Lucas Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Lucas Surname Meaning

Lucas is a Latin personal name meaning “man from Lucania,” a region in southern Italy. It owed its great popularity in medieval Europe to St. Luke the Evangelist. It was also probably a Crusader name.

Lucas is a common surname in France and Spain, as well as in England. Variations of the name are Luca in Italy, Luk and Lukas in Germany, Lukas in Czech, Lukasz and Lukasik in Poland, and Lukovic in Croatia.

Lucas Surname Resources on The Internet

Lucas Surname Ancestry

  • from England and France
  • to Ireland, America, Canada and Australia

The main Lucas numbers today in Europe are:

  • in France, around 40,000, mainly to be found in Brittany
  • in Spain, around 30,000, with the largest numbers in Murcia in SE Spain
  • in England, around 30,000, with a historical concentration in the southeast
  • and in Germany (as Lukas), around 10,000.

In addition, the Lucas surname also occurs in Luxemburg.

England.  Early sightings of the name were in East Anglia.  One story has it that the first Lucases originated from Lucca in Italy and arrived in Suffolk from France around the year 1100.  They prospered in the wool trade.

East Anglia.  Lucas held land at Westley near Bury St. Edmunds in 1180 and his descendants were aldermen and bailiffs at various times there during the 13th and 14th centuries. It was Thomas Lucas of Saxham Hall who, under the patronage of the Duke of Bedford, rose to be Solicitor General to Henry VII in 1504.

Later Lucases from this family established themselves at Colchester in Essex. Three Lucas brothers – Sir John, Sir Charles, and Sir Thomas – fought on the Royalist side during the Civil War. These Lucases became the Lucases of Shenfield.

Hertfordshire.  A Lucas family originated in Hitchin in Hertfordshire where they can be traced back to the 16th century as maltsters and millers and later as brewers. They were early members of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Phebe Lucas, born there in 1816, wrote an account of her early life, entitled Phebe’s Hitchin Book. Her elder brother Samuel was an enthusiastic painter.

A branch of this family from John Lucas, a draper in Hitchin, was to be found in the early 1800’s in the London outskirts at Stapleton Hall in Hornsey and later in Upper Tooting. The distinguished Victorian geologist Joseph Lucas came from this family. Another line was to be found in Sussex – with Edward Lucas, a shipowner in Southwick, and E.V. Lucas the writer.

There was also a Lucas Quaker family in Wandsworth, London. Samuel Lucas was a Quaker corn merchant there in the early 19th century. His sons Samuel and Frederick were abolitionist campaigners. Frederick converted to Catholicism.

Later Distribution.  By the late 19th century, the distribution of the Lucas surname formed two clusters:

  • one in the southeast around London
  • and the second in the northeast where the largest number was to be found in Lancashire.

One Lucas line in the northeast began with Timothy Lucas who was born in Great Budsworth, Cheshire in 1670.  H.V. Lucas wrote poetry in the Cheshire dialect in the 1940’s.

Ireland. Two Lucas lines in Ireland were from England and came from Suffolk.

Benjamin Lucas arrived with Cromwell and was granted lands in Kings county (now Offaly). He built his Mount Lucas mansion there in 1669. There was a line of this family at Loughburke in county Clare which included the anti-Catholic politician and pamphleteer Charles Lucas. Mount Lucas stayed with the Lucas family until 1922.

In 1683 Francis Lucas took possession of Castle Shane in county Monaghan. Subsequent Lucases of this family moved to county Cavan and then emigrated in 1822 to Canada.

America. A sizeable number of Lucases in colonial times came to Virginia and the Carolinas.

Virginia and the Carolinas.  The first to come across was probably Captain Thomas Lucas.  He arrived from Surrey in 1641 and was one of the earliest settlers in Rappahannock county, Virginia. He was a man of some wealth as he left diamond rings and pearl necklaces in his will of 1673. Annabelle Kemp’s 1964 book Lucas Genealogy covered his and other early Lucas lines.

Lucases in North Carolina included Charles Lucas of Robeson county, John Lucas of Wayne county, and Lewis Lucas of Sampson county. They probably had the same forebears. Descendants of Charles Lucas (as traced in Rev. Silas Lucas’s 1959 book The Dotsons of SW Virginia) migrated to the southern states. John Lucas was a patriot during the Revolutionary War. Later Lucases of this line were Baptist and Methodist ministers.

The name of Lucas ranks high in the early plantation history of South Carolina.  John Lucas, a planter in the Caribbean, had bought land at Wappoo Creek near Charleston.  His grand-daughter Eliza took over the plantation there in the late 1730’s and oversaw the development of the dye indigo as a cash crop.

Meanwhile Jonathan Lucas, the son of a wealthy English mill-owner in Cumberland, was a later arrival in Charleston in 1783. He was a skilled millwright and over the years developed various rice mill prototypes in the area, culminating in his first steam-powered rice mill in 1817. His descendants still live in Charleston.

Elsewhere.  The Quaker Robert Lucas came to Bucks county, Pennsylvania from Wiltshire in 1679. His descendants moved to Virginia.

A later Robert Lucas, who headed west to Ohio as a young man in the early 1800’s, rose to become Governor of that state and then of what was then Iowa territory. He was known for his quick temper, almost causing a war each time over boundary disputes with neighboring states.

Other Lucases.  There were Lucases who came to America from other counties in Europe:

  • Daniel Lucas arrived in Philadelphia from the German Palatine in 1740 on the Lydia. He made his home in Schuykill county, Pennsylvania.
  • and Theodore Lucas who came to New York from Luxemburg on the Clifton in 1854 and eventually settled in Illinois.

Canada.  Andrew Lucas and his family (including his brother John and uncle James) emigrated to Canada from county Carlow in Ireland in 1815 on the promise of a free land grant. They ended up in Lanark county, Ontario. Andrew later moved to Lambton county. He is reported to have over 14,000 descendants.

Australia. Nathaniel Lucas, a London carpenter, was transported to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788. He died of drink in 1818. In 1988 four hundred descendants of Nathaniel and his wife Olivia Gascoigne met for a reunion. Peter McKay’s 2004 book The Lucas Clan in Australia estimated that there were in total 54,000 descendants of the couple.  Thomas Lucas was also on the First Fleet.

Charles and Emma Lucas from Thornbury in south Gloucestershire came to South Australia in the early 1850’s.  They settled along the coast at Port Wakefield.  Lucases in Thornbury dated back to the 17th century.

Lucas Surname Miscellany

Lucas in Brittany.  The following are some early Lucas lines in Brittany, France.

Date Lucas Name Location
1615-1720 Lucas, Domagne Ille et Vilaine
1659-1788 Lucas, Botlezan Cotes d’Armor
1680 Lucas, Saint-Didier Ille et Vilaine
1742-1788 Lucas, Jaize Ille et Vilaine

There is an Auberge Lucas at Ille et Vilaine today.

Lucas Adventures During the Civil War.  In 1642 Sir John Lucas was preparing to go with a detachment of cavalry to assist the King in the north when he was “barbarously abused” by some of the Colchester inhabitants. They plundered his house, desecrated the ashes of his ancestors in St. Giles’s church, and took him prisoner to London.  He did obtain his release and fought for the King in various battles and was granted the title of Lord Lucas of Shenfield.  He lived on in Colchester where he died in 1671.

His younger brother Sir Charles Lucas was less fortunate. He became one of the King’s best cavalry commanders. However, he met his end after the siege of Colchester in 1648. His last words reportedly were: “See, I am ready for you.  Now, rebels, shoot!”  Pierced by four bullets, he fell dead.

Twelve years later, in 1661, a funeral was solemnly celebrated by the town of Colchester and a stone placed by his elder brother on his tomb, with an inscription stating that he was: “by the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax in cold blood barbarously murdered.”

Joseph Lucas and Stapleton Hall.  The first mention of Stapleton Hall in Hornsey in northeast London was in the will of Joseph Lucas who died in 1807.  Joseph Lucas from the Quaker Lucas family in Hitchin was a London merchant who derived his wealth from the South Seas whaling industry.

Joseph had never married.  Instead, Stapleton Hall was willed to his nephew John Lucas, the son of his brother Rudd.  John had married Sarah Lane.  But she was forty-three at the time of the marriage and there were no descendants.  Stapleton Hall was instead inhabited by John’s brother William.  He and his family lived there until 1845 when they moved to another residence in Upper Tooting which they named Stapleton House.

The Last of the Lucas Line at Mount Lucas.  Benjamin Lucas had built the Mount Lucas mansion in Offaly, Ireland around 1669 and the house stayed with the Lucas family until 1922.

Deborah Lucas Ball lived at Mount Lucas with her aunt Eleanor Lucas before they moved following an attack on the house during the troubles.  Ann Smyth, a cook in the house, witnessed the attack. She said:

“The attackers entered the house, threatened the staff, and locked them in a room before taking Deborah and Eleanor out of the house.  They then set fire to a large room at the rear of the house which had been used for entertaining.  When the staff escaped from the burning house they found Miss Ball tied to a tree naked with her head shaved.”

Reader Feedback – Lucas from Donegal.  The early  I have a George Lucas in my family tree who was born in 1812 and died in 1878 in Ardiganny, Donegal.  His father was William Lucas who was listed as a farmer in Ardageney and was a Protestant householder there in 1766.  I wonder where my Lucas family came from as it is not an Irish name, but my great grandmother was born in Donegal.

Janice Donnelly in New Zealand (

Lucas at the Plantation – from John to Eliza.  The early Lucases in the Caribbean – John, a planter in Antigua, and Thomas, a merchant in St. Kitts – were believed to be related to the Royalist Lucases of Shenfield. When the King was defeated by Cromwell and his troops, many Royalists left England for this Caribbean fringe of Empire.  John Lucas had arrived in Antigua by the early 1680’s and was elected Speaker of the Antigua Assembly in 1695.  His son George was appointed Lieutenant Governor of the colony in 1737.

At around that time, George had decided to relocate his family from Antigua to South Carolina where he had inherited three plantations from his father.  Unable to leave Antigua, he left his daughter Eliza in charge of affairs in South Carolina.  She was just 16 years of age at the time. She would record all her decisions and experiments at the plantations by copying her letters in a letter book.  This letter book is one of the most impressive collections of personal writings of an 18th century American woman and gives much insight into her mind and society at that time.

From Antigua, her father would send Eliza various types of seeds for trial on the plantations.  They and other planters were eager to find crops for the uplands that could supplement their cultivation of rice.  First, she experimented with ginger, cotton, and alfalfa.  Starting in 1739, she began experimenting with cultivating and improving the strains of the indigo plant, for which the growing market in textiles created a demand. After three long years of persistence and many failed attempts, Eliza finally proved that the indigo dye could be successfully grown and processed in South Carolina.

After her marriage to lawyer Charles Pinckney in 1744, she revived the cultivation of silkworms and manufacture of silk on his plantation.  Widowed at a young age, she continued to manage her extensive landholdings until her death in 1793.  President George Washington was a pallbearer at her funeral.  The signature of one of her sons, Charles Pinckney, is among those affixed to the U.S. Constitution. He was also a Federalist Presidential candidate.  Her other son, Thomas, served as Governor of South Carolina and also as Ambassador to Britain.

The Death of Nathaniel Lucas.  First Fleeter Nathaniel Lucas had grown increasingly addicted to alcohol in his later years.  And alcohol seems to have been the cause of his death in Liverpool, NSW on April 28, 1818.  This was how his death was recorded in the Sydney Gazette of May 9, 1818.

“On Tuesday last the dead body of Mr. Nathaniel Lucas, for many years known in this colony and at Norfolk Island as a respectable builder, was found left by the tide at twenty yards distance from Moore Bridge in Liverpool.

This unhappy catastrophe appears to have proceeded from his own act owing to a mental derangement.  He had been six days absent from his family at Liverpool on a pretext of going to Parramatta. But his long absence, connected with other circumstances that gave rise to apprehension, naturally induced his sons to go in quest of him.  The result of this was that he was by one of his own sons found.”

Reader Feedback – Lucases on the First Fleet.  I noticed that you have Nathaniel Lucas, a convict on the First Fleet to Australia.  There was a Thomas Lucas on the First Fleet who was a Private.  He was a settler at Norfolk Island and then Hobart.  His son Richard married Elizabeth Fawkner who was on the First Fleet to Sorrento and then Hobart. Her brother was John Pascoe Fawkner who settled in Melbourne.  One of their descendants, Frederick Lucas, landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

Cath (samproud@bigpond)

Theodore Lucas – from Luxemburg to America.  What drove Theodore Lucas to emigrate is not exactly known.

It may be that he wished to avoid military conscription.  Because Luxemburg was too small of a country to defend itself, Luxemburgers had to fight for foreign rulers. Many countrymen were not ready to risk their lives for foreign countries and emigrated to avoid the draft.

Another factor was the deteriorating economic picture.  The harvests in the early 1850’s were poor. Theodore’s father and grandfather were both farm day laborers.  Their main sources of nourishment were potatoes, bread, and milk. Day laborers were fortunate when they could afford to eat meat twice a week.

Theodore’s journey to America departed from the port of Antwerp.  The fare was 80-100 francs ($16-20). Life on board the ship could be ugly.  Passengers were not always treated humanely. Water was generally scarce and disease would break out.  When the sea was rough, the living conditions among the tightly packed travelers could be horrible. The voyage itself took 36 days.   He arrived in New York aboard the Clifton on November 20, 1854.

He was thought to have headed straight for California, having heard stories about the gold rush.  A Theodore Lucas was recorded in the US Census of 1860 as resident in Colusa, California.

He later moved back East.  In 1863 he married Margaret Beck and they settled at a farm in Palos township, Illinois where they raised six children.  By this time his father Pierre had followed him to America and was also living in Palos. Theodore died at his home there in 1887 at the age of sixty.

Andrew Lucas, Canadian Immigrant from Ireland.  According to stories handed down, Andrew was a small man (5 feet 9 inches tall) and never weighed over 145 pounds.  But despite his size he was a strong man and could carry an anvil weighing 14 stone (196 pounds) in each hand.  He was also an expert blacksmith and could temper steel, and made all the tools, knives, axes etc. that were needed and even surgical instruments.

He was also a herbalist and often practiced as a doctor.  This included doing surgical operations as he had studied medicine for a few years in medical college in Dublin, although he did not graduate.  Since there was often no doctor within easy reach of some settlements and no roads leading to a doctor, he did what was necessary to help the sick or injured.

His daughter Elizabeth often told the story of how she was in the yard milking her cow when she was bitten on the calf of her leg by a rabid dog and that her father took her into the shanty, laid her on the table and using a scalpel, he cut away the wounded part and then applied his remedies. She never suffered any harmful effects, either from the dog bite or the operation.

Lucas Names

  • Thomas Lucas became Solicitor General to Henry VII in 1504.
  • The Lucas brothers were prominent builders in Victorian England.
  • Paul Lukas was a Hungarian-born Hollywood actor of the 1930’s and 40’s.
  • Jerry Lucas was a Hall of Fame basketball player for the New York Knicks and other clubs.
  • George Lucas was the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series of films.

Lucas Numbers Today

  • 30,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 36,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Lucas and Like Surnames

Some surnames have come from SE England, in particular the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.





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Written by Colin Shelley

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