Maternal grandfather John

Ireland’s grandfather on his mother’s side was his namesake, John Nicholson, another of the family’s many scholars and orientalists. He was born c. 1809 in Barbados, son of the Reverend Mark Nicholson, who featured in an earlier blog on this site.


Like his father, John Nicholson studied at Queen’s College, Oxford. Following medical studies and some time living in Göttingen, he became known as a Biblical scholar, a speaker of Arabic and a follower of Swedenborg. He had two younger brothers, William (1816-63), who studied medicine in Berlin, and Mark (1818-89). In 1840 he published An Account of the Establishment of the Faternite Dynasty in Africa. He settled in Penrith, but it is quite difficult pinning down exactly where he lived.

The first house on record for John Nicholson dates from 1841, when he was 30, and living in Townhead, the northern area of Penrith. His house at this point was Inglewood House, perhaps hence the transference of this name to Bowdon by Ireland’s mother. The road then called Town Head is now the main A6 through the town, and very different in every sense, yet retaining some of the houses close to Inglewood in the census, such as Lark Hall and Thackagate. In 1851 the picture becomes unclear. The census lists his address as 19 The Fell, yet Annie Elizabeth records their home as Fellside, Nicholson Avenue, the house seen below. Twenty years later they are in Prospect House, Fell Lane. What is certain is that these Nicholsons remained in a small area of Penrith for many years.

John Nicholson and his wife Annie had eight children, in order:


Sources: census 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871


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