HISTORY OF THE BICKNELL
(rewritten from 1913 Bicknell Genealogy )
Centuries ago before the Christian era, Teutonic tribes crossed the Rhine invading France. The advance guard occupied Normandy and became known as Northmen or Normans. Later descendants of these Normans, the Pavilly family founded the town of Pavilly twelve miles northwest of Rouen, France and through the wealth and influence of Lord Amalbert de Pavilly a monestery was founded there in 664 A.D.
In 1066 after the conquest of England by the Normans, William the Conqueror awarded many of Englands manorial estates to Normans of high rank who had rendered him valueable service. The new King gave to his half-brother, Robert, Earl of Cornwall, seven hundred ninetysix estates. One of these, located eight miles southeast from the city of Taunton, Somersetshire and five miles northwest from Ilminster, was the ancient Anglo-Saxon manor of Bykenhulle (Angle-Saxon Bych or Bykene = beacon; Hulle or Hyll = hill) named for the hill rising 820 feet above sea level from which high point signal fires and flags relayed news to other watch hills. The oldest recorded holder of this manor of 1500 acres of land and its manorial buildings was Aluric, a Saxon who held it in the time of King Edward (1004-1006).
Robert, Earl of Cornwall, accepted the tenure of a Norman, William de lEstra, whose heirs came into possession of the manor by forfeiture and legally held the land directly from the King until 1260 A.D. when Johanne, daughter of William de lEstra married Robert de Pavilly (English spelling: Paveley) of Normandy, bringing the estate of Bykenhulle to him as her dower. Their son, John, prior to his death in 1281 exchanged his French baronial name Paveley for the name of the manor and became known as John de Bykenhulle, a common custom in those feudal times. Thus it was that Bykenhulle (Bicknell) changed from being a place name to being our family surname and John was thus the first of our amcestors with the Bicknell name. The name underwent several changes of spelling in the next three centuries until it seemed to settle down to BICKNELL in the late 1500s.