Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lunsford, Thomas

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1450845Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 34 — Lunsford, Thomas1893William Arthur Shaw

LUNSFORD, Sir THOMAS (1610?–1653?), colonel in the royal army and lieutenant of the Tower, was son of Thomas Lunsford of Lunsford and Wilegh, Sussex. His mother, Katherine, was daughter of Thomas Fludd, treasurer of war to Queen Elizabeth, and sister of Robert Fludd the rosicrucian [q. v.] The pedigrees in the College of Arms make Thomas the third son; a manuscript pedigree in the British Museum (Harl. 892, fol. 42) distinctly states that he was son and heir; finally a contemporary authority speaks of him as being a twin son with his brother Herbert. He was born about 1610. There is evidence that the fortunes of the family had decayed under the father (see Addit. MS. 5702, p. 119, and State Papers, Dom. 24 July 1632, and 3 July 1635). The son early showed a wild and impetuous temperament. He was charged in the Star-chamber with killing deer in the grounds of his relative, Sir Thomas Pelham, on 27 June 1632, and ordered to pay a fine of 1,000l. to the king and 750l. to Pelham. In August 1633 he committed a murderous assault upon Pelham, and was sent, by warrant from the council (16 Aug. 1633), to Newgate, whence he contrived to escape in October 1634, although ‘so lame that he can only go in a coach’ (Ellis, Original Letters, 3rd ser. iv. 204). He passed over to the continent, entered the French service, and in April 1636 was raising a regiment in Picardy (State Papers, Dom. 4 April 1636). In his absence the cause of the Attorney-General v. Thomas Lunsford the elder and others for conspiracy to take the life of Sir Thomas Pelham was tried in the Star-chamber in June 1637. The son Thomas was fined 5,000l. to the king and 3,000l. to Pelham, and for failing to appear to receive judgment he was outlawed. Two years later he returned to England, received the king's pardon and the remission of his fine (24 April 1639, ‘at our Court at York’), and joined the king's army against the Scots. For Charles's Scottish expedition of the following year he commanded a regiment of train-bands raised in Somerset, conducted it from Warwick to Newcastle (June–3 Aug. 1640), and was at the rout at Newburn.

In December 1640 he was again in London, petitioning the commons for leave to stay in town, as his presence was required both by the two houses and by business of his own. A year later all England was alarmed by the news of his appointment to the lieutenancy of the Tower. The warrant for his installation was issued by Charles at Whitehall, 22 Dec. 1641, and the commission for administering the oaths on the following day. On the same day, 23 Dec., the common council of London presented a petition to the commons against his appointment. The lower house at once sought a conference with the lords. In this conference they described Lunsford as an outlaw, a non-attender at church during the three-quarters of a year he was in the king's army, and a ruined and desperate character. Among other libels circulated at the time was the rumour that he was a cannibal and in the habit of eating children (cf. Butler, Hudibras, pt. iii. c. ii. l. 4; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. xi. 171). The lords declined to join in an address for his removal, and accordingly the commons proceeded singly (24 Dec.) to vote him unfit to be lieutenant. Their petition to Charles was supported in so menacing a manner by the lord mayor that Charles gave way. On 26 Dec. the keys were given to Sir John Byron, and Lunsford had to content himself with the honour of knighthood (conferred 28 Dec. 1641), and, according to some accounts, a pension of 500l. a year (Commons' Journals, ii. 355–8; Lords' Journals, iv. 487). He was subsequently called before the commons for examination, 27 Dec., and on leaving the house engaged in a free fight in Westminster Hall.

According to Clarendon, Digby, after designing the attack on the five members, had recommended Lunsford for the post at the Tower because he stood in immediate need of a man ‘who might be trusted.’ When Charles finally left Whitehall (10 Jan. 1642), he was escorted by Lunsford, who two days later was reported to be at Kingston with a large force, and with the intention of marching against Portsmouth. The commons in alarm ordered his arrest, and on the 13th he was captured at Billingbear, Berkshire, the mansion of the Nevilles, his wife's family. On 2 Feb. he was admitted to bail, and before June was at liberty. On 1 July he was with Charles at York, and on the 29th took part in an armed demonstration against Hull. On 19 Aug. 1642 he received a commission to raise a thousand foot in Yorkshire, and on the following day was appointed governor of Sherborne Castle, Dorset, by the Marquis of Hertford, with whom he retired a month later, 23 Sept., into Glamorganshire. He was present at Edgehill, 23 Oct. 1642, and made prisoner (a contemporary tract, ‘The Examination of Colonel Lunsford,’ dated 19 Nov. 1642, says ‘at Kineton;’ cf. Rous, Diary, Camd. Soc., p. 126). He was imprisoned in Warwick Castle, and charges of treason were brought against him (The Examination). Lunsford remained prisoner in Warwick Castle until early in May 1644. On 6 May he arrived at Oxford (Dugdale, Diary, p. 66). He was immediately put in command of a regiment, and is stated to have been selected by Charles to assist, with four others, Sir Arthur Aston in the government of Oxford. He then took service under Prince Rupert and became governor of Monmouth; Sir Nicholas Throckmorton afterwards accused him of losing Monmouth basely. He seems, however, to have resigned the governorship to his brother Herbert (see below) previous to 7 July 1645. He suffered on 9 June 1645 a total defeat from the Shrewsbury forces at Stoke Castle. About the time of the royalist defeat at Naseby he received, according to Lloyd, a commission from the king to consolidate the Welsh forces, but in December 1645 he was made prisoner at the capture of Hereford by Colonels Birch and Morgan. The commons subsequently ordered him to be removed prisoner to the Tower on a charge of treason (Commons' Journals, iv. 414). While there he wrote his ‘Answer to a Letter,’ 21 June 1647 (cf. Gent. Mag. 1836, ii. 149). He remained in the Tower till 1 Oct. 1647, when he was removed ‘to the prison of Peter House,’ Lord Petre's house in Aldersgate Street (Commons' Journals, v. 322), and in the following year he was again at large. In December 1648 he was at Amsterdam, ready to cross to England (see Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 275, where he is described as a red-haired man, and lame in his left leg), but he appears to have soon relinquished the Stuart cause as hopeless. On 7 Aug. 1649 he received a pass for himself, wife, and children to go to Virginia. According to the pedigree (Harl. MS. 892), ‘he sould all and went to Virginia, and there he married his third wife.’ He died probably in Virginia in 1653 (see order of the Middlesex quarter sessions dated 11 Jan. 1653–4, requiring Sir John Thorowgood, the second husband of Dame Elizabeth Nevil, grandmother of Lunsford's children by his second wife, to support them). He was buried in Williamsburgh graveyard in Virginia (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ix. 373). On 13 June 1691 the will was proved of a Thomas Lunsford who describes himself (in January 1688) as a baronet of Tooting Graveney, Surrey. He may have been a (bastard) son of Sir Thomas (P. C. C. 102, Vere). By his wife called Lady Elizabeth Lunsford, alias Thomas, who survived him, he appears to have had three sons, Daniel, Richard, and John.

Lunsford was married three times, first to Anne Hudson of Peckham, Surrey—she was buried at Down Hatherley, Gloucestershire, 28 Nov. 1638; and secondly, in 1640, to Katherine, daughter of Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear, who died in 1649, leaving three daughters. A third wife he married in Virginia. An engraved portrait of Lunsford appears in Warburton's ‘Prince Rupert’ and in a single folio sheet in the British Museum. Lunsford seems to have been created a baronet by Charles, but the patent was never passed.

Lunsford, Sir Herbert (fl. 1640–1665), stated to be a twin brother of Sir Thomas, was said, like him, to have been bred in the Dutch and German wars, and was concerned with him in the outrage on Pelham in 1633. At the muster at York in 1640 he was captain in his brother's regiment, and was present at the battle of Edgehill. In February 1643 he distinguished himself at Rupert's capture of Cirencester. He was then made governor of Malmesbury, but was taken prisoner when Waller captured that place, 23 March 1643 (Bibliotheca Glocestrensis, p. 173). He was knighted on 6 July 1645 (Walkley, Cat. of Dukes, &c.), having at the time succeeded his brother in the government of Monmouth. In October of the same year he yielded up Monmouth to Colonel Morgan, governor of Gloucester (Phillips, Civil War in Wales, ii. 280). He subsequently passed over to France, where in 1658 he was temporarily in command of three regiments. He returned to England evidently some time after the Restoration, he presented a petition to Charles in 1665 (Cal. State Papers, 1664–5, pp. 68, 430), and was in command of a company of foot in 1667 (ib. 1667, p. 559). He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Engham, bart., of Goodnestone, Kent, and left issue (Gent. Mag. 1836, ii. 154).

Lunsford, Henry (1611–1643), second brother of Sir Thomas, was born at Framfield in Sussex, and baptised there 29 Sept. 1611. He held the rank of lieutenant-colonel in Sir Thomas's regiment at York in 1640, and was at Nottingham at the raising of the standard in July 1642. He was engaged in the action near Sherborne Castle, and subsequently at the battle of Edgehill in the same year, and was killed at the siege of Bristol, 25 July 1643 (Clarendon, Rebellion, vii. 121 n.; Mercurius Aulicus, 27 July 1643).

[Berry's Sussex Pedigrees; Collectanea Top. et Gen. iv. 142; Harl. MSS. 892 and 5800; Gent. Mag. 1836 pt. ii. 32, 148; Commons' and Lords' Journals; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 5702; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 275, 6th Rep. i. 25; Calendars of State Papers, Dom., and of Comm. for Advance of Money; Clarendon's Rebellion; Bibliotheca Glocestrensis; Walkley's Catalogue of Dukes, &c.; Phillips's Civil War in Wales; Ellis's Original Letters; Ludlow's Memoirs; Dugdale's Diary; Warburton's Prince Rupert; Symonds's Diary of Marches (Camd. Soc.); Wright's Political Ballads, Percy Soc. (for his reputation for eating children); Granger's Dict.; Lloyd's Memoirs, p. 582; Lunsford's Answer to a Letter to Sir Thomas Lunsford, knt. and bart., dated from the Tower, 16 June 1647; Middlesex County Records, iii. 220; Gardiner's Hist. of England and Great Civil War.]

W. A. S.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.187
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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283 i 19 f.e. Lunsford, Sir Thomas: for East Hatherley read Down Hatherley