Sir Charles Lucas, 1613-48

Fought for the King throughout the English Civil War then joined the rebellions against Parliament of 1648 and was executed after the siege of Colchester.

Portrait of Sir Charles LucasCharles Lucas was the younger son of Thomas Lucas, a barrister of Colchester in Essex and his wife Elizabeth. His elder brother, Sir John Lucas, whose house was sacked by an anti-Royalist mob in 1642, commanded a regiment and was created Baron Lucas of Shenfield for services to the King's cause. His sister, Margaret, married William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle, in 1645.

After attending Christ's College, Cambridge, Charles Lucas gained military experience in the Netherlands during the 1630s and in the Bishops' Wars (1639-40) where he commanded a troop of horse in the regiment of his brother Sir Thomas Lucas. He was knighted by King Charles in July 1639 and appointed military governor of Richmond in Yorkshire in September 1640.

Lucas served with Prince Rupert during the First Civil War until 1644 when, on Rupert's recommendation, he was appointed lieutenant-general of horse to William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle. When Newcastle was driven back to York by the Scottish Covenanters, Lucas and his cavalry remained in open country, harassing and disrupting the Scottish advance. He rejoined Prince Rupert on the York March with 5,000 horse and a herd of stolen cattle. At the battle of Marston Moor in July 1644, Lucas was on the Royalist left wing with Lieutenant-General Goring. After Goring had routed Sir Thomas Fairfax's cavalry, Lucas followed up with an attack on the Scottish infantry that drove Lord Leven himself from the field. However, the Royalists were unable to break the Scottish line. Lucas was wounded and taken prisoner. After the battle, he helped to identify the eminent Royalist dead for honourable burial, and is said to have wept at their numbers.

Lucas was exchanged during the winter of 1644/5 and appointed governor of Berkeley Castle, which he defended against Colonel Rainsborough during a brief siege in September 1645. In 1646, Lucas was second-in-command to Sir Jacob Astley in the final Royalist campaign of the First Civil War. He was taken prisoner with Astley at Stow-on-the-Wold then released after giving his parole not to bear arms against Parliament in the future.

In 1648, a series of rebellions against Parliament broke out around the country. Lucas took command of the Royalist insurgents of Essex, where he was joined by the Earl of Norwich, Lord Capel and Sir George Lisle. On 12 June, Lucas occupied Colchester intending to recruit more troops before marching to raise the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk for the King, but General Fairfax marched swiftly up from Kent and trapped the Royalists in Colchester. Unable to carry the town by storm, the Parliamentarians settled down to a long and bitter siege. Lucas was active in the siege, both in driving back Parliamentarian assaults and in leading attacks on the enemy siege lines. Fairfax refused to deal directly with him in treaty negotiations, stating that he had broken his parole by taking up arms against Parliament. When the Royalists finally surrendered and Fairfax occupied the town, he ordered the executions of Lucas, Sir George Lisle and others by firing squad. Royalists protested that the executions violated the terms of the surrender, but Fairfax (probably advised by Ireton) insisted they were justified by the rules of war.

Lucas and Lisle came to be regarded as Royalist martyrs. In June 1661, after the Restoration, a memorial procession was held in Colchester and their bodies were interred in the Lucas family vault in St Giles's church. A black marble stone was placed over the vault proclaiming that they were: "by the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, the General of the Parliament army, in cold blood barbarously murdered".


Sources:

John Barratt, Cavaliers, the Royalist Army at War 1642-46 (Stroud 2000)

Barbara Donagan, Sir Charles Lucas , Oxford DNB, 2004

Stuart Reid, All the King's Armies (Staplehurst 1998)