Lucraft and Luckraft One-name Study

Friday, November 18, 2005

Nicholas Lucraft: witness at Old Bailey 1833

I have long been on the trail of one Nicholas Lucraft who described himself as a “gent” or a “Wine Cooper” on various census and other documents in London from 1825 onwards. I’ve long thought he must be Nicholas Lucraft baptised 9 Jun 1793 in Broadclyst, Devon, but it’s only now that I feel more confident.

This week I came across a Nicholas Lucraft whom I believe to be this man. He was the innkeeper of the Macclesfield Arms in City Road, London and he gave evidence at the trial at the Old Bailey of two men who were accused of assault and theft. There were several other witnesses cross examined, and if you want to read the whole trial transcript from 1833, you can find the Old Bailey records online at and available to read for nothing at :

I have extracted the victim’s initial statement from the witness box, and then Nicholas’s own testimony. Both men were convicted and sentenced to death.

I’ve also found him and his family living at 20 Grange Walk in Bermondsey in 1851. He says he was born in Broadclyst, and is aged 57. This would put his birth at about 1794. His is listed as a warehouseman, and his son as a cellarman, which would put them both in the wine and drinks industry, which is what later records say. It would also suggest why he made enough profit to call himself a “gent” in later life!

There is a record of a death in Shoreditch in 1855, which might be him, but not checked yet.

I think we have cracked the case.

The Macclesfield Arms

The Macclesfield Arms was recorded at 268 City Road in the 1881 Census, but the landlord by then was John Sayer. There are other references to the Macclesfield Arms in the Old Bailey records; no doubt there were several incidents around the canal wharf area of City road.

The Macclesfield Arms was still on City Road in the 1940s and is listed in a major listing of all the public houses in London at that time. For a short time in 1873 the inn hosted the Cornwallis Masonic Lodge, one of the older lodges, as it sought a new home, before settling later in Bromley, Kent.

The red circle on the map above shows the position of 259 City Road, about opposite Macclesfield Road and at the end of Wharf Road, which features in the case below. I suspect the road name is all that’s left of the public house now.

The explosion at Macclesfield Bridge of 1874 was a famous incident in the canal's history, in which a gunpowder barge blew up, destroying the bridge and sending debris in all directions.

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey 14th February, 1833

Second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice Patteson.

441. JOHN TURFREY and SAMUEL HARDING were indicted for feloniously assaulting Thomas Bodle , on the 3rd of February, at St. Luke, putting him in fear, and taking from his person, and against his will, 6 shillings, 5 sixpences, and 3 halfpence, his property .

THOMAS BODLE. I am a boatman, and live at Ratcliff, near Nottingham - I am in the employ of Mr. Munday; I came from Shipley to London for coals - we came to London on the Friday before I was at the Police-office; I was at the Windsor Castle, City-road, on the Saturday, about six o'clock, or about half-past six in the afternoon; I drank there until half-past eleven o'clock; I remained there the whole time - Turfrey was drinking on the other side of the table I sat at; he did not drink with me - he was trying to sell something; I did not drink such a vast deal there; I was not at all drunk when I left there, nor was I the worse for liquor; I left the house, at half-past eleven o'clock - I wanted some more liquor, and they would not give it to me- I paid for what I had; I then had between 8s. and 9s. in my pocket in silver, and 1 1/2d. in copper - when I came out Turfrey followed me close - I went to the Macclesfield Arms, over the canal bridge, City-road; Turfrey came into the house after me - I had some drink there; I believe I had a glass of gin and a glass of red port wine; I wanted more there - they would not give it me; I left there, then went across the way to the City Arms, and did not see Turfrey go in there; I sat down and went to sleep there - I do not remember drinking any thing there; I felt myself rather fresh when I was there - I do not know how long I slept there; the next I recollect was when I was walking on the bridge by myself (I do not recollect coming out of the house) - then Harding and Turfrey came up together; I had never seen Harding before, to my recollection - they came up and said, "Lay hold of the b - r's hands, and let us take him on board;" Harding said so - my boat laid at the wharf No. 33 in the City-road, three or four hundred yards from the bridge; they were then taking me along the road - one laid hold of one arm, and one the other; they took me along the road till I showed them which wharf my boat laid down - they took me about halfway down the wharf; I said I could go by myself then, and thanked them - they let go of me, and I was going to the boat by myself; they ran after me again, and said, "Let us knock the b-r down and take his money from him;" Harding said that, and he ran up to me, hit me on the breast, and knocked me down - Harding put his hands into my breeches pockets, and then said, "Lay hold of the b-r's legs, let us kill the b-r, and heave him in this hole; Turfrey was looking on - he was close to me when Harding struck me; Turfrey then laid hold of my legs, and Harding laid hold of my arms; they hove me right into a hole - it was like an unfinished building, like a cellar hole; I do not know how deep it was - I recollect nothing more till I found myself at the station-house on the Sunday morning; my money was not in my pocket then - the last place I saw my money at was the Macclesfield Arms; I took it out to pay there, and Turfrey saw me with it - the landlord, said in his presence, that I had better have nothing to do with such a man as that, and told me to go and get a bed somewhere, or else go to my boat; I do not recollect what Turfrey said - he was jawing the landlord; this was inside the Macclesfield Arms - the landlord's man put him out of the house, before I went out; I then went to the City Arms - I do not recollect seeing Turfrey after I left the Macclesfield Arms, till he came up with Harding; I did not know him before that day - I had never seen either of them before; I swear Harding is the man - I was sober enough to speak to his features; it was a very light night, moon-light, as light as it is here almost.

NICHOLAS LUCRAFT . I keep the Macclesfield Arms. Bodle came into my house on the 2nd of February, a little before twelve o'clock, alone - Turfrey was there; I will not be certain which came in first - Bodle certainly had been drinking; he was not sober, but I think knew what he was doing - he had a glass of gin put into some cold water; he paid for it - I saw 8s. or 12s., in his hand when he paid me; he held it open in his hand for a minute -Turfrey was standing close by him, and saw it; the prosecutor asked me if he could have a bed at my house for the night - I said he could not, but I dare say he could get one in the neighbourhood; Turfrey told him he would give him a bed if he would go to Paddington with him - I told him he had better not go to Paddington, but get a bed in the neighbourhood, and desired him to have nothing to do with Turfrey, as he was a strange man; Turfrey did not like what I said, and got insolent to me - I ordered my servant to put him outside the door; and again told the prosecutor to have nothing to do with him; my servant took Turfrey by the arm, and rather lead him out of the house - Bodle stopped about two minutes, and then he went; I saw no more of it.

Cross-examined. Q. About what time did the prosecutor come to your house? A. About five minutes to twelve o'clock - I thought before he went that he had had quite sufficient; I served him as I should another customer - I was preparing to clear my house; he had a glass of port wine almost immediately after the gin - he mixed it all up together - I did not say any thing to him about it; he did not walk out of my house like a tipsy man - he was not very drunk; the City Arms is about one hundred yards from my house.

Friday, November 11, 2005


This text is taken from a website about the Navy, and covers part of the Crimea campaign. Charles Maxwell Lucraft gets a couple of mentions. The full details are at from where I have shamelessly lifted this small section.


(From a photo by the London Stereoscopic Co.)

The explosions alluded to, and especially the second, which was, in effect, a series of explosions lasting more than two minutes, were very severe, and are believed to have cost the enemy a large number of lives. As sunset drew near, Dundas recalled the gunboats, in consequence of the intricate nature of the navigation, and of the fact that more than one of them had grounded even in daylight. But the French battery on Abraham Holrn went on with the bombardment; and, at half-past ten, the boats of the fleet, assembled under Captain Henry Caldwell, began a three-hours' fire with rockets upon the fortress, causing new conflagrations and increasing the old ones. These rocket-boats, about thirty in number, were commanded by Lieutenants Leveson Eliot Henry Somerset, and Thomas Barnardiston (Duke of Wellington), Charles Maxwell Luckraft (Euryalus), Henry Bedford Woolcombe, and Cornwallis Wykeham Martin (Arrogant), John Binney Scott, and Francis Moubray Prattent (Pembroke), Robert Boyle Miller (Vulture), John Appleby Pritchard (Edinburgh), John Bousquet Field (Cossack), Thomas Stackhouse (Dragon), Henry Bartlett King (Magicienne), William Naper Cornwall, and Francis Bland Herbert (Geyser), Robert Cooper Atonal, and Maxwell Fox (Cornwallis), John Dobree M'Crea, and James Graham Goodenough (Hastings), and Armine Wodehouse, and Charles Henry Clutterbuck (Amphion), together with junior officers.

The premature explosion of a rocket in the pinnace of the Hastings wounded two men; nine persons were also wounded by a somewhat similar accident in the pinnace of the Vulture, and there were other slight casualties, very few, however, of which were due to the enemy's fire. The boats of the Cornwallis, Hastings, and Amphion were employed, not against the forts, but against a frigate which lay moored in Kungs Sund. The vessel could not be burnt; but Lieutenant Tattnall, senior officer of these boats, was praised by Captain Wellesley for the manner in which he had carried out-orders.

"At daylight on the morning of the 10th," continues Dundas, "the positions of the several mortar-vessels had been advanced within easier range, and the gunboats were again directed to engage. The three-decked ship, which had been moored by the enemy to block and defend the channel between Gustafvaard and Bakholmen, had been withdrawn during the night to a more secure position; but the fire from the batteries was increased, and the engagement was renewed with activity on both sides. Fires continued to burn without intermission within the fortress, and about noon a column of smoke, heavier and darker than any which had yet been observed, and succeeded by blight flames, gave signs that the shells had reached combustible materials in the direction of the arsenal."

The conflagration had, in fact, spread beyond the island of Vargon, and had extended to East Svarto, in its rear. During the whole night of the 10th, a heavy fire was kept up; and, upon the recall of the gunboats as before, divisions of mortar-boats again proceeded to annoy the enemy. One division, directed by Captain George Henry Seymour, of the Pembroke, was under the orders of Lieutenants Robert James Wynniatt, and James Carter Campbell (Exmouth), Charles Maxwell Luckraft (Euryalus), Henry Bedford Woolcombe, and Cornwallis Wykeham Martin (Arrogant), John Binney Scott, and Francis Moubray Prattent (Pembroke), and Henry Bartlett King (Magicienne}. The other division, directed by Captain Caldwell, was under the orders of Lieutenants Leveson Eliot Henry Somerset, and Thomas Barnardiston (Duke of Wellington), John Appleby Pritchard, and William Hans Blake (Edinburgh), Robert Boyle Miller (Vulture), and John Bousquet Field (Cossack), assisted by junior officers. In the course of the night, seeing that nearly every building on Vargon had been destroyed, and that such buildings as remained standing on East Svarto were almost, if not quite, out of range, while the enemy scarcely returned the fire, the allied Admirals agreed to discontinue the action before daylight on the 11th. By that time, most of the mortars had been disabled, and two, if not three, completely split ("It is a disgrace to our iron-founders that one old mortar of the last war stood 350 rounds, while all the others, quite new, were unfit for use, or burst, after 200 to 250", Sulivan); and the vents of some of the French guns employed in the attack had fused. There were, unfortunately, no spare mortars, owing to lack of prevision at home.

There had, however, been singularly few casualties on the side of the attack, only one man, it is said, having actually lost his life. The British alone had expanded in the bombardment about 100 tons of powder, and 1000 tons of projectiles (the French mortars threw 2828 shells, and the French vessels, apart from the mortar-vessels, 1322 shells and round shot).

Photo of Benjamin Lucraft

Here's a picture of Benjamin during his time as a member of the London School Board. When he was elected for the new school board he was the only working man on the Board.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Benjamin’s second wife

The indexes have shown a marriage for a Benjamin Lucraft in 1858, which I have never known who it was for, so I sent off for the certificate, and was surprised to find it was a second marriage for Benjamin. Which only proves that you should do all the death listings as well, but I haven’t had time for that yet.

Benjamin, a 48 year old widower, married Mary Ann Adelaide Hitchen, a spinster of 27, at the Register Office on the Strand on 27th June 1858. She was the daughter of William Hitchen, a jeweller, and her address was 5 Lyons Inn, in the Strand area. I don’t know where Lyons Inn was, put possibly it was a small lawyers’ Inn around the legal section of the Strand. It looks like both her father, and her brother were named William and they were the only two witnesses on the certificate. Ben says was living at 7 Wimbourne Street, Hoxton, which is the address he gave in 1865 for the Exhibition of Arts and Manufacture catalogue.

Hannah’s Diary 1834

I received a wonderful gift for the archives recently from Mary Outhwaite of Plymouth, whose cousin married a Luckraft. She sent me the year-book of Hannah Luckraft, (nee Stephens), for 1834. Hannah and her husband John Martin Luckraft, who was a joiner and carpenter, kept a lodging house, at 21 Coburg Street in 1846, and other addresses later. They had been married in 1834, and ended their lives in Muteley, being buried at Pennycross. They only had one daughter of whom we know, Ann, born about 1820. The inscription in the fly-leaf suggests Ann gave her the book. In it Hannah notes the rents for some of her lodgers, lists of her friends, events she went to and ships that were launched. John Martin Luckraft was the uncle of Edwin Luckraft, the pawnbroker mentioned elsewhere on the previous page.

Edwin Luckraft : Pawnbroker

Edwin, born 1824 in East Stonehouse, son of Joseph Luckraft, of Maker, was a pawnbroker in Duke Street, Plymouth in the 1850’s. His father had been an artist, and his son took over the pawnbroking business.

I recently made contact with Edwin’s descendants, and finally linked in Gwendoline Luckraft, the artist and illustrator of children’s books, who painted in Newton Abbot School of Art in 1924, aged 22. She was Edwin’s granddaughter, and had 11 sisters and one brother. Does anyone know where she might have gone, and if any work of hers survives?

Her sisters, with their birth dates, were Beatrice 1879, Adelaide 1880, Mabel 1881, Hannah Florence 1883, Ethel 1884, Annie 1885, Hilda 1887, Dorothy 1889, Winifred 1891, Mildred 1892, Olive 1894, and Phyllis 1890. Marjorie Gwendoline herself was born in 1890, and brother Edwin Montague in 1883. The births of all these 13 children were registered in the Plympton district. Her brother, the third in a line of Edwins, married a woman in Lambeth, London in 1905, where his three children were born.

Edwin’s brother, Joseph Luckraft, born 1832, was a seaman in 1851 at the census, but by 1897 he was listed as a Bird and Animal Preserver, a taxidermist, at 103 Union Street, East Stonehouse, Plymouth. Does anyone know anything about this interesting and talented family?

Benjamin Lucraft

Benjamin Lucraft died on 25th September 1897, and so this blog is mainly given over to a summary of his life and achievements, which several people have requested.

The Early Days

The young ploughboy who taught himself to read, was born on 28th November 1809. His parents came from Broadclyst, a large village outside Exeter, where his father had been a cabinet maker. He was baptised at Exeter St Paul, the cathedral, about three weeks later on 16th December.

His indenture of apprenticeship, when he was 14, under the poor law in Broadclyst, was in husbandry, or farming, to William Luccraft, probably his grandfather, though in later life he is described as a ploughboy, and as a cabinet maker.

As a young man of 20, he joined Attwood’s Political Union, and the year after he’s with his parents in Taunton, where the family were cabinet makers at a house on North Street, and later on East Leach. Here he married Mary Pearce, whose family also lived on East Leach, in St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, on Christmas Eve 1830, when he was 21.

The following November their first child, George Seeley Lucraft was born. In later life George would found the furniture making company in London that employed his father Ben. George also followed his father’s interest in radical politics, and chaired the committee to promote the Labour candidate in 1890, in succession to his father.

Ben moves to London

About 1831-32 Ben and his young family come to London, bringing with them at least his mother, Mary. In the 1841 census Mary is listed as a chaircarver, employing a man and a boy. They lived in a little lane, Mill Row, off Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, in the heart of the furniture trade. There Ben began to make a name as a chair carver and draughtsman of furniture.

We know that there were other possible Lucraft relatives in London at the time, so perhaps they already knew people. Certainly, Shoreditch was the place for cabinet makers to settle down. Several children were born over the next years, and in 1846 Ben became a Total Abstainer, in response to the alcohol problems of the time.

The Chartist Years

Ben is thought to have joined the Chartists around 1848, and was present at the historic meeting of the Chartists on Kennington Common on 10th April 1848. There were many emerging political organisations, seeking change, and Ben joined some of them. He was active in Richard Cobden’s Parliamentary and Financial Reform Association, and became the Secretary, and most prominent member of the North London Political Union. He spoke around London for the Wheatsheaf Temperance Society. Ben shared the chair at the last Chartist Conference in London in 1858, out of which emerged the Reform League, with a programme of manhood suffrage, a ballot for elections to parliament, tri-ennial parliaments, equal electoral districts, and the abolition of property qualifications for people to vote.

Though we don’t yet know his trade union affiliations, he was one of those who helped impress on the craft unions the need not just for activity over wages and conditions, but, as he said in a letter he wrote to the Reynold’s Newspaper in 1861;
“I should hope that the operative builders are by this time convinced that political power has something to do with the social conditions of the people.”

The First International

Ben was at the inaugural meeting of what became known as the First International of the International Working Men’s Association. The meeting was described by Karl Marx, who was there, in a famous letter to Freidrich Engels dated 4th November 1864. Ben was elected to the committee, and played an active part in its work, sometimes chairing its meetings.

The International worked to support fledgling working-class organisations round the world, and Ben is a signatory to many of its letters and declarations. He travelled to Geneva in 1866 for the London Trades Council, and to the Brussels Congress in 1868, and the Basle Conference in 1869 for the IWMA, where radical political groups from all round Europe were present.

Agitation for Reform

By the mid 1860’s sections of the working classes were fed up with the lack of constitutional change, and Ben, who had been leading weekly marches and demonstrations in Clerkenwell, and Shoreditch, escalated the action with marches into central London, to Trafalgar Square. They had a wagon for a platform, a band to lead the singing, and a banner for the men from Clerkenwell.

The Times thundered against these “unwashed” people who came to demonstrate in “our Square”. If they wanted to demonstrate they should do so in their own part of town, the Times Leader writer suggested.

On the evening of 27th June 1866, Ben led a thousand demonstrators to the West End, where an estimated 10,000 had already assembled. The pressure for reform became so great, that the more moderate Reform League had to take account of the strength of feeling, and took over the organisation of the next demonstration, when 80,000 people were estimated to have attended. So they decided to hold an even bigger rally in Hyde Park on 23rd July. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner banned the demonstration but most people ignored the prohibition.

The workers forced their way through the police cordons, to a noisy rally, where some of the park railings were pushed over. This became known in the press as “The Hyde Park Riot”. The next year more demonstrations were banned, this time by Spencer Walpole, the Home Secretary, but then allowed to proceed, because of the very large numbers that gathered, in spite of the thousands of police and troops on duty.

The Home Secretary resigned, and Disraeli removed the last obstacles within the Bill, and the Bill became law, allowing a greatly increased number of working men the vote. The Illustrated London News said when the people had invaded Hyde Park, that some of it was being reserved “as a lounge for some fashionable people”.

The Ultra-radical Years

Ben was in the ultra-radical ranks in these years, he was involved in many of the great issues of the time. When he went to Basle he argued not only for land nationalisation, but for the large-scale cultivation of the land by the state on behalf of the people. Here were the early hints of collectivization. He explained that as he travelled by train through France, he saw the fragmentation of the land into tiny plots that had followed the French Revolution; a fragmentation which had made profitability for the people so difficult. These opinions were described as “scandalous” when reported in the British press.

He took part in the sensitive debates on Fenianism, Irish Home Rule, in 1867, arguing that the Irish “were fully justified in using physical force to redress their wrongs.” The press condemned Ben and others, for these views, and for letters about the war in France, in 1871, and Ben resigned from the IWMA.

He joined the Land and Labour League in 1869, as the most radical organisation in Britain, and served on its council. He was one of the founder members of John Stuart Mill’s Land Tenure Reform Association, urging state control of land in 1870.
Education Issues

Ben’s interest in education had sprung out of his passion for reform of the apprentice system. Perhaps he had seen its effects. He certainly saw its product when he went to Paris in 1871 for the Royal Society of Arts, to report for them on the state of continental furniture making.

In his report he proposed a new system of technical education, and these ideas eventually became part of the Technical School system years later. He was particularly concerned that draughtsmanship be included in the syllabus for craft training.

Ben had been one of the promoters of the First Working Men’s Exhibition in the Agricultural Hall in 1865, and he went on to promote the idea of a school or college for the furniture trade. Such a school was founded, and still flourishes in Shoreditch. He proposed a museum of East London craft work, skills and tools.

In 1870 he was selected to stand for election for the new London School Board, which set up the Board Schools after Forster’s Education Act. He was the only “working man” to be elected, and the election party was in the Hole in the Wall, in Hatton Garden.

London School Board

On the Board, Ben fought for many issues. He opposed the office of paid chairmen; he opposed the use of the cane; he always argued for free education; he was vigorous against military drill for children in the Board Schools; he was chair of the committee which investigated the mis-appropriation of historic charities by the wealthy public schools; he was early in demanding compulsory education for all, and the removal of fees.

He was re-elected every three years until he retired in 1890, aged 80, as the longest serving member.

A large painting of the whole School Board was done in 1873, and Ben is standing with his friend the radical journalist Thomas Bywater Smithies, another Board Member. The painting hung for many years behind the desk of the leader of the Inner London School Board, in County Hall, on the South Bank. Its present location is not known, but a photo of it exists.

Peace and other issues

Ben was active in a range of radical groups. These included Total Abstinence, the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union, the Workman’s Peace Association, of which he was for nine years the chairman, and for whom he went to Paris and other Conferences.

He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in Tower Hamlets, as one of the first Liberal-Labour candidates ever.

More controversial was his active support of Josephine Butler in the Working Men’s National League for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts. These Acts gave the authorities powers to discriminate against women with sexually transmitted diseases, and were causing great distress particularly among the poorer women of the urban areas. He described the Acts as “the very worst class of party legislation”, saying to working men, who were mostly too embarrassed to discuss such things, that
“It is your sisters, your daughters, that these acts are to entrap – to make use of. Not only for the army, not only for the common soldiers, but for the officers and gentlemen.”

Woodwork and his last years

He kept at his trade of chair-carver into his 80’s contentedly working for his son, George, in the company that ran through into the 20th century. Only two chairs are known still to exist. One is in the possession of a descendant, and the other was the chair he was asked to make by the Liberal Party when it wanted to make a gift to William Gladstone. This chair was re-discovered 20 years ago by the author, and another great great grandson, Jack Edmonds Lucraft generously paid for it to be restored. It is in Gladstone’s home at Hawarden. The irony is that the chair was made by the man who in the 1860’s had been called ‘a cabinet breaker, rather than a cabinet maker’ in the House of Commons.

Ben died at his home, 18 Green Lanes, at Newington Green, London, which still stands, on 25th September 1997. The funeral oration was recorded in the local paper, in which the Rev J Ellis, of Barnsbury Chapel, spoke of a man “who while working for the generations through which he lived, had brought benefits that future generations would enjoy.” Ben was buried in Abney Park cemetery, and his grave can still be seen.

There was a large number of relatives, friends and former colleagues present, including a representative from way back in Broadclyst. Natural flowers were placed on the polished coffin, and Mr Ellis quoted Longfellow’s Psalm of Life:

The lives of all great men remind us,
We should make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time.

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.

Lucrafts in Australia

One of two known early emigrants to Australia was Arthur Lucraft, who settled in Perth, Western Australia, in about 1890, and from whom a family of Lucrafts is descended, now living around the Perth area. One son was a famous doctor in Australia, and the family story of Arthur's beginnings in Australia, with his wife Annie Stephenson, make interesting reading.

Born in Hoxton

Arthur was born in 1867 in Kingsland Road, Hoxton, London. His father, George, is said to have owned a (gas) mantle factory and he is recorded as a chairmaker. George came to London with his parents in the 1830's. George's older brother was Benjamin Lucraft, the Radical reformer.

Coal and Wood Merchant

Arthur first went to America. (Did he meet other earlier emigrants from his Devon family ?) He then emigrated to Australia, where the official obituary lists his rise through the ranks of an evangelical church, until he settled in Freemantle. He became a municipal councillor, and was a well-known merchant and business-man, trading in wood and coal.

Arthur's sister-in-law, Annie Stephenson, in her memoirs, recalls a more colourful young man, with a range of entrepreneurial skills !

Australian in the North Sea

Arthur's eldest child, Harry Stephenson Lucraft, was sent to Edinburgh to study medicine, and volunteered in 1914 to serve in the navy. He served on board destroyers in the North Sea throughout the war, and graduated in 1919 with a first and a string of gold medals. On his return to Australia, he worked in one of the gold towns, and returned to Edinburgh and London for his higher degrees, and studies in tropical medicine. He returned to Australia, and married Gladys Steward of London, in 1926. Eventually he became consultant in cardiology and during the second world war served with the RAAF as medical specialist to Western Command.

Harry and Gladys had two daughters, Pamela and Daphne, who both have families in Australia today

There is a family legend that Annie Stephenson's family is related to George Stephenson, of "Rocket" fame, but the family is slightly sceptical of this.

Harry Goff, great grandson of Arthur, now living in Perth, has helped enormously, being related to all the Perth Lucrafts.

The Luckerifts of Devon, Yorkshire & Jersey

The Luckerift surname is very rare, and I always thought it might be a variant of Luckraft. Through the help of Hilary Bouteloup, in Jersey, and John William Joseph Luckerift in Barnsley, Yorkshire, we now have a tree going back to William Luckerift in Diptford in 1800. John was in his 80's when he helped me, and sadly died recently, but he was very pleased to see the tree develop, and go back into his family history.

Jersey Royals

John described his father, John Shillibeer Luckerift, born 1848 Diptford. John S was married three times, and was one of the 12 original growers of Jersey Royals, which were then imported into England by the importers called Nightscales one of whom was married to John S's niece Evelyn Lucraft.

Horse Buses

John S also ran one of the horse buses in Jersey, and a George Shillibeer ran horse buses to the Bank in London, in 1829. The building George used in London, to make the horse buses, is now called Shillibeer's Brasserie, at Carpenter's Mews, North Road, north of Kings Cross.

Sarah Luckraft of Diptford

The other end of the story begins with Sarah Luckraft, born about 1790 who left a will in 1869 when she died in Diptford, Devon. It's a complicated will, leaving small bequests to a number of nephews and nieces. Sarah was married to William Luckraft, a labourer, or husbandman, and when she died left a house, a garden field and an orchard at Curtisknowle. Curtisknowle is a large house, in a small hamlet, where the surrounding houses have been beautifully restored.

On their two tombstones, William in 1837 and Sarah in 1869, however, their name is spelt Luckerift. It appears that the Luckerifts that follow flow from the change of spelling at this time.

Local Contacts

Hilary Bouteloup in Jersey, descended from John S's brother, has done a lot of Shillibeer and Luckerift work on Jersey.

Clive Shillabeer in Bournemouth has done more work on Shillabeers, in all their variant spellings.

There is a Luckerift in Australia and one in Devon, with whom I've not yet managed to make contact.

Woodwork in the genes !

There have been many generations of woodworkers in the Lucraft family, in Devon, and in London. John Luckraft was a Master Cooper in the Dockyard at Plymouth in the 1700's. Joseph Lucraft was the cooper in Broadclyst in the early 1800's. Benjamin Lucraft was a woodworker, his son Benjamin was a chairmaker, and his grandson George Sealey Lucraft set up the company of G S Lucraft in London, making furniture.

Now Nigel Lucraft has set up a company making handmade furniture, called Appledore Crafts Company in Bude Street, Appledore. He is GS Lucraft's great great grandson.

Bankrupt Joiner

John and Di Luckraft from Plympton brought to the family weekend a wonderful bag full of old parchment indentures and papers relating to a John Luckraft, Carpenter and Joiner of Plymouth that they had obtained. (Today’s John is a descendant of the Kingswear family group and he and Di subsequently brought the papers up to Sheffield for me to transcribe, with Gwen’s patient help.)

I had pieced various parts of the tree together over the years, and here were actual documents signed by the earliest known member of this branch. John Luckraft and Ann Martin had been married at Plymouth St Charles on 28th July 1782. As yet I’ve not been able to tie them into any other part of the family trees. (Intriguingly, however, another man with a middle name, John Newton Lucraft, the cooper in Broadclyst, married another Ann Martin, in 1850. There were Martins all over the area, so this is probably just a coincidence 70 years apart.)

These indentures and deeds relate to money John Luckraft borrowed, to build houses with, and for which he was not able to meet his commitments. The documents show how John was unable to build and sell the houses in time for his creditors, who appear to have called in the loan after John was declared bankrupt in Westminster.

I know a little about some of John and Ann’s children.

• A son John married, I think, a woman with the surname Oldcat and they had a daughter possibly named Neno Luckraft. The documents are very unclear and further local work would be required.

• One son, Joseph Luckraft, mentioned in the deed copied here, was born about 1795 in Plymouth, and also became a Carpenter. He is listed as a “Carpenter of Maker” in 1820, and I believe that he married Ann Squire on 1March 1820 in Maker, which was presumably her parish. I believe Joseph may have been listed as an artist in 1851, of 1 Eldad Lane, Plymouth, though there is another candidate for this. In 1853 he is listed as a builder. Joseph and Ann had up to 10 children, I believe, including another Joseph, who was variously a seaman (1851) and a bird and animal preserver (1897) of 103 Union Street. Another son, Edwin, became a successful pawnbroker and lived at 4 Penrose Villas, and last at Compton Gifford. His son, Edwin 2nd, also was a pawnbroker, and lived at Egg Buckland and Colebrook. Edwin 2nd was rich enough to send his son, Edwin 3rd to Eton. As well as Edwin 3rd, Edwin 2nd ‘s only son, Edwin 2nd had 13 daughters, almost one per year between 1879 and 1899. One of these girls, Gwendoline, was moderately well-known as an artist and illustrator of children’s books, having studied at Newton Abbot School of Art. The family has shown several artistic members. I have recently made brief contact with Edwin 3rd’s descendants.

• The deed refers also to a daughter Elizabeth Ann Luckraft, but I know nothing more of her.

• Another son, John Martin Luckraft was born about 1792 in Plymouth, the and married Hannah Stephens, born in Weston Peverell about 1767, in about 1813. I believe Hannah’s parents, Peter and Ann Stephens, both lived until they were 77 and were buried at Pennycross.

After John Martin Luckraft’s marriage there are several references to him in poll-books, directories etc., including:

1846 Living at “Lodging House”, 21 Coburg Street
1851 “Late a Yeoman”
1857 “Gentleman”
1860 living at 27 James Street
1861 “Proprietor of houses”
1862 of 11 Hyde Park Terrace “and of Lutely, Pennycross, Weston Peverell”

John Martin clearly was trying to better himself. John Martin and Hannah had only one child of which I know, Ann, born about 1820, Weston Peverell and died 1851, buried at Penycross.

By an extraordinary coincidence, a few years back I was sent out of the blue by Mary Outhwaite, of Plymouth, a small red leather bound diary. It was the diary for 1834 of Hannah Luckraft (nee Stephens). She had not written a lot in it, but there were some rents listed for lodgers! The inscription in the front suggests it was given her by her daughter Ann.

The legal documents are very long, very repetitive, with repetition lawyers would now consider unnecessary. (The lawyers always knew how to add charges to the bill). I cannot possibly repeat all the documents, or even one, as some are five pages of full vellum sheets. So I have copied out a few paragraphs of the first document for interest’s sake. The extracts will not make sense as a whole, but give a few windows onto the events. Where there are dots ……. It means there are whole chunks missing.

This indenture of nine parts made the seventeenth day of August in the fifty first year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and in the year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred and Eleven Between Joseph Pridham of the Borough of Plymouth in the County of Devon Gentleman of the first part John Harris Richard Rosdew and John Harris the younger all of the same place Bankers and Copartners lately carrying on Business under the Firm of “Bulteel Harris Rosdew & Harris” of the second part Henry Woollcombe of Plymouth aforesaid Gentleman of the third part William Hale Symons of Chaddlewood in the said County Esquire George Soltau of Plymouth aforesaid Esquire and Amaziah Empson of the same place Esquire Bankers and Copartners of the fourth part Richard Bayly of Plymouth aforesaid Merchant George Herbert the younger of Plymouth aforesaid Banker and the beforenamed George Soltau (Assignees duly Elected and Chosen under a Commission of Bankrupt lately awarded and Issued against John Luckraft of Plymouth aforesaid Carpenter and Joiner) of the fifth part the said John Luckraft the Bankrupt of the sixth part John Webber of Plymouth Dock in the said County Builder of the seventh part George Norrington of Plymouth aforesaid Hosier of the Eight part and Thomas Gendle of the same place Silversmith (a Trustee for the purposes hereinafter mentioned) of the ninth part ………

It is Witnessed that in Consideration of the Sum of Eight hundred Pounds therein declared to have been lent and advanced by the said John Harris Richard Rosdew and John Harris the Younger to the said John Luckraft on the day of the date thereof and for the better securing the repayment thereof and its Interest and for other the Considerations therein mentioned He the said John Luckraft (by the Direction and Nomination of the said John Harris Richard Rosdew and John Harris the Younger testified as therein mentioned) Did grant bargain sell assign transfer and set over unto the said Joseph Pridham All and Singular the Messuage or Dwelling House Courtlage and Premises with the Appurtenances hereinafter particularly described and hereby surrendered and released or otherwise assured or intended so to be (with other Lands thereinbefore mentioned to be demised) To hold the same unto the said Joseph Pridham his Executors Administrators and Assigns thenceforth for the Residue and Remainder of a certain Term of Ninety-nine Years originally made and granted thereof to the said John Luckraft by Thomas Bewes Esquire by Indenture of Lease bearing date on or about the Fifth day of September One thousand Eight hundred and Eight and which was then determinable on the Deaths of Elizabeth Ann Luckraft John Martin Luckraft and Joseph Luckraft the Daughter and Sons of the said John Luckraft ………….

And Whereas His Majesty’s Commission under the Great Seal of Great Britain grounded upon the several Statutes made and now in Force concerning Bankrupts bearing date at Westminster the Tenth day of December last past hath been awarded and Issued against the said John Luckraft (by the Name and Description of “John Luckraft of Plymouth in the County of Devon Carpenter and Joiner”) and he was thereupon duly found and declared a Bankrupt within the Meaning of the said Statutes some or one of them And the said Richard Bayly George Herbert and George Soltau were on or about the twenty fourth day of January last past duly chosen Assigns of the said Bankrupts Estate and Effects ……And Whereas the Sum of One hundred and fifty Pounds part of the said principal Sum of Eight hundred Pounds only remains due and owing from the said John Luckraft and his Estate to the said John Harris Richard Rosdew …..

And Whereas the Sum of Six hundred and fifty three Pounds only remains due and owing from the said John Luckraft and his Estate to the said William Hale Simons ……

And Whereas at an Auction held at the Commercial Inn in Plymouth aforesaid on the first day of March last past (under the Direction of the said Assignees and with the Express Knowledge Approbation and Consent of the said Joseph Pridham John Harris Richard Rosdew and John Harris the Younger Henry Woollcombe William Hale Simons George Soltau and Amaziah Empson) For selling the Fee Simple of (among other Lands) the said Messuage or Dwelling House Courtlage and Premises the said George Norrington became and was the best or highest Bidder for the same and was thereupon declared the Purchaser thereof at or for the Price or Sum of Four hundred and Eighty Pounds being the most money that could possibly be obtained or gotten for the same of which the said John Harris Richard Rosdew and John Harris the Younger William Hale Simons George Soltau and Amaziah Empson do hereby respectively declare themselves to be well satisfied and assured and it hath been agreed by them and by all and every other the parties hereto –

…… All that Messuage or Dwelling House and Courtlage with the Appurtenances situate lying and being in Orchard place otherwise Orchard Street within the Borough of Plymouth aforesaid as the same are now in the possession of ______________ as Tenant thereof Bounded on the North by the Lands late of William Clarke Esquire deceased On the East by the Lands now or late of the said Thomas Bewes on which Richard Cleverton lately built a Dwelling House On the South by Orchard place otherwise Orchard Street aforesaid And on the West by the Lands of the said Thomas Bewes on which James Orchard has Erected a messuage or Dwelling House Together with one half of all the Walls dividing the said Messuage or Dwelling House Courtlage and Premises hereby surrendered and released or otherwise assured or intended so to be from the Houses and Courtlages which lie on the East and West sides thereof
Joseph Pridham, John Harris, Rich.Rosdew, John Harris Junr
Hen. Woollcombe, W H Simons, George Soltau, A Empson,
Robert Bayly, Geo Herbert Junr., G S., John Luckraft, John Webber, G Norrington, Thomas Gendle

The other documents are all relating to this same piece of land and are the agreements with the various parties to the mortgage. The houses were built in Orchard Place, on land being partly the “Garden on which Orchard Place hath lately been constructed.” On the south the land was bounded by “a Road now forming part of a Street intended to be called Park Street”, and also a plot, formerly part of the said garden was land “situate in Old Town Street.”

William and Julia from Preston, England

Louise and Arthur Luckraft very kindly sent me a wonderful family portrait, taken about 1917. It shows Helen (b. 1898), Edward (b 1904), Henry (seated b 1897), Albert (b 1901), Steven (b 1910), with William (b 1869) and his wife Julia Ann (Thompson b 1873). Arthur is the youngest son of the seated Henry. You can see the tree of William, who originated from Preston, on the website; the Preston tree.

Louise writes that William and Julia both came from Preston. They were married in St James Roman Catholic Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1896, and the Luckraft family still attends this church, where many were married and baptised.

This family emerged from the Dean Prior Luckrafts, through a Richard Luckraft, who went to work in Kidderminster and then to Preston, where he married Ellen Hoskisson, and they had their first child, also Richard, in 1837. The son Richard married Elizabeth Halliwell (whose father was named William) in 1866, and their son William, shown in this photo, was born in 1869.

Though William and Julia had emigrated to America, where they were married in 1896, William served in the British Army in the Boer War, and later in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in World War I.

William and Julia lived on Vial Street in the south end of New Bedford, before buying their own wooden-framed and clad home on Thatcher Street, just a few blocks away. This home, built in 1895, still stands and remains in the family, being the home of Art and Louise.

Art and Louise are wonderful correspondents and keep me in touch with their family news.

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 to John Nicholas for his work on this family.

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. There 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 the 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 is 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.

The Heavitree family faces poverty

John Lucraft, baptised 1760, was the grandson of Nicholas Luccroft who we believe was married in Farringdon, in 1691. Farringdon is a little chapel almost without a village these days, though there is a big school nearby. Farringdon is between Woodbury and Broadclyst, just east of Exeter, and Nicholas' son, also called Nicholas, who had been baptised in Farringdon, moved to Woodbury, where he was buried.

Young Nicholas had five children that we know about. The fourth called William, is the source of all the Lucrafts living today that I know about. The youngest child, John, is the head of this tree overleaf.

We believe he settled in Lympstone, on the Exe Estuary, just south of Woodbury, where he died in 1832. He married first a woman Ann Eastman in Lympstone, though we believe she too was born in Woodbury.

Life was hard for the family. The first child Joseph, was baptised a couple of months after their wedding, and the lad was put as an apprentice for six years, to Peter Tilman, yeoman, for 2 shillings, in 1796, when he was fifteen according to the records. If the apprentice records are right then he was born several years before his parents' marriage.

The children who followed fared little better. Their mother died in 1806, leaving John with up to eight small children of whom Elizabeth was apprenticed at 13, Ann died when she was 22, William and Martha were apprenticed when they were seven years old, and James when he was eight. These were parish apprentices, presumably as the father was destitute. We believe however, that James grew up to be a baker in Lympstone, according to the 1841 census.

Three years after John was widowed, he married again, to Mary Chorley, herself also bereaved of her husband Thomas Chorley. She was born Mary Arthur Newbury in 1774 in Woodbury, and was a lacemaker. Lace was a significant local craft, marketing its product in London and all round the world.

Though I don't know any descendants of the Lucraft lines in this tree, there are descendants of this second marriage of John. His daughter Jane Mary married Thomas Litton, and the Litton family in Devon have been very helpful over the years. Diana Lewis, daughter of Nancye Litton was the librarian of the Devon Family History Society.

The Littons have provided me with extracts from the Lympstone Poor Book and Vestry Book, which show how the Parish System helped this family. As early as 1799 the Parish was paying John a wage supplement of 4s a month. On 31st May 1801 they paid 2s5d to John for a journey to buy potatoes. The Parish paid the indentures money for the children, and when Ann was ill in 1819, they paid 2s for her "being a very ill person for wakening" Is this someone to sit with her, or to get her up in the mornings?

Before Ann was buried, on Sunday 11th April, the Parish agreed on Friday 26th March to pay for three packs of bran for Lewcraft, 1s6d, and 15s for his daughter's coffin. Even those in poverty were accorded the basic trappings, because the Parish also paid for the bell to be rung and the grave to be dug, which cost 3s.

Other snippets from the records include:

Feb 1824
Joseph Lewcraft ill at Heavitree 3s.

Feb 1825
Mr Fley for journey to Exeter Castle in regard to the Summons by the Parish of Pinhoe respecting Martha Lewcraft. Martha was 22 at this date, so perhaps she had a child to support.

23 Apr 1830
Ann Lucraft, for lodging of a poor woman, taken ill on the road, 5 days and nights, 5s.

From 1833
a Mary Lucraft, (is this John's second wife?) was having trouble with her leg, and was being supported financially by the parish. In June 1835 she went to the Poorhouse.

The Heavitree Family travels to America

The Heavitree family tree on the website shows the family of the eldest boy, Joseph, who was baptised on 18th February 1787 at Lympstone.

We saw Joseph being apprenticed in 1796, and at the first main census, he is a carpenter in Heavitree, on the eastern outskirts of Exeter, where his eldest son, John, is also listed, as a gardener. In the 1851 census we see Joseph is listed at No 7 Oakfield Place, Heavitree. At the same census, his daughter Elizabeth is in service at the same house, and his son Thomas is a gardener.

The life of Joseph's son, also called Joseph, was more travelled, which has made research more tentative. There are no GRO Index records of a Joseph bc 1847 England or a Margery Hannah, b c 1848 England, or at least I haven't found them. But in the American records, there is a Joseph Lucraft, with these two children, married to Sarah, born about 1837, in England. They also have three children named Mary Ann 1849, James 1850 and Sarah J 1859.

It seems Joseph, a shoemaker, moved to Hooe, near Hailsham in Sussex, perhaps after the death of a first wife, and there married Sarah Elphick in 1848. If the American Census dates are right she was only 11 years old, but they can be several years out. She was listed as a "minor" on the certificate.

Then Joseph and his second wife, and the children from both marriages, turn up in Ogle County, Oregon, USA.. The youngest child, Sarah J, is listed as born in Illinois. Joseph's son Joseph enlisted in 1864 in the Illinois Regiment during the Civil War, though he was discharged with kidney trouble a year later. By 1890 the census lists this Joseph as living in Rock Creek Township, Jefferson County, Nebraska, as a Union Veteran.

The US Military Pensions Records show that a Mary Ann Lucraft was married to John S Fish, and that his mother made a claim for a pension based on the death of all the family members. John Fish was also in the Civil War, in the 92nd Illinois Regiment. He died of consumption and dropsey of the bowels, "chronic diarrhea contracted since enlistment".

Though there is no proof, I know of no other Lucrafts in the US at the time, and Joseph's daughter, Mary Ann was born in 1849, which makes her a prime candidate for a marriage to John Fish on 13th December 1870. Mary Ann died on 15th January 1873, and their daughter, Mary Worland Fish died on 4th May 1879.

[There is later research on this family in America which will be published in a future blog.]

One son gets transported

A recent discovery is the listing of a William Lucraft for transportation from Exeter Assizes in 1841. The only possible William Lucraft I've so far got looks like being Joseph's son, who was also a gardener at Heavitree. A future blog will cover later research intothis William.

Testaments from London Plague in 1660's

I've got copies of two wills of Thomae Luckcrofte, 10th October 1665, and Ellenae Luckcrofte, 13th October 1665. Ellen made her brother, Benjamin Winch, and her sister's daughter, Ann Gooker, her executors, leaving all her estate to Anne. They were both in Stepney.

Thomas, as his wife was still alive, left her as executor. I'm not very good at the indistinct old Latin, but I think they both then died. Were they suffering from the plague?

There was at least one extended family in and around the city at the time, with spellings from Luckcrofte to Luckraft and Lucraft.