NICHOLAS, George (1635-1707), of Covent Garden, Westminster, Mdx.
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Family and Education
bap. 5 May 1635, 4th s. of Sir Edward Nicholas† of Winterbourne Earls, Wilts. by Jane, da. of Henry Jay, of Holverston, Norf., bro. of Sir John† and Edward Nicholas†. m. 18 Feb. 1664, Anne (d. 1700), da. and h. of Dr William Denton MD of Covent Garden, 3s. (1 d.v.p.), 1 da.1
Surveyor-gen. of customs 1663–d.2
Nicholas belonged to a family that had suffered for its allegiance to Charles I. Indeed, the young George spent the years between 1646 and the Restoration abroad. Upon the family’s return Nicholas petitioned for various posts in the customs, eventually being granted in 1663 the joint-surveyorship of the customs with William Rumbold. The following year he made a good marriage to the heiress of Dr William Denton (d. 1691), physician to both Charles I and Charles II, no doubt a man well known to his father. Nicholas set up home in St. Paul’s Covent Garden, where he resided for the rest of his life.3
Nothing much is known of Nicholas’ political views before he entered Parliament. It seems that his links with the Court were responsible for his nomination as successor to Viscount Morpeth (Charles Howard) at Morpeth following the death of Morpeth’s father, the 2nd Earl of Carlisle. Nicholas took his seat on 1 Dec. 1692, being sponsored by his fellow Member for Morpeth, Roger Fenwick, and his nephew, Edward Nicholas. The presence of his nephew in the House makes it difficult to identify any activity in which Nicholas himself may have been involved. However, as the name of ‘Mr Nicholas’ occurs frequently both before and after George Nicholas’ term in the Commons, it can be assumed that these are references mainly to his nephew. However, Mr Nicholas ‘of the custom house’ did intervene on 6 Mar. 1693 during the debate on the third reading of the bill encouraging privateers, arguing for the omission of a clause that threatened the interests of the Turkey Company and other trades settled by charter. From 1693 Nicholas appears on parliamentary lists as a placeman, Grascome describing him as a Court supporter and placeman in his list of 1693 extended to 1695. Re-elected in 1695, again as the 3rd Earl of Carlisle’s nominee, Nicholas was forecast as likely to oppose the Court on 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade. He signed the Association, and in March voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s., but he was absent from the vote on Fenwick’s attainder on 25 Nov. In a list compiled in around September 1698 he was listed as a Country supporter and possibly as a placeman.4
Nicholas did not stand in 1698. In his later years he suffered ill-health. Indeed, in September 1705 he petitioned the Treasury that his nephew John Nicholas of All Cannings, Wiltshire (son of his brother, Edward), be appointed his deputy on the grounds that he was aged and infirm. Nicholas died on 15 Feb. 1707, having ‘been a weak man for a long time’, and if Lord Fermanagh (John Verney*) is to be believed, ‘there is not many is like to die with sorrow for him’. He was buried next to his wife in St. Paul’s Covent Garden, leaving small bequests to his daughter Jane, wife of Sir John Abdy, 2nd Bt., and their children (including three shares in the Royal African Company), and to his second son. The rest of his property went to his eldest son and executor, Dr Denton Nicholas.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. IGI, London; Hoare, Wilts. Alderbury, 96; D. Nicholas, Mr Sec. Nicholas, 99; Verney Mems. 236–7; St. Paul’s Covent Gdn. (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxxiii), 23, 25, 33, 41; (xxxvi), 54, 174.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 579; xxi. 357.
- 3. Nicholas, 224; CSP Dom. 1660–1, pp. 153, 156; 1663–4, p. 397.
- 4. Luttrell Diary, 277, 464; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/46, John to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 1 Dec. 1692; 636/48, same to same, 21 Aug. 1695; Add. 70018, ff. 94–95.
- 5. Verney mss 636/53, Lady Cave to Ld. Fermanagh, 20 Feb. 1706–7; Cal. Treas. Bks. xx. 422; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 174; St. Paul’s Covent Gdn. (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxxvi), 203; PCC 41 Poley.