The life of Daniel Lucas was described in an article in the Wiltshire Times on Saturday 15th July, 1911. The article was written by his second son Ralph, and was designed to highlight the Jubilee celebration of the Trowbridge Cooperative Society. Daniel Lucas was the founding member of the society.
Although I do not have access to the complete article, the majority of it has been copied to this site to explain the life of Daniel Lucas. Text in italics comes directly from the article.
Wiltshire Times articleEdit
The celebration of the Jubilee of the formation of the Trowbridge Co-operative Society will be marked on Saturday next with a fete at Trowbridge, when many hundreds of children will be entertained to tea in the Flower Show Field, and later there will be a meeting over which Mr W Walker, JP, will preside, and sports, etc.
A brief sketch of the career of the founder of the Society will no doubt be read by many with very great interest. Mr Daniel Lucas, the gentleman referred to (whose portrait accompanies this article) was in many respects as extraordinary man- one who was in advance of his time by a long way. The following particulars of his career are from the pen of his second son, who was trained to the journalistic profession in Trowbridge under the later Mr William Collins, and who after following that profession for over 40 years in Yorkshire has settled down in the neighbourhood of London with his wife and some members of his family. He writes as follows:-
Early years Edit
My father, Mr Daniel Lucas, was born March 1st, 1817. He was the eldest son of James Lucas, a cloth weaver, of Lower Studley, Trowbridge, his mother’s maiden name being Mary Moon, of Upper Studley. He was christened in Trowbridge Parish Church by the Poet Crabbe, then Rector.
Daniel’s siblings were James, Thomas, Elizabeth (died young), Sarah, Ann, Hannah (died young), Eliza and Mary.
After very little schooling he was at an early age put to the loom, for he came of a family of weavers – his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather having all worked in that way – of course at hand-looms in their own homes. He was afterwards a pattern designer for Messers I. and T. Clark, in whose employ he remained till his death. In a few years, however, he changed to the position of book-keeper, and had the duty also of “passing” the cloths brought in by the weavers, and of issuing to them the yarn, etc., for their next pieces. These duties he continued after the introduction of the power-looms, and the building of the weaving sheds.
He married on the 27th October, 1838, Martha, eldest daughter of Samuel Garrett (also a family of weavers). They lived for many years in a house near the top of Mortimer Street and Dursley Lane, and there had a family of 12 children. My mother herself was a weaver, and followed that trade at home for several years, subsequently taking to “harness” (or “heald” as they call them in the North) making. At both harness-making and weaving I and others of the family assisted her. At the loom I frequently “changed shuttles” for her in the weaving of fancy cloths, and at harness-making I grew to be quite expert.
In the 1841 census for Wiltshire, Daniel is located at Middle Studley, Trowbridge, with wife Martha and his aunt Mary age 50. Daniel’s aunt Mary (sister to his father James) was crippled and lived with Daniel for the majority of her life. She was a weaver at this time. An Eliza Lucas, aged 10 is also living with them at this time. This could be Daniel’s younger sister, but further investigation is required.
Though bred and born in a family of cloth weavers, my father had such an ingenious mind that he could turn his hand to almost anything. He had a good set of carpenter’s tools – the box and many of the tools I still have – and made many a useful article. One of his great works was a velocipede, a three-wheeled contrivance which followed the old dandy horse and was the forerunner of the tricycle and bicycle. He made a wheelbarrow, also a truck or hand-cart, and a machine for carrying two buckets of water on a pole fixed upon two wheels. The barrow, of course, was used in the garden; the truck we used for various purposes, including carrying our bread to and from the baker’s (we were bought up on home-made bread) and also for giving one another some glorious rides. The water carrier we used in fetching water from the Pilewell and other pumps, that being our only means of then obtaining a drop of the precious liquid. Some very fine poultry houses and rabbit hutches my father also built himself. In fact, he was a regular handy man, and anything wanted about the house, either in wood or iron work, was done by him. He could even take a clock or a watch to pieces and put it together again. The idea of a flying machine was nothing new to him…
In the 1851 census, Daniel and family are recorded at 53 Dursley Lane, Trowbridge. He and Martha are recorded as woollen cloth weavers, and they have 7 children at this stage. Aunt Mary is still living with them, and so is Daniel’s brother James, recorded as aged 32 and an unmarried tailor.
To show the advanced ideas to which my father was always fond of giving expression, he and his brother James were the first men in Trowbridge to give up shaving, and to wear full beards – and fine handsome beards they had, too. Father’s beard was a very dark brown one in the days when I first remember it, and though he sometimes trimmed the ends he more generally wore it quite long. When in his later years it turned grey and then white it was quite a noble appendage. When he and his brother James first let their beards grow they were considered to have outraged the proprieties greatly. People used to stand and stare at them as they passed by and called them Jews as a term of opprobrium and boys used to run after them in the streets, anxious to see such a wonderful sight – such a thing as they had never seen before. In after years my father created as much interest by being the first to introduce strange fashions in headgear. At one time, he wore a French shako, at another a Turkish fez. Once when he went to Weymouth with a few of his friends, all wearing one or another of these fantastic coverings, the people stared and crowded about them, declaring that they had got “all nations” there that day.
My earliest distinct recollection of my father is at the time when he and his brother, James (a tailor, who lodged with us went to London to the Great Exhibition on 1851. Father brought back some things which we considered very wonderful, and which we were allowed to see at intervals for years after – when we were good. My uncle James then went to Australia, and I remember being taken to the Railway Station to see him off. I was then only three years old, and was led by the hand by an aunt, who is still living in Trowbridge.
Some few years later my father was sent by Messrs. Clark to Yorkshire to gather what information he could among the cloth factories of some of the great towns there, and I well remember the interest with which his letters to my mother were read.
As a result, no doubt, of his reading he had tried various “isms.” At one time he was a vegetarian, at another a teetotaller. When not the latter he was a very strict temperate, and would even sometimes dilute beer with water. He very seldom smoked tobacco – I have seen him use a long clay pipe, but he never became a slave to it, and for many years did not smoke at all.
In all things he was broad-minded, and particularly was this the case in religion. He would read the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, the writings of Confucius, Zoroaster, Voltaire, Rousseau, Volney, Tom Paine, G. J. Holyoake, or anybody else, and would form his own opinion. That opinion, however, he never tried to force on anyone, but claimed perfect freedom of thought for all.
In the 1861 census, Daniel is recorded as aged 44 and a book keeper in a cloth factory. Wife Martha is recorded as a weaver and harness maker, as are daughters Rhoda and Marion. 10 children are living with them, as is aunt Mary, aged 70.
In politics he had a wide experience. In his younger days he saw riots caused by the introduction of machinery, and then came the great Chartist movement. In this he took a leading local part – both he and his wife were active Chartists. His copy of the People’s Charter I still have in my possession. I have heard him tell how he had on more than one occasion stood on guard, armed with a crowbar or some such formidable weapon, outside the room in which a Chartist meeting was being held. Fortunately he lived to see most of the points of the Charter gained, and at length got a vote for himself under the protection of the ballot.
Then he became an adherent of Robert Owen’s Socialist policy, but soon saw its impracticability. Later, he was very independent in politics, as in religion and everything else, though ever ready to go forward when he saw a good thing and ever ready to help his fellow-men in the attainment of the greatest good for the greatest number. He always stood for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and against class privilege. He even advocated the equality of the sexes long before the Suffragists came into the field.
In literature, Dickens was one of his prime favourites, but he read all kinds of works and many good books of his I still have by me. His library certainly gave me a taste for reading which has never been satisfied and never will be. He supported the old Victoria Club, and afterwards the Mechanics’ Institute, and was for some years on the committee of the latter. From the library of the former we got our first copies of several Dickens’s books.
Trowbridge Cooperative SocietyEdit
The Trowbridge Cooperative Society was formed in 1861. A history of the organisation was documented by J. Wareham in 1911, and a copy of the history can be located at the Cooperative College of the Bishopsgate Institute, London. Ralph Lucas discusses the formation of the society in the Wiltshire Times article.
The writings of George Jacob Holyonke led him to embrace the principles of co-operation, and in the example of the Rochdale pioneers and other in the North of England he saw something which he felt convinced would do more good to his fellows than any other panacea. So he set to work and wrote the letters to the Trowbridge Advertiser which led to the formation of the Trowbridge Co-operative Society, whose jubilee is being celebrated. Having once set his hand to this work, he never drew back from it, but devoted nearly all his spare time to it. He and a few of his friends banded themselves together and got a supply of provisions from a wholesale house at bath. These goods were bought to our house and there sold to the few first Trowbridge co-operators. Then they formed the Society with 28 members – exactly the number the Rochdale Pioneers began with – and took premises in Duke Street. Next followed the removal to Church Street, and the events already recorded in the jubilee report in your columns. The first committee meetings were held at our house; in fact my father sheltered the committee for a considerable time. Being the founder of the Society he naturally became the first president and he continued in that office for 12 years. The Society had then become very firmly established, and he took business matters in connection with it a little easier. He retired from the post of President but continued his interest in the Society till the close of his life. He had taken up one of the plots on the Westbourne Road estate, purchased by the Society, but decided not to build, and sold it.
On the 30th August 1869, Daniel chaired a meeting of the society at which Jessie Craigen delivered a lecture on “Co-operation”. This was reported in the “The Co-operator” magazine on 27th November 1869. It is likely that it was on a visit to Trowbridge that she gave an address on women’s suffrage.
In the 1871 census, Daniel is located at Bridge House, Stallard Street, Trowbridge. Children still living with him and Martha are Sarah (a dressmaker), Eliza ( a weavers harness maker), William (a compositor for a printer), Emily (a pupil teacher) and Samuel (a scholar).
In his younger days my father was very much included to travel, and had a strong desire to go abroad. So firm a hold had this idea got of him that he took up a section of land in Venezuela, and had the title deeds of the property. He got so far in his preparations as to buy a rifle, a shot gun, powder and shot flasks, a sword and other things, and then the whole affair “bust up”. Those title deeds my elder brother carried away with him to Australia as a family relic. The sword, rifle, gun etc were hung in our house for many years as curiosities.
Daniel's uncle Robert Lucas (c1799-1886) (brother to his father James) had also moved to South Australia with his family in 1840.
Finding his family ties increasing rapidly, my father gave up the idea of going abroad, and decided that he would have to do his travelling by deputy in the persons of his children. How well they carried out his wishes in this respect is shown by the fact that three of his five sons went to Australia, where the oldest died in 1907. The other two are still living there. One died in youth in 1867, and the other (the second son, the writer of this sketch) is, as stated above, living near London, after having spent over 40 years in Yorkshire. Of the seven daughters the first died in infancy; one died in Philadelphia, U.S.A., leaving a family; one died in Australia, also leaving a family: one died at home in middle age, unmarried, after years of suffering: one is still living in Australia; and two are at Southampton.
In the 1881 census, Daniel and Martha are recorded at 58 Stallard Street, Trowbridge. He is recorded as a bookkeeper in a woollen cloth mill. Daughter’s Eliza (a needlewoman) and Sarah ( a dressmaker) are living with them. 13 year old Millie Hill was visiting their house at the time.
My father died at Bridge House (where we had been living for several years) on the 15th April, 1884, aged 67 years, and mother followed him on the 23rd September the same year, aged 68. They were both interred in the Trowbridge Cemetery.
Everyone who knew my father – and there must be many still living in Trowbridge who knew him well – will agree that he was a man of fine character. He was upright, honest, strictly moral and temperate in all things. Punctuality was also one of his strong points and so much so that I have known people keep the time by his appearance in the street on the ……
|Children of Daniel and Martha Lucas
- Information from Jane Bollen
- Wiltshire BMD information
- The Trowbridge Cooperative Society, Wiltshire Times, 15/7/1911
- 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 & 1881 census for Wiltshire
- The Woman’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: A regional survey, by Elizabeth Crawford
- A selection of Cooperative Society Histories, Chelmsford TUC, www.chelsford-tuc.org.uk