The Cappadocian gunner

In 1534 a gunner and gunpowder maker from Cappadocia in the Ottoman Empire got into a quarrel with a beer brewer, himself probably also an immigrant to England. The brewer ended up dead. The gunner’s name was hard to render into English, so he was listed by a number of aliases in the indictment: Lucas de le Arke; Lucas Delarche; Lucas Delarke; Lucas de Lake; and Lucas de Nadall. He was also called Luke Gunner and Luke Liark in other records.

We’ll just call him Luke, the English form of his name. It’s notably a Christian name, suggesting he came from the Greek Christian minority in Ottoman Cappadocia (a later grant of denization – something like settled status – indicates his origins). Luke first comes into English records (as far as I know) in 1525, when he was given a position as gunner and gunpowder-maker at the Tower of London. This was a highly-skilled occupation, with status significant enough that he was on the list for the king’s New Year gifts in 1532 and 1533.

Then in late 1533 he got himself into trouble: he quarreled with Herman Cooke, a beerbrewer (likely Dutch or German judging by name and occupation), in the parish of St Gabriel Fenchurch near the Tower. Luke was said to have attacked Cooke at mid-day, wounding the brewer on the hand. Possibly it had not been a particularly serious wound, as Cooke did not die until two months later, suggesting an infection rather than the severity of the wound as the cause of death. Luke fled to sanctuary at Westminster.

Soon after Cooke’s death, Luke must have begun lobbying for a pardon and it seems a deal was made. In April 1534 records indicate that Luke forfeited his place as gunpowder-maker at the Tower; and on 12 May 1534, he was granted his pardon. When he presented his pardon at King’s Bench in June 1534, he was freed; there was still a possibility of a private suit for the death from one of Cooke’s relatives, so Luke had to name guarantors that he would appear if summoned to answer such a suit.

One of Luke’s guarantors is interesting: London scrivener Everard Effamat. The database includes 10 Greeks named Effamato in the 15th century; Everard himself might have immigrated (like Luke) from the Ottoman Empire or been descended from earlier migrants. There were not many Greeks in London in the early 16th century; it would be especially interesting if Everard Effamat was a second- or third-generation immigrant, suggesting ties in small migrant communities that carried over to subsequent generations.

It’s not clear what Luke went on to do after he was released in the summer of 1534; I don’t find him again in the royal records as a gunner, so it looks as if he lost that gig. You win some (he was free of the homicide charge), you lose some (lucrative and prestigious position).

In 1541 he was among many who took out a patent of denization following a crackdown on immigrants, so he was still in the kingdom, maybe having moved on to another occupation.

TNA, KB 9/526, m. 1; KB 27/1091, rex m. 4; KB 29/166, m. 39d; L&P, 4:749; 5:327, 6:14; 7:232. Top image source

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