Lucy Flucker, Another Revolutionary Woman
Most every teenage girl, at one time or another, defies her parents. But would you be willing to do so if it meant your family turning their backs on you?
Such was the decision made by one Lucy Flucker. Lucy was born into a wealthy Massachusetts family. Her father was Thomas Flucker, a staunch British Loyalist, who served as the Provincial Governor of Massachusetts. part of the British government.
Lucy was fortunate enough to receive home schooling, benefitting from her father’s extensive library. Her love of reading and her inquisitive mind brought her to the Boston bookstore owned by Henry Knox, in the years prior to the Revolutionary War. But love of reading was not the only reason she sought out his bookstore. Lucy had seen Henry in his uniform as he and the other Grenadiers paraded on Boston Common and decided he was the man for her.
She visited the bookstore at every opportunity, which was a gathering place for young people of revolutionary minds. Often, she and Henry would leave the others and hold private conversations among the aisles of books. She defied her parents as they tried to set up roadblocks against the pair spending time together, often given to hysterics if crossed. Henry was a strong, positive influence on her, evening out her temperament and Lucy would not be denied.
Henry Knox was born into poverty, working as an apprentice to a bookbinder in order to support his mother and younger brother. He eventually worked his way up and opened his own bookstore in Boston at age 21. Henry observed the mannerisms of the men of privilege who frequented his bookstore and began emulating them. On top of his exquisite manner, he had a keen interest in military strategy, and he read voraciously on the subject. When he became a member of the Boston Grenadiers in 1772, his talents were notice
But even with his success, he was absolutely the wrong choice for Lucy, at least according to her father, who wanted her to marry someone of a higher class than even himself and not a man in ‘the trade.’ When Thomas Flucker realized his daughter’s heart had been captured by the bookstore owner, he tried to mold Henry, offering him a commission in the British Army. As all of Boston society watched, Henry declined the lucrative offer from his future father-in-law, a decision supported by Lucy.
In June of 1774, shortly before her eighteenth birthday, she defied her parents and married Henry. Her parents disowned her when she decided to follow her heart.
In 1775, Boston was essentially a prison, since British General Thomas Gage refused to let residents leave to join the Americans. Henry escaped Boston in the spring on 1775 with Lucy by his side. She had sewn his sword into her cape, and he joined the Revolution. Imagine, if you will, the excitement Lucy felt as she defied her parents, her upbringing, and her staid Boston life in order to follow her husband as they began the fight for America’s freedom.
Henry Knox masterminded the retrieval of the cannons, 59 pieces of artillery brought to Dorchester Heights in Boston, from Fort Ticonderoga, which caused the final evacuation of the British from the town of Boston in March 1776. This pivotal point in Boston’s history is still celebrated today, as Evacuation Day, and is also a pivotal point in my book, A British Heiress in America. Henry wrote about the event thusly: “The eyes of all America are upon us, the matters which we are to act are of infinitely high import; as we play our part posterity will bless or curse us.” The evacuation of the British from Boston was the event that led to Lucy’s parents leaving America. They never returned, and Lucy never saw them again
Even though Henry Knox rose to become an officer in the Continental Army, Lucy could not visit him at the war camps as frequently as other officers’ wives did. Knowing how much she had given up to marry him and become a part of the Revolution, he did not want her to see how much the troops were suffering. She stayed as close to him as possible though, visiting with friends or renting humble lodgings and becoming a social hostess as Henry rose through the ranks of the Continental Army to become Washington’s Chief of Artillery, and eventually Major General. Instead, most of their time during the war was spent writing letters to each other. These letters are now a part of the Revolutionary War memorabilia at the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History in New York City. They provide a first-hand account of the war from the standpoint of one of the men closest to General Washington and his wartime spouse. He wrote of the infamous crossing of the Delaware River, which he directed, and which led to the Battle of Trenton.
Lucy wanted to join Henry in the camp with the other wives, Martha Washington and Mrs. Horatio Gates, despite Henry wishing to spare her. She complained that in the last ten months, they had spent less than six weeks together. He replied: “Nothing but the call of a country much injured and misunderstood to whom I am inseparably connected would have called me from the arms and company of her who is inexpressibly interwoven with my heart.”
After years of patchwork meetings whenever and wherever they could, the Knoxes ended up in Newburgh, NY, where Henry was placed in command of West Point and had the obligation of disbanding the Army. Once peace reigned, Henry and Lucy moved to a house in Dorchester, outside of Boston, and later to a house on Boston Common. The Continental Congress made Knox Secretary of War, and he served in that capacity from 1785 to 1789, when he became the first Secretary of War in President Washington’s Cabinet.
By their own accounts, Lucy and Henry had a very happy marriage, in spite of the fact ten of their thirteen children did not survive to adulthood. Henry died in 1806 and Lucy spent the next eighteen years living life as a recluse in Maine with her three surviving children.
There are several books available that further deepen the story of Lucy Knox and other Revolutionary War Brides.
____________________________________________________________________________________________Book One in Becky Lower’s Revolutionary Women series was released on June 25, 2020, and features the movement of the 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights. You can read a sample of the book here: https://www.amazon.com/British-Heiress-America-Revolutionary-Women-ebook/dp/B089RNSY3P/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=becky+lower&qid=1596723318&sr=8-1