HICKMAN, Walter (1552-1617), of St. Dunstan-in-the-West, London and Kew, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 26 Aug. 1552,1 3rd s. of Anthony Hickman, Mercer of London,2 and Rose, da. of Sir William Lock, alderman of London; bro. of Henry†.3 m. 21 Nov. 1586,4 Elizabeth, da. of Nicholas Staines, Mercer of London, 3s. 1da.5 d. 29 Dec. 1617.6 sig. Walter Hickman.
Hickman’s family originated in Oxfordshire, but migrated during the early fourteenth century to Woodford in Essex.13 Hickman’s father Anthony, a younger son, settled in London as a merchant, and built a successful career trading in cloth and other commodities, with outlets in Antwerp and the Canaries.14 A convinced Protestant, he was imprisoned under Mary for harbouring heretics, and on his release removed his business and family to Antwerp for the remainder of the reign.15 Hickman was born in London a few years before this ‘exile’. His early career is obscure, but unlike his elder brothers, who entered the legal profession, he stayed within the London business world. He married a Mercer’s daughter, while another London merchant, Sir Wolstan Dixey, was godfather to his eldest son. In 1591-2 he shipped Cornish tin to London.16 Throughout his life he was assessed for subsidy in goods rather than lands, from the 1590s at the rate of £6.17 Certainly he had capital at his disposal. As early as 1577 he purchased a wardship; in 1586 he was investing in property in London; and by 1594 he had advanced £500 to his wife’s family to help obtain an office for his brother-in-law.18 However, a promise of £1,000 to (Sir) Robert Cecil† in 1594 failed to secure the receivership of the Court of Wards for his brother William.19
Hickman himself probably nursed ambitions of office by this stage, judging from his efforts to enhance his social position. In 1590 he and his brothers obtained a grant of arms. It may also be significant that by 1593 he had taken up residence in Kew, a village close to Richmond Palace and a known base for courtiers.20 He acquired a lease of the ferry at Kew in 1605, and was still consolidating his property there in 1610.21 His actual connections with the Court probably originated in the 1577 wardship purchase, since his ward, John Leigh*, soon afterwards became the stepson of Sir William Killigrew I*, groom of the privy chamber to Elizabeth I and James I.22 Hickman was involved in Killigrew’s personal affairs by 1586, and received a royal grant of property in Devon and Cornwall jointly with him in 1602.23 By the time of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral the following year, Hickman had become a gentleman usher, presumably through Killigrew’s influence, but he seems not to have retained the post under the new regime, and had to wait until 1606 for his next preferment, the London and Middlesex surveyorship, in which he succeeded Killigrew. Nevertheless he may have maintained some reduced presence at Court. His son Dixey was a gentleman usher to Princess Elizabeth by 1612, and travelled with her to Heidelberg in April 1613.24 The party included another ‘Mr. Hickman’, conceivably Hickman himself, since he took out one year’s life assurance in September 1612, shortly before the Elector Palatine arrived in England to claim his bride.25 If he did indeed leave the country at this point, he had presumably returned by December 1613, when he was appointed to a Middlesex commission.
Why Hickman sought election as an MP for Mitchell in 1614 is unclear. He probably owed his seat to his cousin Edward Cosworth†, who exercised a degree of patronage over the borough, though Hickman also had business dealings that year with Mitchell’s principal patron, John Arundell of Trerice*.26 His sole appearance in the Parliament’s records was a nomination to the committee for the bill to prevent abuses in the procurement of writs in the royal courts. This appointment tends to confirm his identification as the ‘Mr. Hickman’ who kept the seal office at around this time, again courtesy of Sir William Killigrew.27
Hickman made his will on 23 Dec. 1617, professing himself sick. A flavour of his parents’ religious convictions lingers in his expectation of salvation through Christ’s merits ‘and by no other means whatsoever’. Although he had already secured provision for his children, he was obliged to order the sale of his Cornish lands to settle his debts.28 Hickman died on 29 Dec. and was buried in Richmond church, where his son Dixey erected a monument.29 Hickman’s great-grandson, Thomas Windsor, was returned for Droitwich in 1685.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. GL, ms St. Olave, Old Jewry par. reg. (ref. kindly supplied by Sue Allan).
- 2. I. Doolittle, Mercer’s Co. 7.
- 3. The Gen. iv. 117; A.B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, ii. 31.
- 4. Mdx. Par. Regs.: Mars. ed. T. Gurney, viii. 3.
- 5. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), v. 195; Allegations for Mar. Lics. issued by Bp. of London ed