NICHOLS, Francis (c.1582-1624), of the Middle Temple, London and Ampthill, Beds.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



2 Mar. 1624 - 7 Sept. 1624

Family and Education

b. c.1582, 1st s. of Anthony Nichols of Paddington, Mdx. and Mary, da. of Roger Walrond of Wells, Som.1 educ. M. Temple 1600, called 1607.2 m. settlement c.July 1608, Margaret (d.1652), da. of Sir George Bruce of Carnock, Fife, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.3 suc. fa. by 1612.4 d. 7 Sept. 1624.5

Offices Held

Clerk of the wards, duchy of Cornw. by 1610-d.;6 recvr., duchy of Cornw. estates in Beds. and Bucks. by 1623-d.7

Patentee (jt.) to inspect tobacco 1619-d.8


The great-grandson of a London brewer who died in 1548, Nichols became a lawyer and made a fortunate marriage. His father-in-law, Sir George Bruce, one of the Scottish commissioners for the Union, was a brother of the 1st Lord Kinloss, master of the Rolls from 1603 until his death in 1611. Nichols clearly enjoyed a close relationship with the Bruce family. He stood squire to Kinloss’ heir when the latter was dubbed knight of the Bath at the creation of Prince Henry as the prince of Wales in 1610, and it was probably through Kinloss that he was also appointed a clerk of the Wards in the duchy of Cornwall. Although of similar name, there is no evidence that Nichols was related to Augustine Nicolls, the prince’s receiver-general.9

Nichols was granted a pass for a visit to France in June 1613, presumably on family business.10 Two months later the 2nd Lord Kinloss was killed by Sir Edward Sackville* in a duel at Bergen-op-Zoom, leaving Nichols £200.11 In 1619, with two partners, Nichols received a 30-year lease of the lucrative office of garbling tobacco, for an annual rent of £100.12 Having inherited property in London and Middlesex, Nichols resided mainly at Ampthill in Bedfordshire after 1619. In that year he acquired the Crown lease of the park there, presumably via the Bruces, who were lessees of the honour of Ampthill.13

Nichols was nominated for Bishop’s Castle at the general election of 1620 by Lord Cavendish (Sir William Cavendish I*), the son-in-law of the 1st Lord Kinloss.14 His reason for wanting to sit soon became apparent, for on 2 Mar. 1621 his office of garbling tobacco was named as a grievance. The matter was raised again on 17 Apr., but no action was taken by the House.15 His only committee appointments were to consider the bill to naturalize the Scottish courtier Sir Robert Ayton (chaired by Cavendish, 22 Mar.), and to examine abuses in Ireland (26 April).16

Nichols was returned to Parliament again in 1624, this time for the duchy of Lancaster borough of Preston. He came in undoubtedly on the nomination of the chancellor, Sir Humphrey May, although the precise nature of his connection with either May or the duchy remains unclear. He received two committee appointments, one for a naturalization bill (15 Apr. 1624) and the other to ratify the transfer of York House to the Crown for the duke of Buckingham’s benefit (19 May).17 After the session had been prorogued, Nichols died on 7 Sept. 1624 and was buried at Ampthill.18 His final illness must have come suddenly: he left a brief will appointing his wife and Thomas, Lord Bruce, his executors, and giving them complete discretion to settle his estate. He hoped his children, ‘tender in years’, would be of good carriage and disposition, ‘and if in both they concur not I intend them nothing of mine’.19 His sons were active royalists in the Civil War. No other member of the family entered Parliament.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Top. and Gen. iii. 539, 542.
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.; MTR, 484.
  • 3. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 186; C2/Jas.I/B17/42.
  • 4. PROB 6/8, f. 56.
  • 5. Beds. N and Q, i. 95.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 428; 1619-23, p. 185.
  • 7. SC6 Jas.I/1687, unfol.; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 667.
  • 8. C66/2201.
  • 9. Top. and Gen. iii. 542; Vis. Beds. 186; Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 158.
  • 10. APC, 1613-14, p. 108.
  • 11. PROB 11/123, f. 179.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 47, 92.
  • 13. C66/2210; VCH Beds. iii. 271.
  • 14. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. x. 127.
  • 15. CD 1621, v. 75; vi. 24.
  • 16. CJ, i. 570b, 593a.
  • 17. Ibid. 705b, 767a.
  • 18. Beds. N and Q, i. 95.
  • 19. PROB 11/144, f. 264.
  • 20. Top. and Gen. iii. 542.