The Nicholas Papers, formerly at West Horsley Place, were accumulated by Sir Edward Nicholas (1593-1669), Secretary of State to Charles I and Charles II, his eldest son John (1624-1704), Clerk to the Privy Council, and John's three sons, Edward (d. 1726), Treasurer to Queen Mary, John (d. 1742), and William Nicholas, all of whom died without a male heir. On William's death in 1749 West Horsley Place and estate and all his papers were left to Henry Weston (who had married William's illegitimate daughter Anne Copperthwaite).
The history of these papers (including the smaller group in a later deposit, G85/5/2), and how they came to be in the possession of the Bray family, is not entirely clear. The grounds for believing that they were acquired with the papers of the Godschall family of Weston House, Albury, in the early 1820s, are set out in a note preceding the description of the group in G85/-. A paper (G52/8/6/1) which has come to light since that note was written confirms this (see introduction to 1287/-).
The papers have been divided into the following groups: instructions to Sir Richard Browne, July 1641 (G52/2/19/1); drafts and copies of letters written by Sir Edward Nicholas, chiefly to the King in Scotland, with a few papers, Aug-Oct 1641 (G52/2/19/2-31); drafts of letters written by Sir Edward Nicholas, 1658-67 (G52/2/19/32-35); letters to Sir Edward Nicholas and the King, with some papers, 1649-68 (G52/2/19/36-54); undated letters and papers of Sir Edward and Sir John Nicholas (G52/2/19/55-56); dispatches, letters and papers of William Curtius, 1643-1662 (G52/2/19/57-122); letters to Sir John Nicholas, 1670-1680 (G52/2/19/123-151); letters, largely on political and financial matters, from Lord Villiers (later Earl of Jersey) at the Hague, to Edward Nicholas, 1695-98 (G52/2/19/152-182); R Bray's extracts from the Nicholas papers (G52/2/19/183-184).
The second group of Nicholas papers here described, is part of a bundle 'No 9EE of No 4 EE' (No 4 EE being a trunk) that is listed, with a detailed description of the contents of each item, in the 'Schedule of the papers of West Horsley' made by Edward Nicholas in 1720-23 (now BL Egerton MS 2526, a copy being G52/7/9). Almost all the remaining items in the bundle are in G85/-. A check list reconstructing the bundle as in Edward Nicholas's schedule will be found in G85/-
None of the letters and papers included in the list that follows has been published, either in William Bray's edition of Evelyn's Diary, or in the Camden Society's volumes of Nicholas Papers.
In this list the descriptive headings are not original. Formal beginnings and endings of letters are omitted, and spelling modernised. As far as possible all dates are given in new style as regards the year; the day is given as recorded on the letter, though where old and new style dates are both recorded, the former is given in the list.
References to Bray's Evelyn are to Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn FRS ... to which is subjoined the Private Correspondence between King Charles I and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne. Edited from the original MSS at Wotton by William Bray Esq, 4 vols, 1854; references to Cam Soc are to the volumes of The Nicholas Papers. Correspondence of Sir Edward Nicholas, Secretary of State. Edited by George F Warner Vol I (1641-2), Vol II (1653-55), Vol III (1655-56, Vol IV (1657-60). The Camden Society, New Series vols 40 (1886), 50 (1892), 57 (1897) and 3rd Series 31 (1920).
See the introduction to 1287/- for a fuller discussion of the Nicholas papers and their wanderings and whereabouts.