NICOLSON, William (1655-1727)

NICOLSON (NICHOLSON), William (1655–1727)

cons. 14 June 1702 bp. of CARLISLE; transl. 2 May 1718 bp. of Derry; transl. 18 Jan. 1727 abp. of Cashel and Emly

First sat 18 Nov. 1702; last sat 21 Mar. 1718

b. 1655, eldest s. of Joseph Nicolson, clergyman and Mary (d.1689), da. of John Briscoe of Crofton Hall, Cumb. educ. Dovenby sch.; Queen’s, Oxf., matric. 1670, BA 1676, MA 1679, fell. 1679; Leipzig Univ., Germany, 1678; ord. deacon 1679, priest 1681. m. 3 June 1686, Elizabeth (1656-1712), da. of Dr John Archer of Oxenholme, Kendal, Cumb., 2s. 5da. (1da. d.v.p).1 d. 14 Feb. 1727. will 30 Mar. 1725, pr. 11 Apr. 1727.2

Almoner to George I, 1716-18.

Vic. Torpenhow, Cumb. 1681-99, Addingham, Cumb. 1699-1702; preb. Carlisle 1681-1702; adn. Carlisle 1682-1702; rect. Great Salkeld, Cumb. 1682; Lecturer, Queen’s, Oxf. 1679-82; FRS 1705;3 commr. Q. Anne’s Bounty.

Associated with: Gt Orton, Cumb.; Old Palace Yard, Westminster, 1702-18; Manchester Court, London 1702-18.

Likenesses: oil on canvas, copy by W. Miln, 1891 after original attrib. M. Dahl, c.1715-20, Queens’ College, Oxf.

William Nicolson was the son of a Cumberland clergyman whose career may have suffered both from his royalist sympathies and his accommodation with the Presbyterian settlement. Although of little wealth, Nicolson was sent to Queen’s College, Oxford, where he was of sufficient scholarly promise to be elected to the foundation as a taberdar. He seems to have made visits to London to engage with its intellectuals, including Robert Hooke; there he attracted the notice of another Cumberland clergyman’s son and Queen’s man, Sir Joseph Williamson, who paid for him to spend 1677-8 in Germany. If Williamson intended Nicolson for a diplomatic career, his protégé did not follow his lead, but instead returned to Oxford. Nevertheless his German experience was formative: he enjoyed writing asides in idiosyncratic German in his diaries and his sense of familiarity with the country may have encouraged his later sympathies with the House of Hanover. He also assisted Williamson with the reorganization of state papers, anticipating his later activities on a Lords’ committee, and became the first holder of the lectureship in Anglo-Saxon at Queens’ established by Williamson. Nicolson’s exploration of the antiquity of English institutions of church and government was commensurate both with his clerical vocation and the pursuit of rational enquiry demonstrated in his friendships with natural philosophers. However, his energies were directed away from linguistic scholarship towards another project which promised (misleadingly) to be more commercial, The English Atlas: he contributed to one (1680) and wrote two (1681-2) of the four published volumes, drawing lightly on his brief personal experience of Germany and more heavily on secondary sources. Although 11 volumes had been planned, in 1685 the bookseller Moses Pitt, the project’s initiator, was arrested for debt and the prospect of a long-term monetary reward dried up.4 In 1684 Thomas Lamplugh, then bishop of Exeter, recommended him for promotion from archdeacon to dean of Carlisle, describing him to William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, as ‘a very good scholar, [and] a sober, prudent man’.5 These qualities were not enough for a young clergyman ambitious of establishing his place in Cumberland society. His lack of money frustrated his intended marriage to Barbara Copley of Gosforth Hall, Cumberland, who in July 1684 was persuaded to break an engagement on the grounds of Nicolson’s uncertain financial prospects. He eventually married Elizabeth Archer, daughter of a Kendal gentleman physician in 1686. Nicolson was never wealthy, and when his wife died in 1712 he was still enjoying only a moderate income on which to support his ‘cargo of seven children’.6 As archdeacon and prebendary of Carlisle and rector of Great Salkeld his income was at least £100 a year, though only £4 of this came from the archdeaconry; Torpenhow brought him £140 a year.7 Certainly his income of some £800 a year as bishop of Carlisle was meagre in comparison to other bishoprics. In 1714 Nicolson told a friend, though, that he wanted for little and that his family was ‘like to be left in as good condition’ as that of his father ‘and as none of those are in beggary or great want, I am not much solicitous for more’.8 Translation into the Church of Ireland in 1718 nevertheless boosted his income. By the time of his death in 1727, he was able to bequeath £1,000 each to his six surviving children.9

Early career in church and local politics

As archdeacon in Carlisle, Nicolson associated himself with the Musgraves, to whom he was distantly related on his mother’s side, and the Grahmes, who were directly represented at Carlisle Cathedral by the dean, William Grahme. Nicolson dedicated his sermon on the accession of James II to Philip Musgrave, clerk of the Privy Council and son of the Member for Carlisle in the preceding and ensuing Parliaments, Sir Christopher Musgrave (from 1687 4th bt.). Carlisle’s loyalty, he wrote, ‘has been sufficiently signalized in her being owned by the Musgraves’.10 Nicolson endorsed the Revolution of 1688 in a letter of 15 May 1689. He affirmed ‘our antient principles of loyalty… the glory of our Church’ but noted that the times required ‘a deal of unprejudiced reasoning and circumspection’ to avoid ‘the very dregs of treason and rebellion’. In this way true allegiance was owed to William and Mary: 

a prince and princess ... in whom we are ready enough to acknowledge all accomplishments that we can wish for in our governors, provided their title to the present possession of the crown was unquestionable; and therefore ... we should rather greedily catch at any appearance of proof that may justify their pretensions, than dwell upon such arguments as seemingly overturn them.11

Nicolson intervened regularly in parliamentary elections in Cumberland and Westmorland. In Sept. 1695 he sent letters on behalf of the bishop, Thomas Smith, bishop of Carlisle, to the clergy of the deanery of Westmorland urging that they support the re-election of Christopher Musgrave, second son of the 4th baronet, in Carlisle. Nicolson made his and Smith’s support for Musgrave be known though other channels in the diocese, though without success.12 Before the 1698 election, Nicolson attempted to secure the interest of John Lowther, Viscount Lonsdale, for a Musgrave candidate in Carlisle or Westmorland. After he was rebuffed by the Lowthers, Nicolson claimed that he had evidence of conventicle attendance by their candidate for Carlisle, James Lowther (the son of Sir John Lowther of Whitehaven). A public denial by the Lowthers charged Nicolson with making the accusation ‘to serve some turn’.13 Despite Nicolson’s efforts the Lowther interest prevailed.

At the same time as he was aligned with the Tory Musgraves in Cumberland and Westmorland, Nicolson was associated through his antiquarian pursuits with a circle of clergymen who would become Whigs as the party boundaries hardened in Anne’s reign. These included a fellow Queen’s College man and Westmorland native, Edmund Gibson, the future bishop of London, and later William Wake, who would become archbishop of Canterbury under the Hanoverians, as well as White Kennett (later bishop of Peterborough). The 1690s Convocation controversy marked the start of Nicolson’s philosophical (if not practical) movement away from Toryism. Nicolson’s great scholarly endeavour, The English Historical Library, published in three volumes between 1696 and 1699, comprised a historical survey of available sources for the history of the English state and church. Nicolson’s impolitic assessments of the work of some of his contemporaries attracted resentment. Edmund Gibson attributed his friend’s free expression to a naiveté born of ’having lived so long out of the world’, presumably referring as much to the distance between Cumberland and London as to his distance from regular contact with ecclesiastical and political discussion.14 In the second part of the work, Nicolson’s account of ecclesiastical historians emphasized the authority of the crown against the claims not only of the Roman Catholic church but of the prelacy and clergy in general, celebrating, for example, the lives of archbishops who served their kings such as Simon Sudbury who sealed ‘his loyalty to his prince with his blood at his death’ and Henry Chichele, the ‘most faithful servant’ of Henry VI, Edward IV and Henry VII. Prelates who opposed the crown were dismissed as misguided allies of ‘the court of Rome’ led into ‘disgraceful circumstances with their sovereigns’ but ‘precious in the esteem of those bigoted monks’ who recorded their deeds.15 Nicolson’s sentiments contradicted in spirit and in letter the argument for the autonomy of the Church put forward by Francis Atterbury, later bishop of Rochester, in his Letter to a Convocation Man (1696), and aligned him with the arguments for state supremacy over the Church put forward in William Wake’s reply to Atterbury. It was the basis for Nicolson’s estrangement from a high church position in politics and his move into eventual alliance with the Whigs.

Nicolson himself would find himself embroiled in controversy with Atterbury, who attacked his scholarship, as well as Wake’s, in The Rights, Powers and Privileges of an English Convocation (1700). In a letter to William Elstob of 3 Feb. 1701, Nicolson explained that the preface to his Scottish Historical Library would refute the allegations of Atterbury, ‘this foul-mouthed preacher’ who had accused Nicolson of misrepresenting the office of king’s chaplain by translating a term found in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle as ‘hired clerk’.16 In the preface to the new book Nicolson argued that he had not intended a value judgment in his choice of words: ‘it signifies neither more nor less than a court chaplain.’17 When Nicolson wrote to Sir Christopher Musgrave in October, he defended the loyal address from the gentlemen of Cumberland and Westmorland in 1701 which (to his annoyance) had been misinterpreted by critics as an endorsement of the Pretender, and told him of his worries about the reception of his book; only if John Sharp, archbishop of York, gave it his blessing, he wrote, would he proceed to publication.18

Nicolson had intervened in the county election for Westmorland in January 1701 behind the Tory Henry Grahme who was elected despite being accused of catholicism, a rumour which Nicolson told the diocesan clergy was an ‘impudent slander’.19 The Whig dynasties of Howard and Lowther regarded him warily. On 17 May 1701, with Bishop Smith* thought close to death and with the affairs of the diocese in Nicolson’s hands, James Lowther worried about the possibility of Nicolson succeeding him, particularly because of Sir Christopher Musgrave’s friendship with Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, and the plan of the Musgraves and Grahmes to control the land tax commissions for Cumberland and Westmorland and use them against the Lowthers. On 20 May Lowther reported that Charles Howard, 3rd earl of Carlisle, had spoken ‘very plainly to the king about a new bishop and told him of the consequences of it if it should come into the way of such a man as the archdeacon’.20

Before the winter 1701 election in Carlisle Nicolson again suggested that James Lowther was a nonconformist, although the allegation failed to prevent Lowther’s return.21 Smith lingered until 12 Apr. 1702. In the weeks before Smith’s death Nicolson appears to have aimed no higher than the deanery of Carlisle. His letters to James Grahme of 2 and 11 Apr. suggested that he expected and supported the appointment of his correspondent’s brother, the incumbent dean William Grahme, to the see. William Grahme’s refusal of the bishopric, Nicolson told James Grahme on 16 Apr., left him ‘far from being comforted’ as it left him without ‘the most flattering prospect which I ever had in my life’. On 4 May Nicolson related that he had received a letter informing him that John Robinson, later successively bishop of Bristol and London, would be the new bishop of Carlisle.22 Nicolson would not have known that it had been reported in London two days earlier that he himself would be appointed bishop.23 After his election on 21 May Nicolson proceeded to London bearing a letter of recommendation from Sharp to Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham. Nicolson, unfamiliar with the customs of court, was to be introduced to the queen ‘to return thanks for her favours and to kiss her hand, and, after he is consecrated, instruct him as to doing homage and all else which concerns him. I am sure you will shew him all respects for his own and Sir Chr[istopher] Musgrave’s sake.’24 The letter also included Sharp’s nominations to the archdeaconry and prebendal stall at Carlisle and vicarage of Appleby vacated by Nicolson’s promotion.

Bishop of Carlisle

Nicolson immediately found himself mired in controversy as a result of Atterbury’s hostility (stoked again by a comprehensive response to the 1701 second edition of Atterbury’s The Rights, Powers and Privileges of an English Convocation, in his Letter to the Reverend Dr White Kennet[t], the future bishop of Peterborough). On learning of his appointment he had written to the University of Oxford requesting that he proceed DD by diploma, as advised by Edmund Gibson, now one of the domestic chaplains of Thomas Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury. Gibson also wrote to Arthur Charlett, master of University College, asking for confirmation that this was correct form.25 A party of admirers of Francis Atterbury within the university’s convocation then notified the vice-chancellor that they would vote against the doctorate unless Nicolson apologized for his disagreement with Atterbury over the origins and privileges of the Church’s convocation. The vice-chancellor, Roger Mander, backed down and informed Nicolson that the traditional doctorate would not be awarded. Nicolson learned of the rejection at York on his way down to London in a letter forwarded by his wife on 30 May.26 His first meeting in London on 9 June was with Gibson and John Waugh, another Cumberland and Queens’ clergyman who would eventually become bishop of Carlisle. Gibson was ‘full of the misbehaviour of the University of Oxford and that other care would be taken.’ In the meantime Nicolson wrote to Charlett that the vice-chancellor’s decision ‘must be submitted to’ and that he was ‘already advanced so far beyond what I ought to have hoped for; that this disappointment is pretty tolerable’; ‘the caprice of a single person’, he wrote, would never alienate him from the University.27 Richard Bentley, master of Trinity College and vice-chancellor of Cambridge (who had already crossed swords with Atterbury over Bentley’s critique of Sir William Temple’s Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris), instead arranged honorary doctorates at Cambridge for Nicolson, Gibson and White Kennet. Nicolson nevertheless tried to mend his fences with Oxford, writing on 18 June to Charlett to assure him that in his Letter to Dr Kennett he had not intended a general attack on the Oxford Convocation and that he therefore amended the text for its second printing, while protesting his anxiety of losing the favour of the university through a work he presented as undertaken in its service.28 Nicolson left London for Cumberland on 24 June, travelling via Cambridge where he and Gibson were awarded their doctorates in person on 26 June. On 29 June Nicolson learned, to his amusement, that Oxford had after all granted him his doctorate on 25 June.29 Writing to tell Nicolson that a summons to London would soon reach him in Cumberland, Gibson reported that his Oxford informant said the degree had been carried by a majority of only four.30 Nicolson’s associates interpreted the snub against him as a snub against the queen.31 Nicolson himself wrote on 9 July 1702 from Salkeld to Arthur Charlett of his conviction that ‘my good friend Dr Atterbury and others’ had been determined

to upbraid the queen ... [and] ... by this clamour, to have stopped my consecration; fondly imagining that a doctor’s degree was a necessary qualification for the order of a bishop ... I hope all the rest of my Oxford friends will think me unblameable if, under the pressure of so severe a treatment, I sought a redress (of her majesty’s honour, as well as my own) in another university; where I had a reception as unanimously obliging as I could wish.32

James Lowther decided not to contest the 1702 election in Carlisle, mainly because he had become unconfident about the support of the earl of Carlisle. Nicolson supported the candidacy of Sir Christopher Musgrave’s son Christopher Musgrave. On 21 July, six days before the election, Nicolson was visited by the campaign managers for Thomas Stanwix, who had unsuccessfully challenged James Lowther in the previous two elections. They assured him they would also support Musgrave and ‘be directed by [Nicolson] hereafter’. Despite this, Nicolson subsequently expressed dismay that the mayor and aldermen at the election failed to support Musgrave, leaving Stanwix in the lead and Musgrave taking the second seat.33

The Parliament of 1702

In Gibson’s words, September found Nicolson ‘straitened in time between the business of your diocese and the approach of the Parliament’; he told Nicolson that Sharp would ‘do what he can to make [Nicolson’s late arrival at Parliament] pass easily at court, and among the bishops’, especially the junior ones, although he reminded Nicolson that the queen was ‘of course to be applied to for leave.’ Nicolson’s reply, that he intended to return to London in the middle of November, was appreciated in a letter from Gibson of 17 Oct., which also outlined the issues facing the new Parliament and the uncertainty over the new reign’s political direction: ‘the common opinion is, that the great competition will lay between the [John Churchill,] earl of Marlborough and [Sidney Godolphin, Baron] Lord Godolphin on one side and my Lord R[ocheste]r on the other’, with the former being supported by some of the former allies of William III.34 Nicolson arrived in London on 14 Nov. 1702, almost a month after the opening of Parliament on 20 Oct. He was prepared for his introduction to the House over dinners with Sharp (15 Nov.), Tenison (16 Nov.), and William Lloyd, bishop of Worcester (17 November). Tenison discussed the occasional confomity bill and the bill for repair of churches with him, but it was perhaps the advice given to him by Sir Christopher Musgrave on the evening of 15 Nov., ‘of the eyes that were, and would be, upon my behaviour and voting in the House of Lords’, which most reminded him of political realities. Nicolson took his seat on 18 November. Two days later he read prayers in the House for the first time, and was afterwards ‘kindly cautioned’ by Sharp on his pronunciation of Jesus.35 In his first session, he attended 60 per cent of sittings.

Nicolson discussed ‘Convocation broils’ over dinner with Sharp on 24 Nov. 1702. The lower House of the Canterbury Convocation (in which Nicolson did not sit, being a member of the northern province) was engaged in a series of challenges to the authority of the upper House, attributed by Nicolson to what he termed the ‘Atterburian faction’.36 On 25 Nov. Nicolson was the only bishop among only four Members (and the lord keeper) to honour the order of the previous day that prayers should be said exactly at eleven. At one point on 27 Nov. Nicolson and Peter Mews, bishop of Winchester, were the only bishops present, the others all attending Convocation or being otherwise absent, though Nathaniel Crew, bishop of Durham, was also listed in the Journal as having attended on that day. Nicolson noted that Mews observed that the Lords would not be quorate if either of them left the chamber, ‘there being a necessity of having lords spiritual as well as temporal’ a conclusion rejected by Henry Yelverton, Viscount Longueville, and others.37

The occasional conformity bill was sent up to the Lords on 2 Dec. 1702. Nicolson prepared to deliver a speech on 3 Dec. in support of the measure, convinced that the occasional conformist was sealing his own damnation by using the sacrament ‘for secular ends and purposes’.38 Time constraints prevented him from speaking, but he voted with Sharp and eight other bishops against the wrecking amendment proposed by John Somers, Baron Somers, to restrict the scope of the bill to those covered by the Test Act.39 Nicolson traced the bill’s progress through each stage, and was at this point in his career opposed to the Lords’ order of 9 Dec. that tacking was unconstitutional.40 On 21 Dec. Nicolson was ordered by the House to preach the martyrdom sermon on 30 January. He attended the St Stephen’s dinner at Lambeth and preached at St Margaret’s Westminster on the 27th.41 At the start of 1703, he was estimated by Nottingham to be a continuing supporter of the bill to prevent occasional conformity. On 11 Jan. 1703, before prayers, he entered the proxies he had been given by John Sharp and Richard Kidder, bishop of Bath and Wells. Five days later, Kidder tried to retract the proxy (almost certainly because they had opposing views on occasional conformity), but Nicolson was told by the clerks that Kidder could vacate his proxy only by attending the House.42 The same day, in a division on the clause in the occasional conformity bill relating to municipal officers, Nicolson joined Sharp and eight other bishops to oppose another wrecking amendment, this time to the penalty clause. With the loss of the vote, a dejected Nicolson left the House at 11 at night.43 Nicolson observed on 13 Jan. that the vote on the Derwent navigation was the first time he had seen the bishops unanimous.44 He observed in his diary that the dispute between the Commons and the Lords that month over the settlement bill for Prince George, duke of Cumberland encouraged the Commons on 15 Jan. to resolve not to send the malt tax up to the Lords, despite its passage on 14 Jan. (in fact there was no formal resolution to withhold it recorded in the Journal, although the bill certainly did not arrive in the Lords until Monday 18 January). Nicolson asked ‘Where will these things end? And, when (at this rate) will this session be brought to a conclusion?’

Nicolson often read prayers in the Lords, even after losing his position as the most junior bishop; on 23 Jan. 1703, whilst serving on a select committee on the military expedition of the previous summer, he was called out at the start of the sitting to perform the office.45 Nicolson’s publication of a Scottish Historical Library as well as his consciousness of the vulnerabilities of his border diocese contributed to his interest in the Union, and on 29 Jan. he was visited by John Dalrymple, 2nd Viscount (later first earl of) Stair [S], and his brother Sir Hew Dalrymple, who gave him an account of the progress of negotiations.46 On 30 Jan. 1703 he preached the martyrdom sermon before the Lords for which William Berkeley, 4th Baron Berkeley of Stratton, moved thanks the following day.47 Nicolson dined with Sharp and John Aislabie on 11 Feb. 1703, where he learned of the lengthy ‘remonstrance’ against the previous ministry in the Commons.48 Nicolson attended the House for the last time that session on 19 Feb., registered his proxy in favour of John Sharp on 21 Feb. after preaching at St James’s, and left London the following day. He returned to his diocese and remained there for some 20 months, one of his lengthiest stays away from the capital during Anne’s reign.49 Much of March was taken up with his move from ‘sweet Salkeld’ to Rose Castle.50 Over summer 1703 he conducted his primary visitation and continued his extensive scholarly work.51 In failing to attend the next parliamentary session, Nicolson missed debates and votes on the newly introduced occasional conformity bill of which Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, had twice forecast Nicolson as a supporter. His political attention was caught by the resistance in Westminster to union with Scotland, writing to Ralph Thoresby that his

correspondents at Edinburgh begin generally to despair of a union. They think our Parliament never intends them any favours, since it has not yet called Sir E.S. [Sir Edward Seymour] to account for his lewd reflection on the poverty of their nation. If this be the first step that we must make, I shall as much despair of our ever coming together.52

On 4 Jan. 1704 Nicolson was summoned to attend the House; he almost certainly obtained official leave of absence, although the printed Journal does not record this.

On 10 July Nicolson heard ‘from a great many hands, certain news of Her Majesty’s having given the deanery of Carlisle to (my kind friend) Dr Atterbury’. Nicolson learned of Godolphin’s assurance to Sharp that the queen intended to give Atterbury ‘a better preferment when an occasion shall happen for it’, remarking in this diary that this ‘will likewise give her an opportunity of pleasing the bishop of Carlisle’.53 In August 1704 Nicolson learned that letters patent for the institution of Atterbury were directed formally to the chapter and not to the bishop. His correspondence revealed the hostility with which he regarded the appointment (‘the heaviest misfortune’) and the jealousy with which he guarded his own jurisdiction. Atterbury arrived in the diocese on 15 Sept., but Nicolson refused to institute him unless Atterbury retracted ‘what he had advanced… concerning an absolute and limited sovereign’.54 Nicolson, advised by White Kennett, claimed persistently that Atterbury was in contravention of the 39 articles, a letter to secretary of state Sir Charles Hedges of 16 Sept. 1704 specifying the 37th article which recognized the authority of civil magistrates.55 Atterbury planned instead to seek Sharp’s mandate for metropolitan institution after demanding that Nicolson renounce his own episcopal rights in the matter; this, predictably, was not forthcoming, Nicolson refusing to give his assent ‘for doing any thing which he would not and could not do himself’.56 Atterbury’s patron, Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford, hoped that the whole affair could be attributed to Nicolson’s ‘sudden motions of a zealous temper’ and asked Sharp to mediate before they were forced to bring the matter to the attention of the queen, who had ‘so great hopes to heal that breach which hath been so long amongst the clergy, so much to their reproach, and the weakening their interests’.57 A smug Atterbury was confident that Harley’s support made Nicolson’s opposition ineffective.58 Exchanges between Nicolson and Hedges and between Sharp and Harley resulted on 23 Sept. 1704 in Hedges instructing Nicolson on behalf of the queen to institute Atterbury without further delay.59 The queen was ‘dissatisfied with the bishop of Carlisle’s indiscretion...she thinks it very hard treatment from him, what he would not have ventured to have acted towards one of the meanest patrons in his own country’. Harley told Sharp that the Privy Council (‘in private discourse’) judged that Nicolson’s behaviour ‘hath rendered him liable to very great penalties’. Harley’s appeal that ‘we may all heal divisions and unite against the common enemy, and not be formenting factions’ perhaps sincerely reflects what may have been the queen’s view. Atterbury was duly instituted on 28 Sept., although Nicolson continued to block his tenure of the deanery.60

Nicolson arrived in London on 24 Oct. 1704 to resume his seat in Parliament and to begin a hectic round of socio-political meetings and dinners. He attended the House on 25 Oct., the second day of business, and thereafter for 77 per cent of sittings, often reading prayers.61 He was aware that his dispute with Atterbury had damaged his reputation, and on 30 Oct. Gibson and Kennett urged him to prepare a ‘counter-narrative’ to Atterbury’s version of events.62 On 4 Nov. 1704 Somers told him his belief that the case between Nicolson and Atterbury had not been represented accurately to the queen.63 On 10 Nov. Nicolson was appointed to the Lords’ committee for securing the public records in the Tower of London, which brought him into more regular contact with Somers and with another peer associated with the Junto Whigs, Charles Montagu, Baron Halifax. Nicolson’s attention, though, was still on his dispute with Atterbury. On 11 Nov. 1704 Sharp urged him to end his withdrawal from court and pay his respects ‘even (I think) to Mr Secretary Harley’. The next day Tenison seemed to agree with Nicolson that Godolphin, had not favoured Atterbury’s appointment.64 On 13 Nov. Nicolson visited the office of records at the Tower with John Williams, bishop of Chichester, where ‘’twas a great trouble to me to see so many waggon-loads of records…in the most dirty and perishing condition imaginable.’65 Nicolson waited on the queen on 15 Nov.; she received him ‘very graciously and with a smile’.66 On 17 Nov. he again visited the Tower to inspect work undertaken on the records with Williams and other members of the committee, and on 20 Nov. the deputy keeper, George Holmes, agreed that Nicolson could have access to the keeper’s books and papers in order to prepare a ‘repertory of records’ as a supplement to the Historical Library. The same day Kennett and Gibson approved the text of Nicolson’s A True State of the Controversy between the Present Bishop and Dean of Carlisle. Kennett arranged for its publication.

Nicolson opposed the tacking of the occasional conformity bill to the land tax and on 28 Nov. 1704 was visited serially by Richard Musgrave and James Grahme who each assured him neither would vote for the tack; Nicolson thought ‘the former might possibly pay some deference to my opinion in this matter’ but that Grahme was entirely directed by Harley.67 In the event both men were sincere. On 29 Nov. Nicolson was in the House when, with the queen present, it went into a grand committee on the security of the nation with regard to the act of security in Scotland. Nicolson did not speak in the debate but had begun the morning discussing his work in progress on the laws of the English-Scottish march.68 A new front opened in the dispute between Nicolson and Atterbury on 30 Nov. when Atterbury demanded Nicolson take action against two minor canons of Carlisle Cathedral whom he had already suspended for ‘kicking, boxing and by word abusing’ each other. Nicolson opted for temporary excommunication, but Atterbury thought excommunication should lead to permanent exclusion from their ecclesiastical positions, which Nicolson thought too harsh. His subsequent support for their restoration was seen by Atterbury as an affront to his privileges as dean.69 On 2 Dec. Tenison warned Nicolson that Sharp wished to stop his dispute over Atterbury’s installation from being aired in print, but by 4 Dec. 1704 Nicolson’s publication was available from the pamphlet-stalls in Westminster Hall. The pressing political issue for Nicolson was by this stage England’s future relationship with Scotland. On the day the grand committee resumed, 6 Dec., he began by waiting on the hereditary sheriff of Westmorland, Thomas Tufton, 6th earl of Thanet, to discuss relations with Scotland, the recent Westmorland by-election and prospects for the general election. On 15 Dec. 1704 the occasional conformity bill came up from the Commons and after a four hour debate was rejected; Nicolson voted with Sharp and nine other bishops for the bill.70

Nicolson dined at various points over December with Henry Compton, bishop of London (who gave him a tour of the latter’s impressive gardens and greenhouses), Nathaniel Crew, Tenison, Sharp, Gibson and Thomas Sprat, bishop of Rochester.71 His most important dinner in terms of electoral politics was with the younger Christopher Musgrave (acting head of the family during the minority of the fifth baronet), James Grahme, Joseph Musgrave Richard Musgrave and Gilfrid Lawson, to discuss candidacies for the Westmorland elections. An argument over shares of expenditure between Joseph Musgrave and Grahme meant that the former refused to stand, dividing Nicolson’s Musgrave-led Tory alliance and perhaps lending weight to an earlier suspicion of Thomas Thynne, Viscount Weymouth (uncle of Richard Lowther, 2nd Viscount Lonsdale), that Nicolson’s party allegiances would shift following the death of his old patron Sir Christopher Musgrave.72 He again attended the St Stephen’s day dinner at Lambeth. On 2 Jan. 1705 he viewed ten documents at the Tower concerning the constitutional relationship between England and Scotland and the origins of border law, dating from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries; on 9 Jan. George Holmes, the deputy keeper of records in the Tower, called on him with papers relevant to the Union with Scotland which Nicolson recommended that he take to Somers.73

On 6 Jan. 1705 Nicolson told Thomas Coke of Melbourne that he consented to the Melbourne rectory bill, which ratified an agreement made in 1701 with Nicolson’s predecessor Thomas Smith to turn Melbourne rectory into a freehold property.74 Nicolson had been present in the House when Coke was given leave to bring in the bill (8 Dec.) and was also present for its passage and carriage to the Commons on 5 February. The bill was given the royal assent on 14 Mar. at the end of the session. On 11 Jan. Nicolson learned from Gibson that he and John Montagu, dean of Durham, had been removed from the list of Lent preachers and in Montagu’s case replaced by Atterbury, apparently at Harley’s behest. The following day Nicolson discussed the petition of Thomas Watson, the deprived bishop of St Davids, with Heneage Finch, Baron Guernsey, whose defence of the deprivation Nicolson interpreted as ‘a hardship on all us ecclesiastics… our opposers aim at such a synodical determination (mixed of bishops and presbyters) as the early church never knew.’75 He was also sought out by Nottingham and Thanet to complain about Joseph Musgrave’s refusal to stand for the Commons at Westmorland in the next election; Nicolson told them that Musgrave was himself ‘the best judge of the weight of his pocket’.76 On the evening of 12 Jan. and over the following days Nicolson investigated the pressure from Harley on William Grahme, the former dean of Carlisle, to backdate his resignation to 8 July 1704 so that Atterbury could enjoy the emoluments of the deanery from 15 July 1704, which Grahme, with Nicolson’s support, refused to do.77 If Nicolson’s understanding of the situation was correct, Harley and Atterbury seem to have backed down, as on 4 Feb. Harley countersigned a petition from Atterbury requesting that the date of the letters patent of his appointment be amended to 15 Aug. 1704. Sir Simon Harcourt, the future Viscount Harcourt recommended the queen’s consent on 14 February.78 Nicolson did not attend the House after 3 Mar. 1705, missing the last eleven days of the session, and returned to his diocese for the next seven months. 

The Parliament of 1705

The dissolution of 5 Apr. 1705 was followed by fiercely contested elections. In the city of Carlisle, Nicolson now (along with the earl of Carlisle) backed Halifax’s younger brother, Sir James Montagu.79 On 28 Apr. 1705 Stanwix was reported to be losing ground in Carlisle and had responded by ‘threatening and making a noise’ to Nicolson that the earl of Carlisle would ‘take it very ill’ if the bishop continued ‘so violent against him’.80 Nicolson was forced, against personal preference, to support Stanwix as Montagu’s colleague rather than Christopher Musgrave. On 19 May Nicolson wrote to Sharp of his unhappiness with the trend which saw electors forced to choose between outsiders such as Montagu and army officers such as Stanwix:

We shall send and give commissions to several other strangers, most of which have commands in the army. Would these gentlemen quarter themselves and their troops amongst us, they might be a security against those apprehensions we are under of danger from the north: but (I confess) I see no occasion we have for their proffered service in another capacity. Yet this is tendered in such a manner as not to be refused.81

By mid–June, Musgrave was complaining to Nicolson of corrupt practices by Stanwix but was finding it hard to produce evidence of overt bribery.82 Stanwix was successful and Christopher Musgrave beaten into third place after ugly exchanges in which Nicolson accused Stanwix of boasting that the queen had supported his election by appointing him deputy governor of Carlisle and Stanwix accused Nicolson of ‘giving him the character of a Presbyterian’; Nicolson noted that ‘I hope he will never deserve it.’83 After the election, Nicolson complained that ‘Mr M[usgrave]’s pretended friends [had] intolerably abused him and me’ and that the result was the consequence of ‘treacherous villainy’.84 Meanwhile, in the Cumberland election Nicolson had supported a possible Tory partner for Gilfrid Lawson (who had approached the bishop the previous December for support) in opposition to Lord Carlisle’s candidates George Fletcher and Richard Musgrave.85 Nicolson, after attending a dinner with most of the county gentry and clergy on 19 Apr., during the Cumberland sessions, reported that a ‘proposal [was] made for the peace of the county’ but that ‘these failing ... war proclaimed’. On 25 May, Nicolson visited the sheriff, Richard Aglionby, to inform him that Lawson had withdrawn.86 Fletcher and Richard Musgrave were returned without contest.

Nicolson was just as preoccupied with cathedral affairs: the highfliers were now entrenched in the cathedral, represented by Atterbury and Hugh Todd. Todd, a canon of Carlisle and a former fellow Anglo-Saxonist of Nicolson’s in Oxford, was ambitious but was not thought of great merit by Nicolson and had ‘met with discouragements in his private offers of himself’ when seeking nomination as a proctor for the York provincial convocation before the diocesan election on 12 June.87 He perhaps saw an alliance with Atterbury as a way to increase his own authority at Nicolson’s expense while proving himself a useful informant and ally of Harley.88 The summer months were particularly fraught for Nicolson while Atterbury was resident at the deanery. On 6 Aug. 1705 he congratulated his close friend Wake on elevation and hoped fervently to see Atterbury promoted from the northern ‘cold and beggarly climate’, not least since the dean was unable to show respect either to his bishop or to various members of the chapter.89 Nicolson, determined to be in London punctually despite the continuing challenges to his authority from the dean and chapter, left Rose Castle on 15 Oct. 1705. He arrived in London eleven days later.90

Before the new Parliament opened James Lowther sought Nicolson’s support in opposing a bill for the development of Parton Harbour; Nicolson, in his capacity as a justice of the peace, agreed to sign a certificate against it.91 Nicolson first attended the Lords in the new session on 27 Oct. 1705, when he read prayers and heard with approval the queen’s ‘excellent and healing speech to both Houses’.92 He attended thereafter for 72 per cent of sittings. His social circle remained based upon his clerical and north country connexions though they expanded beyond it: waiting on Lord Thanet led him also to meet Thanet’s Sussex neighbour John Toke, a Member of the Commons who supported the exclusion of commissioners of the land tax from the Commons, an early sign of the campaigns against ‘placemen’ which became fashionable that session. On 5 Nov. 1705 he visited Lady Lonsdale and two days later he introduced her son Richard Lowther, 2nd Viscount Lonsdale, to Tenison in the House of Lords, though his subsequent attempts to take Lonsdale to see Tenison at Lambeth were frustrated, apparently by Lonsdale’s aversion to bad weather, on 24 Nov. and 1 December. Lonsdale had been introduced to the Lords on 4 Nov. by the Junto peer and his Westmorland neighbour, Thomas Wharton, 5th Baron Wharton; he and his mother may have been keen on using Nicolson to emphasize their Cumberland connections as well as their Junto ones. 93

Nicolson’s own loyalties were themselves difficult to characterize this session. He was appointed to the committee on the address to the queen requesting that she lay before them an account of proceedings in the Parliament of Scotland concerning the succession to the crown and the union of the kingdoms on 12 November. On 3 Dec. Nicolson, Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury and Humphrey Humphreys, bishop of Hereford, dined with Tenison where they resolved that each bishop say something of the state of their own diocese at the ‘Church in danger’ debate expected for 6 December. On 4 Dec. 1705, while the Lords were in committee on the bill to naturalize Princess Sophia, Nicolson left the House to dine at the invitation of Thomas Herbert, 8th earl of Pembroke, a keen collector of antiquarian artefacts. Two days later he attended the House for the ‘Church in danger’ debate, but in the event did not speak in it.94 His diary comments and his earlier actions suggest more sympathy towards opponents of the motion than supporters, but his vote is not recorded. The autumn was overshadowed by continued disharmony within the Carlisle chapter. On 20 Nov. Nicolson had visited Sharp with more details of Atterbury’s claims to decanal jurisdiction, Sharp attributing the disagreement to Atterbury’s mistaken inference from a Henrician statute that common law presumed ‘the dean’s consent necessary in all grants’.95 Nicolson scurried around London soliciting support, on 21 Nov. finding Joseph Musgrave ‘much offended’ at his former tutor Dr Todd’s ‘impertinent politics’.96 On 7 Dec. 1705 Nicolson and Atterbury visited Sharp to debate their controversy before their archbishop.97 Atterbury offered to refer the case to counsel, establishing a temporary halt to hostilities. Nicolson’s principal political concern remained affairs with Scotland: this seems to have been the subject of a conversation with William Elstob on 12 December. On 15 Dec. Nicolson visited the Parliament office in the unsuccessful hope of finding there a paper by John Drummond, earl of Melfort [S.], James II’s secretary of state in Scotland, ‘representing the Church of England to be in danger, as a proper expedient for advancing the interests’ of the Jacobite court.98 Later the same day, Halifax moved the House for the revival of the committee for inspecting records; at Nicolson’s request, he proposed that the same committee be empowered to look at the Cotton Library. Somers also moved for a committee to inspect law, propose amendments, and review and reform practices in the courts. Nicolson was honoured ‘to be very early named, both by my Lord President [Pembroke] and several other noble members of the House, for one in each of these committees’. Meanwhile he succumbed to Atterbury’s attempts to make their relationship more civil and after repeated invitations on 18 Dec. the two men left a meeting of the Queen Anne’s Bounty commissioners for a ‘decent’ dinner in Atterbury’s ‘pretty box’ of a home in Chelsea.99 He spent the morning of 22 Dec. with Halifax, Rochester, Somers and other peers—he was the only bishop—at the committee for records where instructions were given to begin the survey of the Cotton Library, and the state paper and record offices.100 Nicolson was one of 15 to attend the St Stephen’s day dinner at Lambeth. Back to work on the records on 27 Dec., he inspected the shelves and boxes installed to hold chancery records, including parliament rolls, in Caesar’s Tower. The next morning he sat with Halifax, Rochester and Somers in the committee for records, where reports on work undertaken in the previous six days revealed a long history of neglect in the paper office including by Nicolson’s ‘old Patron’ Sir Joseph Williamson, ‘whose late bequest… of some trunks full of papers to this place proves only a restoring of ’em to the cells from whence they had been borrowed’. No texts of treaties could be found in their places.101

Later on 27 Dec., following dinner with Sharp, he asked Gibson about a letter from the Electress Sophia to Tenison quoted by John Thompson, Baron Haversham, in his Vindication of his Speech in Parliament; Gibson confirmed the existence of a correspondence but knew nothing particularly of this letter.102 On 2 Jan.1706 Nicolson dined with a ‘kind and cheerful’ Lord Thanet and discussed ‘his charity in Scotland’ and the previous parliamentary election for Westmorland. Two days later Nicolson was ‘confined with the anniversary bile in my neck’ but he was visited by Gibson who took away with him a copy of the dispensation granted to Atterbury which enabled him to reside in London rather than Carlisle. On 6 Jan. he dined with his brother Joseph (also a clergyman), where the assembled company discussed a case between the parish of St Bride’s and the dean and chapter of Westminster to be heard before the Lords on 8 January.103 When Nicolson dined with Gibson on 10 Jan., he learned that Tenison had consulted with Somers on Atterbury’s dispensation.104

The committee for records met again on 16 an 18 January. Peter Le Neve, Norroy king of arms, showed Nicolson ‘the pretended homage of Malcolm [III of Scotland]’, the meaning of which Nicolson had disputed in print in 1704 with William Atwood. Atwood had argued that this document showed Scotland was rightly subject to England; Nicolson had accurately pointed out that Malcolm had only paid homage for the lands he held in fee.105 The relationship between Scotland and England engaged Nicolson when he dined at Lambeth on 19 Jan. with Williams, Somers and Halifax, among others. Somers and Nicolson agreed that ‘a community of trade’ between Scotland and England was a possibility, with a proportionate number of Scottish representatives in the Lords and Commons during the passage of money bills, but that ‘a farther union (in religion, laws and civil government) must be the work of time.’106 Nicolson found himself the only bishop in the House for some time on a snowy 25 Jan., before he was joined by Gilbert Burnet.107 On 27 Jan. he unexpectedly met Humphrey Humphreys in the vestry of St James’s, where he had gone to preach. The two discussed the differences between the Lords and Commons on the regency or Hanover bill brought up from the Commons the day before.108 On 28 Jan. he and John Williams voted against an adjournment that had been moved by Wharton which prevented the House going into a grand committee on the French wine importation bill.109 He attended the debates on the bill on 29 and 31 Jan., voting on the latter date with the majority of bishops in the division on the repeal of the ‘place’ clause in the 1701 Act of Settlement.110 After attending the Lords on 1 Feb., he spent the evening with a group including John Hare, the Richmond herald, gathering intelligence on ‘the abuses at the herald’s office’ with relevance to the work of the committee for records.111 On 11 Feb. 1706, after attending a Queen Anne’s Bounty meeting in Whitehall, he shared Tenison’s barge to the House where the Lords reported their reasons for maintaining their amendments to the regency bill.112

Nicolson joined his fellow-members of the records committee, Rochester, Somers, Halifax and Ralph Grey, 4th Baron Grey of Wark, at the state paper office on 14 Feb., where they found it in better order than before.113 He undertook further research on the constitutional relationship of Scotland and England, viewing documents from the reign of David II (erroneously referred to as David I) including several suspected forgeries.114 He learned on 16 Feb. that Hugh Todd had written letters of complaint about Nicolson’s infringement of the privileges of the Carlisle chapter to both Tenison and Sharp.115

On 19 Feb., prompted by Wharton, he presented to the House petitions from the gentlemen and freeholders of Cumberland against the Parton Harbour bill. In promoting Parton as an alternative seaport to Whitehaven the bill struck against established interests in the country including those of James Lowther and the diocese.116 Following Tenison’s instructions, ‘very early’ on 21 Feb. Nicolson attended the select committee on the bill to settle the rectory of St Bride’s, before the committee reported to the House the same day. On 22 Feb. the House heard counsel on both sides on the Parton harbour bill, and Nicolson seconded Wharton’s motion to press ‘the contents of the petitions against the bill’. The bill was debated in committee of the whole House on 26 Feb., under the chairmanship of Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset, who also had interests in Cumberland and Westmorland. All of Nicolson’s amendments were rejected and the bill was carried by a single vote on its third reading, much to the irritation of Nicolson who grumbled that Weymouth had let them down on the vote.117 The bill’s opponents maintained that Somerset had deliberately rushed the bill through the House to pre-empt further coordination between Nicolson and Wharton.118 On 2 Mar. 1706 Nicolson attended the House for the last time that session. Two days later he took his leave of Lonsdale, Sharp and Thanet, went with Kennett to dine with Gibson and received a blessing from a bedridden Tenison. He left London on 5 Mar. and returned to his diocese, remaining there until November.119

The cathedral dispute entered a new phase when Hugh Todd (acting on Atterbury’s instructions) presented Nicolson’s sister at the consistory court on a charge of adultery.120 Throughout the following months Nicolson maintained a strained politeness with his absent dean; on 1 July he forwarded to Atterbury the diocesan loyal address on recent military victories, asking him to wait on Godolphin to make arrangements to present it to the queen.121 Nicolson returned to London on 20 Nov. 1706 and before the start of the session worked with Tenison, Burnet and John Moore, then bishop of Norwich, on thanksgiving prayers.122 He was also reacquainted with records committee business, returning to the Tower on 30 Nov. to see ‘fine (and costly) repairs at both repositories of records’ and was visited by James Tyrrel from the Cotton Library on 2 December.123 He attended the House on 3 Dec. for the first day of the session and attended thereafter for 68 per cent of sittings. Much of December was devoted to research into Scottish affairs among the newly ordered public records and dining with members of the Lords and Commons associated with the northern counties, particularly Cumberland and Westmorland. He was one of 13 bishops to attend the St Stephen’s day dinner that year. He preached before the Society for the Reformation of Manners at Bow Church on 30 Dec. 1706, demonstrating his conversion to the movement (having previously thought of it as a back door to religious comprehension).124 On 31 Dec., borrowing robes from Wake and travelling in Sharp’s coach, he attended the queen in procession to St Paul’s.125

Despite Nicolson’s support for the union with Scotland he was anxious that a bill for the security of the Church should be passed, lobbying Tenison on the subject on 4 Jan. 1707, and asking him on 12 Jan. whether the House should be moved to introduce a bill on the security of the Church the next day.126 On 13 Jan. he was visited by Richard Musgrave, arguing that the port of Whitehaven to be allowed to import Irish wool, though it would be two years before parliamentary time was given to the development of the port.127 On 25 Jan. Nicolson dined at Lambeth and was one of five bishops (the others being William Talbot, bishop of Oxford, John Evans, bishop of Bangor, Lloyd and Burnet) who approved Tenison’s draft bill on the security of the Church of England. The bill’s second reading on 3 Feb. saw the House divide on Sharp’s amendment which would make the Test Act permanent and unalterable. The amendment was defeated, Nicolson voting with Tenison and the Whig bishops against it.128 The bill passed the House on 4 February. Nicolson attended on 15 Feb. for the reading of the first articles of Union, and voted for them on 19, 21 and 24 February. On the evening of the last of those days Nicolson received the result of the Westmorland by-election, held four days earlier.129 On 3 Mar. he again voted with the Whigs in favour of confirming the Scottish religious settlement for their Kirk.130 He was present to hear the queen give her ‘gracious speech’ when giving royal assent to the Act of Union on 6 Mar., and two days later preached before the queen at St James’s Chapel.131 On 15 Mar. he attended the House for the last time that session. Three days later James Lowther visited him with the news that he would stand for Cumberland at the next election.132 On 24 Mar., Nicolson left for Rose Castle in considerable discomfort from an attack of kidney stones. He did not return for the brief session in April 1707. He attended both Archdeacon Fleming’s thanksgiving sermon and the corporation bonfire at Carlisle on 1 May to celebrate the Union.133

The Parliament of 1707-8 and the Cathedrals Bill

Nicolson had been forewarned of the difficulties he would face in the diocese by a visit in London from Atterbury on 12 Mar. 1707, who renewed his protests about Nicolson’s proposed visitation of Carlisle Cathedral.134 Nicolson spent the summer months embroiled in the jurisdictional dispute with Atterbury and Todd.135 On 19 May he wrote to Atterbury at the start of his triennial visitation in peaceable terms, offering to wait for a discussion of chapter matters until it suited Atterbury.136 Atterbury, however, forwarded to Harley his legal case and petition to the queen, arguing that the cathedral’s 1541 charter was valid and to be preferred to that of 1545, and Carlisle’s bishops had encroached upon royal rights of patronage.137 Nicolson’s visitation of the cathedral, it claimed, was contrary to the cathedral statutes, which said visitations should be conducted by the crown and not the bishop. Harley presented the petition early in September, calling for the visitation to be stopped.138 Nicolson nevertheless pressed ahead with his visitation of the cathedral, only to be confronted and denied access by Todd on three occasions, 25 Sep., 21 Oct. and 24 Nov., the latter case leading to Todd’s excommunication on 27 Nov. Nicolson had already been served with an order by the court of common pleas on 22 Nov. ordering him to show cause within a week why his visitation should not be stayed.139 Nicolson chose not to answer. He confessed to Wake that he suspected affairs were being orchestrated behind the scenes, writing dejectedly on 29 Nov. that he was unsure ‘what hand it is which moves behind the curtain’ but was certain that ‘no presbyter would bid that defiance to his ordinary, which Dr T[odd] (countenanced by Dr A[tterbury]) has done me, without a supporter of power and authority equal to his insolence’.140

The row delayed Nicolson’s arrival for the next session of Parliament, though he expected to attend, sending through Gibson on 2 Sept. a message to Humphrey Humphreys that he would greet him at the first Parliament of the United Kingdom with a ‘salute ... as a brother Briton, in British’.141 On 2 Oct. Gibson thought him recovered from his decline earlier in the year but ‘the ill-usage he has lately met with from Dr Todd, and just now from the Dean [Atterbury] and Dr Todd jointly, have made him forget… that his constitution is in danger, and if I understand his ailing aright, to forget it is to be well.’142 Gibson told Humphreys on 16 Oct. that Nicolson would be back at the House ‘about the beginning of December’, but Nicolson did not leave the diocese until 15 Dec. 1707, arriving in the capital nine days later.143 That Nicolson was joined for Christmas dinner at his brother Joseph Nicolson’s not only by his sister Frances Rothery, but also by his attorneys Johnson and Heatley indicated how far his dispute with Atterbury and Todd now dominated his affairs. On 26 Dec. he sought legal advice from serjeant-at-law John Chesshyre, who thought that should Todd not submit within 40 days of his excommunication he could be arrested and imprisoned. Nicolson then attended the St Stephen’s day dinner where his cause was ‘much encouraged’. He was assured by Sharp on 27 Dec. that the archbishop would not intervene to oppose him, but on 4 Jan. 1708 was dissuaded by Chesshyre from printing his version of the dispute because it would ‘disgust the court’.144 The visitation dispute did not take all his attention: James Lowther reported that Nicolson had declared his support for Lowther’s candidacy for Cumberland in the forthcoming parliamentary election and anticipated that they would carry it together with the Tory Lawson.145

Nicolson did not appear in the House of Lords until 7 Jan. 1708. He attended 61 per cent of sittings during the session. On his first day back, he received further encouragement from Somers, Sunderland and Halifax and relaxed in the evening at the Globe tavern with his fellow Cumberland-men Joseph Musgrave and Philip and Joseph Tullie, discussing the plight of silk weavers in the face of competition from cloth imported by the East India Company.146 Tenison recommended Nicolson’s cathedral visitation case to his vicar-general, Sir John Cooke, on 8 Jan., and the next day John Evans, the bishop of Bangor, visited Nicolson and was ‘astonished on the reading of my case.’147 On 12 Jan. Somers told Nicolson that he would bring in a bill for the security of cathedral chapter statutes (the cathedrals bill) aimed at nullifying the cause championed by Atterbury and Todd. The process of steering the bill through Parliament would demonstrate that Nicolson’s natural allies were principally Whig rather than Tory. On 15 Jan. Nicolson passed his draft of a bill to Somers in the Lords, and on the same day, for the first time since Nicolson’s return to London, Atterbury attempted to visit him at his lodgings. On 17 Jan. the barrister and legal writer William Salkeld, apparently working with Chesshyre on Nicolson’s case, assured him that bishops were local visitors of their chapters if no others had been appointed.148 On 20 Jan. Nicolson attended the House after dinner where, during the protracted reading of letters and papers relating to Charles Mordaunt, 3rd earl of Peterborough, he conversed with Pembroke about the Irish coinage of King John.149

Todd’s case was argued in common pleas on 26 Jan. 1708. Nicolson seemed satisfied with the arguments of his counsel Chesshyre and Sir Joseph Jekyll but was dismayed by the decision by three of the judges, Lord Chief Justice Thomas Trevor, later Baron Trevor, Sir John Blencowe and Robert Tracy, that the case should be heard on 6 February. The fourth judge, Sir Robert Dormer, argued that common pleas was not the correct venue for the case which should be heard by way of appeal as in ‘the ordinary method of ecclesiastical procedure.’ The next day Nicolson found the gout-stricken Tenison ‘unwilling to stir so much as his tongue for me, till it will be too late’ while Chesshyre urged an unwilling Nicolson to build his case upon defence of the statutes.150 Meanwhile on 22, 23 and 28 Jan. he attended the committee on the examination of Commodore William Ker, who was accused of having demanded £800 from merchants to provide a convoy for their vessels in the Caribbean, and the report of the committee (in Ker’s favour) on 29 Jan. before dining at Halifax’s with Halifax, Sunderland, Somers, John Moore and John Hough, bishop of Lichfield where the cathedrals bill was perhaps a major topic of conversation.151 On 2 Feb. Nicolson was joined by Somers at Lambeth where a circular letter from Tenison to the bishops of Canterbury province was read and approved; it declared Nicolson’s case ‘to be a common cause’ and complained of ‘that evil generation of men who make it their business to search into little flaws in ancient charters and statutes’.152 The next day Somers introduced the cathedrals bill in the Lords.

The prospects for Nicolson’s court case looked bleak when Jekyll refused both Nicolson’s second breviat and a fee on 4 Feb., promising to support ‘my bill’ in the Commons instead. On 6 Feb. Trevor, Blencowe, and Tracy (the latter ‘most immoderately’) gave their judgment in favour of Todd and so prevented Nicolson from making his visitation.153 Wake thought Nicolson ‘very hardly treated’ by the court, ‘but we hope will find some remedy against the violence of some person’s procedure against him.’154 On 10 Feb. Nicolson was served with a writ of prohibition and received a request from Todd for absolution from excommunication. He refused the latter on the grounds that he was outside his diocese. Aside from his battle with Atterbury, Nicolson was involved in other episcopal business, assisting Sharp on 8 Feb. at the consecration of William Dawes, as bishop of Chester.155

On 11 Feb., the day after the issuing of the writ of prohibition, and the same day on which there was ‘sure news of the quitting of Secretary Harley’, Atterbury came, ‘in a peaceful temper’ to visit Nicolson, and spent some hours with him. Two days later, Nicolson learned from William Cowper, Baron Cowper that Sharp was opposed to the cathedrals bill on the grounds that the court of common pleas had decided against it, and that he had persuaded the queen to agree with him. Cowper promised to ‘set her right’. Moore and Wake were ‘secured’ on 14 Feb., but Cowper advised the adjourning of the committee on the bill until 19 Feb. so that all the judges could be present, as the best way to win over the queen. Copies of Nicolson’s printed case arrived on 17 Feb. and he began distribution. Sharp told him of his opposition in person.156 On 18 Feb. Nicolson borrowed Wake’s coach to distribute his paper around London.157 The next day the bill was debated in a committee of the whole and, despite heated exchanges between Sharp and Somers, it was passed without a division.158 Joseph Addison reported to Charles Montagu, 4th earl of Manchester, that despite the presumed efforts of Harley and his allies to persuade her otherwise, the queen ‘expressed herself entirely satisfied with the merits of the bishop’s cause.’159

Nicolson moved immediately to lobby the Commons for the bill. On 20 Feb. he gained Tenison’s permission to distribute the archbishop’s letter of 2 Feb. among Members.160 Nicolson built his support from existing friends and connections, such as the bookseller Awnsham Churchill. James Lowther, though not at that time a Member, and Robert Dale of the record office at the Tower of London, took six copies each to distribute. He ‘endeavoured’ to leave copies with Richard Musgrave and James Grahme, perhaps an indication that these old Cumberland Tory associates of his were not warm towards Nicolson’s bill, which had been enthusiastically pursued by Whigs. On 24 Feb. Nicolson visited the speaker of the Commons, John Smith, Jekyll, Burnet, a supportive Sir David Dalrymple, and William Seton(‘The Scots’, he noted, were ‘most zealously, and unanimously, my friends’), as well as Wake before going to the House where the bill was given a third reading and sent down to the Commons.161

In his visits on that day, Nicolson learned that Harley intended to orchestrate anticlerical sentiment in opposition to his legislation, and would argue that ‘the passing of this bill into a law will put the election of 28 members in the hands of the bishops’. Nicolson secured the services of Peter King† (later Baron King) to steer the bill through the lower House, though the latter expressed some sympathy with Todd. Furthermore, when Nicolson learned on 26 Feb. that Atterbury had printed and was distributing a pamphlet objecting to the bill, he rapidly composed Short Remarks on a Paper of Reasons against the Passing of the Bill and had it printed that night.162 On the following day Nicolson was called from dinner with Christopher Musgrave to receive a message from Somers, who urged Nicolson’s immediate absolution of Todd. With little choice but to comply with this unpalatable request, Nicolson visited Doctors’ Commons where neither Sir John Cooke nor Thomas Tillot, clerk of the convocation of Canterbury, could find a precedent for a bishop absolving an excommunicant when outside his own diocese. Following visits to King, Lord Chief Justice Sir John Holt and Sir Thomas Parker(later earl of Macclesfield), and a further consultation with Cooke, Nicolson was pressed by Somers and William Cavendish, 2nd duke of Devonshire, to accept the necessity of absolving Todd.163 On 28 Feb. Nicolson provided absolution in form for Todd. Parker, satisfied that Nicolson was not seeking to frustrate a judgment in common pleas, subsequently helped to manage the debate that day in the Commons.164

The opposition to Nicolson’s bill in the Commons was led by Harley, Harcourt, John Sharp, the son of the archbishop (their conduct was reported to Nicolson as ‘intemperate’) and Henry St John, later Viscount Bolingbroke, all of whom had recently resigned from the government. Nicolson’s principal allies were the Whigs King, Sir John Holland and Sir James Montagu. Nicolson collected the statutes of the ‘new cathedrals’ from Lambeth on 1 Mar. and that evening entertained Members who supported the bill at the Dog tavern. The next few days were spent ‘coach[ing] about… soliciting’, revising Wake’s draft of a letter in favour of the bill and circulating this and another by Nicolson which he referred to as his Case of the Twelve Cathedrals.165 The Commons in committee rejected two wrecking amendments and passed supportive ones on 9 Mar., leaving Nicolson to celebrate success with ‘rejoicing, at dinner’ on 9 Mar. with Kennett, Gibson, John Waugh and Thomas Benson. On 17 Mar. the bill finally passed the Commons without a final rider proposed by the younger John Sharp, whom Nicolson had dubbed ‘spit-fire’ Sharp for his robust opposition to the bill. The next day Nicolson was ‘heartly thanked’ for his services to the Church by Tenison, and told Wake that the Commons had passed the bill without a division since ‘its opposers (not being half the number of its friends) had not the courage to divide upon the question’.166

Nicolson was ‘accosted by Dr Todd’ on 19 Mar., and the next day, when the bill had passed the royal assent, Nicolson and Todd effected a formal reconciliation in the presence of Sir James Montagu and James Grahme, the latter having been unsupportive on the bill, much to Nicolson’s frustration.167 Grahme and Nicolson dined at Christopher Musgrave’s on 23 Mar., where Joseph Musgrave confirmed that he intended to stand for Appleby in the next election to the Commons. He did not want Nicolson’s support, a sign that Nicolson’s alignment with the Whigs at Westminster was not thought helpful by his long-established Tory connections in the northern counties. Nicolson achieved a rapid reconciliation with Sharp at a meeting on 25 Mar., and chose ‘easiness’ with Todd, to Gibson’s disapproval.168 He was present for the prorogation on 1 April. At his taking leave of Tenison on 3 Apr. the archbishop told him that Harley had been paying a messenger to be sent to Atterbury from the government secret service account. Nicolson left London on 5 Apr., ten days before the dissolution.169

The Parliament of 1708

Nicolson was listed as a Whig in the printed list of the first parliament of Great Britain. Despite his apparent change of party allegiance, Nicolson’s electioneering was still deeply informed by his local influences and allies. In his cathedral city, Nicolson had been sympathetic to Christopher Musgrave’s candidacy, but on 15 Apr. he told Richard Aglionby that Musgrave would need the approval of the earl of Carlisle, Sir James Montagu and Joseph Reed, the Whig leader of Carlisle’s butchers’ company. Nicolson recorded, perhaps sympathetically, a Carlisle alderman’s hope that ‘one dry election will help to change interests’ on 6 May; he turned down an offer of money for Musgrave’s campaign ‘till fairer prospect’ on 10 May.170 Musgrave had his suspicions, regarding Nicolson’s protestations of support as a ‘bamboozle’ in a letter of 15 May. Nicolson may have wished to avoid a contest and ensure the return of Members who would stifle or at least not perpetuate the strife promoted by Atterbury and Todd, and was probably backing Sir James Montagu who had assisted with the cathedrals bill’s passage through the Commons.171 Montagu and Stanwix were returned on 20 May. In Cumberland Nicolson seems to have aimed to achieve a balance of interests, as he rejected George Fletcher, who was being promoted as a Whig partner for James Lowther, in favour of the Tory Gilfrid Lawson. Lawson was in the event returned with Lowther. In Westmorland, Nicolson refused to support the candidacy of James Grahme on the grounds that Grahme had abstained in the Commons’ division on the cathedrals bill; Nicolson too would therefore too remain ‘neuter’.172

Over the summer Nicolson was engaged in enforcing the laws against Catholics, with the support of the earl of Carlisle as lord lieutenant. Gilfrid Lawson (whose denials that he was a Catholic left the question ‘as cloudy as ever’), though, threatened to make public his disapproval, and Nicolson complained to Wake in early August about the lack of enthusiasm shown by magistrates for taking Catholics into custody.173 As the first session of the new Parliament approached, Nicolson was reluctant to leave his diocese until he had settled cathedral affairs to his satisfaction. On 9 Oct., Nicolson wrote to Wake that he had ‘flattered’ himself in thinking the Cathedrals Act would have secured peace, but it had failed to have the desired mollifying effect.174 The new Parliament opened on 16 Nov. 1708 but Nicolson did not resume his seat until the following February. Todd’s rejection of the new cathedral statutes was circumvented on 30 Nov. by having the vice-dean and chapter attest them instead; Todd refused to subscribe them, but withdrew his protestation, though Nicolson considered him ‘entirely in another’s disposal’—meaning Atterbury’s.175 On 4 Dec. 1708 Nicolson told Wake that he hoped to attend the House after Christmas, and asked him to accept his proxy.176

Nicolson’s departure for London was further delayed by appalling weather conditions, but despite lingering thick snow he set out on horseback on 26 Jan. 1709, taking a coach only once he had reached Ware on 5 Feb., arriving in London later the same day.177 On 6 Feb. he visited Sharp, whom he found ‘kind and pleasant’ when discussing the dominant Whig junto and their Scottish allies the Squadrone; he also visited Christopher Musgrave and his nephew Sir Christopher Musgrave, 5th bt. (one of whom was out and the other still in bed); dined at his sister’s and spent the evening with Tenison and Gibson at Lambeth.178 On Monday 7 Feb. he resumed his seat in the House. He attended for some 54 per cent of sittings in the whole session. On 8 Feb. he read prayers and was ‘friendly treated’ by Cowper, afterwards dining with Sir James Dalrymple and other Scottish acquaintances; on 9 Feb. he visited Halifax who was ‘wondrous sweet’ and on 12 Feb. expressed shame that Lonsdale waited on him before he had a chance to pay his respects to Lonsdale.179 Nicolson’s specially noted of 17 Feb. that nine Scots peers were among the 11 lords temporal who accompanied the lord chancellor and bishops to the thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey that day.180 Atterbury visited him on 19 Feb., complaining about the Cathedrals Act and worrying about the implications for the Church on ‘a second invasion’—the proposed naturalization of foreign Protestants.181 On 2 Mar. Nicolson repaid a loan from Christopher Musgrave.182

On 25 Feb. the bill for preserving and enlarging the harbour of Whitehaven was first read in the Lords, promoted by James Lowther as a response to the Parton Harbour Act. On 4 Mar. Nicolson interpreted the duke of Somerset’s actions in the House as ‘kindness’ to the bill, but the following day Somerset ‘hardly allowed’ the bill to pass a committee of the whole. On 12 Mar., Nicolson recorded the passage of the bill, much to his own and Lowther’s satisfaction.183 Nicolson was also concerned in the passage of the general naturalization bill. On 15 Mar. he and Dawes offered an amendment to insist that naturalized citizens worship at a parochial service, rather than attend any reformed protestant assembly. This conservative amendment was supported by ten bishops and opposed by seven, including Tenison.184 When the House went into committee of the whole on 18 Mar. on the Whig bill to improve the Union (also known as the treason bill), Nicolson voted with the other bishops present in the division on amending the bill’s first paragraph (to list the relevant English statutes).185 Four days later he voted with the Scots peers against the court in favour of the stipulation that those accused of treason be given a list of witnesses five days before their trial. On 23 Mar., after receiving medical treatment at the House on a neck swelling, he voted again on the bill, this time against an amendment proposed by the Scots.186 Two days later he voted with the Scottish peers for a resumption of the House on the bill, to allow further consideration of a proposal concerning the validity of Scottish marriage settlements, but on 28 Mar. opposed the rider proposed by Francis North, 2nd Baron Guilford, allowing those accused of treason to be provided with a list of witnesses. Many of the Scottish peers present protested at its rejection and the next day, reading prayers and sitting alone on the bishops’ bench, he recorded that he was ‘frowned on by the northern lords, angry at yesterday’s vote’. That day the earl of Carlisle suggested he and Nicolson ‘settle the affairs of Cumberland’, probably the commission of the peace.187 On 30 Mar. he signed the Lords’ declaration against tacking. On 2 Apr., Halifax agreed with Nicolson that it would be prudent to drop the treason bill.188 Nicolson introduced William Fleetwood, of St Asaph, to the House on 4 April.189 On the following day, he sat in the Commons gallery to hear the debate on the treason bill. On 6 Apr. he spoke in a debate on the stamp bill; a clause that allowed special conditions for Quakers passed the House despite episcopal opposition; Nicolson, however, proposed a clause concerning Quaker marriages which borrowed a phrase from a statute of 1695. Nicolson had learned on 30 Mar. that he had been attacked in print by the Cumbrian Quaker George Whitehead on his opposition to the Quaker form of marriage.190

Concerned in Scottish Episcopalian affairs, Nicolson drew up a paper on 9 Apr. at the solicitation of one James Gordon relating to the Aberdeen clergy for James Douglas, 2nd duke of Queensberry [S] and duke of Dover, and Henry Compton.191 On 12 Apr. Nicolson gave Carlisle a list of 12 names to be added to the commission of the peace, later joined the committee of records in the queen’s bench and court of wards, and met Tenison at Lambeth where they discussed their differences over measures in Parliament. The Lords considered the Commons’ amendments to the treason bill on 14 April; all bishops present agreed that the amendments should be implemented only after the death of the Pretender.192 Nicolson reported to Wake that the debate had ended in peace despite the opposition of Nicolson’s ‘northern neighbours’.193 The records committee met on 19 Apr. to hear Halifax’s report, to which Nicolson proposed some amendments, which were accepted.194 On 20 Apr. Nicolson attended the Lords for the single reading of the Act of Indemnity, each lord standing to give his assent until all had voted. 195 The next day he was present for the prorogation, reporting in detail to an absent Wake the rituals observed during proceedings, and expressing his optimistic opinion of Halifax’s report from the records committee.196 On Easter Day, 24 Apr., Nicolson preached at the abbey, followed by dinner with Sprat.197 Three days later, after visiting Somers, Carlisle and Halifax, he was one of those who examined the Lords’ Journal.198 He left London on 29 April. He did not return for 19 months.199

Nicolson’s correspondence with Wake over 1709-10 concerned with the plight of the Palatine protestants, Scottish ecclesiastical affairs and his ongoing feud with Atterbury, who favoured him with yet another ‘elegant harangue against resisting of the powers’.200 Concerned that his diocese was too poor to make much of a showing in the raising of charitable funds, he observed on 13 Oct. that ‘if large contributions on this occasion be the true distinguishing character of Whigs, we shall assuredly pass for rank Tories’.201 Nicolson did not attend the November 1709 session, telling Wake that he would not travel to London unless ‘anything of moment comes in view’.202 He registered his proxy in Wake’s favour, in a letter of 15 Dec. thanking him for this and for having ‘generously patronized my late cause in Parliament, and helped to rescue me out of the power of the lion and the bear’. Nicolson’s main political preoccupation was the establishment of freedom of worship for Episcopalians in Scotland and the possibility that the petition of James Greenshields, then before the court of session in Edinburgh, might be brought to the Lords. While the disposition of the bench of bishops as a whole was ‘a question much too weighty’ for him, ‘my neighbours and I’ recognized that the Presbyterian religion was established by law in Scotland and confirmed by the Treaty of Union. To Nicolson it was inconceivable that the Scots had

any sort of colourable pretence ... to deny her Majesty’s subjects, of our communion, the same privileges ... which we allow to others of theirs. If the extemporary prayers of Presbyterians pass current on this side of the Tweed, why should not the episcopal set forms be likewise received on the other ... provided, that they who officiate are equally conformable to the civil government?

Nicolson was confident that although Greenshields’s petition for toleration of Episcopalian worship might offend the Scottish ‘high-fliers’ (‘for the birds are common to both climates’) the people would accept that an objection ‘savours nothing of that friendly intercourse which is most likely to nourish and strengthen the tender Union’ and was particularly concerned that Wake have no hand in condemning Greenshields’s petition, but would delay its consideration to avoid offending the Scots.203

Nicolson had also learned of course of Henry Sacheverell’s notorious sermon and the impeachment proceedings against him. On 5 Jan. 1710 he forwarded to Wake his thoughts on legal precedents, judging that ‘what’s delivered from the pulpit would fall as improperly’, in the first instance, ‘before the great council and judicature of the nation; were it not ... that the causing of a seditious sermon to be printed and published changes the nature of the transgression’.204 By early February Nicolson had his horses saddled so that he ‘should not be backward in venturing [his] carcass’, as he was aware his proxy could not be used in the Lords in a matter of judicature. Where Wake could use his proxy, Nicolson requested that his friend use it ‘on the same side of the question with your own’.205 Wake, though, was confident that ‘the doctor and his rabble’ would be dealt with without need for Nicolson to travel.206 By 25 Feb., happy that he was not in the ‘storm at Westminster’, Nicolson was more concerned about Greenshields’s imprisonment by the Edinburgh magistrates, and was wary of its implications for the Union. If England and Scotland ‘were to be still under the direction of diverse laws, as to religious discipline and our civil rights’, this now looked like ‘a gross mistake, if the supremacy be in the Kirk, independent of her Majesty, and even of the queen and Parliament in conjunctions: which (nevertheless) is the doctrine of our neighbours’.207 Nicolson thought Sacheverell’s behaviour after the verdict, his ‘forms of prayer and thanksgiving (on the score of his persecution and deliverance)’ amounted to ‘a piece of banter, too much bordering on profaneness or a mockery of the Almighty.’208

Nicolson began his next diocesan visitation after Easter 1710 in a far more congenial atmosphere given Atterbury’s absence and Todd’s career ambitions which rendered him temporarily quiescent.209 He was also sanguine about the political situation in the north. At the end of April he was praised warmly by Lowther for blocking a high Tory address in Carlisle and ensuring ‘that matters went so well there’.210 Nicolson told Wake that an address had been proposed at the quarter sessions ‘but the projector and his project were immediately hissed off the stage, and the justices were generally inclined to speak (if at all) in another sort of language’.211 Confident in early May that the Pretender, who was rumoured to have landed in the western highlands, was unlikely to find many friends in the border country, Nicolson boasted that ‘in politics we are still as well tempered as ever’ with no ‘extraordinary frolic in this northern province’, ‘no sacrifices ... (nor fires kindled) to Dr Sacheverell’. He had heard that Sacheverell had been raised in effigy on a signpost at Nottingham alongside representations of Robin Hood and Little John: ‘There let him hang!’212 A little more concerned about Scotland at the end of May, he reported to Wake intelligence from his chaplain, recently returned from there, that many Scottish Episcopalians were now, under the direction of the deprived bishop of Edinburgh, ‘entirely in the interest of the Pretender, and will allow none of his followers to pray for the queen’, their private liturgy containing prayers for the royal family in only ‘mangled and curtailed’ fashion. These Jacobite ministers, Nicolson claimed, were as much enemies to James Greenshields as to the Scottish Assembly.213 By July Nicolson also had to admit that he had spoken too hastily of peace in the diocese; he confessed to Lowther that he was ‘very apprehensive of the designs of a great many in favour of the Pretender among those who make such a noise about the strict hereditary right’, and he told Wake about how a seditious address was circulating throughout Cumberland, ‘a work of darkness, carried on only by stealth’.214

Nicolson learned from Lord Carlisle on 8 July 1710 that Harley intended to seek support for his new ministry through elections for a new Parliament. He assured James Lowther of an ‘easy election’ in the event of a dissolution.215 Lowther (who worried that he might have antagonized the county’s Whig peers for ‘standing out against the violent proceedings of both parties’ in the previous Parliament) assumed that Nicolson, as a member of the bench, would speak for him at the assizes if necessary, which might flush out any potential opposition.216 By 7 Aug., Nicolson, writing to Wake, thought that Harley and his allies should have called elections ‘while the spirit of the Doctor was most vigorously upon us. Whereas, the giving time to cool again appeared ever to me as a sure indication of other kind of purpose’. Even if elections were called, he remained certain that the county of Cumberland would ‘(as at present) send up five Whigs to one Tory’.217 Nevertheless, throughout August, Nicolson involved himself in each of the electoral campaigns across his diocese. He intended to support Lowther for Cumberland although he was one of only three people to respond positively to Lowther’s initial 69 letters soliciting support.218 Following news of Godolphin’s dismissal and the subsequent departure of the leading Whigs from government, Nicolson informed the Musgraves that he had prevented an outbreak of addressing and counter-addressing to preserve the peace of the two counties.219 He became involved in sensitive discussions on the venue for the Cumberland election, favouring Dalston, close to Carlisle and Rose Castle, and ‘amongst the bishops’ tenants, near my Lord Carlisle’s, Lord Lonsdale’s, Lord Portland’s’ [Henry Bentick, 2nd earl of Portland.220 In the Westmorland elections, Nicolson was an observer rather than an active participant, reporting (incorrectly) to Lowther that Daniel Wilson would not stand and that ‘the Junto of Appleby’ were behind Sir Christopher Musgrave.221 In August, at the home of the earl of Carlisle, Nicolson had been assured by the corporation that the city of Carlisle would continue to support its Whig sitting members, Sir James Montagu and Thomas Stanwix.222

Despite Nicolson’s claim that Cumberland had never been ‘much infected with the common contagion’ of Tories riding on support for Dr Sacheverell, the campaign began to reflect the prevailing Tory electoral momentum.223 Nicolson, at Lady Lonsdale’s request, informed Lowther of the agreement reached between himself, Carlisle, Lawson and Lowther’s agent at the assizes on 31 Aug., that Lowther and Lawson should join forces in the county to oppose any third candidate.224 Their main concern was that otherwise Lawson would link up with Richard Musgrave to form a joint Tory ticket.225 Lowther was confident that Nicolson could influence Lawson to agree, and by early September, Nicolson assured Lowther that he was ‘entirely satisfied with Mr Lawson’s declaration’.226 Nicolson was still engaged in the case of Greenshields who, he feared on 18 Sept., was being misrepresented in Scotland as ‘a daring and seditious incendiary’ determined to bring down Presbyterian church government, thereby preventing the acceptance in Scotland of the English ‘reasonable’ worship and continuing to force Scottish Episcopalians to pray for the Pretender if they valued episcopacy.227

After the news of the dissolution on 21 Sept., campaigning began in earnest and Nicolson became more nervous. He wrote on 5 Oct. to Lowther that he wished the latter back in the north ‘since after the opposition raised to such a height at Carlisle and Cockermouth, nothing can be secure till over’.228 Ultimately he was vindicated when the agreement between Lowther and Lawson not to encourage any third candidate, backed by Nicolson and Carlisle, stood firm.229 Nicolson did not take an active part in the Westmorland election. In Carlisle, he had been waited on by Colonel Samuel Gledhill, ‘a partisan of the D. of Argyll’ [John Campbell, 2nd duke of Argyll [S] and earl of Greenwich] but ‘not clear in his pretensions to Parliament’; when Nicolson would not support him, Gledhill turned for support to Hugh Todd.230 Nicolson campaigned for Montagu and Gledhill was forced into third place.231

The Parliament of 1710

Nicolson returned to London on 8 Dec. 1710. He dined with James Greenshields on 11 Dec. who told him that only two of the Scottish representative peers, Alexander Montgomerie, 9th earl of Eglinton [S] and John Elphinstone, 4th Lord Balmerinoch [S], could be counted as ‘truly Episcopal’ (supporting the Protestant succession), and thought that the Jacobite bishop of Edinburgh, Alexander Rose, had too strong an influence on the others.232 Nicolson was prevented from taking the oaths at the House on 14 Dec. by a meeting at Sir James Montagu’s house with the joint postmaster-general, Sir Thomas Frankland, probably to discuss misconduct by the postmaster at Carlisle, and a visit to Lord Halifax.233 Over dinner at Lambeth on 16 Dec., Tenison conversed with Nicolson ‘with great freedom’.234 Nicolson finally resumed his seat on 18 Dec., where he received with delight the news that Atterbury would leave the Carlisle deanery to become dean of Christ Church, Oxford.235

Nicolson attended 52 per cent of sittings that session, where much of his time was taken up with the struggle against Samuel Gledhill’s petition against the Carlisle election the previous year, and James Greenshields’s petition for the Lords to hear his case against the city magistrates of Edinburgh. He was one of the two archbishops and 17 bishops who attended the St Stephen’s dinner at Lambeth on 26 December.236 The next day he undertook a series of calls with James Greenshields, meeting Eglinton; James Ogilvy*, earl of Seafield [S]; Balmerinoch; David Melville, 3rd earl of Leven [S]; and David Carnegie, 4th earl of Northesk [S]. Nicolson appears to have helped distribute Greenshields’ printed case, and was taken by John Evans to Lord Cowper’s house ‘in the country’ the next day.237 On 30 Dec. he met Greenshields and Richard Dongworth, the Edinburgh-educated Lincolnshire clergyman who advised Wake on Scottish matters, ‘with papers relating to the true state of religion in Scotland.’ Meanwhile Nicolson expressed his relief to his diary that Marlborough, was ‘highly caressed’ by the court on his return from Flanders.238 On 3 Jan. 1711 Nicolson waited on the queen; introduced by Somerset, he asked her to honour her apparent assent to Nicolson’s nomination of canon Thomas Tullie to the deanery, which she declined to do explicitly.239 His dinner with James Lowther, Sir James Montagu and Christopher Wandesford, 2nd Viscount Castlecomer [I], Whig member for Morpeth, perhaps concerned their response to the petition of Samuel Gledhill against the result of the Carlisle election the previous year. Gledhill alleged that Nicolson had circulated a letter containing details of Montagu’s £1,000 government pension in order to show that Montagu still retained the queen’s favour, despite his removal from the position of attorney general, and thereby to influence the electorate on behalf of Montagu. It was alleged that the letter had claimed that the pension had been given specifically to help Gledhill to win the election in Carlisle.240 Nicolson also continued to lobby on behalf of Greenshields, arranging on 8 Jan. for Gibson to introduce him to Tenison, and agreeing, on Eglinton’s urging, to ‘undertake’ Archibald Campbell, earl of Ilay [S], in the legal part of Greenshields’s appeal.241

During his visit to Balmerinoch on 27 Dec. 1710, Nicolson had learned that Rochester had been warning court supporters of ‘warm work’ ahead on Spanish affairs.242 The Tory assault on the conduct of the Spanish campaign was unrolled in the Lords in January. On 9 Jan. 1711 in a division in committee of the whole House on the technical question of whether the House be resumed (the real issue being whether Peterborough had given a just account of affairs before the battle of Almanza), Nicolson voted with the majority of bishops against the motion and thus approving Peterborough’s conduct.243 Two days later, in a more overt attack on the previous ministry regarding the loss of Almanza, Nicolson again voted with the Whigs; having ‘stole off’ at three in the afternoon to celebrate his niece’s birthday he returned in time to register his protest twice against resolutions that defeat at Almanza was the fault of Henri de Massue de Ruvigny, earl of Galway [I] (champion of the Huguenots), Charles O’Hara, Baron Tyrawley [I] and James Stanhope (later Earl Stanhope).244 On 12 Jan. he again protested against the censure of Junto ministers for having approved a military offensive in Spain. On the same day Nicolson gave Dongworth and Greenshields abstracts of the answer of the magistrates of Edinburgh to Greenshields’s petition. On 17 Jan. he visited Leven and Balmerinoch and also a Scottish lord who was not a representative peer but who lived in the same street as the other two, James Carmichael, 2nd earl of Hyndford [S].

The voting on the Spanish campaigns continued over late January and early February. Nicolson’s diary implies that on 24 Jan. he voted against the motion that the earl of Galway’s conduct had dishonoured Great Britain. On 3 Feb. he voted against a motion that implied neglect by the Junto ministry and twice protested against the resolution that the army’s Spanish establishment at the time of Almanza lacked sufficient manpower and resources.245 Nicolson’s fidelity to the old ministry was matched by his continued liaison with the Whig peers as he prepared for the introduction of Greenshields’ petition into the Lords: Hyndford advised caution regarding the measure on 5 Feb., the day Nicolson again voted with the Whigs against the bill for reversing the Act of General Naturalization. On 6 Feb., after attempts to visit Lords Carlisle and Somers, Nicolson succeeded in meeting Eglinton who thought that Greenshields’ business might be ‘seasonably moved’.246 The House was still engaged by the debates and votes on the Almanza campaign: on 8 Feb. Nicolson protested against both the resolution to address the queen and the resolution to retain wording in an address to the queen on the war in Spain that implied criticism of the previous ministry’s use of parliamentary grants. The same day he had provided Sir James Montagu with letters relevant to Gledhill’s petition to overturn the Carlisle election, a cause Nicolson considered ‘senseless’.247 On 15 Feb. he was assured by William North, 6th Baron North, that he would move Greenshields’ appeal the following Saturday.248 Nicolson spent the next few days gathering support, including an attempt to wait on George Mackenzie, earl of Cromarty [S], lord justice general of Scotland and an advocate of further integration of England and Scotland. The petition was eventually read in the Lords on Monday 19 Feb. and scheduled to be heard on 1 March.

On 20 Feb. 1711 Nicolson obtained ‘tacit leave’ to attend the Commons for the debate on Gledhill’s petition, where a chair was provided for him; but Gledhill’s friends, led by the Tory October Club, successfully adjourned the debate for three weeks by 154 to 151 votes, which to Nicolson was ‘leave given for the man’s running away’. Nicolson’s supporters, the Cumberland Members James Lowther and Gilfrid Lawson, were the tellers against the adjournment. Attending the Lords on 21 Feb., Nicolson was ‘much complimented’ for the problems he was undergoing and concerted efforts were made by a discreet Wake and by Harley to prevent Gledhill’s success. On 22 Feb. Nicolson was visited by Balmerino to discuss Greenshields’ case and by Gilfrid Lawson with news that Nicolson’s brother-in-law Edward Carlile was among the witnesses called by Gledhill. Greenshields showed Nicolson the proofs of the printed edition of his case on 25 February.249 On 26 Feb. Nicolson fell into an argument at the House with Guernsey who argued that he and the Church no longer shared the same faith because (as Nicolson saw it) they were ‘not of his opinion’.250

Nicolson was joined at his lodgings the next day by Somers, Cowper, Hough, Evans and Charles Trimnell, bishop of Norwich, to discuss Greenshields’s appeal. They agreed to keep any proposed legislation on religious toleration ‘to the civil part, without touching on the authority of the Kirk’, since the Whig grandees wanted to avoid alienating the Scottish Presbyterians. On 1 Mar. 1711 the House reversed the decree of the Edinburgh magistrates against Greenshields unanimously, the overwhelming majority of bishops (all 20 present in Nicolson’s account) in agreement. The following day John West, 6th Baron De la Warr, in a select committee meeting where both were present, suggested to Nicolson that the queen should provide for Greenshields in England. Nicolson now began to canvass support for religious toleration in Scotland and on 5 Mar. discussed the issue with Eglinton and Balmerinoch, although the latter was not yet in favour of legislation.251 The Commons’ debate on Gledhill’s case resumed on 14 March. Nicolson was advised by Castlecomer to be ready to attend the Commons to attest what copies he had distributed of Montagu’s letter; Montagu himself followed urging that Nicolson seek admittance to the Commons, but Gilfrid Lawson, counted as one of the October Club but to Nicolson ‘my true friend in this whole matter’ argued that Nicolson’s appearance would be of help to neither as there was in his view no evidence against Montagu. Nicolson attended the Commons twice that time, at first unaware of the protocol that prevented the Commons’ Speaker from asking questions to a member of the Lords. He testified that he had circulated Montagu’s letter but that the words ‘To enable me to carry my election’ had not been in it, and he denied that Montagu had requested him to circulate it. He withdrew before the debate. Following the testimony of his ‘profligate registrar and quondam bailiff’ Richard Aglionby and Edward Walker that they had seen a letter in Nicolson’s handwriting with the offending words included, the motion that Nicolson had distributed the letter ‘reflecting on the honour of her Majesty’ with the intention of influencing the election and therefore ‘hath highly infringed the liberties and privileges of the Commons of Great Britain’ was carried by 20 votes, though Montagu’s election was confirmed. 252 Lawson and Lowther again told against the motion. 

The next day, as a result of these proceedings, Nicolson received a flurry of ‘compliments’ (some of congratulation, others of condolence) from John Evans, Sunderland, Somers, Halifax, Cowper, Montagu, Lowther and Lawson.253 One Commons member reflected that the bishop had been convicted ‘upon evidence of two persons of the most abject character’; this ‘unjust treatment of the bishop’ would prove a Pyrrhic victory to the October Club ‘by whom it was carried’.254 Two days later Nicolson refused to see Richard Aglionby, one of the witnesses against him, but visited Gibson who advised him to issue a printed statement about the Gledhill affair; Montagu agreed to provide the Commons’ minutes. The circle of support for Nicolson included Harley loyalists such as John Laugharne, whom Nicolson thanked, along with Montagu and Simon Harcourt, on 17 March. James Greenshields’s assurance on 18 Mar. that ‘all his countrymen (in the House of Commons) would have served’ Nicolson, if he had ‘given up’ Montagu, was however not much comfort, emphasizing the difficulty of maintaining his alliances.255

Nicolson dined at Montagu’s with a number of his Commons’ supporters on 19 Mar. 1711, including Lawson, John Hutton, a ‘Mr Foley’ (probably Thomas Foley), Simon Harcourt, John Laugharne and ‘Mr Wortley’, probably Edward Wortley Montagu. Montagu then took him to Lord Carlisle’s where he also met James Grahme and Charles Cornwallis, 4th Baron Cornwallis; it was also agreed that Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury should introduce him to the queen. The next day Greenshields and two colleagues conveyed the thanks of the bishop of Edinburgh for Nicolson’s help in relieving Scottish Episcopalians, and perhaps more welcome, Balmerinoch and John Murray, duke of Atholl [S], apologized for the conduct of the Scottish Members in voting against him in the Gledhill case. On 21 Mar. Nicolson visited Lowther to collect material for his planned vindication of himself from the Commons vote. Castlecomer assured him that the vote against him was actually ‘a deadly blow to the October-men’. Other Members expressing their sympathy included William Churchill and Joshua Churchill. Archbishop Sharp assured him that his son John Sharp had lent his support in the Commons. This was not in fact the case, but Nicolson does not seem to have borne a grudge against his metropolitan for trying to smooth over the matter.256

Alongside Gledhill and Greenshields, Nicolson’s other activities continued; he attended the committee for records on 22 Mar. 1711 and read prayers in the Lords that day. He examined the Lords Journals up to the end of January. On 28 Mar. he attended the House for the last time that session, although the next day he was at the committee for records where he obtained a promise from Halifax and Parker that they would procure a warrant to seize papers from the Rolls Chapel which were in a ‘lame condition’. On 2 Apr. he waited on Carlisle and Wharton, and the latter introduced Nicolson to Shrewsbury, to whom Nicolson gave his statement on the Gledhill case; Shrewsbury agreed to show it to the queen. Later that day he dined with Trimnell, Kennett, Gibson, Lancelot Blackburne, the future archbishop of York and Jonathan Trelawny, bishop of Winchester, at Chelsea ‘where nobly entertained, as friends to the old establishment and ministry’. On 3 and 4 Apr. he sat on the Journal committee, chairing it on the latter day, then he registered his proxy in favour of John Evans, which was vacated at the end of the session. On 5 Apr. Nicolson left London in the York coach, missing the last two months of parliamentary business.257

Nicolson returned to Rose Castle on 14 Apr. 1711 and made a hero’s entry into Carlisle on 23 April.258 Anticipating this reception, Lowther was delighted with ‘the country design to show my lord bishop those distinguishing marks of the respect and honour they so justly have for him’.259 As Nicolson told Wake on 9 June, he had arrived in Carlisle too late to meet his ‘three friends’ (the culprits in the Gledhill affair). His supporters, in contrast,

testified their abhorrence at the rascally treatment I had from these villains; by giving me another of a different kind. The chief of the clergy and magistrates of the diocese met me at a dozen miles distance from my old home, and near twenty from Carlisle whence the officers of the garrison ... advanced two or three miles, with most of the inhabitants of any note. The mayor and aldermen received me at their utmost limits, in their formalities. At our entrance into the city we had nine great guns, and a guard of musketeers, and marching thence to the mayor’s house ... was entertained with a banquet of wine and sweetmeats.260

In a letter to Wake of 30 Aug. Nicolson acknowledged that any episcopal reshuffle was unlikely to lead to his translation even if Tenison or Henry Compton should die to ‘make way ... for the needy’.261 On 15 Sept. he received a ‘short letter’ of farewell from Atterbury, who had been appointed dean of Christ Church; on 17 Sept. Nicolson learned Atterbury’s successor as dean of Carlisle would not be Tullie, as he had hoped, but one of Atterbury’s Christ Church associates, George Smalridge, who would subsequently become bishop of Bristol. He was nevertheless optimistic that the ‘next seven years [would] pass smoother than the last’. On 7 Nov. Nicolson received a summons to return to London. 262 He visited Wake at his London home on 20 Nov. and again on 26 Nov. (with Evans, Trimnell and Talbot) to prepare for business.263 He attended the House on 7 Dec. for the start of the new parliamentary session and attended thereafter for 46 per cent of sittings. The following day he was forecast as being in favour of the ‘No Peace without Spain’ address. 

The Gledhill affair was also far from over. On 10 Dec. 1711 the still disgruntled Gledhill (perhaps hoping that the new Tory ministry would be even more sympathetic) re-presented his petition complaining of Nicolson’s intervention in the election, now claiming that several of his supporters had been illegally disenfranchised after Nicolson had bribed and threatened voters. On 19 Dec. Nicolson had been forecast as voting with the opposition on the peerage case of James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S] and the following day duly voted against the sitting of any Scottish peer by right of a British title created after the Union. On 2 Jan. 1712 he attended the House for the introduction of the 12 new Tory peers. In early January he dined mostly with old associates: with Gibson on 2 Jan.; with Gilfrid Lawson, the Tullie brothers and Sir James Montagu on 3 Jan.; with the antiquary Robert Sanderson on 4 Jan.; and with eight other bishops—Fleetwood, Burnet, Hough, Moore, now translated to Ely, Talbot, Evans and Trimnell—at Trelawny’s home in Chelsea on 5 January. In the same period he was visited by Greenshields and visited Lord Carlisle on 3 Jan., and visited Christopher and Sir Christopher Musgrave on 4 Jan. Two Quakers visited him on 10 Jan. ‘with proposals for making their Yea and Nay oaths in law’ in anticipation of discussion over the renewal of the 1696 Affirmation Act. On 16 Jan. Sir Christopher Musgrave visited to make ‘hearty offers of friendship’ to Nicolson and the earl of Carlisle, in the hope that Montagu’s election would be declared void and that he would find himself with a new electoral opportunity. Nicolson visited Montagu to tell him of Musgrave’s ‘false news’ the next day. On 23 Jan. Lowther visited ‘in good hopes’ of Montagu’s success. Nicolson spent much of both 30 and 31 Jan. with Greenshields, waiting on Eglinton and Cromarty on the second day, both of whom confirmed their support for toleration for Scottish Episcopalians. On 1 Feb. Gledhill’s second petition was defeated by nearly 30 votes in the Commons’ committee of elections.264

The Quaker issue returned on 9 Feb. when Francis Bugg visited Nicolson with a pamphlet relating to the petition on affirmations which had been rejected that day by the Commons. On 12 Feb. Greenshields visited Nicolson to discuss what proved to be a ‘tedious’ committee on the Scottish toleration bill the next day, in which Nicolson (in opposition to Cowper and nine bishops) spoke against the ninth clause, which extended Episcopalian exemption from the censure of the Kirk to Presbyterians by prohibiting a magistrate from executing an ecclesiastical censure against anyone of either denomination. It was, Nicolson argued, ‘destructive of all ecclesiastical discipline’. Greenshields warned Nicolson on 15 Feb. that the Commons would refuse the inclusion of an abjuration oath in the toleration bill. Nicolson was also lobbied for Lowther’s Whitehaven bill, which extended the terms of his earlier act for the development of this port; Lowther visited Nicolson with ‘farther solicitations’ on 21 Feb., the day of the bill’s second reading. Gledhill’s petition on the Carlisle election came before the Commons on 23 Feb., the day after Montagu had read the committee chairman’s report with Nicolson; the committee’s judgment was confirmed by a majority of 15.265 On 26 Feb. Nicolson visited Halifax to discuss the latter’s proposal to move records from the Rolls Chapel to the Tower of London. On the same day, the Lords passed the Commons’ pro-Episcopalian amendment to the Scottish toleration bill, Nicolson voting with the Whigs against the amendment after (according to Greenshields) being coerced by Evans and Wake. Greenshields regarded his vote as ‘extraordinary’ given the close involvement Nicolson had had in the preparation of the bill, though Nicolson and Greenshields dined together after the vote, presumably amicably.266 On 9 Mar. Nicolson dined with a group of ‘high gentlemen’ with Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire connections, including Christopher and Joseph Musgrave, James Grahme and Henry Dawnay, 2nd Viscount Downe [I].267 Nicolson last attended the Lords that session on 28 Mar. (though his diary suggests it was the day before), registering his proxy in favour of John Evans on 31 Mar. (vacated at the end of the session on 8 July). On 1 Apr., having taken leave of Tenison, Nicolson left his lodgings and dined with his sister before spending the night at the White Hart in Aldersgate in order to take the early morning coach for Leeds.268 He was thus not in the Lords when the Quaker affirmation clause (in the bill to prevent multiple voting in county elections), over which he had been solicited, came before the House on 6 May. Nicolson’s political affiliations were sufficiently flexible that on 1 June the earl of Oxford (as Harley had become), listed him as ‘doubtful’ rather than as an unambiguous opposition man.

Gibson asked Nicolson to keep Tenison informed of ‘how matters go in North Britain’, particularly the reactions of the Church of Scotland to events in Parliament.269 Nicolson certainly wrote to Wake on Scottish ecclesiastical affairs.270 Shortly after his return, he seems to have discussed with Lowther the impact on local trade if Parliament passed legislation to retain tobacco duty on exports to Ireland.271

His major concern, though, was the ‘stupid’ level of political discourse in the diocese, ‘so little affected with occurrences of the public’ that the justices of Cumberland had to postpone an address to the queen about recent foreign policy until they had received explanations from Utrecht over whether the peace was ‘general’ or ‘separate’.272 On 3 Aug. Nicolson refused to sign a county address which failed to mention the Protestant succession. The next month he told Wake that some of the ‘northern grandees’ would be upset to find ‘their chief director entirely in the interests of the House of Hanover’; he had heard, he wrote, that this would be made apparent before the end of the next session.273

On 16 Nov. 1712 Nicolson’s wife Elizabeth, upon whom he had deeply relied, not only emotionally but particularly regarding communication with the diocese when in London, died after a long illness.274 Parliament was not expected to sit before early in the new year: Gibson on 30 Nov. conveyed Tenison’s summons to the start of the new session. 275 Nicolson was rescued from a winter journey south as the peace negotiations were more protracted than anticipated. Gibson wrote on 23 Jan. 1713 that he had delivered Nicolson’s proxy to Wake although he thought Parliament was unlikely to meet on 3 Feb. as planned.276 In the event it did not meet until 9 April. Nicolson arrived in London on 14 Mar. 1713; the next day he visited Wake, who told him of an alliance between Russia, Prussia and Hanover, and on 16 Mar. called on Gibson, Sharp, Lonsdale, the two Christopher Musgraves and then found Halifax ensconced with Sunderland and Edward Russell, earl of Orford. Nicolson, Sunderland and Orford left when Oxford arrived to see Halifax. Nicolson thus stumbled on one of Oxford’s overtures to prominent Whigs, which led to ‘a report of coalition’.277 Oxford was now confident that Nicolson would oppose the ministry. Nicolson was drawn into discussions of the forthcoming election: Lowther and Lonsdale hoped to settle matters well in advance of the election in respect of the Cumberland county seat, and Sir Christopher Musgrave assured the bishop that he would not stand for the county seats in either Cumberland or Westmorland.278 Nicolson attended the House on 17 and 26 Mar. for prorogations and was present on 9 Apr. for the start of business. He attended for only 21 per cent of sittings, not attending after 19 May, ten days after the queen had announced her ratification of the peace and commerce treaties with France and her intention to sign the Treaty of Utrecht. The absence of Nicolson’s diary for the period 16 Mar. to 6 July 1713 leaves his views on developments in this period less clear than for other times in his parliamentary career. He returned to Rose Castle on 8 June and was kept up to date on parliamentary affairs by Gibson.279 It was estimated in June 1713 by Oxford that Nicolson would oppose the bill confirming the eighth and ninth articles of the French commercial treaty, but Nicolson missed all of the relevant divisions and the proxy book for the relevant period is missing. Six days after the dissolution on 8 Aug. 1713, Nicolson and Lonsdale asked Oxford to renew a recommendation of Thomas Tullie for the deanery of Carlisle following Smalridge’s elevation to the episcopate.280 Nicolson was again refused and his favoured candidate was not named dean until 1716.

The Parliament of 1713 and after

The parliamentary elections of autumn 1713 saw marked changes of fortune. In Carlisle, a disillusioned Montagu did not seek re-election, while Sir Christopher Musgrave was voted in with Thomas Stanwix, although the absence of any contest probably reduced Nicolson’s need to involve himself. This was not the case with the Cockermouth election where he was prepared to support the sitting candidate James Stanhope. Nicolson wrote to Lowther that

one that has been so remarkable buffeted (by your honourable house) for intermeddling in elections, ought not to be fond of thrusting into such crowds, and yet so little impression has that discipline had on me, I would venture very far to serve so good and great a man as General Stanhop[e]. What measures Lord L[onsdale] will think proper on this occasion, I cannot tell; but am very sure that his lordship is very heartily in the interests of this excellent person. You’ll have about half a dozen votes from this neighbourhood, as I am told. If Mr Lawson magnifies the general as much at Cockermouth tomorrow as he did at Carlisle yesterday, he’ll have no hand in the defeat of him: and I hope the burghers will (by this time) have so far recovered their senses as to see the disgrace they must bring upon themselves by quitting so honourable a representative.281

Despite Nicolson’s support Stanhope was pushed into third place behind the Tory Joseph Musgrave and Whig Nicholas Lechmere, the future Baron Lechmere.

Nicolson had informed Gibson that he would return to London before the opening of Parliament, but he became preoccupied with domestic matters, including the unexpected rejection of his marriage proposal by Lady Hasell, a relative of the cathedral dean, Thomas Gibbon.282 Gibson informed Nicolson that Trimnell had requested he return to the Lords by 16 Feb. 1714 at the latest.283 The bishop responded that, despite having a visitation planned for 21 Feb., he would come immediately ‘had it been absolutely insisted on’, but since the opening of Parliament was still uncertain, he would set out on 22 Feb. and travel directly to London.284 Nicolson was further delayed by his daughter’s wedding, and in a letter of 2 Mar., Nicolson learned from Gibson that the Commons intended to make a formal address of their ‘satisfaction ... in the provision already made for the Hanover succession’ and that he should not postpone further his journey south.285 On 3 Mar. Nicolson finally left his diocese and on 15 Mar. resumed his seat in the House. 286 He attended the session for 51 per cent of sittings. Before arriving at the House he received Wake’s proxy (vacated on 9 Apr. 1714). He attended the House throughout the debates and divisions on the succession, including for the very close vote on 5 Apr. 1714 on whether the Protestant succession was in danger. He resumed his frequent visits to Wake: he, Evans and Trimnell visited Wake on 12 Apr., the day before the Lords considered the queen’s reply to the address on the Pretender, when Nicolson voted with the majority of the bishops against the court.287 Nicolson began from Mar. 1714 to exchange parliamentary and political news with Archbishop King in Dublin.288 On 8 May he received the proxy of Richard Cumberland, of Peterborough, and on 27 May was forecast by Nottingham as an opponent of the schism bill.289

Nicolson’s parliamentary behaviour during the passage of the schism bill has occasioned much speculation due to conflicting and missing evidence. On 31 May Tenison asked Nicolson to attend the House for the debates.290 In a debate on 11 June in committee of the whole House on extending the bill to Ireland, Nicolson voted with the Whigs against the clause, since to impose such a measure in Ireland would split Irish Protestants. He visited Tenison that afternoon; the substance of any conversation is unknown but he did not attend the House again that session.291 Instead, the following day he registered his proxy in favour of Wake.292 On 13 June Nicolson took his leave of colleagues at Westminster, leaving London the following day. His departure has been seen as a desertion of the Whigs before the third reading of the schism bill, which passed the Lords by only a handful of votes on 15 June.293 Wake appears to have used Nicolson’s proxy to cancel out his own opposition vote.294 Despite this, Gibson continued to think of Nicolson as a member of the opposition: on 5 July he wrote that he wished Nicolson had been present in the House to vote against the Spanish Commercial Treaty.295 Following the accession of George I on 1 Aug., Gibson pressed Nicolson to return to the ‘glorious scene’ in the capital; he thought that as Nicolson had once escorted George I to Oxford, the new king might ‘conduct you to [the see of] Durham in due time’.296

Nicolson remained at home, perhaps preparing for the necessary parliamentary elections, and did not attend the brief Parliamentary session in August. On 19 Aug., he warned Sir Christopher Musgrave that he would oppose him if he stood for election in Carlisle, as he had decided to support ‘a worthy person’ nominated by Carlisle to stand alongside Stanwix. Musgrave assented reluctantly.297 In early October Nicolson reported to Lowther that ‘we continue here in the most profound quiet as to matters of election, everyone taking it for granted that there’s no room for the disturbers of our peace to fix a foot amongst us’.298 By the end of the month he was less confident, telling Lowther that ‘in the country … (though you have the securest hold of any man living) interests are very unstable’, and discussing Lord Carlisle’s proposals for the new commission of the peace: 

His lordship was pleased to enclose a list of the late additional justices, and of the 19, I marked about half a dozen (amongst whom were two baronets, Sir C[hristopher] M[usgrave] and Sir Ch[arles] D[alston] whose quality, I thought, entitled them to be continued. Mr Appleby was the only person unnamed, whom I took the liberty to recommend. Nor did I propose the restoring of any, saving Mr. Gilpin and Mr Th[omas] Lamplugh’.

Sir Christopher Musgrave, Nicolson told Lowther, had ‘a hankering’ to be elected for Westmorland; ‘the enterprise’, he added, would be ‘difficult’. Doubting that there would be a dissolution before Christmas since it would be inconvenient to have elections during the holidays, he judged that the reasonable stability of the county bench should ‘prevail with men to be peaceable and good humoured’. The Cumberland election passed without contest, Nicolson informing Lowther of ‘that unanimous choice which … this county have already made of yourself and Mr Lawson for their representatives’.299

Nicolson resumed his seat in the new Parliament of March 1715. Nicolson’s political and parliamentary career after 1715 will be examined in the next phase of this work. He eventually accepted translation to Ireland as bishop of Derry in March 1718. On 14 Feb. 1727 he died of apoplexy, shortly after being nominated to the archbishopric of Cashel. He left six children. His two surviving sons had also entered the Church; the eldest, Joseph, was chancellor of Lincoln and the younger, John (named joint executor with Nicolson’s daughter Catherine), had a living in Ireland.300 Nicolson was buried in Derry Cathedral. Nicolson’s movement from moderate Tory to moderate Whig, and from a close association with Archbishop Sharp and with the Tory Musgraves to association with the Whig bishops Gibson, Wake and even Tenison, with national Whig grandees including Halifax, Somers and even Wharton, and with the dominant local Whigs, the Lowthers, had a variety of causes, including his common interests with Gibson and Wake in antiquarian pursuits, but was mostly forged in his struggle with Atterbury first over the history of Convocation and subsequently over the question of jurisdiction over the cathedral of Carlisle. He retained some of his more Tory attitudes, in particular on occasional conformity, and retained Tory friends and associations, with his links with the Musgraves, Sharp and others never broken.301


  • 1 Nicolson, London Diaries, 9; NLI, ms D/27164.
  • 2 NLI, ms D/27164.
  • 3 Nicolson, London Diaries, 315.
  • 4 F.G. James, North Country Bp. 1-21.
  • 5 Bodl. Tanner 32, f. 60.
  • 6 Add. 6116, f. 54.
  • 7 James, 37; A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, p. 160.
  • 8 Christ Church Lib. Oxf. Wake mss 5, ff. 79-80.
  • 9 Nicolson, London Diaries, 59-60; NLI, ms D/27164.
  • 10 W. Nicolson, A Sermon Preach’d in the Cathedral Church of Carlisle (1685), preface.
  • 11 Nicolson, Letters on Various Subjects ed. Nichols, i. 7-8.
  • 12 Bodl. ms Eng. misc. b. 44, f. 156; Cumb. RO (Kendal), Le Fleming mss, Sir J. Lowther to Sir D. Fleming, 14 Sept. 1695, W. Nicolson to Sir D. Fleming, 17 Sept. 1695; Levens Hall, Bagot mss, Sir C. Musgrave to J. Grahme, 16 Sept. 1695.
  • 13 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/3/6, Lonsdale to Sir J. Lowther, 9 July 1698; Dr W. Lancaster to Sir J. Lowther, 16 July 1698.
  • 14 Bodl. Tanner 24, ff. 179-80.
  • 15 W. Nicolson, The English Historical Library, ii (1697), 161-3.
  • 16 Nicolson, Letters on Various Subjects ed. Nichols, i. 219-20.
  • 17 W. Nicolson, The Scottish Historical Library (1702), preface, viii.
  • 18 Nicolson, Letters on Various Subjects, i. 223.
  • 19 Levens Hall, Bagot mss, Nicolson to [clergy of Westmorland], [14 Oct. 1700].
  • 20 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/2/4, J. Lowther to Sir J. Lowther, 17, 20 May 1701.
  • 21 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/2/4, J. Lowther to Sir J. Lowther, 17 May 1701.
  • 22 Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc., n.s. lxvi. 299-303.
  • 23 Add. 70073, f.106.
  • 24 CSP Dom. 1702-3, p. 103.
  • 25 Bodl. Ballard 6, f. 74.
  • 26 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’ ed. Bishop of Barrow-in-Furness, Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc., n. s. ii. 158.
  • 27 Bodl. Ballard 4, f. 20.
  • 28 Bodl. Ballard 4, f. 18.
  • 29 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’, 168; Nicolson, London Diaries, 117; Add. 27440, ff. 21-26; Bodl. Ballard 4, f. 16.
  • 30 Bodl. Add. C 217, f. 1.
  • 31 Nicolson, Letters on Various Subjects, ii. 647.
  • 32 Bodl. Ballard 4, f. 16.
  • 33 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’, 172-4; HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 118-19.
  • 34 Bodl. Add. C 217, pp. 3-4.
  • 35 Nicolson, London Diaries, 126-9.
  • 36 Nicolson, London Diaries, 126, 129, 133, 145.
  • 37 Nicolson, London Diaries, 135.
  • 38 Nicolson, London Diaries, 137-8.
  • 39 Nicolson, London Diaries, 137-8.
  • 40 Nicolson, London Diaries, 120, 137-41.
  • 41 Nicolson, London Diaries, 152-3.
  • 42 Nicolson, London Diaries, 164, 174.
  • 43 Nicolson, London Diaries, 175-6.
  • 44 Nicolson, London Diaries, 169-70.
  • 45 Nicolson, London Diaries, 185-6.
  • 46 Nicolson, London Diaries, 190.
  • 47 Nicolson, London Diaries, 192-3; W. Nicolson, A Sermon preach’d before the Rt. Honble the Lords (1703).
  • 48 Nicolson, London Diaries, 202.
  • 49 Nicolson, London Diaries, 207-8.
  • 50 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’, 194.
  • 51 Articles to be Enquired of within the Diocese of Carlisle (1704); W. Nicolson, A Letter to the Reverend Dr White Kennet (1702).
  • 52 Thoresby Letters. ii. 38.
  • 53 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’, 197.
  • 54 Add. 70022, ff. 22-23; HMC Portland, iv. 160; ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’, 207; Glos. Archives D 3549 6/2/8, W. Nicolson to J. Sharp, 16 Sept. 1704.
  • 55 Lansd. 1034, ff. 2-3; G.V. Bennett, White Kennett, 89-90; Add. 70021, f. 246; HMC Portland, iv. 125; Letters on Various Subjects, i. 283.
  • 56 Atterbury, Epistolary Corresp. i. 351.
  • 57 Glos. Archives D 3549 6/2/8, R. Harley to J. Sharp, 14 Sept. 1704.
  • 58 Add. 70021, ff. 261-3, 266-9.
  • 59 Add. 70021, f. 265; Letters on Various Subjects, i. 283, 285-6.
  • 60 Glos Archives D 3549 6/2/8, W. Nicolson to J. Sharp, 2 Oct. 1704; ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’, 209.
  • 61 Nicolson, London Diaries, 243.
  • 62 Nicolson, London Diaries, 214, 217; W. Nicolson, A True State of the Controversy between the Present Bishop and Dean of Carlisle (1704).
  • 63 Nicolson, London Diaries, 219.
  • 64 Nicolson, London Diaries, 225.
  • 65 Nicolson, London Diaries, 226.
  • 66 Nicolson, London Diaries, 227.
  • 67 Nicolson, London Diaries, 237.
  • 68 Nicolson, London Diaries, 238-40.
  • 69 Nicolson, London Diaries, 240-1.
  • 70 Nicolson, London Diaries, 242-4, 253.
  • 71 Nicolson, London Diaries, 247-8, 255-256.
  • 72 Nicolson, London Diaries, 259; Levens Hall, Bagot mss, Weymouth to J. Grahme, 1 Sept. 1704.
  • 73 Nicolson, London Diaries, 260, 264-5, 273.
  • 74 Nicolson, London Diaries, 219, 271.
  • 75 Nicolson, London Diaries, 275.
  • 76 Nicolson, London Diaries, 276.
  • 77 Nicolson, London Diaries, 275-7.
  • 78 Add. 70022, ff. 22, 23.
  • 79 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part II’, 201-2.
  • 80 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/2/8, J. Lowther to Sir J. Lowther, 28 Apr. 1705.
  • 81 Glos Archives D 3549 6/2/8, W. Nicolson to J. Sharp, 19 May 1705.
  • 82 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/2/8, J. Lowther to Sir J. Lowther, 16 June 1705.
  • 83 Nicolson, London Diaries, 273.
  • 84 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part III’ ed. Bishop of Barrow-in-Furness, Trans. Cumb. Westm. Arch. and Antiq. Soc., n. s. iii. 10.
  • 85 Nicolson, London Diaries, 261.
  • 86 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part III’, 5, 10.
  • 87 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part III’, 13.
  • 88 Add. 70022, ff. 170-1.
  • 89 Wake mss 1, f. 6.
  • 90 Nicolson, London Diaries, 282, 293.
  • 91 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/39, Lowther to W. Gilpin, 27 Oct. 1705, 1, 5 Jan. 1706.
  • 92 Nicolson, London Diaries, 294.
  • 93 Nicolson, London Diaries, 295-6, 309, 316.
  • 94 Nicolson, London Diaries, 317-18, 320-5.
  • 95 Nicolson, London Diaries, 306-7.
  • 96 Nicolson, London Diaries, 308.
  • 97 Nicolson, London Diaries, 325; HMC Portland, iv. 127.
  • 98 Nicolson, London Diaries, 329.
  • 99 Nicolson, London Diaries, 329-31.
  • 100 Nicolson London Diaries, 334.
  • 101 Nicolson, London Diaries, 338.
  • 102 Nicolson, London Diaries, 339.
  • 103 Nicolson, London Diaries, 346-7, 349.
  • 104 Nicolson, London Diaries, 350.
  • 105 Nicolson, London Diaries, 354-6.
  • 106 Nicolson, London Diaries, 357.
  • 107 Nicolson, London Diaries, 361.
  • 108 LPL, ms 1770 (Wake diary), f. 10v; Nicolson, London Diaries, 362.
  • 109 Nicolson, London Diaries, 365.
  • 110 Nicolson, London Diaries, 368.
  • 111 Nicolson, London Diaries, 369.
  • 112 Nicolson, London Diaries, 374-5.
  • 113 Nicolson, London Diaries, 377.
  • 114 Nicolson, London Diaries, 378.
  • 115 Nicolson, London Diaries, 379.
  • 116 Nicolson, London Diaries, 380.
  • 117 Nicolson, London Diaries, 381, 383, 385.
  • 118 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/3/8, Sir T. Littleton to Sir J. Lowther, 2 Mar. 1706.
  • 119 Nicolson, London Diaries, 387.
  • 120 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part III’, 51-2.
  • 121 Letters on Various Subjects, i. 328; HMC Portland, iv. 437-8.
  • 122 Nicolson, London Diaries, 397.
  • 123 Nicolson, London Diaries, 398-9.
  • 124 Nicolson, London Diaries, 405; W. Nicolson, A Sermon Preach’d at Bow-Church, London (1707).
  • 125 Nicolson, London Diaries, 406.
  • 126 Nicolson, London Diaries, 407-8.
  • 127 Nicolson, London Diaries, 408.
  • 128 Nicolson, London Diaries, 411-5.
  • 129 Nicolson, London Diaries, 418-20.
  • 130 Nicolson, London Diaries, 422.
  • 131 W. Nicolson, The Blessings of the Sixth Year (1707); Nicolson, London Diaries, 423.
  • 132 Nicolson, London Diaries, 425.
  • 133 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part III’, 58; ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’ ed. Bishop of Barrow-in-Furness, Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. iv. 2.
  • 134 Nicolson, London Diaries, 424.
  • 135 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 3-15.
  • 136 Letters on Various Subjects, i. 306.
  • 137 HMC Bath, i. 63.
  • 138 Add. 70024, ff. 204-5, 209; Wake mss 17, f. 176.
  • 139 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 10, 12, 14.
  • 140 Wake mss 17, f. 182.
  • 141 NLW, Plas-yn-Cefn, 2737.
  • 142 Wake mss 17, f. 176.
  • 143 NLW, Plas-yn-Cefn, 2738, 2739; ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 16; Nicolson, London Diaries, 436.
  • 144 Nicolson, London Diaries, 436-9.
  • 145 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/41, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 6 Jan. 1708, 1 Jan. 1708; Nicolson, London Diaries, 444.
  • 146 Nicolson, London Diaries, 439.
  • 147 Nicolson, London Diaries, 440.
  • 148 Nicolson, London Diaries, 441-3.
  • 149 Nicolson, London Diaries, 444.
  • 150 Nicolson, London Diaries, 445-6.
  • 151 Nicolson, London Diaries, 444, 446.
  • 152 Nicolson, London Diaries, 446-7.
  • 153 Nicolson, London Diaries, 447-8; Wake mss 17, f. 185; Add. 70372, f. 98.
  • 154 LPL, ms 1770, f. 56v.
  • 155 Nicolson, London Diaries, 450.
  • 156 Nicolson, London Diaries, 451-3.
  • 157 LPL, ms 1770, f. 57v.
  • 158 Nicolson, London Diaries, 454.
  • 159 Beinecke Lib., OSB mss fc 37, vol. 13, no. xxvii, Addison to Manchester, 20 Feb. 1708.
  • 160 Nicolson, London Diaries, 454.
  • 161 Nicolson, London Diaries, 455.
  • 162 Nicolson, London Diaries, 456.
  • 163 Nicolson, London Diaries, 457.
  • 164 Nicolson, London Diaries, 457; Addison Letters, 96.
  • 165 Nicolson, London Diaries, 458-9.
  • 166 Nicolson, London Diaries, 461, 463; Wake mss 17, f. 181.
  • 167 Nicolson, London Diaries, 464; Levens Hall, Bagot mss, C. Musgrave to J. Grahme, 15 May 1708.
  • 168 Nicolson, London Diaries, 465.
  • 169 Nicolson, London Diaries, 468.
  • 170 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 30-1.
  • 171 Levens Hall, Bagot mss, C. Musgrave to J. Grahme, 15 May 1708.
  • 172 Ibid. C. Musgrave to J. Grahme, 27 May 1708.
  • 173 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 32, 35; Wake mss 17, f. 195.
  • 174 Wake mss 17, f. 199.
  • 175 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 43.
  • 176 Wake mss 17, f. 200.
  • 177 Nicolson, London Diaries, 475.
  • 178 Nicolson, London Diaries, 475, 482.
  • 179 Nicolson, London Diaries, 476-7.
  • 180 Nicolson, London Diaries, 478.
  • 181 Nicolson, London Diaries, 479.
  • 182 Nicolson, London Diaries, 482.
  • 183 Nicolson, London Diaries, 483 and n.91, 485.
  • 184 Nicolson, London Diaries, 486.
  • 185 Nicolson, London Diaries, 486-7; HMC Lords, n.s. viii. 286-7.
  • 186 Nicolson, London Diaries, 488.
  • 187 Nicolson, London Diaries, 490 and n.148.
  • 188 Nicolson, London Diaries, 492.
  • 189 Nicolson, London Diaries, 493.
  • 190 Nicolson, London Diaries, 472, 494.
  • 191 Nicolson, London Diaries, 496.
  • 192 Nicolson, London Diaries, 493, 498.
  • 193 Wake mss 17, f. 203.
  • 194 Nicolson, London Diaries, 499-500.
  • 195 Nicolson, London Diaries, 496-7, 500.
  • 196 Wake mss 17, f. 205.
  • 197 Nicolson, London Diaries, 502.
  • 198 Nicolson, London Diaries, 503.
  • 199 Nicolson, London Diaries, 502-4.
  • 200 Christ Church Lib. Oxf. Wake 17, f. 227.
  • 201 Wake mss 17, f. 233.
  • 202 Wake mss 17, f. 236.
  • 203 Wake mss 5, ff. 9-10, Wake mss 17, f. 237; Letters on Various Subjects, ii. 398-400.
  • 204 Wake mss 5, ff. 7-8.
  • 205 Ibid. ff. 9-10.
  • 206 Holmes, Trial of Dr Sacheverell, 209.
  • 207 Wake mss 17, f. 240.
  • 208 Ibid. f. 245.
  • 209 Ibid.; Nicolson, London Diaries, 505; Articles to be Enquired of within the Diocese of Carlile (1710).
  • 210 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to W. Gilpin, 27 Apr. 1710.
  • 211 Wake mss 17, ff. 248.
  • 212 Wake mss 17, ff. 248, 250.
  • 213 Original letters, Illustrative of English History ed. H. Ellis, iii. 358-60.
  • 214 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 1 July 1710; Wake mss 17, f. 256.
  • 215 Nicolson, London Diaries, 506; Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to W. Gilpin, 22 July 1710.
  • 216 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to W. Gilpin, 1 Aug. 1710.
  • 217 Wake mss 17, f. 259.
  • 218 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to W. Gilpin, 10 Aug. 1710.
  • 219 Nicolson, London Diaries, 505; Add. 70026, ff. 91-2.
  • 220 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to W. Gilpin, 15, 26 Aug. 1710.
  • 221 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to W. Gilpin, 12, 26 Aug. 1710.
  • 222 Nicolson, London Diaries, 506; Wake mss 17, f. 265.
  • 223 Wake mss 17, f. 265.
  • 224 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 31 Aug. 1710.
  • 225 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, Gilpin to J. Lowther, 26, 31 Aug 1710.
  • 226 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 31 Aug., 7 Sept. 1710.
  • 227 Wake mss 17, f. 264.
  • 228 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/43, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 5 Oct. 1710.
  • 229 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part VI’ ed. R.G. Collingwood, Trans. Cumb. and Westm. Arch. and Antiq. Soc., 2nd series, xxxv. 133-4, 137.
  • 230 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part VI’, 134-5.
  • 231 Nicolson, London Diaries, 506; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 120-1.
  • 232 Nicolson, London Diaries, 520.
  • 233 Nicolson, London Diaries, 521.
  • 234 Nicolson, London Diaries, 522.
  • 235 Nicolson, London Diaries, 522-3.
  • 236 Nicolson, London Diaries, 520, 525.
  • 237 Nicolson, London Diaries, 526.
  • 238 Nicolson, London Diaries, 527.
  • 239 Add. 70264, ‘Case of Thomas Tullie’, n.d. [aft 31 Aug. 1711]; Nicolson, London Diaries, 528.
  • 240 Nicolson, London Diaries, 530; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 120-1.
  • 241 Nicolson, London Diaries, 531.
  • 242 Nicolson, London Diaries, 515-16, 525.
  • 243 Nicolson, London Diaries, 531.
  • 244 Nicolson, London Diaries, 532.
  • 245 Bodl. Clarendon 90, ff. 158-9.
  • 246 Nicolson, London Diaries, 542-3.
  • 247 Nicolson, London Diaries, 544.
  • 248 Nicolson, London Diaries, 546.
  • 249 Nicolson, London Diaries, 548-50.
  • 250 Nicolson, London Diaries, 551.
  • 251 Nicolson, London Diaries, 551 and n. 264, 553-5; LPL, ms 1770, f. 105v.
  • 252 NLS, Wodrow pprs. Wodrow Letters Quarto V f. 167v; Nicolson, London Diaries, 559.
  • 253 Nicolson, London Diaries, 559-60.
  • 254 NLS, Wodrow pprs, Wodrow Letters Quarto vol. v. f. 167v.
  • 255 Nicolson, London Diaries, 560-1.
  • 256 Nicolson, London Diaries, 561-3.
  • 257 Nicolson, London Diaries, 563, 565, 566-7.
  • 258 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 52.
  • 259 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/44, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 21 Apr. 1711.
  • 260 Wake mss 17, f. 275; Nicolson, London Diaries, 568.
  • 261 Wake mss 5, ff. 16-17.
  • 262 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part VI’, 54; Wake mss 17, f. 283.
  • 263 LPL, ms 1770, f. 114r.
  • 264 Nicolson, London Diaries, 575-80, 582.
  • 265 Nicolson, London Diaries, 573, 583, 585, 586, 589.
  • 266 Bodl. Ballard 36, f. 122; Nicolson, London Diaries, 574, 590.
  • 267 Nicolson, London Diaries, 590, 593.
  • 268 Nicolson, London Diaries, 598.
  • 269 Bodl. Add. C 217, p 13.
  • 270 Wake mss 17, f. 327.
  • 271 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/45, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 17 Apr. 1712.
  • 272 Wake mss 17, f. 330.
  • 273 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 58; Wake mss 17, f. 339.
  • 274 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 60.
  • 275 Bodl. Add. A 269, p. 19; Nicolson, London Diaries, 599-600.
  • 276 Bodl. Add. A 269, p. 20.
  • 277 Nicolson, London Diaries, 602.
  • 278 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/1/46, J. Lowther to W. Gilpin, 17, 31 Mar., 2 Apr. 1713.
  • 279 Nicolson, London Diaries, 601; Bodl. ms Add. A 269, pp. 23-32.
  • 280 Add. 70030, f. 257; Add. 70031, f. 82.
  • 281 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/3/13, Nicolson to J. Lowther, 8 Sept. 1713.
  • 282 Wake mss 17, ff. 345-6; ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 69.
  • 283 Bodl. Add. A 269, p. 29.
  • 284 Wake mss 6, f. 168.
  • 285 Bodl. Add. A 269, p. 32.
  • 286 ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries: Part IV’, 70.
  • 287 LPL, ms 1770, f. 142v; Cobbett, Parl. Hist., vi. 1343.
  • 288 TCD, 750 (4) ms 2532, pp. 268-9, 284-5.
  • 289 Leics RO, DG7 box 4960 P.P. 61.
  • 290 Nicolson, London Diaries, 611.
  • 291 Nicolson, London Diaries, 612-13.
  • 292 LPL, ms 1770, f. 146r.
  • 293 Nicolson, London Diaries, 606, 613.
  • 294 Nicolson, London Diaries, 607; Add. 70070, newsletter, 15 June 1714.
  • 295 Bodl. Add, A 269, p. 32; Nicolson, London Diaries, 607.
  • 296 Bodl. Add. A 269, pp. 33-4..
  • 297 R.S. Ferguson, Cumberland and Westmorland Elections, 101-2.
  • 298 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/3/14, Nicolson to J. Lowther, 9 Oct. 1714; HMC Lonsdale, 248; Nicolson, London Diaries, 614.
  • 299 Cumb. RO, D/Lons/W2/3/16, Nicolson to Lowther, 30 Oct., 4 Dec. 1714, 7 Feb. 1715.
  • 300 NLI, ms D/27164.
  • 301 Nicolson, London Diaries, 21-27.