Nicola Moorby wrote to us in September 2022, “Hello, I’m an art historian currently writing a book on the artists Turner and Constable and am getting in touch in case you might be able to me? I’m trying to weave together a narrative where the lives of the two men overlapped (they were exact contemporaries) and I just wondered whether, in your researches on the Bicknell name, you might know if there was any family connection between Constable’s father-in-law and solicitor to the Admiralty and Royal family, Charles Bicknell (1751 – 1828), and businessman, Elhanan Bicknell, patron of Turner (1788-1861)?”
If you would like to be in contact with Nicola do please let me know at email@example.com. I replied today 8 September “Dear Nicola. No, in a word. Nice of you to get in touch, and I will be interested to learn more about your studies. You will see on https://clarencebicknell.com/documents/ that we have brought together a lot of research on Elhanan, the father of Clarence Bicknell, botanist, archaeologist, artis, who is of great interest to me because I have the family collection of his albums etc. See our articles
For thirty years I have been looking for links between Charles Bicknell and his line, well documented on Ancestry.com and Elhanan Bicknell, ditto, but I have found none. When Valerie Lester was researching Clarence’s bio MARVELS (https://clarencebicknell.com/shop/) she and her researchers found no link. The Bicknell Family Association (www.bicknell.net) has just started a YDNA-38 programme but for the moment we have not found any participants in the Charles Bicknell/Maria Constable line. There is no even a “possible link” yet. Maybe the names are coincidental. Maybe in the future we will find a link. Do please let me know what else you discover.
I, like you, find it strange that two contemporary art supremos did not know each other. However, a) Constable painted in a classic romantic style while Elhanan saught out contemporary paintings like Turner. If you know these two poles in the present art world you will know that there is mutual disdain and always has been! b) “CONSTABLE’S pictures… never became sought for or valuable during his life” (https://www.bicknell.net/books/as1912/5_farnham.htm Five Pedigrees by Algenron Sidney Bicknell) so Elhanan would not even have known about him, let alone thinking of him as an artist to sponsor or invest in; c) Constable and Maria were country people and would not have bumped into Elhanan or his crowd socially; d) what would Ruskin, Elhanan’s maverick if trusted neighbour have throught of Constable for heaven’s sake?
I have copied Turner expert Selby Whittingham in case he can ad some intell.
I think we will find that Del Bicknell is a Farnham Bicknell and that he is related to Maria Constable. But (correct me if I am wrong Del) the jury is out.
I see that Susan Mary Humphries of Canterbury, Kent, England, asked the same question in 2003 “Just trying to see if there is a connection between my ancestor, Elhanan Bicknell and John Constable’s wife Maria.” https://bicknell.net/guestbook-archive/. I have emailed her this too.