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John Lucas (1818–1902)

from Sydney Morning Herald

We regret to record the death of the Hon. John Lucas, M. L. C., which took place on Saturday evening at his residence Bridge-road, Camperdown, at the age of 84 years. Mr Lucas was a native of Sydney, as his birth took place at Kingston (Newtown) on June 24, 1818. He was a grandson of the late Captain Rowley, one of the first to enter New South Wales with Imperial troops. The late Mr. Lucas received his education in the Church of Eng-land School at Liverpool. At the age of 16 he was apprenticed to the trade of carpentry, and subsequently became a builder and contractor in this city. He erected among many buildings the Roman Catholic School at Burwood and other works of a public character. In February, 1861, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as one of the members for Canterbury, and again he was returned later in the same year. In 1864 he was returned both for Canterbury and Hartley and he elected to sit for the latter constituency. In 1871 he was re-elected for Canterbury, for which he continued to sit until 1880. In 1875 he accepted office as Minster for Mines in the Robertson Government and retained the position for two years and 10 months. Upon the resignation of that Government, finding his health failing and that he could not stand the strain of the late hours of the Assembly, he determined to retire, but was offered a seat in the Council, which he accepted, and retained till his death. During the 20 years that he held a seat in the Legislative Assembly he took a very active part in its proceedings and amongst other things moved for select committees to inquire into the disorganised state of the Works Department, the state of the Benevolent Society, and the agriculturalists and manufacturers of the colony and he secured the carrying of a resolution— "That all rolling stock and other railway requirements, as well as everything required for Government store keepers and public departments, should be tendered for in the colony."

Mr Lucas was one the first to visit the Jenolan Caves. It was during the period when he was a member for Canterbury. He was so impressed with the importance of the caves that he induced the Government to proclaim a reserve and thus open out the caves for the use of the people. He wrote articles on them which were were published in the "Sydney Morning Herald" in June, 1863. He was also one of the first to have certain lands set apart for public parks and recreation reserves which today prove such a benefit to the public. On one occasion, when it was proposed to sell Belmore Park, and when even the land had been subdivided, he carried a resolution in the Legislative Assembly preventing the sale of the park and making it a reserve for the people. He was the first to have a Chinese Restriction Act passed through Parliament, but this was afterwards repealed on a motion by the late Rev. Dr Lang. Subsequently, however, an Act was passed imposing a poll tax of £100.

On the question of education the late Mr. Lucas took a prominent part in advocating a free and secular system. He wrote many articles on the subject which were published in the "Empire". He assisted in framing the different measures which were passed to reform the then existing system of national and denominational education, and he believed in making education free to all classes, without distinction, creed, or class. The question of water supply also was one in which he took a great interest, and when the present water supply scheme was being advocated he wrote drawing attention to the expense and the likelihood of its falling short of the people's requirements. He foresaw the difficulty in which the Water and Sewerage Board at present finds itself with reference to the supply of water, and in his writings on this subject he said— "It is very questionable whether the Pheasant's Nest or Upper Nepean is to be depended upon for a supply sufficient for the city and suburbs to supply the increased population, the increased manufactories, during the next 20 years particularly if we should have two or three droughts such as the colony has suffered from upon several occasions, during which not a drop of water ran over the Menangle ford for months at a time." Mr Lucas strongly advocated what was known as the George's River scheme. He was a stanch protectionist all through life. He was one of the first to advocate a protective tariff. As far back as 1858 he wrote a series of letters to the "Empire" newspaper urging the adoption of such a tariff, and he ever since, in season and out of season, advocated protection as the best policy for New South Wales. The deceased gentleman was appointed a magistrate of the territory in 1858, and for a number of years occupied a seat on the Bench at the Central Police Court.

Mr Lucas was a widower, his wife having died five years ago. He has left four sons and one daughter. Mr Percy Charles Lucas is a member of the firm of Lucas, Lock, and Co., wine and spirit merchants, of Sydney; Mr. J. H. Lucas is a surveyor; Mr. W. W. Lucas is resident of Manly; and Mr. Edgar Lucas is a solicitor of this city.

The funeral will take place this afternoon, the interment being made in the family vault at Rookwood.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for John Lucas

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Australian Star (Sydney), 4 March 1902, p 7
  • will, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 1902, p 5

Citation details

'Lucas, John (1818–1902)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


24 June, 1818
Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


1 March, 1902 (aged 83)
Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.