Another new blog!

London from Southwark. Oil on wood. This is a view of London taken from Southwark in the mid-1600s before the Great Fire. It shows Southwark in the foreground, with the playhouses on the left-hand side and the cathedral in the centre. London Bridge spans the river and then the City of London itself is on the north bank of the Thames, shown as a huddle of crowded, narrow houses and church spires. The writer John Evelyn described London as 'this Glorious and Antient City…so full of Stink and Darknesse' in his Fumifugium of 1661. He went on to call the buildings 'such a Congestion of mishapen and extravagant Houses'. This 'congestion' of houses and industries belched out huge amounts of smoke into the atmosphere and created a massive fire risk. The Great Fire of London was an accident waiting to happen.

I just can’t help myself. I’ve created another new website, to share my family history research with a wider audience. Citizens and Cousins traces the story of my seventeenth- and eighteenth-century London ancestors, recounting the history of the city at this fascinating period through the lives of a network of relatives living cheek-by-jowl in the capital, but originally from Sussex, Worcestershire and elsewhere.

You can find the blog here.  Best to start with this page, which explains the background.


A new blog

In the course of researching the history of the Robb family, I discovered a possible case of double bigamy among my early Victorian ancestors. I’ve created a new blog, The Bonds of Betrayal, where I plan to post updates on my investigation of this curious tale. I hope you’ll follow my research and find the story as intriguing as I do.

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’.

The Mortimers of Huddersfield

On Tuesday I paid my first ever visit to Huddersfield, for a meeting at the university. It was a gloriously sunny day and I made sure to take photographs of some of the Yorkshire town’s imposing Georgian and Victorian architecture. One or two of the buildings were of particular interest to me, for family history reasons. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Huddersfield was home to members of the Mortimer family, who form one branch of my maternal family tree. 

Huddersfield railway station

Huddersfield railway station, with a statue of the town’s most famous son, Harold Wilson © Martin Robb 2016

My link to the Mortimers is via my maternal 5 x great grandfather Joseph Holdsworth. Born near Halifax in about 1735, Joseph came south to a farm in South Weald, Essex, and married my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Collins née Gibson in Bermondsey in 1763.

Joseph Holdsworth was the son of John Holdsworth of Sowood House, Coley, to the north of Halifax, and Mary Mortimer, who were married in 1725. I haven’t been able to discover anything about John’s forebears, but we know that Mary was the daughter of clothier and wool stapler John Mortimer of Shelf (d. 1742) and his wife Judith Woodhead (1681 – 1740), who were thus my 7 x great grandparents. They had five other children: Richard, Martha, John, Sarah and William.

Parish church of St Peter, Huddersfield, where some of my Mortimer ancestors were christened, married and buried.

Parish church of St Peter, Huddersfield, where some of my Mortimer ancestors were christened, married and buried. © Martin Robb 2016

Of these, we know that my 7 x great uncle John Mortimer junior, who was born in 1711, was married to a woman named Mary and that they lived at Woodhouse, Fartown, near Huddersfield. John died in 1747, leaving two sons, Samuel, born in 1744, and another John, born in the year of his father’s death. Samuel and John were my first cousins, 7 times removed.

The George Hotel, Huddersfield

The George Hotel, Huddersfield © Martin Robb 2016

The younger son, John, married Susan Hanson and lived at Paddock near Huddersfield. He described himself as a ‘gentleman’ in his will of 1823, and he left a substantial amount of money in his will when he died. John’s brother Samuel was less fortunate. In 1769 he married Frances Murgatroyd, daughter of the landlord of the George Hotel (see above), a role which Samuel would eventually assume. Frances died just two years after their marriage, and three years after that, Samuel Mortimer filed for bankruptcy. Nothing is known of what became of Samuel after this, but I assume that he died before his brother John, who doesn’t mention him in his will.

In search of Gregory Martin

In recent posts I’ve written about Thomas Lucke, the former Augustinian canon and precentor of Michelham Priory, Sussex, who was serving as a curate in the parish of Litlington at the time of his death in 1552. Thomas was the brother of my 13 x great grandfather Richard Lucke of Mayfield. Richard was the father of Alice Lucke who married Magnus Fowle. Magnus and Alice were my 12 x great grandparents, and it was their Chancery case about Thomas’ disputed will that provided me with vital information about the Lucke family.

Reference to Gregory Martyn in Thomas Lucke's will of 1551

Reference to Gregory Martyn in Thomas Lucke’s will of 1551

In his will, Thomas Lucke made a number of bequests to his niece Alice. One of them was as follows:

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.

Gregory Martyn (or Marten, or Martin) is the only name that occurs both in Thomas’ will of 1551, and in the will of John Lucke of Mayfield, composed two years earlier in 1549. I’m fairly certain that John was a relative of Thomas’, and may indeed have been another of his brothers.

Witnesses to the 1549 will of John Lucke

Witnesses to the 1549 will of John Lucke

The witnesses to John Lucke’s will are listed as follows:

Richard lukk John Mone Gregory mtty: John Wenborn wm penkherst with others

I’m almost certain that ‘mtty:’ is an abbreviation for ‘Martyn’ and that this is the same person who would be mentioned in Thomas Lucke’s will. However, my searches for Gregory Martyn in the contemporary records have proved frustrating. His name does not appear in the 1524-5 lay subsidy rolls for Mayfield or indeed for anywhere else in Sussex, though the names of Christopher, Laurence and Thomas Marten can be found in the Mayfield listing. Nor can I find a will for a Gregory Marten in the Sussex archives.

List of witnesses to the 1529 will of Robert Sawyer

List of witnesses to the 1529 will of Robert Sawyer

However, there is one solitary reference to a Gregory Martin in the records, and it’s an intriguing one. In 1529 Robert Sawyer of Mayfield made his will. The opening paragraph is in Latin and it culminates in a list of witnesses, which includes the name ‘Gregorio Marten’. The word that follows this name is difficult to read, but it could be ‘clico’, which might be an abbreviation for ‘clerico’. Indeed, the transcript by the Sussex Record Society translates the word as ‘clerk’: in other words, priest.

Is this the same person who would appear in the wills of John and Thomas Lucke some twenty years later, and was he really a priest? Unfortunately, I’ve found no trace of a Gregory Martin in the clergy records, but then they only begin in 1540. Could he have been a member of a religious order, rather than a secular priest? Then again, if the person mentioned in those later wills was a priest, why was he not described as such, given that Thomas Lucke doesn’t hesitate to append the word ‘clerke’ to the name of Richard Cressweller, one of the witnesses to his will? Had Gregory Martin ceased to serve as a priest by 1551, or is this a different person altogether?

Father Gregory Martin (via Wikipedia)

Father Gregory Martin (via Wikipedia)

Interestingly, my search online for traces of Gregory Martin led me to a very different person with the same name: the Catholic priest, scholar and author who was chiefly responsible for the Douai-Rheims translation of the Bible that first appeared in 1582. Although this Gregory Martin’s origins are largely obscure, it’s said that he was born at Maxfield, in the parish of Guestling near Winchelsea – also in Sussex. Indeed, an introductory chapter to Martin’s book Roma Sancta, by George Bruner Parks, includes the following speculation:

There was an older ‘Gregory Martin clerk’ at Maughfield or Mayfield in northeast Sussex in 1529 and again in 1551, and the unusual Christian name makes it almost certain that he (if he was one man) was related to our author. If so, this priest, though he is not listed at either university, must have influenced the younger man’s schooling and vocation.

The references here are to the wills of Robert Sawyer (1529) and Thomas Lucke (1551). One thing is certain: the Gregory Martin mentioned in Thomas Lucke’s will can’t be the priest and translator of the Bible, since the latter was probably born some time in 1540s and would have been still a child when Thomas died. We know that this Gregory Martin went up to the newly-founded St John’s College, Oxford, as one of its first students, in 1557, where he befriended and may have influenced the conversion of the future Catholic priest and martyr Edmund Campion. For a time Martin was a tutor in the household of the Duke of Norfolk, before the increasingly hostile atmosphere for Catholics under Elizabeth I prompted him to travel to the continent and join the English College at Douai. After a sojourn in Rome, he returned to the College at its new home in Rheims, where he worked on his translation of the New Testament, before dying of consumption soon after its publication.

Great Maxfield (via

Great Maxfield (via

As already noted, Father Gregory Martin was said to come from Guestling, near Winchelsea. In the lay subsidy rolls of 1524-5, there was a John Marten living in the parish and two William Martens. As for Maxfield, reputed to be the Marten family home, there is still a house in Guestling known as Great Maxfield. Apparently the property belonged to Battle Abbey until its dissolution in 1538. However, I’ve found no trace in the records of any association between Maxfield and the Martin family. At one stage, this made me doubt the sources that claimed Maxfield as Gregory’s home: I even wondered if somebody had once misread ‘Mayfield’ as ‘Maxfield’ and the misunderstanding had become accepted as fact. The earliest source I’ve found is an 1843 edition of A Defence of the Sincere and True Translations of the Holy Scriptures Into the English Tongue, Against the Cavils of Gregory Martin by the Puritan divine William Fulke, a contemporary of Martin’s.

On the other hand, if we could prove a connection, it might be further proof of the Catholic sympathies of my Lucke ancestors, especially if Gregory Martin of Mayfield turned out to be a (former?) priest. We know that Father Gregory Martin was a lifelong Catholic, rather than a convert,  so it’s certain that he was brought up as a Catholic. However, even if he turns out to have been born elsewhere in Sussex, and even if he was actually from Mayfield, we have no evidence to connect him with the Gregory Martin of Mayfield mentioned in the wills of John and Thomas Lucke. The fact that they shared a name, and an unusual one at that (I’ve found very few Gregorys in the contemporary Sussex records) suggests some kind of connection – but what?

The Luckes and the Fowles: united by faith?

Thomas Lucke, who died in 1552, was the brother of my 13 x great grandfather Richard Lucke of Mayfield, Sussex. At the time of his death, Thomas was a priest in the parish of Litlington, but until its suppression in 1537, he had been a canon at the Augustinian priory in nearby Michelham. Thomas Lucke’s will, as well as supplying us with a useful catalogue of local names, is notable for its traditionally Catholic preamble:

Ffyrst I comytt my soule into the hands of almyghtie god, wth the intercessyon of the blessed virgyn marye mother of god and all the holy companye of heaven.

These words, written four years into the reign of Edward VI and two years after the Catholic mass had been banned in England, suggest that Thomas continued to adhere to the old religion even after his enforced departure from Michelham and his appointment to a parish in the (now protestant) English church. As Robert Whiting explains, bequeathing one’s soul to the Virgin Mary and the saints remained common throughout the middle years of the 16th century, despite the dramatic changes under Henry and Edward, and the practice only began to decline during the reign of Elizabeth. Tim Cooper points out that preambles of this kind were popular not only with the laity but also among clergy who wished to signal their continuing attachment to the traditional faith. Robert Brooke of Litlington, one of the witnesses to Thomas Lucke’s will, included a similar bequest – ‘to our Lady Saynt Mary and to all the holy company of heaven’ – in his own will six years later.

Litlington parish church, Sussex (via

Litlington parish church, Sussex (via

There is evidence that Thomas was not the only member of the Lucke family to maintain his allegiance to the Catholic faith after the schism between England and Rome. John Lucke of Mayfield, who was almost certainly a relative of Thomas, and may well have been another brother of his, made his own will two years earlier, in 1549. Like Thomas, John Lucke begins by committing his soul ‘to Almightie god our lady saynt Mary and all the glorious company of heaven’. But he goes further than Thomas in his explicit Catholicism, following the medieval practice of donating money for the maintenance of ‘lights’ for the altars of local churches:

Item I give to the high aultir ther for my tithes & oblacions forgotten or withholden lyd. Item I bequeath to the light of the withsaid church lcyd. Item to our mother church of seynt ayngell of Southemallinge vyd.

As Caroline Litzenberger notes, bequests of this kind provide us with vital evidence of continuing popular adherence to the traditional faith. Indeed, some historians maintain that most of the population remained Catholic in their sympathies until Elizabeth’s reign. Towards the end of his will, having left money to his unmarried daughter Christian, John Lucke appends the following proviso:

Item if the saide Cristian happen to dye before she be married then the said fyve poundes to be bestowed in this manner five nobles to apriest to praye for my soule her soule and all xten soules and other five nobles to the church of maughfield aforesaid.

Paying to have Masses said for one’s soul after death was a defiantly Catholic practice. John Lucke’s bequest suggests either that he knew his parish priest was enough of a traditionalist to carry out his request, or that he was confident, despite Edward’s protestant reforms, of a return to Catholic practice. Even my 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle, who made his will during the reign of the Catholic Mary Tudor, was careful, in asking for ten priests ‘to celebrate & say masse for my sowlle & all crysten sowles’, to add the proviso ‘yf they can be gott’.

Catholic Mass in the Middle Ages

Catholic Mass in the Middle Ages

The wills of Thomas and John Lucke suggest that the Lucke family remained Catholic in its religious sympathies, at least during the middle years of the century. This may help us to understand how my 12 x great grandparents Alice Lucke and Magnus Fowle came together. As already mentioned, Magnus’ father Gabriel, the master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes, which had been closely connected to Lewes Priory before its suppression, made an explicitly Catholic will before his death in 1555. As well as the request for Masses to be said for his soul, Gabriel leaves his ‘wrytten masse book’ to his parish church in Southover.

As for Magnus, I’ve written before about the curious bequest in his own will of 1595 to Eleanor Ashburnham, a member of a notable family of Sussex recusants (Eleanor had been fined £40 for recusancy three years earlier). Moreoever, it would seem that Magnus’ bequest of his own soul to the Trinity – ‘to Almightie god, the father, the sonne, and the holie ghoste, Three persones and one god’ – was a neutral form of words often used by Catholics and ‘church papists’ to signify their allegiance to the traditional faith, while avoiding both an accusation of recusancy and the florid Calvinist-influenced language of the reformers.

More on the Lucke family

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

Michelham Priory cloisters (via

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

St Dunstan’s church, Mayfield (via

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

The Luckes: a yeoman family in 16th century Sussex

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

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via

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.

A brief visit to Blunham

A couple of weeks ago I was at a work-related meeting at Moggerhanger Park in Bedfordshire. It was a glorious spring day, and on the way home, I took the opportunity to visit the neighbouring village of Blunham for the first time. It was here that my maternal great great great grandparents Daniel Roe and Eliza Holdsworth were married on 25th April 1825. Daniel was a shoemaker in nearby Biggleswade, where the couple would live, and his family seem to have come from the villages on the borders between Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire (not far, in fact, from Hitchin where – by complete coincidence – I now live). Eliza had been born in Mile End, London, the daughter of another shoemaker, William Holdsworth and his wife Lydia Evans.

I wrote about Eliza’s life in service in a recent post on my academic blog, as part of an attempt to correct what I saw as the masculine bias of much family history writing.

Daniel and Eliza were Baptists but they were married in the Anglican parish church at Blunham, with the curious name of ‘St Edmund or St James’, whose most famous incumbent was the seventeenth-century poet John Donne. Here are a few of the photographs that I took on my visit:


Parish church of St Edmund or St James, Blunham5 4

New information about Robert Fowle – and another link to the Prior of Southwark

In my last post I wrote about Robert Fowle, the ‘captain in Ireland’ who married Mary Burton, daughter of Nicholas Burton of Carshalton, Surrey. Nicholas Burton had married Eleanor, widow of William Fowle of Mitcham, after the latter’s death in 1547. I’m interested in this branch of the Fowle family because of their possible connection with my own Fowle ancestors, and specifically because William’s will bequeaths property to Bartholomew Fowle, the former prior of St Mary Overy, Southwark, whom some sources claim was the brother of my 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle of Lewes, Sussex.



My fellow Fowle family researcher, Bill Green, has reminded me that Robert Fowle is mentioned in Catherine Pullein’s history of the village of Rotherfield, Sussex, which was published in 1928. Pullein has two chapters on the Fowles, though Bill has himself cast doubt on her pedigree of the family, and its reliance on inaccurate information gathered at the Heralds’ visitations in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Nevertheless, Pullein’s book contains useful information that adds to, and in some instances corrects, what I’d managed to discover about Robert Fowle and his relatives.

I’d forgotten that a Robert Fowle is mentioned in the Fowle family pedigree included in the records of the Visitations of Sussex, on which Pullein relies so heavily. According to this source, my ancestor Gabriel Fowle was the son of Nicholas Fowle and his wife Joan Vince of Lamberhurst, and the grandson of Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst and his wife Ellen. Thomas is said to have died in the seventeenth year of the reign of Henry VII (i.e. in 1502) and Nicholas at some time during the same reign (i.e. before 1509). As Bill points out, there is no evidence to support these claims, and indeed they are contradicted by the evidence of Nicholas’ will, which was actually made in 1522.

Also to be treated with caution is the same source’s listing of the children of Nicholas Fowle. Gabriel is said to have had an older brother William, who lived at Riverhall in Wadhurst, Sussex, and two younger brothers: Bartholomew, the prior of Southwark, and Robert, who lived in Carshalton, Surrey. In fact, Nicholas’ will gives his sons’ names as Thomas and John, not Bartholomew and Robert. However, the pedigree gets at least one thing right: it correctly names Gabriel’s son Magnus, even if it claims that the latter’s daughter married someone with the surname ‘Bird’ from Burwash, when in fact Agnes Fowle married Edward Byne of that village.

Elizabethan harquebusiers and pikemen on the march in Ireland (via

Elizabethan harquebusiers and pikemen on the march in Ireland (via

However, it is interesting for our purposes that the Heralds discovered a connection of some kind between the Fowles of Lamberhurst and those of Surrey, and a link between both branches and Bartholomew Fowle of Southwark. The Visitation pedigree claims that it was the son of Robert Fowle of Carshalton, also named Robert, who served in Ireland. The information about him is in Latin and describes Robert Fowle the younger as ‘p[ro]positus Marischellus Conucie usus in bello Tirenensi in hiberniae’: in other words, he was Provost Marshall of Connaught during the war in Tyrone, Ireland. If we compare this to the Surrey Visitation records, we have to conclude that it was Robert the younger who married Mary Burton. Pullein, who seems unaware that Mary’s mother (or possibly stepmother) was the widow of William Fowle of Mitcham, failed to find any reference to a Fowle in the Carshalton parish registers before 1557, when Eleanor Fowle married John Russell; in the following year Joan Fowle is said to have married John Haydon. Pullein writes: ‘doubtless they were Robert’s daughters, named after his grandmother and mother’. This is contradicted by Tyler’s notes, my original source for the information about William Fowle of Mitcham, which claim that Eleanor and Joan were actually William’s daughters.

Pullein reports that she has failed to find a will for either Robert the elder or his son. However, on making enquiries at the Four Courts in Dublin (presumably about Robert Fowle the younger), ‘a copy of a letter doing duty as a will, and addressed to “Cousin Boyle”, was received, and was wholly disappointing since no relatives we named except “my wife daughter and her children”, a rather puzzling phrase that suggests that he had lost his first wife and married a widow with a daughter’. The letter is dated 1595 and Pullein notes a source that claims Robert Fowle the younger ‘lost his life in a skirmish of arms in Ireland’ and that probate was made on 15th January 1595/6 to the executor, Robert Boyle. The latter was apparently born in Cantebury in 1566 and went to Ireland in 1588 where, after a distinguished legal career he was created the first Earl of Cork in 1620. I wonder if Boyle was a relation of Robert Fowle’s unnamed second wife?

At this stage it’s impossible to prove or disprove Pullein’s and the Heralds’ claim that Robert Fowle of Carshalton was descended from the Fowles of Lamberhurst. If this turns out to be true, then the same would probably apply to William Fowle of nearby Mitcham. How and why these members of the family came to re-locate from the borders of Kent and Sussex to Surrey, some forty miles away, remains a mystery.

St James' Palace and garden (via

St James’ Palace and garden (via

Even more intriguing than Pullein’s additional information about Robert Fowle, however, is her discovery of yet another branch of the family with a connection to Bartholomew Fowle of Southwark. Apparently the record of the Visitation of London for the years 1633-34 and 1635 includes a Fowle pedigree of four generations, headed by a coat of arms that is very similar to that of the Fowles of Riverhall in Sussex. The first person in the tree, one Adam Fowle, is described as ‘Keeper of the house and garden of St James’ and ‘servant to Queen Elizabeth’. However, for our purposes, the most interesting part of the description is that which states he was ‘nephew to the prior of S. Mary, co. Surrey’.

Pullein found an earlier and fuller pedigree of the same family in the Middlesex pedigrees collected by Richard Mundy, Somerset Herald, in 1623. In this pedigree, the coat of arms is apparently identical with that of the Riverhall branch of the family. Much of the information given echoes that of the London pedigree, though no mention is made of the Prior of Southwark. However, from this earlier version we learn that Adam Fowle was of Faversham in Kent, but ‘descended out of Sussex’.

Both pedigrees have Adam marrying Anne Dryland, also from Kent, the widow of a man named Webb. Their son was Alphonsus Fowle, described in the earlier pedigree as a justice of the peace in Middlesex, ‘dwelling near St James’, beyond Westminster’, and in the later pedigree as ‘sometime servant’ to Queen Elizabeth, King James, Prince Henry and Prince Charles’ as well as (like his father before him) ‘sometime keeper of the house and gardens of St James’. Alphonsus Fowle was said to be still alive and 74 years old in 1634: I’ve found the record of hs baptism at St Martin in the Fields in 1559. He was married firstly to Eleanor, daughter of a Mr Medley, who died in 1624, and secondly to Ellen, daughter of Mr Chapman of Tuts(h)am Hall, which was near Maidstone, and widow of John Lawrence of Essex.

Catherine Pullein was unable to find any reference to Adam Fowle in the parish registers, nor was she able to locate his will. The only references I can find to Adam Fowle at the National Archives are two certificates of residence, from 1563 and 1571, declaring him to be liable for taxation in the Royal Household. His son Alphonsus made a will in 1635 but, as Pullein reports, there are no clues in it as to his father’s origins or connection to any other branches of the Fowle family. Pullein speculates that Adam might be have been another son of Robert Fowle the elder of Carshalton; but if so, it seems odd that he did not figure in the Surrey pedigree, especially given his status as a royal servant.

As an alternative, Pullein falls back on the explanation that ‘nephew’, like ‘cousin’, was used very broadly at this period. However, the name given at the end of the London pedigree – presumably the Heralds’ informant? – is Alphonsus Fowle. This is probably Adam’s grandson, another Adolphus (who by this stage was married with a daughter), rather than Adam’s 74-year-old son. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that this Alphonsus would have made a mistake, or used an inaccurate term, about a key relationship of his grandfather’s, especially as his own father was still alive to correct him.

This means that Adam Fowle’s father was the brother of Bartholomew Fowle, prior of St Mary Overy in Southwark. Since Adam was said to be ‘descended out of Sussex’ there’s a good chance that he was connected to the Lamberhurst or Wadhurst Fowles in some way. Now, if we could only find the name of Adam Fowle’s father…