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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Nichols

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 1184-1187 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

"The name Nichols (an abbrviation of Nicholas) is of purely patrician origin having been invented by the Alexandro-Egyptian dynasty as a cognomen for princes." (Patronymica Britannica.) By degrees the brevet acquired the permanence of a surname, eventuating in the historic Nicholas family of Europe, which has given the church two popes, besides long lines of nobility. In the reign of Edward the Confessor, Count Nicholas De Albini and the other Count Nicholas of Normandy removed to England, purchasing estates at Lincoln. For a while the Counts Nicholas called the venerable city of Lincoln the city of their adoption, "Nicole," stating that the latter way was the easier of pronunciation, but this Gaelic vestige of papal supremacy did not suit, and Lincoln remained obstinately Lincoln. The name Nicolls in the earlier times was variously spelled both on tombstones and in public records, Nicols, Nicholls, Nichols, Nicolis, Nickols, all referring to persons descending from the same source, and although "Richard Nicolls" is the official signature of the early governor of New York as found appended to public documents signed by him, it is to be noted that historians have not always observed that spelling in speaking of him. The spelling now alternates between "Nichols" and "Nicholls." In this country the former is probably more frequently met with, while the latter prevails in England. Since the reign of Queen Elizabeth, forty coats-of-arms have been granted the descendants of Count Nicholas De Albini, including those of various peers of the realm. Of these Sir H. Nicholas wrote the "Historic Peerage of England." The family has been marked through all the generations down to the present by a strong liking for genealogical research, the late John Gough Nichols, editor of the Herald and Genealogist, along with his father and grandfather, having devoted his life to antiquarian studies, the memorial of the united labors being a Nichols genealogy, full and complete, deposited in the College of Arms in London, (see Comm. Biographical Rec., Fairfield Co., Conn.).

The ancestry in England of "Sergeant" Francis Nicolls is found in the work, "Sergeant Nicolls of Stratford, Connecticut, 1639, and the Descendants of his son Caleb Nicholls" by Walter Nicholls. There it is said that he was a son of Francis and Margaret (Bruce) Nicholls, and a brother of Colonel Richard Nicolls, the first English governor of the Province of New York. Margaret Bruce, his mother, was a descendant of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland. That he was a military man in England is shown by the inscription on the monument of Colonel Richard Nicholls at Amphill, Bedford county, England, which was the family seat. He is there mentioned as a "Captain of foot," though in Stratford he was known as "Sergeant" Nicholls. He sprang from a family of fighters, lawyers and military men, and was one of the leading military men of the early colony; having been appointed by an order of the general court, October 10, 1639, to "train the men and exercise them in military discipline." His brother, Colonel Richard Nicolls, who was at the head of the British forces in the New Netherlands, in his will, made a bequest to "Sergeant Francis Nicolls of Stratford, Connecticut." Coat-of-Arms of Sergeant Francis Nicolls: Arms: Azure a fesse between three lions' heads. Crest, a tiger legent ermine. Motto, Ille nunquam cedunt.

(I) Francis Nicolls came from England in 1635 or 1636, and settled in Stratford, Connecticut, in 1639. He is believed to have remained for a time at or near Boston, as his son James is known to have held real estate in Watertown, Massachusetts. He was one of the original proprietors and settlers of Stratford, Connecticut, and his lands and proprietory rights there were distributed to his children before his death. An inventory of his personal property appears of record in the town hall in Stratford. It is supposed that he was possessed of real estate situated in Southold. Long Island. Of his first wife there is no account. He married (second) in 1645, Anne, daughter of "Deacon" Barnabas Wines, of Southold, Long Island, by whom he had one child, a daughter. She survived him and married (second) John Elton, a wealthy planter of Southold; (third) Captain John Tooker, of Seatauket, Long Island, and (fourth) Colonel John Youngs, son of Rev. John Youngs, the first minister at Southhold. The children of "Sergeant" Francis Nicolls (Nicholls) by his first wife came with him to America. They were probably all of legal age at that time.

  1. Isaac, see forward;
  2. Caleb;
  3. John;
  4. a daughter who married Richard Mills.

(II) Isaac, son of Francis Nicolls (Nicholls), married February 25, 1646, Margaret Washbourne (?), and died in Stratford in 1695. In his will, dated September 28, 1694, proved August 13, 1695, he gives his homestead and 'lands to his son Benjamin, subject to a life estate therein of his widow, stating that he had given to all his other children as he was able at their marriage or afterwards. He was several times a deputy to general court from Stratford. "Savage Genealogical Dictionary" [James Savage, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England] says: "His trade was that of a soap boiler." In his will he mentions his wife Margaret; his four sons, Josiah, Isaac, Jonathan and Ephraim, were dead, but he gave a small portion to each of the children of the last three, his sons having previously received their portion. Cothren [perhaps William Cothren, History of ancient Woodbury, Connecticut, from the first Indian deed in 1659] supposes the wife of Isaac to have been a sister of William Washbourne, of Stratford, and afterwards of Oyster Bay, Long Island, from the fact that a son of William Washbourne calls Isaac Nichols his "uncle," but he admits it is not a definite conclusion. Her name was Margaret or Margery. The children of Isaac and Margaret Nichols were

  1. Mary, born February 2, 1647-48, married Rev. Israel Chauncey;
  2. Sarah, November 1, 1649, married Stephen Burritt, January, 1674;
  3. Josiah, January 29, 1652-53;
  4. Isaac, March 12, 1654 (mentioned as deceased in father's will);
  5. Jonathan, December 20, 1655;
  6. Ephraim, December 16, 1657, see forward;
  7. Patience, February 2, 1660;
  8. Temperance, May 17, 1662;
  9. Margery, November 30, 1663 (called in her father's will, Margaret);
  10. Benjamin, February 2, 1666;
  11. Elizabeth, April 2, 1668, married Rev. Joseph Webb, July 8, 1691.

(III) "Ensign" Ephraim, son of Isaac and Margaret Nichols, was born December 16, 1657. He married, October 17, 1682, Esther, widow of Ebenezer Hawley, of Stratford. She was previously the widow of William Ward. Ephraim was the ancestor of the Fairfield branch of the Nichols family. He died early in 1690. The first probate proceedings affecting his estate are dated May 9, and his will was proved November 8, of that year. His widow and Joseph Lockwood were appointed administrators of his estate, June 9, 1691. His widow subsequently married Eliphalet Hill, of Fairfield. It is also stated that she married the fifth time, a certain Mr. Lord; but Schenk's "History of Fairfield," [Elizabeth Schenck, History of Fairfield] says it was her daughter by Dr. Ward that married Eliphalet Hill, and afterward Mr. Lord, so that her mother, Esther, was married but three times. Esther died in 1692. The children of Ephraim were:

  1. Ignatius, born December 17, 1683;
  2. Deborah, January 1, 1685-86;
  3. Esther, December 16, 1689; (and, perhaps, others).

(IV) Ignatius, son of Ephraim and Esther Nichols, was born December 17, 1683, died early in 1758, and was buried in the old Greenfield Hill cemetery, where his tombstone and that of his wife are still standing. His name has there the prefix "Mr.," which in those days indicated a person of some importance. The name is spelled "Nickols," and his age is stated to be seventy-three years at death; that of his wife, fifty-seven years. The inventory of his estate was filed in the probate office of Fairfield, March 22, 1758, and by it was shown that he had left to his son Ephraim £239, 8s. 4d. and but half that sum to each of his other children, except Nathan who is not mentioned. He married Abigail Staples, of Fairfield, Connecticut. She was born in 1689, died December 12, 1745. Children:

  1. Ephraim, baptized January 30, 1727-28, see forward;
  2. Nathan;
  3. Ignatius;
  4. Abigail, married John Jackson;
  5. Esther.

(V) Ephraim (2), son of Ignatius and Abigail (Staples) Nichols, of Fairfield, Connecticut, was baptized January 30, 1727-28. He married, April 5, 1740-41, Rebecca, daughter of Onesimus and Eunice (Hubbell) Gould. Onesimus Gould lived in the town of Fairfield, east of the so-called Burr's highway (out in the fields), a short distance south of what is known as Congress street, leading to Greenfield hill. He was the son of Major Nathan Gould, but whether by the latter's first wife, Hannah, is uncertain. Major Nathan Gould's first wife was a sister of Governor Joseph Talcott, of Connecticut, and if she was the mother of Major Nathan, his descent may be traced through the Talcott genealogy back in England to 1520. Major Nathan was the son of Deputy Governor Nathaniel Gould, also of Fairfield. Both father and son were very prominent in Fairfield and Connecticut politics. Eunice Hubbell was the daughter of Samuel Hubbell, Junior, of Fairfield, and his wife Elizabeth. Samuel Hubbell was born about 1670, and was the son, by the second wife, of Richard Hubbell, who was born in Great Britain (probably Wales) in 1628, and died at Pequannock, October 23, 1699. Ephraim Nichols, being the eldest son, received from his father's estate a double portion, as shown by the distribution thereof. His wife, Rebecca, was born in 1724, died April 30, 1810. He died in 1782, and the inventory of his estate was filed March 3 of that year. Children:

  1. Ebenezer, born November 4, 1741;
  2. Hezekiah;
  3. David, March 29, 1746-47;
  4. Eunice, April 4, 1748-49, married Epaphas Wakeman;
  5. Peter, September 28, 1750, see forward;
  6. Sarah, April 28, 1752;
  7. John, August 2, 1754;
  8. Jesse, April 26, 1757;
  9. Ephraim, April 15, 1758;
  10. Rebecca;
  11. Eleanor;
  12. Hannah.

(VI) Peter, son of Ephraim (2) and Rebecca (Gould) Nichols, was born September 28, 1750. He married, June 15, 1773, Hannah, daughter of Increase Burr. He was a blacksmith by trade and, as shown by his account books, now in the possession of E. B. Nichols, Esq., carried on an extensive business with the residents of the vicinity. His home was in the lower part of Weston (now Easton), Connecticut, where his grandson Charles now lives. He died April 28, 1806, and the inventory of his estate was filed August 17 of that year. His widow, Hannah, died October 27, 1845, aged ninety-one years, nine months and twenty-eight days, according to her tombstone, though the "Burr Family Record" says she was born December 25, 1794. Children:

  1. Sarah, born May 16, 1774, married Ichabod Jennings;
  2. Peter, April 1, 1776, see forward;
  3. Jane, May 20, 1778, married Alton Bradley;
  4. Increase Burr, September 17, 1780, and who was an ancestor of Thomas L. Watson, Esq., a prominent banker of New York City;
  5. Abigail, August 25, 1782, married Daniel Morehouse;
  6. Charity, July 2, 1786, married Isaac Silliman;
  7. Rhoda, February 18, 1790, married Joseph Meeker;
  8. Betsey, April 3, 1797, married Garret Row.

(VII) Peter (2), son of Peter (1) and Hannah (Burr) Nichols, was born April 1, 1776. He married (first) Urana Bradley, born in 1779, died October 9, 1813. He married (second) April 25, 1816, Catherine, born March 20, 1780, died May 17, 1868, daughter of Azariah and Eunice (Risden) Jennings. Peter Nichols was, like his father, a blacksmith by trade, and was born and lived until his death upon his father's premises in Weston (now Easton), Connecticut. In his later years he was much afflicted with sores on his feet which confined him to his house. He held a commission from the governor of the state as lieutenant of militia. He died September 26, 1854, and was buried in the old Gilberttown burial ground in Easton. His children were by his first wife, Urana (Bradley) Nichols:

  1. Timothy, born June 7, 1798;
  2. Eleanor, December 12, 1800, married Anson Lyon;
  3. Marina, December 2, 1803, married Wallace Nichols;
  4. Horace, June 20, 1806;
  5. Henry, June 21, 1811;
  6. Harriet, June 21, 1811, married John Dimon.

Children by second wife, Catherine (Jennings) Nichols:

  1. Eunice Risden, February 15, 1817, married Nathan T. Marvin;
  2. Betsey Burr, June 13, 1819, married Levi French;
  3. Mary, January 31, 1823, married Francis Bulkley;
  4. Charles, see forward.

(VIII) Charles, son of Peter (2) and Catherine (Jennings) Nichols, was born May 3, 1827. He married, September 3, 1851, Polly Lavina, born July 16, 1828, daughter of Elijah and Huldah (Barlow) Jennings. Elijah Jennings, her father, was born in 1795, died April 15, 1831. Her mother, Huldah, was born February, 1795, died December 10, 1881. Charles Nichols, having early bought out the interests of his co-heirs, remained alone, of all his father's children, upon the homestead established by his grandfather, upon lands inherited from his Gould ancestors. Before his marriage he went to sea and was on the Rio Grande river, returning from Matamoras, at the outbreak of the Mexican war, barely escaping capture. After his marriage he took up carpentry, which he followed for many years, but for a few years was in the market business in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and in his later years has been engaged in the carriage and wagon repair business. His wife, Polly L., died April 12, 1859. He married (second) June 26, 1862, Frances Louise, born August 16, 1836, daughter of Walter and Eunice (Bradley) Burr. She died April 5, 1897. Children by first wife were:

  1. Medora Jane, born August 27, 1852, died January 17, 1855;
  2. Edgar B. Nichols, February 25, 1855, see forward;
  3. Charles Franklin, May 29, 1857, died June 28, 1858.

Children by second wife:

  1. Mary Louise, born March 25, 1866, married W. W. Lyon, December 25, 1909;
  2. Alice Isabella, April 1, 1871.

(IX) Edgar Barlow, eldest son of Charles and Polly Lavina (Jennings) Nichols, was born February 25, 1855, at Easton, Connecticut. He was but four years of age when his mother died. He early attended the public schools, and at the age of eleven began assisting his father, who intended him to learn the carpenter's trade; attending school but three months in the year; but after a trial the father became satisfied that his boy would make an indifferent carpenter. The lad determined he would have an education and become a professional, teaching being his principal ambition at that time. He entered Staples Academy at Easton, where he was graduated in 1874, and afterwards taught one season. He then entered Yale, and literally "worked his way" through that university, being graduated with his class in 1879. In his junior year he was the recipient of the first Winthrop prize, of $200, awarded for proficiency in Greek and Latin classics. The opportunities he enjoyed were entirely of his own making and secured by systematic self-denial and persistent, unflagging determination. He decided upon the profession of law, and after leaving Yale entered the law office of Hon. Henry A. Strong, of Cohoes, finishing his legal studies and being admitted to the Albany county bar in 1882. In the fall of 1882 he was elected principal of Leavenworth Institute, Wayne county, New York, where he remained two years, resigning to engage in the practice of his profession. This was his last pedagogical experience as ever since he has followed the practice of law, principally in the city of Cohoes. In 1892 he was appointed city recorder and served four years. In 1903 he was appointed judge of the city court, a position he has since filled. He retains his private practice, which consists of the general practice of law in its varied forms and applications, and is also connected with local business enterprises. Judge Nichols is a Republican in politics, and has served as member of the city board of education. He is a member of the Baptist church. His college fraternity is Sigma Upsilon (Yale). He is a successful man, both in his profession and in business, broad-minded and progressive, a strong friend of higher education, and has in a marked degree the family penchant for genealogical research and preservation of family records. It is to his careful investigation and painstaking research that the foregoing record is due. He married, at Cohoes, New York, July 18, 1883, Clara Belle Clark, born in Biddeford, Maine, February 9, 1861, daughter of Benjamin F. S. and Hannah E. (Smith) Clark. They have one child, see forward.

(X) Florence Elizabeth, only child of Judge Edgar Barlow and Clara Belle (Clark) Nichols, was born in Cohoes, New York, February 14, 1895. She is a student of Egberts high school, Cohoes, class of 1912.

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