Sir John Toup Nicolas

RolesNaval Sailor 
Date of Birth22.2.1788W025
First Known Service1.5.1805W025
FatherJohn Harris Nicholas (1758-1844)W025
Last Known Service30.12.1850W025
Date of Death1851W025

Event History

Date fromDate toEventSource
1.5.1805 LieutenantCSORN
26.8.1809 CommanderCSORN
4.18107.1816Pilot (16), Commander and Commanding OfficerBWAS-1793
25.7.1810 Action of 1810-07-25 
26.5.1811 Action of 1811-05-26 
6.9.1811 Action of 1811-09-06 
16.4.1812 Action of 1812-04-16 
14.5.1812 Action of 1812-05-14 
17.6.1815 Pilot vs Légère 
26.8.1815 CaptainCSORN
5.1.18201823Egeria (20), Captain and Commanding OfficerW025
1834 Appointed Knight of the Royal Guelphic Orderref:1059
16.8.18371.1839Hercules (74), Captain and Commanding OfficerW025
10.4.183930.9.1841Belleisle (74), Captain and Commanding OfficerW025
30.9.18411845Vindictive (50), Captain and Commanding OfficerW025
1.9.1847 Appointed Superintendent of the Victualling Yard at PlymouthW025
30.12.1850 Rear-AdmiralW025

Notes on Officer


NICOLAS, JOHN TOUP (1788–1851), rear-admiral, eldest son of John Harris Nicolas (1758–1844), a lieutenant in the navy, was born at Withen, near Helston, Cornwall, on 22 Feb. 1788. Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas [q. v.] was his brother. As early as 1797 John was borne on the books of one or other of the gun-vessels stationed on the coast of Devonshire and Cornwall, but seems to have first gone to sea in 1799, in the Edgar with Captain Edward Buller, whom he followed in 1801 to the Achille. He was afterwards in the Naiad frigate, but in 1803 was again with Buller in the Malta of 80 guns. He was made lieutenant on 1 May 1804, and, remaining in the Malta, was present in the action off Cape Finisterre on 22 July 1805. From 1807 he was flag-lieutenant to Rear-admiral George Martin [q. v.] in the Mediterranean, and in October 1809 was appointed acting commander of the Redwing. He had been previously promoted from home on 26 Aug., and appointed to the Pilot brig, which he joined at Portsmouth in April 1810.

In the Pilot he went out again to the Mediterranean, and for the next four years was employed in most active and harassing service on the coast of Italy, capturing or destroying great numbers of coasters, and of vessels laden with stores for the Neapolitan government. Alone, or in company with the Weasel sloop, or the Thames frigate [see Napier, Sir Charles], he is said to have captured or destroyed not less than 130 of the enemy's vessels between his first coming on the coast and July 1812. He afterwards went round to the Adriatic, continuing there with the same activity and good fortune. He returned to England towards the end of 1814, but on the escape of Napoleon from Elba was again sent out to the Mediterranean, where, on 17 June, off Cape Corse, he engaged the French sloop Égérie. After several hours both vessels had suffered severely, and the Égérie had lost many men, killed and wounded. The Pilot's loss in men had been slight, but her rigging was cut to pieces, and the Égérie made good her escape. The Pilot's first lieutenant, Keigwin Nicolas, a brother of the commander, was among the wounded. On 4 June 1815 Nicolas was nominated a C.B.; on 26 Aug. he was promoted to the rank of post-captain, in October he received from the king of Naples the cross of St. Ferdinand and Merit, and in the following April was made a knight-commander of the order. He returned to England in July 1816, when the Pilot was paid off.

From 1820 to 1822 Nicolas commanded the Egeria frigate on the Newfoundland station, and on his return to England was sent to Newcastle, where a dispute between the keelmen and shipowners threatened to give rise to disturbance. The mere presence of the frigate in the Tyne enforced order, and the dispute being adjusted, the Egeria went to Sheerness and was paid off. Nicolas's conduct and tact on this occasion were highly approved. He was nominated a K.H. on 1 Jan. 1834. From 1837 to 1839 he commanded the Hercules of 74 guns, on the Lisbon station; from 1839 to 1841 the Belle-Isle in the channel and the Mediterranean; and the Vindictive, on the East India station, from 1841 to 1844, returning to England by Tahiti, where he was sent to protect English interests during the arbitrary proceedings of the French (Ann. Reg. pt. i. p. 256). On 30 Dec. 1850 Nicolas was promoted to be rear-admiral. He died at Plymouth on 1 April 1851, and was buried in St. Martin's Church. He married in 1818 Frances Anna, daughter of Nicholas Were of Landcox, near Wellington in Somerset, by whom he had issue. He was the author of ‘An Inquiry into the Causes which have led to our late Naval Disasters,’ 1814; and of ‘A Letter to Rear-Admiral Du Petit Thouars on late events at Otaheite,’ Papeete, 1843.

Granville Toup Nicolas (d. 1894), son of the above, entered the navy in 1848, was promoted lieutenant in 1856 after service in the Black Sea, and in the following year was appointed to the Leopard, the flagship of Sir Stephen Lushington [q. v.], on the south-east coast of America. Thence he was appointed to Sir James Hope's flagship, the Impérieuse, on the China station. He was subsequently left in command of the gunboat Insolent, and was repeatedly engaged in the operations for the suppression of the Tae-ping insurrection. He was promoted commander in 1867, retired as captain in 1882, and died at Edinburgh on 21 April 1894 (Times, 25 April, 1894).

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