the research microsite

Return to Explore the Rockefeller Library Collections page

Robert Nicolson Family Bible

  • BS 185.1706.L6
  • Williamsburg and Richmond, Virginia

Transcript: Family History

Maria Brown

John H. Brown & Maria Brown

Married John H. Brown to Maria Copland
on Thursday the 25th September 1806 }


  • This Bible was originally the property of Robert Nicolson/Nicholson (1725–1797), the grandfather of Maria Copland Brown. Robert Nicolson was born in England; his emigration date is not known. He was a successful tailor and merchant and built a home at the east end of York Street, below the Capitol Building sometime between 1751–1753. He married Mary Waters in 1747. They had eight children; daughter Rebecca was the sixth child and the first girl. She married Charles Copland February 4, 1786 and Maria/Mary was born March 16, 1787. The following year the family moved to Richmond where Copland practiced law.
  • Charles Copland kept a diary, excerpts which were printed in the William and Mary Quarterly. In it he mentions trips, some of which Maria accompanied him:

    July 17th, 1796. Set out with my wife and two of our children, Maria and Alexander, for the Louisa Springs …

    May 18th, 1802. I set out with my three daughters for New York on board the schooner Lyoness, commanded by and belonging to Capt. Secaman, and arrived at New York on the 23rd. After a week’s stay we proceeded on to Bethlehem [PA], where I placed at school my daughters Elizabeth [age 14] and Margaret [age 10], and I, with my daughter Mary [age 15], returned in the stage to Richmond where we arrived on the 21st of June.

    July 2nd, 1804. Today, in company with Mr. Tho. Nicolson, my daughter Mary, … I set out for Bethlehem.

  • The Bethlehem Female Seminary was founded in 1742 and was renamed Moravian Seminary and College for Women in 1913.
  • The marriage is the only personal information that was recorded, and that was written on the verso of the New Testament title page. John and Maria’s daughter Margaret Copland Brown was born June 30, 1809. John H. Brown died two years later on March 19, 1811. Her mother, Rebecca Nicolson Copland, died in 1800 at age 33; Charles Copland, her father, November 24, 1836. Maria died November 30, 1845. None of these dates is recorded in the Bible.
  • The Bible was given to the Rockefeller Library in 1988 by a descendant of Robert Nicholson.


  • “Extracts from the Diary of Charles Copland,” William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 14 (1905–06), #1, pp. 44–50; Vol 14, #4, pp. 217–230 and Vol. 15, #1, pp. 57–64.
  • Reichel, William C. A History of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of the Bethlehem Female Seminary with a Catalogue of its Pupils 1785–1858. Philadelphia: LIppincott, 1858. [Google Books, viewed 4/4/2011]