Francis Nicholson bigraphy, stories - British Army general, colonial administrator

Francis Nicholson : biography

12 November 1655 - 16 March 1727

Francis Nicholson (12 November 1655 – March 5, 1727 ({{OldStyleDateDY) March 16, 1728)Nicholson's death was recorded in the Julian calendar as 5 March 1727; in the Gregorian calendar now in use, the date would be 16 March 1728. was a British military officer and colonial administrator. His military service included time in Africa and Europe, after which he was sent as leader of the troops supporting Sir Edmund Andros in the Dominion of New England. There he distinguished himself, and was appointed lieutenant governor of the dominion in 1688. After news of the Glorious Revolution reached the colonies in 1689, Andros was overthrown in the Boston Revolt. Nicholson himself was soon caught up in unrest in New York, and fled to England.

He next served as lieutenant governor or governor of Virginia and Maryland. He supported the founding of the College of William and Mary, and quarreled with Andros after Andros was selected over him as governor of Virginia. In 1709 he became involved in colonial military actions during Queen Anne's War, leading an aborted expedition against Canada. He then led the expedition that successfully captured Port Royal, Acadia on 2 October 1710. Afterward he served as governor of Nova Scotia and Placentia, and was the first royal governor of South Carolina following a rebellion against its proprietors. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General, and died a bachelor in London in 1728.

He supported public education in the colonies, and was a member of both the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts and the Royal Society. He also influenced American architecture, being responsible for the layout and design of Annapolis, Maryland and Williamsburg, Virginia. He was one of the earliest advocates of colonial union, principally for reasons of defense against common enemies.


Early life and military service

Nicholson was born in the village of Downholme, Yorkshire, England, on 12 November 1655. Little is known of his ancestry or early life, although he apparently received some education.Dunn, p. 61 He served as a page in the household of Charles Paulet (later the Marquess of Winchester and the Duke of Bolton), under whose patronage his career would be advanced. He waited on Paulet's daughter Jane, who married John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater, another patron who promoted his career.

His military career began in January 1678 when Paulet purchased for him an ensign's commission in the Holland Regiment, in which he saw service against the French in Flanders.Webb (1966), p. 515Dunn, p. 62 The regiment saw no combat, and was disbanded at the end of the year. In July 1680 he purchased a staff lieutenant's commission in the newly formed 2nd Tangier Regiment, which was sent to English Tangier to reinforce the garrison holding the city. Tangier's council was then headed by the Duke of York (later King James II), and its governor was Colonel Percy Kirke. Nicholson distinguished himself in the service, carrying dispatches between the enemy Moroccan camp, Tangier, and London. In addition to favorable notice from Kirke, this brought Nicholson to the attention of the powerful colonial secretary, William Blathwayt.Dunn, p. 63 Tangier was abandoned in 1683, and his regiment returned to England. During the service in Tangier he met a number of people who would figure prominently North American colonial history, including Thomas Dongan and Alexander Spotswood.Webb (1966), p. 516

Nicholson was probably with the regiment when it put down Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685, but his role in some of the more unsavory behaviour on the part of Kirke's troops is unknown. Kirke, who had been selected by Charles II as the governor of the prospective Dominion of New England, was strongly criticized for his role in the quashing of the rebellion, and James withdrew his nomination. The dominion's governorship instead went to Sir Edmund Andros, and Nicholson, now a captain, accompanied Andros as commander of a company of infantry to Boston in October 1686.Dunn, p. 64 Andros sent Nicholson on what was essentially a reconnaissance mission to French Acadia. Under the cover of delivering a letter protesting a variety of issues to the Acadian governor, Nicholson made careful observations of Port Royal's defenses.Waller, p. 53 Nicholson impressed Andros in this service, and was soon appointed to the dominion's council.Webb (1966), p. 520

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