‘To Almightie god our lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven’: reflections on the will of John Lucke of Mayfield

In the previous post I shared my transcription of the last will and testament of John Lucke of Mayfield, Sussex, who died in 1549. I believe that John was a relative, perhaps an uncle, of my 12 x great grandmother Alice Fowle née Lucke, who was the daughter of Richard Fowle of Mayfield.

St Dunstan's church, Mayfield, Sussex

St Dunstan’s church, Mayfield, Sussex (via geograph)

John Lucke’s will contains some useful information about his immediate family, though perhaps not enough to determine his precise relationship to Alice, or to her father Richard. We discover that John was married to a woman named Joan, and that they had a daughter of the same name, who was married to Thomas Newnem. Another daughter, Isabel, was married to Richard Maynard, while a third, Christian, appears to have been unmarried at the time that the will was made. John Lucke makes his two sons-in-law, Thomas and Richard, the executors of his will.

‘Newnem’ is probably an alternative spelling for Newnham or Newnam, a common name in the Mayfield area at this period. There are a number of Newnhams in Mandy Willard’s family tree, for example, including at least two Thomas Newnhams living in Linfield, twenty or so miles to the west of Mayfield, though their dates are too late for either of them to be John Lucke’s son-in-law.

The Maynards were another long-established local family, apparently supplying one of the Mayfield protestant martyrs, William Maynard, and John Maynard, who was the Puritan vicar of the parish during the Civil War. I’ve yet to find any further evidence of Thomas and Joan Newnham, or Richard and Isabel Maynard, or their children, or of Christian Lucke, in the local records.

As I noted in my last post, one of the witnesses to John Lucke’s will was William Penkhurst, presumably the same man who, with Robert Holden, was the subject of the legal case brought by Alice Fowle and her husband Magnus some years later. Another is ‘Richard Lukk’ who, as I suggested in that post, may well turn out to be Alice Fowle’s father and perhaps the brother of John Lucke. I wonder if John Wenborne, another of the witnesses, is the man of that name from Wadhurst whose son Robert married Mildred, daughter of my 13 x great grandfather Christopher Maunser of Hightown, Wadhurst?

I haven’t yet managed to decipher the surname of another of the witnesses, whose first name was Gregory. However, as I’ve noted before, the name before that is of significant interest. John Mone was a member of another longstanding Mayfield family, the Mones or Moones, who seem to have been related to the Fowles and Luckes in some way. I think I may have found John Mone’s will and plan to discuss it in another post.

John Lucke’s will refers to lands in the manor of ‘Sharniden’, by which I assume he means Sharenden, a manor in the parishes of Mayfield, Wadhurst and Rotherfield.

The opening lines of John Lucke's will

The opening lines of John Lucke’s will

John Lucke died in 1549, two years into the reign of Edward VI, though his will may have been written some years earlier: I can’t quite decipher the Roman numerals of the date given at the beginning of the will (see above) – is it ‘a Thousand five hundred thirty-sixth’? The preamble shows clear signs of a continuing attachment to the Catholic faith: Lucke bequeaths his soul ‘to Almightie god our lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven’ and gives money to the ‘high aultir’ of his parish church ‘for my tithes & oblacions…forgotten or withholden’ , and ‘to the light of the… withsaid church’. Apparently a significant number, perhaps a majority of wills from this period, include similar bequests and are testimony to the continuing popularity of the old religion, despite the unsettling religious changes in the final decade of Henry VIII’s reign.

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