John Hickman and Sons (Sawmills)

*Please note that this business is not the same as John S Hickman and Co Ltd of Sutherland Sawmills Bilston Road, now trading as National Hickman*

Established in 1785, John Hickman & Sons (Sawmills) were described as specialists in home grown timber and their work included felling, hauling, converting and seasoning the timber. It is believed that the business was started by John Hickman of Sedgley and continued by his son Thomas (c. 1783-1859). The 1841 census shows Thomas Hickman of Sedgley as a Woodman and in 1851 a Timber Merchant. Thomas married Sarah and had a son called John (c. 1816-1883) who continued the sawmill business. On his death in 1883 the Timber Merchant and Farmer left the business to four of his sons; Thomas (c. 1842-1894); John (c. 1846-); Joseph (c. 1848-1910); and James Bernard (c. 1856-) who were described as “all of Walsall Street, Wolverhampton Timber Merchants and Farmers”. At the time of his death, John was described as being late of Wolverhampton and Gospel End in the Parish of Sedgley.

His eldest son Henry (c. 1840-1903) received a financial gift rather than a share in the business, which was added to later by an additional gift from the four brothers. James Bernard Hickman was the youngest of the four brothers to take over the business but he retired from the company in 1887, not long after the estate of his father had been settled, and received a pre-agreed payment of £3800 for his share. This left the three remaining brothers running the business until 1893 when Thomas died. At the time of his death, Thomas was living at 2 Waterloo Terrace, Newhampton Road, Wolverhampton and was described as a Timber Dealer. At this point the capital and profits of the business were split equally between John and Joseph.

Joseph, of the Fernery, Bradmore, Wolverhampton died in 1910 and his share of the business was purchased from his executors by his son Denis Joseph (c. 1883-1943), giving him a half share with John, his uncle. John had been described as a Timber Dealer from 1851 and by 1881 as a Timber Merchant and Farmer of 300 Acres. In 1913 John assigned his share of the business by deed to Bernard Hickman and Harold John Hickman (c. 1875-1938), possibly his sons. At this point the share in the company was split equally between Denis J, Bernard and Harold John. The partners later admitted to tax evasion between 1914-1919 and were investigated by the Inspector of Revenues.

In 1930 Bernard died, leaving the cousins Denis J and Harold John to continue the business with an equal share until Harold John died in 1938. Denis ran the business alone until 1939 when his son Gerard FJH Hickman (c. 1912-1989) joined to take a half share. This only lasted until 1943 when his father Denis J died and he continued to run the company.

The company was incorporated on 24 March 1947, company number 431682. Gerard Hickman and his wife became Directors and were shareholders until the late 1980s. Another shareholder was David Hickman, who moved to South Devon and may be responsible for the relocation of the business from Wolverhampton to South Devon. The business is still though to be going today and is run by members of the Hickman family.

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