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CHARLES LUCAS (1713–1771)

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 93 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHARLES LUCAS (1713–1771), Irish physician and politician, was the son of a country gentleman of small means in Co. Clare. Charles opened a small business as an apothecary in Dublin, and between 1735 and 1741 he began his career as a pamphleteer by publishing papers on professional matters which led to legislation requiring inspection of drugs. Having been elected a member of the common council of Dublin in 1741 he detected and exposed encroachments by the aldermen on the electoral rights of the citizens, and entered upon a controversy on the subject, but failed in legal proceedings against the alder- 93 men in 1744. With a view to becoming a parliamentary candidate for the city of Dublin he issued in 1748–1749 a series of political addresses in which he advocated the principles of Molyneux and Swift; and he made himself so obnoxious to the government that the House of Commons voted him an enemy to the country, and issued a proclamation for his arrest, thus compelling him to retire for some years to the continent. Having studied medicine at Paris, Lucas took the degree of M.D. at Leiden in 1752. In the following year he started practice as a physician in London, and in 1756 he published a work on medicinal waters, the properties of which he had studied on the continent and at Bath. The essay was reviewed by Dr Johnson, and although it was resented by the medical profession it gained a reputation and a considerable practice for its author. In 1760 he renewed his political pamphleteering; and having obtained a pardon from George III., he proceeded to Dublin, where he received a popular welcome and a Doctor's degree from Trinity College. He was elected member for the city of Dublin in 1761, his colleague in the representation being the recorder, Henry Grattan's father. On the appointment of Lord Halifax as lord lieutenant in the same year Lucas wrote him a long letter (19th of Sept. 1761, MSS. Irish State Paper Office) setting forth the grievances which Ireland had suffered in the past, chiefly on account of the exorbitant pensions enjoyed by government officials. The cause of these evils he declared to be the unrepresentative character of the Irish constitution; and among the remedies he proposed was the shortening of parliaments. Lucas brought in a bill in his first session to effect this reform, but was defeated on the motion to have the bill sent to England for approval by the privy council; and he insisted upon the independent rights of the Irish parliament, which were after-wards in fuller measure successfully vindicated by Grattan. He also defended the privileges of the Irish Protestants in the press, and especially in the Freeman's Journal, founded in 1763. His contributions to the press, and his Addresses to the Lord Mayor and other political pamphlets made him one of the most popular writers in Ireland of his time, although he was anti-catholic in his prejudices, and although, as Lecky observes, " there is nothing in his remains to show that he possessed any real superiority either of intellect or knowledge, or even any remarkable brilliancy of expression." He died on the 4th of November 1771, and was accorded a public funeral. As an orator Charles Lucas appears to have had little power, and he made no mark in the House of Commons. See R. R. Madden, Hist. of Irish Periodical Literature from the End of the 17th to the Middle of the 19th Century (2 vols., London, 1867) ; Francis Hardy, Memoirs of the Earl of Cluirlemont (2 vols., London, 1812) ; W. E. H. Lecky, History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, vols. i. and ii. (5 vols., London, 1892).
End of Article: CHARLES LUCAS (1713–1771)
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