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John Hickes's Article in the British
Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford University Press © 1997

Hickes or Hicks, John 1633-1685

Name: Hickes or Hicks, John
Dates: 1633-1685
Active Date: 1673
Gender: Male

Field of Interest: Religion and Occultism
Occupation: Nonconformist divine
Place of
   Birth: Moorhouse, in the parish of Kirby Wiske, North Riding of Yorkshire
   Education: Trinity College, Dublin
Spouse: Abigail (d. 13 May 1675), daughter of John How, A person of property at Portsmouth
Likenesses: 1...
Sources: Western Martyrology, 1705, pp. 190 sq.; Calamy's Account, 1713, p...
Contributor: A. G. [ALEXANDER GORDON]


Hickes or Hicks, John 1633-1685, nonconformist divine, elder brother of George Hickes [q.v.], was born in 1633 at Moorhouse, in the parish of Kirby Wiske, North Riding of Yorkshire. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and became a fellow there. For a short time he held the rectory of Stoke Damerel, Devonshire (cf. WALKER, Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 417). At the Restoration Hickes obtained the perpetual curacy of Saltash, Cornwall, from which he was ejected by the Uniformity Act of 1662. He removed to Kingsbridge, Devonshire, where he got into trouble with the spiritual courts for keeping a conventicle. He boldly protested against alleged illegalities in proceedings taken at the time against nonconformists, gaining audience of the king in London on the introduction of Thomas Blood [q.v.]. On the issue of the indulgence of 1672, he came up again with an address to the king from nonconformists in the west of England, and obtained from Charles the restitution of a third part of the fines already paid by the western dissenters under the conventicle acts.

Some time prior to May 1675 he became minister of a congregation at Portsmouth, where he remained till 1681. He then seems to have removed to Keynsham, Somerset, his residence at the time of the Monmouth rebellion. He joined Monmouth in 1685 at Shepton Mallet, believing him to be the legitimate heir to the throne. He denies, however, that he recruited for Monmouth in the west, and states that when Monmouth landed he was in the east country. His connection with Blood led to charges being brought against him of complicity in the murderous rescue of Colonel Mason and in the seizure of the crown jewels¾allegations which were palpably false. After the defeat of Monmouth, Hickes and Richard Nelthorp were sheltered by Alice Lisle [q.v.]; but their hiding-place was betrayed by one Barter. Hickes was tried at Taunton, and executed for treason on 6 Oct. 1685. He wrote very pathetic letters from prison to his wife and nephew, and made an affecting speech before execution. He married, first, Abigail (d. 13 May 1675), daughter of John How and sister of John Howe (1630-1705) [q.v.], the presbyterian divine; secondly, about 1676, a person of property at Portsmouth. His letter to her (3 Oct. 1685) mentions his children James and Betty.

He published: 1. ‘A Narrative of the Illegal Sufferings ... of many Christians ... in the County of Devon,' &c., 1671, 4to. 2. ‘A Discourse of the Excellency of the Heavenly Substance,' &c., 1673, 12mo. Posthumous was: 3. ‘The Last Speech of ... J. Hicks,' &c. [1685], 4to. His letters and last speech (abridged) are in the ‘Western Martyrology,' of which the fifth edition is dated 1705, 8vo.


Western Martyrology, 1705, pp. 190 sq.; Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 248; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 336 sq.; Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, 1802, i. 368 sq. (portrait, from a contemporary drawing); extracts from Portsmouth records, per Mr. W. Tarring.

Contributor: A. G.


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