The First Great Lady: Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle
Early in the 1650s, writes Alan Haynes, this intrepid noblewoman took the ‘extraordinary’ step of publishing her own poems.
Thomas Lucas and Elizabeth Leighton, the parents of Margaret Lucas, had an unconventional beginning to their life together. Thomas was forced to flee from England in the late sixteenth century for killing a relative of Lord Cobham, and Elizabeth, who was pregnant and not yet married, had to wait till 1604 for Thomas’s return.
After their marriage they lived securely in the family home, St John’s Abbey, outside Colchester. Margaret, the youngest child, was born in 1623: she was fortunate, the family was wealthy, loving and well-ordered - and yet because she was a woman, a great weight of discreet oppression was inevitable, and this she fought against for much of her life.