Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lucas, Charles (d.1648)
LUCAS, Sir CHARLES (d. 1648), royalist, was the youngest son of Sir Thomas Lucas, knt., of St. John's, Colchester (d. 1625), by Elizabeth, daughter of John Leighton of London, gentleman (Morant, History of Essex, i. 124). Margaret, duchess of Newcastle, describes her brother's youthful career in her autobiography (ed. Firth, pp. 280-3). Charles served first in the troop of his elder brother, Sir Thomas, in the wars of the Low Countries. He commanded a troop of horse in the king's army during the second Scottish war, and was knighted 27 July 1639 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1640-1641, p. 318; Metcalfe, Knights, 195).
Lucas served in the royalist armies throughout the civil war, was wounded in the skirmish at Powick Bridge, 22 Sept. 1642, and took part in the capture of Cirencester, 2 Feb. 1643 (Warburton, Prince Rupert, i. 409; Bibliotheca Gloucestrensis, p. 170). On 20 March 1643 he was commissioned to raise a regiment of five hundred horse, was appointed on 16 Sept. commander-in-chief of all forces to be raised in the counties of Suffolk and Essex, and on 14 Oct. sheriff of Essex (Black, Oxford Docquets, pp. 20, 72, 88). On 1 July 1643, at Padbury, with three troops of his own regiment he defeated Colonel Middleton with four hundred horse and dragoons, taking forty prisoners, and killing above a hundred of the enemy (Mercurius Aulicus). On 16 Jan. 1644 he commanded in an attack on Nottingham, and is described as styling himself general of the counties of Nottingham and Lincoln (Life of Col. Hutchinson, i. 298, 388, ed. Firth). By the recommendation of Prince Rupert he became lieutenant-general to the Marquis of Newcastle, joined him in the north in March 1644, and distinguished himself in the fight with the Scots at Hilton in Durham on 25 March 1644 (Life of Newcastle, p. 355; Warburton, Prince Rupert, ii. 370). When Newcastle was obliged to shut himself up in York, Lucas and the cavalry were sent to quarter in the midland counties and take part in attempts to relieve the besieged. He joined Rupert on his march to York, and was one of the commanders of the left wing in the battle of Marston Moor, where he was taken prisoner (Vicars, God's Ark, ii. 276).
Lucas was exchanged during the winter of 1644, and became governor of Berkeley Castle (Warburton, iii. 38, 66). The garrison was inadequate and unruly, and the castle was taken by Colonel Rainsborough on 25 Sept. 1645, after nine days' siege (Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, p. 136, ed. 1854; Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. ii. 437). On 28 Nov. 1645 the king appointed Lucas lieutenant-general of all his cavalry; he accompanied Lord Astley to Worcester in December 1645, in hopes of raising a new army, shared in Astley's defeat at Stow-in-the-Wold, March 1646, and was again taken prisoner (Vicars, God's Ark, p. 399; Black, Oxford Docquets, p. 275). Fairfax seems to have released him on parole, and Lucas subsequently compounded for his estates for the sum of 508l 10s., and engaged not to bear arms against the parliament in future (Rushworth, vii. 1160; Fairfax Correspondence, iii. 57; Cal. of Compounders, p. 1821). When the Earl of Norwich and the Kentish insurgents entered Essex, Lucas by his persuasions induced the Essex royalists to join them, instead of accepting the indemnity offered by parliament (July 1648; Rushworth; Hist. MSS. Comm. Beaufort MSS. 12th Rep. p. 21). In the seizure and defence of Colchester he played the foremost part, on account of his local influence and his military skill, which was far superior to that of his nominal commander the Earl of Norwich (ib. pp. 23-8; Matthew Carter, True Relation of the Expedition of Kent, Essex, and Colchester in 1648, pp. 121, 130). One parliamentary account accuses him of cruelty to the inhabitants of Colchester, and Clarendon speaks of his 'rough and proud nature which made him during the time of their being in Colchester more intolerable than the siege or any fortune that threatened them' (Rebellion, xi. 108; Colchester's Tears, 1648, 4to, p. 10). On the other hand Carter represents Lucas as 'tender of injuring his countrymen' and commiserating their sufferings, and a parliamentary newsletter describes him as carrying himself more moderately than the other royalist leaders (Carter, pp. 149, 160; Rushworth, vii. 1181). When Colchester capitulated (27 Aug. 1648) the superior officers were obliged to 'render themselves to mercy,' and Lucas was condemned to death by a court-martial. The sentence was the result of the exasperation felt by the puritan officers against the authors of the second civil war, but can neither be regarded as a breach of the capitulation, nor be specially attributed to Fairfax. Parliament by its votes of 20 June 1648 had declared all who took part in the new civil war guilty of high treason, and Ireton used this argument to justify the sentence. 'I am no traitor,' answered Lucas, 'but a true subject to my king and the laws of the kingdom. … I do plead before you all the laws of this kingdom. I have fought with a commission from those that were my sovereigns, and from that commission I must justify my action' (An Account of the Death of Sir Charles Lucas, &c., Clarke MSS.; cf. Gardiner, Great Civil War, iii. 459). Lucas and his fellow-prisoner, Sir George Lisle [q. v.], were shot on 28 Aug. in the castle yard at Colchester, and buried in the vault of the Lucas family in the north aisle of St. Giles's Church, Colchester (Morant, Essex, i. 72; Carter, p. 234). Twelve years later, on 7 June 1661, the funeral of Lucas and Lisle was solemnly celebrated by the town of Colchester, and a stone was placed by Lord Lucas on their tomb, with an inscription stating that they were, 'by the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, in cold blood barbarously murdered' (ib. p. 235; Mercurius Publicus, 6-13 June 1661).
Lucas and Lisle are celebrated in two contemporary poems: 'The Loyal Sacrifice,' 8vo, 1648, and 'An Elegy on the Murder committed at Colchester upon Sir C. Lucas and Sir G. Lisle,' 4to, 1648 (cf. Edward Howard's absurd epic on the civil wars entitled Caroloiades Redivivus, 8vo, 1695)
A portrait of Lucas, by Robert Walker, is in the possession of Lord Lyttelton. Engraved portraits are in Warburton's 'Prince Rupert' and in the illustrated edition of Clarendon's 'Rebellion,' said to be from a painting by Dobson (see Cat. of Sutherland Collection in the Bodleian Library, p. 607, and Granger, Biog. Hist. 1779, ii. 267).
Lucas was reputed to be one of the best cavalry leaders in the king's army. Even Clarendon, who judges him with undue severity, describes him as 'very brave in his person, and in a day of battle a gallant man to look upon and follow' (Rebellion, xi. 108). According to his sister, Lucas 'naturally had a practical genius to the warlike arts, as natural poets have to poetry, but his life was cut off before he could arrive at the true perfection thereof.' He left a 'Treatise of the Arts of War,' but being written in cipher it was never published (Life of Newcastle, ed. Firth, p. 282). To his military gifts Lucas added a devotion to the king's cause, which he sometimes expressed in singularly high-flown and poetical language (Warburton, Prince Rupert, ii. 370; Vicars, God's Ark. p. 399).
Two brothers of Charles Lucas, John, created in 1645 Lord Lucas [q. v.], and Sir Thomas Lucas (d. 1649), also distinguished themselves on the king's side. Thomas Lucas was born before his father's marriage with Elizabeth Leighton. His father purchased for him the manor of Lexden, Essex, from the heirs of Robert Ratcliffe, earl of Sussex (Morant, i. 124. 131). Lucas obtained the command of an English troop in the Dutch service, and was knighted by Charles I on 14 April 1628 (Metcalfe. Book of Knights). In December 1638 Strafford gave him the command of a troop in the Irish army (Strafford, Letters, ii. 254, 262). He was one of the officers in whom Ormonde most confided during the Irish rebellion, held the rank of commissary-general of the horse, distinguished himself at the battle of Kilrush (15 April 1642), and was desperately wounded at the battle of Ross (18 March 1643; Bellings, History of the Irish Catholic Confederation, i.132; Carte, Ormonde, ed. 1851. ii. 247, 252). From 1642 he was a member of the Irish privy council, took part in negotiating the cessation of hostilities in 1643 and the treaty of 1646, and was consequently held a delinquent by parliament (Bellings, ii. 46, 365). He was, however, allowed to compound for his estate on paying a fine of 637l. in 1648, and died before October 1649 (Cal. of Compounders p. 675; Cal. of Co. for Advance of Money, p. 821). He married Mary, daughter of Sir John Byron of Newstead, Nottinghamshire (Collins, vii. 99).
[Lives of Lucas are contained in Lloyd's Memoirs of Excellent Personages, 1668, and in Heath's New Book of Loyal English Martyrs. A Memoir of the Life of Sir Charles Lucas, by Thomas Philip, Earl de Grey, and Baron Lucas, 4to, was privately printed in 1845. The Life of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, ed. Firth. 1886, contains an account of Lucas, App. pp. 363-369; accounts of the family of Lucas, with a pedigree, are given in Morant's History of Colchester, 1789, and his History of Essex, 1758; Letters of Sir Charles Lucas are printed in Warburton's Prince Rupert in the Fairfax Papers, and in Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. pt. ii.]