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Francis Nicholson

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A controversial writer; b. at Manchester, 1650 ( baptized 27 Oct.); d. at Lisbon, 13 Aug., 1731. The son of Henry or Thomas Nicholson, a Manchester citizen, when sixteen he entered University College, Oxford, as a servitor, and took his degrees as Bachelor of Arts (18 June, 1669) and Master of Arts (4 June, 1673). Ordained an Anglican clergyman , he officiated, first about Oxford, afterwards near Canterbury, where he gained some success in reconciling Nonconformists to the Church of England. A sermon preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, on 20 June, 1680, led to his being charged with unorthodox doctrine and the fact that he had been a pupil of Obadiah Walker caused him to be suspected of Catholic tendencies. The actual date of his reception into the Church is unknown, but during the reign of James II (1685-88) he was a professed Catholic and busied himself in the king's interests. At this time he wrote the appendix on the doctrine of the Church of England concerning the Real Presence, and the "Vindication of two recent discourses" on the same subject, added to Abraham Woodhead's "Compendious Discourse on the Eucharist", published in 1688. After the revolution he joined the Carthusians at Nieuport in Flanders, but his health was unequal to this austere life, and in 1699 he returned to England. There he entered the service of the Queen Dowager, Catharine of Braganza, whom he accompanied back to Portugal. For some years he resided at the Portuguese Court and then retired to an estate which he had bought at Pera, half a league south of the Tagus, and not, as the writer in the "Dictionary of National Biography" oddly asserts, the "suburb of Constantinople". He spent a: considerable period there in devotion and study, until reaching his seventieth year he made over all his real and personal property to the English College at Lisbon, subject to the discharge of his debts, the provision of board and lodging for the remainder of his life, and a small annuity. Three years before his death at the college he sent back to the Catholic antiquary, Dr. Cuthbert Constable, all the surviving manuscripts of Abraham Woodhead, which had passed into his hands as executor of Obadiah Walker. With them also he sent his manuscript life of Constable, published with additions in his edition of that author's "Third Part of a Brief Account of Church Government".

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