by Thomas Howard Wickenden II

It appears that the Wickenden family may be unusual in having left such a lengthy line of ancestors in parish records, wills, court rolls and other documents, as well as in homesteads (including the den), and place names to follow like a trail of crumbs back into the mists of history.  The history section of the Wickenden Families website has attempted to follow this trail, but some of the steps in the path are speculative, others are admittedly weak, and in some centuries even indirect evidence is currently lacking.  Still, this website traces a possible pathway through history and back into prehistory.  That long pathway is surely something to celebrate, and we invite others to contribute to it by helping to fill in the gaps.

Family History -The sheer length of this family history is  interesting by itself, but it also includes facts that few of us might ever have imagined.  Who knew that the Wickendens were originally a clan, part of a tribe, just like the modern-day America Indians/Native Americans and other indigenous peoples across the world?  Who knew that our family had survived through so many centuries, along with the family name, in abbreviated forms such as Wick, Wicken and in Latin, Hwicce, or in its extended form of Wickenden (or in other extended forms derived from Wick or Wicken)?  Who knew that these names inspired place names across England and, before that, across the Channel on the Continent?  Who knew that we established the den from which we took our name and that our cousins were recognized in the name of one of the original Anglo-Saxon kingdoms?  Who knows how many other places across the world today have names derived from the Wickendens?

Knights Service - Another form of recognition of the possible significance of the family is the existence of several Coats of Arms, one with a crest, assigned to Wickenden.  A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and/or to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth. The coat of arms on an escutcheon [a heraldic shield] forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which consists of shield, supporters, crest and motto. The design is a symbol unique to an individual person, and to his family, corporation, or state. Such displays are commonly called armorial bearings, armorial devices, heraldic devices, or simply armorials or arms (according to the website: http://www.coatofarms.com/burkesgeneralarmory.html).  A crest is the device the device/object attached to the top of the helm (helmet), and it can be used as a simplified symbol when the full coat-of-arms is too detailed e.g. on engraved cutlery.  One design for the Wickenden Arms includes a crest consisting of a hand, dexter, holding a cross crosslet fitchee.  The other design does not include a crest. 

In England the College of Arms has been the general authority regarding the granting of arms.  In 1553 Edward VI created a new king of arms under the title of Ulster, to control bearings throughout Ireland. The office of Ulster King of Arms was later united with that of Norroy King of Arms in the College of Arms in London and is now part of the College of Arms. The Irish Herald undertakes the duties formerly performed by Ulster in the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland; Norroy and Ulster has jurisdiction over the six counties of Northern Ireland (Ulster) in addition to the English counties north of the River Trent. The recording of Wickenden Arms was apparently undertaken in the Ulster Office, which appears to indicate that the Arms were registered somewhere in northern England, such as in Norfolk County, where related Arms [as described below] were registered.,   

There are two Coats of Arms listed for Wickenden in the Burke's official General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.  Burke’s Peerage was established in London in 1826 by John Burke and has become the definitive guide to genealogy and heraldry.   Following "the study of brevity and the avoidance of tautology," as noted in the introduction, the registry for these two Arms is listed as Ulster's Office in the previous entry for Wickham.  Thus, both Wickenden arms appear to be registered by the Office of Ulster, King of Arms which, according to the Armory, "has sole power to grant or confirm Arms in [the] ... kingdom." https://www.burkespeerage.com/record_to_view.php?book=Burke%27s%20General%20Armory&ref=GeneralArmory&page=1&totalPages=1275.

testFirst of two Wickenden    Costs of Arms These Wickenden Arms are not those of Kings, Princes, Nobles, Knights, or Barons. The helmet depicted in profile, of steel with the visor closed, in both Arms is typically utilized to indicate an Esquire, either a youth (squire) who in the hopes of becoming a knight attended upon a knight or simply a male member of the landed gentry. In the British Isles there are no non-noble arms. All arms are on the same basis; all are signs of gentility—“the ensigns of nobility.” Arms then have long had a high social significance in England; those who bear them lawfully have social prestige.  

The symbols on the shield of the Wickenden Arms - interlaced chevronlets and the cross crosslet fitchee held in a dexter hand on one and the rampant lion with crown and a bandlet on the other - have, in general, a common meaning, but their precise significance for the Wickendens is a subject of conjecture.  We know that Wickenden was mentioned as a tenement of the Manor of Cowden Lewesham in certain grants, which includes the responsibility of providing what was called Knights Service.  According to Ewing, "The original grant of the Manor of Lewisham was by Elstrudis, the daughter of Alfred the great and wife of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, to St. Peter's, Ghent, [Belgium] in 918."  The author says that "the grant was confirmed in 946 by 'Eadgar, King of the English' [although the reign of Edgar the Peaceable is given as beginning 13 years later in 959] at the prayer of his devoted servant and friend, Archbishop Dunstan, and in 1016 by Edward the Confessor. ... William the Conqueror granted a fresh Charter 'for the redemption of his Soul' and also perhaps because his Queen Matilda was descended from Elstrudis, and added ... five tenements  ... for the panage of swine in the forest" (p. 20).  Thus Wickenden, spelled "Wigenden," was one of the five tenements added by William the Conqueror, who reigned as William I between 1066 and 1087.  Ewing concludes that the Manor of Cowden in Lewisham "was almost certainly created by the addition of certain denes [including Wickenden] to the Manor of Lewesham by William the Conqueror."

In addition, there are specific references in Wickenden history to individual Wickendens who provided knight's service to the Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity, which was a monastery founded at Michelham [in East Sussex, England] in 1229.  Ewing notes (page 50), quoting Hasted,  that "Queen Mary (in the 3rd and 4th year of King Philip and Queen Mary) [abt. 1556] granted to Richard Sackville and Thomas Winton the Manor of Cowden and certain lands called Warefield and Waremead which lay together along the Southern part of Kentwater, "late in the tenure of William Wickenden, whose ancestor, Thomas Wickenden, had given them to the Priory to hold in capite by Knights Service."  Another author, the Rev. George Cooper, is quoted by Ewing as referring to the owner of Warefield as "Thos. de Wickenden," indicating the French influence on the language after the Norman Invasion of 1066.   Knight-service was a form of feudal land tenure under which a knight held a fief or estate of land termed a knight's fee (fee being synonymous with fief) from an overlord conditional on him as tenant performing military service for his overlord (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight-service ).  Under the system of feudal land tenure, the Priory was an immediate tenant, being tenant in capite, while as the lowest tenant Thomas Wickenden was the freeholder, or, as he was sometimes termed, tenant paravail. The Crown, who in theory owned all lands, was lord paramount.[1]  So it is possible that between 1229, when the Priory was founded, and 1556, when Thomas Lord Cromwell began dissolution of the monasteries under the reformation, and certainly before 1558, when Henry VIII granted Letters Patent to Cromwell enabling him to hold possession of the Priory by tenure of military service,  some tenant of Wickenden - or indeed the said Thomas de Wickenden who, as tenant of Wickenden, also gave Warefield and Waremead to the Priory, performed knights service for the Priory, in recognition of which he may have been awarded Arms - with a cross, perhaps to signify service to this religious institution. The symbol of a chevron represents the roof of a house, derived from the French word "chevron" meaning rafter. It signifies protection. The chevron was granted to those who had participated in some notable enterprise, had built churches or fortresses, or had accomplished some work requiring faithful service, so perhaps the interlaced chevronlets were awarded in recognition of some service or series of contributions toward construction or expansion of the Priory, whose buildings were numerous  [https://www.houseofnames.com/blogs/ordinaries].

After Cromwell was executed,"his estates were granted by the King to William Fitz-alan, Earl of Arundel, who in 1541, by an indenture dated February 4th, sold some of his estates in Sussex to the King, who on his part, granted various properties 'of the late monastery or priory of Michelham 'with other lands' in capite, per servicium militare, Arundel paying 4s. annually for Cowdean" (p. 49). The Duke of Norfolk is the premier duke in the peerage of England, and also, as Earl of Arundel, the premier earl. The Duke of Norfolk is, moreover, the Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England. The seat of the Duke of Norfolk is Arundel Castle in Sussex, although the title refers to the county of Norfolk. It may be of significance that the Arms of the Duke of Norfolk feature, in two quadrants, both six Cross-crosslets fitchy Argent and  a Lion rampant Or [gold], just like those of the two Wickenden Arms.  It should also be noted that  Hasted is quoted as writing that Sackville and Winton "seem to have joined in the sale of this Estate to William Wickenden, whose grandson, in the reign of Charles I [1625-41], died possessed of it, leaving at his decease two sons, who divided this Estate between them" (p. 50).  So it may be that William Wickenden, who purchased the Manor of Lewisham in Cowden sometime around or after 1541, may have also been granted a coat of arms also featuring a lion rampant, but with the addition of a Bendlet, to signify perhaps that Wickenden had no royal title.  It may also be that both these Arms were registered in Norfolk County, which may have been considered to lie north of the River Trent and therefore were recorded in the Ulster Office of the College of Arms.  Ewing comments that another document, "The Tytle of Lewisham," ...makes it clear that Wickenden and his predecessors, including probably the Priors of Michelham, were copyholders of the Manor of Lewisham, and not Lords of the Manor" (p. 51).  So it may also have been that during their time as copyholders of the Manor, the William Wickenden family were granted Arms in recognition of their service to the royals, since the Manor, together with its appurtenances and parcels, would have owed greater Knight Service than the single tenement of Wickenden, and might have owed it directly to the Queen.    In recognition of this service, William Wickenden may have been awarded Arms with a lion rampant, perhaps to signify his service to the Queen and not unlike the Arms of William Fitz-alan, whom he may have succeeded, perhaps with a bendlet  to signify a subordinate position which was lacking a Royal title.

It would be interesting to determine exactly when, to whom and by whom these Arms were granted.  However, because so little is certain about the Wickenden Arms, they are the subject of one of the Research Forum topics listed in that section, below.  It it clear that there were several important moments for influential individuals in English Wickenden history that might have been the occasion for official recognition of this kind, but more cannot be said about their significance until additional research has been conducted. Moreover, the Wicken were a semi-independent Germanic clan or tribal band, and as settlers in Kent, they might have come to value the traditional role of freemen and land owners in Kent, rather than as feudal serfs or as Lords.  Nevertheless, we can all be proud of being recognized as a family through the granting of two Medieval Coats of Arms, and surely through the centuries descendants of these first English Wickendens may also have been recognized for religious or military service to various institutions, nations and their leaders.  These stories have yet to be told.

Ancestor Math - Tracing the ancestors of Thomas Rogers Wickenden back until we reach the original Wickendens of Cowden is a fascinating genealogical activity, but at some point we must ask what meaning can be derived from picking that one thread out of the grand tapestry of family history.  After all, the Wickendens, fathers and sons, represent such a small number of those individuals who are related through time. Starting with Thomas Rogers and Ida Consaul Wickenden and considering just the five succeeding generations represented in this website, the latest addition to this Wickenden family has a total of 2x2x2x2x2 or 32 direct ancestors, of whom Thomas Rogers and Ida Consaul are only 1/16th.  Focusing on a succession of four Wickenden parents down to one great-great-grandchild, already ignores the spouses of the 4  who married, gave birth to, and raised them and, of course, their own ancestors. Any Wickenden line also ignores all siblings in each generation.  Assuming, for example, that all children in each generation married and that each married couple had an average of three children each, then there would be a total of  3x3x3x3 or 81 blood relatives, of whom the 4 ancestral Wickendens would represent less than 1/20th.   So what are the tools that can be used to trace the successions of Wickendens, what perspectives do they bring, and what are the implications of each perspective?  Six different perspectives come to mind using, by coincidence, a simple rhyming scheme, they are:  Genes, Memes, Seams, Schemes, Themes and Dreams.

Genes and DNA - Physical characteristics influenced by genes may be noticed and recorded as a family trait passed down from one generation to another.  An example might be a white head of hair, which seems to have been characteristic of most of the children of  Thomas Rogers and Ida Consaul Wickenden who developed white hair at an age earlier than is typical of most people.  However, such characteristics are usually somewhat superficial and disappear in a generation or two.

More significant, however, is the recent use of DNA analysis in tracing genealogical  relationships.  The analysis appears to be extremely precise and can used to identify relations across multiple generations.  The service is offered by several family tree makers and is fairly quick and inexpensive.  Some of these services have developed an international database and others offer an analysis of relationships across various services.  The author has had his DNA analyzed by both 23&me and MyHeritage.  Unfortunately, there appear to be few other Wickendens who have participated in these services.  I would encourage others to try a DNA service, in order that family relationships, especially outside of each particular genealogical line and across countries and continents might be identified.  

Memes and Arms - The word meme, in case the reader is not familiar with it,  originated with Richard Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene.   Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmission—in the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. The definition itself has evolved over time and has taken on a particular association with a combination of visual and verbal components when transmitted through the internet.  

For our use here, it is helpful to think of a name like Wickenden, as a meme, perhaps associated at one time with the heraldic images of the coats of arms pictured above or on a seal.  These in turn were often combined with a motto, usually in Latin, although the Wickenden coat of arms, of which there may be several versions, does not appear to include a motto. In Heraldry, a motto originated from the context of battle as a "cri de guerre" or a "watchword of the camp."  It  does not have to be unique and can be shared between multiple individuals or families.  It may also be changed at will and does not need to bed (but may be) officially recognized.  It can be in any language. (Anyone have any suggestions for a motto?) 

The name Wickenden has been communicated through written documents, but back before written history can be traced through the persistence of place names. For example, there was a homestead (now lost) in the parish of Cowden named Wickenden and there is currently an historic homestead in Cowden named "Wickens," which I would speculate comes from the same root (Hwicce in Latin) as Wickenden.  Similarly, the five or six place names that derive from the Hwicce and are found within what was once the Kingdom of Hwicce may be related to "Wickenden."  There is are several place name in Thanet that may be directly related to the Hwicce. "Wychdene" for example, may have originated from one of the first of several dens.  There are similar names scattered across the county of Kent, and there are a dozen or so back in Austria (Wickenburg and Wickendorf) that may also be related to the tribe of Hwicce.  It might be useful to systematically trace the Wickenden name and the movement and settlement of family members not only in writing but through the proliferation of such place names, both historical and current.    

Seams like a Website - Genealogical relationships form a vast web reaching back into the mists of history and forward (hopefully) into the future.  How is one to make sense of such a vast network?  One approach is to focus on those events that stitch the fabric of humanity together into families.  These events might include weddings, births, deaths (as occasions for family reunions), reunions themselves, etc.  Experiences that are common to members of a family, such as attending the same educational institutions, religious institutions, and participation in the same organizations and even living in the same location or country might also be viewed as seams that tie a family group together.

Any collective activity, such as developing a family history website, would be an example of an activity that could pull members of a family group together, and it is hoped that development of the Wickenden Family History website might be useful in that regard.  On the other hand, the movement of family groups appears to be largely through dispersion.  The dispersion of the Wickenden family from Cowden, Kent, England, throughout the country and then to the United States and various other countries, is an example.  Dispersion has also meant a transition from the social relations within a clan, and a tribe to those within various communities, and then within a nation.  An example would be the movement of the Hwicce from a clan (a group of closely related families) that is part of the tribe of Angles to tenants of a manor, members of a kingdom, a parish, or another community such as a town, state or nation.  One wonders how relationships changed as the social context for a family such as the Hwicce changed over time and across space.  One especially salient issue today is the ability of our societal organizations to cope with truly global, existential threats such as nuclear proliferation and global warming.  Is there any information that an extended family group, such as what might be called the "World Wide Wickendens," can provide that would be helpful in understanding global issues, particularly in an era characterized by the increase of xenophobic nationalism, on the one hand, and international capitalism, on the other.

Schemes and Family Trees - One use of the term "scheme" that is helpful for family history is as a graphic depiction of a system of relationships.  Thus, a family tree is a type of scheme that is typically used to represent genealogical relationships.  There are a number of family tree making software systems available today that can be used for this purpose.  One such system is WikiTree, which is both free and collaborative.  The organizational vision behind WikiTree is of one tree, developed collaboratively by all those who constitute branches. It would be helpful if all members of a family group such as the Wickendens would participate in developing a piece of such a tree, so that we might trace the full extent of the Wickenden family.  We could link the tree to our website as a useful resource for finding our way through the vast web of relationships outside any one extended family.

To depict relationships within several generations of a family, some form of graphic representation such as a table or a listing with indentations derived from the WikiTree might be used.  It is helpful to include such a representation at the top of each family page to orient the viewer to the generational relationships discussed in the rest of that page.

Themes and Stories - Themes might be said to include stories of all kinds.  In our case, these would be narratives about the individual members of a family group and their relationships.  The stories might describe or convey ideas, activities, preferences, etc. that were exemplified by members of a family.  By being told, perhaps within the context of a memoir, these stories may help to transmit the principles, ideals or values of that family from generation to generation.  For example, the men of Kent were unique in being mostly freemen, neither serfs or lords of the manor.  Also, one of our ancestors, William Wickenden, was a co-founder of the first American colony to be founded strictly for "civil purposes only," i.e., a state separate from religion.  Another ancestor of Ida Consaul was a Spanish Huguenot, who came to America to escape religious persecution.  The Thomas Rogers Wickenden family of eight boys and girls all finished high school and went on to Denison College, paying for their education by working various jobs.  So personal liberty, religious freedom, and education appear to be values that have been passed down from our ancestors.   At some point in the future, it might be helpful to summarize some of the themes that have characterized our memoirs, in order to see if there are larger patterns that emerge from the set of generational and cross-generational memoirs. 

Another possible use of themes is to identify a set of key questions about the theme of Wickenden family history that invite study.  Here are some examples of thematic questions that are also elaborated on in the section of this website on FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

  1. Where was the original homestead of Wickenden located?
  2. Who were the original Wickendens and were they related to the people living in Wickens near Cowden?
  3. Can we connect living Wickendens back to the original Wickendens of Cowden?
  4. Were the Wicken who took their name from the Wicken den members of a clan of the tribe of Angles?
  5. Were the Wicken who settled in Cowden members of the same clan who established the Kingdom of Hwicce?
  6. Were the Hwicce and the Angles originally located somewhere in the center of Germany?
  7. Did the Wickenburgs of Austria derive their name from a clan of Angles who were known as Hwicce?
  8. Where were the Wicken burgs (mountains)?
  9. Where were the Wicken dorfs (villages)?

Dreams and Imagination - There are so many sources of narrative, both fictional and historical, that can capture the imagination.  However, there is something special, something uniquely stirring in stories conveyed across generations of a single family.  Knowing that a story concerns a person directly related to you, may provide a stronger grip on the imagination, such that one can envision or dream that one is acting as the protagonist.  A set of dreams such as this may, in turn, influence a person's identity, help to convey a sense of self, to anchor one through a knowledge of one's for-bearers.     In writing our memoirs, it is helpful to tell stories that are both entertaining and informative, fun to read as well as useful in providing insight into who the Wickendens were, are, and dream to become.

Our Psychic Heritage - As the author Emma Donahue wrote about "psychic inheritance" in her recent novel Akin,

What is family, anyway, but an elaborate web of story and memory, stretching backward and forward to connect us through time?  Whether we're brought together by blood or circumstance, it's the psychic inheritance that inevitably wins out, equipping us with a sense of who we are and how we might ourselves respond when life invites us to answer the call, to live with skin fully in the game.

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