Lucraft and Luckraft One-name Study

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Broadclyst Cooper

The Lucraft spelling emerges out of the villages east of Exeter; Farringdon, Woodbury, and Broadclyst. Quite a few of these lines still exist in the families round the world today. One of these lines descends from John Newton Lucraft, whose great, great grandson, John Nicholas, who’s a College Lecturer in Cirencester, found his elderly mother, Edith Mallet, was a mine of information. These notes are taken from her recollections, with thanks.

John Newton Lucraft

John Newton Lucraft, born 1822, was the village cooper in Broadclyst, and financially comfortable. He married Elizabeth, (or Ann) Martin, on 30th January 1850, in Broadclyst. John was a first cousin of my forebear, Benjamin Lucraft; both John and Benjamin’s fathers were sons of William Lucraft of Woodbury, and his wife, Esther Newton. Esther Newton’s grave is the oldest monument in this part of the family, in Broadclyst churchyard, where she was buried in 1831.

John owned a row of cottages in the village, but the leasehold belonged to the Lord of the Manor, one of the Aclands of Killerton House. One stormy night, one cottage caught fire. It spread to all the other thatched cottages and they were all burned down. Under the terms of the lease, which had only a short term to run, John had to rebuild them all, before handing back the property and this took his life’s savings. The picture on page 1 is a contemporary drawing of the fire, from the probably from the London Illustrated News about 1870. The row of cottages still stands, opposite the churchyard in the centre of the village

Their granddaughter, Eveline Mallett, said the family had originally emigrated from France - into Exeter, when the French Protestants Huguenots were persecuted - around 1685 onwards. This is a common theory among Lucrafts for their origin, owing something to the unusual name; but the family is strongly rooted in the South Hams in Devon, even if we can’t fit everything together yet.

Little is known of John Newton’s wife but she survived him. She was a short lady with a sweet smile who wore a white lace cap. She was fond of her grandchildren - especially Eveline who passed on these snippets. The old lady had once been a dressmaker to the Acland ladies and kept their muslin patterns exactly to each lady’s measurements. Of course everything was made exquisitely by hand - very tiny stitches and she taught Eveline to be a good needlewoman. Eveline, at the age of 6, had to show her buttonhole as an example to the top girls in the village school.

John Newton Lucraft’s Children

Susie, the eldest daughter of John Newton Lucraft, born 1851, was very pretty and dainty, twice married and twice widowed with no children of her own, but very fond of her wider family. Mary, the youngest daughter, born 1861, married William Bradford, a schoolmaster in Oxfordshire and had 3 children. One of these, Grace, a very clever woman, owned her own Girls’ Exclusive Boarding School - Eden Hall in the Lake District.

John Newton’s second daughter , Annie Martin Lucraft, was born and brought up in Broadclyst. She went to Teacher Training College in Exeter, and at 21, became Headmistress of her own school. Most of her career she was Head of St Thomas’ Church of England School in Exeter. She always loved her family and kept in touch with her nieces and nephews and children, working tirelessly for the local church. When her niece Eveline was often ill, as a child, and she was sent to Broadclyst to recuperate, Anne was her mentor. When her great niece met her about 1926, she found Anne a delightful witty person, and great fun.

The only surviving son of John Newton Lucraft was John Martin Lucraft, born 1856 in Broadclyst. He had 3 sisters, Anne, Susie and Mary, called Tit. He was a handsome man, full of charm. At about 15 years of age, his father paid £100 for him to be apprenticed to a Grocer, Mr Merryweather, in the City of London. There he learned his trade well, blending teas, weighing and stacking sugar and molasses, cutting bacon, cheeses - cleaning sticky cake fruit from the sacks - caring for coffee, and all the many skilled jobs performed by the practising grocer. He slept under the counter in the shop, but this may have only been on occasions. It would appear that there was no son left to carry on as the village cooper.

At the age of 21, his father bought John Martin his first grocer’s business, probably at Dartmouth, though he also lived at Kingsbridge for a while. In Dartmouth in 1878, he married Martha Harris, a seaman’s daughter, at Kingswear Wesleyan Chapel, on 17th November. The family story goes that Martha, as a girl of 15 had been seduced by the village organist, and Martha was sent to her older cousins, Jack and Urith Harris in Dartmouth, who brought up the baby, Maud. The dates don’t quite match up, so the story may not be quite right in its meagre detail. Later Maud came to live with the family, as an orphan cousin and kept in touch all her long life.

When John Martin and Martha were first married, they went to visit his parents at Broadclyst, and of course both were dressed very smartly. As they stood chatting outside the church after Sunday Service, Lady Acland approached, stopped and slowly looked at Martha from head to toe, and then said, very bitingly, “I presume you are young John Lucraft’s, the Cooper’s son’s wife. You are dressed above your station”. No wonder that incident was never forgotten by the family. And John and Martha’s daughter, Eveline, was dared not to curtsey like the village children when the gentry passed.

Eveline was born in Dartmouth but soon the family moved several times. John Martin was good business man with great charm. Unfortunately, after building up a good business, he would start drinking. Only a little drink would make him lose his wits. He used to treat everyone on sight and raid the shop till to pay for it. Before long he became bankrupt. His father rescued him several times. At one time they went to Tiverton and his last business was in Northam, Southampton, which went bankrupt in 1905, which accounts for their first granddaughter, Edith (Nicholas) being born there.

John Martin then worked on the liners in and out of Southampton but soon settled in New Zealand for several years. His wife refused to follow him. His granddaughter, Edith, remembers seeing him for the first time, as a child, towards the end of the First World War - a jaunty, gay man, wearing a white suit and a white Homburg hat and settled down with his wife - he was now a reformed character. He died about 1924.

Martha settled in Millbrook, after her husband left, with her daughter Winifred and her family and lived with them until she died in 1930’s. Martha was a handsome woman who dressed well and loved good jewellery. Her granddaughter, Edith, found her awesome, but did not see her often. Their eldest daughter, Eveline Susie, was born in 1890 in Dartmouth; she was a delicate child and was often sent to her grandparents in Broadclyst to recuperate, for long periods. There she met and loved her Bradford cousins. In 1905 Eveline married William Edwin Mallett in Northam, Southampton and had 2 children.

John Martin and Martha’s son, William Lucraft, was born in 1882 in Totnes. At 17 he joined the army and was sent out to Boer War. Luckily peace was declared before he went into action. Most of his youth was spent in Southampton and he trained as a baker. He married a widow, Beattie - who had 2 children and they had, we think, 4 sons, one of whom died as a child after they settled in Caerphilly. Jack was in touch with his cousin, Alan Baker of Totton until Alan’s recent death. During 2nd World War, he worked as a Baker on troop ships and died there. His name is engraved on big memorial to Merchant Seamen on Tower Hill, London, together with the name of one of his sons, Harold, who died in action in 1943. Beattie now dead, but their grand-daughter, Louise Beatrice Lucraft, married in 1977 and lives in Western Australia.

Death on the Titanic

John Martin and Martha’s younger daughter Winifred, born 1887, was a pretty, sympathetic, woman. She married very young and her husband Fred Simmonds went down on the Titanic in 1912 leaving her with Ted as a baby. She later married Robert Baker, and had a second family of three boys and one girl with him. I think her great grandson has been named after Benjamin Lucraft.

There are many other people on this particular tree, though generally only one or two details about each are known. Anyone interested in this tree, has only to write and ask for a copy of the complete tree. Especially if further data is offered !


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