Charles Hickman, a native of Northamptonshire, was born in 1648. A King's Scholar of Westminster School in 1665, he proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford in 1667 and graduated B.A. 1671, M.A. 1674, B.D. 1684, D.D. 1685. Hickman, before his advancement to Derry held the following appointments:
Rector of St. Ebbs, Oxford; Chaplain to the Duke of Southampton; Chaplain to Lord Chandois (Ambassador to Constantinople), 1680; Domestic Chaplain to the Earl of Rochester (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1703-04), 1684; Chaplain in ordinary to William III, 1690; Lecturer at St. James', Westminster 1692; Rector of Hogs-Norton, Leicestershire; Chaplain to Queen Anne; Rector of Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, 1698-1703. It was therefore by Rochester's patronage as Lord Lieutenant that Hickman was promoted to the See of Derry in June 1703.
Hickman appears to have resided chiefly in England and consequently left himself open to justified criticism from his predecessor, William King, who was now Archbishop of Dublin. King, a staunch defender of the "Irish Interest", was a consistent opponent of giving Irish benefices to Englishmen, especially absentee ones:
We have, by great application, augmented our bishopriks; and now they are become valuable, we are told we must not expect any of them. We have likewise, by several contrivances, made some benefices valuable; and these, being mostly either in the lord lieutenant or bishops, or in patrons who live in England, we are like to have the least share in them: As to those clergymen being sent from England, I believe it will not be pleaded that they are the brightest, generally speaking: though I confess, to my observation, they seem notably dexterous and industrious to make money for their wives and children. Thus the See of Derry was served by Dr. Hickman, my successor, who entirely rooted up and destroyed a large flourishing wood, which I with care and cost had planted whilst at Londonderry.
Hickman married Anne Burgoyne in April 1703, by whom he had one daughter. He died in London on the 28th November 1713 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.