Son of Norton Nicholls, merchant, and Jane Floyer, daughter of Lieut-Col Charles Floyer. Educated at Eton, and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he met William Johnson Temple. Ordained in 1767, he became the rector of Lound and Bradwell, Suffolk (1767-1809) and was even known locally as an able landscape designer.1
Nicholls was a close friend of the poet Thomas Gray in the poets' later years. Nicholls and Gray made an excursion through the Western Counties in 1770, which may be seen as parallel to Boswell and Johnson's tour of the Hebrides in 1773, and in some other ways, the relationship between Gray and Nicholls seems to have resembled that of Boswell and Johnson. Nicholls wrote Reminiscences of Gray, which has been published together with some editions of the correspondence between the two.
Norton Nicholls died on November 22, 1809, and was buried in the churchyard of Richmond, Surrey.
- 1. http://www.lothingland.co.uk/ashby5.htm
Temple introduced Boswell to Nicholls, an old Cambridge chum of his, on May 13, 1763. Boswell and Nicholls met a few times more before Boswell left for Holland in August of that year. They didn't meet again until August 10, 1774, in Edinburgh. Nicholls's cousin Frances Floyer was married to John Francis Erskine, an old classmate of Boswell's at Edinburgh University.
The Correspondence of Thomas Gray and the Rev Norton Nicholls was published in 1843 and is often available via the AbeBooks used books search engine.