Henry Lucas 1587-1663

From Book Owners Online

Henry LUCAS 1587-1663

Biographical Note

Born in London, son of Edward Lucas of Thriplow, Cambridgeshire, gentleman. Apparently studied at St John’s, Cambridge ca.1602 but did not graduate; admitted MA by royal warrant, 1636. Admitted at the Middle Temple 1606. Agent for Lucy, Countess of Bedford in 1618, involved in collecting tolls for shipping coal. Secretary to Dudley Carleton, secretary of state, 1629; secretary to Henry Rich, Earl of Holland, 1632. MP for Cambridge University 1640. Briefly imprisoned 1648-49 following Holland’s failed military uprising and execution, after which he retired from professional activity. Among his various charitable bequests his best known is the endowment of the Lucasian professorship of mathematics at Cambridge.


Built up a collection of over 4000 vols, plus bundles of pamphlets, which he bequeathed to Cambridge University. Not all the books were selected for retention by the Library. The collection is wide ranging in subject coverage, including much contemporary military and political history, French and Italian literature, geography and travel, and works on demonology, magic, tobacco and chocolate. There is little English literary material. Examples: very many in Cambridge University Library.

Characteristic Markings

Lucas often inscribed his name on titlepages or flyleaves, together with the year of acquisition and the price paid. He also regularly wrote his initials, HL, and sometimes added notes about some aspect of the book (e.g. in Cambridge UL H*.6.18(D), "This booke is growne scarce ... wch scarcety inflames the price"). His newly-bought books are typically bound in straightforward blind-tooled calfskin, but he also acquired many books secondhand.