John Gough Nichols

John Gough Nichols (1806–1873) was an English printer and antiquary, the third generation in a family publishing business with strong connection to learned antiquarianism.

John Gough Nichols, 1868 drawing by Leonard Charles Wyon


The eldest son of John Bowyer Nichols, he was born at his father's house in Red Lion Passage, Fleet Street, London, on 22 May 1806. Richard Gough was his godfather. He went to a school kept by a Miss Roper at Islington, where, in 1811, Benjamin Disraeli, his senior by eighteen months, was a schoolfellow. From 1814 to 1816 he was educated by Thomas Waite at Lewisham grammar school, and in January 1817 he was placed at Merchant Taylors' School.[1]

In 1824 Nichols left school for the counting-house in the printing offices of his father and grandfather. In 1830 he visited Robert Surtees in Durham, and made a Scottish tour. On the foundation of the Surtees Society in 1834 he was elected one of the treasurers. In 1835 he became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and was later its printer. The following year he was chosen a member of the committee of the Royal Literary Fund. He was one of the founders of the Camden Society (1838), and edited many of its publications; in 1862 he printed a Descriptive Catalogue of the 86 volumes then issued.[1]

In 1841 Nichols made an antiquarian tour on the continent. He was an original member of the Archæological Institute (1844).[1]

Nichols died at his house, Holmwood Park, near Dorking, Surrey, after a short illness, on 14 November 1873, aged 67.[1]


Nichols at an early kept antiquarian journals and copied inscriptions and epitaphs. He went with his father to the meetings of the Royal Society and Society of Antiquaries, and corresponded with Isaac D'Israeli. His first literary work was on the Progresses of James I of his grandfather John Nichols, which he completed in 1828.[1]

Nichols superintended a new edition of John Hutchins's History of Dorset, undertaken by William Shipp in 1860. In 1870 he undertook to edit a new edition of Thomas Dunham Whitaker's Whalley, of which the first volume appeared in 1871.[1]

His works included:[1]

Nichols contributed articles to the Archæologia of the Society of Antiquaries, 1831–73, vols. xxiii–xliv.; the Journal of the Archæological Institute, 1845–51; the Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archæological Association, vols. i–iv.; and the Collections of the Surrey Archæological Society, vols. iii. and vi. He edited: The Gentleman's Magazine, new ser. 1851–6, vols. xxxvi–xlv.; Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, 1834–43, 8 vols.; The Topographer and Genealogist, 1846–58, 3 vols.; The Herald and Genealogist, 1863–74, 8 vols. In the Gentleman's Magazine, besides contributing essays, he compiled the obituary notices. In 1856 ill-health compelled him to resign its editorship, and it was transferred to John Henry Parker for a nominal consideration. A replacement was the Herald and Genealogist, of which the first volume appeared under his editorship in 1862. His interest in obituary-writing led him to found the short-lived Register and Magazine of Biography in 1869.[1]


Nichols married, on 22 July 1843, Lucy, eldest daughter of Frederick Lewis, commander R.N., and had one son, John Bruce Nichols (b. 1848), and two daughters. The son's name was added in 1873 to those of his father and uncle as printers of the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons. A portrait of Nichols at the age of twenty-four is contained in a family group in water-colours, by Daniel Maclise (1830). A medallion, representing him and his wife, by Leonard Charles Wyon, was struck in commemoration of their silver wedding in 1868.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1895). "Nichols, John Gough". Dictionary of National Biography. 41. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney, ed. (1895). "Nichols, John Gough". Dictionary of National Biography. 41. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

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