Nicoll, Alexander (DNB00)

NICOLL, ALEXANDER (1793–1828), orientalist, youngest son of John Nicoll, was born at Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, 3 April 1793. After attending successively a private school, the parish school, and Aberdeen grammar school, he entered Aberdeen University, where he studied two years with distinction. In 1807 he removed to Balliol College, Oxford, on a Snell exhibition, and graduated B.A. in 1811, and M.A. in 1814. He began his special oriental studies in 1813, and was afterwards appointed sub-librarian in the Bodleian Library. In 1817 he took deacon's orders, and became a curate in an Oxford church. In 1822 he succeeded Dr. Richard Laurence [q. v.] as regius professor of Hebrew and canon of Christ Church, on the presentation of the Earl of Liverpool, prime minister, and was made D.C.L. in the same year. He died of bronchitis on 24 Sept. 1828. He was twice married—first to a Danish lady, who died in 1825; and, secondly, to Sophia, daughter of James Parsons, the editor of the Oxford ‘Septuagint,’ who prepared a posthumous volume of Nicoll's sermons, with memoir, in 1830. By his second wife he left three daughters.

Nicoll's main work was his catalogues of the oriental manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. He first arranged those brought from the east by Edward Daniel Clarke [q. v.], and published in 1815 a second part of the catalogue, which dealt with the oriental manuscripts; the first part, dealing with the classical manuscripts, had been issued by Gaisford in 1812. In 1818 Nicoll published ‘Notitia Codicis Samaritano-Arabici Pentateuchi in Bibl. Bodleiana,’ Oxford, royal 8vo. Finally, he added in 1821 a second part to the ‘Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ Codicum Manuscriptorum Orientalium Catalogus,’ of which the first part, by Joannes Uri [q. v.], the Hungarian scholar, had appeared in 1788. The third part, by Edward Bouverie Pusey [q. v.], was printed in 1835. These compilations gained for Nicoll a European reputation, and such was his linguistic fame that it was commonly said of him that he might pass to the Great Wall of China without the services of an interpreter.

[Memoir by Rev. J. Parsons; Anderson's Scottish Nation; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Chambers's Biogr. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen, pp. 218–19; Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Library, 1889, 2nd ed.]

T. B.