New information about the Lucke family of Mayfield, Sussex

I’ve written before about my connection to the Lucke family, who were yeoman farmers in sixteenth-century Sussex. Alice Lucke, daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield, married Magnus Fowle, son of Gabriel Fowle of Southover, probably some time in the 1550s. They were my maternal 12 x great grandparents.

St Dunstan's church, Mayfield, Sussex

St Dunstan’s church, Mayfield, Sussex

Previously, I’d discovered that Alice had a sister named Elizabeth and an uncle (her father’s brother) named Thomas, who was a priest at Litlington and before that almost certainly an Augustinian canon at Michelham priory. I’m also fairly certain that Alice’s father Richard Lucke died in 1559, and that Richard’s son and heir Christopher died in 1570.

Now an email from Wendy Teeter, another researcher who is descended from the Luckes, has provided me with additional information about Alice’s family. Wendy has kindly sent me copies of two Lucke family wills that I wasn’t previously aware of, together with her transcriptions.

The first will was signed and sealed by ‘Joha’ (Johanna? Joan?) Lucke in August 1567, in the tenth year of the reign of Elizabeth I. The testator describes herself as the daughter of the late Richard Lucke of Mayfield, but declares that she is now living in the parish of Buxted. She bequeaths Alice Fowle, whom she describes as her sister, a portion of what had been left to her by her father, and also two sheets. ‘Joha’ also makes a bequest to Annys (Agnes) Fowle, described as the daughter of her brother-in-law Magnus Fowle. The remainder of her goods she bequeaths to Margaret Lucke, who is also appointed as sole executrix of the will, Magnus Fowle being given the role of overseer.

Part of the will of Joha. Lucke of Mayfield (1567)

Part of the will of Joha. Lucke of Mayfield (1567)

The second will was also drawn up in 1567, but obviously later in the year, since it describes ‘Joha’ Lucke as deceased. This will was made by the Margaret Lucke mentioned in the first will, and confirms that the two women were sisters. Margaret describes herself as a spinster, and presumably ‘Joha’ was too, since she also retained her father’s surname.

So these two wills expand our knowledge of the Lucke family, giving Richard Lucke two more daughters and my ancestor Alice Fowle née Lucke two additional sisters, both of whom were unmarried and both of whom predeceased her.

‘Joha’ Lucke’s will also provides possible confirmation of my theory that the Luckes, like the Fowles, retained their attachment to the traditional Catholic faith, if not openly as recusants, then surreptitiously as ‘church papists’. The preamble to the will of ‘Joha’ Lucke includes the words ‘I bequethe my Sowle into the tuition of the holy trinitie’. I’m fairly sure that ‘tuition’ is the word used here, though it seems an odd choice. Apparently bequeathing one’s soul to the Holy Trinity was common among Catholics, and Catholic sympathisers. Magnus Fowle’s will of 1595 includes this formula: ‘I give and wholie bequeathe my soule to Almightie god, the father, the sonne, and the holie ghoste, Three persones and one god’.

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