William Nichols was a sea captain from Falmouth, England. He was a boat builder; businessman and sea captain. He sailed on the Duke William, the Eagle Packet and the Swift Packet. During the Seven War, he was the commander and owner of the Duke William when it sank with the loss over 300 passengers who were being transported from Acadia to France. During the American Revolution, he delivered mail from England to America and was taken captive while commanding the Eagle Packet. After directly corresponding with George Washington, Nichols was able to secure his release through a prisoner exchange arrangement. After his release, Nichols built and commanded a packet called the Swift. He continued to deliver mail from England to America.