Joseph Hopper Nicholson (1770-1817)

Joseph Hopper Nicholson (1770-1817) as a young man.


Birth: May 15th 1770, in Chestertown, Maryland. The son of Joseph Nicholson junr (1732-1786) & Elizabeth Hopper (1739-1806). Education: Graduated from Washington College in the Class of 1787. Marriage: Rebecca Lloyd (1771-1848) on October 10th 1793. The daughter of Edward Lloyd IV (1744-1796) & Elizabeth Gwynn Taylœ (1750-1825). Military Service: Captain of the Baltimore Fencibles, 1813-’14. Death: March 4th 1817, in Baltimore, Maryland. Burial: At Wye House Cemetery in Easton, Maryland.

Baltimore City Directories

1806. No Baltᵒ City Directory
1807. —Unlisted—
1808. —Unlisted—
1809. No Baltᵒ City Directory
1810. Nicholson, Joseph H. Esq. opposite 249, Baltimore-st.
1811. No Baltᵒ City Directory
1812. —Unlisted—
1813. No Baltᵒ City Directory
1814. Nicholson, Joseph H. president of the Commercial and Farmers’ Bank, dwel. 276 Baltimore st
1815. Nicholson, Joseph H. president of the Commercial and Farmers’ Bank, dwel. 276 Baltimore st
1816. Nicholson Joseph H. President of the Commercial and Farmers Bank, dwelling 276 Baltimore street
1817. —Unknown—

Newspaper Articles

The earliest mention of Joseph Hopper Nicholson in a newspaper, references what must have been one of the most terrifying events of his life. It happened when he was 21 years old, and ran in the February 7th 1792 edition of The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiſer:[1]

Baltimore, February 7.

On Sunday Night laſt a Man, who ſays his Name is ———— Curran, was committed to Gaol, in this Town, on a ſtrong Suſpicion of being the Perſon who lately robbed Mr. JOSEPH H. NICHOLSON and Mr. RICHARD CHEW, on the Highway, as mentioned in the Maryland Journal, &c. of the 20th Ult.

There does not appear to be an extant copy of the January 20th 1792 edition of The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiſer (which was referenced in the above blurb), but the robbery was newsworthy enough that the February 14th 1792 edition of The Weekly Regiſter in Norwich, Connecticut, ran the story under the heading “Baltimore, January 20.”[2]

BALTIMORE, January 20.

Extract of a letter from Mr. JOSEPH H. NICHOLSON, to his friend in this town, dated at RANELAGH, (the ſeat of BENJAMIN NICHOLSON, Eſq. about 18 miles from Baltimore) dated on Monday laſt.
“I TAKE the liberty to inform you of a misfortune that happened to me, laſt evening, after I left you.—
“When I had rode about fourteen miles miles on the road to this place, from Baltimore in deſcending a hill which leads to a branch, that I am told is known by the name of the Beaver Dam Branch, I was ve(ry?) familiarly accoſted by a man on horſeback, who deſired me to ſtop, and demanded my money—I aſked him what he meant; and was anſwered by his preſenting a piſtol and repeating his demand—I ſtill heſitated—but he told me, in a very inſolent manner, that he muſt have no heſitation; and cocked his piſtol, which he held within a foot of my breaſt. I thought it high time then to give up my purſe, which I did, containing a Doubloon, a half Joe, and two or three dollars—Not contented with this, he told me he muſt have my watch, and took it himſelf out of my watch-pocket—after looking at it, he returned it to me and told me, “damn the old thing, I would not run the riſque of diſcovery for it.”—My watch is, indeed, an old family piece, and not worth much; but I am very glad he thought it inſignificant, for I valued it much more than my money—After this we parted.—I had no arms, and no weapon at all, but a ſmall ſwitch-whip. Fortunately he neither demanded my ſaddle-bags nor my pocket book, probably from his fearing ſome perſon or other would come up, for it was but juſt duſk.”

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Joseph Hopper Nicholson (1770-1817) as an older man.

Obituary: Published in the March 5th 1817 edition of the Baltimore Patriot & Evening Advertiser:[3]


Yesterday, after a short illness, the Hon. JOSEPH HOPPER NICHOLSON, (aged 47 years) Chief Judge of the sixth Judicial District, and a Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. In the death of this gentleman, the public has to deplore the loss of one of its wisest and most virtuous citizens ; and his family and friends to mourn the departure of the best and kindest of men. Remarkable from early life for his great moral excellence and elevation of character, and possessing fine talents, invigorated and adorned by cultivation, he soon became distinguished in his professional and public career ; and was for many years a conspicuous member of Congress.
His legal attainments led to his elevation to a high judicial station in 1805, from which the offer of great appointments by the general government could not draw him, and the duties of which he discharged until his death, with so much dignity, integrity and ability, as to command the universal esteem and approbation, of all who witnessed his administration of Justice. His character, and not his fortune, placed him at the head of a prosperous monied institution of this city. But it was in his private life and domestic relations, that Judge Nicholson manifested his most engaging and most ennobling qualities, and that his loss will be most severely felt. His amiable manners and refined conversation endeared him to his numerous friends ; while a large family connexion, to which he was a head, a parent and a support, and an affectionate wife and fatherless children must bewail this bereavement as a desolating and irreparable calamity.

[updated September 23rd 2017]

1. The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiſer. 7 February 1792. pp. 2-3, cols. 3 & 1.
2. The Daily Regiſter (Norwich, Conn.) 14 February 1792. p. 3, cols. 1-2.
3. The Baltimore Patriot & Evening Advertiser. 5 March 1817. p. 2, col. 5.