Get To Know the Man Who Lent His Name to Nicholson Place Parkland

Get To Know the Man Who Lent His Name to Nicholson Place Parkland

Born in England in 1838, teacher and writer John H. Nicholson was the first headmaster of the German Station National School (now known as Nundah State School). Get to know the man after whom the Nicholson Place parkland was named.

British-born John Henry Nicholson was the eldest son of theologian and Orientalist Dr John Nicholson and Anne Elizabeth Waring. He was educated privately and likewise attended the Croft House Academy, Brampton, Cumberland.


In 1854 at the age of 16, he emigrated to New South Wales and tried various occupations including whaling and gold prospecting. He then took a brief trip back to England in 1859 before settling in Queensland later that year. 

He married German-born Anna Wagner in 1860. The couple did not have children but adopted a daughter. That same year, he opened a private school at Toowoomba and not long after moved to Warwick where he tutored until he started another private school there in 1863. 

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In May 1865 he joined the Board of General Education as an assistant teacher. He later had charge of a number of county state schools including German Station National School at Nundah – later named Nundah State School (1865-68), Springsure in (1870-76) and Enoggera National School (1877-85).

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Nicholson Place Park on Gympie Street
Nicholson Place Park on Gympie Street | Photo credit: Facebook / Nundah & Districts Historical Society Inc.

Whilst working as a teacher, Nicholson published three short books of miscellaneous prose and verse, between 1867 and 1878, the first two of which were under the pseudonyms of ‘Tadberry Gilcobs’ and ‘Salathiel Doles’.

In 1882, The Adventures of Halek, a book inspired in part by Pilgrim’s Progress, was published. His work is an allegory focusing on a man’s development from sinful worldliness to ideal goodness. It was considered by some critics as a masterpiece and later had further editions published in Brisbane in 1896 and 1904.

Nicholson resigned from the Education Department in April 1885 and established a private school at Enoggera. He would later suffer from bouts of melancholia and spend time in the mental hospital at Goodna for the most part of 1891.

He rejoined government service and was a head teacher at Cambooya between 1893 and 1894 before he was appointed Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths at Nundah in 1898.

His wife died in 1901 and four years later remarried. His second wife is German-born translator and scholar, Anna Cordes, who reportedly had become attracted to Nicholson whilst translating Halek for publication. 

John Henry Nicholson died on 30 June 1923 at the age of 85 and was survived by his wife and daughter.

Published 1-January-2023