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Mr Thomas Rickman The Elder

Who was Thomas Rickman?

Thomas Rickman the Elder was an English architect and architectural antiquary who was a major figure in the Gothic Revival and active in the 19th century.

Life and Work

Rickman was born on 8 June 1776 at Maidenhead, Berkshire, into a large Quaker family. Rickman was the father of architect Thomas Miller Rickman (born 1827, died 1912). Rickman was married three times: first to his cousin, Lucy Rickman of Lewes; secondly to Christiana Hornor; and thirdly to Elizabeth Miller of Edinburgh, by whom he had a son, the architect Thomas Miller Rickman (1827–1912), and a daughter.

Rickman is particularly remembered for his 'Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of English Architecture' (1817), which established the basic chronological classification and terminology that are still in widespread use for the different styles of English medieval ecclesiastical architecture.

Rickman was self-taught architect. In 1812 he met John Cragg an ironmaster based in Liverpool, and they collaborated on the design of three churches that made extensive use of cast iron. The churches were:

  • St. George's Church, Everton;
  • St. Michael's Church, Aigburth;
  • St Philip's Church (since demolished) in Hardman Street.

In 1821, Henry Hutchinson partnered with Rickman and formed a practice called Rickman and Hutchinson. Rickman remained in this practice until Hutchinson's death in 1831.

Rickman died in Birmingham on 4 January 1841 and was buried in the churchyard of St George's Church; which he designed. His tomb, designed by R. C. Hussey and completed in 1845, still stands, although the church does no longer standing.


  • Aldrich, Megan, ‘Rickman, Thomas (1776-1841)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <[; [accessed 29 April 2008]
  • Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd edition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 812-817.
  • Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 'Thomas Rickman', DSA Architect Biography Report [accessed 29 April 2008]
  • National Archives, National Register of Archives, Person Details, 'Rickman, Thomas (1776-1841), architect and historian, GB/NNAF/P139258' [accessed 29 April 2008]

Associated Places