His second term of office was far less successful than his first. He irritated the colonists by attempting to transfer the seat of government from Jamestown to the Middle Plantations, a few miles inland, where he made an abortive effort to establish a capital city, Williamsburg. He also displeased the assembly by pressing them to contribute towards a fort on the north-west frontier of New York. This policy, however, though distasteful to the colonists, was probably wise in itself, and also acceptable to the English government. Nicholson further recommended himself to the authorities at home, and in some measure to the Virginians, by his energy in capturing a pirate. His anger against the Virginian assembly on account of their frustration of his schemes led him to recommend to the crown that all the American colonies should be placed under a viceroy, and that a standing army should be maintained among them at their own expense. But this project was not approved by Queen Anne and her ministers, and in April 1705 he was recalled.
During the next fifteen years such public services as he discharged were of a military nature, and directed against the French in Canada. As early as 1689 Colonel Bayard, one of the leading men of New York, had urged on Nicholson the need for active operations against Canada. In 1709 he and a Scottish soldier, Colonel Veitch, were placed in joint command of a force—partly English, partly to be supplied by the colonists—which was to attack Canada. Nicholson, in command of fifteen hundred men, advanced from Albany along the Hudson to Wood Creek, near Lake Champlain. There he was delayed, waiting for an English fleet to arrive at Boston. Sickness seized on the camp, the force melted away, and the expedition was a total failure.
Nicholson returned to England, commissioned by the Massachusetts assembly to urge on the English government the need for action not against Canada, but against Acadia. The ministry approved the scheme. A force consisting of four hundred marines and fifteen hundred colonial militia, supported by five ships, was sent against Port Royal. After a short siege the place surrendered, and Acadia, having no other stronghold, became English territory. In 1711 the operations against Canada were resumed. Again Nicholson, at the head of a land force, advanced as far as Wood Creek. There, hearing of the failure which attended the fleet under Sir Hoveden Walker in its attack on Quebec, he retreated to Albany and disbanded his force.
In 1713 Nicholson was appointed governor of Acadia. There he seems to have displayed that arrogant and overbearing temper which constituted the worst side of his character. For the most part, however, he seems to have left the duties of his post to be fulfilled by deputy.
In 1719 the privy council and the lords of regency, acting for the king, then in Hanover, decided that the proprietors of South Carolina had forfeited their charter, and, exercising the rights of the crown in such a case, appointed Nicholson as governor. No resistance was made to the exercise of his authority either by the proprietors or their adherents. Nicholson's conduct, if we may believe the principal historian of the colony, recalled his best days as an administrator in Virginia. Under the feeble rule of the proprietors the colony had wellnigh drifted into anarchy, and the Cherokee Indians on the frontier were threatening. Nicholson ingratiated himself with the colonists, promoted the building of schools and churches, and succeeded in conciliating the Cherokees. In June 1725 Nicholson returned to England on leave, and does not seem again to have visited America. He had been knighted in 1720, and he was now promoted lieutenant-general. He retained the nominal governorship of the colony until his death, which took place in London on 5 March 1728.
Nicholson was author of: 1. ‘Journal of an Expedition for the Reduction of Port Royal,’ London, 1711: a rare quarto, which was reprinted by the Nova Scotia Historical Society in 1879. 2. ‘An Apology or Vindication of Francis Nicholson, Governor of South Carolina, from the Unjust Aspersions cast upon him by some of the Members of the Bahama Company,’ London, 1724, 8vo.
[Brodhead's Hist. of New York; New York Colonial Documents; Colonial Documents and State Papers; Parkman's Half-Century of Conflict; Hewitt's Hist. of South Carolina; Appleton's Cyclop. of American Biography; Transactions of Nova Scotia Historical Soc.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]
NICHOLSON, FRANCIS (1650–1731), theologian, son of Thomas Nicholson, was baptised on 27 Oct. 1650 at the collegiate church at Manchester, and admitted a servitor of University College, Oxford, early in 1666. He graduated B.A. on 18 Jan. 1669, and M.A. on 4 June 1673, and after his ordination ‘preached at Oxford and near Canterbury’ (Wood). Obadiah Walker [q. v.] was his tutor at Oxford, and from him he appears to have acquired his high church and Roman catholic views. A sermon in favour of penance, which he preached at St. Mary's Church, Oxford, on 20 June 1680, caused him to be charged before the vice-chancellor