NICHOLAS, John (1691-1746), of Roundway Park, nr. Devizes, Wilts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 1 July 1691, 2nd s. of Robert Nicholas of Roundway Park by his 1st w. Martha, da. of Henry Knight of Newhall, Suff. unm.1
Nicholas’ family had been settled at Roundway since the mid-15th century. His father, a great-nephew of the Robert Nicholas† who had assisted at the impeachment of Archbishop Laud and later served as a judge under the Commonwealth and Protectorate, kept Roundway Park in the main branch of the family by purchasing the estate from his second cousin, the judge’s granddaughter, for £2,300 in 1705. However, it was his connexion with Sir Francis Child’s* brother John, whose daughter and heiress he had taken as his second wife, that enabled Robert to put forward his son as a Tory candidate for Devizes. John Child was the leader of the Tory faction in the corporation, and Robert Nicholas his lieutenant. In 1713 John Nicholas was returned together with Child’s nephew, and was classed as a Tory in the Worsley list. His activity in the House is impossible to distinguish from that of his distant kinsman Edward*, but it is highly unlikely that at any time he took a prominent part in proceedings. With the collapse of the Tory interest in Devizes in 1714–15 went his one chance of a parliamentary seat, and he did not stand again. He may well have been the ‘Mr Nicholas’ who was named as a manager of the lotteries between 1711 and 1714, and whose name was sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a possible supporter in the event of a rising. Roundway having been left to his half-brother Edward (the grandfather of Robert Nicholas, MP for Cricklade in 1785), he lived out his last years with his half-sister at The Brittox, adjacent to the market square in Devizes. Nicholas died on 31 Aug. 1746, leaving neither heirs nor a will.2