Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Francis Nicholson (1655-1727/28)
MSA SC 3520-939


Born 1655 in Yorkshire, England.  Probably the son of Thomas Nicholson of Downholme, Yorkshire.  Privately educated.  Raised as a page in the home of Charles Paulet, later Duke of Bolton.  Immigrated to colonial America c. 1686.  Died in London, England on March 5, 1727/28.

Nicholson served as an ensign in the King Holland Regiment in 1678 in Tangiers, Morocco, where he was promoted to captain and served from 1680 to 1684/84.  He was also a captain under Edmund Andros in New York in 1686/87.  He served on the Council of Dominion of New England from 1687 to 1689, and as governor of the the Dominion of New England from 1688 to 1689.  He was lieutenant governor of New York from 1689 to 1690, and lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1690 to 1692.  He helped to found the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1693.  Nicholson was a member of the Executive Council of Maryland from 1691/2 to 1693/94, and served as lieutenant governor of Maryland during the same time.  He was governor of Maryland from 1693/94 to 1698/99, and moved the capital of Maryland from St. Mary's City to Annapolis in 1695.  In 1696 he helped found King William's School in Annapolis (the school became St. John's College in 1794).  From 1696 to 1698 he was the target of an alleged conspiracy and attempted rebellion led by John Coode (c. 1648-1708/9).  He was captain general and governor of Virginia from 1698 to 1705, and governor and lieutenant general of Nova Scotia from 1712 to 1715.  He was governor and major general of South Carolina from 1720 to 1725.  

Nicholson was an Anglican and an energetic promoter of the established church.  He was a member of the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.  He was a member of the Royal Society.  Nicholson died in London, England on March 5, 1727/28.

Annapolis tradition says that Nicholson was the first of Maryland's governors to reside full-time in Annapolis, and that he owned a house located between Cornhill and Francis Streets near the Annapolis City dock.   Others report that a home built by Francis T. Marchand at 83 Prince George Street was the home of Governor Nicholson.  That house could also have been the one used by the Legislature after the State House burned in 1704.

Return to Francis Nicholson's Introductory Page

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