From Lucy, near Rouen. The Lucys performed the office of Castle Guard at Dover for seven knight's fees, lying in the counties of Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk. Richard de Lucy (the first of the family mentioned by Dugdale) was Constable of Falaise in Normandy for King Stephen, and held it so stoutly against Geoffrey Earl of Anjou that he was rewarded with thirteen additional knight's fees in Essex, including the town of Grinstead. He fought on the King's side throughout his contest with the Empress Maud, and routed the forces of the latter in a pitched battle near Wallingford. When the agreement between Stephen and Henry Duke of Normandy was entered upon in 1153, by which Henry was named as successor to the throne, "for the better securing of that Accord, the Tower of London, and Castle of Winchester, by the advice of the whole Clergy, were then given into the hands of this Richard de Lucie, he (by his solemn Oath) promising that upon the death of King Stephen he would faithfully deliver them to Henry; and for his more effectual performance of that Trust, gave up his own Son as a Hostage."—Dugdale. The new King, on his accession, rewarded and employed him. He had a grant of the whole hundred of Angre with other manors in Essex; and in 1162 was appointed Lord Justiciary of England, the highest post of honour that could be held by a subject. When the quarrel between Henry II. and Beckett first arose in 1166, "Beckett fleeing into Normandy, and coming to Viceliac to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord (the King being then also in those parts) discerning various persons who then repaired to this Festival, and amongst them this Richard de Lucie, he stept into the Pulpit, and then with lighted Candles pronounced the sentence of Excommunication against them all, as publick Incendiaries between the King and him. But being neither Convicted, nor called to answer, with the rest he appealed, and entered the Church."—Ibid. Five years previously, he had been sent over to England by the King to procure the election of this same Beckett.

In 1173 he was for the second time High Justiciary, and marching into Scotland with Humphrey de Bohun, Constable of England, wasted the country and burned Berwick-upon-Tweed; then aided the King's uncle, Reginald Earl of Cornwall, in putting down the rebellion of the Earl of Leicester; stormed and sacked Huntingdon, took the town of Leicester, and laid it in ashes. But as advancing years began to press upon him, he turned from this savage warfare to the "deeds of piety" that were to ransom his soul; and founded two priories in Kent, Westwood and Lesnes, taking "the habit of a Canon Regular" in the latter only a few months before his death in 1179.

This powerful baron had two sons, Geoffrey and Herbert; and two daughters, Maude, married to Walter Fitz Robert (ancestors of the Fitz Walters) and Rohais, married to Fulbert de Dover, Lord of Chilham in Kent. Geoffrey, the heir, did not survive his father, and left an only son who died s. p.: Herbert, the younger, also had no issue; and their sister Rohais had livery of the whole barony, though Maude appears to have inherited Angre and the Essex property.[1]

But the Lucys did not become extinct with the male line of the great Justiciar. He had certainly one brother, named Walter, and Reginald de Lucy, whose parentage Dugdale "could not discover," is generally supposed to have been another, and this "is the more probable, as he gave a moiety of the church at Godstone in Surrey to the Abbey of Lesnes, founded by Richard (Mon. ii. 302)."—Manning's Surrey. Walter de Lucy was the fifth Abbot of Battle; and according to the Abbey Chronicle, ruled wisely and energetically for thirty-three years. He is specially lauded for his zealous zeal in upholding the numerous "liberties and dignities" of his House, which involved him in a constant succession of lawsuits. On one occasion, as lord of the soil of Dengemarsh, he enforced the cruel law of "wreck" against the King himself with these bold words, "If thou, O king, but destroy ever so small a right of our Abbey, conferred and observed by King William and others, thy predecessors, may God grant that thou no longer wear the crown of England!" The greatest contest in which he ever engaged was with the Bishop of Chichester, who claimed spiritual jurisdiction over the Abbey, and had obtained from Pope Adrian IV. a letter formally admonishing Abbot Walter to "obey faithfully his bishop and master." The cause was brought before Henry II. immediately after his coronation, and the long account of it given in the "Chronicle" abounds with characteristic touches. We read how the Bishop taunted the Abbot with having unsuccessfully tried to obtain the See of London, and told the King roundly he had no right to interfere in spiritual matters; how the King, provoked past all bearing, rapped out some words—carefully erased in the MS.—conjectured to have been "gross Norman oaths;" how the Chancellor, Thomas a Beckett, interfered to check the prelate with the words: "Your Prudence must be careful;" and how the latter finally told one falsehood so astounding, that the Archbishop of Canterbury, "knowing how matters really stood, marked himself with the sign of the cross, in token of astonishment." The Abbot pleaded eloquently in his own behalf, and his brother Richard de Lucy stood by him manfully, saying to the King, "This Abbey ought to be held in high account, by you, and by all us Normans, inasmuch as in that place the most noble King William, by God's grace and the aid of our ancestors, acquired that whereby you, my Lord King, at this time, hold the crown of England by hereditary right, and whereby we have all been enriched with great wealth." In the end the Bishop had to disclaim all authority over the Abbot, and all parties gave each other the "kiss of peace" at the Archbishop's request, the King declaring that he was ready to kiss the Bishop "not only once, but a hundred times," possibly as some compensation to the latter for his defeat.

In most cases, as in this one, the Abbot seems to have triumphantly carried his point, though sometimes—apparently greatly to the disgust of the brethren—he consented to a compromise. But though litigious and troublesome as a neighbour, to his own people he was the kindest of masters. "With great pity towards the poor, he allayed their hunger with food, and covered their nakedness with raiment;" and like St. Elizabeth of Hungary, tended and cherished the loathsome lepers—shunned by all else—for whom he founded a lazar house at Battle. He annually provided his monks with a little treat, consisting of one gallon of white wine, a "pepper-cake" (gingerbread is still so called in Germany) and two good dishes in addition to their ordinary fare, "one of which, if circumstances will possibly admit, shall be of fresh salmon." This "benefaction" was to be continued on every anniversary of his death, and lest any of his successors should neglect it, he put on his stole, took a lighted candle, and went with all his priests and deacons to the chapter-house, there solemnly to pronounce a "perpetual and inexorable anathema upon all who should violate this institution." He died in 1171.

Reginald de Lucy, the third brother, acquired by marriage a very large property in Cumberland. This was the great Saxon barony of Coupland or Kopeland, lying between the rivers Dudden and Darwent and the sea, granted by Ranulph de Meschines (the first Norman lord of Cumberland) to his younger brother William, who built his castle on a steep sharp-topped hill which he called Aigre-mont. Kopeland thus became Egremont in the new tongue. William married Cecilia de Roumeli, the heiress of Skipton-in-Craven, and left an only child, Aaliza, or Alice, who bore her mother's name of Roumeli, and brought the united baronies of Skipton and Egremont to her husband William Fitz Duncan, a prince of the blood royal of Scotland, and the grandson of Malcolm Canmore. They had issue a son, commonly called the Boy of Egremont, from his grandfather's barony (where he was probably born), who, surviving an elder brother, became the last hope of the family. One day that he had been out coursing, and was returning home through the deep solitude of the woods lying between Bolton and Barden Tower, he had to cross the narrow channel—little more than four feet wide—in which the imprisoned Wharfe boils along in wrath, forcing its way through a tremendous fissure in the rock. The place was then, as it is yet, called the Strid:—either from the Anglo-Saxon stryth (turmoil, tumult), or from the familiar feat of the dalesmen, who show their agility by striding or bounding across this fearful chasm, "regardless of the destruction which awaits a faltering footstep." The young heir of Craven took the leap—as he had probably done a hundred times before—without a thought of danger; but at the critical moment, a grey hound that he held in leash (some say fastened to his girdle) hung back and checked him. He was baulked in his leap, missed his footing, and in another instant had fallen headlong between the cruel gates of rock, to be swept away in the whirl of the raging torrent below. There was no one to witness his fate but a forester in attendance, who went back with a stricken heart, to break the tidings to the Lady Aaliza. He stood before her troubled and woebegone, and with bent head and lowered eyes, asked "What is good for a bootless Bene?"[2] The wretched mother read her sentence in his face, and knew, without being told, that her son was dead. She answered at once "Endless sorrow:" and, true to her word, from that evil day to the last day of her life, never ceased to mourn for this lost heir. According to tradition, she desired that perpetual prayer should be offered up near the spot where he was drowned; and accordingly, the Cistercian priory founded in 1121 by her father and mother at Embsey was transferred to Bolton, and there re-built and re-endowed by her.

"In darkness long the mother sat,
And her first words were—'Let there be
At Bolton, on the field of Wharfe,
A stately Priory.'
That stately Priory was reared,
And Wharfe, as he moved along,
To matins joined a mournful voice,
Nor failed at even-song."

The latter part of this story is an undoubted fact. Aaliza de Roumeli was the foundress, or rather the second foundress, of Bolton; but it is no less certain, that "her drowned son is himself a party and witness to the charter of translation. Yet," adds Whitaker, "I have little doubt that the story is true in the main, but that it refers to one of the sons of Cecilia de Roumeli, the first foundress, both of whom died young." Lord Lindsay tells us that the "Boy of Egremont was alive in 1160, and a partaker of the rebellion of the Scotch-Pictish Celts of Scotland, of which the object apparently was to set him on the throne as the rightful heir." This much at least is evident, that he left no posterity; and his great inheritance fell to his three sisters. Cecily, the eldest, had Skipton; Amabel, Egremont; and Alice, Cockermouth. Cecily was married by Henry II. to William le Gros, Earl of Albemarle; Amabel became the wife of Reginald de Lucy; and Alice had two husbands, Gilbert Pippard, and Robert Courtenay; but her children all died young, and thus the whole of her share, comprising, in addition to the honour of Cockermouth, Aspatria, and the barony of Allerdale, eventually came to the Lucys.

Reginald and Amabel had an only son, Richard, whose wife, Ada de Morville, was another great heiress (see Morville): but male issue failing in him, the lands were once more partitioned between, his two daughters. By a convenient family arrangement not uncommon in those days, they were married to two brothers, Lambert and Alan de Multon, while their widowed mother espoused the father of her two sons-in-law. Amabel, the elder sister, brought to Lambert the barony of Egremont, retained by their descendants for several generations, while the son of Alice and of Alan was seated at Cockermouth, bore his mother's name of De Lucy, and transmitted it to his posterity. His grandson, Anthony, was a man of considerable note as a soldier, who followed Edward I. through his Scottish wars, was twice appointed guardian of his native county against the Scots, Governor of Carlisle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Justice of Ireland, &c, and was summoned to parliament as Lord Lucy 16 Ed. II. The second Lord greatly added to his estate by marrying his kinswoman, Margaret de Multon, one of the co-heirs of John de Multon, with whom the elder line terminated; but the younger was not destined to survive it long. Neither of his sons left an heir; and the barony passed to their sister Maud, the last of the name of Lucy, who was first Countess of Angus (see Umfreville) and then Countess of Northumberland. She, too, left no children, for an only son by Lord Angus died before his father; and it was agreed on her second marriage with Lord Northumberland, that, on failure of their issue, her great possessions, and her castle and honour of Cockermouth, should be settled on the Earl's eldest son by a former wife (the renowned Hotspur) on the sole condition that he and all his posterity should quarter with their own Brabant lion, the three silver lucies [3] that she bore as her coat of arms. This stipulation was so faithfully carried out, that the Duke of Northumberland, as representative of the old Percies, still bears this coat of the Lucies, with whom, as we have seen, they could claim no relationship; and Hotspur's descendants were even sometimes styled Barons Lucy; "their pretensions to that dignity," says Sir Bernard Burke, "being manifestly without a shadow of foundation." In 1557, however, the brother of the sixth Earl, received, among other honours, the title of Baron Lucy, which only expired at the death of the last heir male in 1670.

Leland enumerates several branches of the family, existing in his time:

"Lucy of Warwikeshire, that dwellith at Charcote, by Avon, bytwixt Warwicke, and Stratford upon Avon, came oute of the house of Cokermuth.

"Syr Edmund Lucy, that lately lyvid and dwellid at * * * * yn Bedfordshire, came oute of the house of Lucy of Charcote.

"There hath been other Lucies, men of meane Landes, that hath descendid out of the aforesaid housis of Lucies."—Itin., vol. vi.

The Lucys of Charlecote flourished up to the end of the last century. Charlecote had been granted to their ancestor by Henry de Montford in the reign of Richard I., who confirmed the grant; and for a time they called themselves De Charlecote, but soon resumed their original Norman name. Sir Thomas Lucy was in the retinue of John of Gaunt; another Lucy was a soldier of repute in the Wars of the Roses, and commanded a division of the Royal army at Stoke. The great grandson of this latter, Sir Thomas, who built the existing manor house of Charlecote, prosecuted Shakespere for stealing deer in his park of Fulbrooke, and was in consequence immortalized as "Justice Shallow." Second in descent from him was another Sir Thomas, knight of the shire for Warwick in six successive parliaments, of whom it was said, that "his tables were ever opened to the learned, and his gates never fast to the poor." The last of the family was George Lucy, who died unmarried in 1786, leaving Charlecote to his great nephew, the Rev. John Hammond, who thereupon took the name and arms of Lucy, still borne by his descendants.

One of the "other Lucies" was Robert de Lucy, who died 47 Ed. III., seated at Upton-Lucy, in Wiltshire, and whose name does not appear in the pedigree of the baronial Lucys. His son died in his minority, s. p. Yet some collateral descendants must have remained, for William Lucy was Escheator of the King in the co. of Wilts 6 Ed. IV. Sutton-Lucy and Lucyhays in Devonshire belonged temp. Hen. II. to Maurice de Lucy (Pole).

  1. He seems also to have had considerable possessions on the other side of the Channel. "Richard de Lucy, Lord of Gouviz and Baron of Cretot in Normandy," is mentioned in the MSS. of the Cotton Libr. Tib. D. II., among the nobility of France.

  2. "Bootless Bene signifies unavailing prayer: thus the meaning of the words would be, What remains when prayer is useless? The language of this question, almost unintelligible at present, proves the antiquity of this story, which nearly amounts to proving its truth."—Whitaker's Craven.

  3. Lucie, or luce, was the old name for pike:

    "Full many a fair partrich had he in mewe,
    And many a breme and many a luce in stewe."


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