Nicholls was born at Feock on 21 April 1862, the eldest of 5 children of
Penryn born commissioned coast guard James Tonkin Nicholls
and his wife Elizabeth Hockin of Coverack. In 1881 he migrated to
Iquique (then a part of Peru), perhaps to join his brother James Mayne
Nicholls who had arrived there in 1872. He remained there until 1893
when he returned to Cornwall, only to re-migrate to Tocopilla Chile in 1895.
He became a huge success as a a book-keeper, opening a business in
1902 at Calle Serrano 9.
His business soon expanded to include the purchase of copper ore,
and he acted as agent
for its shipment to Lota, Guayacán, Tacoma and New York. His firm also
shipped nitrates to the principal agricultural centres of the world and
imported general merchandise, particularly that required in the mining
industry and held the representation of several insurance companies
covering fire and maritime matters.
Nicholls owned six mines situated
some four miles from Tocopilla that formed a group consisting of the
Bandera Chilena, Buena Esperanza and Pachamama Mines in the District of
Rosario. The other three: Rosario, Huanaca and Santa Clara were
situated near Cobija where the company established a branch office for
the purchase of minerals. In addition Nicholls owned five launches and
residential properties. In 1899
he succeeded fellow Cornishman William Henry Williams as the British
Vice Consul, the same year in which he married Mrs Dewstone. He died at Tocopilla in 1944.