Alice Fowle and the Lucke family: evidence from a case in Chancery

How can the Chancery bill that I transcribed in my last post help us to understand the family background of my 12 x great grandmother, Alice Fowle of Mayfield, Sussex?

One of the drawbacks of the document, or at least of the copy that I’ve been sent, is that it doesn’t seem to be dated. The reference to the case in the National Archives catalogue is imprecise, placing it some time in the period 1558 – 1579: in other words, in the first half of the reign of Elizabeth I. I’ve discovered that this corresponds with the period of office of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal to whom Magnus and Alice Fowle addressed their plea. I’d already managed to decipher the reference near the beginning of the document to the ‘Lorde Keeper of the Seale of England’ and then the word ‘knyght’ immediately before it. The actual name above it was more difficult to identify, but I looked up a list of Lord Keepers and discovered that it was Sir Nicholas Bacon, the father of the philosopher Francis Bacon, who was Lord Keeper of the Seal between 1551 and his death in 1579.

Sir Nicholas Bacon (via Wikipedia)

Sir Nicholas Bacon (via Wikipedia)

The only date given in the document, as far as I can see, is 24th October 1551, the date of the disputed will that is its subject. So we know that the Chancery case must date from some time after 1551. Unfortunately, we don’t have precise dates for the births or marriage of Magnus and Alice Fowle. The only firm dates we have for them are the will of Magnus’ father Gabriel Fowle in 1554, which makes no mention of Alice or any grandchildren, and the marriage of Magnus and Alice’s daughter Agnes to Edward Byne (they were my 11 x great grandparents), which took place in 1575. It seems likely that Magnus and Alice were married some time in the mid- to late-1550s, and that Agnes, their only surviving child, was born shortly afterwards. Without further evidence, it’s difficult to date the Chancery bill more exactly, but I suspect it might date from the late 1550s or early 1560s: in other words, during the reign of Mary, or the early years of Elizabeth’s reign. The reference to ‘the Queenes maieste’ means that the document can’t have been written before 1553, when Edward VI died.

As to what the document can tell us about Alice Fowle’s family of origin, it’s almost certain, despite the breaks caused by folds and creases in the parchment, that she was one of the daughters of Richard Lucke, ‘late of Mayfield deceased’. If this is true, then Richard can’t, despite Renshaw’s claim, be the Richard Lucke of Wadhurst whose will I transcribed in a recent post, since he made that will in 1590 and died in 1593. However, he may yet turn out to be a relative of some kind.

The will at issue in this legal dispute seems not to be that of Alice’s father Richard but of the latter’s brother, who is said to have been a ‘clarke’, in other words, a priest or minister. At first, I thought this might be one of the two John Luckes who we know to have been Church of England ministers, but their dates are too late. The first John Lucke was born at Wadhurst in about 1567 and studied at Clare College, Cambridge in the late 1580s. He was vicar of Mayfield from 1620 to 1624. His son, another John Lucke, was born at Mayfield and studied at Sidney Sussex College in the early 1620s. We know that he was ordained, but I haven’t found a record of his appointments.

Litlington parish church, Sussex (via

Litlington parish church, Sussex (via

In fact, the brother of Richard Lucke who was a ‘clarke’ turns out to have been the Thomas Lucke whose name is mentioned elsewhere in the Chancery document. The place where he wrote his will – ‘Lythyngton’ – provides the vital clue. A Thomas Lucke was curate at Lythington, or Litlington, in Sussex, in 1551. It’s unclear how long he served there, but his stay may have been brief and curtailed by his death: the only date given in the clergy records in 14th December 1551. I’ve been unable to find a record of Thomas’ graduation from either of the universities, and the church records don’t give details of his ordination. Intriguingly, a Thomas Lucke had been one of the priests at Michelham Priory, an Augustinian foundation until its suppression in 1537, when it had the dubious distinction of being the first monastic site to be awarded to Thomas Cromwell. Is it possible that this Thomas Lucke became a secular priest on his ejection from Michelham and turned up at Litlington, which after all was only about six miles away? On the other hand, would a former monk have been comfortable serving the ‘reformed’ church of Edward VI? Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems likely that Thomas Lucke of Michelham was connected in some way to the Luckes of Mayfield and Wadhurst.

Thomas Lucke’s last will and testament appears in a catalogue of Sussex wills, and I’m in the process of ordering a copy from the local record office, in the hope that it includes some more clues about the wider Lucke family.

If Thomas Lucke, priest, was an uncle of Alice Fowle’s, then the Elizabeth Lucke ‘lately deceased an other of the daughters of the sayde Richard Lucke’, also mentioned in the Chancery document, must have been her sister – and given her name, must have been unmarried. Again, if a copy of Elizabeth’s will is available, then it might help us to fill in some of the missing information about her relatives.

The dispute at the heart of the Chancery case need not detain us, and is anyway difficult to reconstruct from the partly-legible document. It would seem that Thomas Lucke made Robert Holden of Mayfield the executor of his will but that, according to Magnus and Alice Fowle, he had abused his trust and acted in a way that ‘vexyd and troublyd’ the complainants. I haven’t yet found any other records for Holden, but he is said to be acting in league with one William Penkhurst, whose family had lived in the Mayfield area for a number of generations, intermarrying with other families that crop up in my family tree including (ironically) the Fowles.

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Fowle vs. Holden: deciphering an Elizabethan legal document

document 1

Last week I mentioned that I’d taken delivery of a copy of a document relating to a case in Chancery involving my 12 x great grandparents Magnus and Alice Fowle, who lived in the village of Mayfield, Sussex, in the second half of the fifteenth century. I ordered this item from the National Archives mainly because, according to Walter Renshaw, the historian of the Byne family, it provides evidence that Alice was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield. Analysing the document might help me to explore a new and earlier branch of my family tree – i.e. the Lucke family.

Unfortunately, the original parchment seems to have become scrumpled over time, so that some parts of the text are obscured and it’s difficult to follow some sentences. Even more unfortunately, this problem applies mostly to the opening lines, which seem to include the crucial information about Alice Fowle’s connections to the Fowle family.

document 2

However, I’ve done my best to transcribe the document and I present the results of my labours below. I’ve used empty brackets [ ] to indicate both obscured and illegible words. Proper names are emboldened thus on their first appearance. I’ll discuss what the text reveals about Alice’s possible origins in the next post.

To [ ] Sir Nicholas Bacon knyght Lorde keeper of the Greate Seale of Englande In [ ] wyse coplayning [ ] Orator Magnus [ ] [May]feld in the county of Sussex yoman & Alyce Ffowle wyfe of the saide Magnus one [  ] the daughters of [   ] Richard Lucke late of Mayfield deceased that whereas one [ ] Lucke clarke brother to the sayde Richard Lucke [ ] to the sayde Alyce one of yr sayde Orators by his last will in writing made & declaryd at Lythyngton in the sayde county [ ] the xxivth date of October in the yere of our Lorde god a thousand one hundred fifty & one dyd will [ ] bequeathe to the sayd Alyce one of yr sayde Orators certen severall sumes of monye to the sume of tenne pounds together[ ] two p[ar]cells of Sylver [ ] pounds & too [ ] called tablets of Sylver gylt sett with certen parcells to the value of five pounds And where [ ] also the sayde Thms Lucke did by his last will also give unto one Elizabeth Lucke lately deceased an other of the daughters of the sayde Richard Lucke certen sumes of money [ ] in the sayd last [ ] now at large doth approve the [ ] sumes of mony bequeathed to the sayde Elizabeth doth also applayne unto yr sayde Orators by virtue of [ ] Administer [ ] Of the goods of the sayde Elizabeth Lucke grantyd unto yr sayde Orators by the ordinary of the peculiar Jurisdiction of South Mallynge in ye sayde co[unty] of Sussex And the sayd Thms Lucke by his sayde wyll dyd make & ordeyne one Robt Holden nowe of Mayfield in ye sayd county [ ] executor of [ ] wyll [ ] hym ye sayd Robt Holden with the payment of his detts and legacy owynge to the sayd Robt Holden goods [ ] for the executing of the sayd will & last [ ] to the value of forty pounds & upwards the wych sayd good & [ ] came accordingly to the hands & possession of the sayd Robt Holden [ ] sayd Robt Holden hath had the use p[ro]fytte of the sayd goods whereby he hath [ ] hymselfe [   ] And where also [ ] Mayghfeld aforesaid was Sealyd of [ ] tenne acres of arable pasture & woods lands in his demeanes as of fee beinge seasyd the sayd [ ] at Mayghfeld aforesaid dyd by goode & [ ] conveyance on the same bargen sell & [  ] the [ ] p[ar]cell of the sayd lands & tenements to the sayde Magnus yr Orator & to his [ ] by reason whereof the sayd Magnus yr Orator entyrd into the premisses so to hym bargained & [ ]& th’of lawfully seased [ ] demeanes as of fee & taketh the p[ro]fytts of the same accordingly [  ] so yr right honorable Lorde that he sayd Robt Holden & Wyllyam Penkeherst pretend [   ] utterly to defete yr sayd Orator of the sayd sumes of money to the [ ] and wyllyd by the last will of the sayd Thms Lucke the [ ] & also of the [ ] of money dew to yr Orator by reason of the sayd administracion of the goods and chattels of the sayd Elyzabeth Lucke but also by [ ] of certen deads wrytinge [ ] the sayd lands that are casually common to the hands of the sayd Wyllyam Penkherst & to the hands of the sayd Robt Holden [ ] the lands purchased by yr sayd Orator & the sayde Wyllyman Penkeherst claymeth a yerely rent charge of [   ] goinge oute of the sayd lands to the sayd Wyllyam Penkehurst claymynge the sayd rent by the gyft of the sayd Robt Holden by reson whereof yr Orator is vexyd and troublyd by the sayd Robt Holden some tyme by entryes made [   ] the sayd lands some tyme by distress taken by the sayd Wyllyam Penkeherst and of the maynetayninge the [ ] in dyde [ ] at the common land of the realme agenst yr sayd Orator withoute any iust cause only to vex & trouble yr [   ] yt may please yr goode Lordeship therefore the [   ] & also for [   ] yr Orators same no remedy by the common lands of the realme for the obteyninge of [   ] somes of moneye & jewelry by reason yf the same are [   ] & not demandable by the order of the common lawe of the realme And also for yf the dates of the sayd [   ] deads & wrytinge are not certeynely knowen to yr sayd Orators or where they are in boxe bagge or chest selyd or lockyd yr Orator therefore lykewyse [   ] remedy to record By the locke ordere to grant unto yr sayd Orators the Queenes maieste wryte of Sub pena that by demanding the sayd Robt Holden & Wylllyam Penkeherst & any of the[m] at a certen day & under & surety To abyde [ ] order & direction sowe in [ ] as to yr [   ] to stande with right, equity & goode [   ]And yr sayd Orators shall dayly pray to Almyghty god for yr p[ro]sperous estate in [   ] longe to endure.

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The family of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst

Yesterday I posted my transcription of the will of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst, Sussex, who died in 1593. I’m interested in Richard because there’s a possibility that he might be my 13 x great grandfather. But that’s only if I can prove that he was the father of Alice Fowle, my 12 x great grandmother.

What do we learn about Richard Lucke of Wadhurst and his family from his will of 1590? We read that Richard had a brother called Edward and that his wife’s name was Joan. He had four surviving sons: Richard, Thomas, John and Christopher. I assume that the latter was the eldest, since he is to inherit the greater part of his father’s property.

We discover that Richard Lucke had three daughters who were unmarried at the time of his death: Dorothy, Joan and Mary. There were also four married daughters: Margaret, who was married to John Barham; Elizabeth, who was married to John Kingwood (or Kingward); Anne, who was married to Thomas Stapley; and Katherine, who was married to a man whose Christian name is difficult to decipher, but whose surname seems to be Buson or similar. Richard’s godson, named here as Richard Kenward, might be a relative of John Kingwood or Kingward – perhaps his son, and therefore Richard’s grandson as well as his godson?

18th century map of area around Wadhurst, Sussex

18th century map of area around Wadhurst, Sussex

According to one online pedigree, John Barham, who married Margaret Lucke, was born in Wadhurst in 1556 and was the son of William Barham (1525 – 1589) and his wife Anne Lorkyn (born 1527). He had three siblings: William, Nicholas and Elizabeth. John Barham probably married Margaret Lucke, shortly before Margaret’s father Richard made his will. They had four children: William (1591 – 1648), Richard (born 1593), Margaret (born 1595) and Nicholas (born 1598). John Barham died in 1597.

The Sussex Post-Mortem Inquisitions archive includes a reference to Thomas Lucke, yeoman, who died on 8th March 1639. His heir was his nephew John, son of his older brother John Lucke. In his will of 1627 Thomas also left property to his brother Christopher and his brother-in-law John Kingwood.

According to some sources Thomas Stapley married Anne Lucke at Mayfield in 1573, and they had five children: John, Anne, Joan, Anthony and Elizabeth. One source claims that Thomas, who had been born in 1540, was from the Rotherfield branch of the Stapley family, and that Anne was his second wife. He seems to have been the brother of the John Stapley who married Barbara Fowle, in 1561, brother of Nicholas Fowle of Wadhurst and daughter of William and Margaret Fowle.

As I’ve noted before, Richard Lucke’s will makes no mention of a daughter named Alice, her husband Magnus, or any of their children. There’s still a possibility that Alice Fowle was the daughter of this Richard Lucke, but firm evidence is still lacking, and there’s a chance that Alice’s father was a different person bearing the same name.

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The last will and testament of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst, Sussex

Parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst

Parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst

Last month I wrote about my maternal 12 x great grandparents, Magnus and Alice Fowle, who lived in Mayfield, Sussex, in the second half of the sixteenth century. In  that post I speculated about Alice’s origins, and specifically the theory that she was the daughter of a certain Richard Lucke, also of Mayfield. Yesterday I received, from the National Archives, a photocopy of a legal document that seems to support this theory, and that I’ll discuss in a future post.

I’m still not absolutely sure that Alice’s father Richard is the same man who made his will in 1591 at Wadhurst, a few miles from Mayfield. However, since this is now looking more likely, I’m posting my transcription of the will, and I’ll discuss its implications in another post. As usual, I’ve retained the original spelling and punctuation as far as possible, emboldened key names thus when they appear for the first time, and used [?] to indicate uncertainty over a word and [???] to stand for a missing or illegible word.

In the name of god amen the ninth day of Maye Anno Dmi A thousand ffive hundred ninety one And in the three and thirtieth yeare of the Reigne of our Soveraigne Ladye Elizabeth by the grace of god Quene of England Ffrance and Ireland defender of the faithe etc [?] I Richard Lucke of the parrishe of Wadherst in the County of Sussex yeoman doe ordayne and make this my Last will and testament in manner and forme following that is to saye Ffirst I commit my Soule to Almighty god my onely Creator And to Jesus Christ my Redemer and Savyor And my bodye to the earthe in the Churchyarde of Wadherst when it shall please god to call me Item I give to the poore people of Wadherst aforesaide Twenty shillings to be distributed at my Buriall. Item I give to my sonne John one greate brasse pott a cupbord standing in the Buttrye and also all the tables benches and formes standing and being in my house in Wadherst wherein I nowe dwell and all my furniture and weapon appointed for warre. Item I give to my sonne Thomas my best yron kettell. Item I give to my sonne Richard my second yron kettell. The Residue of my household stuff unbequeathed I give and bequeathe to Joane my wife and to John my sonne to be equally devided beywene them which porcons so given to my wife to be upon condicon hereafter in this my will expressed Item I give to Richard Kenward my godsonne six shillings eight pence of currant money of England to be paide within one yeare next after my decease Item I give and bequeathe to Margarett my daughter the wife of John Barham fforty shillings of currant money of England to be paide to her or her assigned within twoe yeares next after my decease Item I give and bequeathe to Elizabeth my daughter the wife of John Kingewarde fforty shillings of currant english money to be paide to her or her assignes within twoe yeares next after my decase Item I give and bequeathe to Dorothy Lucke my daughter fforty pounds of currant money of England to be paide to her within one halfe year next after my decease Item I give and bequeathe to my daughter Joane Lucke fforty pounds of current money of England to be paide to her at her full age of one and twenty yeares Item I give and bequeathe to my daughter Marye Lucke fforty pounds of currant money of England to be paide to her at her full age of one and twenty yeares And my will is that iff any of my three daughters Last above menconed dye or decease this theire natural lyfe before theire Legacies before menconed be due to be paide according to the intent of this my Last will and testament That then I will the porcon and porcons of her or them so deceasing to the [???] or [???] of all my daughters which I have had by Joane nowe my wyfe to be equally devided amongst them Item I give and bequeathe to my saide daughters Joane and Marye to either of them twenty shillings a yeare to be paide to them yearely after my decase untill they accomplishe their said ages of one and twenty yeares Item I give and bequeathe to my daughter Anne the wyfe of Thomas Stapley and to her assignes Tenne pounds of currant money of England to be paide to her or he assigned within foure yeares next after my decease oppon condicon that the saide Thomas Stapley and Anne his wyfe or the executors or assignes of the said Anne shall make unto my Executors or assignes one good and sufficient acquittance and discharge for ffive pounds which was given and bequeathed unto the saide Anne by her grandfathers Last will Item I give and bequeathe to my daughter Katherine the wyfe of [???] Buson [?] twenty shillings of currant money of England to her or her assigned [???] twoe yeares next after my decease Item I give to my sonne Thomas Lucke fforty pounds of currant money of England to be paid to him his Executors or assignes in manner following that is to saye Twenty pounds thereof within three [?] yeares next after my decase And the other twenty pounds within twelve yeares next after my decease in full contentacon [?] of the saide fforty pounds Item I give to every Child nowe living of every of my fower daughters which are now maryed six shillings eight pence a peece to be paide within one yeare next after myy decase The Residue of all my goods and chattels moveables and immoveables my debts and Legacies paide and this my Last will fulfilled I give and bequeathe unto my sonne John Lucke whom I make my sole and onely Executor of this my Last will and testament And for the better performance thereof I make my brother Edward Lucke and my sonne in Lawe Thomas Stapley my overseers and doe give to either of them six shillings eight pence.

This is also the last Will and testament of me the saide Richard Lucke made and declared the daye and yeare first above written touching the order and disposicon of all my Landes and Tenements bothe ffreehold and cophyehold that is to saye ffirst I give and bequeathe to my sonne Christofer Lucke and his heires for ever all my Landes Tenements and hereditamenets Lying at Boreham in the parrishe of Wartling in the County of Sussex upon condicon that he the saide Christofer his heires and assignes doe paye or cause to be paide unto my saide sonne John Lucke his Executors or assignes at or in the nowe dwelling house of me the saide Richard Lucke in Wadherst above menconed the some of forty pounds of Lawfull money of England for the better pformance of this my Last Will and bringing upp of my children in manner and forme following that is to saye ffive poundes a yeare yearely during the term of eighte next ensewing the ffeast of St Michael the Archangell whiche shalbe in the year of our Lorde god one Thousand ffive hundred ninety and three in and upon the ffeast dayes of Thannunciacon of the blessed virgin Marye and St Michael Charging all by even porcons yf it happen that I the saide Richard Lucke doe decease before the saide ffeast of St Michaell Tharchangell in the saide yeare of our Lorde one thousand five hundred ninety and three Otherwise if it happen that I the saide Richard Lucke doe Live untill the saide ffeast of St Michael Tharchangell in the yeare of our Lord god one thousand ffive hundredth ninety and three That then the saide xpofer his heires or assignes shall paye or cause to be paid unto the said John Lucke his executors or assignes the same fforty pounds in or at the saide nowe dwelling house of me the said Richard in manner following that is to saye ffive pounds a yeare yearely during the term of eighte yeares next after my decease at the saide ffeasts of Thannunciacon of the blessed virgin Marye and Saint Michaell Tharchangell by even porcons The first of the said payments to beginner at the first of the said ffeasts whiche first happen next after my decease. Item I give and bequeathe unto my sonne Richard Lucke and to his heires for ever all that my house or Tenement with the Barns Orchards and Landes thereto belonging with theappurtenances in Wadherst aforesaid nowe in the occupying of John Maye my ffarmer And all those my Landes Lying in Wadherst aforesaide hereafter menconed that is to saye certen Landes called Ballotts, one parcel of Lande nowe called Longe Reede certain Lands called Wye Landes Lying on both sides of a Brooke And also three parcells of Lande nowe comonly called Tare reede the Marling and Woodroffe with theire appurtenance in Wadherst. Item I give and bequeathe unto my sonne Thomas Lucke and his heires for ever All that my Tenement houses barnes with all Landes rentes and hereditamenets to the same belonging Lying and being in the parrishe of Lamberhurst in the same County of Sussex whiche nowe are in the occupying of Jeffrey Beale and his assignes. Item I give and bequeath unto Joane my wife during her widowehoode her dwelling in the now parlor and the twoe chambers that Leade in by the end of the chimney at the Southend of my house in Wadherst wherein I nowe dwell with sufficient fyrewoode to be spent in the said roome and to bake within the oven in my same house whiche ffyrewoode shalbe taken upon my Landes in Wadherst hereafter given to my sonne John Lucke and also ffree Liberty egresse and regresse for my saide wyfe and her familye during her widowhoode to and from the said roomed and to bake in the oven of my said house And also I give and bequeathe unto my saide wyfe yearely during the same terme of her widowhoode one Seame of wheate and one seame of maulte upon condicon in this my Last will hereafter expressed. Also I give and bequeathe unto my said wyfe one Annuity of yearely Rent of Tenne pounds of Lawfull money of England to be yearely yssuing and going oute of all those my Landes and tenements by this my Last will given and bequeathed unto my sonne John Lucke and during the Lyfe of the saide Joane at fower ffeasts or terms of the yeare that is to saye At the ffeast of Thannunciacon of the blessed virgin Marye the Nativity of St John the Baptists St Michaell the Archangell and the Birthe of our Lord by even porcons The first payment thereof to beginne at the first of the saide ffeasts whiche shall first happen after my decease And if it happen the saide Annuity or yearely Rent of Tenne pounds of any parte thereof to be behind and unpaid in parte or in all by the space of thirty dayes next after any of the said ffeasts in whiche it oughte to be paide That then and so often it shall and maye be Lawfull to and for the saide Joane her executors and assignes into the saide Landes and Tenements and into every parcel thereof to enter and distreyne and the distresse and distresses thereof had and taken Lawfully to Leader drive and carry awaye and the same to impounde detayne and keepe untill the saide Annuity or yearely Rent of Tenne pounds and the arrerages thereof (yf any be) to be unto the said Joane her executors and assignes fully contented and paide upon condicon notwithstanding hereafter following that is to say Uppon Condicon that the saide Joane shall in her widowehoode within thirty dayes next after my decease make or cause to be made unto my said sonnes John Richard Thomas and xpofer theire heires and assignes one good and sufficient release of all her dowrye thries [?] and other Interests whatsoever which she the said Joane maye or oughte to have owte of or in any parte or parcel of any my Lands tenements or hereditaments after my decease by any cause or meanes whatsoever other then the saide Annuitye or yearely Rente of Tenne pounds by yeare and her dwelling and other comodityes before to her appointed in my nowe dwelling howse in Wadherst whiche if she shall refuse or neglecte to doe being thereto requested by my saide sonnes or any of them, or theire assignes Then my will is that as well the saide gifte and graunte of the Annuity of Tenne pounds by yeare as also all othe giftes Legacies and bequests before unto the saide Joane by this my Last will and testament made given or bequeathed shalbe utterly voide frustrate and of none effecte Any thing in this my Last will and testament conteyned to the contrarye not withstanding. The Residue of all my Landes and tenements as well ffrehilde as Copyholde before unbequeathed I give and bequeath unto my sonne John Lucke and to his heires for ever. These being witnesses Robert Parris yror [?] John Kingewoode Edward Lucke and Thomas Ballard, the marke of Richard Lucke.

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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Magnus Fowle and the Lucke family

My recent explorations of Elizabethan and Jacobean recusancy have re-awakened my interest in the life of my 12 x great grandfather, Magnus Fowle of Mayfield, Sussex. His daughter Agnes married Edward Byne of Burwash and they were my 11 x great grandparents. Magnus was the son of Gabriel Fowle of Southover, who was apparently the master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes. As I’ve noted before, Gabriel, who died in 1555 during the reign of Queen Mary, was a staunch Catholic whose will requested ‘x preistes yf they can be gott to celebrate & say masse for my soulle & all crysten soules’. As for Magnus, his own will of 1595 left money to Eleanor Ashburnham, a member of a famous recusant family, and my working theory is that he was a church papist: in other words, a Catholic sympathiser who outwardly conformed to the newly-protestant Church of England.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

Returning to Magnus Fowle’s story, I’m keen to discover more about the family of his wife Alice, my 12 x great grandmother. According to Walter Renshaw’s history of the Byne family, Alice’s maiden name was Lucke, and she was the daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield. We certainly have evidence that Magnus’ wife was called Alice: a case in Chancery dated some time between 1558 and 1579 and concerning property in Mayfield, was said to be between ‘Magnus Fowle and Alice Fowle his wife’, as plaintiffs, and ‘Robert Holden and another’ as defendants. Renshaw cites this case as evidence that Alice was the daughter of Richard Lucke, and I’ve ordered a copy to verify this. Renshaw states that Richard Lucke died on 5th May 1593. The last will and testament of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst was proved on 25th May 1593. Perhaps this is the same person (Mayfield is only five miles from Wadhurst), but although I have now completed my transcription of the will, I can find no reference in it to either Alice or Magnus. Alice had probably died by this time (she was certainly no longer alive when Magnus Fowle made his own will two years later), but it’s surprising that there is no mention of Richard’s supposed son-in-law Magnus, or of his granddaughter Agnes Fowle, who would have been married (to my 11 x great grandfather Edward Byne) with children of her own by this date. The will mentions Richard Lucke’s brother Edward; his wife Joan; four sons: Richard, Thomas, John and Christopher; three unmarried daughters: Dorothy, Joan and Mary; and four married daughters: Margaret, the wife of John Barham, Elizabeth the wife of John Kingwood, Anne the wife of Thomas Stapley, and Katherine, whose husband’s name I am still trying to decipher. But not a hint of any connection to the Fowle family.

St Dunstan's church, Mayfield (via

St Dunstan’s church, Mayfield (via

Because of this lack of direct evidence, it’s too soon to claim Richard and Joan Lucke as my 13 x great grandparents. It’s possible that Renshaw made a mistake, and confused Richard Lucke of Wadhurst with another member of the Lucke family in nearby Mayfield. There was certainly a branch of the Luckes in that village: for example, I’ve found the will of John Lucke of Mayfield, who made his will in 1549. Like the will of Gabriel Fowle, this document shows clear signs of loyalty to the Catholic faith: John bequeaths his soul ‘to Almightie god our Lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven’. However, any hope that John Lucke had a son named Richard was dashed when I transcribed the will and discovered that he and his wife, another Joan, seem to have produced only daughters: the unmarried Christian; Isabel the wife of Richard Maynard; and possibly another (unnamed) daughter married to Thomas Newney. However, a certain ‘Richard Lukk’ was one of the witnesses to the will: it’s possible that this is Richard Lucke of Wadhurst who died in 1593, and that he was related to John Lucke of Mayfield in some way, even if he wasn’t his son.

There is another reference to the Lucke family in Renshaw’s history, in relation to the Bynes. Apparently John Byne, son of my 11 x great grandparents Edward Byne and Agnes Fowle, and younger brother of my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne, mentions two members of the Lucke family in his will of February 1615/16. John Byne leaves 6s 8d to ‘Ann Lucke my kinswoman’ and the same amount to Rose Lucke. I believe these were the daughters of Edward Lucke and his wife Agnes Howell of Mayfield, who were married there on 8th January 1581/2. According to one source, Anne Lucke and Rose Lucke were christened at Mayfield in 1587/8 and 1589/90 respectively, so would have been in their twenties (and presumably still unmarried) when John Byne mentioned them in his will. It’s possible that their father Edward was the brother of Richard Lucke of Wadhurst who is mentioned in the latter’s will of 1593. At least one source claims that Edward Lucke was born in Rotherfield, the son of Christopher Lucke, who died there on 14th July 1567. It may be significant that Richard Lucke of Wadhurst named one of his children Christopher. The same source quotes this additional information about Christopher:

Christopher Lucke died seised of the manor of Hawle and of a capital messuage and sixty acres of land, meadow, pasture and wood in Retherfeld 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 by fealty and a rent of 1d. He died 14th July 9 Eliz., and his son Edward Lucke is aged 6 years.

A certain ‘John Luke’ witnessed Magnus Fowle’s will in 1595. In the will of Nicholas Fowle, a cousin of Magnus, who died in 1600, John Luke of ‘Dargatte’ or Durgates in Wadhurst, was appointed as one of the guardians of an almshouse in Sparrows Green. He may have been one of the sons of Richard Lucke.

Clearly, more research is needed before I can establish with any certainty which, if any, of these members of the Lucke family were related to my 12 x great grandmother Alice Fowle.

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A new website

Elizabethan village scene: Joris Hoefnagel, 'Fete at Bermondsey', c. 1569

Elizabethan village scene: Joris Hoefnagel, ‘Fete at Bermondsey’, c. 1569

Now that my historical research has strayed into investigating the lives of people only tangentially connected to my ancestors, I’ve decided to set up a separate website, to record my work on 16th and 17th century Catholic recusants – and more generally, on the subject of faith, family and identity in early modern England. I’ll continue to explore my own family history here, at Past Lives – but you can follow the story of the Langworths, and the network of recusant families with whom they were connected, over at the new blog, Recusants and renegades.

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