Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bickerstaff, William

BICKERSTAFF, WILLIAM (1728–1789), antiquary, was born at Leicester 17 July 1728, where he was appointed undermaster of the Lower Free Grammar School 30 Jan. 1749-50. He took orders in December 1770, being successively curate at most of the churches at Leicester, and also at Great Wigston and Ayleston, two villages in the neighbourhood. He died suddenly at his lodgings in Leicester on 26 Jan. 1789. He possessed good classical attainments, and had a wide knowledge of antiquarian and historical subjects, being a frequent contributor to the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' From a correspondence published in that periodical after his death it appears that he was in straitened circumstances throughout the greater part of his career, receiving a salary of only 19l. 16s. for his services at the Leicester grammar school. At fifty-eight years of age he speaks of himself as 'a poor curate, unsupported by private property.' Among his antiquarian researches may be noticed several valuable communications, which Mr. Nichols embodied in his 'History of Leicester.'

[Gent. Mag. 1789, lix. 181, 203-5; Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, 1790, viii. 1371.]

T. F. T. D.