Edward Bickersteth (priest)

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Edward Bickersteth
Portrait of E. Bickersteth (4673989).jpg
Portrait of Edward Bickersteth
Born19 March 1786 (1786-03-19)
Died28 February 1850 (1850-03-01)
Occupationevangelical clergyman

Edward Bickersteth (1786–1850) was an English evangelical clergyman.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.



Watton-at-Stone church where Bickersteth worked with Thomas Birks Watton-at-Stone church and graveyard.jpg
Watton-at-Stone church where Bickersteth worked with Thomas Birks

He was born at Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland, fourth son of Henry Bickersteth a surgeon. Bickersteth attended Kirby Longsdale Grammar School and practised as a solicitor at Norwich from 1812 to 1815.

Kirkby Lonsdale a town in Cumbria, England

Kirkby Lonsdale is a small town and civil parish in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, England, on the River Lune. Historically in Westmorland, it is situated 13 miles (21 km) south east of Kendal along the A65. The parish had a population of 1,771, recorded in the 2001 census, increasing to 1,843 at the 2011 Census.

Westmorland historic county in England

Westmorland is a historic county in north west England. It formed an administrative county between 1889 and 1974, after which the whole county was administered by the new administrative county of Cumbria. In 2013, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, formally recognised and acknowledged the continued existence of England's 39 historic counties, including Westmorland.

A solicitor is a legal practitioner who traditionally deals with most of the legal matters in some jurisdictions. A person must have legally-defined qualifications, which vary from one jurisdiction to another, to be described as a solicitor and enabled to practise there as such. For example, in England and Wales a solicitor is admitted to practise under the provisions of the Solicitors Act 1974. With some exceptions, practising solicitors must possess a practising certificate. There are many more solicitors than barristers in England; they undertake the general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings.

Within space of only 11 days in December 1815 he was ordained both as a deacon and priest. [1] In January 1816 travelled to Africa to inspect and report on the work of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). He continued to travel overseas in connection with the work of the CMS throughout his life. He was the secretary of the CMS from 1824 to 1831. [2]

On receiving the living of Watton, Hertfordshire, in 1830, he resigned his secretaryship, but continued to lecture and preach, both for the Church Missionary Society and the Society for the Conversion of the Jews. He was instrumental in the merger of the Anglican Central Committee and the Continental society in 1840 to form the Foreign Aid Society which supported evangelical Protestant ministry on the continent of Europe. [3]

Watton-at-Stone farm village in the United Kingdom

Watton-at-Stone is a village in the English county of Hertfordshire, situated midway between the towns of Stevenage and Hertford in the valley of the River Beane. The 2011 census showed a population of 2,272 living in 946 households. Watton-at-Stone is also a civil parish in East Hertfordshire District Council.

Hertfordshire County of England

Hertfordshire is one of the home counties in England. It is bordered by Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire to the north, Essex to the east, Greater London to the south, and Buckinghamshire to the west. For government statistical purposes, it is placed in the East of England region.

The Foreign Aid Society for the Diffusion of the Gospel on the Continent was formed in 1840 by the amalgamation of the Anglican Central Committee and the Continental society. The key figure instrumental in bringing about the merger was Edward Bickersteth, a member of both former organisations.

Bickersteth met Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury in 1835. The Earl made a visit of several days to Watton Rectory in the summer 1836. Following this visit the pair became the best of friends with Bickersteth becoming one of the great reformers closest advisers. [4]

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury British politician

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, styled Lord Ashley from 1811 to 1851 and then Lord Shaftesbury following the death of his father, was a British politician, philanthropist and social reformer. He was the eldest son of Cropley Ashley-Cooper, 6th Earl of Shaftesbury and his wife Lady Anne Spencer, daughter of George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough, and older brother of Henry Ashley.

He was active in promoting the Evangelical Alliance of 1845, [5] strongly opposed the Tractarian Movement, and was one of the founders of the 1849 created Irish Church Missions, and also of the 1841 created Parker Society, societies. [3]

The Evangelical Alliance (EA) seeks to represent evangelical Christians in the UK. Formed in 1846, the Alliance aims to bring Christians together and help them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society.

The Irish Church Missions (ICM) is a conservative and semi-autonomous Anglican mission. It was founded in 1849 as The Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics chiefly by English Anglicans though with the backing and support of Church of Ireland clergy and bishops, with the aim of converting the Roman Catholics of Ireland to Protestantism. The reference to Roman Catholics in the title was removed in 2002.

The Parker Society was a text publication society set up in 1841 to produce editions of the works of the early Protestant writers of the English Reformation. It was supported by both the High Church and evangelical wings of the Church of England, and was established in reaction against the Tractarian movement of the 1830s. Its Council was dominated by evangelicals, but not to the exclusion of other views.


His works include A Scripture Help (London, 1816), which has been translated into many European languages, and Christian Psalmody (London, 1833), a collection of over 700 hymns, which forms the basis of the Hymnal Companion (London, 1870), compiled by his son, Edward Henry Bickersteth, bishop of Exeter (1885–1890). [3]


Bickersteth was brother of Henry, Baron Langdale, Master of the Rolls (1836–1851), and uncle of Robert Bickersteth, Bishop of Ripon (1857–1884).

His wife Sarah, who Bickersteth married in 1812, was the eldest daughter of Thomas Bignold of Norwich, together they had six children. Edward Henry Bickersteth (1825-1906) Bishop of Exeter was his only son and Edward Bickersteth, founder of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and later bishop of South Tokyo, his grandson. [3]

Edward Bickersteth (Dean of Lichfield), was his nephew,

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  1. Wolffe, John (2004). "Bickersteth, Edward (1786–1850)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2345.(subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. The Centenaru Volume of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East 1799-1899 (PDF). London : Church Missionary Society, digital publication: Cornell University. 1902. p. 3.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Chisholm 1911.
  4. Shaftesbury, a biography of the Seventh Earl 1801-1885, p100, Georgina Battiscombe, 1974, ISBN   0094686505.
  5. Walker, Kim (2017). Building a generous foundation (PDF). Idea Magazine. p. 15. Retrieved 2017-10-31.

Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bickersteth, Edward"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.