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Norton Nicholls correspondence

Call Number: LWL MSS 27

Scope and Contents

The Norton Nicholls Correspondence is comprised of letters the British clergyman received from friends and acquaintances, and letters he wrote to a close friend, the poet Thomas Gray, and to his mother Jane Floyer Nicholls. Also present is an autograph manuscript prayer by Nicholls, and two letters written by Sir Horace Mann to unknown recipients. Most of the letters are accompanied by typed transcriptions made by library staff after the collection was received in 1943.

Series I holds forty-four letters to Nicholls from twenty-one people including the naturalists T. A. Knight and Jacob Samuel Wyttenbach, the poet Catherine Maria Fanshawe, and friends such as Carlo Firmian, Thomas Minifie, and John Wheler.

Series II, Letters from Nicholls, is the bulk of the collection and contains ten letters he wrote to Thomas Gray, and more than one hundred letters that he sent to his mother during his or her travels.

Series III, Other Papers, holds four items: an undated autograph manuscript prayer by Nicholls “to be used before inoculation”; two autograph letters, signed, written by Sir Horace Mann from Florence, Italy, to unknown recipients; and a partial "Alphabetical Index" to Nicholls's correspondence that is unrelated to the material in this collection.


  • 1753 - 1808


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Norton Nicholls Correspondence is the physical property of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the W. S. Lewis Librarian/Executive Director.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bequest of Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis (Yale 1918), 1979.


Organized into three series: I. Letters to Nicholls, 1772-1808. II. Letters from Nicholls, 1753-1799. III. Other Papers, 1754-1758.

Related Materials

Associated material: Norton Nicholls Papers (Osborn c467). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.


0.63 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials




Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Norton Nicholls Correspondence collection contains letters the British clergyman received from friends and acquaintances, and letters he wrote to a close friend, the poet Thomas Gray, and to his mother Jane Floyer Nicholls. Also present is Nicholls's short "Prayer to be use before inoculation" and two letters from Sir Horace Mann to unidentified recipients.

Norton Nicholls (1742-1809)

Norton Nicholls was born in Lisbon on February 24, 1742, the only surviving child of Jane Floyer Nicholls (died 1800) and Norton Nicholls, who had married in London in 1741. Jane Nicholls was the daughter of Charles Floyer (died 1731) and Jane Turner Floyer (died 1759), the daughter of Nathaniel Turner; both the Turner and Floyer families were involved with the East India Company.

The family returned to London by 1745, but the elder Nicholls became bankrupt and abandoned his family, leaving only a small annuity for his wife. With the financial assistance of Jane Nicholls's brother Charles Floyer, an East India merchant, Norton Nicholls was educated at Enfield School, Eton, and Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. He received his LL.B. in 1766. When Charles Floyer passed away in September of that year, Nicholls lost his financial support, and turned to a suggestion from his good friend and poet Thomas Gray to prepare for the clergy. He was ordained as a deacon in London on February 15, 1767, and as a priest on February 24, 1767. Through the assistance of another relative, William Turner (died 1790), Nicholls received an appointment as the rector of Lound and Bradwell in Suffolk, where he served from 1767 until his death. There was no parish rectory, so Nicholls and his mother moved to Blundeston House in Blundeston, the next parish. Nicholls lived most of his life at the house, and died there on November 22, 1809. He is buried in the St. Mary Magdalene churchyard in Richmond, Greater London, with his mother and their Turner and Floyer ancestors.

Custodial History

Wilmarth Lewis purchased the collection from Myers & Co. in July 1943. Prior to November 2021 the material in LWL MSS 27 was interfiled in the Lewis Walpole Library Manuscript Miscellany (LWL MSS MISC).

Guide to the Norton Nicholls Correspondence
by Sandra Markham
December 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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