Lucas, Henry (d.1663) (DNB00)

LUCAS, HENRY (d. 1663), founder of the Lucasian professorship, says in his will that his patrimony 'was snatched from him by unhappy suits in law during his childhood.' He studied for a time at St. John's College, Cambridge, but does not appear to have matriculated, and subsequently became secretary to the Earl of Holland, chancellor of the university. On the visit of Prince Charles Louis, elector, great palatine of the Rhine, to Cambridge, Lucas was admitted M.A. 5 Feb. 1635-6 (University Register). He was elected M.P. for the university on 11 March 1639-40, and on 24 Oct. 1640 (Lists of Members of Parliament, Official Return of, pt. i. pp. 480,485), and took both the covenant and engagement. He died in London on 22 July 1663, a bachelor (Addit. MS. (Cole) 5875, f. 22: Probate Act Book, P. C. C, 1663). In his will, dated 11 June 1663 (P. C. C. 96, Juxon), he directed his executors to purchase lands of the yearly value of 100l., to be employed as a stipend for a professor of the mathematical sciences in the university of Cambridge. To the university library he gave a small collection of mathematical books. The remainder of his estate (about 7,000l.) he bequeathed for the erection and endowment of a hospital in Berkshire or Surrey. The foundation was to consist of a chaplain or master and as many poor men as could be conveniently provided for. The poor men were to be nominated by his executors and their survivors, and afterwards by the Drapers' Company, out of the poorest inhabitants of the forest division in Berkshire and the bailiwick of Surrey, in or near the forest. Accordingly, a hospital was built in 1665 on Luckley Green, Wokingham, Berkshire (Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. i. pt. ii. p. 443), and lands in Bedfordshire were purchased for its endowment, and for that of the mathematical professorship. In 1664 Isaac Barrow was appointed the first Lucasian professor, and Newton succeeded him in 1669.

[Oratio Præfatoria before Isaac Barrow's Mathematical Lectures, 1685; Whiston's Autobiography, p. 133; Peck's Desiderata, vol. ii. bk. xiv. p. 36; Addit. MS. (Cole), xlviii. 457.]

G. G.