Black and white image of Charles Bicknell Maria Bicknell's father 1814 National Portrait Gallery
Charles Bicknell 1814 - etching by Simon Freeman & Matthew Dubourgh - National Portrait Gallery

Charles was a high-ranking solicitor, appointed as Solicitor to the Admiralty, Legal Adviser to the Prince of Wales and in partnership with Anthony Spedding in a legal practice in London. His skill at handling some of the awkward situations the Prince of Wales got himself into earned him great praise from many people. Charles Bicknell came from a family that had worked in the legal profession for at least three generations but in spite of his legal astuteness, his friends always regarded him as dull and boring.

  • Charles’ first wife, Mary Firebrace died. He had then married Rev Dr Rhudde’s daughter, Maria Elizabeth Bicknell (nee Rhudde). Maria gave birth to five children (Maria being the eldest), before she also died in 1816.

When Rev Dr Rhudde imposed the ban on Charles’ daughter Maria meeting or corresponding with John Constable, Charles Bicknell had to implement the ban. He gave into the rectors’ demands in order to protect his children’s inheritances. On one occasion, when he had decided to take a more relaxed approach to implementing the ban, Rev Dr Rhudde found out and sent his son-in-law a very curt letter reminding him of his obligations.

  • After John and Maria were married in 1816, Charles Bicknell got to know John Constable well and became very fond of him, so much so that he agreed to be godfather to their first son whom they named, John Charles Constable.

Charles Bicknell died in 1828 leaving John and Maria £20,000 which John settled on his wife Maria and their children, to remove their dependence on his success as an artist.

To see the picture owned by the National Portrait Gallery please click Charles Bicknell