Joseph Shield Nicholson

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Joseph Shield Nicholson
Born 9 November 1850
Wrawby, Lincolnshire
Died 12 March 1927
Notable awards Guy Medal in Silver
Grave of Joseph Shield Nicholson, Dean Cemetery

Professor Joseph Shield Nicholson LLD (1850–1927) was an English economist, born at Wrawby, Lincolnshire, the only son of the Rev. Thomas Nicholson, Independent minister at Banbury, and his wife, Mary Anne Grant.


Nicholson was educated at King's College London, Edinburgh, Cambridge, and Heidelberg. He was a private tutor at Cambridge (1876–80) and became professor of political economy at Edinburgh University in 1880. He was the first president of the Scottish Society of Economists, serving from its creation in 1897 until 1903.[1]


Nicholson's writings represent a compromise between the methods of the historical school of German economics and those of the English deductive school. In his principal work, Principles of Political Economy (three volumes, 1893–1901), he closely follows John Stuart Mill in his selection of material, but employs statistical and historical discussion, instead of the abstract reasoning from simple assumption that characterizes Mill's work.

Nicholson resigned his chair due to ill health in 1925 and died in Edinburgh on 12 May 1927.[2] He is buried with his wife, Jane Walmsley Nicholson, in the 20th-century extension to Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, in the central section.


Among his other writings are:
  • Effects of Machinery on Wages (1878)
  • Tenant's Gain not Landlord's Loss (1883)
  • The Silver Question (1886)
  • The Revival of Marxism (1920), final book.[3]
  • Money and Monetary Problems (1888)
  • Historical Progress and Ideal Socialism (1894)
  • Strikes and Social Problems (1896)
  • Elements of Political Economy (1903)
  • History of the English Corn Laws (1904)
  • Rates and Taxes (1905)
  • Rents, Wages, and Profits in Agriculture and Rural Depopulation (1906)
  • A Project of Empire (1909)
  • Tales from Ariosto (1913)
  • Life and Genius of Ariosto (1914)
  • War finance (1917)

Nicholson also wrote three romances:

  • A Dreamer of Dreams (1889)
  • Thoth (1888)
  • Toxar (1890)[4]


  1. ^ Hutton, Alan (2006). "A Scottish tradition of applied economics in the twentieth century". In Alexander Dow, Sheila Dow. The history of Scottish economic thought. London: Routledge. pp. 237–238. ISBN 0415344379. 
  2. ^ W. R. Scott, "Nicholson, Joseph Shield (1850–1927)", rev. John Maloney, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, UK: OUP, 2004) Retrieved 8 August 2016
  3. ^ Groenewegen, Peter. "Joseph Shield Nicholson (1850-1927): An early student of Marshall at Cambridge, later quite critical of Marshall and his Economics" (PDF). History of Economic Thought Society of Australia. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  4. ^ W. R. Scott: ‘Nicholson, Joseph Shield... In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2004). Retrieved 9 November 2010. Subscription required.

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