Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lucy, William
LUCY, WILLIAM (1594–1677), bishop of St. David's, born at Hurstbourne, Hampshire, in 1594, was the fourth son of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote by his second wife, Constance, daughter and heiress of Richard Kingsmill of Highclere, Hampshire [see under Lucy, Sir Thomas]. Entering Trinity College, Oxford, in 1610, he graduated B.A. on 18 Nov. 1613, and in the following year studied at Lincoln's Inn. But ‘upon second thoughts, and perhaps a desire of a sedate and academical life’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 1127), he entered Caius College, Cambridge, as a fellow-commoner on 12 June 1615, and proceeding M.A. in the following year, lived at Cambridge until 1619, when he became rector of Burghclere, Hampshire. In 1621 he obtained also the living of Highclere, and about the same time was appointed chaplain to the Duke of Buckingham, on the recommendation of James I, who told the duke ‘that he should have an eye upon him as occasions served’ (ib.) In a sermon preached by Lucy at Cambridge on Commencement Sunday, 23 June 1622, he expressed strong Arminian views, and excited so much hostility (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 145) that he narrowly escaped rejection when he supplicated the B.D. degree in 1623 (Mullinger, Univ. of Cambr.)
Lucy lived quietly at Burghclere until the outbreak of the civil war, when he was ‘both active and passive to his ability in the great cause’ (Tanner MSS. cxlvi. 133). He lost his library, which he had been at great pains to collect (Observations … of divers errors … in Hobbes's Leviathan, 1657, Epistle to the Reader), and at last (1656?) his livings were sequestered (Clarendon State Papers, 1656, No. 664; Walker, Sufferings of the Clergy, p. 298). At the Restoration he became bishop of St. David's, his consecration taking place at Westminster on 18 Nov. 1660. He was present at the Savoy conference, but took no part in the debates (Palmer, Nonconformist's Memorial, 2nd edit. i. 29).
Lucy entered on his incumbency in difficult circumstances. The cathedral at St. David's, the collegiate church at Brecon, and the bishop's houses at Brecon and Abergwilly were practically in ruins. The diocese, one of the largest in the kingdom, was without efficient organisation, and during the civil war and the protectorate, active as the dissenting preachers had been in the more populous districts, the smaller parishes had suffered from lack of ministrations of any kind. The revenues of the see were meagre, and Lucy did little to remedy this state of things. From a return made in 1670 (Tanner MSS. cxlvi. 126, 127), it appears that during the first ten years of his episcopate the expenses of the diocese amounted to 2,700l., including 1,500l. spent in the restoration of the collegiate church and the bishop's and prebend's houses at Brecon, and 200l. in augmentation of poor vicarages. Lucy complained that the bishopric had ‘never maintained his expenses with a frugal hospitality,’ and that he was ‘the poorest bishop in England or Wales’ (ib. cxlvi. 133).
Lucy insisted with impolitic vehemence on the rights of his office. William Nicholson, bishop of Gloucester, who held the archdeaconry of Brecon in commendam, claimed the right, nomine suo proprio, of holding visitations and correcting faults in the clergy. There can be no doubt that he exceeded his powers, although the limits of the archdeacon's jurisdiction were not clearly defined. Lucy contended that he could only sit either by himself or his surrogate with the chancellor, to collect his procurations, but ‘his visitation, as it was unseasonable in time, so it was erroneous in the business he undertook to meddle with—invading all jurisdiction episcopal, which was never, as I can learn, attempted by any’ (Lucy to Archbishop Sheldon, 19 Oct. 1663, ib. xlvii. 51). Archbishop Sheldon vainly counselled peace. ‘My jura episcopalia are things entrusted to me,’ wrote Lucy, ‘and I ought to render a fair account to my successor how I have preserved them for him’ (ib.) The two bishops had a stormy meeting on 8 Oct. 1664, when Lucy told Nicholson that he would not have his clergy oppressed or his officers deprived of their fees (ib. cxlvi. 139), and at last inhibited him from holding visitations in the archdeaconry. The point in dispute was referred to the Bishops of London and St. Asaph, whose award confirmed Lucy's decision. One result of this quarrel was that the right of holding visitations in the diocese of St. David's remained in abeyance, until it was restored within the last thirty years (A. L. Bevan, History of St. David's, pp. 196, 197).
Lucy is accused of having ‘lived in a woful and culpable omission of many of the direct and important as well sacred as other duties of his office’ (A Large Review of the Summary View of the Articles exhibited against the Bishop of St. David's, Robert Ferguson, 1702, p. 22). He is also said to have neglected to hold confirmations in his diocese, and to have connived at the exaction of exorbitant fees (ib.) He certainly filled his cathedral with non-residents, and preferred royalists exclusively to benefices in the diocese (Tanner MSS. cxlvi. 133).
Lucy constantly sent orders to his clergy to instruct the children in the church catechism, and the parents were required to second their efforts; but he admitted to Archbishop Sheldon that ‘their backwardnesse was soe generall that the church censure if used wd involve whole parishes together’ (Lucy to Archbishop Sheldon, 20 Feb. 1672, ib. cxlvi. 138). He complained of the private schools erected by the dissenters, and the energy they displayed in disseminating their doctrines by printed books and by preaching in private houses. The leading men in the large towns countenanced them. ‘Were these greate people,’ Lucy wrote to Archbishop Sheldon (ib. cxlvi. 113), ‘wch maintaine these preachers and scholes, forced to pay such summes to ye amendment of poore vicarages in market townes, I durst say I would make this a happy diocese free from such scandalous schismes.’ Lucy completely failed to check the progress of dissent. During the last five years of his life he was unable to leave his house. He died on 4 Oct. 1677, and was buried in the collegiate church of Brecon. A son, Robert, became registrar of St. David's; another son, Spencer, treasurer; and a third son, Richard, chancellor.
Lucy published: 1. ‘Observations, Censures, and Confutations of divers Errors in the 12, 13, and 14 Chapters of Mr. Hobs his Leviathan,’ London, 1657, 12mo. This was republished in 1663 along with 2. ‘Occasionall Animadversions on some Writings of the Socinians,’ London, 1663, 4to. 3. ‘A Treatise of the Nature of a Minister in all its Offices, to which is annexed an Answer to Doctor Forbes concerning the necessity of Bishops to ordain,’ London, 1670, 4to.
[Authorities quoted supra and Cooper's Memorials of Cambridge, i. 92; Burke's Landed Gentry, ii. 1000; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl., ed. Hardy, i. 303; Foster's Alumni Oxonienses, 1500–1714, iii. 947; Browne Willis's Survey of the Cathedral Church of St. David's, 1717, pp. 132, 139, 156, 157, 161; Jones and Freeman's History and Antiquities of St. David's, pp. 332, 333. Short biographies of Lucy are given in Colvile's Worthies of Warwickshire, p. 523, and Granger's Biog. Hist. iii. 317, but both are based upon Wood (Athenæ Oxon. iii. 1127, iv. 853), who also gives his epitaph and a description of his monument in the collegiate church of Brecon. Granger erroneously refers to a portrait of Lucy in the Oxford Almanac, 1749. Several of Lucy's letters are preserved among the Tanner MSS. (Bibl. Bodl.), xliii. 74, xlvii. 51, cxlvi. 113, 126, 133, cccxiv. 40.]