Thomas Williams Bicknell.

History and genealogy of the Bicknell family and some collateral lines, of Normandy, Great Britain and America online

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Thomas \V. Bicknell,

History and Genealogy

of THE





great britain and america



Some Ancestors and Many Descendants





" A little one shall become a thousand,
And a small one, a mighty nation"






R « L

Originated in the Bicknell Family Association, Organized in
, • Boston- *M a$s „ } 87^

• « •, ; . J • «

The work of collecting, "arid 'collating: material was be
Quincy Bicknell, of llinghvun-.M^fes., Historian of the
nell Family Association, ' and Was continued by
him until his death, 1890

The collecting, collating, editing and historical writing fo.

completion of the work and the publication of The Bio.

nell History and Genealogy have been done bv

Thomas Williams Bicknell.

Providence, R. I.,


Presi of

I nr H if bee- Bicknell Publishing & Printing Co

Cincinnati. Ohio



Zachary and Agnes Bicknell

and Their Son John,

Who Came from Old England to New England

To Make a Home and Found a Family.

This Book is a Partial Record oe the

Success of Their Undertakings.

IV Bicknele Genealogy


Human life is like unto a mountain stream that flows from
unknown springs to -uncharted seas. An individual life has its
known entrance and exit.' Not so with a family. It ,. s never
born; it will never die. So complete .and wonderful i I.
that the term is hard to CGmprf.he.nd or to define.
of blood in the veins." of a "twentieth century ar
numerous as the sands of ,<ther .shore or the multitude of tne
stars. To find your Adam and Eve Bicknell would be a search
as hopeless as for the Holy Grail. A family genealogy is a bit
of the infinite in terms of the finite ; a sample of creative energy,
working through men and women, who, for a few centuries,
bear the Bicknell name. What name we bore two thousand
years ago, no man knows. What name we shall bear two thou-
sand years hence is beyond our ken. What we do know, is this,
that a common name, peculiar physical, mental and spiritual
characteristics unite a few thousands in relations of mutual
acquaintance, fellowship, brotherhood, love. The family, called
your name, is one of the units of a national, a world life; the
ends it serves are to cement a closer brotherhood and to foster
true sympathy, co-operation and faith. A family genealogy
gives identity and personality to scattered forces and makes the
interlinking of lives more real, natural and helpful. The Bick-
nell genealogy is a grouping of a body of men, women and chil-
dren, a section of world workers, who should make good as
Beacon lights on the Beacon Hills of life for the races of men.

This book is the growth of many years. Prior to i860, I
knew no Bicknells outside my own Barrington (R. I.) family.
In 1870, I had become acquainted with Lovell Bicknell, of Wey-
mouth, and Quincy Bicknell, of Hingham, Mass., learning from
them that Weymouth was the home town of the family. In
1875, I took up my residence in Boston, Mass., and there became
acquainted with several more of our family, notably, William
E., Alfred, Quincy, Zachariah and Robert. In 1879, the Bidk-


' ^








e 3



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° I 1


a > >

\o Bicknell,
Family Historian.
1879 1890

Bicknell Genealogy V

nell Family Association was formed at the house of William
E. Bicknell, 43 Somerset Street, Boston. There were seventeen
Bicknells present, and letters were read from twelve of our fam-
ily absent. So little did we know of the origin of the family
or of its founder in America, Zachary Bicknell, that the circular
issued in calling the first meeting, had this opening sentence :
"The Bicknells in the United States are all supposed to be de-
scendants of Zachary Bicknell, an English naval officer, who
came to this country in 1635, and died in Weymouth in 1636,
leaving a son John, the ancestor of a large and very respectable
posterity." As I suggested a getting together of the family and
my name stands first in the call, it is pretty certain that I wrote
that woefully inaccurate statement as to our very humble and
untitled progenitor. I suppose my expert' knowledge of Zach-
ary's traditional naval career led to my choice as President of
the Association, while the recognition of the fact that we were
in need of more careful study 'of 'the family history and genealogy,
has kept me at the head of the Association 'till now.

By great good fortune, Quin'cy Bicknell> of Hingham, Mass.,
was chosen historian, and as he was then writing the genealogy
of the Tower family, he had unusual qualifications and facilities
for gathering the facts of our family life. The value of his serv-
ices in collecting and collating material is beyond estimation, and
his chirography is so fine that I shall have the thousand pages
of Mss., which he made, bound and preserved as a fitting mem-
orial of his industry, fidelity and beautiful penmanship, most of
the Mss. he collected having been transcribed by him from his
careful notation.

At Mr. Quincy Bicknell's death, the Mss. he had prepared
were committed to my care, as President of the Association. As
I had already collected a large amount of material, I at once
proceeded to edit the whole, connect, so far as possible, unclas-
sified families, collect all new data possible, and edit the whole
for publication. Finding the desire very general that the
genealogical matter should be published, and that I should assume
the work, I found one of our own family, Mr. William N.
Bicknell, a printer, of Cincinnati, Ohio, prepared and qualified
for the task. I made a contract with the Higbee-Bicknell Publish-
ing and Printing Co., to print the volume. Mr. W. N. Bicknell
has had the supervision of the printing and issuance of the book,
and whatever material excellence it possesses should be credited
to that firm. It is a great satisfaction to me to know that from
start to finish, this History and Genealogy is wholly a Bicknell

VI Bicknell Genealogy

So many have assisted that it seems invidious to name a few,
if not all, and yet I am sure it will awaken no jealous thoughts
if I name of American Bicknells; Miss M. Maude Bicknell, and

Dr. Emma V. P. B. Culbertson, of Boston ; Rev. Geo. W. Bick-
nell, D. D., of Cambridge; Miss Mary Ellen Clarke, of Lynn;
Hon. Ellery Bicknell Crane, of Worcester, Mass. ; Miss Ada B.
Bicknell, of Potsdam, New York; Mrs. John R. Bicknell, of
Skowhcgan, Me.; Mr. George A. Bicknell, New York, N. Y. ;
Hon. Warren Bicknell, Cleveland, O- ; Mrs. Ernest P. Bicknell,
Washington, D. C. ; Dr. Robert C. Bicknell and Miss Harriet M.
Grange, Chattanooga, Tenn. ; Mrs. Electa B. Grange, Napanee,
Canada ; Mrs. Emeline L. Bicknell, Pomeroy, O. ; Miss Fannie E.
Bicknell and Mr. Dana E. Bicknell, Chicago, 111.; Mrs. Frederick
T. Bicknell, Los '•Angeles,. Cal., and many others.

The chief Erlglrsh ccntributo.r-dias-been Mr. A. Sidney Bick-
nell, of London, England. He made : a long and faithful study of
the English Bicknells; .a'ljcj his iyealtri and scholarship enabled him
to gather a vast arrieVirt ©f valuable material, which I trust will
be printed for the -use'p'f '.Biclirie11s;the world over. Mr. Bick-
nell's family had its origin in "SOme'setshire about the middle of
the Eighteenth century, and is an integral part of the Paveley

This history and genealogy is not complete. I doubt if it
could be made complete in an exact sense. Many families have
been lost to our view. The labor of years is wrapped up in this
volume. To make a volume that would include the direct and
collateral lines from Zachary Bicknell would occupy a score of
years more. The best we can do has been done, in that by this
volume it is thought that every person in America, of Bicknell
descent, can, by its aid, trace out his ancestral lines to an Eng-
lish origin in the distant past.

This volume is the key to the future study of the family.
Many errors as to names and dates will appear. Errors of omis-
sion and commission will be noted ; they must be expected. All that
the editor can claim is this, that he has used the material obtained
from hundreds of sources, often after much solicitation and long
delays, in such form as will enable every Bicknell of Zachary's
descent to construct and fill out his own family tree. To this
end, a few blank pages are left in the back part of the book for
the filling up of unfilled records, and the addition of births, mar-
riages and deaths. The family genealogy will take the place
of the Family Bible for family records, thereby giving it greater
permanent value.

Bicknell Genealogy VII

A genealogy is a memorial of lasting value, far more perma-
nent and intelligent than tombstones, and yet I have found it
difficult to show to some members of the family the importance
of a pictorial family representation in this volume. Hundreds
of dollars are spent in headstones and monuments, in cemeteries,
most of which are neglected in the second generation and are
destroyed before the life of the fifth. The pictures in this vol-
ume tell more than the printed page, and will long survive all
other material records. They insure a limited immortality of
remembrance, so cherished a desire of the human spirit.

The history and genealogy of the Bicknell family are begun
in this volume; they will be completed in the lives and records
of the present and succeeding generations.

May the future of the family be as clean, as pure, as noble,
as honorable as the past, and may the future Bicknell historian
have as pleasant a task as has been mine in the work I have done
in and for the Bicknell family, since the formation of the Bick-
nell Family Association, in Boston, in December, 1879.

Thomas Williams Bicknell.

Providence, R. I., 1913.

VIII Bickneel Genealogy




About eight miles southeast from the city of Taunton, Somer-
setshire, England, and five miles northwest from Ilminster, is a
projecting hill, sombre, forest-clad, conspicuous from Taunton
This hill, rising 820 feet above the sea, is popularly known as
Beacon Hill, and the country it seems to guard is the ancient
Anglo Saxon manor of Bykenhulle. The Exon Domesday calls
the place Bichehalda, and the great-Exchequer one says : "Wil-
liam holds of the Earl, Bichehalle; Aluric held it in the time
of King Edward" (1004-1006). These words, Bichehalle and
Bichehalda are corruptions by Norman scribes, of the Saxon
name of the manor, and the hill which marks it, Bykenhulle.
The derivation is clear: Anglo Saxon Bycn or Bykene, a beacon
and Hulle or Hyll, a hill.

The manor of Bykenhulle included about 1,500 acres of land
with its manorial buildings, having the hill, which gave it its
name, as the high point, from which signal fires, flags or other
devices carried news to watchers of other beacons in other parts
of England.

Aluric, a Saxon, was the first holder of the manor, of whom
we have record. On the accession of William, the Conqueror,
in 1066, the King gave to his half brother, Robert, Earl of Corn-
wall, seven hundred and ninety-seven manorial estates,* forty-
nine of which were in Dorset and Somerset Counties, Byken-
hulle manor being one. Robert accepted the tenure of William
de l'Estra, whose heirs came into possession of the manor by
forfeiture and legally holding the lands directly from the King,
till about the year 1260, A. D., when Johanne, daughter of Wil-
liam de l'Estra, married Robert de Pavilly, of Normandy (Eng-
lish, Paveley), bringing the estate of Bykenhulle to him as her

The Paveleys were a baronial family of Pavilly, a town twelve
miles northwest from Rouen, in France, where the Lord Amal-

Bicknell Genealogy IX

bert de Pavilly had founded a monastery in 664, A. D. Some of
the family crossed over from France with the Conquerer and
soon became a powerful race in England, established in at least
twelve counties. Reginald de Pavely joined in the first crusade
and fell in battle at Acre, 1104; we find Ralph de Pavely, witness-
ing a charter of William, Earl of Surrey, in the reign of Henry
I.; and Henry III, in 1241, sent money to Thomas de Pavely for
his journey to join him at Anjou. Another Reginald de Pavely
was summoned as baron in 1260, to attend the King in Council;
John de Pavely was rector of Hooke, near Beaminster, in 13 12;
Richard de Paveley and Sir John, who died 1361, were priors
of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem ; lastly Sir Walter de
Paveley was one of the founders of the Knights of the Garter,
the highest order of Knighthood in Great Britain.

In 1 28 1, John, son of Robert and Johanne (de l'Estra) de
Paveley, died, seized of the manor of Bykenhulle, his heir being
his son John. Prior to his death he had exchanged his French
baronial name, Paveley, for the name of the manor, and was
known as John de Bykenhulle. In feudal times such changes of
names were common and as the Paveley family had come to Eng-
land to make a permanent home it was in accord with usual
custom for a member to adopt the name of the castle or manor
where he lived, or any other which flattered his fancy or ambition.
In this instance John de Paveley chose to give up the surname, de
Paveley and became John de Bykenhulle, our first ancestor of
the Bicknell name. It was a Norman fashion, for two or three
generations after the Conquest (1066), to distinguish themselves
by the title of the lands they held in fief — "de Bykenhulle," but by
the fourth generation they had dropped the French designation,
"de." The date when the descendants of Robert de Paveley and
his wife Johanne de l'Estra became Bicknells was about 1,260,
A. D. Before that date, Bykenhulle or Bicknell was a place name
only, in England. After that it became a family name from
which our family received its surname, Bicknell. The changes in
spelling from 1260 A. D., to the present time are shown in the
following table:


Bykenhulle, 1260, A. D. John de Paveley, about 1260.

Bykenhull, 1297. John de Bykenhulle, 1275.

Bikenhulle, 13 16. John de Bykenhulle, 1302.

Bikenoll, 1368. Bickernoll, 135 1.

Bykenyll, 141 1. Bykenell, 1425.

Bikenhill, 1443. Biconyll, 1443.

X Bicknfxl Genealogy

Byconyll, 1475. Byconyll, 145 1.

Biknell, 1523. Biknell, 1523.

Bycknell, 1547. Bycknell, 1544.

Bicknell, 1597. Bicknell, 1585.

Bickenhill, 1912. Bicknell, 1912.

There are at least forty-seven different spellings of Bicknell
as stated by Mr. A. Sidney Bicknell, of London, England, who
spent many years of his life in studies and researches of the
Bicknell family. We are indebted to him for our exact knowledge
of the origin of the family name, and reference is made to an
able and scholarly address of Mr. Bicknell, on "A Forgotten
Chancellor and Canon," read by him before the Somersetshire
Archaeological and Natural History Society, 1894, and pub-
lished in the proceedings of that Society, that year, New Series,
Vol. XX. It may be stated that all forms of Bignall, Bignell, Big-
nold and Bucknell, are in no way connected with Bicknell, and
all spellings are corruptions that do not appear as B-i-c-k-n-e-1-1.
The above well established facts set at rest the race origin
and name of our family. The Bicknells are of Teutonic blood.
They crossed the Rhine, invading France before the Christian
era. The advance guard occupied Normandy and were known
as Normans or Northmen. The Pavilly family, of Norman
blood, founded the town of that name and established its baronial
character by founding a monastery through the wealth and in-
fluence of Lord Amalbert de Pavilly. On the conquest of Eng-
land in 1066, William the Conqueror, being a Norman, distrib-
uted the manorial estates of England to Normans of high rank,
or to those who had rendered valuable military service. The mar-
riage of the Paveleys with the l'Estras gave a pure Norman blood
to the original John de (Paveley) Bykenhulle. To what extent the
Norman blood of the Paveley-Bicknells was changed from 1300
to 1600, we cannot state, but it is probable that Anglo Saxon
and other strains had entered the vital stream in the veins of
Zachary and John Bicknell, who settled at Weymouth, Mass.,
in 1635.

We have thus blazed the way for the future genealogist and
historian of the family, from Lord Amalbert de Pavilly, of
Pavilly, France, 664 A. D., to Zachary Bicknell, 1590, a period
of 926 years. To him I assign the privilege of setting up the
guide posts of the generations that lie between.

Bicknell Genealogy XI


Some Eminent English Bicknells.
rev. wieeiam biconye, le. d.

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 £700 in money, not
counting annuities. Many of the legacies were made to bene-
ficiaries in his own County of Somerset.

XII Bicknell Genealogy

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

WILL!' 1. MI'S BIO i.WLL. LL. D.



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 145 1 ; 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 valiantlv at the battle of Bosworth Field that the triumphant
king kniglned him on the battlefield, August 22, 1485, together

M wot WftSmotiM flm it pviuiftit \m mis out (iiutnivTolift ?

Johx Seyntmaur avd Elizabeth Bicknell,

Wife of Sir. John Bicknell.
In Church of St. Gregory, Beckington, England

Bicknfxl Genealogy XIII

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 Hebdomadarius, 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 be 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 be 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."

XIV Bicknell Genealogy

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 14S5 and 1488, Elizabeth (Chokke) Seyntmaur, widow of
John Seyntmaur (Seymour), and daughter of Sir Richard
Chokke, a family of considerable wealth and antiquity. The

Online LibraryThomas Williams BicknellHistory and genealogy of the Bicknell family and some collateral lines, of Normandy, Great Britain and America → online text (page 1 of 50)