Hezejiah Hicking was born in Ironville, Derbyshire in 1861, the fourth and youngest son of John Hicking, a farm labourer and his wife, Elizabeth. The couple also had a daughter who was born in 1851 but she died when she was three. Hezekiah Hicking was much younger than his older brothers. The 1871 Census showed that the family lived in Brinsley, Nottinghamshire. Hezekiah was a clever child and became a Pupil Teacher at Riddings School before continuing with teacher training in London. In 1881 he was a boarder (aged 19) along with several others at 22, Dame Street, Islington, London. During his early career he worked for five years at St. Mary’s National School in Islington and then taught for a further four years at Hammond Square Board School. On August 1st 1888 he married MaryAnn Robinson (b. Cheshunt, Herts), a School Mistress, in Edmonton. She was eleven years his senior.
After their marriage the couple came to live in Derbyshire as Mr. Hicking was appointed Certificated Master of Somercotes National Boys School. In that year, the number of boys in the school totalled 160. Girls were taught separately, although on the same site and the Certificated Mistress was Miss Mary Jane Heath. Because of the rapid development of the Coal and Iron industries in the locality Somercotes had a rapidly-growing population. In 1894 a new school building was erected on Victoria Street and the girls transferred there. Hezekiah Hicking remained as the Certificated Master of the Boys School which grew and took over all the site which had previously been shared.
Hezekiah Hicking Headmaster at Somercotes Boys School next to the Window
Like most School Masters in Victorian times, Hezekiah Hicking was extremely strict and he was feared by the boys who referred to him as “Gaffer Hicking”. Punishments at the time could be severe. In November 1899 “The Derbyshire Times” and other local newspapers reported that Mr. Hicking was summoned to Alfreton Magistrates’ Court, charged with unlawfully assaulting one of his pupils, William Ward, aged 11. The outcome of the case was as follows:
“The Chairman of the Bench had decided to dismiss the case, but they intended to assist teachers in maintaining order and discipline, but requested that they (teachers) would confine punishment to the cane alone, and not strike on the face or elsewhere with the hands”.
The 1901 and the 1911 Census data proved that Mr. Hicking continued to work at the school, living with his wife in the School House on Nottingham Road. In 1901 Elizabeth Milnes lived with the couple, probably as a domestic servant and 1911 Rose Hicking, (niece) was employed as a domestic servant. The couple had no children of their own.
Mary Ann Hicking died in 1920 aged 71 and was interred in Somercotes St. Thomas Church Cemetery. Four years later Hezekiah Hicking married for the second time in April 1924. His wedding was reported in “The Derbyshire Times” and “The Chesterfield Herald” as follows;
“A wedding was solemnised in the Somercotes Parish Church on Saturday when Mr. Hezekiah Hicking of Somercotes was married to Miss Sarah Ellen Smith, daughter of the late Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Smith of the Post Office, Somercotes. The ceremony was of a quiet nature. Mr. Hicking has been headmaster of Somercotes School for nearly forty years and Miss Smith has for many years been the popular village postmistress. The bride wore a gown of mole silk moire with hat to match. The Reverend R.E.Birtwistle, Vicar of Somercotes, was the officiating clergyman. Mr. and Mrs Ralph Smith were present at the ceremony. Later in the day Mr. and Mrs. Hicking left for Eatbourne”
`In 1925 Hezekiah Hicking retired from his position of headmaster of Somercotes Boys School, a post he had held since 1888. When he retired the number of boys totalled 400. Shipping Records for the P and O line show that Mr. and Mrs. Hicking travelled to India. The Incoming Passenger List for June 7th 1928 showed that Hezekiah Hicking (67) and Sarah Ellen Hicking (54) arrived in London from Bombay on the Kaiser 1 Hind. The couple lived in Somercotes on Sleetmoor Lane until Hezekiah became ill and died in Derbyshire Royal Infirmary on October 5th 1937. His death was reported in detail in “The Derbyshire Times” on October 8th 1937. He was interred with his first wife, Mary Ann. Probate Records show that he left effects totalling £3,528, 16s and 2d to his widow. Sarah Hicking died in 1951 aged 79.
Judith Fitzhugh February 2018