Lewis Stukley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Arms of Stucley of Affeton: Azure, three pears or.[1] Motto: Bellement et Hardiment ("beautifully and bravely")

Sir Lewis Stukley[2] (1574–1620) lord of the manor of Affeton in Devon, was Vice-Admiral of Devonshire. He was guardian of Thomas Rolfe, and a main opponent of Sir Walter Raleigh in his last days. Stukley's reputation is equivocal; popular opinion at the time idealised Ralegh, and to the public he was Sir "Judas" Stukley.


He was the eldest son of John Stucley (1551-1611) lord of the manor of Affeton in Devon, by his wife Frances St Leger, daughter of Sir John St Leger,[3] (d.1596) of Annery, Monkleigh, Devon, through whom he was related to leading families of the west of England. His grandfather Lewis Stucley (c.1530–1581) of Affeton was the eldest brother of Thomas Stucley[4] (1520–1578) The Lusty Stucley, a mercenary leader who was killed fighting against the Moors at the Battle of Alcazar.[5]


The younger Lewis was knighted by King James I when on his way to London in 1603. On 21 March 1617 he was appointed guardian of Thomas Rolfe, the two-year-old son of John Rolfe and Rebecca (Pocahontas).[4] He later transferred Thomas's wardship to John's brother, Henry Rolfe in Heacham.

The Raleigh arrest[edit]

Stukley purchased the office of vice-admiral in 1618,[3] and very soon became embroiled in high politics. In June 1618 he left London with verbal orders from the king to deal with the imminent difficulty with Sir Walter Raleigh, when he arrived at Plymouth on his return from the 1617 Orinoco expedition.[4] As had been recognised by a royal proclamation of 9 June, Raleigh had broken the peace treaty between England and Spain. There was intense diplomatic embarrassment for King James in the situation; Stukley may have understood the king's intention to be that Raleigh should flee the country, but in any case his approach was relaxed for a number of weeks.[6]

Stukley had a public notary board Raleigh's ship the Destiny in port. Then on the basis of a letter from the Lord High Admiral, Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham, dated 12 June, Stukley had the written authority to arrest Raleigh.[7] He met Raleigh at Ashburton, and accompanied him back to Plymouth. While Stukley was waiting for further orders, Raleigh attempted to escape to France; but returned to his arrest.[4] Stukley sold off the Destiny's cargo of tobacco.[3]

Stukley had been told to make the journey easy for Raleigh, and show respect for his poor health.[3] Setting off in earnest from the Plymouth area, from John Drake's house some way to the east and joining the Fosse Way near Musbury,[8] on 25 July, Stukley's party escorted Raleigh. The events that followed were later much discussed. Raleigh traveled with his wife and son. One of Stukley's entourage was a French physician, Guillaume Manoury. They went via Sherborne, met Sir John Digby, and stayed with Edward Parham at Poyntington. They reached Salisbury on the 27th, haste now prompted by an official reproach.[3]

At Salisbury the journey halted for a time. Manoury connived at a sickness Raleigh alleged, and Raleigh used the break in the journey to prepare some defense.[9] The king was there, on a summer progress, and Raleigh used several devices to play for time, composing a state paper in justification of his expedition.[10] At this point Stukley refused a bribe which Raleigh offered him.[4] On 1 August they moved on.[3]

With Raleigh in London[edit]

By the time the party reached Andover, Stukley was aware that Raleigh intended to escape, and kept a better guard on him. He also countered Raleigh's attempts to corrupt him with duplicity, pretending to be swayed.[3] In London on 7 August, Raleigh was for a short time a prisoner at large, lodging at his wife's house in Broad Street;[10] he used the excuse of illness to argue for this lenient treatment, and was granted five days to regain his health. A chance contact in a Brentford inn with a French official gave him hope.[3][11]

Raleigh attempted an escape down the River Thames, on 9 August; it was with the help of Stukley, who intended to betray him.[10] The plot to ensnare Raleigh involved William Herbert, who had accompanied the Raleigh expedition, and others, as well as Stukley.[12] Raleigh with a party including Stukley took a wherry at night from Towers Stairs; they got past Woolwich, but around Gallions Reach were overhauled by a larger wherry, carrying Herbert. They returned to Greenwich, and Stukley arrested Raleigh once more in the name of the king.[11]

Raleigh's end and Stukley's disgrace[edit]

After the attempt, Raleigh was placed in the Tower of London. He was executed on 29 October, on the old high treason charged related to the 1603 Main Plot; more recent testimony was not legally employed. On the scaffold Raleigh made his last speech, making a point of naming Stukley (to say he was forgiven).[4][13][14]

Stukley had given hostile, but not necessarily false, evidence against Raleigh. A public furore arose. It appeared that Stukley, wrongly said to be Raleigh's cousin,[3] was appointed his warden not only as the vice-admiral of Devonshire, but as having an old grudge against Raleigh dating from 1584, when Raleigh deceived his father, John, then a volunteer in Sir Richard Grenville's Virginia voyage. It was alleged, and officially denied,[3] that Stukley wished to let Raleigh escape in order to gain credit for rearresting him.[4]

The Earl of Nottingham threatened to cudgel Stukley. The king said "On my soul, if I should hang all that speak ill of thee, all the trees in the country would not suffice".[4]


Ralegh had an effective posthumous advocate in Robert Tounson, who had attended his last days.[15] While saying on the scaffold that he forgave everyone, having taken the sacrament for the last time, Ralegh still called Stukley perfidious. Stukley put together a defence of his own actions, for which Leonell Sharpe may have been the writer.[16][17]

First page of Lewis Stukley's Petition (1618).

There were in fact two published documents in which Stukley put his side of the argument, an Apology, and the Petition of 26 November. There was also an official defence of the king's proceedings, the Declaration, written by Francis Bacon, possibly with Henry Yelverton and Robert Naunton. The Apology having failed, Stukley issued the Petition in effect asking for official backing; which was published in the Declaration of 27 November, the printers having been up all night.[17][18][19]

Aftermath and death[edit]

John Chamberlain wrote to Sir Dudley Carleton at the end of 1618, reporting Stukley's reputation as a betrayer, and reporting the "Judas" epithet.[20] In January 1619 Stukley and his son were charged with clipping coin, on slender evidence from a servant who had formerly been employed as a spy on Raleigh.[4] The coins were £500 in gold, a payment for his expenses in dealing with Raleigh, and regarded as blood money as reported by Thomas Lorkyn writing to Sir Thomas Puckering in early 1619 (N.S.). It has been suggested by Baldwin Maxwell that the character of Septimius in The False One was a contemporary reference to Stukley;[20] though this hypothesis has been regarded as unprovable.[21]

The king pardoned him; but popular hatred pursued him to Affeton, and he fled to the island of Lundy, where he died in the course of 1620, raving mad it was rumoured.[4]


Stukley married Frances, eldest daughter of Anthony Monck of Potheridge in Devon, and sister of Sir Thomas, the father of George Monck. By her he had issue.[4] From the point of view of Stukley's reputation, it mattered whether Raleigh was part of his extended family: this was widely accepted, but it has been pointed out that it may depend on Sir Richard Grenville's use of "cousin" to Raleigh, when they were not related.[3]


  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.768
  2. ^ Also Stucley, Stukely, Stukeley.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wolffe, Mary. "Stucley, Sir Lewis". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26740. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k  "Stucley, Lewis". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  5. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.721, Stucley pedigree
  6. ^ Mark Nicholls; Penry Williams (31 March 2011). Sir Walter Raleigh: In Life and Legend. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 299–300. ISBN 978-1-4411-1209-5. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  7. ^ Paul Hyland (1 July 2008). Ralegh's Last Journey: A Tale of Madness, Vanity and Treachery. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-00-729176-2. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  8. ^ Paul Hyland (1 July 2008). Ralegh's Last Journey: A Tale of Madness, Vanity and Treachery. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. pp. 57–60. ISBN 978-0-00-729176-2. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  9. ^ Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh (1973), p. 364.
  10. ^ a b c A. L. Rowse, Ralegh and the Throckmortons (1962), p. 313.
  11. ^ a b Paul Hyland (1 July 2008). Ralegh's Last Journey: A Tale of Madness, Vanity and Treachery. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. pp. 125–136. ISBN 978-0-00-729176-2. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  12. ^ Daugherty, Leo. "Herbert, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13057. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  13. ^ Walter Ralegh (1848). R. H. Schomburgk, ed. The Discovery of the ... Empire of Guiana. With some unpublished documents relative to that country. p. 222. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  14. ^ Rowse, p. 317.
  15. ^ John Campbell (1818). Naval history of Great Britain: including the history and lives of the British admirals. J. Stockdale. pp. 537–8. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  16. ^ Hammer, Paul E. J. "Sharpe, Leonell". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/25214. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  17. ^ a b Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart, Hostage to Fortune: The troubled life of Francis Bacon 1561–1626 (1998), p. 424.
  18. ^ Thomas Nadauld Brushfield, Raleghana pt. VII, in Report and Transactions - The Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art vol. 37 (1905) p. 285; archive.org.
  19. ^ Rowse, p. 320.
  20. ^ a b Baldwin Maxwell (1939). Studies in Beaumont, Fletcher and Massinger. Taylor & Francis. pp. 170–1. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  21. ^ Ira Clark (1993). The Moral Art of Philip Massinger. Bucknell University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-8387-5225-8. Retrieved 15 April 2012.

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Stucley, Lewis". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.