Lucraft and Luckraft One-name Study

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Suicide, or was it Murder?

Elizabeth Luckraft, wife of John, the Land Steward, at Oldstone House, Blackawton, Devon, found the body of the daughter of the house, in the lake on the estate, in 1884.

Gwen and I were visiting Blackawton a few years back, to do some searching of churchyards, and we were staying on a lovely caravan site within the grounds of what had been Oldstone House Estate.

The Death of Laura Dimes

When we were reading though the booklet about the estate, we found that John
Luckraft's wife had found the daughter of the estate, Laura Dimes, dead in the pool soon after her forbidden and secret marriage to a somewhat disreputable character, Hugh Shortland earlier that year. The circumstances lead to a verdict of suicide, but there were suspicions of something worse, and the booklet describes the various theories and investigations.

Ursula Dimes, now Ursula Khan, of Totnes, has written a booklet about her family and the history of the estate. It mentions the Luckrafts, and where they lived on the estate. In 1899, for the Jubilee, the family celebrated the hay-making, and William Dimes notes in his diary that "Luckraft was overcome by the heat." John Luckraft was 72 at the time.

Blackawton Luckrafts

I was able to sort out quite a bit of the Blackawton Luckrafts during that holiday. John and Elizabeth's gravestone still stands in Blackawton Churchyard Their son, William George Luckraft, was a shoemaker, and insurance agent, and a Trustee of the Weslyan Sunday School; his name is on the tablet of the wall of the building. William George's daughter, Laura, named after her mother, Laura Ann Best, married Fred Cousins, who was the baker in Blackawton.

The Blackawton Luckrafts are a large branch of the family in South Hams, and the earliest record is of Peter in 1675. But it's a bit vague until the 1700's, when several generations are recorded with large families in Blackawton. Some of them are related to the Tuckers in Dartmouth.

Where are they now?

I'm in touch with David Cousins, grandchild of John and Elizabeth, but I've not found any other living relatives of what was a large family. Does anyone know of Blackawton connections? A copy of the family tree is on the website.


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