The subject of this sketch was born in Philadelphia on the 10th day of September, 1750. His father was William Biddle, of New Jersey, son of one of the first settlers and proprietors of that state, who had removed to Philadelphia previous to Nicholas' birth. His mother was the daughter of Nicholas Scull, who was for many years surveyor general of Pennsylvania.
He was brought up to the sea, and when less than 16 years of age gave striking proof of that courage and fortitude for which in after-life he became distinguished.
In a storm in January, 1766, off the coast of Yucatan, the vessel in which he and his brother Charles were serving was wrecked. Charles, then five years older than Nicholas, wrote afterwards in his autobiography: