The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester


John Nichols entrenched his reputation as an antiquarian with the publication of The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester. This four-volume edition was released in eight parts from 1795 to 1815. Though London born and based, Nichols had family connections in Leicestershire. He undertook a survey of the county’s antiquities, historical and ecclesiastical sites and by the mid-1790s had accrued a huge collection of notes, drawings, and engravings.

A wealth of pictorial information

Nichols invited landowners to subsidise lavish views of their seats and also employed skilled topographical draughtsmen like Jacob Schnebbelie, John Prattent and James Peller Malcolm to travel into Leicestershire, making hundreds of sketches to fill the plates with a rich array of sculptural fragments, coins and archaeological discoveries. A title page (vol.I, pt.I) and two examples of typically crowded plates are reproduced here (vol.I, pt.II, p.272 and vol.III, pt.I, p.178). 

Full title:
The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester ... including also Mr Burton's description of the county, published in 1622 and the later collections of Mr Stavely, Mr Carte, Mr Peck, and Sir T. Cave.
1795-1815, London
John Nichols
Engraving / Letterpress
John Nichols
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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The Nichols family and their press (1777–1873)

Article by:
Julian Pooley

For three generations the Nichols family was central to topographical research and publication. Julian Pooley explores how as editors of the Gentleman’s Magazine, printers of county histories, collectors of manuscripts and founder members of historical societies, John Nichols (1745–1826), John Bowyer Nichols (1779–1863) and John Gough Nichols (1806–1873) were integral to the antiquarian community during a century of change.