MEMOIR OF WILLIAM BICKNELL 1749-1825 Born Saturday August 12th 1749 in the Parish of St Mary, Newington Butts in the County of Surrey. Died Monday November 21st 1825 at Surrey Hall, his son’s residence in Tooting, in the 77th year of his age. Buried in the Family Vault in the Churchyard of St Mary’s, Newington, Surrey, England.
My Sons having done me the honour of having a plate engraved from a Portrait by Mr Samuel Drummond (his brother-in-law) in the year 1811 when I was 62yrs of age, I thought a few lines respecting my Family and self might prove acceptable.
The name originally was spelt BIGNOLD as appears in the “Heralds” Office and is supposed to be German. This is disputed by Mr Sidney Bicknell, Author of the book “Exerpta Biconyllea” in 1895, where he states that “BIGNELL, BIGNOLD, and BUCKNULL are in no way connected with BICKNELL”. In his book “Five Pedigrees” he clearly shows the Family originating from the De PAVELEY Family of Normandy.
The little I know of my ancestors is from what I have heard from my Grandfather and Grandmother. Before I enter upon my own memoirs, it may not be amiss to give a short account of my ancestors, as far as I am able to state with accuracy, and slightly to mark the collateral branches, of both my Paternal and Maternal Ancestors.
|Memoir written by William in 1816, added to in 1891 and 1821. A social document of 200 years ago. Transcribed from the hand-written original by Raymond Huia White of Auckland, New Zealand, great-great-great-great-Grandson of William Bicknell 1783-1859. Raymond Huia White’s mother was Florence Ivy Bicknell, great grand-daughter of Alfred James Bicknell 1817-1897, 11th of the 17 children of William Isaac Bicknell and Phoebe Honiborne.|
William Bicknell 1610-1685
My Father’s Family were for many generations inhabitants of Taunton, Sommersetshire. The first of my progenitors of whom I recollect mention being made was William BICKNELL, my Great Grandfather. He was a Woollen Manufacturer of Serges and a reputable inhabitant of Taunton. He had two wives and a number of children.
William Bicknell 1683- & Thomas Bicknell 1683-
By his first wife he had two sons, William and Thomas. The latter (Thomas) was a Dyer, and lies interred in the Church at Taunton, as appears by the Tombstone. The eldest son, William, had also a son William, whose name is written in an English dictionary in his own hand, in the year 1735, which was a gift to me, by his sister Mrs Hannah Courtney. This sister lived 50 years in Rotherhithe, was first married to Captain Clark, a Trader, to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, and within two years after, again was married to Mr William Courtney, a Maltster, near Globestairs, Rotherhithe. About the year 1770, they retired to St. Peters, Chalfont, Bucks, where she died a widow at the age of 84, whose funeral I attended. Half of her property she left to my sister Hannah, never having any children.
Richard Bicknell 1682-1765
My Great Grandfather, by his second wife, had his youngest son Richard, who was born at Taunton in 1682, of whom I am descended. My Grandfather, Richard BICKNELL lost both his Parents when he was young, and although his Father died possessed of considerable property, it does not appear that he got any of it, perhaps chiefly expended upon him during his minority. He served an apprenticeship to the trade of a Serge maker and went into business, about the age of 30 years. He married Elizabeth Crouch , 10 years younger than himself in 1712. She was born 1692 and they were married in the year 1712.
She was a careful frugal wife, but my Grandfather was of a different cast, a thoughtless good-natured man, generous in disposition, industrious, without anxious care, leaving tomorrow for his wife’s concern. How long he continued in the Woollen Trade, I don’t know, nor why, or when he quitted it, but for some years, he dealt largely in Bacon and Cheese, going to Farmhouses around the country and selling it again at Taunton, both wholesale and retail.
They continued in Taunton during the births of all their children, until the youngest Samuel, was nine years old (and then removed to London about the year 1732).
The children, who lived to adult age, (excepting the eldest who died at 18, seven sons and one daughter), were six, viz. Richard, John, Daniel, Jonas, Elizabeth, and Samuel. Richard died as above-mentioned. John was my Father, of whom more hereafter.
Daniel Bicknell 1718–1756
Daniel served as an apprentice to a Fuller, but coming to London when a young man, he soon married an amiable young woman, but of an unhealthy constitution, under which she laboured for a few years, and died without issue. He took a Coffee House in the Temple, which prospered for some years and being a man of an industrious and pleasant disposition, gained the good will of the Lawyers who mostly frequented it. From this house he removed to the Pennsylvania Coffee House in Birchen Lane. A house of great celebrity for American Merchants and Captains, and where he was accumulating wealth rapidly.
Here he married a second time Miss Day of Leadenhall Market, a very young, gay, inconsiderate woman and very unsuitable for him. He lived but a few years with her and that in an uncomfortable state. Being seized with a fever, he expired in 1756, two years after the decease of my Father, being only 38 years of age (he died at his home in Birchin Lane, Cornhill, leaving a daughter only to his second wife who married Mr Wood an Attorney).
Jonas Bicknell 1720-
The next son, Jonas, was an apprentice to a Woolcomber in London. A wild youth, he left his master and went to Jamaica (West Indies). For three or four years he continued to write to his friends, after that he was never more heard of.
Elizabeth Bicknell 1722-1766
Elizabeth, the only sister to my Father was married to Croydon Stanbury , a Hatter, who after living a few years with her went to the East Indies and was no more heard of. (They had a son Richard Stanbury). Mrs Stanbury died at Packingham, Leicestershire about the year 1776. They left three children, Richard, now living without issue. Ann, married in Leicestershire, and Croydon, who has been missing for many years.
Samuel Bicknell 1723-1811
The youngest son of my Grandfather was Samuel, born 1723. At nine years of age he was brought to London where he resided for nearly 80 years. For many years he kept the Senegal and African Coffee House on Cornhill. He was afterwards a large Trader in Spirits in Bishopsgate St. The Business declining he took a Brewhouse at Mile End. Which not succeeding, he entered into a connection in a Soap Manufacturers in Southwark and lastly retired to Morden College on Blackheath, Kent where he died in 1811, and in the 88th year of his age.
He had twice married. His first wife, Mary Hutchinton, an amiable and discreet woman, was long afflicted and for some months was confined to her room, but at length died of consumption at Camberwell on the 19th day of July 1765 leaving only one son, Samuel, who is yet living (1816) and unmarried in the 63rd year of his age. Mr Samuel Bicknell buried his second wife on 9th March 1796, (a few months after, his second son Richard by his second wife, 9 Oct 1796) and has left one daughter Catherine, his last child now residing at St Petersburg.
My Grandfather, Mr Richard BICKNELL, was born 1682 at Taunton Sommersetshire, and died 9th Oct 1765 aged 83yrs. My Paternal Grandmother Elizabeth Crouch was born at Taunton, in 1692, she died December 9th 1777, in her 86th year, having lived with her husband 52 years, and a widow more than 12 years. (Both are interred at St Mary’s Newington, in the County of Surrey in St James Church yard, Taunton. There still remains a monument of a part of the Family).
Having briefly related the branches of my Father’s Family, I now turn my view to my Mother’s Family and give a brief account of the collateral branches on the Maternal side. My Mothers Father’s name was John Green, born at Farrington, Berks in the year 1672. At the age of 30 he married a young woman, Elizabeth Ford of Oxford, born 1682 who seems to have been a very industrious, prudent woman, by whom he had four daughters who grew up to adult age. -viz.- Elizabeth, Mary, Ann, and Jane, the latter of whom was my Mother.
Elizabeth was twice married. By her first husband she had issue, two sons and two daughters. The youngest son, died of smallpox at the age of nineteen and the eldest died at the age of 45 without issue. The two daughters are yet living, the eldest Jane is a widow with numerous offspring having been twice married. The youngest Elizabeth Hussey, is also a widow having no children. My Maternal Grandfather, John Green, was a Tailor by Trade and for many years lived near Oxford, was universally respected by his neighbours, and having studied a little of the healing art was very useful to the poor around him in simple acts of surgery and pharmacy, all of which I believe, he did gratis and though following his occupation in a Village and in humble style, yet by industry and prudence they brought up their family in a comfortable way having instructed all their daughters in the Art of Tailoring.
The second daughter Mary, was married to Mr William Gudluck, Plumber and Glazier, in Abingdon, and died without issue.
The third daughter, Ann, was married to W. Daun, a Shoemaker at Appleton, and at her death left one daughter only who was married to Richard Grant at Aynsham, Oxfordshire and is now living.
The youngest daughter Jane, was my Mother, born March 1st 1717 and died December 2nd 1775. (John Green, died at Boarshill near Oxford aged 68yrs in 1740 and Elizabeth in 1752 aged 70. She was interred at Newington, Surrey).
Having now taken a general view of both families, I shall speak a little more particularly of my Parents who were united in Matrimony on Sunday December 31st 1738 at Hitchington Church near Wycombe, Bucks, (by candlelight, early in the morning as was the custom then).
John Bicknell 1716-1754
My Father, John Bicknell, as has already been noticed was the second son of Richard Bicknell. He was born at Taunton, Sommersetshire, 1716 and lived with his Parents at Taunton until about 18 years of age. When reflecting on the imprudent conduct of his father he determined to quit his father’s house and seek his bread in the wide world. With reluctance he once and for all quitted Taunton leaving his mother, one sister, and three brothers behind.
With a very small sum of money in his pocket and in the company of a neighbouring youth, in the year 1734, he set out on his journey, on foot, and proceeded eastward until he arrived at Alton in Hampshire, a place noted at that time for Woolcombers, and 100 miles distant from home. Here he stayed and sought work as a Woolcomber which he soon obtained. His companion who was of the same Trade, being informed that a man was wanted at Newport, Isle of Wight, left my Father at Alton, and engaged himself to Mr Perry. Sometime after he married Mr Parry’s daughter and entered into partnership with his father-in-law, and in a few years after died at Newport. I mention this circumstance because it introduced a valuable man, Mr Perry, to (the acquaintance of) my Father and Mother and they had dealings together for many years, and after their decease, with me also.
My Father continued at Alton for some time but from a circumstance occurring in my Father’s Family, he quitted the Town on receiving an invitation to London. His friend procured him a situation in the City as Chamberlain to an Inn, in, or near, Fleet Street, probably the Bolt & Sun, or Bell Sausage on Ludgate Hill. This was a place of great emolument but he was not here for long, being absent one day with one of his countrymen who had called to see him, and in the interim being wanted, upon his return he was immediately discharged. He was now recommended to Mr Hutchinson who was a Butler of the Wines etc to Mr Jonathon Tyers at Vauxhall Gardens and officiated under him during the busy season.
Mr Hutchinson, a sensible, friendly man, took much notice of my Father and who were friendly together ever after. My Father’s youngest brother Samuel, was by him introduced to Mr Hutchinson and some years afterwards married his niece to whom Mr Hutchinson behaved very generously and at his death bequeathed the greatest part of his fortune to my worthy Kinsman, Mr Samuel Bicknell. The only son of Mr Hutchinson’s niece (was Samuel who was 12 years of age when she died in 1765).
At the end of the Summer season my Father was again out of employment, but was soon recommended to a Mrs Bailey, a widow who had kept an Inn at Oxford, but was now to remove to the Catherine Wheel Inn at Wycombe Bucks. He engaged with her and conducted the business with mutual satisfaction to all parties. It was at this place he first saw my Mother, who had accompanied Mrs Bailey from Oxford to Wycombe and was to have returned as soon as Mrs Bailey was settled in her new home.
Here I shall discontinue my narrative to notice my Mother in her younger days.
(Jane Green was born at Boarshill, March 1st 1717). She was, as aforesaid, the youngest daughter of Mr John Green, residing at Boarshill, near Oxford. She lived with her friends till about 15 years of age, when a Mr Lucas, a Weaver, took a fancy to her, from his observation of her veracity and industry. With him she lived, a Servant, about 3 years and she always spoke, with gratitude, of Mr Lucas and his wife, who treated her more as a child than a Servant. At about 18 years of age she was recommended to Mrs Mather, wife of Dr Mather, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Here she lived, about a year, at the College as a Nursery Maid and quitted with reluctance, her friends thinking her too much exposed, among so many wild youths, in the College.
Mrs Bailey kept an Inn at Oxford, and who was about to remove to Wycombe, now engaged her to go with her for a few weeks only, as before stated. She accordingly went and there she met with my Father, and after a suitable time of knowing each others tempers and disposition, they were united in the perpetual bond of union, on Sunday morning, early, the last day of the year, 1738. My Father being in the 23rd year of his age, and my Mother in her 22nd, there being only a few months difference in their ages. They still continued with Mrs Bailey, until my Mother was so far advanced in her pregnancy, that it was deemed expedient to move her, to her Fathers house, where she was delivered of her first born daughter, and where she continued for some time.
About this time (1740) Mrs Bailey determined to quit Business, and retire to Richmond, Surrey. She much importuned my Father to accept the Business. The Wine Merchants and other Traders were equally solicitous and made my Father generous offers for him to continue, which he was much inclined to accept, but my Mother’s entreaties prevailed to the contrary, having a great aversion to a Public line of life.
My Father being now in possession of about 150 Pound, determined to follow the Occupation he had been brought up to. There being very few of the Businesses in London, he quitted Wycombe, went to London, took a house in the Parish of St Saviour, Southwark, and immediately commenced Woolcombing and the Manufacturer of Worsteds. Chelsea and Greenwich Hospitals afforded him many spinners among pensioner wives. Here he continued about five years, with an increasing family, and increasing Business, and meeting with an advantageous situation, in Premises, which were to be let on a repairing lease in Blackman Street in the Parish of St Mary, Newington.
He accepted the same, on lease for 60years, at a rent of 13 pound ten shillings for a House in front of the Street and nine Tenements behind, with Offices etc, which has lately been let for 80 pound, on a new lease. To this place he removed in the year 1747 with his family consisting of a wife and five children, with my Grandmother Green.
In 1752 my Father was appointed to the Office of Overseer of the Poor.
Here my Parents lived in comfortable circumstances increasing in the good things of life until the year 1754, when my Mother after a painful struggle was delivered of her ninth and last child and in the following Autumn, my Father, taking cold after being exposed for a long time on a rainy day contracted a fever, with which he struggled for a few weeks, and which terminated in death on Saturday August 24th 1754 in the 38th year of his age. He had buried four children and left five to the care of his Widow.
Their names and times of birth were as follows;
1. Elizabeth born June 5th 1740 died 1780
2. John born March 12th 1742 died 1751
3. Hannah born Dec 16th 1743 died 1808
4. Jane born April 8th 1746 died 1770
5. Ann born May 30th 1748 died 1748
6. William born Aug 12th 1749 living 1816
7. Richard born July 28th 1751 died 1752
8. Mary born Nov 12th 1752 died 1753
9. Sarah born April 8th 1754 living 1816
My Father by his Will appointed his Widow, Executrix, and Mr James Tracy a worthy friend of his, a joint Executor, who with Mr Samuel Bicknell, were her kind assistants by their advice. My Mother being now left with a large Family consisting of 5 children and 4 Apprentices, pursued the Manufactory with vigour and unremitting perseverance. She kept her own books, inspected every part herself, employed 8 Woolcombers in the house, a great number of Spinners abroad, several women for winding, doubling etc, and a throwstring Mill for twisting, and by her own uncommon industry and attention without even the assistance of any regular Foreman.
In 1755 she first associated with the Methodists, where she ever after constantly attended, the Great Chapels in London on Sunday morning, although the distance was more than two miles and in all weathers.
In, or about the year 1761, she was for sometime confined to her bed with a fever, of which she at length recovered, and as soon as her strength permitted, persisted in her former habits of industry, and in her weekly acts of devotion and in which she continued for years, enjoying an uninterrupted course of her health and spirits. In the year 1769 and in the 53rd year of her age, she was again attacked with a fever, which confined her for 14 weeks and though she recovered, she was never afterwards able to use her former exertions.
From this time I chiefly managed the Business and she employed much of her time in reading and knitting, both of which she seemed to be very partial too. It was not long after this period she first complained of an internal disorder which she supposed to be symptoms of ‘the gravel’, or stone, but in time it proved to be the most grievous complaint under which the female sex has ever yet groaned. Her disorder was a cancer in the womb.
In the month of June 1774 she for the first time had medical advice, her disorder rapidly increasing and at this time she took to her bed. In the Autumn of the same year she was advised to remove into the country air. A lodging near the Plough at Clapham was provided, in which she continued one month, but being mostly confined to her bed. She was removed back to her former dwelling from whence she was never after taken out in a coach but twice for a few hours to refresh her during her life. She languished under this dreadful disease for 17 months, suffering at times the most excruciating pains ’till a mortification ensued which terminated her useful life on Saturday, December 2nd, 1775 in the 59th year of her age.
(A widow for 21 years) She was a woman of very benevolent temper, charitable and humane. For many years she frequently sent bread, soups and meat to the malefactors in the Borough Jail, but rather severe in her judgement to those she thought indolent or imposing. She rose early, and breakfasted in the winter by candlelight, that she might have all the advantage of the daylight.
All who knew her, admired her uncommon activity, as well as her domestic concern as in her shop and factory. She was rather rough and hasty in her temper, but pious and often troubled in her mind that she was so impatient, and even distressed, particularly in her last illness when her agonies were so great, that she begged those who were with her to put an end to her miseries. I have witnessed these paroxysms of torture and they were terrible indeed. During the last few years of her life, she read much, particularly the Bible and was exceedingly ready in quotations of Scripture to prove her opinions or any point of doctrine.
She delighted much in reading the remains of men, imminent for their piety, especially Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and also was well versed in the history of England. I before remarked she was pious, daily going to prayers with her family and careful in her example to all around, yet I remember that her piety was not that source of comfort to her which might have been expected. She often grieved that she had lost her first love, as she supposed. She had fearful apprehensions of her future salvation, doubting whether she was in a state of acceptance with God and having the gloomy idea of endless misery in view, was anxiously fearful lest that might at last be her unhappy lot. She often contemplated with the most dreadful ideas what was the state of her beloved husband who she feared died ignorant of that plan of salvation which she believed absolutely necessary for future happiness.
And although my Father was a moral man and a good husband to her, yet she trembled lest he was doomed to endless perdition and at that time suffering the bitter pains of the second death.
To conclude, this excellent woman, at length concluded her useful life with a calm and pious resignation to the Divine will, leaving behind her one son and three daughters to lament her loss and follow her example. oooOOOooo
I may now say a few words respecting the issue of my Parents. They had nine children as already mentioned; four died before my Father; viz. John aged nine in a decline; three others died in infancy, viz. Ann, Richard and Mary.
Elizabeth Bicknell 1740-1780
My eldest sister, Elizabeth, in her 21st year was married at Newington Church on Easter Monday, April 7th 1760 to Mr Michael Wikin Griffith, a young man of very inconstant disposition. He was, however, industrious and for several years improved in his circumstances, being by trade a Jeweller, but connecting himself with companions of an indifferent character and his trade much declining, he retired to St Petersburg and lived there about 3 years as a Merchant. There he buried my sister, and afterwards returned to England. He again married and in the year 1802, he died quite superannuated, though only about 66 years of age, and I hope, truly repented of his former follies.
My sister Elizabeth, after the departure of the husband, still lived in my neighbourhood having little inclination to follow him, until after repeated solicitations for her to come to him she at length resolved to quit her native country and accordingly took her passage on board the “Vigilant” (Captain Thompson) bound for St Petersburg, August 1780 (and arrived in October). This voyage was a severe trial to her, as through her timorousness of the water, she would never even enter a boat before. I went on board with her, and accompanied her to Gravesend. The day after, the vessel sailed, and at 10am in the morning we parted with sorrowful heart and with tears in our eyes never more to see each other on this side of the grave. Shortly after her arrival in St Petersburg the winter commenced, and being out late in the evening on a visit, she found herself much affected by the cold and on her return home the jaundice soon appeared, and this being succeeded by the dropsy quickly terminated her mortal existence. In the 41st year of her age, having been a wife for 20 years and nine months without her ever having any issue. She seems to have been a pious young woman, but after her marriage was too forgetful of her great duty in life, but I hope her troubles through life and her sufferings in her fatal sickness proved the happy means of restoring her to the knowledge of herself and her Saviour, and that at the last she yielded up her spirit with a calm and Christian resignation into the hands of her Heavenly Father.
She died at St Petersburg, December 31st 1780 and five years after the decease of her Mother.
Jane Bicknell 1746-1770
The next I am to notice, is my sister, Jane, who died 5 years before my Mother. This unfortunate young woman was married in her 20th year to Mr James Drummond, Feb 1766 at St Mary’s Newington. He was in good business as a Baker in the Parish of St Luke’s, Middlesex, but did not continue long there. He built a house on Goswell Street and dwelt in it, but being of an inconstant disposition, after some time, removed to a house in Westminster Road, where she was delivered of her third child, and expired a few hours after on Dec 24th 1770, having lived a miserable life, for nearly five years with her husband. She left 3 children, first Samuel, who was born Dec 25th 1766, and is now (1816) a portrait painter of high rank in the Parish of St Ann Soho, and an Associate of the Royal Academy; second, Jane who married Mr G. Frederick; thirdly, Elizabeth also married and all living (1816).
Hannah Bicknell 1743-1808
My second sister, Hannah, was born Dec 16th 1743, and died Oct 9th 1808 in the 64th year of her age. In her infancy she was a very weak and sickly child. Her rib bones were deformed and in consequence, she was small in stature and by reason of her tender constitution, it was generally supposed she would never attain to adult age, but she was of a very mild and contented disposition, naturally of a serious cast of mind, and it may be truly said of her that she led a life of religion from her childhood and as she lived, so she died, with that pious and humble submission to the Divine will, which had constantly marked her conduct through life.
She died unmarried and never having been much exposed to those vicissitudes in life which most persons more or less experience. Of course her life afforded but little variety, yet by her kind attentions to the cares and wants of others, she rendered herself useful.
It ought not to be omitted that in her Mother’s long, and severe illness for 18 months, she was her only nurse. Exceedingly attentive to all her wants by night and day, soothing and sympathising, in the distressing scenes of her mother’s painful illness in which long and labouring services she was greatly strengthened, or with her weak frame she could not have supported it.
She lived with me for the first 35 years of her life and afterwards for many years in the Parish of Greenwich. At length in her 64th year of her age, she through her great weakness, fell into a dropsy which quickly terminated her mortal existence. She was born Dec 16th 1743, in the Parish of St Saviours, Southwark, and died at her sister Langton’s, on Sunday Oct 19th, 1808 and was interred in a family vault – (now first built) in the Church yard of Newington, Surrey.
Sarah Bicknell 1754-1833
The next I have to mention of my Father’s family, is my youngest sister, Sarah, the ninth and last of my Father’s children. She was born, April 8th 1754, and four months prior to the decease of my Father. She lived with my Mother, ’till the 21st year of her age, when she was married to Mr John Langton on Nov 3rd 1774, and has lived many years at Newington where she had eight children; two died in infancy and six lived to adult age. The eldest was married to Mr John Morley and died Feb 1810, leaving four children.
The second daughter married Mr John Thornhill, a respectable Tradesman in Bond Street, and has five children living; also two daughters unmarried, Lucy and Maria. The eldest Lucy since married Mr Henry Sanford of Bishopsgate Street.
My sister has also one son, John, who is married, and is in partnership with my youngest son, Elhanan, now at Newington.
My sisters youngest daughter, Hannah Wootten, was married to my youngest son Elhanan, on Oct 17th 1810. She lived not quite 5 years with her husband, a fatal consumption, put a period to her mortal existence Sept 26th 1815. After having borne 3 children. It is but a just tribute, due to the memory of this young woman, to say she was a very affectionate wife, and not only a severe loss to her Husband, but from her kind and friendly attention to her husband’s family.
I myself felt her loss with that painful sensibility which I expect I could only have felt for the loss of a lovely daughter. In the bloom of her youth she bid a final adieu to all terrestrial objects, but I trust in the great and glorious day of the resurrection, I shall have the happiness of seeing her among the Saints of light, to spend an endless day in the company of her blessed Redeemer. God grant that this amiable young woman with her husband and children, and every member of our respective families, may join the happy throng in the day when Christ shall appear in the clouds of Heaven with all His Holy Saints. oooOOOooo
I am now come to this period when I am to speak of myself.
William Bicknell 1749-1825
I was born in the Parish of St Mary, Newington Butts in the County of Surrey at the North extreme part, and only eight doors from St George’s Church, Southwark on the Eastern side of Blackman Street, Southwark. The day of my nativity was on Sat 12th day of August 1749, (old style, early morning). I was soon after put out to wet nurse, to Mrs Squires, living at Walworth in the same Parish. I had been under her care some months when she placed me in a chair before the fire, which providentially being nearly extinguished, I escaped with my life. In her absence, I fell from the chair upon the stove and was so terribly burned that the scars on my neck and arms will show all the days of my life. My narrow escape from so terrible a death.
For several months I was under the care of a surgeon and removed from my nurse for that purpose, I was afterwards sent to a nurse on Mitcham Common where my youngest sister was afterwards placed. I was again taken home where I had the measles which was soon succeeded by the whooping cough, and before I recovered, I was effected with the smallpox, and severely marked, probably from that indiscreet method of treatment, common in those days, of being kept in a continual sweat the whole time. God in His providence once more, raised me from the brink of the grave, and may I ever with gratitude repeat; “Blessed be His Holy Name”.
This was in the year 1754. My sister Jane had both the same complaints at nearly the same time. We were not recovered from this distemper, when an alarm of fire in the night disturbed our family, and we were hastily removed, wrapped in the blankets to a neighbouring house. I remember the fright and confusion it occasioned, the house filled with people, in haste removing everything, and in so wild a manner that a large quantity of wool in the upper chamber, was thrown loosely into the street and of course utterly destroyed. Although the fire was in a building behind the house and of itself, did but little damage, my Father through the indiscretion of his assiduous friends was a considerable loser.
About 3 months after this event my Father was seized with a fever which proved fatal in a fortnight from his first illness, he died August 24th, 1754, the day after I was 5 years of age. And was interred in the Family Vault, St Mary’s Newington, Surrey. My Mother was now left a widow, with 5 children, the eldest 14 years and the youngest 4 months, engaged in a considerable Manufactory of Worsted, in which many work people were employed and of course required continual attention and in addition to my Mother’s trouble, my Father’s dwelling house was rebuilding at the time of his death, and was not entirely finished.
I was now learning my letters under the instruction of Mrs Hobbs and in 1755 I was removed to a day school kept by Mr Gibson where I continued until the beginning of the year 1757. Here I had learned to read, and had so far attained the art as to understand what I read, and that with delight. It was the Bible only which I read, but I recollect I was a tolerable master of the stories therein related, and upon which I often mused. I also frequently contemplated upon the power and wisdom of God in the Creation, as related by Moses in the judgements on Pharaoh and the Egyptians and the deliverance of the Israelites in their bondage etc. During this period my Mother first heard the Methodists, and I can well remember the first time I saw and heard Mr John Wesley preach, which was in the Chapel in Snowsfields, Southwark. Mr Wesley now became familiar to my Mother’s house and during his stay in town for the winter season usually slept there on Saturday nights, for the convenience of officiating at the said Chapel early on Sunday morning.
From this knowledge of Mr Wesley, my Mother formed a high opinion of his school at Kingswood near Bristol, a place very unfit for a school being in the midst of the coal works, and destitute of good water. I was sent, in 1757, in the eighth year of my age, and placed under the care of Mr Richard Parkinson, an able man and diligent tutor, and continued under his instruction for 15 months until his death which happened in 1758, of a consumption, at about thirty years of age. Under this able tutor I learned the Latin Grammar and was reading Erasmus and Kempis de Pristo Imitando at the time of his decease. I had also acquired a little knowledge of Geography and the use of maps and had also received from him, some instruction in the elements of natural Philosophy, but above all I had been instructed in the knowledge of God and the Christian Religion. Here I first received my serious impression and these were so deeply engraved in my mind that they have never been erased and I trust, never will. I have reason to be thankful that the kind providence of God, ever cast my lot under the care of this good and reliable man. He was remarkable for the improvement of his pupils, and the small specimen I have given here of my progress, in the short time I was under his tuition will prove the truth of my assertion.
After his decease, Mr Wesley appointed a Mr William Paynes (who a few years afterwards, was ordained a Priest) as our classical tutor. He was a man quite the reverse of the former, very incapable of his task he undertook, but he is gone, and I must do him the justice to say, he was industrious in his own improvement and he always treated me with kindness. He is therefore entitled to a tribute of respect from me, who was his pupil for two years. In the spring of 1759 I returned home for a few weeks and then went back continuing my studies in Latin, Arithmetic, Writing and commencing the Greek grammar until the month of June, 1760 when I finally quitted Kingswood School being then 11 years of age.
The plan of this School, as laid down by Mr Wesley, was well calculated for improvement. I have no doubt, that in the practical part there was a great defect. We rose at 4am, met for family prayer at 5am, and breakfasted at 6am, winter and summer, dined at 12, supped at 6pm, retired to rest at 8. Our School hours were from 7 to 11 and from 1 to 5 daily. By our long confinement to our studies, and by our doing this in the winter by the feeble light of candles, it greatly weakened the eyes and the ill effects of this I have experienced all my life. Another very improper act was, too little time was allowed for recreation in the open air, which youths in particular require and this no doubt was the cause of many diseases to creep into the constitution.
Rising so early in the winter, and then being crowded together in a class room for so many hours without fire was very injurious to the health, and at all times plays and games was totally forbidden. So that in winter our situation was very uncomfortable and our blood in a manner, stagnated for want of exercise. The discipline of his School in general for children was bad, and when such any were ill, they were not attended to as they should have been, this however may have been imputed to the neglect of the females.
Mr Jones, a Methodist preacher, afterwards Dr Jones, Rector of Harwick officiated as Master. I mention this worthy man as one who was particularly kind to me, took me with him several times to Bristol, and seemed to delight in giving me instruction in the Elements of Philosophy.
I was removed from the School at mid-summer, 1760, and returned by Stage Wagon under the care of the Wagoner in a 5 day journey to London. In a few weeks after I was placed in a Public Grammar School in the Borough of Southwark under the care of the Rev Mr Lee, a respectable Clergyman and Lecturer at St Olive’s Church. This is a School founded by Queen Elizabeth for the sons of indigent housekeepers of the two Parishes or of such of them who cannot afford to give their children a classical education. There were three schoolrooms and six Masters. The upper, or first School, was conducted by two clergymen who must be graduates of Oxford or Cambridge and of no lower degree than Master of Arts.
Mr Lee was the Headmaster who was allowed six (private) pupils for his own emolument. I was one of these. I continued my studies in the Latin language. Here was a great number of pupils, and I may say, as wicked a set as could be for their years, and I feel very little was done by the two Masters to correct the evil.
My Mother soon perceived this and in a short time I was removed from this school. Mr Lee was a very affable man and esteemed as a Preacher, and for his deportment to me, I must speak very respectfully of him, and on that account I was very unwilling to leave him, though the School itself was very unfit for me. Here I finished my classical studies at school. I was soon after sent to my fifth School, one instituted by Mr Wesley for common learning on the north side of Finsbury Square, London.
Here I practised Writing and Arithmetic etc under the tutorship of Mr Watkins and Mathews, the former an aged man and the latter a man who carried despondency in his looks, and who for a few years afterwards was found hanging in a tree at Epping Forest, where he had no doubt strayed in a dejected state of mind to perpetrate the horrid act of suicide. Upon the death of Mr Watkins in 1762 I was finally removed from School being only 13 years of age.
I now entered upon a new era of my life. I had done with School just at the period when I began to see the value of Science and to relish it. I had now such a thirst for almost every kind of learning that I would willingly have again commenced as a School pupil, but this could not be. I must now stick to business.
My Mother was engaged in a Factory and greatly needed my assistance. I commenced my new occupation in life by learning the manual part of my trade. I began by learning the art of Wool-combing and the art of distinguishing and separating the different qualities of the fleece, which required much practise. I was assisted in this art by my Grandfather, the Parent of my Father, who had sole management of this Department, and was so well qualified as to undertake the task myself, at his decease, which happened October 1765, in the 83rd year of his age. (A good tempered man though exceedingly deaf).
In the meantime I did not lose the opportunity of improving myself in my studies. I now determined to rise early, which I did for several years at or before 5am, in the Winter. I laid fuel in the grate, and as soon as I got out of bed, I applied a light and shortly commenced my studies, which at first were mostly confined to Hebrew. Afterward to various branches of Algebra, Mathematics etc, in all of which I made considerable progress, also in Natural Philosophy.
The next year after my Grandfather’s death, I became very useful to my Mother, an unhappy circumstance occurred which proved a great source of uneasiness to both my Mother and myself. A neighbour who had built a house, was very desirous of a large piece of ground behind our house belonging to my Mother and which I greatly valued for the recreation it afforded, and in the Summer as a garden, and my Mother consulted me, and I objected. Upon which the gentleman was positively refused again and again, and I supposed the matter was ended. He however took another step to obtain it. He applied to Mr Wesley to interfere and ask for it. This caused my Mother to relax and I was again applied to, but still adhered to my former objection. My Mother unknown to me signed the agreement, to let it to him on lease for the whole term of the original lease at the small rent of Four Pound per year.
This unhappy circumstance, had such so powerful an effect on my mind, that I had at first determined to quit her service altogether; however it so far separated us that for a long time after, although living under the same roof, we had not the same harmonious intercourse with each other, as had hitherto existed.
I separated from my Mother in religious exercises with her family, and continued to do this undutiful part for some time, though I often regretted that I had so done, being unhappy in my own mind when I seriously reflected on the impropriety, I may say the sinfulness, of my conduct, but my proud heart was unwilling to acknowledge my fault. This absence was at length removed, by my Mother earnestly inviting me to return to my duty, and which offer I gladly accepted, after a painful absence of over one year. I now felt my mind more calm and I have often deeply reflected on this wilful act of disobedience to God and my dear Parent, the best of Mothers.
I have always considered this as the greatest sin, I ever committed in my life and how many tears have I shed since that time, when I have considered the long suffering of my Heavenly Father during this period of my sinful obstinacy in not cutting me down, from the face of the earth, thus making me a dreadful example of his displeasure for my rebellion.
I have already mentioned that I was dreadfully burnt while an infant and had a hair’s breadth escape from death and the consequence of it. When about the age of seven years I had a second narrow escape from death, which I omitted to notice in its proper place. One Sunday morning I got into the Belfry of Newington Church. Two lads were left to ring the bell and they invited me to try my skill, which offer I readily accepted. I pulled off my coat and began to try my strength. In my exertion the end of the rope got twisted round my neck, and in that state I was drawn up by the bell, and thus was suspended by the neck. The rope untwisting, soon liberated me, but had the lads present, suddenly caught hold of me, however easily, might my neck have been dislocated. Through the tender mercy of God, I again escaped an untimely death with the loss only of a little blood, occasioned by the violent friction of the rope upon my neck.
A third disaster of a different kind befell me, when I was about 18 years of age. I had been to Croydon with a friend, and on my return on horseback, near the same Church, being mounted on a spirited pony. My friends mare taking fright, suddenly set off in full speed, and mine followed, not withstanding every effort to check him, until, through my ignorance of horsemanship, I was thrown, and my foot slipping through the stirrup, the horse dragged me for the space of 60 yards, before he was stopped and I was once more delivered from a perilous situation, with my face much torn and bloody, and covered with mud.
Oh, that I may ever remember the goodness of God, in thus preserving my life through these three calamities, the only instances that I only remember that my life was in jeopardy.
On the 23rd August 1770, I attained the age of 21 years, on which day my Mother paid me a legacy of 100 Pound, a sum left me by my Father, and she now agreed to allow me a Salary, of 20 Pound a year, which was continued to the day of her death. This year also, I became a Freeman of the Vintners Company, in consequence of having served a nominal apprenticeship to Mr Samuel Bicknell , my Uncle, and shortly after took up my Freedom as a Citizen of London. The whole charge was generously paid by my Uncle.
I had hitherto spent about two hours every morning at my studies of various kinds, until the year 1771, when I wished to obtain a little knowledge of music. I had before practised on the German Flute, but observing that I often felt a painful sensation after its use, I exchanged it for a Violin, but this instrument, not altogether suiting my taste, I declined it and shortly after purchased a Spinnet, which I afterwards exchanged for a Harpsichord, upon which, and the Organ, I have occasionally amused myself for 40 years, and indeed the only amusement I have indulged in during that period. Previously to this in my younger days, I made frequent excursions a little way into the country for the purpose of obtaining objects for the microscope, of which instrument I was very fond, but I was at length obliged to desist, on account of the weakness of my eyes.
In the year 1774 my Mother was seriously attacked with the complaint that terminated her mortal existence after a long and distressing illness of months. Her sufferings at times were exceedingly distressing, not only to herself, but to all around and in the paroxysms which returned every two or three weeks, she was in a kind of mental frenzy from the extreme agony. Although upon the whole, I may say she bore her pains with a Christian fortitude. At length a mortification ensued, and death terminated her sufferings on Dec 2nd 1775, and 21 years after the demise of my Father.
After her decease, I continued the Business for nearly 14 years. She left me the household premises, subject to a ground rent of 3Pound 10shillings per year and an annuity of 5Pound to each of my sisters. Also a share of her household furniture and about 160Pound in money, stock etc. The Funeral of my Mother was on Saturday Dec 9th, when she was interred in the Family Vault, with my Father and Sister Drummond in the Churchyard of St Mary’s, Newington.
I now continued the Factory as before, my Sister Hannah being my housekeeper for nearly three years, until I was united to my present wife, (Elizabeth), in the Matrimonial bond at St Giles Church, Camberwell, Surrey, on the 17th November 1777. Her maiden name was Randall, daughter of a Widow whose Husband had been a Cutler in Seven Oaks Kent (She was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Randall ).
In the following year, 1778, my first child was born Sept 10th, and was baptised by the name Hannah, who lived three years, and died of measles, Sept 30th 1781.
My second daughter Ann was born Sept 17th 1780.
Soon after I was elected Overseer of the Poor of St Mary’s Newington, an important office (a Father of the Poor. . . . . a Steward of the Public Treasury). I endeavoured to discharge my duty herein, being sensible of the awful responsibility I was under both to God and man.
In the year 1783 my third child was born, a son, I named him William Isaac, the 8th day of June.
The year 1785 my third daughter was born August 12th. I named her Elizabeth and in the same year my wife’s Mother died.
In this year, I took the Livery of the Vintners Company which cost me about 30 guineas. Previous to my marriage, I had taken up the Freedom of the Company and of the City of London, also whereby all my children became Citizens, not of London only, but of every City and Borough in the Kingdom, excepting only Oxford and Cambridge.
In 1788, my wife became rather sickly, and I took her to Ramsgate, to try sea air, which proved of use. I myself was for the first time seized with rheumatism in my loins, that confined me for sometime, and I have at times been subject to it ever since. Previous to this complaint, an offer has been made to me to succeed a Mr Pike, Master of a Boarding School at Robertsbridge to which I paid some attention and had actually engaged to go there, with a view to treat for it, at the very time I was taken ill, which totally prevented it for a few weeks after, and upon my recovery I went there and found Mr Pike had changed his mind.
In the same year 1788, my second son, and fifth child, Elhanan, was born. Dec 21st 1788. I had now four children living, my Wife in an infirm state of health, and my Business through alteration in fashion, fast declining, caused me many serious thoughts, when I looked around, and could perceive no prospect of better times, my mind was some times almost overwhelmed with despondency. Yet I found some comfort in the reflection that the same kind providence which had hitherto supported me under every difficulty would not now forsake me, and which I found eventually to be the case, and with gratitude to my Heavenly Father, I acknowledge it.
In the year 1789, commenced a new period in my life. It was in the month of August not many days before I arrived at the age of 40 years, I saw an advertisement of a School to be disposed of. I saw it, and met the Master of it, at a Coffee house in London. He insisted me to see it, I did so, there was a large house and premises, gardens, fields etc but I found very few Scholars. The rent and taxes were easy, the situation salubrious, and in my circumstances very desirable for my increasing family. After many painful struggles in my mind respecting my own abilities for so important a charge, and the advice of friends, who encouraged me to undertake it, I closed the agreement, and on Sept 29th 1789, I commenced my new career. After paying my purchase money 709 pound for the lease, fixtures etc, I had a heavy quarter to Christmas when the pupils returned home. Everything being new to me, the noise of the School, the behaviour of the boys, some of them being exceedingly audacious, and other circumstances occurring to perplex me, that I thought I must wholly give it up.
The vacation gave me a temporary relief, and in January 1790, I again opened my School with an increased number of pupils, which put me in good spirits and afterwards with the aid of assistants, went on very comfortably.
In 1790, my sixth child, was born Oct 13th and was baptised by the name of Dorcas, the first born at Middlesex, at Ponders End in the Parish of Enfield.
I was now in a line of Business more suitable to my genius. I was blessed with a healthy family and my School increasing I found my circumstances soon improving. After the losses I had sustained at my first venture, my life indeed was not much chequered. I went on in nearly the same round strictly attentive to the hours of Business and in the intervals working in the garden, which I believe was highly conducive to that state of good health which I constantly enjoyed.
In the year 1793, my seventh child was born, Sarah Susanna, the 17th July.
In 1794, I visited Bristol and the School at Kingswood, where I was for several years after an absence of 34 years.
In 1796 my eight and last child was born the 6th April. She was named Abigail and at present lives with me in my 71st year.
In the Summer of this year I took a little tour through Kent with my friend, Jonah Freeman, visited Deal, Dover and Maidstone, and had a pleasant time. In 1799 I purchased the under lease on an Estate in Ploughcourt, in the Parish of St Clement, Dunes in London. The following year 1800, the beginning of a new Century, proved to be a year of great distress through the dearness of provisions. Bread sold in London in the month of March at 1/10 . 1/2 the quarter. I was at Witney in Oxfordshire, in July, and was informed that in their market 50 pound had at one time been refused for one load of prime wheat.
In the year 1801 I again visited Margate, Canterbury and in company with Mr & Mrs BICKNELL now of Dover Street. (The next year 1802 was remarkable for the prevalence of Typhoid and Putrid Fever). I had now lived more than twelve years at Ponders End.
The following year 1804 was another remarkable year, a period of both pleasure and pain. I had now lived 14 years at Lincoln House and had no thought of a change of situation, being quite contented with my residence, and my School in a prosperous state, having a respectable number of pupils, and in general of respectable families, when all at once a cloud burst over me. A neighbour cast his eye upon my premises, and in the most private manner after having obtained the necessary information, sent his Attorney to my Landlady to treat for the purchase of them, and she ungenerously yielded to his offer and sold them, all unknown to me. I was confounded but there was no remedy.
I was now obliged to seek diligently for a new residence, which I perceived might be attended with much difficulty. I went to see several without effect, but either situation, price or conveniences for a large family would not suit. At length after much enquiry and fatigue, I purchased suitable premises at Tooting, Surrey. This Estate is Freehold, with a good title, a capital house with 8 acres of land and about 400 pound worth of timber growing on the premises, separated in part by a road running between the lands. Also a barn and other outbuildings. I purchased the whole, in one lot at Auction on June 13th 1804, at Garroways Coffee House, Cornwall, for the sum of 1, 610 pound, duty 23. 9. 7 pound, and conveyance about 39 pound, and sundry fixtures taken at valuation 104 pound, total 1, 677 pound.
The house itself was in excellent order, but some of the external offices want repairs, and the whole of the wood fencing next to the lane was in a ruinous state, all of which I repaired, erected a brick wall and building for a School House and formed a playground. The expense was about 600 pounds and from the Estate I sold about 450 pounds worth of timber, so that the Estate may be said to have cost me in toto, including the after repairs of the North end of the house, the fixtures which were appended to the premises, nearly 2000 pounds. Which according to the judgement of several able persons whom I consulted, was, at the lowest computation valued at 2500 pounds.
An addition has since been made to the School House, the expense of which with the additional furniture is included in the charge to my son, William, as a debt.
I mention these circumstances, if it may be a means of obviating any difficulties which might occur in the division of the Estate after my decease.
From August 5th, when in part I took possession, to the close of the year 1804, I frequently went to Tooting to supervise the repairs etc. and on the 19th Dec in the same year, I finally quitted my residence at Ponders End, and gave up possession to my unjust neighbour, Mr Robinson, with thankfulness to my Heavenly Father, who in His providence provided for me so comfortable a habitation, without fear in future of an overwhelming landlord or covetous neighbour.
In January 1805 I again commenced business with pupils and found myself more comfortably circumstanced upon the whole, than I had ever been at Ponders End. My connection improved, my School increased, myself and Family were in good health. For all these blessings may I ever return a grateful sense of the goodness of God. I continued thus in nearly the same round of assiduous duty, and in the instruction of youth, in the most useful branches of literature for several years, without any material interruption, and I trust not only to their improvement in natural science, but also to their spiritual welfare, in their duty to God and man. May the Almighty be pleased in His infinite wisdom, to water to good seed that has been sown.
After my Son’s marriage, a family coming on, I took him into partnership with me and found his assistance useful. The evening shades were approaching, and my self feeling weaker, I found it necessary in some degree, to lessen my former labours. In 1811, I moved to Mitcham, Surrey but still attended the School most days, until at the close of the year 1813, I dissolved partnership with my Son and left him in possession of the whole Estate, and Business at an easy rent, of 100 pound per year, he having agreed to keep the premises in complete repair at his own expense.
May God bless him and his family, and give him wisdom, that thereby he may maintain his numerous family in comfort, and be a blessing to the pupils, whom providence may place under his care and instruction.
I still continued to attend daily at the School in morning hours as usual and with little interruption, though often through much weariness, through an affliction in my legs, and increasing debility, until Sept 1818, when I finally relinquished all assistance in the School by my removal from Mitcham to Richmond, Surrey, where I now dwell and by the blessing of God, am still in possession of my health and quiet habitation.
And though subject to those infirmities and inconveniences incident to old age, yet I praise God, I can still eat, drink and sleep with tolerable comfort and with the enjoyment, in a great degree, of my faculties, and in full possession of my intellectual powers, which I pray to my Heavenly Father, may be continued to me the residue of my days. oooOOOooo
August 23rd 1819. I have now lived 70 years, 3652 weeks, 25, 566
days, 613, 584 hours, 36, 815, 040 minutes, 2, 208, 402, 400 seconds.
On Friday, January 12th 1821, my wife Elizabeth BICKNELL, took her flight to the land of rest, leaving a disconsolate Widower, six children and 25 grandchildren to lament the loss of so valuable a woman.
These were all living at the time of her decease.
The issue of this marriage was 8 souls. viz.
1. Hannah born Sept 16th 1778
2. Ann born Sept 17th 1780
3. William Isaac born June 8th 1783
4. Elizabeth born Aug 12th 1785
5. Elhanan born Dec 22nd 1788
6. Dorcas born Oct 13th 1790
7. Sarah Susannah born Jul 17th 1793
8. Abigail born April 6th 1796
1. Hannah died September 30th 1781.
2. Ann married Henry Back, October 20th 1804
3. William Isaac married Phoebe Honiborn, June 25th 1806
4. Elizabeth married Rev, John Bicknell, October 28th 1813
5. Elhanan married Hannah Wootten Langton, October 17th 1810
also Mary Jones, February 13th 1817
6. Dorcas married Henry E Payne, April 15th 1810
7. Sarah Susannah married Rev. John Brown, September 21st 1819
8. Abigail died July 25th 1820 aged 24 years, 3 months and 19 days.
She died at Richmond and was interred at Newington August 1st 1820.
The first five were born and baptised in the Parish of St Mary’s Newington. The other three were born at Ponders End in the Parish of St Andrew Enfield in the County of Middlesex.
(from hand-written copy)
In St James Church yard Taunton there still remains a monument of
part of the family which reads:
Daniel son of Daniel and Elizabeth BICKNELL died Jan 11th 1704 aged 65 years
2nd son of Daniel and Elizabeth BICKNELL died Feb 17th 1711
3rd son of Daniel and Elizabeth BICKNELL died Dec 12th 1712
Elizabeth daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth BICKNELL died Mar 26th 1715
BICKNELL 1688 (defaced. . . all copied 1816).
On November 21st at his Sons residence in Tooting, Mr William BICKNELL in the 77th year of his age. This venerable and excellent man was formally Master of an Academy at Ponders End and which was afterwards removed to Tooting. He was at no period of his life ambitious of public notice, and he passes the evening of his life in the tranquil retirement, with one of the elder branches of his own Family.
In 1820, a lovely daughter, his youngest child died, and was buried in the very day which had been appointed for her marriage. This greatly affected him, but in the beginning of the next year, a still heavier wave come over him in the death of his beloved wife.
On Friday January 12th, 1821, he observes, “My beloved wife and the affectionate Mother of my children, took her flight to the land of rest, leaving a disconsolate widower, six children and 25 grandchildren to lament the loss of so valuable woman. We had lived together happily, for 43 years and eight weeks.”
(They lived in Blackman Street, London, nearly 12 years. At Mich’s 1789 they removed to Ponders End, Middlesex. Again at Christmas 1804, they removed to Tooting, Surrey. From thence in Feb 1811 to Mitcham and lastly Richmond in September 1818, ’till Elizabeth’s decease). This bereavement did not affect him as might have been expected. He felt, but he felt as a man, and as a Christian. Indeed the strong feelings of humanity appear to sober by old age, and the death even of beloved relations, happens as a matter of course. Among his private papers, an epitaph was found which he had written on the death of his wife.
Oh! lost and mourned, admir’d and lov’d through life,
Thou best of woman and thou faithful wife,
Farewell! ‘Tis mine thy absence to deplore,
To linger here. . . . . and feel thou art no more.
‘Tis mine to wait, ’till my remains are laid,
In the dark tomb where rests they tranquil head.
Then shall thy husband, from all sorrow flee,
Lament no more, but rest in peace with thee.
Soon after this bereavement he gave up housekeeping (at Richmond) and returned to his favourite residence at Tooting. Yesterday, he remarks, I was seventy two years of age. My life is still prolonged and a measure of health continues, but infirmities are increasing, the pillars of my earthly tabernacle are trembling and I am now left, as it were, alone. He continued, however, to enjoy a considerable share of health and took his accustomed exercise still within a few days of his death. His mind never appeared to lose anything of its vigour. One of the last things which he wrote was the solution of a problem in the more difficult parts of Algebra.
About three days before his death he was seized with a general kind of paralysis. A professional friend who had been accustomed to attend him, was promptly sent for, but though he watched over him with the skill of an able practitioner, yet the decree of heaven was irrevocable and without pain, struggle or other distressing symptom, he resigned his breath to Him who had given it. His death, like his life, was one of resignation, thankfulness and peace. He quitted the scenes of time without any desire for a protracted stay, or mistrust as to the future.
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace”.
|Memoir written by William in 1816, added to in 1891 and 1821. A social document of 200 years ago. Transcribed from the hand-written original by Raymond Huia White of Auckland, New Zealand, great-great-great-great-Grandson of William Bicknell 1783-1859. Raymond Huia White’s mother was Florence Ivy Bicknell, great grand-daughter of Alfred James Bicknell 1817-1897, 11th of the 17 children of William Isaac Bicknell and Phoebe Honiborne.|
“On Beacon Hill” was a series of articles on historic Bicknell family members written by Marcus Bicknell in the 1990s. Some of them are resurrected in the 2020s on bicknell.net for the entertainment of Bicknells worldwide and as an archive. Some of the original articles are no longer relevant and have not been reproduced, but can be done so if the public (Bicknell demand is overpowering. For example, On Beacon Hill No.1 on the origins of the family through William de Pavilly, who according to Sidney Bicknell in 1910 arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror in 1066, have been declared false by the Somerset Historical Society!