James Noble Nicholas was born in New Zealand about 1869, one of seven children of Edward Nicholas (1836-1917) and his wife Mary Ann Sidebottom (1839-1924). He sang in the Exhibition Choir in 1891-92. On 21 Sep 1903 James, an artist, married Adelaide Beatrice Cooper in Victoria. He was living at Edgevale Road, Kew, at the time. Like many others in the Nicholas family he became a photographer, with a studio at 74 Wellington Street, Launceston, from 1908-10.
He moved to George Town where he was the minister's warden, church warden and lay preacher at the Church of England. James was elected to the George Town Council twice, worked in support of the Hunter scheme for the Tamar River and the industrial developments at Bell Bay. During a stay in South Africa James devoted considerable time to photography and painting of nature studies in which he was particularly interested.
James and Adelaide's daughter Muriel was born on 28 Aug 1907 at the Victoria Hospital, Launceston. She married Laurie William Hardman in Melbourne in 1937. James died in Apr 1950 at his residence 'Hollydene', George Town. His widow Adelaide died the following year, on 30 Jul 1951.