I’ve written before about the Lucke family, but new information has come to light that has renewed my interest in exploring this particular branch of my maternal family tree. My initial interest in the family was prompted by learning, via Walter Renshaw’s history of the Byne family of Sussex, that my 12 x great grandmother, the wife of my 12 x great grandfather Magnus Fowle of Mayfield, was Alice Lucke.

Renshaw’s book also directed me to a case in Chancery which, he claimed, provided evidence that Alice was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield. However, Renshaw’s claim that Richard Lucke died in 1593 seems to have been somewhat less reliable. Having examined his will, I found no reference to Alice or Magnus – and what’s more, this Richard Lucke lived in Wadhurst, not Mayfield.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via countrylife.co.uk)

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via countrylife.co.uk)

In fact, the Chancery document suggests that Alice’s father Richard had already died – he was said to be ‘late of Mayfield deceased’ – by the time this legal suit was brought, some time between 1558 and 1579, according to the National Archives.

The main focus of the legal case is the disputed will of Richard Lucke’s brother Thomas, a ‘clarke’, i.e. a clergyman, which is dated 1551. At the time of his death, Thomas Lucke was curate at Litlington, and before that almost certainly an Augustinian canon at Michelham Priory until its suppression in 1537.

Besides Alice, the legal document also refers to her sister Elizabeth, another of the daughters of Richard Lucke. And in addition the will of Alice’s uncle Thomas Lucke mentions Thomasin, who I assume to have been another of Richard’s daughters.

My fellow researcher Bill Green has discovered a reference to the Lucke family which suggests that their connection to the Fowle family may have predated the marriage of Magnus and Alice: indeed, it may help to explain how that marriage came about. Apparently in about 1480 a certain Nicholas Fowle acquired Slade Farm in Lamberhurst. This property remained in the family until some time in the 1550s when Nicholas Fowle of Riverhall sold it to Richard Lucke, son of John Lucke of Durgates, together with 60 acres of land surrounding called Piufers, Grublands and Goldynge.

Although the date does not match exactly, it is at least possible that the Nicholas Fowle who bought this property in 1480 or thereabouts (Bill suggests that it might have been later, making the date fit better with our existing knowledge) was Magnus’ grandfather Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst, who died in 1523. His son, and Magnus’ father, was my 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle, who would serve as master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes until his death in 1555.

Extract from the will of Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst, with possible reference to 'Pyfers' and 'Goldynge'

Extract from the will of Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst, with possible reference to ‘Pyfers’ and ‘Goldynge’

Nicholas Fowle’s will of 1522/3 certainly refers to properties that might be Piufers and Goldynge (see above).  Slade Farm was almost certainly located in the area to the south of Lamberhurst now known as ‘the Slade’, where a Goldings Barn was recently advertised as being for sale. The only references I’ve found online to Grublands are in documents relating to the Ballard family: a certain Thomas Ballard of Wadhurst, who died in the early years of the seventeenth century, left lands called ‘Peparmill’ and ‘Grublands’.

Bill Green reminds me that Nicholas Fowle bequeathed the lands that might be Piufers and Goldynge to his son Thomas, who died at Southwark only two years after his father. What happened to his properties in the Lamberhurst area after his death is a matter for conjecture. Thomas’ will mentions a daughter named Elizabeth and an unnamed son. It’s possible that there is some connection here with the Adam Fowle who could be found living in London later in the century and using the same coat of arms as the Fowles of Kent and Sussex, but at present this is pure speculation. According to Catherine Pullein’s history of Rotherfield, the Rotherfield Roll for the court of 6th December 1556 includes the following statement:

At this Court appears Richard Lucke who holds freely of the Lord of this Manor, and prays to be admitted to fine for his suit released this year, and he gives for the same 8d.

Pullein suggests that Lucke was the owner of the sub-manor of ‘Hall’ at Rotherfield. Apparently he failed to attend later courts in 1557 and in 1558 his name is listed among those free tenants reckoned to be in default for non-attendance. Richard Lucke’s name is missing from a similar list in May 1559, but in a list entered in October of that year a certained Christopher Lucke is charged in his stead with non-attendance and the record includes the following statement which Pullein describes as ‘defective and unfinished’ due to the frustrating blank space where the name of the property should be:

It is found by the Homage that Richard Lucke who held certainly land, namely [blank] died so seised since last Court.

Was the Richard Lucke who held property in Rotherfield the same Richard Lucke of Mayfield who was the father of Alice? Rotherfield is a mere three miles from Mayfield, so it’s certainly possible. And if the Richard Lucke who seems to have died circa 1558-9 was Alice’s father, then this would fit with the date of the Chancery case, which we know was some time after 1558.

Goldings Barn, Slade Farm, Lamberhurst

Goldings Barn, Slade Farm, Lamberhurst

According to Catherine Pullein, Christopher Lucke’s name is entered again in the Rotherfield Roll as a defaulting tenant on other dates in 1559-60. Unfortunately there is no indication of his relationship to Richard, but it’s likely he was his son and heir. If so, he did not long outlive his father, since the record of a post mortem inquisition tell us that he died on 14th July 1567. Pullein reports that this document includes the following statement:

Christopher Lucke died seised of the manor of Hawle [i.e. Hall] and of a capital meuage and sixty acre of land, meadow, pasture and wood in Retherfeld [Rotherfield] held of Henry Nevill, Knight, Lord Abergavenny, as of his manor of Retherfeld in socage by fealty and rent of 12s. and they are worth 40s. yearly. And of a lane leading from the said capital messuage to Maynard’s Gate, which is held of the same fealty and a rent of 1d. He died 14th July 9 Eliz : and his son and heir Edward Lucke is aged 6 years.

Pullein includes the pedigree of Christopher Lucke’s family from the Herald’s Visitation of 1633-4, which clearly describes Christopher as ‘of Mayfield’ (as was his wife Alice Page), though his son Edward is said to be ‘of Reitherffeld’. His son John, also of Rotherfield, was said to be ‘one of the Coroners of Sussex in the Libertie of the lordship of Aburgaveney’.

Some time ago, I was contacted by Joan Angus who has conducted extensive research into her own Lucke ancestors. Joan has found references to a William Lucke holding property in Mayfield in the second half of the fifteenth century. Tax records from 1498 reveal that he owned seven pieces of land, one of which was Grubbes at Tidebrook, where he lived.

I’ve written before about references to the Luckes the Court Rolls of the Manor of Mayfield. These records suggest that Richard Lucke may have been married to a woman named Agnes. This may explain why Magnus and Alice Lucke gave the same name to their only surviving daughter, my 12 x great grandmother. The records also imply a close connection between Richard and a certain John Lucke, who may be the John Lucke of Mayfield who made his will in 1549.

It’s disappointing that the body of the will doesn’t mention Richard, or any of his children, but on the other hand a Richard Lucke was one of the witnesses. I suspect that John may have been Richard’s brother, rather than his father.

The will of John Lucke of Mayfield contains references to property in the manor of Sharnden. The manor house of Sharnden was – and indeed still is – about two miles to the east of Mayfield. Bill Green reminds me that, between the two, lies Coggins Mill, close to which Magnus Fowle held rights to property in 1590.

Oast house at Old Sharnden Manor Farm

Oast house at Old Sharnden Manor Farm

One difficulty in disentangling the history of the Lucke family is the presence at Wadhurst, and specifically at the property known as Durgates, of a branch of the family bearing similar Christian names. These include the John Lucke of Durgates mentioned frequently in the manor rolls (perhaps to distinguish him from the John of Mayfield?) and his son the Richard Lucke of Wadhurst who died in 1593. At this stage, it’s not possible to say how the two branches of the family were related, but I’m sure there was some connection between the two. The fact that Nicholas Fowle of Riverhall conveyed property to Richard Lucke of Durgates suggests not only a link between the Fowles of Lamberhurst and those of Riverhall, but also between the Wadhurst and the Mayfield Luckes.

At this stage, we can probably say with some confidence that Richard Lucke of Mayfield was the brother of Thomas Lucke, priest, and perhaps also of John Lucke who died in 1549, and that he was the father of Alice, Elizabeth and possibly Thomasin, as well as of his son and heir Christopher Lucke.