Diarist, combat medic, poet, translator, biographer, Lucy Hutchinson was a true 17th century trailblazer.
Lucy was born in 1620 in the Tower of London where her father was Lieutenant. Lucy was a keen student, owing to the insistence of her father who ensured she learnt how to read and write.
At the age of 18, Lucy met John Hutchinson. They married in 1638 and later moved to John’s estate in Owthorpe, Nottinghamshire in October 1641.
On 22 August 1642, King Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham Castle, effectively declaring war on his own people and his Parliament, kickstarting the Civil War. Nottingham and its Castle were not Charles’ for long, however, as he quickly left after finding little support in the town. Nottingham became a stronghold for Parliament in a region dominated by those who supported the King.
John, encouraged by Lucy, supported Parliament and in August 1643 was installed as Governor of Nottingham Castle, where he and Lucy would spend much of the war. The Hutchinsons held Nottingham despite repeated raids by Royalists from nearby Newark. Throughout the war, Lucy documented life in the Castle in her diary and served as a medic and nurse for the wounded, both Parliamentarian and Cavalier.
By 1649 Charles lost the war, followed swiftly by his head, with John Hutchinson being amongst the signatories of his death warrant. At the end of the Civil War, John ordered the demolition of what remained of Nottingham’s medieval castle and walls hoping that they could never again be used militarily against the people of Britain.
By 1660, Charles’ son, Charles II, was invited back as monarch. He took a dim view of those who had killed his father and in October 1663, John Hutchinson was arrested, ironically confined in the very building Lucy had been born in, the Tower of London. He died of fever in 1664.
After John’s death Lucy continued to write her diaries which turned into her most famous work: Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson. This, like many of her writings, were not widely published during her lifetime – likely a mixture of censorship and her gender holding her back.
Connection: Lived in Nottingham Castle throughout the Civil War, writing one of the most important books to document life during this time.
Born: 29th January 1620
Died: October 1681
Did you know? In her memoir, Lucy writes about her courtship to John from his point of view. This allowed Lucy to draw attention to the fact that her poetry and intellect were what attracted John to her.