Judge Robert Carter Nicholas, Sr.

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Judge Robert Carter Nicholas, Sr.'s Geni Profile

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Robert Carter Nicholas, Sr.

Birthplace: Va, Virginia, United States
Death: September 08, 1780 (52)
Retreat Hanover, Montpelier, Hanover County, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Farrington, Hanover County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Dr. George Nicholas and Elizabeth Burwell Nicholas
Husband of Ann Nicholas
Father of Sarah Ann Norton; Elizabeth Carter Randolph; Lt. Col. George Nicholas; Thomas Carter Nicholas; Wilson Cary Nicholas, Governor, U.S. Senator and 6 others
Brother of Jane Hawkins; John Nicholas, of Seven Islands and George Nicholas
Half brother of Elizabeth Burwell; Nathaniel Burwell, II; Lewis Burwell III of Whitemarsh; Carter Burwell, of The Grove, near Williamsburg; Elizabeth Nelson and 2 others

Occupation: Member, Virginia House of Burgesses
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Judge Robert Carter Nicholas, Sr.

  • Born 1728
  • Graduate of College of William & Mary
  • Able lawyer
  • Served 10 years as burgess
  • Died 1780
  • Five sons:
  • John, member of Congress
  • George, Governor of Kentucky
  • Wilson, Governor of Virginia and U.S. Senator
  • Lewis
  • Philip, Attorney General of Virginia, Judge, prosecuted for sedition in 1800
  • https://www.jstor.org/stable/1906281?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%...

Conservative Virginia patriot

A Patriot of the American Revolution for VIRGINIA. DAR Ancestor # A083350

Robert Carter Nicholas, like Speaker Peyton Randolph, Edmund Pendleton, and George Wythe, was one of Virginia's conservative patriots. A graduate of the College of William and Mary and an able lawyer, Nicholas served for 10 years as a burgess before becoming treasurer of the colony in 1766. Nicholas helped draft the resolutions of the House of Burgesses against the proposed Stamp Act in 1764, but opposed the "young hot, and giddy members" who supported Patrick Henry's Stamp Act resolves in May, 1765.

Introduced resolution for June 1 day of fasting and prayer

Nicholas introduced the resolution of May 23, 1774, setting aside June 1 as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer in sympathy with embargoed Boston. He is also remembered for trying to prevent premature violence in March, 1775, by opposing Patrick Henry's resolution to raise 10,000 regulars "for the duration." Although Nicholas was never an advocate of independence, his legal skill and unquestioned integrity led to his appointment to the Court of Chancery in January 1778.




Robert Carter Nicholas was the son of Dr. George Nicholas and Elizabeth Carter Burwell Nicholas (widow of Nathaniel Burwell) of Williamsburg, Virginia. His father migrated to Virginia; his mother was the daughter of wealthy Virginia landowner, Robert "King" Carter of Corotoman. Born January 28, 1728/9, both parents were dead by 1734. He studied law at the College of William and Mary and practiced in the general court under the royal government. He served in the House of Burgesses, 1755-61 as the representative from York County, and from 1766-1775 as the representative of James City County, and was Treasurer for the colony of Virginia, 1766-1775.

From 1761 to 1774, Robert Carter Nicholas was one of the trustees of the Bray school - a charity school for black children - in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was the principal correspondent with Dr. Bray's Associates in England, who financed the school.

In October 1765 along with John Randolph and George Wythe was part of committee that heard Thomas Jefferson's bar examinations. Later when he became Treasurer of Virginia, he stopped taking new cases and turned over many of his existing cases to Thomas Jefferson.

When in 1769 Peyton Randolph speaker of the House of Burgesses chose Jefferson to write a response to Royal Governor Botetourt's opening remarks to the House, his motions although accepted and passed were felt in committee to be "lean and tepid" requiring rewrite by Nicholas. Jefferson never forgot this humiliation. In fact, in 1774 Jefferson had to rewrite a motion written by Nicholas objecting to Governor Dunmore's land proclamation. Also in May 1774, Nicholas introduced a motion written by Thomas Jefferson making June 1 a "day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer" to express sympathy of Virginia for their sister colony of Massachusetts as a result of the closing of the Port of Boston by the British.

On December 13, 1775, after the battle of Great Bridge, Nicholas introduced a motion in the House of Burgesses denouncing Lord Dunmore as champion of "tyranny" a monster, "inimical and cruel" for pronouncing martial law and assuming powers, the "King himself could not exercise." Two days later he also submitted a motion to grant pardons to black slaves who he claimed had been deluded by the British to join Loyalist forces.

Nicholas opposed the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, but he was a member of the committee appointed to draft a declaration of rights and a new form of government for Virginia. He was a member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1776 to 1778 and in 1779 was appointed to the high court of chancery. Consequently he became a member of the first Court of Appeals, predecessor of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Judge Nicholas died in 1780, so only served one year.

Nicholas married Anne Cary, daughter of Wilson Cary of Warwick County in 1751 and the couple had four daughters and six sons. His grandson, Robert C. Nicholas was a United States Senator from Louisiana, and his daughter Elizabeth (1753–1810) married Edmund Randolph, the first United States Attorney General.

His son-in-law, Edmund Randolph described him: "By nature he was benevolent and liberal. But he appeared to many who did not thoroughly understand him, to be haughty and austere; because they could not appreciate the preference of gravity for levity, when in conversation the sacredness of religion was involved in ridicule or language forgot its chastity."

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Judge Robert Carter Nicholas, Sr.'s Timeline

January 28, 1728
Va, Virginia, United States
August 11, 1752
Gloucester, VA, United States
Virginia, United States
August 11, 1753
Williamsburg, Hanover, Virginia
Williamsburg, VA, United States
January 31, 1761
Williamsburg, Virginia, British America
January 19, 1764
Williamsburg, VA, United States
May 17, 1765
Albermarle, Virginia