Matthias Nicoll


First Secretary of New York

Matthias Nicoll was born in Islip, Northamptonshire, England, in 1626. He graduated from Cambridge University, studied law at the Inner Temple and was called to the bar on November 27, 1649. In 1664, Charles II appointed Matthias Nicoll to the office of Secretary of the future colony of New York and Nicoll was part of the expedition to New Netherland under the command of Richard Nicoll. The two men were not related.

Matthias Nicoll, who had been a practicing barrister for many years in England, is believed to have drafted the legal code known as the Duke’s Laws that was promulgated at the Hempstead Convention of 1664 by Governor Richard Nicoll. Matthias Nicoll’s signature as Secretary of New York appears on the parchment of the Duke’s Laws now in the possession of the New York Secretary of State. The Duke’s Laws remained in force in the Colony until 1683.

In addition to the office of Secretary, 1664-1680, Matthias Nicoll was a member of the Governor’s Council 1667-1680, was appointed Mayor of New York in 1672 and served as Speaker in the first and second sessions of the New York Assembly in 1683. Following the restructuring of the court system, Governor Dongan appointed him one of the two permanent judges of the highest court, the Court of Oyer and Terminer, an office that he held until New York was annexed to the Dominion of New England. Nicoll also served as a judge of the Court of Admiralty.

In 1670, Matthias Nicoll was granted a patent to Plandome Manor, a 2000 acre estate in Manhasset, Long Island where he built his family home and where he died in 1693. William Floyd, one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence, was the great-grandson of Matthias Nicoll.



Appleton’s Cyclopædia of American Biography, Volume 4

Ralph J. Caliendo. New York City Mayors, Volume 1 (2010)

The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York Volume 2, (1916)


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