Sir Baptist Hicks

Middlesex County Records: Volume 4, 1667-88. Originally published by Middlesex County Record Society, London, 1892.

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, 'Sir Baptist Hicks', in Middlesex County Records: Volume 4, 1667-88, (London, 1892) pp. 329-349. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "Sir Baptist Hicks", in Middlesex County Records: Volume 4, 1667-88, (London, 1892) 329-349. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "Sir Baptist Hicks", Middlesex County Records: Volume 4, 1667-88, (London, 1892). 329-349. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,


By B. Woodd Smith, F.S.A., Hon. Sec. of the Middlesex County Record Society.

The Photograph which forms a frontispiece to the present Volume is a reproduction, made for the first time and under great difficulties, of a portrait bearing the name of Sir Baptist Hicks, which has been in the possession of the Justices of Middlesex since the early part of the seventeenth century, and which, after one or two changes of locality, now hangs in the Sessions House at Westminster. It is not known by whom it was painted. It has been attributed to Gerard Honthorst, who in 1628 was in England by invitation of Charles I. for six months, during which he painted various portraits of distinguished persons; but the inscription attached to the frame ("Sir Baptist Hicks, Knt., 1618"), believed by experts to be contemporaneous with the picture, of itself negatives this idea. (fn. 1) The signature is a facsimile of one of many attached to documents in the Middlesex Records.

The occasion seems a fitting one for putting together a few notes in reference to Sir Baptist Hicks himself, occupying as he does an almost unique position on the Roll of Middlesex Justices; though there is not very much that is new to be added to the facts of his history which are already in one form or other before the public, and some apology may be needed for repeating what is old.

The family of Hicks, or Hickes, is of Gloucestershire origin, and traditionally descended from Sir Ellice Hicks, who is said to have been knighted by Edward III. on the field of battle for his personal bravery. No pedigree of the family exists which goes back so far, but the arms still bear the three fleurs-de-lis, or, said to have been granted by the King. The existing authentic pedigree starts from John Hicks of Tortworth, co. Gloucester, who died 38 Henry VIII. (1546), and Margaret his wife, who was still living in 1557. John Hicks owned fulling-mills and other property in Tortworth. The family do not appear to have been buried there, but in the neighbouring parishes of Charfield and Cranhill. Bigland (fn. 2) gives some ten parishes in which the name occurs in epitaphs, but Tortworth is not one of them, and few of the epitaphs are earlier than the seventeenth century, the older ones having probably been destroyed in the fanatical iconoclasm which was the needless accompaniment of the Reformation. There is some evidence, but not very conclusive, of a connection between the Hicks family and that of the reformer and martyr, William Tyndale. Thomas Hicks was churchwarden of Tortworth in 1598, and William Hicks in 1619. Another William Hicks was rector from 1644 to 1654.

John and Margaret Hicks had an only son, Robert, who married Juliana de Clapham, co. Somerset, according to the Herald's Visitation. Strype says that she was a Somersetshire heiress. Wotton calls her Julian, daughter of William Arthur, Esq., of Clapham, Surrey. (fn. 3) Robert came to London, and carried on business as a silk mercer at the sign of the White Bear at Soper Lane (now Queen Street) End, Cheapside, near "the great Conduit in Cheape." He was a member of the Ironmongers' Company, to whom he gave or be queathed "a standing cupp with a cover guilte waving xxvi ounces three quarters and a half," which is still in their possession.

Robert Hicks died in 1557–8, leaving three sons by his wife Juliana, who is said to have afterwards married Arthur Penne of London, and to have been still living a second time a widow in 1577 (fn. 4). Michael, the eldest son, who was born in 1542, studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the Bar. "By his ingenuous education and good parts he became very polite and agreeable, and was admitted into the society of learned and eminent persons, having the accomplishment of a facetious wit to recommend him." "He was a very witty and jocose man, and his company much sought after by persons of distinction." He was also evidently the good elder brother of his father's younger sons, who constantly turned to him in their difficulties. He became the secretary and confidential friend of Lord Treasurer Burghley, and afterwards of his son and successor, Sir Robert Cecil, and lived on intimate terms with Bacon (who frequently borrowed money of him,) Raleigh, "Britannia" Camden, and the other eminent man of the day. He was knighted by James I. in 1604, after previously refusing the honour. When over fifty years of age he married Elizabeth, daughter of Gabriel Colson, and widow of Henry Purvis or Parvish, an "Italian merchant," and owner of the manor of Ruckholt in the parish of Leyton, Essex. Sir Michael bought the manor of the heirs of the late owner, and it continued in his family till 1720. He also purchased the manor of Beverston, co. Gloucester. He died 1612. Both knight and dame lie buried under a stately monument in the chancel of Leyton Church; the epitaph placed upon it by the latter being more complimentary to her second husband than to her first. Their son William was in 1619 raised to a baronetcy, of which the present holder is his descendant, the Right Honourable Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.

Of Robert Hicks's second son very little is heard. The official pedigree gives his name as Francis, but letters from him to his elder brother, preserved in the Lansdowne MSS., are signed Clement Hickes. (fn. 5) He does not appear to have done much.

His third son, Baptist, the subject of this notice, was born in 1551. Of his early years and education we have no account. It would be interesting to know how these children, left fatherless so young, were trained. The parish registers of St. Pancras, Soper Lane, might have told us more about the family, but they were destroyed with the church itself in the Great Fire. All we know is that he succeeded to the business and prospered early. It 1580 he received the freedom of the Mercers' Company, of which he was subsequently Master at least three times, viz. in 1604, 1611, and 1622. He is described on the Roll of the Company as "the son of Robert Hycke, late of London, Yermonger" (Ironmonger). The same year he was elected on Midsummer day one of the "Auditors of the Accounts of the Chamber and Bridge," a post which he held for two years. In 1597 he was already supplying the Court of Elizabeth with his wares, as appears from an entry in the State Papers (Domestic Series). "Aug. 15. Bill for Silks, Satins, Velvets, and Taffetas, sold by Baptist Hicks, Merchant, to Sir Thomas Wilkes, on his going to Florence. Total £68 3s. 2d." In 1602, June 17, is a reference in the same papers to "Dethick, factor for Hicks in Cheapside at Florence."

After the accession of James I. his fortunes rose rapidly. On July 5th, 1603, "Baptist Hicks, Mercer," was appointed by the Court of Aldermen as one of the citizens "to attend on the Lord Maior of the Cittye in Westminster Hall, on the day of the most honourable Coronation of the King's and Queene's most Excellent Majestic" James, who had knighted two hundred and thirty-seven gentlemen in the course of his month's progress from Edinburgh to London, knighted Sir Baptist Hicks at Whitehall on Sunday, July 24th, the day before the Coronation. The handsome presence and good looks which seem to have characterised his family, as preserved in effigy and portrait, may have stood him in good stead with the King, with whom he speedily became a favourite. He was appointed mercer to the King, a promotion to which his brother's interest with Sir Robert Cecil no doubt helped. "This Baptist," says Strype, as often quoted, "upon King James coming in was sworn his servant and soon knighted. He supplied the Court with silks and rich mercery ware, when King James with his bare Scotch nobility and gentry came in, by which means he got a great estate."

Frequent entries in the State Papers (Domestic Series) bear witness to the profitable transactions which thenceforward took place with the Court. On August 7th, a fortnight after the Coronation, is a notice of a warrant to pay Sir John Fortescue £5,000, "whereof £2,000 is for charges of the Coronation, and £3,000 to be paid to Sir Baptist Hicks for silks and stuffs." Next year, July 20th, 1604, is a warrant for discharge of a debt due by him to the Crown in abatement of the sum owing to him by the King. On July 25th, 1607, a warrant to repay to Sir Baptist Hicks on February 1st, 1608, £12,000 with interest, part of a sum of £24,000, of which £16,285 9s. 6½d. was balance due to him from the Great Wardrobe and the remainder advanced to meet the King's urgent occasions. And on the same date is a warrant to pay the second moiety of £12,000 on the 1st of August, 1608. And again on December 28th, 1607, a warrant to pay to Sir Baptist Hicks and Sir Peter Van Loes several sums due to them by assurance of letters patent from the King. On January 22nd, 1608, mention is made of a bond from the King in the sum of £150,000 to Sir Thomas Hayes, Sir Baptist Hicks, and others, to secure £63,038 16s. 0d. advanced by them on loan, and to make them a grant of divers rents and customs. In 1609 he was a contractor for Crown Lands. In 1612 again (February 6th) is a warrant for £1,909 0s. 1d. for wares to the Queen. In 1617, March 7th, a warrant to discharge the Teller of the Exchequer, Sir Thomas Watson, for £2,000 paid by him to Sir Baptist Hicks without special warrant. Also to pay £126 8s. 0d. for his account for certain cloth of tissue of gold, satins, &c., purchased four years before for the King. In 1621 he and two others had advanced £30,000, ordered to be repaid, for the Palatinate, the Elector Palatine being the King's son-in-law. And so on through a long list, which will be found in the Calendar of State Papers, of payments for goods supplied and money lent, until almost the last year of his life. His shop in Cheapside seems to have been a fashionable resort, for a letter of April 20th, 1618 (Chamberlain to Carleton), mentions that "the Archbishop of Spalato (fn. 6) preached at Mercers Chapel . . . . The Chancellor (Bacon) was there in as great pomp as when he went awhile ago to Sir Baptist Hicks' and Barnes's Shops to cheapen and buy silks and velvets." The transactions with the Court did not cease with the death of James, but were continued with his successor, for in November, 1626 (15th and 24th) are two warrants, one to pay him £10,000 lent to the late King, and another to pay £4,966 13s. 4d. for use and interest of £10,000 lent to the late King and of £10,000 lent to "his now Majesty." No wonder "he got a great estate."

Hicks did not confine his commerce to mercery wares nor his loans to the King. But his letters in the Lansdowne MSS. show that it was not always easy to get repaid by King or subjects. He found the Scots "fayre speakers and slow performers." Repeatedly he begs his good brother to put pressure on the Lord Treasurer and others on his behalf. In 1600 he writes to him about a Mr. Thornebury, who owes him money. In 1605 the King already owed him £16,000, which he wants because "I am shortly to marry both my daughters, to whom I am to give good rounde portions in marriage." One of the daughters was apparently married from Ruckholt, as he writes to Sir Michael, December 14th, 1605: "Lett me understand the charge of my daughter's dynner. I thanke my sister and you for owre good entertainment, everythyng was so well that it pleased much the companie." Again in 1611: "My occasion for monies to you knowen are many, by reason of my late purchase of landes"—probably at Campden. Lord Pembroke owes him £1,600, and some one else £1,600. The two brothers and sisters were on the most friendly terms. He writes "from my house in Cheapside" to "my very loving syster Lady Hicks," sending as "a smaule token of my love" "a meane present" of some "purple stryped stuffe with goulde."

Another time, probably 1611, he is "yll by reason of a colde," and prays his brother to come to London because his name has been sent up to the Lord Mayor for an alder man, which he knows is "done of malice." Another time he wants his brother to help him in some businesse, but adds, "If you feel not yourself very well I would not by any meanes you should come hither. You shall have a bed and a good fyer with me if you come to-night if you bethynke well of it."

The citizens indeed had demurred to his carrying on his business after his knighthood, contrary to the usual custom, and a good deal of ill-feeling was the result. He defended himself, not very candidly, by saying that his servants carried it on for him. The Court connection was too valuable to be given up. In December, 1603, he was excused from being appointed alderman by the express wish of the King, conveyed in a letter to the Lord Mayor (December 23rd), "specially for that we are pleased to use his contynuall care and travell in our service, according to the trust wee both have and had." In the following year (1604) he was on the same ground excused from serving as sheriff. In 1606 he was foreman of the Jury at the Guildhall which tried and convicted the Jesuit Father Garnet, executed some days later in St. Paul's Churchyard. (fn. 7) In 1611 he was actually elected alderman of Bread Street Ward, and upon summons made his personal appearance in Court (November 21st), "and did first take the oath of allegiance, and then the oath of an alderman." He then again put in the King's letter, to which the Court at first demurred, "conceiving that he had wayued the benefit of his Majesties' letter; but after consideration and the intimation that his Majestie meanes not to write for any other hereafter, and also in regard of the discreet and respectful behaviour of the said Sir Baptist Hicks in making his appearance and taking the oath" (and also, we may add, paying the fine of £500), "the Court do freelie and lovinglie leave the said Sir Baptist Hicks to his own free choice and election." In 1613 (November 8th) he was similarly and finally discharged by the Common Council from the office of sheriff.

In 1614, from a different cause, the King again intervened on behalf of his servant, "to stay the prosecution of Sir Baptist Hicks on complaint of Sir Thomas Hayes, Alderman" (associated with Hicks in several loans to the King), "of violence offered in a trial between them." Sir Baptist Hicks being knight and servant of the King, the cause was to be tried elsewhere, but we hear nothing more of it.

In 1585, Baptist Hicks had married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard May, of a Sussex family, citizen, and a prominent member and sometime Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company. (fn. 8) By her he had three sons—Arthur, a second Arthur, and Baptist, who all died young and without issue— and two daughters. Another of Richard May's daughters married Willian Herrick, a goldsmith of Cheapside, also knighted at the Coronation "for having made a hole in the great diamond the King doth wear. The party little expected such honour, but he did his work so well as won the King to an extraordinary liking of it." The two brothers-in-law are frequently mentioned as jointly concerned in loans to the King. They also carried on for several years a dispute as to precedency with the aldermen, who may well have been jealous of the prosperous shopkeeping knight commoner. The respective dames took an active part in the fray; "Sir B. Hicks and his wife often bursteling about this Ceremony," says Strype, (fn. 9) who tells the story at some length. "This tedious, troublesome, and chargeable contest," says another writer, "was owing to the haughty deportments of Hickes and Herrick, and their imperious wives." The aldermen had carried the matter to the King, by whom it was referred to the Lords Commissioners of the office of Earl Marshal, and by them practically to the celebrated antiquary, Sir Robert Cotton. Upon which Sir Baptist's son-in-law, Lord Noel, wrote to Cotton appealing to him as a judicious and honourable kinsman "to defende the dignitie of knighthood," and to be the Hercules to redeem his fatherin-law from "this Hydra of many heads" (the Court of Aldermen), who was "soe dangerous a serpent." (fn. 10) Hicks himself sent Cotton "a smaule token" in the shapeof a piece of some "commodity . . . . very extraordinary for the goodness," "specially made for me and my friends," begging his "continued love and favour in a cause which I have in hand." (fn. 10) At last they made what was a graceful surrender or a scandalous retreat, according to point of view of the writer, and the question was dropped.

If Sir Baptist Hicks knew how to amass money as a merchant, he spent it like a prince. In 1612 he had either bought or won at cards a few acres at Kensington from Sir Walter Cope, who owned the greater part of the parish, and who like himself had found the King's favour profitable. There he built the mansion known as Campden House, of which a description may be found in Faulkner's Kensington. "The Earl of Somerset" (writes Chamberlain to Carleton, March 17th, 1614) "has borrowed Sir Baptist Hicks House at Kensington, and there settled his lady." The Earl was one of James's least reputable favourites who had married the divorced Countess of Essex. On June 12, 1626, a great burglary took place there. (fn. 11) After some vicissitudes, told at length by Faulkner, the house, which remained in the family till about 1720, when it was sold, was burnt out in 1862, but was subsequently restored, and though now shorn of its surroundings, retains enough of the old building to preserve its identity.

In 1614 Hicks had purchased the manors of Exton, Horn, and Whitwell, in Rutlandshire, with the mansion of Exton Hall, from the heirs of Sir James Harrington, first Lord Exton. To Lord Exton and his wife James I. had entrusted the tuition of his only daughter, the unfortunate Princess Elizabeth, till her marriage with the Count Palatine. This estate is still in possession of his descendant, the Earl of Gainsborough.

Some time after 1608 he acquired the manor of Chipping Campden, in Gloucestershire, from which he afterwards took his title. There he built another magnificent house, which is said to have occupied with its offices eight acres of ground, and to have cost £29,000. "A very capacious dome issued from the roof, which was regularly illuminated for the direction of travellers during the night." This costly pile his grandson the third Lord Campden, (buried with his lady at Exton, under a splendid monument by Grinling Gibbons), deliberately sacrificed to his loyalty in the Civil Wars, and ordered it to be burnt down lest it should be garrisoned by the Parliamentary forces.

In 1620 he bought the manor of Hampstead of John Wrothe, grandson of Sir Thomas Wrothe, to whom it was granted 4 Edward VI. (fn. 12)

From knighthood Sir Baptist Hicks was advanced to a baronetcy in 1620 (June 24th). In the same year he was appointed by the King one of the Commissioners to inquire into the condition of St. Paul's Cathedral. In 1620, too, he was returned to Parliament for Tavistock, (he is called in the Returns "Sir Baptist Hexte,") and for Tewkesbury in 1624, '25, '26, and '28, when his nephew Sir William took his place on Sir Baptist's elevation to the House of Lords. He was made a peer on May 5th, 1628, by Charles I. by the titles of Baron Hicks of Ilmington, (fn. 13) in the County of Warwick, and Viscount Campden of Campden, (fn. 13) in the county of Gloucester, with remainder in default of male issue (he was seventy-seven years of age) to his son-in-law, Edward Lord Noel, Baron of Ridlington, in the county of Rutland. Lord Noel, whose ancestor came in with the Conqueror, was the son of Sir Andrew Noel, the accomplished and extravagant favourite of Queen Elizabeth, who is said to have made upon him the couplet:

"The word of denial, and letter of fifty, Is that gentleman's name who will never be thrifty."

He had been made a knight banneret in his youth in the Irish wars, and a baronet with James the First's first batch in 1611, and was raised to the peerage in March 1616/17, He died in the Royal Garrison at Oxford in 1643.

Lord Campden himself did not long survive his elevation, but died October 16th, 1629, at the age of seventy-eight. He left no son, but two daughters only, Juliana Lady Noel, and Mary, who married Sir Charles Morrison of Cashiobury, Herts, whom she survived, and to whom, "cum luctu et lachrymis," she erected a fine monument, bearing his effigy and hers by Nicholas Stone, in Watford Church. She was twice married afterwards however, first to Sir John Couper of Wimborne, Dorset, and after his death to Sir Richard Alford. (fn. 14) To each of his daughters Lord Campden is said to have left £100,000, and through them be became an ancestor of a large number of noble families. Lord Byron was among his descendants, as are also the Dukes of Devonshire, Beaufort, Portland, and Rutland, the Marquis of Northampton, the Earls of Gainsborough and Essex, and many others of the nobility.

If Baptist Hicks was princely in his own expenditure, he was not unmindful of those less fortunate than himself, and he left enduring memorials of his liberality in most of the places associated with his name. In 1628 he purchased the great tithes of the parish of Woodhorne in Northumberland, one moiety of which he presented to the Mercers' Company for annual scholarships from St. Paul's School at Trinity College, Cambridge. He also enriched the company by other large gifts.

The other moiety of the Woodhorne tithes he gave to the parish of Hampstead "toward the maintenance of an able preacher." (fn. 15) He also repaired and adorned the chapel of Hampstead, which cost £76. In each of these cases, and in others also, his widow largely supplemented his benefits, making various large donations to the Mercers' Company, and bequeathing to the poor of Hampstead the sum of £200, which with a gift by her great-grandson, the first Earl of Gainsborough, of six acres of land and a chalybeate well, now form the estate of the "Wells and Campden Charity," with a present income of £2,500 managed by trustees under the Charity Commissioners, and applied to pensions, apprenticeships and outfits, scholarships, hospital subscriptions, and artisans' dwellings, for the benefit of the poor of the parish.

To Kensington Lord Campden also gave £200, and his widow willed a like sum, the investments of which now yield an annual income of nearly £3,000, which with the addition of about £1,000 a year from another source form the Campden Charities of Kensington, applied very similarly to those of Hampstead. He also "caused a window to be set up in the chancel of Kensington, and beautified it, which cost £30."

At Campden, according to a MS. list of his favours preserved there, he built a market house, which cost £90, and an almshouse for six poor men and six poor women at a cost of £1,000, maintaining the inmates during his lifetime, and then settling £140 a year on the almshouse for ever. He also bequeathed £500 to the poor of Campden. He roofed the chancel, which cost £200, built a gallery, which cost £80, made a window, which cost £13, walled the churchyard, which cost £150, and gave a bell, which cost £66. (fn. 16) He gave also a pulpit cloth and cushion worth £22, a "brass faulcon," which cost £26, two communion cups which cost £21, and made many other benefactions.

He also purchased at various times tithes in three or four other counties, and applied them for the benefit of special places in which he was interested.

On the whole he shewed himself to be a shrewd, persevering, ambitious man, knowing how to combine the suaviter in modo with the fortiter in re, ready to make the most of every opportunity of advancement that offered, but a man of warm attachments, with a soul capable of higher things than money-getting, and not unmindful of the responsibilities of wealth and position.

Lord Campden was buried in Campden Church, beneath a stately monument erected by his widow, who survived him some fourteen years, and now lies beside him. The epitaph which she inscribed on it is truer than many when it speaks of him as her "dearest and deceased Husband, Lord Hickes, Viscount Campden, born of a worthy Family in the City of London. Who by the Blessing of GOD on his ingenuous Endeavours arose to an ample Estate and to the foresaid degrees of Honour. And out of those Blessings disposed to Charitable Uses, in his Lifetime, a large Portion, to the value of 10,000£. Who lived religiously, virtuously, and generously, to the Age of Seventy eight Years, and died October the 18th, 1629."

There follows an epitaph upon Lady Campden, and these lines, which, though often quoted, are worth quoting once more.

Reader, know, Whoe'er thou be, Here lie Faith, Hope, and Charitie;

Faith true, Hope firm, Charity free; Baptist Lord Campden Was these Three.

Faith in GOD, Charity to Brother, Hope for Himself; What ought He other?

Faith is no more; Charity is crowned; 'Tis only Hope Is under ground.

The chief point of contact between Sir Baptist Hicks and the county of Middlesex arises of course out of the "Hall" which he built for the use of the Justices, the story of which has often been told, and will be found at p. xxiii. of the editor's preface to our second volume. The date at which his name first appears in the Records has not been noted, but he was a Justice some time before 1612. (He was made a Deputy Lieutenant March 23rd, 1625). Up to that date the Justices had held their sessions at the Castle or Windmill Tavern (for it seems to have been known by both names,) on the east side of St. John Street, just outside Smithfield Bars, and therefore at the nearest point in the county of Middlesex to the City of London.

In the 19th year of Elizabeth a piece of waste land in St. John Street had been granted to Christopher Saxton for the purposes of a Sessions House, but nothing more appears to have been done with it. But in 1610 James I. granted by Letters Patent to Sir Thos. Lake and fourteen other Justices and Esquires of the County of Middlesex "a plot of land a hundred and twenty-eight feet of Assize from North to South in length, thirty-two feet from East to West in breadth, reserving twenty feet on each side thereof for a carriage way, such ground to be for ever used and employed as a Sessions House, and for keeping a prison or House of Correction in the same County," and on this "Sir Baptist Hicks," says the continuation of Stow's Chronicle, "builded a very faire Sessions House of bricke and stone, with all offices thereunto belonging, at his own proper charges," variously stated at from £600 to £900. "Upon Wednesday the 13th of January (fn. 17) this year 1612, by which time the house was fully finished, there assembled twenty-six Justices of the County, being the first day of their meeting in the place, where they were all feasted by Sir Baptist Hicks, and then they all with one consent gave it a proper name, and called it Hicks's Hall, after the name of the Founder, who then freely gave the same house to them and their successors for ever." This account is confirmed by the Records (vol. ii. 84).

The "very faire Sessions House" was a plain building after all, and its only embellishment was said to have been a stone portico, which, however, does not appear in the only extant representation of the place, which we reproduce. "As far as we can recollect," says a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for November, 1827, "it was a shapeless brick lump, containing a great warehouse in the centre for the court, and houses for the officers all round and joined on to it. The prison was not, for want of room, connected with the court, but removed to another site." The hall also contained a room where the bodies of criminals were publicly dissected, as shown in the last plate of Hogarth's series of the Progress of Cruelty. A plan in the Guildhall Library shows the court of an oval shape, which was also that of the dissecting room, probably beneath it.

As the Sessions House of the county of Middlesex for a hundred and seventy years, Hicks' Hall is of course the subject of numerous references not only in the County Records, but in the Domestic State Papers, and in current literature of the time. (fn. 18) Standing close to the City boundary it was a starting point for distances on the North Road, and until comparatively recently, milestones were to be seen marked with the number of miles "from Hicks' Hall," or "from where Hicks' Hall formerly stood." A few years ago one such existed between Highgate and Finchley, but like many other things it has been "improved" away.

In 1777 Hicks' Hall had fallen into very bad condition, and application was made to Parliament for power to rebuild it. The site, however, was becoming more and more inconvenient as traffic increased, and instead of rebuilding it the justices erected the present Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green. The first stone of the new building was laid on the 29th August, 1779, by the Duke of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant of the county, of whom two portraits, by Reynolds and Gainsborough respectively, removed from the new Sessions House, now hang in the Guildhall Westminster. The Sessions were removed in 1782, and the old Hall pulled down. It was proposed to erect a column on the spot, but it was never done, and the site is now marked by a modern erection which, if more useful, is less dignified. There is also an old tablet on a public house, the Queen's Head, on the west side of the street, which states that "Opposite this place Hicks' Hall formerly stood."

Hicks' Hall has not passed altogether without leaving its memorials. The fine old chimney-piece, now in the magistrates' room at the Sessions House, a photograph of which is annexed, was removed from the dining-room of the old structure. (fn. 19) The portrait reproduced in our frontispiece was one of its ornaments. Mr. Charles Wright, the veteran keeper of the Sessions House, now in his eightyninth year, remembers seeing in his youth John Martin, the old porter from Hicks' Hall, who lived to a very advanced age, and almost to the end of his life (about the year 1818) used to occupy the porter's chair at the new Sessions House.

Our Middlesex County Record Society is in some degree an outcome of Sir Baptist Hicks' work, since it was in the search for additional information respecting him that the ruinous and perishing condition of the Records was brought to light, and interest awakened which led to their preservation and to the formation of the Society for their publication. We have also a more tangible result of his good deed. In former days it was the practice during the sessions to provide dinner for the justices in attendance at a cost of half-a-crown a head, and if any justice had violated the unwritten law of the court, as for instance by bailing a prisoner whom another justice had refused to bail, or granting a licence out of his own division or to a non-juror or papist, or offending in any other way, he was formally reprimanded, and the reprimand duly recorded. It might be thought that such a postprandial rebuke carried no great terrors, but if the offence was of a more aggravated nature, or was repeated, a representation might be and in some cases was made to the Lord Chancellor, who took more serious steps. When the habits of society altered, and mid-day dinner was no longer in vogue, a Magistrates' Club was formed, the members of which paid an entrance fee (subsequently abolished) and an annual subscription, and also the old fee of half a crown a dinner, and dined together on the eight county days of the year. The Local Government Act of 1888, however, which broke up the historic county of Middlesex, broke up also many pleasant and useful associations of the justices, and among them their social gatherings. The club was wound up, its property, consisting of a small cellar of wine and a small quantity of plate bearing the name of Hicks' Hall, and dating from the middle of the last century, was sold, and the produce, amounting to £187 2s. 11d., generously handed over to the Middlesex County Record Society towards the production of their third volume.


Note A, p. 329.—Since these pages have been in type Mr. George Scharf, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, has kindly examined the portrait in question, and attributes it to Paul Van Somer, a Flemish painter who spent some years in England in the reign of James I., and portraits by whom are extant of that Monarch and his Queen, as well as of Buckingham, Bacon, Raleigh, and other celebrities of the day.

Note B, p. 330.—By Clapbam, co. Somerset (the substitution of "Surrey" for "Somerset" is a pure invention), is no doubt intended Clapton in Gordano, near Clevedon, which was in the possession of the Arthurs from the time of Henry I. till about 1600. But there was no heiress in the family at the time required, nor does the name either of William or Juliana occur then, though the latter does a generation or two earlier. The Pedigrees differ hopelessly. One in the Harleian MSS. interposes another generation between John Hicks and Robert, making Robert the grandson of John and the son of "Thomas Hicks of Bristow" and "Elizabeth daughter of Leonard Yate of Whitney." "Clement Hicks of Chester" is in the same Pedigree said to have married first a wife named Ball, and then "Anne, daughter and heiress of the Holte Recever General of North Wales."

Note C.—Lady Hicks' brother, Sir Humphrey May, became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and a man of great influence with James I. "Sir Hum. May can make any suitor, be they never so honest, disliked by the King." (Cusack to Winwood, State Papers, Domestic Series.)


  • 1. Note A, p. 348.
  • 2. Gloucestershire.
  • 3. Note B, pp. 348 and 349.
  • 4. Berry's Pedigrees, Hants.
  • 5. Note B, pp. 348 and 349.
  • 6. Marco Antonio de Dominis, Archbishop of Spalato, came to England about 1616 and professed himself a Protestant, was made Dean of Windsor, returned to Italy, recanted, and died, supposed by poison, in the prison of the Inquisition.
  • 7. Fuller's Church History, B. 10.
  • 8. Note C. p. 349.
  • 9. Stow, B. v. 309.
  • 10. Cotton MSS., Ful. Cæsar, iii.
  • 11. Middlesex Records, iii. 9.
  • 12. Middlesex Records, ii. 148.
  • 13. Campden and Ilmington, though in different counties, are neighbouring parishes.
  • 14. Here again the Pedigrees are at variance.
  • 15. The Woodhorne tithes were purchased for £760, which was exactly the amount of the income a few years ago, each moiety being £380. In 1890 the net income had fallen to £514.
  • 16. This bell I am informed by the curate of Campden is No. 5 in the peal, and is 2 feet 5½ inches high, and 3 feet 1 inch in diameter, and bears the inscription "Ex dono dignissimi Baptiste Hicks militis 1618."
  • 17. The 13th of January, 1612, however, fell on a Monday.
  • 18. It has often been stated, as for instance by Hare (Walks in London), that the trial of Lord William Russell in 1673 took place in Hicks' Hall, whereas in fact it took place at the Old Bailey. Anyone who holds a superstitious faith in the trustworthiness of books will be rudely disillusioned if he attempts to verify their statements on any historical subject of secondary importance such as the present. One popular local historian has four mistakes in a single paragraph on Sir Baptist Hicks. Though indeed every one who ventures into print, including the present writer, lives in a glass house.
  • 19. The chimney-piece bears the following inscriptions:— "Sir Baptist Hickes of Kensington in the County of Middlesex Knight one of the justices of the peace of this county of Middlesex of his worthy disposition and at his own proper charge buylt this session house in the year of our Lord God 1612 and gave it to the justices of peace of this county and their successors for a sessions house for ever. 1618." (This is also the date of the portrait.) And "On the erection of the present Sessions house Anno Dom. 1782 this antient chimney front (a part of the old Hickes Hall) was placed in this room, to perpetuate the memory of Sir Baptist Hickes as set forth in the above inscription."