these three books Abraham Nicholas wrote two copies for George Bickham's ‘Penman's Companion,’ 1722.

[Massey's Origin and Progress of Letters, 1763, pt. ii. pp. 109, 110, 111; Westby Gibson's Bibliography of Shorthand, p. 141; Brit. Mus. Cat., where, however, the three Nicholases are erroneously confused.]

F. W.-n.