Are John Rickman (1771-1840) and Thomas “Clio” Rickman (1761- 1834) related?

The cuttings about “Clio” Rickman, and John Rickman were in a book called” A Hundred Years of Enterprise, Centenary of the Clay Cross Company Ltd” privately printed in 1937.  There was a third piece of paper in the book which is a handwritten partial family tree,  tracing fourteen generations of Rickmans back [well technically eleven generations on the piece of paper, and the last three on the inside flyleaf]. It’s fascinating, and frustrating at the same time because it traces back a direct male line with references to the siblings as “4 others” and so on. But it’s an impressive piece of research for the 1960’s and stretches back to 1512.

The first generation is Richard Rickman in Wardleham, near Selbourne, Hampshire, with a wife called Isabel. They are listed as having at least two sons; John born in 1542, and William, five years later, in “about” 1547. William is the direct ancestor, and the notes against him are as follows “Born about 1547 at Wardleham. Removed to Stanton Prior, near Bath where his children were born, and where he purchased the manor, advowson, and other appurtenances.”

The following is from the opening chapter of the “Life and letters of John Rickman”  by Orlo Williams, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 1912.    “From the genealogical researches made by John Rickman ‘s father, the Rev. Thomas Rickman, it appears that the family of Rickman, Rykeman, or Richman, originated in Somersetshire, for the arms or,[gold background] three piles azure,[blue wedge]  three bars gules,[red stripes] over all a stag trippant  [represented in the act of walking] ; with a crest, a stag’s head couped proper were originally granted to Rickman of Somersetshire. The family seems to have overflowed first into Dorsetshire, where John Ritcheman is known to have been rector of Porton in 1380, and members of the family represented Lyme in Parliament in the reigns of Henry iv. and Henry v. The Rickmans of Hampshire, from whom John Rickman more immediately sprang, had the same arms and a slightly different crest with the motto, ‘ Fortitude in Adversity.’ The earliest mention of the family is in the parish register of Wardleham, where the baptism of John Rickman, son of Richard Rickman and Isabel his wife, is recorded in 1542. A William Rickman who lived at Marchwood in Eling [ Marchwood is a village on the edge of Southampton water just east of the New Forest. Eling is the parish it is in] appears in 1556 among the subscribers to the defence of the country against the Spanish Armada. In 1623 a Richard Rickman was married at Eling to Elizabeth Stubbs, and their son William was baptised in 1627. The son of this William, James Rickman, was father of three sons, William, John, and James, the first of whom was born in 1701 at Milford. John Rickman, the subject of this book, was his grandson.”

Stanton Prior, Somerset.
Church of St Lawrence

It appears probable that John, and Clio are related, but with no disrespect to the Rev. Thomas Rickman there seem to be gaps between Richard Rickman in 1623, and the earlier Richard Rickman in 1542. We definitely claim the earlier Richard and Isabel Rickman as the parents of William Rickman who moved to Stanton Prior, where the family were for two generations of John Rickmans.  John Rickman Junior (1611-1680) moved to Hampshire to a house called “Inams” or “Inhams” in Great Hamwood, three miles from Alton, in the parish of Selbourne. His son, John Rickman III (1656- 1722) , was the first of the family to become a Quaker. He is “Clio” Rickman’s great grandfather.

It seems likely that the Richard Rickman, whose son was christened in 1542, was the elder brother of the William Rickman recorded at Marchwood in 1556. If so this would make John Rickman (1771-1840) and Thomas “Clio” Rickman (1761-1834) seventh cousins, but with radically different politics.

Luke Howard 1772 – 1864 – The Namer of Clouds

If you are driving from Enfield towards Stoke Newington down the A10, a little to the south of White Hart Lane, you find yourself on Bruce Grove. It’s all fairly run-down now, but on the right-hand side there is a small terrace of late Georgian houses which includes No. 7. which  was one half of a pair of symmetrical villas, built in the late 18th or early 19th century and part of a consecutive group (1-16). It became the Tottenham Trades Hall in 1919.  Currently it is derelict. On the front wall facing the street is Tottenham’s only blue plaque. The house also has a great view south, and east, across the Lee river valley, and the City, and East End. It must have been a great place to watch clouds, although Luke Howard was only there for the last twelve years of his life.luke_howard-plaque

This is almost my most favourite English Heritage plaque in London; it is certainly one of the most thought-provoking, and probably one of the coolest, possibly only rivalled by this pair in Brook Street. georg-frideric-handel-plaque jimi-henrix-plaque






It’s a staggering thought that one man classified all the main cloud types in 1803, and more to the point what did people use before – fluffy? straight? round? 

Luke Howard 1772-1864

Luke Howard was born in London on 28 November 1772, the eldest son of Robert Howard and his wife Elizabeth, Robert Howard was a lamp manufacturer. Luke was a Quaker, later converting to the Plymouth Brethren. He was educated at a Quaker school at Burford, in Oxfordshire and was then apprenticed to a retail chemist in Stockport, just outside Manchester. He set up his own pharmacy in Fleet Street in 1793. In approximately 1797, he went into partnership with William Allen to form the pharmaceutical company of Allen and Howard in London. A factory was opened on the marshes at Plaistow, to the east of London. The partnership was dissolved in 1807 and the company became Howards and Sons in 1856. He spent the years 1824 to 1852 in Ackworth, Yorkshire, and died in Tottenham in 1864.

He made a number of significant contributions to the subject of meteorology besides his cloud classification, and published “The Climate of London” (first edition 1818, second edition 1830), “Seven lectures on meteorology” (1837), “A cycle of eighteen years in the seasons of Britain” (1842) and “Barometrographia” (1847). But the most important was “On the modification of clouds”  in December 1802.

The success of Howard’s system was his application of Linnean principles of natural history classification [i.e. using Latin, and that species were grouped into genera (singular: genus), genera were grouped into orders (higher level groupings), and orders into classes. Classes in turn were parts of “kingdoms”, of which he, along with his contemporaries and predecessors, recognised three: mineral, plant, and animal. Species bore a double (or “binomial” name) — the first term of which gave their genus, and the second their species.] and his emphasis on the mutability of clouds. 

But he named clouds, and I’d be really, really proud if I’d done that.

“On the modification of clouds” 1802  introduced three basic cloud types:

  • Cirrus (Latin for a curl of hair), which he described as “parallel, flexuous, or diverging fibres, extensible in any or all directions”.
  • Cumulus (meaning heap), which he described as “convex or conical heaps, increasing upward from a horizontal base”.
  • Stratus (meaning something spread), which he described as “a widely extended, continuous, horizontal sheet, increasing from below”. 

He combined these names to form four more cloud types:

  • Cirro-cumulus, which he described as “small, well-defined roundish masses, in close horizontal arrangement”.
  • Cirro-stratus, which he described as “horizontal or slightly inclined masses, attenuated towards a part or the whole of their circumference, bent downward, or undulated, separate, or in groups consisting of small clouds having these characters”.
  • Cumulostratus, which he described as “the cirrostratus blended with the cumulus, and either appearing intermixed with the heaps of the latter, or super-adding a widespread structure to its base”.
  • Cumulo-cirro-stratus or Nimbus, which he called the rain cloud, “a cloud or system of clouds from which rain is falling”. He described it as “a horizontal sheet, above which the cirrus spreads, while the cumulus enters it laterally and from beneath”.

Luke Howard is almost family as well; his son-in-law, John Hodgkin junior (1800-1875) is a first cousin, five times removed.