JOHN SPEIGHT NICHOLAS

Born 12th July, 1880. Died 13th July, 1958.

It was difficult to realise, on hearing of the death of J. S. Nicholas, that eleven years had gone by since he retired from the staff and from the position of Second Master which he had held since 1926. During these last eleven years newcomers to the school may have occasionally seen him, modestly inconspicuous, at a school function or commemoration service ; but only the memories of Old Edwardians and older members of the staff retain the strong, the ineffaceable impression which this remarkable man made upon them and upon the School.

For the rank and file of boys, the name of " Nick " must have been primarily the symbol of an almost inhumanly rigorous and terrifying code of discipline. To be unmercifully trounced, at a casual encounter in the corridor, for having hands in pockets or failing to pick up someone else's dropped bus-ticket, was not an encouraging or endearing introduction. Yet for all, or nearly all, some sooner some later, the step from fear and avoidance to sincere respect and affection seemed easy and inevitable. Those whom he taught (under the strange esoteric regimen of Room 63) knew when to be careful and when to lighten the proceedings with nicely calculated pranks—in which the master usually had the last laugh. Members of his house, Chatsworth, were left in no doubt as to his determination to get the best out of every boy and his genuine appreciation of every success or praiseworthy effort. For that matter, no winner of game, race, prize or scholarship, regardless of House, and no talented performer in the arts, ever went without an open or private " Well done " from Mr. Nicholas.

John S. Nicholas

It was this deep devotion to the well-being and well-doing of every boy, together with an acute judgement of character and ability, that made the influence of J. S. Nicholas the most powerful factor in the school's life for some twenty years.

A scholar of New College, Oxford, he joined the Staff in 1911, after experience at Oswestry School, at Haileybury, and at Christ College, Brecon. He served with a commission in the First War, returning to the school in 1919. He became Senior Mathematical Master in 1924, and Second Master in 1926. He retired in 1947.

[KES Mag Summer 58]
John S. Nicholas was born in Leeds, the son of William D. Nicholas, schoolmaster [Genealogy website; courtesy of P E Robinson]