Charles Lucas

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Sir Charles Lucas
Lord Charles lucas.jpg
Died28 August 1648(1648-08-28) (aged 35)
Colchester Castle, Colchester, Essex, England, England
St. Giles's Church, Colchester (now St. Giles Masonic Centre)
51°53′10.5″N 0°54′8.42″E / 51.886250°N 0.9023389°E / 51.886250; 0.9023389Coordinates: 51°53′10.5″N 0°54′8.42″E / 51.886250°N 0.9023389°E / 51.886250; 0.9023389
Service/branchCavalry officer
RankLieutenant General of Horse
Battles/warsBattle of Powick Bridge, Battle of Marston Moor, Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold, Siege of Colchester
Arms of Lucas of Little Saxham, Suffolk and Shenfield, Essex: Argent, a fess between six annulets gules

Sir Charles Lucas (1613 – 28 August 1648) was an English soldier, a Royalist commander in the English Civil War.


Lucas was a younger son of Sir Thomas Lucas (d. 1625) of Colchester in Essex, by his wife Elizabeth Leighton, daughter of John Leighton of London, gentleman.[1] His elder brothers Sir John Lucas (d.1671) (in 1645 created Baron Lucas) and Sir Thomas Lucas (d. 1649) fought for the King. His younger sister Margaret Lucas, later Duchess of Newcastle, described her brother's youthful career in her autobiography.[2]


As a young man Lucas served as a soldier in the Netherlands under the command of his brother, and in the "Bishops' Wars" he commanded a troop of horses in the army of King Charles I. In 1639 he was knighted. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Lucas naturally took the king's side, and was wounded at the Battle of Powick Bridge, the first cavalry engagement.[3]

Early in 1643 Lucas raised a regiment of horse, with which he defeated Middleton at Padbury on 1 July. In January 1645 he commanded the forces attacking Nottingham, and soon afterwards, on the recommendation of Prince Rupert, he was made lieutenant-general of the Duke of Newcastle's Northern army. When Newcastle was shut up in York, Lucas and the cavalry remained in the open country, and when Rupert's relieving army crossed the hills into Yorkshire he was quickly joined by Newcastle's squadrons.[3]

At the Battle of Marston Moor Lucas swept Fairfax's Yorkshire horse before him, but later in the day he was taken prisoner, in a battle won decisively by Parliament. Exchanged for Parliamentary prisoners during the winter, he defended Berkeley Castle, in Gloucestershire, for a short time against Thomas Rainsborough, but was soon back in the field. As lieutenant-general of all the horse, he accompanied Lord Astley in the last campaign of the first war, and taken prisoner again at Stow-on-the-Wold, he agreed not to bear arms against Parliament in the future.[3]

During the Second Civil War he broke this parole when he took a prominent part in the seizure of Colchester in 1648. Following the three-month Siege of Colchester, the town surrendered to Fairfax on 28 August 1648.[3]

Execution & burial[edit]

When Colchester capitulated the superior officers were obliged to "render themselves to mercy", and Lucas was condemned to death by a court martial. The sentence was the result of the exasperation felt by the puritan officers against the authors of the second civil war, but can neither be regarded as a breach of the capitulation, nor be specially attributed to Fairfax. Parliament by its votes of 20 June 1648 had declared all who took part in the new civil war guilty of high treason, and Henry Ireton used this argument to justify the sentence. "I am no traitor," answered Lucas, "but a true subject to my king and the laws of the kingdom ... I do plead before you all the laws of this kingdom. I have fought with a commission from those that were my sovereigns, and from that commission I must justify my action".[4] Lucas and his fellow-prisoner, Sir George Lisle, were shot to death on 28 August 1648 in the castle yard at Colchester, and were buried in the vault of the Lucas family in the north aisle of St. Giles's Church, Colchester.[5]

Twelve years later, on 7 June 1661, the funeral of Lucas and Lisle was solemnly celebrated by the town of Colchester, and a stone was placed by John Lucas, 1st Baron Lucas on their tombs, with an inscription stating that they were "by the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax in cold blood barbarously murdered".[6] By way of reparation, Lucas was awarded a posthumous peerage in 1666.[citation needed]

Contemporary reputation[edit]

Lucas was reputed to be one of the best cavalry leaders in the king's army. Even Clarendon, who judges him with undue severity, describes him as "very brave in his person, and in a day of battle a gallant man to look upon and follow".[7] According to his sister, Lucas "naturally had a practical genius to the warlike arts, as natural poets have to poetry, but his life was cut off before he could arrive at the true perfection thereof". He left a Treatise of the Arts of War, but being written in cipher it was never published.[8] To his military gifts Lucas added a devotion to the king's cause, which he sometimes expressed in singularly high-flown and poetical language.[9]


Lucas and Lisle monument, Colchester Castle


An inscribed stone obelisk in commemoration of Lucas and Lisle exists at Colchester Castle.


Lucas and Lisle are celebrated in two contemporary poems:[10]

  • The Loyal Sacrifice, 8vo, 1648,
  • An Elegy on the Murder committed at Colchester upon Sir C. Lucas and Sir G. Lisle, 4to, 1648.[11]


A portrait of Lucas, by Robert Walker, was in the possession of Lord Lyttelton in 1900. Engraved portraits are in Warburton's Prince Rupert and in the illustrated edition of Clarendon's Rebellion, said to be after a painting by William Dobson.[12]


  1. ^ Firth 1893, p. 231 cites Morant, History of Essex, i. 124)
  2. ^ Firth 1893, p. 229 see Margaret Cavendish, A True Relation of my Birth, Breeding, and Life Firth (ed), pp. 280-3).
  3. ^ a b c d Anonymous 1911, p. 93.
  4. ^ Firth 1893, p. 230 cites An Account of the Death of Sir Charles Lucas, &c., Clarke MSS.; cf. Gardiner, Great Civil War, iii. 459.
  5. ^ Firth 1893, p. 230 Morant, Essex, i. 72; Carter, p. 234.
  6. ^ Firth 1893, p. 230 cites Carter. p. 235; Mercurius Publicus, 6–13 June 1661.
  7. ^ Firth 1893, p. 230 cites Clarendon Rebellion, xi. 108.
  8. ^ Firth 1893, p. 230 cites Life of Newcastle, ed. Firth, p. 282.
  9. ^ Firth 1893, p. 231 cites Warburton, Prince Rupert, ii. 370; Vicars, God's Ark. p. 399.
  10. ^ Firth 1893, p. 231.
  11. ^ Firth 1893, p. 229 states "cf. Edward Howard's absurd epic on the civil wars entitled Caroloiades Redivivus", 8vo, 1695
  12. ^ Firth 1893, p. 231 see Cat. of Sutherland Collection in the Bodleian Library, p. 607, and Granger, Biog. Hist. 1779, ii. 267.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainAnonymous (1911). "Lucas, Sir Charles". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 93. contains a bibliography of:
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainFirth, Charles Harding (1893). "Lucas, Charles (d.1648)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 34. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 229–231. contains a bibliography of:
    • Lloyd's Memoirs of Excellent Personages, 1668, contains a Lives of the Lucases
    • Heath's New Book of Loyal English Martyrs contains a Lives of the Lucases
    • Thomas Philip, Earl de Grey, A Memoir of the Life of Sir Charles Lucas, 4to, was privately printed in 1845.
    • The Life of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, Firth (ed). 1886, App. pp. 363–369; contains an account of Lucas
    • Morant's History of Colchester, 1789, has an account of the family of Lucas, with a pedigree
    • Morant's History of Essex, 1758, has an account of the family of Lucas, with a pedigree
    • Warburton's Prince Rupert in the Fairfax Papers, contains the Letters of Sir Charles Lucas
    • Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. pt. ii., contains the Letters of Sir Charles Lucas

Further reading[edit]

  • David Appleby (1996), Our Fall Our Fame: The Life and Times of Sir Charles Lucas (1613–1648), Newtown: Jacobus Publications, ISBN 978-1-898621-45-4.