name of a family which possesses a baronetcy of Nova Scotia, conferred,
2d July 1629, on John Nicholson of Nicholson and Lasswade, with
remainder to his heirs male generally. Sir James Nicholson, the sixth
baronet, dying without issue, Arthur Nicholson, Esq. of Lochend, was
served heir-male to the family in 1826, and as such inherited the title
as seventh baronet. Sir Arthur Nicholson married Miss Jack, daughter of
the very Rev. William Jack, D.D., principal of King’s college, Aberdeen.
The family seats are Brought Lodge, Fetlar, and Gremista, near Lerwick,
NICHOLSON, PETER, an eminent architect, the son of a stone-mason,
was born in the parish of Prestonkirk, East Lothian, on 20th July 1765,
and received the rudiments of his education at the parish school. When a
boy, mathematics formed his principal study, in which he became
remarkably proficient. At the age of twelve he was taken from school to
assist his father. He had before this employed himself in making
drawings and models of the numerous mills in the neighbourhood of his
native place, and having expressed a wish to be a cabinetmaker, he
served as apprenticeship to it of four years at Linton, the principal
village in the parish, and afterwards worked as a journeyman first in
Edinburgh and subsequently in London. Having commenced teaching at an
evening school in Berwick Street, Soho, he was so successful that he
soon abandoned his trade for authorship, and in 1792 published ‘The
Carpenter’s New Guide,’ the plated of which were engraved by his own
hand. Among subsequent works of his, at this period, were ‘The Student’s
Instructor to the Five Orders,’ and ‘The Principles of Architecture,’ 3
vols. 8vo. The latter work, commenced in numbers in 1795, was not
completed till 1799.
In 1800 Mr. Nicholson
returned to Scotland, and went to reside in Glasgow. He built a wooden
bridge across the Clyde, long since removed. He also designed Carlton
Place, Laurieston, and the large and singularly out-of-place Grecian
structure which terminates the second quadrangle of the university of
that city. Eight years afterwards he removed to Carlisle, having,
through the recommendation of his countryman, Thomas Telford, been
appointed architect of the county of Cumberland. In this situation he
superintended the building of the new court houses in the county town.
While at Carlisle he obtained rewards from the Society of Arts for an
improvement in handrailing, and for the invention of an instrument
called the Centrolinear. In 1810 he returned to London, where he
published several professional and other works, a list of which is
subjoined to this memoir.
In 1827 he commenced the
publication of a work entitled ‘The School of Architecture and
Engineering,’ which he designed to complete in twelve numbers at 1s. 6d.
each, but in consequence of the bankruptcy of the publishers, only five
numbers appeared. In 1829 he removed to Morpeth, and in 1832 to
Newcastle on Tyne, where he opened a school in the Arcade. Here he was
elected president and honorary member of several societies connected
with architecture, civil engineering, and the fine arts. Having, in his
old age, fallen into pecuniary difficulties, a general subscription was,
in 1835, set agoing by his friends in Newcastle to purchase an annuity
for him, but as only £320 was subscribed, a petition was presented from
the inhabitants of that town to his majesty, for a grant for a pension
to him from the privy purse, in which his writings are thus referred to:
-- “The works of Peter Nicholson, while they have contributed to the
advancement of knowledge, have tended to raise the English mechanic to
that pre-eminence he has attained over the other artificers of Europe;
and while they have been honoured with the proudest marks of distinction
by the various learned societies of this kingdom, have yet failed to
produce to their author those benefits which are necessary for his
existence; and it must ever be a source of regret that an individual
who, having devoted his best energies to the advancement of science,
should be left at the close of a long and laborious life, and in his 73d
year, to struggle in penury and want.” Mr. Nicholson returned to
Carlisle in October 1841, and died there June 18, 1844, in his 79th
year. He was twice married, and had two sons and a daughter. His elder
son, Michael Angelo Nicholson, author of ‘The Carpenter and Joiner’s
Companion,’ died in 1842.
Mr. Peter Nicholson’s
The Carpenter’s New Guide, with plates. Lond. 1792, 4to.
The Carpenter’s and Joiner’s Assistant. 4to.
The Student’s Instructor to the Five Orders. 8vo.
The Principles of Architecture, containing the fundamental Rules of the
Art, in Geometry, Arithmetic, and Mensuration. London, 3 vols. 1795,
1799, 4to. Edition, Revised and Corrected by Joseph Gwilt. London, 1848,
The Architectural Dictionary, 2 vols, largo 4to, 1811, 1812.
Mechanical Exercises; or the Elements and Practice of Carpentry,
Joining, &c. London, 1811, 8vo.
Mechanical Exercises, containing a Description of the Tools belonging to
each branch of Business, and directions for their use. London, 1812,
Treatise on Practical Perspective, without the use of Vanishing Points.
London, 1815, 8vo.
An Introduction to the Method of Increments, expressed by a new form of
Notation, showing more intimately its relation to the Fluxional
Analogies. 1817, 8vo.
Essays on the Combinatiorial Analysis, showing its application to the
most useful and interesting problems of Algebra, in the Multiplication,
Division, and Extraction of Roots. London, 1818, 8vo.
Essay on Involution and Evolution. – For this work the author received
the thanks of the Academie des Sciences at Paris.
Analytical and Arithmetical Essays.
Rudiments of Algebra.
A Treatise on the Construction of Staircases and Handrails. London,
The Builder and Workman’s New Director; comprehending Definitions and
Descriptions of the Component parts of Buildings, the Principles of
Construction, and the Geometrical Development of the Principal
Difficulties that usually occur in the different branches of mechanical
professions employed in the formation of edifices. London, 1824, 4to.
The same, London, 1834, 4to. The same, London, 1848, 4to.
The School of Architecture and Engineering. Five numbers. London, 1827.
Popular and Practical Treatise on Masonry and Stone-cutting. London,
The Guide to Railway Masonry; containing a complete Treatise on the
oblique arch in four parts. Lond. 1846, 8vo. 3d edit.