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The Scottish Nation

NICHOLSON, the 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, Shetland.

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 works are:

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, 8vo.
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, 8vo.
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, 1820, 4to.
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, 1828, 8vo.
The Guide to Railway Masonry; containing a complete Treatise on the oblique arch in four parts. Lond. 1846, 8vo. 3d edit.

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