Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lucy, Thomas
LUCY, Sir THOMAS (1532–1600), owner of Charlecote, Warwickshire, was son of William Lucy (d. 1551), by his wife Ann, daughter of Richard Fermor, of Easton Neston, Northamptonshire.
Dugdale traces the family to Thurstane de Cherlecote (fl. 1150), whose son Walter was given the village of Charlecote by Henry de Montfort about 1190. Walter married one Cecily, possibly of the Anglo-Norman family of Lucy, and their son William seems to have assumed his wife's surname. William fought with the barons against King John, and his estates were confiscated at the beginning of Henry III's reign. They were restored on his returning to his allegiance, and in 1233 he was knighted. In the same year he was appointed steward of all the landed property of Walter de Lacy, who conferred on him and his heirs the constableship of the castle of Ludlow. Henry III employed him in surveying the castles of Warwickshire, and he was much occupied in 1241 and 1243 in compounding with Walter de Lacy's Jewish creditors. He inherited the property of his brother Stephen; founded in 1214 the priory of Thelesford, to which his grandson and great-grandson were benefactors (cf. Dugdale, Warwickshire, i. 498), and he placed a chapel in Charlecote manor-house. He died in 1248, having married (1) Ysabell, daughter of Absalon de Aldermonestone; (2) Maud, sister and co-heiress of John Cotele. Both his wives added to his property, which his son William increased by a marriage with Amicia, daughter of William de Fourches, and heiress of William Fitzwarine.
Fulk Lucy (d. 1303), the son of this marriage, joined Simon de Montfort in the barons' struggle with Henry III in 1263, and although deprived of his estate after the battle of Evesham, was regranted it in accordance with the Dictum de Kenilworth. Fulk was ‘a special lover of good horses.’ He was one of the justices of the gaol delivery at Warwick in 1286 and 1289, and in 1286 was one of four knights appointed to secure observance of the peace in Warwickshire, according to the Statute of Winchester. He died in 1303. His son (by his wife Petronilla), Sir William Lucy (b. 1277), was knighted and represented Warwickshire in four successive parliaments between 1313 and 1337. Sir William's grandson Sir William, and his great-grandson Sir Thomas (d. 1415), were both retainers of John of Gaunt, and both represented Warwickshire in parliament. The latter was also sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire in 1406, and inherited the large estates of his wife Alice, daughter of Sir William Hugford, in Bedfordshire and Shropshire.
Sir Thomas's son William (1398–1466), sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire (1435 and 1449), was of Yorkist sympathies; while his grandson Sir William, created knight of the Bath at the coronation of Elizabeth, Henry VII's queen, in 1485, was a prominent actor in the government of his county; made over all his ancestral rights in the priory of Thelesford to the monks, and left many legacies to ecclesiastical foundations. Both Sir William and his second wife Alice were buried in the church of Stratford-on-Avon. A son by his first wife, Edmund, was present at the battle of Stoke in 1487; took part in the war in France in 1491, was knighted in 1502, and made many bequests to Thelesford, where he was buried. Edmund's son, Sir Thomas Lucy (d. 1525), sewer to Henry VIII, was knighted in 1512; was sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire, 1524–5; and lies buried in Grey Friars Church (Christ Church, near Smithfield), London, leaving a son William, the father of the subject of the present notice.
Thomas was educated at his father's house at Charlecote by John Foxe [q. v.], the martyrologist, whose puritan sentiments he adopted. In 1552 his father's death made him master of his family's great Warwickshire estate which soon included, besides Charlecote, the neighbouring properties of Sherborne and Hampton Lucy, the former a grant of Edward VI, and the latter of Queen Mary in 1556. While still young he married Joyce, daughter of Thomas Acton, of Sutton Park, Tenbury, Worcestershire, and his father-in-law's land became his and his wife's property. In 1558–9 he rebuilt his manor-house at Charlecote. By way of compliment to the reigning sovereign, the ground-plan was designed to represent the letter E. The architect is said to have been John of Padua, alias John Thorpe [q. v.] The red brick building with its detached gatehouse on the eastern bank of the Avon is still standing, and in spite of modern additions remains a very finished specimen of Tudor domestic architecture.
Lucy was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1565, and is said to have been ‘dubbed in his own house’ (Metcalfe, Knights, p. 38). He sat in two parliaments in 1571 and 1584 as knight of the shire for Warwick. He showed his markedly puritan predilections by presenting (14 Dec. 1584) a petition to the house in favour of the puritan ministers, and by taking an active part in securing the conviction of Dr. Parry 23 Feb. 1584–5 (Strype, Whitgift, i. 247; cf. D'Ewes, Journal of Parliament, temp. Eliz. 157, 180, 189, 339, 355–6). In 1586 he became, by virtue of his wife's property in Worcestershire, high sheriff for that county, but his life was mainly spent in Warwickshire. He frequently visited Stratford-on-Avon, the chief town in the neighbourhood, where he regularly performed his duties, both as justice of the peace, and as commissioner of musters for the county. In the borough-chamberlain's accounts there are frequent entries of payments for wine provided by the corporation for Lucy and other magistrates when they visited the town. Lucy lived on good terms with Sir Fulke Greville and other neighbouring gentry. On 8 April 1560 he wrote to Lord Robert Dudley recommending a servant as a competent archer, and fitted to take part in archery matches at Kenilworth, although his strength was reduced by sickness (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xi. 349). But the story that Lucy entertained Queen Elizabeth at Charlecote when on her way to Kenilworth in 1575, may safely be rejected.
The chief interest attaching to Lucy is due to his alleged association with Shakespeare. About 1585, according to a story current at Stratford-on-Avon in the seventeenth century, Shakespeare stole deer from Lucy's park at Charlecote; was prosecuted by Lucy, and fled from Stratford-on-Avon to London in order to escape the ignominy that his detection provoked. Nicholas Rowe, who tells the story at length in his edition of Shakespeare's ‘Works’ (1710), is fully corroborated by the independent statement of Archdeacon Davies of Saperton, Gloucestershire, who died in 1708. De Quincey rejected the story with much warmth, but it is doubtless based on fact, though it has been embroidered with many fictitious details by later writers. The chief argument against its acceptance is the absence of any deer park at Charlecote at the time of the alleged theft, but a statutable warren was there then, and, according to Coke, a warren might be inhabited by hares and roes as well as by rabbits. Deer, moreover, lived in Lucy's neighbouring woods at Hampton, and Sir Thomas is known to have been an extensive game preserver. In March 1585 he introduced into parliament a bill ‘for the better preservation of game and grain’ (D'Ewes, Journal, p. 363). The story told to Sir Walter Scott in 1828 by the owner of Charlecote, that the scene of the adventure was Lucy's deer park at Fulbroke, rests on the suspicious authority of Samuel Ireland's ‘Views of Warwickshire,’ and is discredited by the circumstance that Fulbroke park was not Lucy's property in Elizabeth's reign, although it was acquired by his successor. W. S. Landor embodied the tradition in its most plausible form in his imaginary ‘Examination of William Shakespeare … touching Deer-stealing’ (1834). A picture of ‘Shakespeare before Sir Thomas Lucy’ was painted by Sir George Harvey [q. v.] in 1836–7, and is popular in the engraving of Robert Graves [q. v.]
Rowe stated that ‘in order to revenge [Lucy's] illusage, [Shakespeare] made a ballad upon him, and this, probably [the] first essay of Shakespeare's poetry, [is] lost.’ Nothing is positively known of any such production, but, according to Oldys, some doggerel verses on Lucy were current in Stratford in the seventeenth century, and were absurdly ascribed to Shakespeare. Oldys's copy began:—
A parliament member, a justice of peace,
At home a poor scarecrow, at London an asse;
If lousie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it,
Then Lucy is lousie whatever befall it.
Capell collected independent oral testimony to the like effect, and supplied the additional information that Shakespeare placarded Lucy's park-gates with the first stanza of the offending ballad.
Better proof is extant that Shakespeare took a more effective mode of revenge. Charlecote's owner is undoubtedly immortalised in Justice Shallow. According to Davies of Saperton, ‘Shakespeare's revenge was so great that [Lucy] is his [i.e. Shakespeare's] Justice Clodpate, and [the dramatist] calls him a great man, and that, in allusion to his name, [for he] bore three louses rampant for his arms.’ Justice Shallow came to birth in the second part of Shakespeare's ‘Henry IV’ (written about 1597), but the part he plays in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor,’ probably written in 1598, most closely connects him with Lucy. In the opening scene he comes from Gloucestershire to Windsor to ‘make a Star-chamber matter’ of a poaching offence on his estates, and jesting allusion is soon made to ‘the dozen white luces’ or ‘louses’ on his ‘old coat’ of arms. The arms of the Lucy family were ‘three luces [i.e. pikes] hauriant argent.’ Three luces, or pikes, are engraved on all the monuments to the Lucys in Charlecote Church, and on one monument a quartering of their arms appears with three fish in each of four divisions—a dozen in all. Shallow, like Lucy, is a justice of the peace, a commissioner of the musters, and an enthusiastic patron of archery.
Lucy died at Charlecote on 7 July 1600, and was buried with great pomp in the church there on 7 Aug. Three heralds came from London to assist in the solemnities, among them William Camden [q. v.], Clarenceux. Lucy's wife predeceased him on 10 Feb. 1595–6, aged 63, and he erected to her memory an elaborate altar-tomb in Charlecote Church, with full-length effigies of her and of himself (in armour), and kneeling figures of their two children. A eulogistic inscription by himself describes her as ‘a great maintainer of hospitality,’ and the possessor of every virtue, but her son-in-law declared that she was a thorough vixen. Lucy was buried beneath the same monument, though there is no inscription to him. The monument is still extant in the church (rebuilt in 1849). A small oval miniature of Lucy is at Charlecote. Lucy's daughter, Ann, married Sir Edward Aston of Tixall.
His son Thomas (d. 1605), who was knighted in 1593, lies buried beneath another sumptuous monument in Charlecote Church. By his first wife, Dorothy, daughter of Sir Nicholas Arnold of Highnam, Gloucestershire, he had a son, Thomas, who died young, and a daughter, Joyce, who married Sir William Cook of Highnam. By his second wife, Constance, daughter of Richard Kingsmill, he had six sons and eight daughters. His sixth son, Francis, matriculated from Trinity College, Oxford, 5 May 1615, aged 15, became a barrister-at-law at Lincoln's Inn in 1623, and was elected M.P. for Warwick in 1624, 1625, 1626, and 1628. His fourth son, William [q. v.], bishop of St. David's, is noticed separately. His second son, Sir Richard Lucy (1592–1667), matriculated from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1607, aged 15, and graduated B.A. from Exeter College in 1611. He became a student in Lincoln's Inn in 1608. Through his marriage with Elizabeth (d. 1645), daughter of Sir Henry Cock, and widow of Sir Robert Oxenbridge (d. 1616), he was life-owner of Broxbournbury, Hertfordshire. He was knighted at Whitehall, 8 Jan. 1617–18, and was created a baronet on 11 March following. He was elected M.P. for Old Sarum to the Long parliament in 1647, and sat in Cromwell's parliament of 1654 and 1656 as member for Hertfordshire. On his death (6 April 1667) Broxbournbury reverted to Sir John Monson. A portrait there is said to represent Sir Richard (cf. Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vii. 87). Sir Richard's son Kingsmill, F.R.S. (d. 1678), of Facombe, Hampshire, who was created D.C.L. at Oxford at the installation of the Duke of Ormonde as chancellor in 1677 (Wood, Fasti, ed. Bliss, ii. 364), was the second baronet, and married Theophila, second daughter of George, earl of Berkeley, who subsequently became the wife of Robert Nelson [q. v.] With the death of Sir Kingsmill's son, Berkeley, also F.R.S., on 19 Nov. 1759, aged 87, the title became extinct.
Sir Thomas Lucy (1585–1640), eldest son of the Sir Thomas Lucy who died in 1605, and grandson of Shakespeare's Sir Thomas, matriculated at Magdalen College, Oxford, 8 May 1601, aged 15, and became a student of Lincoln's Inn in 1602. He was knighted, and was elected M.P. for Warwickshire in 1614, 1621, 1624, 1625, 1626, 1628, and April and May 1640. He was a friend of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, and travelled in France with him in 1608–9, when Herbert acted as Lucy's second in two abortive duels, and they were nearly shipwrecked on their voyage home. Herbert gave Lucy, in 1610, a portrait of himself, painted on copper, which is still at Charlecote (Herbert of Cherbury, Autobiography, ed. Lee). Lucy inherited from his father a library of French and Italian books, and he himself possessed literary tastes. He was the ‘much honoured and beloved object’ of an extravagant eulogy by John Davies of Hereford in 1610, and a shelf of books is sculptured on his elaborate tomb in Charlecote Church. In July 1610 he instituted a prosecution in the Star-chamber against some persons for stealing deer from Sutton Park (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xii. 181, 234). He died at Charlecote, 8 Dec. 1640 (cf. the engraving of his tomb in Dugdale's Warwickshire, ed. Thomas, i. 506, 511, 512). A portrait by Isaac Oliver is at Charlecote, together with two large pictures of a family group, one containing himself and six children, and the other himself and seven children. He married Alice, daughter of Thomas Spencer of Claverdon, and granddaughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorpe. She was buried 17 Aug. 1648, and a funeral sermon by Thomas Du-Gard was published at Warwick in 1649. By her he had six sons and six daughters. Spencer, the eldest son, was a colonel in the royalist army, was created doctor of medicine at Oxford, 8 Nov. 1643 (Wood, Fasti, ii. 68), and died without issue in 1648. The fourth son, Thomas (1624–1684), apparently a friend of James Howell (Letters, ed. Jacobs, i. 419), matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford, in 1641, aged 17, was elected M.P. for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, in December 1678 and January 1679, and for Warwick in 1679 and 1681. Portraits of himself and his wife by Kneller are at Charlecote. The headship of the family, with the Charlecote estates, ultimately passed to the sons of Fulk, the sixth son of Sir Thomas, and subsequently to the Rev. John Hammond, grandson of Fulk's second daughter, Alice. Hammond assumed the name of Lucy in 1789, and his descendants still own Charlecote.
[Halliwell-Phillipps's Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, 7th edit.; Sidney Lee's Stratford-on-Avon, 1890; Mrs. Stopes's Shakespeare's Warwickshire Contemporaries, new edit. 1907; Dugdale's Warwickshire, ed. Thomas; Burke's Extinct Baronetcy; Burke's Landed Gentry; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Metcalfe's Book of Knights; information kindly supplied by the Rev. F. Tobin, vicar of Charlecote.]