Catalogue description Nicholson Papers

This record is held by Liverpool Record Office

Details of 920 NIC
Reference: 920 NIC
Title: Nicholson Papers

920 NIC/1. Letters received by Matthew Nicholson (1677-1735/36)


1 doc., 1735


920 NIC/2. Letters received by Dorothy Nicholson (née Yates) (1682/83-1735/36)


4 docs., 1720-1735/36


920 NIC/2. Letters received by Robert Nicholson (1705/06-1722)


2 docs., 1721, 1722


920 NIC/3. Letters received by Samuel Nicholson (1715-1749)


41 docs., 1729-1749


920 NIC/4. Letters received by John Nicholson (1716-1741/42)


2 docs., 1735


920 NIC/5. Letters received by James Nicholson (1718-1773)


366 docs., 1729-1773


920 NIC/6. Letters received by Elizabeth Nicholson (née Seddon) (1721-1791)


53 docs., 1738-1791


920 NIC/7. Letters received by Robert Nicholson (1727-1779)


1 doc., 1733


920 NIC/8. Letters received by Dorothy Clayton (née Nicholson) (1741/1785)


1 doc., n.d.


920 NIC/9. Letters received by Rev. Nicholas Clayton (1730-1797)


118 docs., 1785-1795


920 NIC/10. Letters received by Matthew Nicholson (1746-1819)


32 docs., 1776-1781


920 NIC/11. Letters received by Thomas Nicholson (1753-1825)


67 docs., 1789-1802


920 NIC/12. Letters received by Mary Nicholson (née Hatfield) (c. 1757-1803) 29 docs., 1790-1797


920 NIC/13. Letters received by Mary Anne Nicholson (1792-1863)


6 docs., 1797-1828


920 NIC/14. Letters received by James Nicholson (1796-1850)


223 docs., 1818-1850


920 NIC/15. Letters received by Hatfield Nicholson (1799-1847)


2 docs., 1824


920 NIC/16. Letters received by Dorothy Nicholson (1803-1893)


3 docs., 1835-1839


920 NIC/17. Letters received by Robert Nicholson (1802-1886)


3 docs., 1841-1860


920 NIC/18. Letters received by Albert Nicholson (1844-1927)


3 docs., 1885-1921


920 NIC/19. Letter Books,


2 gatherings, 3 vols., 1771-1902


920 NIC/20. Miscellaneous Letters,


27 docs., 1730-1893


920 NIC/21. Accounts, 4 vols., 20 docs., 1736-1877


920 NIC/22. Commonplace books, copies, poems, etc.


2 vols., 9 gatherings 140 docs., 1743-1842


920 NIC/23. Diaries, journals, etc.


7 docs., 1772-1810


920 NIC/24. Pamphlets, programmes and miscellaneous printed material,


17 items, 1830-1912


920 NIC/25. Pedigrees and other papers relating to the genealogy of the Nicholson family,


14 docs., 1666-1911


920 NIC/26. Sketch books, drawings and photographs,


21 items, [?18th C]-1903


920 NIC/27. Papers relating to the Thornely family,


1 vol., 1 gathering, 88 docs., 1803-1908


920 NIC/28. Miscellaneous papers,


15 docs., 1719-c.1905


920 NIC/29. Brown, Hemans and Nicholson Correspondence


138 docs., [in 1 vol.], 1 vol., 1 booklet, 1806-1816, 1910, 1912, 1945

Date: 1666-1921

In using this list the following points may be of use:


(i) This is not intended to be a calendar of the Nicholson Papers. Within the terms of this list it has been possible only to indicate the type and general outline of correspondence and papers in each group.


(ii) The bulk of collection is made up of correspondence. Letters have been grouped by recipient but a complete index of correspondents (i.e. the writers of letters) is available in sheaf form. A general index to the whole list is to be found in the Index to Archive Lists.


(iii) Many of the papers are endorsed in hands other than that of the writer, giving additional information. Where this information has been used in the list (e.g. in providing a date for an undated document) it has been given in square brackets.


(iv) The documents attributed to married women have been listed under the woman's married name. This also includes papers which pre-date her marriage. To avoid confusion index entries are given under both the woman's married and maiden names.


(v) Throughout this list all page numbers refer to the Memorials op. cit. unless otherwise stated.

Held by: Liverpool Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Nicholson family of Liverpool

Physical description: 1186 docs., 6 vols., 47 items
Custodial history:

Acc. 1764

  • Liverpool, Lancashire
Administrative / biographical background:

This collection of letters and papers was purchased from the Garrick Bookshop, Stockport, in May 1967 by Liverpool City Libraries, with the assistance of George Holt & Company (P.H. Holt Trust) and the Purchase Grant fund of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The collection had come into the possession of the bookshop after being discovered by a scrap-dealer in an empty house in the Stockport area.


The Nicholsons were an important merchant family in Liverpool for about 150 years, from the early years of the 18th century to the middle years of the 19th. B.G. Orchard in Liverpool's Legion of Honour, 1893, p.521, describes the Nicholsons as "a family which has been honourably connected with Liverpool for above two centuries". Matthew Nicholson (1677-1735/36) the first member of the family to settle in Liverpool, was primarily a linen merchant. According to Orchard op. cit. he was much respected in Liverpool and "... his qualities passed to his descendants, who manifested equal integrity and geniality".


In the middle years of the 18th century the family's business interests were wide, embracing sugar, timber, chemicals and many sorts of general merchandise (see especially the letters of Robert to his brother James Nicholson (1718-1773), 920 NIC/5/5/1 - 5/5/93). The last of the merchant Nicholsons, James (1796-1829), was a wine merchant who ultimately settled in and traded from Bordeaux.


The family also played an active part in the social and cultural life of Liverpool and was one of the leading Unitarian families in the town. Dorothy Nicholson (1741-1785) became the wife of the Rev. Nicholas Clayton, D.D. (1730-1797), minister of the Octagon Chapel and Benn's Gardens Chapel, Liverpool (see 920 NIC/9). Frances Nicholson (1757-1829) married Rev. William Shepherd (1767-1847), minister of the Gateacre Unitarian Chapel, 1791-1847.


Members of the last generation of Liverpool Nicholsons either settled in other parts of Britain or died childless, in the second half of the 19th century. Descendants of Robert Nicholson (1727-1779) of Liverpool (see 920 NIC/7), however, were still living in the Manchester area in the first half of this century.


A useful introduction to the history of the Nicholson family is given by Francis Nicholson and Ernest Axon (eds.) in Memorials of the Family of Nicholson of Blackshaw, Dumfriesshire, Liverpool and Manchester, 1928 (available at H 920 NIC in the Rare Books sequence). In the introduction to this work it is stated that Francis Nicholson (1843-1925) (see notes at 920 NIC/18/2) had "access to the family letters piously preserved by his distant cousin Miss Dorothy Nicholson of Woolton [(1803-1893) see notes at 920 NIC/16], which letters subsequently came into his own and his brother's possession". It is further stated that "in addition to the letters preserved by Miss Dorothy Nicholson, Mr. [Francis] Nicholson was able to discover a few other letters in the possession of Miss Nicholson of Dublin, Mr. T.J. Thomson of Ravensdale, and Manchester College, Oxford. All these he acquired or copied". What happened to all the papers between Francis Nicholson's death and their acquisition by the Garrick Bookshop is not known. Some of the letters quoted by Nicholson and Axon in the Memorials were no longer among the papers when they were purchased by this library and it is not known whether they have survived elsewhere or whether they have been destroyed.

Link to NRA Record:

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research