Rev Henry Hickman (1629-1692) was an English ejected minister and controversialist, and some time pastor of the English church at Leyden.
Henry Hickman was baptized at Old Swinford in Worcestershire on 19 January 1629, the son of the clothier Richard Hickman and his wife Rose [the Hickman family continued to live in the village of Oldswinford well into the nineteenth century]. He studied at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, with support from his uncle Henry Hickman, graduating BA in 1648. He became a demy of Magdalen College, Oxford, on 29 October 1648, and was made a fellow on 5 March 1649 following the parliamentary visitation of that year; the degree was incorporated at Oxford on 14 March 1650 and he proceeded MA on the same day (Foster, Alumni Oxoniensis, I, 704; Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, II, 366).
He was then employed to teach logic to Nathaniel Crewe at Steane; Crewe was later the bishop of Oxford (1671–4) and Durham (1674–1721). Hickman was a friend of the vicar of Bromsgrove, John Spilsbury, who was also a fellow of Magdalen; on 12 September 1653 he became the vicar of Brackley, where he had been a lecturer since 1648. Nevertheless, he was resident at the university by 1657, when in a disputation he argued that ‘the Church of Rome, for aught he knew, was a true church’; a response was produced by Vavasor Powell, then at All Saints, Oxford, who argued on 15 July 1657 that ‘the Pope would provide him with a mitre and the Devil with a frying–pan’ (Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, II, 345; DWL, Baxter Letters, I, fos. 266–7).
In May 1657 Hickman turned down an invitation to become the pastor at Stoke Newington because it was too far from Oxford; he became rector of St Aldates in the city on 29 July 1657, and was created BD on 29 May 1658 (LPL, COMM. III/6, p. 81; Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, II, 800). After the Restoration, Hickman was ejected from St Aldates in 1660, when the pre–Civil War sequestered rector reclaimed his living; he was also removed from his university fellowship (Mark Burden, A Biographical Dictionary of Tutors at the Dissenters’ Private Academies, 1660–1729 Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, 2013 274 (Matthews, Calamy Revised, 260). At a dinner in Westminster on 21 August 1660 attended by Samuel Pepys, Hickman ‘spoke very much against the height of the now old clergy, for putting out many of the religious fellows of colleges and enveighing against them for their being drunk’ (Pepys, Diary, I, 226–7). Hickman later moved to the Netherlands, becoming a student at Leiden University on 13 July 1663 (Peacock, Leyden, 49). He also assisted Matthew Newcomen at the English church in Leiden, delivering an exhortation to the congregation on 18 June 1664.
On 26 March 1666 his name appeared on a list of English subjects required to return to England to face trial for their activities during the 1650s (TNA, SP29/152, fo. 34). Once home, he became embroiled in a difficult case in the court of chancery against Alice Hickman, concerning the estate of her husband Henry, his uncle. The case grew in complexity when Hickman became a tutor to the family of William Strode of Barrington, a Presbyterian former MP. Hickman’s salary was pitiful: £10 per annum, plus his diet, but when Strode died in December 1666, he left £2,500 and a further £1,000 due on a mortgage to his daughter Joanna. Hickman was licensed to marry her on 30 November 1667. On 24 November 1668 they filed a petition in chancery against her brothers for claims under the father’s will. The Strode family later alleged that Joanna and Henry had removed gold and property from the house, and accused Hickman of marrying for money (TNA, C5/366/55, C5/424/74, C5/426/35, C5/615/106, C9/96/81). During this period, Hickman also presented books to Stourbridge grammar school, now King Edward VI College (AL Reade).
It is likely that it was Hickman’s sudden increase in wealth which enabled him to set up a short-lived academy at Dusthorp, near Bromsgrove, to which Thomas Cotton, Eliezer and John Heywood (the sons of Oliver Heywood), and Adam Martindale’s son, were sent to study university learning. The antiquarian A. L. Reade later speculated that Hickman actually lived at Belbroughton, where his sister’s husband John Tristram was the patron, and where his son was baptized at Belbroughton on 28 October 1668 (Reade, Reades, 110). On Thursday 15 May 1673 Oliver Heywood had a fast at his house at nine o’clock for his two sons Eliezer and John, who were ‘to go abroad to learning’. The following Monday 19 May they set on their journey, accompanied by ‘little Jer: Baxter’ and arrived at Manchester in the evening; the following morning they set out again, now joined by ‘Mr Richardsons son and Mr Cottons two sons and man’, and made for Worcestershire, passing through Trentham, Stafford (on Wednesday 20), Stourbridge, and Bromsgrove, before coming at last to Hickman’s house (Mark Burden, A Biographical Dictionary of Tutors at the Dissenters’ Private Academies, 1660–1729; Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, 2013 275). On 21 November 1673 Eliezer Heywood wrote to his father from Dusthorp in Warwickshire ‘where he and his brother are trained up with Mr Hickman in university–learning’. The story of the education of Adam Martindale’s son Thomas provides some clear reasons why some students chose to attend Hickman’s academy. Martindale first took Thomas to London, ‘where I found noble friends willing to assist me as to the charge’ of attending Hickman’s academy, including Peter Brooke and a member of the Foley family. The younger Martindale ‘staid with this learned tutor two yeares, who had a deare respect for him, and brought him clearely through the whole bodie of philosophie’; during this period, Hickman had ‘a good free time’, although he was afterwards involved ‘in great sutes and troubles’ (Martindale, Life, 187–9). Another student of Hickman was the future minister Thomas Cotton; Cotton had previously studied under Mr Wickers at a school in Manchester, before proceeding to ‘Mr. Hickman’s private academy’. Cotton’s biographer Samuel Wright states that ‘Mr. Hickman was so disabled by age’ that Cotton ‘made a very short stay there; and was removed from thence to Mr. Frankland’s in Westmoreland.
By 1674 Hickman was back in the Netherlands, where he succeeded Edward Richardson as pastor to the English Reformed Church at Leiden (Cotter, ‘Anglo–Dutch Dissent’, 153). His decision not to place himself under the discipline of the Dutch classis was excused because he claimed that he could not understand the language. On 18 April 1675 he was admitted to Leiden University as a student of medicine (Peacock, Leyden, 49). In 1688 he was visited by his former student, Nathaniel Crewe (Reade, Reades, 110). On 19 March 1683, at the office of the public notary in Leiden, Hickman and his wife had willed that most of their estate should pass to their children, with the exception of their property in Warwickshire and Hickman’s library. They died in the early 1690s. Wright (ODNB), drawing on Wood, claims that Henry died about Michaelmas 1692, and Joanna several weeks later; Henry died in 1692 and was buried in the family sepulchre at the Pieterskerk, Leiden (Cotter, ‘Anglo–Dutch Dissent’, 154). In March 1693 the Prerogative Court at Canterbury granted the administration of the estate to their son William, who continued to live in the Netherlands (TNA, PRO, PROB 11/414/65).
Hickman early acquired a reputation for a fiercely controversial pen, which at times ran ahead of strict truth. In a series of letters to Peter Heylin, Hickman had to defend himself against charges that he mistakenly described Heylin’s books as burned by the common hangman, and misleadingly suggested that the former Archbishop Laud had been ‘disgracefully turned out of the Divinity Schools’ in Oxford (Heylin, Certamen epistolare, 124). As a result, his publications sometimes cast more heat than light upon his own and others’ opinions. Nevertheless, he considered himself to ‘agree with others of the Calvinisticall perswasion’, and felt that ‘not the Remonstrant, but the Contra–remonstrant opinion hath been the Doctrine of the Reformed Church of England’ (‘Preface to the Reader’, A3r–v); he blamed the rise of Arminianism firmly on Laud and his associates (‘Preface to the Reader’, C7–8), and attacked the tendency towards Lutheranism in the mid–seventeenth– century church (A Review of the Certamen epistolare, A3v). Although he claimed to ‘love Philosophy onely as a handmaid to Divinity’ and to detest ‘Scholasticall speculations’ (Certamen epistolare, 11), Hickman had a sophisticated understanding of soteriology and Trinitarian doctrine. He was a staunch defender of the principle that sin had a privative rather than a positive nature (A Justification of the Fathers and the Schoolmen), and also published an academic treatise, Pothen zizania on the origin of heresy, written in Latin, with extensive Greek quotations. His Laudensium apostasia (written in English) was a systematic defence of the Reformers against the Laudians, dealing with matters of theology, church government, iconology, the composition of sermons, the value of learning, and the errors of both Roman Catholics and heretics. Attacks on several ministers followed, including Heylin (Hickman’s Historia quinq–articularis exarticulata), the minister of the French church in the Savoy John Durel (Bonasus vapulans), and the prelate William Sherlock (Speculum Sherlockianum). In his Latin Apologia pro ministris in Anglia (vulgo) non–conformistis he defended the nonconformist ministers from charges of rebellion and heresy, explaining their objections to a range of practices, including re–ordination, feast–days, genuflexion, the baptismal service, and the manner of ordination of deacons and bishops. The only text of Hickman’s to be published without an explicitly controversial subject was his The Believers Duty towards the Spirit, in which he nevertheless tackled much–debated questions regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit, the manner of its operation, and moral questions surrounding its relation to the human soul.
A Review of the Certamen epistolare between Pet. Heylin D.D. and Hen. Hickman B.D. (Oxford, 1659). Patro–scholastiko–dikaiosis, or, A Justification of the Fathers and the Schoolmen (Oxford, 1659). Pothen zizania (Oxford, 1659). Laudensium apostasia: Or a Dialogue in Which is Shewn, that Some Divines risen up in out Church since the Greatness of the Late Archbishop, are in Sundry Points of Great Moment, quite Fallen Off from the Doctrine received in the Church of England (London, 1660). Apologia pro ministris in Anglia (vulgo) non–conformistis, (‘Eleutheropolis’, 1664). The Believers Duty towards the Spirit, and the Spirits Office towards Believers (London, 1665). Bonasus vapulans, or, Some Castigations Given to Mr. John Durell or Fouling Himself and Others in his English and Latin Book by a Country Scholar (London, 1672). Historia quinq–articularis exarticulata; Or Animadversions on Dr. Heylin's Quinquarticular History (London, 1673). Speculum Sherlockianum: Or, A Looking–Glass in which the Admirers of Mr. Sherlock may Behold the Man, as to his Accuracy, Judgement, Orthodoxy (London, 1674). According to Calamy (Continuation, 102), Hickman was also the author of ‘The Danger of the House of Feasting, and the Benefit of the House of Mourning: In a short Discourse on Eccles. vii. 2 12mo. 1666.’
He wrote in defence of nonconformity and had fierce controversies with Thomas Pierce, dean of Salisbury, John Durel, Peter Heylyn, Matthew Scrivener, Laurence Womack and other churchmen. His writings are:
- 1. ‘Πατρο-σκολαστικο-δικαίωσις, or a Justification of the Fathers and Schoolmen: shewing that they are not selfe-condemned for denying the positivity of sin. … Being an Answer to so much of … T. Pierce's Book called Αὐτοκατάκρισις as doth relate to the foresaid opinion,’ Oxford, 1658; 2nd edit. 1659. John Durel, in his ‘Sanctæ Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Vindiciæ,’ 1669 (ch. ii. pp. 100–1), asserts that this book was plagiarised from various authors.
- ‘Πόθεν ζιζαγια [i.e. ζιζάνια], sive Concio [on Matt. xiii. 27, the reference is wrongly given as iii. 27] de Hæresium Origine, Latine habita ad Academicos Oxonienses, 12 Aprilis pro inchoando Termino. Adjicitur brevis refutatio Tileni,’ Oxford, 1659. Tilenus found a defender in Womack.
- ‘A Review of the Certamen Epistolare betwixt P. Heylin and H. Hickman. Wherein the exceptions of the Dr. against Mr. H.'s arguments are all taken off. … Also a Reply to Mr. Pierce his late virulent Letter to the aforesaid Dr. By Theophilus Churchman,’ 12mo, London, 1659.
- ‘Laudensium Apostasia: or a Dialogue in which is shewn that some Divines risen up in our church since the greatness of the late Archbishop are in sundry points of great moment quite fallen off from the Doctrine received in the Church of England,’ London, 1660.
- ‘Χειροθεσία τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου, or a Letter to a Friend tending to prove, i. That valid Ordination ought not to be repeated, ii. That valid Ordination by Presbyters is valid; with an appendix containing some animadversions on J. Humfrey's discourse concerning re-ordination, by R. A.,’ London, 1661. In spite of the initials R. A., ‘Hickman was supposed by many learned men to be the author’.
- ‘Apologia pro ministris in Anglia, vulgo Non-Conformistis, Anno 1662, Aug. 24 … ejectis,’ ‘Eleutheropolis,’ 1664; 2nd edition (1665), written under the pseudonym of ‘Irenæus Eleutherius.’ Durel replied in his ‘Vindiciæ,’ mentioned above.
- ‘The Believer's Duty towards the Spirit, and the Spirit's Office towards Believers’ (anon.), London, 1665; another edition 1700.
- ‘Bonasus Vapulans’ (anon.), London, 1672, against J. Durel.
- ‘Historia Quinq-Articularis Exarticulata; or Animadversions on Doctor Heylin's Quinquarticular History,’ 2nd ed. London, 1674.
In 1660, ‘M. O., Bachelour of Arts,’ published ‘Fratres in Malo, or the Matchless Couple, represented in the Writings of Mr. E. Bagshaw and Mr. H. Hickman.’ A Review of the Certamen epistolare between Pet. Heylin D.D. and Hen. Hickman B.D. (Oxford, 1659). Patro–scholastiko–dikaiosis, or, A Justification of the Fathers and the Schoolmen (Oxford, 1659). Pothen zizania (Oxford, 1659). Laudensium apostasia: Or a Dialogue in Which is Shewn, that Some Divines risen up in out Church since the Greatness of the Late Archbishop, are in Sundry Points of Great Moment, quite Fallen Off from the Doctrine received in the Church of England (London, 1660). Apologia pro ministris in Anglia (vulgo) non–conformistis, (‘Eleutheropolis’, 1664). The Believers Duty towards the Spirit, and the Spirits Office towards Believers (London, 1665). Bonasus vapulans, or, Some Castigations Given to Mr. John Durell or Fouling Himself and Others in his English and Latin Book by a Country Scholar (London, 1672). Historia quinq–articularis exarticulata; Or Animadversions on Dr. Heylin's Quinquarticular History (London, 1673). Speculum Sherlockianum: Or, A Looking–Glass in which the Admirers of Mr. Sherlock may Behold the Man, as to his Accuracy, Judgement, Orthodoxy (London, 1674). According to Calamy (Continuation, 102), Hickman was also the author of ‘The Danger of the House of Feasting, and the Benefit of the House of Mourning: In a short Discourse on Eccles. vii. 2 12mo. 1666.’
- Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iv. 371; Hearne, Coll. Oxf. Hist. Soc. i. 73.
- Goodwin 1891.