Lucraft and Luckraft One-name Study

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Radnall and Houston family connection

Members of the 1931 RAF High Speed Flight with Lady Houston, onboard her yacht The Liberty; Mitchell is standing on the right

Finding an Estate

Margaret Lucraft, (nee Roberts) aged over 80, wrote to me recently with a wonderful story to tell. Margaret and her husband Hedley George Lucraft are on the G:George tree on the website, because Hedley’s great great grandfather was George Lucraft (born 1830 in Taunton, Somerset), the son of Benjamin Lucraft and his wife Mary. George was the youngest of their sons, and so the youngest brother of the famous Benjamin Lucraft, radical 19th century workman’s leader and politician. Margaret is a feisty and active campaigner on behalf of her own village and here is a tale in her own words that makes great reading.

“On 3rd March 1993 there was an announcement in the Daily Telegraph telling of the death of Doris Sullivan, nee Lucraft. [Doris was Hedley’s older half-sister who had married Henry Sullivan. Doris and Hedley shared the same father, George William Lucraft. IGL] About 10 days later Hedley received a phone call from Frazer and Frazer genealogists and probate researchers. Hedley had had a stroke, and so I dealt with them. I asked them what they wanted and they told me it was about an inheritance and that the Treasury Solicitor was looking for any surviving relatives of Doris Sullivan.

“Hedley told them that he was certain he wasn’t the person they were looking for. But they said they had the Lucraft family on micro-fiche and it was a very small amount of people. [I suspect they were reading the Lucraft Family History material. IGL] He told us that Doris was the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Pearce and George William Lucraft. As this was Hedley’s father’s name I asked him the date of this marriage. He made his mistake and told me the date. And I knew with that scrap of information I could research it myself.

“The Telegraph announcement said the estate was worth about £35,000. I asked him who asked him to search, and he said they always checked the newspaper adverts. I asked who was paying them and he said the estate would eventually pay them 25% of the estate plus VAT. He said there was property, cash, and investments

“So it was time for ‘Goodbye Mr Melchett’ of Frazer and Frazer from these Lucrafts. Little did I know how complicated it all was, and how many secrets would creep out of the cupboards. But with two fingers, an old typewriter, and the help and support of The Probate Service and various Register Offices, not forgetting my daughter Suzanne, who diligently searched Registries, we were finally able to wind up the estate and pay all the remaining surviving relatives the proceeds of the estate.”

Poppy Houston

Margaret told me also about the Radnall connection. I had known of it, but not where it led. Hedley’s grandfather, George Thomas Lucraft, (born 1856 Shoreditch) married a young woman called Louisa Radnall in 1877. Louisa had grown up in a London family and her family had cared for her cousin, Fanny Lucy Radnall, at their own home.

Fanny Radnall was also born in London, in 1858 in Lambeth, we think. Her father and Louisa’s father were brothers. Fanny’s parents, if the research is right, were Thomas and Maria Radnall. They were working people at first, but Maria was living a comfortable life at the end of her life, probably supported by her daughter. Thomas was a warehouseman in 1841 in the City. In 1861 he was a woollen draper in Newgate. In 1871 he was a picture frame maker employing two people. He dies in 1876 in Lambeth. Maria is on the 1891 census in Putney and in 1901 in Isleworth, ‘living on her own means’.

Fanny became a dancer in her teens and later one of the most famous women of the first 30 years of the 20th century. She married a succession of very rich and titled men and became eventually Lady Houston and the richest woman in England. It was she who paid £100,000 to enable Supermarine to run the race which the Supermarine flying plane, designed by Mitchell, won, before it was re-designed as the Spitfire.

She was famously eccentric, owning the Spectator and haranguing the government. She ran her yacht, formerly owned by Pulitzer, at full steam around the Solent and elsewhere. She was rabidly right-wing, a supporter of Mussolini and Hitler. She left no will and there are various stories about what happened to the money.

There are several links on the internet to material about her; the Wikepedia entry summarises it all very well.


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