Judge Benjamin Nicholson (bef 1765 Kent Co, MD - 1792 Baltimore)

From: "A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789" by Edward C. Papenfuse et al., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Married: Mary Ridgely (?-1804), daughter of John Ridgely (by 1724-1771) and wife Mary Dorsey.

Children: William; Benjamin, John Ridgely (abt 1772-1800), a doctor, who married Matilda Heath Smith; and Benjamin Joseph, who was possibly lost at sea by 1804; Mary, who married in 1798 Darby Lux (abt 1772-1812); Elizabeth; Eleanor; Sarah; and Juliet.

Private Career: Education: studied law. Religious affiliation: Protestant, buried by Rev. John Coleman, rector of St. John's Parish, Harford County. Social Status and Activities: Gentleman by 1771; Esq. By 1789. Occupational profile: lawyer, admitted to the following courts: Queen Anne's County, June 1765; Baltimore and Frederick Counties, August 1765; Provincial Court, October 1768; Anne Arundel and Cecil Counties by March 1769; merchant, by June 1771 until at least 1773, in partnership with his brother James; planter; mill owner;, 1789-1792 (although the mill land was mortaged shortly before his death, its assets were included in Nicholson's inventory).

Public Career: Legislative service: Conventions, Baltimore County, 2nd-3rd, 1774, 4th, 1775, 5th, 1775, 6th-8th, 1775-1776 (did not attend the 8th Convention).  Other state offices: Judge, Court of Admiralty, 1776-1789 (commissioned on October 30, 1776). Local offices: Committee of Observation, Baltimore County, 1776; Chief Judge, Baltimore City Court, appointed 1791. Military service: Captain, Baltimore County Militia, by 1776; Major, Baltimore Town Battalion, Baltimore County Millitia, 1777-1781 (commissioned on September 12, 1777); Captain, Volunteer Troop of Light Dragoons, Baltimore County Millitia, by October 1781; Nicholson undertook the last command at the request of the "youth in his neighborhood", even though it meant accepting a lower rank.

Wealth During Lifetime: Personal property: assessed value 1,222.17.6, including 13 slaves and 24 oz. Plate, 1783; charged with 14 slaves, 1790.  Additional comment: Nicholson was an executor of the estate of his father-in-law, John Ridgely (by 1724-1771), which was not settled until 1787.  His financial troubles by the late 1780s were apparently exacerbated by Ridgely's outstanding debts.  In 1791, Nicholson mortgaged 16 slaves, livestock, plantation equipment, and household furniture to Charles (Carnan) Ridgely.  Land at first election: 513 acres in Baltimore County, one-half interest in 135 acres in Anne Arundel County, and one-third interest in the lease of a lot in Fell's Point, Baltimore Town (all by purchase), plus an undetermined number of lots in or near Baltimore Town left to his wife by her father.  Significant changes in land between first election and death: purchased 25 acres in Baltimore County, 1775; sold Mary's Baltimore Town lots in 1775 and the Anne Arundel County land in 1779; charged with 4 improved lots in Baltimore Town, 1783.  In partnership with Charles Ridgely (1733-1790), Darby Lux (?-1795), John Sterett (1750/51-1787), Samuel Chase (1741-1811), and three others, purchased the confiscated Nottingham Ironworks in 1782, giving Nicholson a one-eighth interest in ca. 4,000 acres of land in Baltimore County; mortgaged his 539 acres in Baltimore County to his brother-in-law, John Ridgely, to secure settlement of the estate of his father-in-law John Ridgely (by 1724-1771) in 1786; mortgaged the one-eighth interest in the Nottingham Ironworks to Charles Ridgely (1733-1790) in 1788; obtained the release of the mortgage on the 539 acres of the land plus a certificate of survey fro an additional 106 acres in Baltimore County; purchased another 530 acre tract, which included a grist mill in Baltimore County, 1789; mortgaged this 530 acre tract and sold his ironworks interest (already mortgaged) to Charles (Carnan) Ridgely, 1791.  Wealth at death: Died: between March 10 and May 2, 1792, in Baltimore County. Personal property: TEV, 2,076.16.5 current money (including 19 slaves, 1 servant, at least 3 books, 54 oz. Plate, beehives, 2 and one-half tons of "ship stuff", and 74 barrels of :fine flour in the mill".  Most of his property was already mortgaged).  FB, 2.9.3. Land: probably 30 acres in Baltimore County