I’ve been revisiting the family of my 12 x great grandmother Alice Lucke, who married my 12 x great grandfather Magnus Fowle some time in the 1550s. I’ve confirmed that Alice was the daughter of Richard Lucke, a yeoman farmer from Mayfield, Sussex, and that she had at least one sister, Elizabeth, and a brother Christopher, who inherited his father’s property after the latter’s death in about 1559.

Michelham Priory cloisters (via sussexpast.co.uk)

Michelham Priory cloisters (via sussexpast.co.uk)

As I noted in the previous post, Richard Lucke’s brother Thomas was a priest at Litlington, about 20 miles to the south of Mayfield, and was almost certainly a canon at the nearby Augustinian priory of Michelham until its suppression in 1537. It was Thomas’ disputed will of 1551 that prompted the case in Chancery from which I’ve gleaned some of my key information about the Lucke family.

I recently came across a history of Michelham Priory by Helen Poole, which lists ‘Thomas Luck’ among the canons at Michelham at the time of the visitation of 1521. Thomas held the post of precentor, responsible for facilitating worship, and in some monasteries fulfulling the additional roles of librarian and registrar. He was one of eight canons, in addition to the prior, Thomas Holberne.

From the same history we learn that Michelham was dissolved on 1st October 1537 and became the first religious house to be given to Thomas Cromwell by Henry VIII. Following the priory’s enforced closure, the canons each received a pension of £13.13.4. The prior lived on near Eastbourne, receiving a pension of £20, until his death in 1545. Apparently most of the other canons went to Sussex parishes (so it seems Thomas’ experience was fairly typical) and were allowed to keep the beds on which they had slept.

If Thomas already held a relatively senior position at Michelham by the early 1520s, does this mean that he was probably born some time in the 1490s, and that perhaps he was in his late fifties when he died in 1552? As for his brother Richard, who died a few years later, was he possibly born around the turn of the century?

St Dunstan's church, Mayfield (via geograph.co.uk)

St Dunstan’s church, Mayfield (via geograph.co.uk)

On the other hand, Richard’s name doesn’t appear in the lay subsidy rolls of 1524-5 for Mayfield, or indeed for anywhere else in Sussex, suggesting that he may not have been of age by that date. If his daughter Alice married Magnus Fowle in the 1550s, then it’s possible she was born in the 1530s, shortly after Richard’s marriage to his wife Agnes – which may date Richard’s birth to some time in the 1510s.

The lay subsidy rolls of 1524-5 certainly mention some members of the Lucke family, but they are in Wadhurst rather than Mayfield. The listing takes care to make distinctions between John Lucke of Durgates and John Lucke of Faircrouch on the one hand, and John Lucke the elder and John Lucke the younger on the other, in addition to a certain William Lucke, a turner.

I’ve drawn up a probably chronology for the Lucke and Fowle families in the first half of the sixteenth century:

1500             Probable birth of Gabriel Fowle (son of Nicholas) 

1509              Accession of King Henry VIII

Bartholomew Fowle joins Southwark Priory

1513               Bartholomew Fowle elected Prior of Southwark

1521               Thomas Lucke precentor at Michelham Priory

1523               Will of Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst

1525               Will of Thomas Fowle (son of Nicholas)

1535               Probable birth of Magnus Fowle (son of Gabriel)

1537               Suppression of Michelham Priory

1539               Suppression of Southwark Priory

1547                Accession of King Edward VI

1549               Will of John Lucke of Mayfield

1551               Will of Thomas Lucke, curate at Litlington

1553                Accession of Queen Mary

1554               Will of Gabriel Fowle of Lewes (son of Nicholas)

1556               Probable marriage of Magnus Fowle and Alice Lucke

1559               Probable death of Richard Lucke of Mayfield

1560               Probable death of Elizabeth Lucke (daughter of Richard)

1567               Death of Christopher Lucke of Mayfield

1575               Agnes Fowle marries Edward Byne

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