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Sir Thomas Lucy

Charlecote House
Lucy's house, Charlecote
Born in 1532, a wealthy Warwickshire landowner and a passionate Protestant, Lucy had built the earliest of the great Elizabethan mansions at Charlecote, just four miles to the east of Stratford.

Lucy was knighted in 1565 by The Earl of Leicester, and played host to Elizabeth at his home in 1572. A Justice of the Peace and Member of Parliament for Warwickshire at one time, Lucy was clearly a man to whom material wealth meant much. He employed forty servants and was allegedly viciously protective of his lands and the game found thereon.

Clearly a Queen's man, he was also active in the intimidation of Catholics, aggressively raiding their homes after the Somerville Plot for signs of sedition. In 1584 he arbitrated in a dispute between one of his servants and Hamnet Sadler, a friend of William Shakespeare's.

Lucy would have been widely disliked and even feared as an anti-Catholic enforcer. During Campion's mission he arrested and interrogated the Jesuit's supporters in the Stratford area. He was also responsible for raiding all the Arden family homes after the arrest of Edward Arden, and it was a retainer of his who had taken over the control of Stratford after the successful facing down of the northern rebellion.

William, then, might have had good reason to feel enmity towards Lucy, a man who had persecuted some of his kinsmen to the grave and cast a shadow over the lives of every old Catholic family in the area. If the poaching myth is true, then Lucy may well have been the reason William left Stratford.

Lucy's death in 1600 came at a time of great family scandal, when his granddaughter eloped with a servant. Shakespeare is thought to have used Lucy as the inspiration for the character of Justice Shallow in "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

The Player

Sir Thomas Lucy's bust
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