Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nichols, Thomas

NICHOLS, THOMAS (fl. 1550), translator of Thucydides, was a citizen and goldsmith of London. In 1550 there was published ‘The Hystory writtone by Thucidides the Athenyan of the warre which was betweene the Peloponesians and the Athenyans translated oute of Frenche into the Englysh language by Thomas Nicolls citizeine and Goldsmith of London. Imprinted the xxv day of July in the yeare of our Lorde God a thousande fyue hundredd and fyftye.’ Prefixed is ‘the tenoure of the kynges maiesties most gracyous priuilege for seuen yeares;’ this is dated 24 Feb. 1549–50, and grants Nichols full copyright for the term specified. The work is dedicated to Sir John Cheke. Nichols knew no Greek, and depended entirely on the French version of Claude de Seyssel, bishop of Marseilles in 1510, and archbishop of Turin in 1517, whose translation was published at Paris in 1527. No other English translation appeared till Hobbes's version of 1682.

The printer of Nichols's volume is unknown. It has been assigned to the press of John Wayland; but this ascription is due to John Bagford, who pasted into his copy Wayland's colophon, cut from another book (cf. Harl. MS. 5929). Bagford's copy came into the possession of Herbert, who was deceived by Bagford's device, and gave currency to the statement that Wayland printed the volume (cf. Sinker, Sixteenth-Century Books in Trinity College, Cambridge; Ames, Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert).

Another Thomas Nichols (fl. 1554), a London merchant, went about 1554 to the Canary Islands as factor for Thomas Lok [see under Lok, Sir William], Anthony Hickman, and Edward Castelin, ‘who in those days were worthie merchants and of great credit in London’ [cf. art. Nicholas, Thomas]. Nichols spent seven years in the islands, and after returning home found so many errors in Andrew Thevet's ‘New founde Worlde,’ which appeared in an English translation from the French in 1568, that he placed his own observations briefly on record. His work was entitled ‘A Description of the Canary Islands and Madera, with their remarkable Fruits and Commodities.’ It was included in Hakluyt's ‘Principall Navigations,’ 1599 (vol. ii. bk. iv. pp. 3–7).

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S. L.