Thomas Lucas was born about 1630 in England. When
he came to Plymouth
isn’t known, but his name first appears in the Town Records in 1650 on a list
of townsmen. He is my ninth great-grandfather on my Grandfather Arthur Washburn
Ellis’ side of the family. His wife’s name is unknown, but they were
married about 1655, probably in Plymouth.
Thomas was a blacksmith. He was also an alcoholic and at times abusive to his family. He was brought up on more
charges of drunkenness than anybody else in Plymouth Colony.
Annabelle Kemp’s 1964 Lucas
Genealogy gives a possible ancestry of Thomas Lucas but offers no real proof.
It suggests he was born about1630, son of Sir Thomas Lucas of Lexden, Essex, England,
and traces the line back to Lucas family of West Stowe, or Little Saxham, Suffolk. Morant's History of Essex Vol. 1 says Sir Thomas
left no male heirs and the title then went to his brother John's daughter Mary,
but the Kemp thinks it may be that Thomas lost the title because he went to
It saddens me not to be able to at least find Thomas’ wife’s first name. She bore and
raised a large family and was abused by her husband, all of which were written in town
and court records, yet her name is never mentioned. Even in the settlement of
his estate, she is simply “the widow.”
Thomas and his wife had seven children (first five recorded
Plymouth VR; last two named in the settlement of Thomas’ estate):
John born 15 July 1656
Mary born 15 March 1657/58
Benoni born 30 October 1659
Samuel born 15 December 1661
William born 13 January 1662/63
Bethia born about 1665
Mehitable born about 1667
I descend from Samuel Lucas and his wife Patience Warren (granddaughter
of Richard and Elizabeth (Walker)
Warren who came on the Mayflower).
In the twenty-five times he is mentioned in Court records,
sixteen records are for drunkenness.
On 2 Oct 1658, Thomas Lucas fined ten shillings for being
drunk a second time. On 6 Oct 1660, Lucas was fined ten shillings for being
On 5 March 1660/1 he was found guilty of being drunk a third
time, but this time he was sentenced to find sureties for his good behavior.
John Wood and George Bonham each put up 10 pounds to assure his appearance at
the next court, but on the same day Lucas presented himself at court
distempered with drink and for his unseeming behavior both in words and
gestures he was committed to prison and fined 40 shillings. No duration of
imprisonment was given, but probably a short term of a day or so.
Thomas broke his bonds for good behavior when on 7 May 1661
he was found with Ann Savory, wife of Thomas Savory, at the time of public
worship on the Lord's day drunk and under the hedge in an uncivil and beastly
manner and he was to appear at the next court. It doesn't seem there was a sexual
connotation to Thomas’ involvement with Ann or the wording would have been
different. Ann was sentenced to sit in the stocks and fined five shillings.
|Colonial Era Stocks|
On 3 March 1662/3 Thomas Lucas, "it being the third
time he hath been convicted and sentanced in the Court for being drunk,"
was sentenced to be publicly whipped; the court ordered that the sentence by
stayed "untill heee shalbee taken drunke the next time, and then hee is to
bee forthwith taken and whipt, without further presenting to the Court."
Though the court seemed to have difficulty in keeping count, it apparently was
referring to the higher seriousness of being found drunk three or more times.
On 1 March 1663/4 Thomas Lucas was publicly whipped for
being drunk a third time: "Hee was sentanced formerly for being drunke the
third time; nevertheles the execution therof was (respited) until hee should
bee found drunke againe, which accordingly was witnessed against him, and soe
the said punishment was inflicted on him as aforsaid."
In March 1664 Thomas Lucas was required to give surety for
his good behavior and appearance at the next session of the court to answer
"for his abusing of his wife to her danger and hazard, also for his
railing and reviling others, to the disturbance of the King's peace."
Although not stated, all of his court appearances were for excessive drinking
and the behavior that accompanied it.
On 30 March 1665 he was charged with abusing his wife and
Stephen Bryant and George Bonham each put up 5 pounds for his appearance at
court. Interesting that despite his battle with drink, he had friends who risked quite a sum to support him.
On 8 June 1664 Lucas was sentenced to sit in the stocks for
On 9 June 1665 he was sentenced to be imprisoned for 24
hours for swearing by the wounds of God.
On 3 October 1665 Thomas Lucas was fined ten shillings for
On 2 March 1668/9 he appeared in court to answer the charge
of abusing his wife and children. He promised reformation and his wife
testifying that since his presentment he had not abused them as aforesaid, the
court cleared him with an admonition.
On 7 June 1670 Lucas was fined three shillings, four pence
for striking Samuel Jenney. Again it can be seen it finally abandoned its
efforts toward deterrence, for on 3 June 1673 Lucas was found guilty of being
drunk again, but the court released him with a warning.
On 1 June 1675 the court tried a new tactic, and when Lucas
was charged for being distempered with drink, the court noted "it being
soe oftens, and that hee hath borne severall particular punishments gradually,
and can not be reclaimed, it was orderd and prohibited to lett him have
none." But on 30 Oct 1675 Lucas, for reviling some deceased magistrates
and for being drunk, was sentenced to be whipped at the post, which was
Part of me gets a chuckle thinking of how much Thomas’ colorful behavior
must have bothered the town fathers, but his alcoholism was sad and had violent
consequences. There weren’t many mentions of child abuse in 17th century
Plymouth. It is
likely that the distinction between discipline and abuse had not yet been
drawn in that time, and most child abuse probably went unreported and thus
unpunished. It was the male household head's responsibility to keep the
entire family unit in line. Thus, punishment of children, wives, and
servants could all be viewed as acceptable due to that responsibility.
Thomas Lucas was taxed for his business as a Smith, August
1672, value of 50 pounds.
Thomas Lucas was listed as receiving money owed from Gov.
Thomas Prence out of his estate in 1673. Samuel Sturtevant's 1669 estate was
also indebted to Thomas Lucas. Probably payments for blacksmith work Lucas had
Thomas Lucas was one of the men who took the 1673 inventory
for the estate of John Tilson.
Thomas died at Plymouth
on 6 January 1678/79. Some sources state that Thomas died in King Philip’s War (Savage, William
T. Davis' book Genealogical Register of
Plymouth Families, and Nathaniel Philbrick in his book Mayflower), but it seems to me that would have been another man of the same name.
Robert S. Wakefield listed all documented Plymouth Colony
casualties in King Philip’s War in his 1984 article Plymouth Colony Casualties in King Philip's War (TAG, 60
did not list Lucas as a casualty.
Rather, it seems Thomas died as he lived, and on 6 Jan 1678/9 a
coroner's jury reported that Thomas Lucas, "being very ancient &
decrepid in his limbes, and it being very cold, and haveing drunk some drinke,
gott a violent fall into a ditch, in a very dangerous place, could not recover
himself, but bruised his body, and lying all night in the cold, soe hee came by
his end." I wonder if Thomas was older than the ca 1630 birth some have given him to be called ancient and decrepit at his death.
Some poorer residents left estates valued at one to a few
pounds. Thomas Lucas, the town drunk, left a more middling estate of $141
pounds, 10 shillings of which 39 pounds was real estate and 30 pounds, 10
shillings, 9 pence consisted of the shovels, hoes, pothangers, etc. in his
From the settlement of his estate dated 8 March 1678/9: “the
widow” would have free use of the housing and lands until her sons come of age and
then her thirds of the benefits during her natural life and the sum of 38
pounds of movables ... and use of the whole until the children come to their
respective ages or marriages. Benonie,
the eldest son, received the house and half the garden plot, half the barn,
three acres meadow and grant of four acres excepting his mother's thirds and
the sum of 11 pounds 6 shillings in personal estate. Mary Lucas and Bethya Lucas each to receive 12
pounds and Mehitable Lucas 10 pounds.
I would guess that my grandmother Lucas was a woman of good character
and reputation since all her children married well and were held in good repute.
It is significant that none of them named a son Thomas for their father. Both
Benoni and Samuel were made freemen in June 1689, and in 1690 Samuel was made
Ensign and served on the Jury many times.
Mrs. Lucas died sometime after the settling of her husband’s
1679 estate, but no further record of her is found.
Sources Not Listed
Eugene Stratton, Plymouth
Colony, It's History and People, 1986
James and Patricia Scott Deetz, The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony, 2001
Jason Jordan, Domestic
Violence in Plymouth