Nicholson, Lothian (DNB00)

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NICHOLSON, Sir LOTHIAN (1827–1893), general, third son of George Thomas Nicholson of Waverley Abbey, Surrey, and Anne Elizabeth, daughter of William Smith, M.P. for Norwich, was born at Ham Common, Surrey, on 19 Jan. 1827. He was educated at Mr. Malleson's school at Hove, Brighton. In 1844 he entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. On 6 Aug. 1846 he was gazetted a second lieutenant in the corps of royal engineers, and on 26 Jan. 1847 he was promoted first lieutenant. After going through the usual course of professional study at Chatham, he was sent, in January 1849, to North America, and spent the following two years between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. On his return to England he was quartered at Portsmouth, and on 1 April 1855 was promoted second captain. In July he was sent to the Crimea. He served in the trenches during the last month of the siege in command of the 4th company royal engineers. He commanded the same company in the expedition to Kinburn, carried out the operations for the demolition of the docks of Sebastopol, was twice mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gazette, 21 Dec. 1858 and 15 Feb. 1856), and received for his services the war medal with clasp, the Turkish medal, and the fifth order of the Medjidie. While in the Crimea he was promoted brevet major on 2 Nov. 1855.

Nicholson returned home in June 1856, and was quartered at Aldershot, where he was employed in laying out the new camp. On 6 Oct. 1857 he embarked with the 4th company royal engineers for Calcutta to take part in the suppression of the Indian mutiny. On arrival in India he joined Lord Clyde, and served for some time on his staff. He repaired the suspension bridge over the Káli Naddi, on the road to Fathgarh, and so enabled a rapid march to be made on that place, and large quantities of stores and other government property to be secured. He was present at the engagement of the Alámbagh, and at the siege and final capture of Lucknow, when he was in command of the royal engineers on the left bank of the river, and constructed the bridges over the Gumti. Nicholson remained at Lucknow as chief engineer to Sir Hope Grant. He was engaged in the operations in Oudh, was present at the action of Bári, and took an active part in the subjugation of the Terai. He was superintending the construction of bridges and roads when, while out shooting, his gun exploded, and he permanently injured his hand. For his services in the mutiny he received the medal, and was promoted brevet lieutenant-colonel on 20 July 1858. He was five times mentioned in despatches by Lord Clyde, Sir James Outram, and Sir Hope Grant (Lond. Gazette, 3 March, 30 April, 25 May, 28 July 1858, and 24 March 1859). He was made a C.B. in 1859, and given the distinguished service reward.

Nicholson returned to England in May 1859, and on 20 June became a first captain in the corps. He was stationed in the Isle of Wight, and was employed in the construction of the defences of the Solent. In 1861 he was appointed commanding royal engineer of the London or home district. On 20 July 1866 he was promoted brevet colonel, and in October was sent to Gibraltar. After two years there, Nicholson was summoned home to take up the staff appointment of assistant adjutant-general of royal engineers in Ireland. He remained in Dublin for nearly four years. On 27 Jan. 1872 he was promoted regimental lieutenant-colonel, and given the command of the royal engineers at Shorncliffe. On 1 Oct. 1877 he was promoted major-general, and on 1 Oct. 1878 was appointed lieutenant-governor of Jersey, and to command the troops there. He held the appointment for five years. On 19 Oct. 1881 he was promoted lieutenant-general.

On quitting Jersey in 1883 he was unemployed until 8 July 1886, when he received the appointment of inspector-general of fortifications and of royal engineers in succession to Lieutenant-general Sir Andrew Clarke. During the time Nicholson held this important office the defence of the coaling stations abroad was in progress, and he initiated the works for revising and improving the defences of the United Kingdom under the Imperial Defence Act, and for the reconstruction of barracks under the Barracks Act. In 1887, on the occasion of the queen's jubilee, he was made a K.C.B.

On 26 March 1891 Nicholson was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of Gibraltar. There he died on 27 June 1893, after a short attack of fever. He was buried, with full military and civil honours, in the cemetery at Gibraltar. Nicholson married in London, on 24 Nov. 1864, Mary, daughter of the first Baron Romilly. By her he had seven sons and three daughters, who, with their mother, survived him.

Possessed of a good constitution, and full of energy, Nicholson enjoyed an active life, and delighted in field sports. With an intense esprit de corps he combined a wide sympathy with the other branches of the service, and he interested himself in many philanthropic efforts.

A portrait is to be placed in the mess of the royal engineers at Chatham.

Nicholson contributed the following papers to ‘The Professional Papers of the Corps of Royal Engineers,’ new ser. vi. 21, ‘Demolition of Docks at Sebastopol;’ ib. p. 130, ‘Report on Defences of Kinburn and the Operations which led to their Surrender;’ viii. 54, ‘Reports on the Demolition of the Fort of Tutteah;’ ib. p. 94, ‘Bridge of Boats across the Gogra.’

[Royal Engineers Corps Records; War Office Records; Malleson's Indian Mutiny, vol. ii.; Despatches; Gibraltar Gazette, 27 and 28 June 1893; Royal Engineers' Journ. August 1893.]

R. H. V.