I’ve taken delivery of a copy of the will of Thomas Lucke, a priest in the parish of Litlington, Sussex, who died in March 1552. I learned about Thomas’ existence when transcribing a document relating to a case in Chancery involving my 12 x great grandparents Magnus and Alice Fowle. Alice’s maiden name was Lucke and the document led me to conclude that she was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield. Richard had a brother named Thomas, a ‘clarke’, who ‘by his last will in writing made & declaryd at Lythyngton [i.e. Litlington]…the xxivth date of October in the yere of our Lorde god a thousand one hundred fifty & one dyd … bequeathe to the sayd Alyce … certen severall sumes of monye to the sume of tenne pounds together’. In other words, Thomas Lucke was Alice Fowle’s paternal uncle, and the Chancery case seemed to involve a dispute about his will and what had become of Alice’s legacy.

St Michael's church, Litlington, Sussex

St Michael’s church, Litlington, Sussex

Some extracts from Thomas Lucke’s will were included in a collection of Sussex wills published by the Sussex Record Society in 1938. I was interested to see that the editor shared my belief that Thomas had probably been a priest at Michelham Priory, about seven miles from Litlington, until its suppression in 1537. The Record Society publication makes reference to a volume of the Sussex Archaeological Collections which notes that, at the time of the Visitation of 1521, Thomas Luche or Luck was the precentor of the priory, being one of five priests and four novices who made up the community at that time. Interestingly, Michelham was an Augustinian priory, thus providing a connection between the Lucke and Fowle families, since Magnus Fowle’s relative (possibly his uncle) Bartholomew Fowle was the last prior of St Mary Overy in Southwark, having previously been a canon of Leeds Priory in Kent. As I’ve noted before, it seems likely that the Fowles were linked by marriage with the Pattenden family of Lamberhurst, who included among their number Thomas Pattenden, prior of Combwell in the early years of the sixteenth century. All of these were Augustinian foundations. 

Whatever his previous experience, we know that Thomas Lucke was curate at Litlington on 14th December 1551, two months after he made his will and a little over two months before that will was proved. This is the only record of Thomas to be found in the database of clergy appointments. How long he had been at Litlington and what he was doing beforehand is unclear, particularly in the fourteen years since Michelham Priory was shut down and enjoyed the dubious distinction of being the first religious house in the country to be awarded to Thomas Cromwell, the agent of its destruction.

Gatehouse, Michelham Priory (via sussexpast.co.uk)

Gatehouse, Michelham Priory (via sussexpast.co.uk)

Thomas Lucke’s will includes some useful information about his associates and connections, though perhaps less about his family relationships than I had hoped. I’m sharing my transcription of the will below, and I’ll discuss what I think it can tell us in another post. I’m fairly confident that I’ve managed to decipher most of the words accurately, though I’m less sure about the Roman numerals, which are perhaps less important. I’ve emboldened proper names thus for ease of reference.

In dei no[m]i[n]e Amen In the xxiivth day of Octobre the yere of o[u]r Lorde god. xvlo.xvo.li. I Thomas Lucke hole of mynde & off good memorye make this my last wyll & Testament in forme & man[ne]r as ffoloweth. Ffyrst I comytt my soule into the hands of almyghtie god, w[i]th the intercessyon of the blessed virgyn marye mother of god and all the holy companye of heaven, My bodye to be buryed where yt shall please god to departe my soule from this p[re]sent lyffe Item I wyll twenty nobylls of the monye in the hands of Roger deane, & John ffaweken[e]r to be equally devyded betwene theme, as parte of the xth in there hands. And the rest off the xth, that ys, x nobylls to be dystrybuted to the povrtie, after the dyscretyon of my executor: In Lytlyngton, & Mayghffelde & ther aboutt, after the dyscrecon of my executor to the most nedye. Item I wyll of the xth of myne in the hands of Richard Turke, I wyll of the same xth, to hym x nobylls. And to Alyce Lucke other x nobylls. & to the povertie, after the dyscretyon of my executor at my buryall or monethes mynde, at Lytlington, Item I wyll to woddye of hartysfelde that maryed my brothers daughter, which hayth xith in his hands, whereof I gyve to the sayde woddye x nobylls, And to the sayd Alice Lucke other x nobylls, and to the povertie other x nobylls after the dyscretyon of my executor at Lytlyngton and there about, and the xxv remaynynge of the xith, I will to Thomas Lucke of maydston. Item I fforgyve brooke of Retherfelde the xxv which he oweth me Item I wyll of that monye that ys in Gregorye Martynes hands of Mayghfelde xlv to the povertie there to be dystrybuted by my executor. And the Resydue of the monye in his hands, I wyll halfe to Alice Lucke: the other halffe I wyll equally betwene Thomasyn Lucke and Elizabeth Lucke, by the hands of my executor to theme to be delyvred. Item I wyll to Jone hyberden xxd of the monye which I have here about me, that is, ii peces of golde which ys xxs, also angelate, a cruseado wherreof one of the xv I wyll to Robert holden my hoste, & my best shorte gowne my worsted deybyde (?). If (?) I wyll the crusado my Longe fyne gowne, & my sylver spone I wyll to agnes holden my hostes & all my beddynge wth the ptyanance (?). The Resydue of my goods not bequeathed nor here rehersed I wyll to Robert Holden my sole sp(??) I make Mr Willm hiberden my ov[e]rsear of this my Last wyll, to whome I wyll for his Labour my angelate nobyll & one of my gallones (?). Theyse beinge wytnesse Mr Willm hyberden, Ric. Cresweller clerke, Ric. brook the yongr, and Agnes holden with other the day & yere afore wrytten.