Ch2 - Noteable English Family
[Preface] [Ch1 Historical] [Ch2 - Noteable English Family] [Ch 3 16th Century Bicknells] [Family Characteristics]

    Preface ] Ch1 Historical ] [ Ch2 - Noteable English Family ] Ch 3 16th Century Bicknells ] Family Characteristics ]

    Thomas Williams Bicknell's 1913 genealogy Book Chapter II


       The first Bicknell of note of record, in Somersetshire, was
    Rev. William Biconyll, a priest of the Roman Catholic faith, who
    was the incumbent of two parishes in 1425.  Later he was rector
    of Cliffe, near Rochester, 1445; of Tring, at Herts; Canon of
    Lincoln, with the prebend of St. Margarets, at Leicester, 1445
    canon of Wells; canon of St. Paul's, 1445; comissary official of
    the Court of Canterbury, and chancellor of the diocese, appointed
    June 14, 1444.   A  greater proof of  his ability is seen in the
    selection of Dr. Bicknell, by the famous Archbishop Chichele, as
    one of his trustees and executors.  In All Souls' College, Ox-
    ford, Dr. Bicknell's name appears on the College archives sev-
    eral times between  1443 and 1446, and he was well  known at
    the University, where he took his LL, D. Degree.  I dare say
    much more could be found out about him at Oxford, London,
    Canterbury, as well as the cathedrals with which he was officially

       Dr. Bicknell signed his will November 3, 1448, and it is be-
    lieved that he died the next day.  His will, fortunately preserved
    in its original abbreviated  Latin, at Lambeth  Palace Library,
    London, England, is an excellent specimen of the kind of testa-
    ment made by a devout Catholic dignitary in the first half of the
    fifteenth century.  That the testator was a man of culture and
    wealth, a thorough-going churchman, not forgetful of the worldly
    advancement of his family and the preservation of his own mem-
    ory and immortality among men is abundantly shown in the
    will.  The bequests, large and small, exceed an hundred in num-
    ber.  They include five cathedrals, three convents, eight churches
    and  over thirty friends or acquaintances in legacies.   Among
    the latter were thirty-two cloaks, gowns, or vestments, a great
    many chalices, cups, bowls, and ornaments of silver or silver-gilt,
    as well as manuscripts, five horses, nearly 7oo in money, not
    counting annuities.  Many of the legacies were made to bene-
    ficiaries in his own County of Somerset.

       In his will, Dr. Bicknell expressed a desire to be buried in
    the Chapel of St. Martin's in the Cathedral at Wells, England.
    A picture of the tomb of Dr. Bicknell in Wells Cathedral is seen
    on the opposite page.  Under the tomb may be read the inscrip-
    tion graven in Victorian letters:

                 CAN. WELLENS, CANC. CANT.
                         OB., MCCCCXLVIII.

       Dr. William  Bicknell's  father's name was  John,  and his
    mother's Jane or Joane; he had one brother, John, and a sister,
    Elizabeth.  For twenty years, from 1448, a John "Byconyll" is
    frequently mentioned in the records.  He may have been Dr,
    Bicknell's brother, to whom he gave money to buy land, for
    we find John Byconyll buying between five and six hundred acres,
    with other property, near Ashprington, in Devon, in 1451; the
    names of the Byconylls, Lytes and Horseys are associated until
    the sixteenth century.

       On July 7 1455, Johannes Byknell and Stephen Hatfield were
    returned to Parliament for Shaftesbury in Dorset, and in 1456,
    "John Byconyll" served the office of escheator for Devon and
    Cornwall, the first inquisition he held being on Elizabeth, wife
    of Sir John Seyntmaur, Kt., whose grandson afterwards mar-
    ried Elizabeth Chokke (Dame Biconyll).


       Chancellor William Bicknell was a man of peace, but Sir
    John was a man of war, at the same time he was intensely de-
    voted to the church, and played a conspicuous part in civil, mili-
    tary and church history in Somerset County, from 1470 to 1502
    When Parliament was summoned to meet Oct. 6, 1472, at West-
    minster, John Biconyll represented the United Counties of Som-
    erset and Dorset, until the close of that Parliament, March 14

       He was also sheriff for Dorset and Somersetshire in 1472
    and 1473.

       In 1474. John Biconyll owned the three manors of  North
    Perot, South Perot and Pepilperis, as well as the advowsons of
    the first two; he also took an active interest in the religious guild
    founded in 1482, at Croscombe, three miles from Wells, "in honor
    of God, the Blessed Virgin and St. Anne."

       At this time he made up his mind to stake his fortune on
    the cause of Henry of Richmond, and this ended in his fighting
    so valiantly at the battle of Bosworth Field that the triumphant
    king knighted him on the battlefield, August 22, 1485, together
    with his two friends, William Courtney and the Baron of Carew.

       On his return home, October 4, Sir Knight Byconill made a
    curious arrangement with the warden of the Franciscans at
    Dorchester, the chief points of which were as follows:
       1.  The devout and venerable man, John Byconill, Kt., to
    be admitted as one of the founders of the Convent on account
    of his having first established mills on the water running thereby.
       2.  The Conventual High Mass to be principally granted and
    appropriated to him.
      3.  The monks to bind themselves forever to celebrate his
    decease on the  day  after the feast of their  Holy  Father, St,
      4.  The same John and such as shall by him be recommended
    to be prayed for by name every week in the Chapel House.
      5.  That these ordinances and decrees of the said John, con-
    cerning the mills, be punctually observed, namely:
      First.  That there be yearly laid up in a chest, secured under
    three locks, 40s. for the profits of the mills for repairing them;
    the chest to be in the custody of the guardian or in the porch.
      Second.  That the brother who is Hebdamadarius, praying for
    the said, shall at the end of the week receive 6d.; if he neglects
    to pray he shall receive nothing.
      Third.  That every priest praying from the beginning to the
    end of the obsequies and  Mass for the said John shall receive
    4d., and laymen 2d.
      Fourth.  That all profits, after paying the aforesaid ordina-
    tions, shall he laid out towards bringing boys into the order, and
    their education is good manners and learning; and that the bro-
    thers so brought up and educated to the perpetual memory of
    the said John be called Biconyll Friars, and that none of them
    be called by their surnames.

       Item.  The recommendation of the said John shall he made
    in this form:  "Pray especially for the happy state of the Devout
    and venerable man, John Byconill, Kt., and on account of the
    first  erecting mills  upon our water,  the chief  founder of  this
    place, and for his soul, when he shall depart this life."

       It is believed that Sir John Biconyll was the son of John and
    nephew of Chancellor William Biconyll, and the grandson of
    John Biconyll.  In his will, written with his own hand, dated
    August 15, 1500, he sets apart the profits of certain lands for
    prayers "for my soul, the souls of Elizabeth,  my  wife,  Johan
    late my wife, my father's and mother's souls, my godfather's and
    godmother's souls, the soul of my brother William, and all my
    brethren and sisters' souls."

       Sir John lived at South Perot Court or Manor House, ad-
    joining the west side of the church yard.  He married  Johan,
    Joan or Jane Sydenham for his first wife, according to A. Sidney
    Bicknell.  She died without issue, and he married second, be-
    tween 1485 and 1488, Elizabeth (Chokke) Seyntmaur, widow of
    John  Seyntmaur  (Seymour),  and  daughter  of   Sir  Richard
    Chokke,  a  family of  considerable wealth  and  antiquity. The
    second  marriage was  also  without  issue.   The brass  of  John
    Seyntmaur and his wife, afterward Dame Elizabeth  Bicknell, is
    now in the Church of St. Gregory, Beckington, an is represented
    on the opposite page.

       After the accession of Henry VII, October, 1485, Sir John
    appears to have lived on his estates in Somerset and Dorset, a
    trusty servant of the crown, and taking an active part in poli-
    tics.  December 23, 1488, he was commissioned to examine how
    many archers the nobles and knights of  Somerset were bound
    to  furnish the king's army  for the expedition to Brittany; and
    in September, 1497, when Henry marched to Taunton during the
    rebellion of Perkin Warbeck, Sir John Bickncll accompanied his
    Majesty "with a large number of noblemen, knights, esquires,
    and valiant personages, prepared  and readie with all  thinges
    necessary for the fielde and battaile."

       One of the last acts of Sir John Byconill's life was to estab-
    lish and endow two chantries in April 1, 1501; one in the Lady
    Chapel of  Bishop  Stillington, adjoining the cloisters of  Wells
    Cathedral,  and the other in the Cathedral itself; "per nobilem
    virum dominum Johanum Bicconell fundatas."

       Sir John died August 23, 1502, and was  interred  "in  the
    sepulture of Glastonbury."  After naming certain gifts, he gave
    the  body  of  his  estate  to  his  stepson,  William  Seyntmaur,
    making him and his mother "Elizabeth, my wife," executors of
    his will.

       His Widow, Elizabeth, died June 3o, 1504, and her will is the
    complement of her husbands.  One circumstance of both wills
    is that Sir John and his wife Elizabeth were far in advance of
    their day in the value they attached to college education as be-
    tween them both, in their wills, they provided for the support
    of ten scholars at Oxford University, which was then three cen-
    turies old.  In spite of their superstitious devotion to priests, as
    noted in their wills, they certainly regarded the possession of
    knowledge and sound learning excellent qualifications for life.

       In reading the long details of the wills of Chancellor William
    Bicknell, Sir John Bicknell and his widow, Elizabeth, one is
    deeply impressed with the earnest spirit and the current religious
    sentiment of that early English type of men and women of our
    name and blood.  One is also impressed with the utter vanity
    of planning and endowing for ages to come, for we find arrange-
    ments establishing chantries, obits, priests and scholars, legacies
    to cathedrals, abbeys  churches, with  ordinances solemnly  en-
    rolled, to last for all future time.  And yet within a generation,
    the decrees of the rapacious and capricious Henry VIII, and his
    "harsh and dogmatic son," Edward VI, confiscated, appropriated
    all the  moneys and artistic treasures of the churches and mon-
    esteries, and eventually despoiled and  ruined the very shrines
    and sanctuaries.  Gifts and donors were involved in one common
    doom, and thenceforth the history of the wealthy and powerful
    Paveley-Bicknells, their descendants and many of their friends,
    recedes into a mediaeval twilight, obscure to the genealogist.

                                       PAVELY ARMS
                          Normandy, France