James Lucas (hermit)
James Lucas (1813 – 21 April 1874) was a celebrated English Victorian eccentric and hermit who gained international renown by his strange way of life. He was known as the Hermit of Hertfordshire and Mad Lucas.
Lucas was an amiable, eccentric landowner who was well-educated, had studied medicine and was a good conversationalist. However his mother's death, in 1849, greatly accentuated his eccentricities. He became a complete recluse, and barricaded himself into his home.
He refused to administer his mother's will, in which he inherited the family estate at Elmwood House near Redcoats Green, Hertfordshire, and deferred burial of her for three months. He developed a paranoid fear of his relatives. He locked himself in his mansion and allowed nothing in the building to be touched. It sank into a dilapidated and decaying condition. He lived solely in the kitchen, sleeping on a bed of ashes and soot. He went naked except for a blanket, enveloped in which he used to appear at his windows. He never washed and his hair grew to waist length. He lived on bread, cheese, eggs, red herrings and gin. His house became infested with rats and he kept his food in baskets hung from the ceiling to protect it from them. He always kept a gun at his side.
Lucas communicated with the world only through an iron grille and employed two armed watchmen who lived in a nearby hut. He was, however, quite willing to receive visitors, mostly tramps and children but increasingly the well-to-do who came to engage him in conversation.
After his death 17 cartloads of dirt and ashes were removed from the house.
- Irving, Joseph (1879). ""Mad Lucas" the hermit". The Annals of Our Time from March 20, 1874, to the Occupation of Cyprus. London: Macmillan. p. 3. The protagonist "Mr. Mopes" of the 1861 story Tom Tiddler's Ground by Dickens is based upon James Lucas.
- A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3
- Hertfordshire Curiosities
- Caufield, Catherine. (2006). The Man Who Ate Bluebottles: And Other Great British Eccentrics. Icon Books. p. 125. ISBN 978-1840467772
- NY Times obituary
- From: 'Parishes: Great or Much Wymondley', A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3 (1912), pp. 181–185. URL:  Date accessed: 10 February 2008.
- NY Times obituary
- Lucas, John (1990). "69". Hertfordshire Curiosities. Winborne, Dorset: Dovecote Press. ISBN 0-946159-75-0.
The Hermit of Redcoats
- Whitmore, Richard (1983). Mad Lucas. North Hertfordshire District Council and Hitchin Museum. ISBN 0-902755-02-1. Archived from the original on 2008-05-02.