Kenneth Julian Faithful Bickersteth was born at Ripon on the 5th July 1885, the third son of the late Dr Samuel Bickersteth. Educated at Rugby, Christchurch, Oxford and Wells Theological College, Julian was ordained in 1909. He came to Canterbury as Archdeacon of Maidstone in 1943, having had a long career in education, both in England and Australia. He died on 16th October 1962, having spent his life "doing good just by being what he was....", as was said by one well qualified to judge.
Julian Bickersteth's interest in education and the young never waned and it was from these very real promptings that his idea for The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies arose as a means of investigating the history and structure of family life, which he rightly looked upon as forming the foundation of Christian civilisation. He left the realisation of his aims to Cecil Humphery-Smith, his godson, whom he had invited to form a school for family history studies in 1957. An exhibition of artifacts of family life was brought to Canterbury in 1960 and Julian lived to see the foundation of the Institute in Northgate in February 1961, enjoying its rapid progress in teaching and research over the following eighteen months. He waved from his car congratulations upon the first issue of the journal FAMILY HISTORY during the month before he died.
In 1964, the Institute was registered as an independent charitable Trust and Cecil Humphery-Smith provided funds so that the Trustees could make an appropriate annual award in memory of the man who was the inspiration and sponsor of the Institute, Julian Bickersteth, The award is made to persons who have made notable and exemplary contributions to family history studies in the judgement of and at the discretion of the Trustees.
The Medal, designed by the donor in the form of a medieval armorial seal, has the arms of Bickersteth flanked by the Institute's heraldic badge on the face and an heroic garland of oak leaves surrounding the recipient's name on the reverse. It is made of hallmarked gilded silver from the original dye. The Trustees have awarded the Julian Bickersteth Memorial Medal to the following individuals, and in 2001 to Brian Randell, Philip Stringer and GENUKI.