Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nichols, James
NICHOLS, JAMES (1785–1861), printer and theological writer, was born at Washington, Durham, 6 April 1785. Owing to family losses he had to work in a factory at Holbeck, Leeds, from the age of eight to twelve, but studied the Latin grammar in spare moments. His father was afterwards able to send him to Leeds grammar school. Nichols was for some time a private tutor, and subsequently entered into business as a printer and bookseller at Briggate, Leeds. He printed some small volumes, including Byrom's ‘Poems’ (1814), and several pamphlets, and edited the ‘Leeds Literary Observer,’ vol. i., from January to September 1819. This periodical he proposed to replace by a monthly miscellany of a more ambitious character, but removed to London and opened a printing office at 22 Warwick Square, Newgate Street. His best known work ‘Calvinism and Arminianism compared’ (1824), was here written and printed. Of this book, Southey wrote to the Rev. Neville White 28 Oct. 1824: ‘It is put together in a most unhappy way, but it is the most valuable contribution to our ecclesiastical history that has ever fallen into my hands’ (Selections from Letters, ed. J. W. Warter, 1856, iii. 449; see also Quarterly Review, 1828, xxxvii. 228). In 1825 there was published the first volume of his translation of the ‘Works of Arminius,’ with a life and appendices, and in 1826 he printed for private circulation complimentary letters from A. des Amorie van der Hoeven and Adrian Stolker; the third volume, issued in 1875, was translated by Mr. William Nichols. Bishop Blomfield urged Nichols more than once to take orders, so that he might devote himself entirely to theological study. Nichols removed his printing office in 1832 to Hoxton Square, where he remained the rest of his life. Here he printed some excellent editions of Thomas Fuller's ‘Church History’ (1837), ‘History of Cambridge’ (1840), and ‘The Holy and Profane State’ (1841), ‘Pearson on the Creed’ (1845 and 1848), and Warburton's ‘Divine Legation’ (1846), and edited books for William Tegg. In an obituary notice in the ‘Athenæum’ two works are especially commended, ‘which cannot be surpassed for judgment, zeal, care, and scholarship on the part of the editor, namely, the Poetical Works of Thomson  and the Complete Works of Dr. Young .’ But his chief publication was probably ‘The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and in Southwark, being divers Sermons preached A.D. 1659–1689,’ fifth edition, collated and corrected, London, 1844–5, 6 vols. 8vo.
He died in Hoxton Square on 26 Nov. 1861, aged 76. He married Miss Bursey of Stockton-on-Tees in 1813, and had many children, of whom two survived.
Nichols was ‘one of the rare race of learned printers, and a man of unbounded general information’ (Athenæum, 7 Dec. 1861, p. 769). His amiable disposition and valuable researches in church history brought him the friendship and esteem of Southey, Tomline, Wordsworth, Todd, Bowring, and many other scholars.[Information from Mr. William Nichols; obituary notices in Watchman, 27 Nov. 1861; Athenæum, 30 Nov. and 7 Dec. 1861; Gent. Mag. 1862, i. 106; Allibone's Dict. of English Literature, vol. ii.]