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Lucas - by John Gray

Names are in alphabetical order, using birth names. Married names in parenthesis.



b 1st Qtr 1840 in Higham Ferrers.

d ?

Daughter of Charles Lucas & Eliza / Elizabeth Houghton.


Mother of George William Lucas (b 21/11/1857), Henrietta Lucas (b 11/3/1861, in Higham Ferrers, bapt 1866), Rose Lucas (b 18/9/1864) and possibly others.

Lace maker in 1851, shoe closer in 1861 & 1871.

Living in Walnut Tree Row, Higham Ferrers, in 1841, Lower End, Higham Ferrers, in 1851, Higham Ferrers with no address shown in 1861 and in Kennel Row, Higham Ferrers, in 1871.

Note: There is some confusion surounding the whereabouts of Kennel Row and Walnut Tree Row. Both were at North End, Higham Ferrers, more or less opposite the bottom end of York Road and posssibly were the same place. What does seem certain is that the area has been redeveloped. It is reported that the Walnut Tree has survived, although somewhat truncated!


b 1818.

Baptised 19/4/1818.

Buried 2/9/1850.

Son of Thomas (labourer) and Ann, they also had Nathaniel (bc 1821), and William (bc 1826). All of Little Harrowden.

Married 31/3/1839 to Elizabeth / Eliza Houghton (bc 1821, buried 28/6/1896 in Higham Ferrers).

Father of Ann (bc 1840), Jane (b 1842), Thomas (bc 1843, or 1848, depending on source), Mary Ann (bc 1845), Matilda (bc 1846), & Elizabeth (bc 1850, last fling for Charles!).

Described as “Ag Lab” in 1841.

Living in Walnut Tree Row, Higham Ferrers in 1841. In 1851, after his death, we find his widow and family living in Lower End, Higham Ferrers, producing bastard children (see Ann & Jane Lucas)!.

Note: Mary Ann is the ‘Mary A Lucas’ married to Charles(1) Lawrence (see under Lawrence).

           Florence Annie

b Last qtr 1886 in Higham Ferrers.

d 1976.

Daughter of George Lucas & Priscilla Bird.     

Did not marry, lived in her parent’s homes, firstly in Corporation Row and then to York Road, Higham Ferrers, until her death.

In the 1901 census she is described as “Gold Stamper”, her job was to emboss gold leaf wording, trademarks, etc on the insoles of shoes and boots.

At least until the 1950s her home 27 York Road had no electricity, lighting etc was by gas. The radio was powered by batteries that had to go for charging at regular intervals.

Whether it was just personal preference or a hark-back to more frugal times but she did not use butter on her bread, dripping was her spread!

Known to the family as ‘Flo’ or ‘Auntie Flo’ but to her peers, she was always a very correct ‘Miss Lucas’.

Miss Lucas 

       George William 

b 2/11/1857 in Higham Ferrers.

d 1932.

Illegitimate son of Ann Lucas & unknown father.

Married to Priscilla Bird (bc 1857 in Souldrop, Beds, died in 1922, daughter of John & Elizabeth Bird, who had six children including twins, Walter and Charlie).

Father of Lucy Elizabeth (b 1878), Florence Annie (b 1886) and an unnamed child (b 13/5/1884) who did not survive.

In 1871 he is living with his grandmother Eliza Lucas and other members of the family in Kennel Row, Higham Ferrers. In 1881 his home with his wife Priscilla and daughter Lucy Elizabeth is Corporation Buildings, Higham Ferrers, by 1891 home is Corporation Row (presumably the “Buildings” renamed), Higham Ferrers, by 1901 they are in No 5 York Road, Higham Ferrers, later his daughter Florence lived in No 27 York Road. Was this the same house renumbered?. He is described as shoemaker in 1881, 1891 & 1901.   

By the early 20th cent he had a small holding on the Fitzwillam Estate (Crown Land), where he kept pigs, grew vegetables and wheat, which he had ground into flour at Holland’s Mill, Stanwick. He had a horse and did his own ploughing.

The produce from his small holding, including bread (made by his wife from the wheat flour), sweets and chocolates, were sold from a cart on regular round in Higham Ferrers, ably assisted on occasions by his daughter Florence and grandson Stanley Bates.

He was also a member of the local fire brigade. There is a story that he rescued his future granddaughter in-law, Madge Cox from a house fire in Higham Ferrers.

He was asthmatic, a problem passed down to at least some of his decedents! Firefighting cannot have helped. 

With wife Priscilla 

Sunday best, at HE’s wedding


bc 1843.


Daughter of Charles Lucas & Elizabeth / Eliza Houghton.

Shoe maker in 1851 and living with her widowed mother in Walnut Tree Row, Higham Ferrers, she is a shoe closer in 1861 and has disappeared from the scene by 1871, leaving her illegitimate child, Jane (b 1/2/1862), in the care of her mother. Has she married or died? 

          Lucy Elizabeth/Liz or Lizzie (Bates).

b 1878 Higham Ferrers.

d 1973.

Daughter of George William Lucas & Priscilla Bird.

Married Albert Ernest Bates in 1903.

Mother of Herbert Ernest (b 1905), Edna Florence (b 1907) & Stanley George (b 1916).

Described as “boot machinist” in 1901.

Childhood home was Corporation Row, Higham Ferrers, then York Road, followed by a move on marriage to 51 Grove Road, Rushden. In about 1914 she moved, with her husband Albert and family, a short distance to 15 Essex Road, where she spent the rest of her life.

Lucy Elizabeth Lucas (Bates) as a young woman and later in life. Note the photo of her father George on the book case. The books are mainly 1st editions of  HE Bates’ works. See photo with her husband, Albert, in Bates section.


bc 1821 in Little Harrowden.

d 3rd Qtr 1902.

Son of Thomas Lucas and Ann ?

Married to Mary Ann ? (b Higham Ferrers  c1821, d 3rd Qtr 1881).

No known offspring.

In 1841 we find him with his widowed father and brother William in High Street, Higham Ferrers. By 1851 he has married and moved to Chapel Yard, Higham Ferrers and is employed as an agricultural labourer, a job he keeps for the rest of his working life. His wife Ann is described as a “Shoe Binder”.

Nathaniel and Mary Ann have a lodger in 1861, James Carter, a “White smith” from Bedford.

Another move in 1871, they are now living in Kennel Row with other members of the Lucas and Houghton families as near neighbours.

Back in High Street in 1881 with the Houghton family next door.

Alas, by 1891 Mary Ann has died and even the other relatives seem to have moved away by 1901, leaving him alone at 77 years of age, still described as an “Ag Lab”.


b 1793.

d 1866.

Buried 21/2/1866 in Higham Ferrers.

Married to Ann ? (b 1788, d 28/2/1838).

Father of Charles (b 1818, poss Little Harrowden), Nathaniel (bc 1821 in Little Harrowden) and William (bc 1826).

Living in High Street, Higham Ferrers in 1841 with sons Nathaniel and William.

Note: HE Bates is widely reported to have based his character My Uncle Silas on that of Joseph Betts, who has been described as HE’s great uncle. Joseph was the husband of Mary Ann Bird, possibly a relation of Pricilla Bird, wife of George William Lucas. Although searching the census returns appears to indicate that Joseph’s wife Mary Ann was not Priscilla’s sister, however, her area of Bedfordshire had several families named Bird, including one with a daughter named Mary Ann. This means Joseph could have been related by marriage to a cousin of Priscilla, so we will include him.      

            Joseph Betts

b1840/41 Knotting, Bedfordshire.

d poss 4th Qtr 1911.

Son of Eli (bc 1821) and Phoebe (bc 1821), grandson of Joseph and Molesent (?).

By 1851 his mother has died and he is living with his father and siblings, Eliza (bc 1843), Charles (bc 1847), Sarah (bc 1848) in 48 Newland Street, Higham Ferrers. He is employed as a farm labourer.

By 1861 he has flown the nest and is back in his birth village of Knotting, working for George Hine of Manor Farm as a farm servant. Moving on to 1871, he is now living with Thomas & Sarah Foskett as a lodger at Railway Cottages, Knotting and working as a platelayer.

His home by 1881 is Barley Croft, Sharnbook, Bedfordshire, where he lived for the rest of his life, working as a railway labourer. He is living with his wife Mary Ann Bird (bc 1851 in Sharnbook) and children, Ernest Frederick (bc 1876), Clara (bc 1885) and Phoebe (bc 1878). All the children were born in Sharnbrook. Ten years later he is working as a platelayer and labourer on the railway and two more girls have been added to the family, Lucy Ellen (bc 1882) and Florence Annie (bc 1887), again born in Sharnbrook. By 1901, he is back as a railway labourer, without plate laying pretensions!

Joseph Betts aka ‘Uncle Silas’

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