Laud's impeachment, prosecuting the second and third parts of the evidence against him (ib. 1641–3, p. 518); according to Wood, ‘he had in his pleadings some sense, but was extream virulent, and had foul language at command.’ In November 1646 he was member of the sub-committee of accounts for Wiltshire, and on 30 Oct. 1648 was created by the commons serjeant-at-law; in the same year he was nominated one of the king's judges, but does not appear to have attended the trial. On 2 May 1649 he was appointed one of the counsel for the Commonwealth against Lilburne, Prynne, and others, and on 1 June became a judge of the upper bench. In 1650 he was commended for the charges he delivered while on circuit. In 1655 Nicholas was made a baron of the exchequer, and on 29 May in the same year was appointed commissioner of oyer and terminer. While on circuit at Salisbury he and others were captured by Colonel Penruddock [q. v.] and his band of royalists, some of whom wished to put them to death. Other counsels prevailed, and they were soon set at liberty.
In 1657 Nicholas is referred to as chief justice (ib. 1657, p. 156); but this is a mistake, and, according to Noble, Cromwell ‘laid him aside.’ On 27 Nov. 1658, however, he again appears as a judge, was sent on circuit in 1659, and was restored to the upper bench on 17 Jan. 1659–60. At the Restoration it was proposed to except Nicholas from the Act of Indemnity (Hist. MSS. Comm. App. to 7th Rep. pp. 123 b, 137 b, 171 b); but this suggestion was not acted on; a warrant for his pardon was issued, and he frequently appears during 1660 as a member of the commission in Wiltshire for raising money (Statutes of the Realm, v. 221, 274, 282). On 3 Dec. 1664 he was accused of boasting that he had drawn up the charge against Charles I, and would do so again if needful; these words were said to have been spoken in May 1664 ‘behind St. Clement's in the Strand,’ and a warrant against him was applied for. The issue is not known. Nicholas resided in later life at Seend, Wiltshire, where he made his will 6 May 1667. He was buried on 28 Dec. 1667 in accordance with the provision of his will in the church of St. James's, Southbroom, where he had been baptised. He left a son Oliver, who was afterwards knighted, and a daughter Catherine, who married Sir Thomas Brodrick of Wandsworth, Surrey, great-great-grandfather of Alan Brodrick, viscount Midleton [q. v.]
Nicholas is identified by a writer in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1785, i. 163) with the person who is said in the ‘Spectator,’ No. 313, to have escaped a flogging from Busby when at Westminster school by the intervention of a schoolfellow, and subsequently to have saved the life of his benefactor, who was implicated in Penruddock's rebellion; but the identification is very doubtful (cf. Welch, Queen's Scholars, p. 568; Hoare, Wiltshire, vi. 425).
[Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. passim; Statutes of the Realm; Whitelocke's Memorials, passim; Noble's Regicides, ii. 98–101; Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 129–30; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Woolrych's Series of Lord Chancellors, etc., pp. 46, 48, 50, 51; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. pp. 123 b, 137 b, 171 b; Hoare's Wiltshire, passim; Parl. Hist. iv. 1068; State Trials, iv. 525, 1052; Welch's Queen's Scholars, p. 568; Exchequer Books.]
NICHOLAS, THOMAS (fl. 1560–1596), translator, was employed in the service of the Levant Company, and lived unmolested in Palma, one of the Canary Isles, for some time before the death of Queen Mary [see under Nichols, Thomas (fl. 1550), for a Thomas Nichols, who wrote a description of the islands, and spent some time among them at the same date as Nicholas]. In 1560 Nicholas and his companion, Edward Kingsmill, were charged with heresy by the Spanish governor of the islands. Nicholas was thrown into prison and kept in irons for nearly two years on a charge of having spoken against the mass.
On 16 Aug. 1561 he requested Sir William Chamberlain, the English ambassador in Spain, to intercede for him with the king of Spain and the Archbishop of Seville, inquisitor-general of Spain (Cal. State Papers, 1560, p. 313, and 1561–2, pp. 251, 256). He was released for a short time, but was soon imprisoned again for another two years, on the false witness of his enemy, Francisco de Coronado, ‘a Jewish confessor.’
Upon Queen Elizabeth's intervention with the king of Spain, he was brought in 1564 to Seville, and kept in chains in the castle for seven months. In March 1565 he was acquitted at the public court in Seville, yet commanded never to leave the city (ib. 1564–5, 137, 149). His release was probably soon after arranged, and he seems to have returned to England, where he published his translations of Spanish works, either written during his imprisonments or from originals conveyed from Spain. Of his subsequent career no information appears.
His works are: 1. ‘The strange and marueilous Newes lately come from the great Kingdome of Chyna, which adjoyneth to the East Indya. Translated out of the Castlyn