FARNHAM
A North Yorkshire
Village

St Oswald’s Farnham




The Bickerdyke family feature in Farnham's history from before 1530 to 1799 - the family seat was at Low Hall, which they occupied from 1530 to about 1677.
They were deeply religious people and adherents to the Catholic faith and thus fell foul of Henry VIII's breach with Rome and the act of Supremacy which declared that the King of England was the supreme head of the Church of England - not the pope. To deny Henry's supremacy was treason.
Robert Bickerdyke was executed at York in 1586 for 'being reconciled to the Church of Rome and refusing to go to church'. He is recognised as one of the York martyrs. He was beatified by John Paul VI in 1987.


Robert Bickerdyke - Martyr

There is an interesting reference found in the Court Rolls concerning the will of another member of the family which reads as follows:
'I Edward Bickerdyke of Farnham, yeoman, to be buried in my parish churchyard of Farnham, before the church porch there - my wife shall find a priest, after my death to sing and read and pray in Farnham church daily and yearly for my soul - my wife shall find the lamp in Farnham church'. That will was dated 1530.

The family left Low Hall in about 1677 - but the name continued in Farnham village until 1799 - it is not clear whether they moved to the village from Low Hall or if those in the village were another branch of the Bickerdykes.
The last of the Bickerdykes living in Farnham was Elizabeth Bickerdyke, born in 1767. She married a Colonel Harvey in 1787 - they lived in various parts of the country in the early part of their marriage (perhaps because of army requirements) and took up residence in Farnham Hall in about 1793. They had four children. Sadly Mrs. Elizabeth Harvey died in 1799 aged 32 - there is a moving memorial to her in St. Oswald's church.


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The term 'recusant' was used for 'one who declined to attend his parish church' and we find other members of his family listed as recusants - in 1604 the list included Anne, Elizabeth and Jane Bickerdyke. The ultimate charge of treason was not always applied but they were persecuted in other ways - loss of property, fines etc.