The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester
By John Nichols
John Nichols was an author, antiquarian and printer born in Islington, London, in 1745. He was a baker's son but became apprenticed to a printer, William Bowyer, and in 1766 he became Bowyer's business partner. In 1777, William Bowyer died leaving Nichols as owner of the business, located in Red Lion Passage, Fleet Street.
Though London born and based, Nichols had family connections in Leicestershire; he spent his early years with his maternal grandfather in Hinckley, and his second wife, Martha Green, was born in the town. Nichols undertook a comprehensive survey of the county’s antiquities, and historical and ecclesiastical sites, and by the mid-1790s had accrued a huge collection of notes, drawings, and engravings.
Considered one of his most important works, Nichols' The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, was the most ambitious of the various antiquarian county histories produced from the late 16th Century onwards. Much of the content was based on work carried out by fellow antiquarians, Francis Peck, who was Rector of Goadby Marwood from 1723 to 1743, and John Throsby, parish clerk of St. Martin's Church in Leicester from 1770 to 1803.
Nichols' massive compendium of historical notes, manuscripts and engraved plates was printed by subscription and was published in four volumes between 1795 and 1815. Nichols’ antiquarian and printing work was continued by his son, John Bowyer Nichols, and grandson, John Gough Nichols.
Plate from Nichols' The History and Antiquities
of the County of Leicester, showing St. Denys' Church and onetime rector, Rev. Francis Peck.
Map of Leicestershire from Nichols'
The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester.