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Nichols family correspondence

Call Number: OSB MSS 154

Scope and Contents

The Nichols Family Correspondence consists almost entirely of letters received by John Nichols, John Bowyer Nichols, and John Gough Nichols.The collection primarily documents the editing and publication of the Gentleman's Magazine by three generations of the Nichols family, as well as other aspects of their publishing business, Nichols & Co. There is also much correspondence concerning the Nichols's antiquarian interests and promotion of learned societies, as well as some family correspondence from various relatives and among the printers themselves.


  • 1769-1873


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Nichols Family Correspondence is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Winifred Myers on the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Fund, 1972-1975.


Organized into one series: I. Correspondence, 1769-1873.


6.67 Linear Feet (19 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Nichols Family Correspondence consists almost entirely of letters addressed to the three generations of the Nichols family who owned the printing firm Nichols & Co. and edited and published the Gentleman's Magazine from 1778 to 1856. The letters document a portion of the publication history of the magazine, particularly the professional and personal relationships between the Nicholses and their contributors. The collection also documents other publication projects of Nichols & Co., as well as the Nichols's antiquarian and literary interests.

Nichols Family

John Nichols (1745-1826), English master printer, editor, author, and antiquarian, inherited his printing business from his partner William Bowyer. Nichols printed for learned societies and published many county histories, including his own History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Leicester (1795-1812). Nichols purchased a share in the popular Gentleman's Magazine in 1778; he and his descendants edited and printed the monthly until 1856. He also produced collections of literary anecdotes of eighteenth century authors, a biography of Hogarth, and literary editions. In 1810 he became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London.

John Bowyer Nichols (1779-1863), the son of John Nichols by his second wife, succeeded his father as owner of Nichols & Co. and as editor of the Gentleman's Magazine. He too was a noted antiquarian, publishing a number of county histories and printing many antiquarian articles in his magazine. His extensive involvement in the Parliamentary printing business resulted in his testifying twice before Parliamentary commissions investigating the high cost of official printing. Nichols was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and an original member of the Novomagians, their select dining club. His many antiquarian works included Historical Notices of Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire (1836).

John Gough Nichols (1806-1873), the eldest son of John Bowyer Nichols, began attending meetings of the Society of Antiquaries with his father when he was twelve years old. Nichols grew up to become a prominent antiquarian, helping to found the Camden Society (1838), the Archaeological Institute (1844), and the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (1855). Among his publications are Autographs of Royal, Noble, Learned and Remarkable Personages (1829) and Examples of Decorative Tiles, Sometimes termed Encaustic (1841–5). While he was best known as an antiquary and scholar, he continued to run the family printing business until his death in 1873, and he edited the Gentleman's Magazine until its sale in 1856.

Processing Information

This finding aid was produced from a previously existing card set in the Manuscripts Catalog, or from another inventory. All pertinent bibliographical information has been retained. Much of the processing and listing of the collection was done by library staff in the 1970s; final housing and description were completed in 2010.
Guide to the Nichols Family Correspondence
by Diane J. Ducharme
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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