Hickman was educated at King Edward"s School, Birmingham.
He became a colliery proprietor and ironmaster, as the family acquired Springvale Furnace in 1866. In 1882 he formed the Staffordshire Steel Ingot & Iron Company Limited to produce steel using the Bessemer process. Hickman stood for parliament for the Conservatives at Wolverhampton in 1880 but was defeated.
He lost the seat in 1886, regained it in 1892 and held it until 1906.
Hickman was created a baronet in 1892. He was President of the British Iron Trades Council and President of Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce.
In 1902 he was given the honorary freedom of the borough of Wolverhampton. In 1906 he became Chairman of the newly formed Tarmac Limited.
The company used large quantities of his waste slag.
The Staffordshire Steel Ingot & Iron Company later became part of Stewarts & Lloyds. On his death in 1910, he bequeathed a park (Hickman Park) to the people of Bilston. Hickman married Lucy Owen Smith in 1850.
23rd United Kingdom Parliament. 25th United Kingdom Parliament. 26th United Kingdom Parliament.
27th United Kingdom Parliament]
He was a director of Lloyd"s Staffordshire Proving House, a Member of Council of Mining Association of Great Britain, and chairman of Staffordshire Railway and Canal Freighter"s Association.
Under the Redistribution of Seats Acting 1885 the Wolverhampton constituency was divided and in the 1885 general election, Hickman was elected Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton West.