SIR THOMAS LUNSFORD
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This page is all about the most infamous/famous Lunsford of them all.
All sorts of legends, lies and myths -- along with fact -- exists
about Sir Thomas Lunsford. This misinformation continues to be perpetuated to
this day. One of the biggest is the belief that Sir Thomas is the patriarch of
the Lunsford lines in the
This page was last updated
PART ONE: PREFACE
Portrait (color, measures 84.5 x 54 inches) from Audley End
Sir Thomas Lunsford is one of the most famous, infamous and clouded figures of our clan -- all at once! His life, adventures and character are all very much shrouded by lore, misinterpretation, misinformation, exaggeration and -- it seems -- some purposeful misleading. At long last, perhaps we now have the definitive article about this man!
Thanks to the input of D. C. Davisson, P. Charles Lunsford and Warren Lunsford; references, information and copies I have been sent from books like "People of Hidden Sussex," "A History of Sussex," Neill's "Virginia Carolorum," "Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, Volume 4," "Dictionary of National Biography," Gentlemen's Magazine (1836), VA Historical Magazine, William & Mary Quarterly, official papers (wills, land deeds, etc.) and other sources (family trees, etc.) -- I feel reasonably capable to make an interesting bio/profile -- that is (quite possibly) as accurate as we may ever get!
I also need to thank my friend, Paul Kacharia, a resident of Lunsford's
Keep in mind, we may never come to a total agreement on the speculations each of us may have about Sir Thomas, his history and/or his lineage, as.even the above noted sources contradict one another -- as well as other sources -- to an extent. What I have decided to do here, is develop a time-line oriented profile that combines the data from all available sources, with a few side steps. I will tell the documented "facts" as well as the speculative theories. So, when reading this profile, try to keep in mind what is "fact" and what is speculation -- rather than taking it all as the gospel truth. Further, the "facts" may also be taken with a grain of salt, as even the historical sources sometimes conflict with each other!
NOTE: To prevent confusion, as I go along, I will refer to Sir Thomas Lunsford as Sir Thomas, rather than calling him by his many different titles.
There have been many tales passed down about Sir Thomas that have, for the most part, only little basis in truth. Examples of these include:
-- He was a pirate, or a naval captain, known as Bloodybones Lunsford (likely due to propaganda that referred to him as Bloodybones in the UK; that he did sail over to the USA on a ship; and that he was your stereotype cavalier);
-- He was a hunchback (he was lame in one leg, not deformed in the back);
-- He fled England to avoid beheading (he did flee -- in a manner of speaking (his side lost)and he also faced a possible death penalty at one point, when he gave his famed speech of 1642 -- but he did not flee to avoid execution);
-- He was a traitor that jumped ship (he did come over by ship and since his side lost, it is easy to see why he could be called a traitor);
-- He was a cannibal with the taste for the flesh of children (propaganda of his day, untrue);
-- He was an English nobleman who was exiled to
-- He was a "truculent one-eyed man." (truculent means fierce, cruel and savage -- which he was -- to his enemies; all his portraits clearly indicate he had two eyes);
-- And lastly, he was spendthrift (perhaps because of two situations where he, or his children, were said to be destitute, plus the Lunsford estate had crumbled).
I also feel that he may have spent a lot of his own funds for the Stuart (King Charles I) cause.
As you can see, the tall tales have some root in truth, even if they are usually far off base (convoluted), in most cases.
Another oft told tale is that Sir Thomas descends from a lot of royalty. This is true, but you have to go off of the Lunsford surname and into maternal lines to make connections into a myriad of royal ties -- plus you have to go 400 years further back! Sir Thomas Lunsfords 5th great-grandfather was John Lunsford (Jr.), c1391 - c1419. John married Elizabeth Echingham. Her father was Thomas Echingham. His mother was Joan Fitzalan. Her father was John Fitzalan. His mother was Eleanor Plantagenet. Her father was Henry Plantagenet. His father was Edmund Plantagenet. His father was King Henry III, c1207 - c1272. Therefore, although you must wend your way through a maze of paternal and maternal lines, King Henry III was Sir Thomas Lunsfords 12th great-grandfather!
It is also said that Royal connections can be made though Mary Sackville (to Edward I) who married John Lunsford (Sir Thomas' great-grandfather); as well as Margaret Fynes/Fiennes (also to Henry III), who married William Lunsford, Sir Thomas' 2nd great-grandfather.
COAT OF ARMS/CREST
First off, lets clear up some confusion. The Coat of Arms and the Crest are two different things. The Coat of Arms is the shield we are most familiar with. The crest is an adornment worn on the helmet of a Knight (like plumage) unique to that person.
Secondly, Coats of Arms were not awarded to entire families. They were awarded to individuals. However, these Arms were inheritable.
Another topic of confusion is that many believe that the Lunsford Coat of Arms is because of, or derived from, Sir Thomas. This is not the case. The Lunsford Coat of Arms (that we are all most familiar with) seem to originate around the year 1547 with Sir John Lunsford -- Sir Thomas' great-grandfather -- known as the Arms of Lunsford of Sussex (UK).
The Coat of Arms that Sir Thomas likely used was a version that was
quartered, meaning it had representations on it from not only the Lunsford
line, but maternal lines as well. There is a surviving impression of his crest
on a letter to
The Lunsford arms, according to Bolton's Armory, includes the
Quartering indicates that the Lunsford line was carrying on the arms of three other lines (meaning the families had no sons to inherit them).
Most commonly known Lunsford Arms
It also seems clear that Coat of Arms for our surname may have existed as far back as one of our oldest known ancestors: John de Lundresford (c1109). This is evidenced by a reference from Battle Abbey, said to be on a stained glass window there. It is said to display the Coat of Arms and reads (in Latin): "Haec multis anni Lunsford sunt arma Johannis." This roughly translates to something like, "In honor of Johns years of service, the arms of Lunsford."
My friend Paul Kacharia went to Battle Abbey and could not locate such a window -- nor did the caretakers there seem to have any knowledge of such a window. He notes that many of the windows have been replaced in the last 100 to 200 years, as many were damaged/broken through the years (re: weather, age, war).
While heraldic societies declare the Lunsford crest "extinct," because Sir Thomas had no male heirs, it is certainly possible that we can still petition a claim to the arms if we can trace back beyond Thomas, through another line (like the descendants of an uncle/cousin/brother of Sir Thomas).
Another small version of Lunsford arms
OUR AMERICAN ROOT?
Sir Thomas is commonly recognized as the "father" of all Lunsfords
Sir Thomas is variously referred to as Luntsford,
Lunsford and so forth, based on the source and/or the researcher.
However, it is clear, from his signature, taken from a letter he wrote to
Sir Thomas Lunsford's Actual Signature
PART TWO: FAMILY AND HOME
Propagandic drawing/print from the Sutherland Collection at the Hodleian Library
NOT A TWIN
Sir Thomas is commonly believed to have been a twin to Sir Herbert
Lunsford (both said to have been born in 1610). However, this was only
related by one of his adversaries relying on memory ("...a contemporary
authority speaks of him as being the twin son with his brother Herbert...").
This was many years after the English Civil War. Perhaps it was just
a comparison of Sir Thomas' and Sir Herbert's military
prowess and the fact that they were brothers who both served under King
Charles I. This sole reference has been the basis for the belief that Sir
Thomas and Sir Herbert were twins. It is also the basis that people
use to assign his birth year as 1610, the same as Sir Herbert's recorded
birth. They do this because all of Sir Thomas' siblings were born in
Sir Thomas was, in fact, christened,
One source says he is a third son (pedigree in the College of Arms), while another says he is son and heir (i.e. first son, pedigree in the British Museum).
BROTHER, SIR HERBERT
Sir Herbert, c1610 - after 1664, married a Margaretta
Engham and they had two daughters (Frances
and Margaret) and a son (Thomas). The son is not believed to have
survived, nor left issue. Sir Herbert served abroad in mainland
FATHER, THOMAS (SR)
Sir Thomas' father was Thomas Lunsford (Sr.), c1575 - burial
There was also a Thomas Lunsford (of
Thomas Sr. was imprisoned "in the Fleet" from about 1633 until the time of his death. He was convicted for conspiring with his son, and his half-brother Herbert (an uncle to Sir Thomas, not to be confused with his brother, Sir Herbert), to kill kinsman Sir Thomas Pelham (explained later).
According to one source, one of his cell mates was Alexander Leighton, who had been a physician. Leighton diagnosed Thomas Sr. with a kidney stone, and a putrid fever. Leighton noted that the stale air was a danger to his health. Thomas Sr. died in prison, kept there at the urging of Pelham, depsite several petitions for his release. Pelham saw to it that Thomas Sr. would not be released by keeping the required security at a high level. Another source says that he was released, with the influence of Pelham, only to die shortly thereafter, but this is not likely the case.
Sir Thomas' mother was Katherine Fludd,
c1582 - burial
BROTHER, SIR HENRY
Sir Henry Lunsford
Sir Thomas and Herbert also had a third brother, Sir Henry
All three of these cavalieric Lunsford brothers, were loyal to the King, protectors of the King and military leaders for the King. The King being Charles I. For this reason, some believe that these three were the true-life inspiration for Alexandre Dumas' classic novel, THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Sir Thomas' two brothers, at one time or another, if not continuously, both served in Sir Thomas' regiment and held rank therein. Further -- there was even a 4th brother, William, just like in the novel. If Mr. Dumas had a true-life inspiration for the Musketeer's, the Lunsford brothers certainly fit the bill!
I often wonder how Sir Thomas would feel, were he alive today, if he knew his reputation was being used to promote a candy bar? Or that his legacy has lived on and is the topic of much debate, lore and misinformation? In any case, I heard a "Rest of the Story" (Paul Harvey) clip on the radio that discussed the insipration for the Three Musketeers -- and it was not the Lunsford Brothers.
The lesser known of the Lunsford brothers was William Lunsford,
christened Nov. 6, 1608 - burial
Sir Thomas also had three sisters: Lisle (or Cicely), born c1607 - burial Nov. 17, 1610; Ann, born c1609, who married Capt. Thomas Cooper/Cupper; and Sarah christened March 3, 1618, who married Thomas Price.
Thomas (Sr.) and his wife, Katherine, seem to have resided at Milgate (a home that belonged to Katherine's father
in the parish of
Left, wide shot of Lunsford Manor; Right Entrance and sign to "Lunsford Manor"
Lunsford's Cross, UK was not where Sir Thomas' line flourished. In fact, while Lunsford's Cross most certainly was named for our family surname, it is not clear as to who it was named for. It was, it seems, named for Lunsford's from a different branch than that of Sir Thomas. As for Lunsford Manor, it seems it is not a true manor at all. It is a simply a development that the builder decided to name "Lunsford Manor" -- which is located in Lunsford's Cross (see pictures above).
The Lunsford family we speak of here, centered around Wilegh (now called Old Whyly ), located in East Hoathly, UK. The Manor itself seems to have a history predating Lunsford possession, which dates back as far as 1170. It was not called a "Manor" until 1545 when John Lunsford (grandfather to Thomas, Sr.) was in possession of it. The present home is built around a farm dwelling of the 17th century. There are no other houses or apartments on the property.
One source claims that Lunsford manor is a hamlet, not a manor, and all though it was named for a Lunsford, no Lunsford has actually lived there since the 14th century. This information probably refers to Wilegh, all though I am not sure. It could be a reference to the place also known as Woodknowle (see below).
As it turns out, the Lunsford family was no longer in "Lunsford Manor" by the time Sir Thomas was born. As noted, Thomas Sr. and his wife, Katherine Fludd, first resided at Milgate and then Wilegh.
Milgate has been converted into apartments
in modern day. Wilegh is now a private residence, is said to be well maintained. Sir Thomas
might still recognize it, even today. The Lunsford crest, dated 1547,
still hangs proudly over the mantle. Old Whyly
or Wilegh, was never of manorial status, but was a "messuage held of the manor of
Other home place references you may see are Woodknowle (Wokenolle or similar), which is a Manor in Burwash that came into the Lunsford family in the 14th century, by marriage.
Then there is Catsfield, which is the name of a Parish where a branch of Lunsfords settled (not the Sir Thomas branch). These Lunsfords never held lordship of a manor, there.
Lunsford was a Manor held of the Lord of Manor Echingham and was a Manor long before 1547. I am not clear as to how this one ties in with our family, unless it is Wokenolle or Wilegh by a different name.
Wilegh was passed down to Sir Thomas around 1615, who sold it off in 1649 (to a James Thynne) "when he was fined for delinquency" -- and was returned as having "no personal estate but much indebted." Sir Thomas was fined for his delinquency and petitioned the Commonwealth to reduce the fine. He sold Lunsford (I believe this to be a reference to Wilegh) to pay it. He had all ready sold other family lands to pay debts.
Thus, it seems, by 1649, the Lunsfords' had no manor to call their own.
PART THREE: EUROPEAN YEARS
1625 - 1631, POACHING AND FEUDING
Sir Thomas is said to have had been -- in his youth -- of lawless disposition and possessing of a violent temper. The first event that most people know about Sir Thomas, is of an attack on Sir Thomas Pelham. However, there is more to the tale than is commonly shared and told. The events of this feud, with kinsman Pelham, goes on back a number of years -- and the facts of this feud have been convoluted.
The kinship of the Lunsford's and Pelham's derives through Sir Thomas Lunsfords g3-grandfather, William (born c1448) who married Cecelia Pelham. It can also be traced through the Sackvilles, as sister's Mary (Sir Thomas' great-grandmother) and Anna married into the Lunsford and Pelham families, respectively -- making Sir Thomas and Sir Pelham, 2nd cousins.
A letter from Thomas Sr., complaining of an insult suffered from a Pelham servant, survives. The letter, not dated (probably c1623), reads, in part, as follows: "Your man Constable, was busie to know of John Germond, how I stood affected to his difference he hath with Mr Jefferay; he told him altogether disallowed of his bynding Mr Jefferay, being a Gent., to his good behaviour; He contablie answered, Tut, if Mr Lunsford sh serve him as Jefferay had done, he wd do to the High way; rayled at him detestablie; dared him, with his sword half drawn, to fight, revilith him in all places he cometh into, calleth him base, & despiseth him, as one much worse than himself."
There was much strife between the Lunsfords and their powerful and litigious Pelham neighbors, kinsman and landlords. It seems that the Lunsford fortune was much decayed. It did not help matters when Thomas Sr. was fined for non-attendance at the coronation of James I (where he would have been forced to make a payment to receive knighthood, which is likely why he did not attend).
Sir Thomas' violent energies were not directed only at the Pelhams. In October 1625 Sir Thomas illegally challenged Thomas Whatman (a distant cousin, son of Thomas Whatman of the Inner Temple and Cicely Sackville, of the Sackvilles of Dorking) to a duel at St. Pancras, Middlesex. Thomas Whatman, Sr complained to the Earl Marshall where the record survives.
The complaint, reads, in part, "...he was now provoked by Thomas Lunsford, gent., by many wrongs and disgraces to fight."
In spite of this, Sir Thomas was admitted to Grays' Inn on
It also seems that the Lunsfords hunted on the grounds of the Pelhams, without permission -- but this may have simply been a fabricated contention of Sir Thomas Pelham (explained below).
1632, PELHAM INCIDENT (FAMILY FUED)
An early event that most people know of Sir
Thomas Lunsford, is the fact that he shot and killed a
deer (or a hound in some accounts) of Sir Thomas Pelham (or more
accurately, on the grounds belonging to Pelham), on
This is not exactly factual. The serious problems
with the Pelhams, that were to be so
disastrous for the fortunes of the old
Sir Thomas was fined 1,000 pounds by the Star Chamber, plus 750 pounds restitution to Pelham. The senior Thomas was not to see liberty again, as he was required to raise security for his own -- and his family's -- good behavior (he would eventually and tragically die in prison). It is unclear as to what became of Uncle Herbert (record is mute).
a man of prominence and he wrote a letter to the Earl of Dorset (a Sackville
-- also a 2nd cousin of Sir Thomas), relating that the Council
should take into consideration the account of that "...young outlaw, Mr.
Lunsford who fears neither God, nor man." The Earl wrote
The next thing most people say happened,
was that Sir Thomas Lunsford stopped Pelham while he was on his
way to church. Sir Thomas is said to have fired two musket balls at Pelham,
The mark, center of the top picture -- just right of the doorway, is said to be the mark left by a bullet fired by Sir Thomas Lunsford at Sir Thomas Pelham. The bottom picture is of the Lunsford Arms above the same doorway.
In actuality, it seems that the correct date of this incident was in August of 1633 (not 1632), on a Sunday morning. Sir Thomas and manservant (Morris Lewis), fired two musket balls at Sir Thomas Pelham, who was arriving at church (Hoathly) in his coach. He was accompanied by his wife, two children and Anthony Stapley (the future Regicide -- one of the people who signed King Charles I's death warrant in 1648).
Considering Thomas' military prowess, I am left to wonder if he did not miss intentionally (or if -- in fact -- it was he, and not the manservant, that fired one or both of the shots). Perhaps it was all a set-up to put fear into the heart of Pelham (rather than to kill him). Keep in mind that Sir Thomas, at this time, all though called "young," would have been about 30 years old! By some accounts, he had all ready begun his military career and was likely a Colonel, at this point!
In everything I have seen about Sir Thomas, this assault is the one true "crime" he is said to have committed. Even so, I feel he was fighting for his father and family, as Pelham was doing everything in his power to keep Thomas Sr. imprisoned.
All the other crimes that Sir Thomas was charged with and imprisoned for, were politically generated. It also seems that his father and his half-uncle Herbert (Herbert and Thomas Sr. had different mothers) were co-conspirators in this attack.
In any case, Sir Thomas was fined 8,000
pounds and committed to Newgate prison, by
On September 30, Thomas Sr. was ordered at liberty, but bound 2,000 lbs., for his own and his family's good behavior. The sum was later reduced, but Thomas Sr. was never able to pay it and thus, was never able to get out of prison.. In May 1635, in one of several of Thomas Sr.'s petitions, he states that he had been imprisoned above four years and since September 30, 1634 -- and only because he could not secure his bond. Several petitions and hearings were held over the ensuing years, but he never regained his freedom. While he succeeded in having bond set, then setting his own bond -- bondsmen were not willing to assist and he never saw the light of day again.
WIFE, MARY (NOT ANN) HUDSON
Sir Thomas may have married to Mary
(mistakenly listed as Ann in some sources)
Sir Thomas escaped Newgate
Sir Thomas was said to be "so lame he can hardly go in a coach." I am not sure what that terminology means, but clearly he had -- at this point -- suffered wounds that caused him to be lame in one leg (the left leg). There is no reference to indicate it was a birth defect, but I have found one that said he was injured escaping prison and another that said it was from attacking Pelhams' coach. None-the-less, it did not serve to slow him down, nor to make him any less formidable!
Sir Thomas promptly fled to
Sir Thomas' son has two possible birth dates that I have seen, with the mother being Mary Hudson in both cases. This marriage is not documented and there is only one known reference to this son having been born. It seems clear that Mary bore him a son, but this son, born c1634 or c1638, did not survive and was unnamed. This is further evidenced by a pedigree that Sir Thomas, himself, had drawn up in 1647 -- which failsed to mention any son.
A baby son, that did not survive, was born to Mary and Sir Thomas circa 1634 (Mormon Church). I also have information that a son was born to them in 1638. The latter date could be more accurate, as it is the year that Mary was buried and it could indicate that she and the baby both died during childbirth. Then again, there is record of her burial.
© Deborah Lunsford Yates - 2001
Last updated Thursday, September 06, 2001 10:23:49 PM CST
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