George and Mary Ann LUCAS
Husband George LUCAS b. 18131 m. 1853 d. 19002
Wife Mary Ann MARTIN née BRANFOOT b. 18283 m. 1853 d. 1900
Daughter Martha Matilda Sarah LUCAS b. 18564 m.5 d. 18576
Son John Samuel LUCAS b. 18587 m.8 d. 18599
Daughter Ruth LUCAS b. 186010 m. none - d. 195311
Son William Lawson LUCAS b. 186212 m.13 d. 192914
Son Charles John LUCAS b. 186415 m.16 d. 193417
Son Walter Ernest LUCAS b. 186818 m.19 Edith Penwill PARSONS20 d. 194721
Daughter Olive Ann LUCAS b. 187022 m.23 d. 193324

On 18 March 1871,25 George LUCAS took up his appointment as Superintendent of the two schools in the Newcastle Government Domain, the Newcastle Industrial School for Girls and the Newcastle Reformatory. This appointment did not appear in the Government Gazette until 26 May 1871.26 His wife, Mary Ann, was appointed matron of the Industrial School but Agnes KING remained as Matron of the Newcastle Reformatory. It was the LUCAS's responsibility to facilitate the transfer of the inmates of both schools to their new location on Cockatoo Island adjacent to the Fitzroy Dry Dock and the ship, the Vernon. Much of the life of George LUCAS both before and after his tenure as Superintendent of the schools has been taken from his online biography in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.27 Details of his time as superintendent of Biloela Industrial School and Biloela Reformatory on Cockatoo Island until his dismissal as superintendent of Biloela in 1873 has been sourced from official letters, newspaper reports of the day and the Royal Commission into his behaviour and the operation of the school.

George LUCAS

George LUCAS was descended from William LUCAS, the son of the first fleet28 convicts, Nathanial LUCAS and Olivia GASCOYNE. William LUCAS had married Sarah SQUIRE in 181229 and George had been born on 4 March 1813,30 in the Trafalgar Hotel, Sydney, where his father was the publican. William died when George was a teenager but his mother remarried and died in Sydney in 1877.31 George became a builder and in 1835, despite his father's business, joined the Total Abstinence Society. In 1867 he founded the Sons of Temperance and began a teetotal Brass Band. He remained unmarried until 12 April 1853,32 when, at the Pitt Street Free Presbyterian Church, he married Mary, the widow of Robert MARTIN. The couple had seven children and were living in Francis Street, Woolloomoolloo or Hyde Park, at least as early as 1858.33 They also ran their businesses from Francis Street where they cared for the homeless, often working at their own expense. In a tent nearby Mary started the first Band of Hope, to focus on teaching temperance to children.34 None of these endeavours have been verified.

LUCAS assisted in convening early anti-transportation meetings and was a supporter of (Sir) Henry PARKES. He was an advocate of Parkes's Public Schools Act (1866)35 and it may have been this support that enabled him to be appointed as Superintendent of Biloela. Once on Biloela George and Mary and their children moved into the two-storey home just outside the gaol gates.

The ADB stated that: 'The aim of the Lucases, like that of the W.C.T.U. [Women's Christian Temperance Movement] itself, was ever the suppression of intemperance and "the social, intellectual, and moral elevation of the people".'36 It may be that this attitude played a large part in the treatment meted out to the inmates while they operated the school on Biloela on Cockatoo Island.

LUCAS was ultimately criticised for his harsh treatment of the Biloela inmates and this harshness and lack of positive reinforcement was evident from his first days as superintendent of Newcastle. His harsh attitude to misbehaviour was demonstrated in his treatment of difficult girls. His imminent arrival in Newcastle was met with uproar by the girls. SCRIVENER has speculated that his reputation had preceded him and therefore the girls reacted to his arrival even before it had occurred. (Find SCRIVENER's actual statement.) There is little doubt that she is correct. There are suggestions that the timeline of riots beginning in 1871, after no rioting had occurred for the previous two-and-a-half years, was a direct result of his pending arrival and the very worst riot occurred the day he took control. The former superintendent, CLARKE, was approachable, caring and compassionate. His reaction to the riots in January and March 1871,37 was to have those involved appear in court where they were reprimanded and returned to the school at his request.38 Much was made of his 'weakness' in regard to trouble-makers and subsequently LUCAS reacted more harshly by imprisoning young girls for the same offence.39 It is probably not surprising that LUCAS took the criticisms of his predecessor as permission to enforce harsh discipline. His treatment progressively worsened.

He demonstrated a cavalier attitude to government expectations before he left Newcastle.40 This poor communication with the government was to compound his problem as there is little evidence yet found of any positive behaviour that he exhibited to support a more positive view of the man.

While evidence of special events have been found while the girls were housed at Newcastle, it took five years before any entertainment was permitted to them while they were at Biloela. On 29 December 1875, the first activity arranged for the inmates occurred under the superintendency of either DALE or WALKER.

The girls of the Industrial School were treated to a picnic, – the first thing of the kind that has been allowed them since they were placed on the island, about five years ago. Mr. Jeanneret having generously offered them the use of a steamer for the occasion, the had the pleasure of an excursion into all the beautiful bays and inlets of the harbour. They were landed at Mossman's Bay, and, after, feasting and playing till tired, were conveyed home in the evening, having behaved exceedingly well, and being all the better for their pleasant jaunt.41

The first incarceration within the cells by LUCAS occurred shortly after the arrival of the school onto the island. The Government by June 1874, almost certainly as a result of the Royal Commission into the treatment of the inmates by LUCAS requested the correspondence relating to the incarceration of the four girls placed in the cells after breaking windows and absconding in December 1871.42 This may be a reference to the incident in October43 or perhaps to a later event and the girls involved or incarcerated have not yet been identified.

It is unknown which cells were used by LUCAS in his punishments of difficult girls under his care but it is believed that he used the cells below the prison. In October 1877, Selina WALKER reported an escape by three inmates and indicated to the Colonial Secretary her intention to place the offenders in the cells as punishment. The response from the Colonial Secretary stated

If the deep cells are alluded to, their use is not authorised for the present. – It will be better simply to keep the girls separate on restricted diet.
RC 26 10 77
LtH
The Superior
???dist.

WALKER's responded with confirmation that: 'These instructions shall be attended to.'44

George and Mary Ann were suspended on 27 November 1873, and John Ledger DALE was appointed temporary Officer in Charge of the Biloela institution from that date.45 LUCAS and his wife officially resigned their positions two days later. He was very strongly criticised in the Second Report of the Commissioners of Public Charities which said:

Shortly before the removal of the school from Newcastle, Mr. George Lucas, the superintendent in charge at the time of our inquiry, was appointed, and though he has since resigned, on being called upon to show cause why he should not be dismissed on account of the proceedings disclosed in our minutes of the 25th November, we cannot avoid pronouncing an opinion on his management, inasmuch as public interests require that your Excellency should be fully informed of the causes contributing to the comparative failure of an institution established by the Legislature in furtherance of a philanthropic scheme of social reform worthy of the colony. Previous to his appointment, Mr. Lucas appears to have been known as a citizen of Sydney taking considerable interest in the destitute classes of the city. Of a kindly disposition, he devoted a considerable portion of his time to the management of a night refuge for the homeless poor, and enjoyed the consequent popularity arising from his charitable conduct. On the removal of Mr. Clarke from the office of superintendent, the Government of the day, in consequence of representations from numerous persons that Mr. Lucas was, by his disposition, suited for the office, appointed him to the vacant post, at the same time giving the office of matron to his wife. Mere kindliness of disposition, however, does not necessarily imply the possession of abilities requisite in the efficient administrator of an industrial school. Beyond the possession of good intentions, Mr. Lucas appears to have possessed no qualifications for a post requiring a singular combination of natural and acquired attainments for the successful discharge of its duties, and it was soon discovered that a mistake had been made in his appointment. At the time of his nomination to the office no one seems to have been aware of the fact that Mr. Lucas was unable to write the simplest report in grammatical English, and, since his first attempt, all his official documents seem to have been drawn up by the clerk and storekeeper of the institution. Besides his deficiency of education, there was soon exhibited a disregard of appearance, and a slovenliness of attire very much calculated to destroy the respect of young people, quick in associating roughness of manner and appearance with want of culture and refinement. Experience seems to prove that probably no class so absolutely require for their successful management persons placed over them as instructors whom they at once distinctly recognise as their superiors, intellectually, morally, and socially, as the children to be found in a female industrial school.46

LUCAS wrote denying all the accusations47 and requested that both sides of the story be heard.48

Records in the CSIL index record a significant reduction in the number of communications initiated by LUCAS during the time that he was Superintendent between April 1871 and November 1873. It is commonly the case that details of girls apprenticed by LUCAS have no reference at all in the index.

Lack of pastoral care and thoroughness by LUCAS in his treatment of the inmates are chronicled in various incidents during his short tenure in Newcastle and in Biloela. From the commencement of his superintendency he appeared to by-pass the Colonial Secretary. One, if not the first, girl he discharged was Mary Jane McNEICE and she was discharged straight onto the streets of Newcastle prior to his receiving permission from the Colonial Secretary for her release. It is also very hard to imagine why he discharged two of the ringleaders of the first uprising on Biloela to the same master. This very poor decision regarding the apprenticeships of Jane MURPHY and the Biloela admission, Sarah BOURKE, created immense problems for their master and the pair, after at least three local and Sydney court appearances, were ultimately returned to the island. Neither was given the chance to work without the unsettling influence of the other. It must be assumed that this poor decision was made to remove the problems from the island. Regardless of a girl's behaviour under his care, in the few reports written by LUCAS available in the CSIL requesting permission to apprentice, girls were routinely described by him as 'conducting [themselves] well'. A further poor choice of apprenticeship, where an apprentice was placed in a difficult position regarding her religion, occurred with Margaret PRICE. The local Catholic priest ultimately intervened on her behalf as she had complained that her master was forcing her to attend the Protestant church. It must be questioned why Margaret was sent to a non-Catholic household.49 In cases where the religions of the apprentice and her master differed, CLARKE's letters reflect that he had considered the difference and believed that it would not create any difficulties. CLARKE also was diligent in his responses if a girl complained about her treatment. Sadly LUCAS has left little or no evidence that he was as precise in his care of his charges so it can only be assumed that this wasn't done.

John Ledger DALE was eventually replaced by Selina WALKER. Margaret KELLY was appointed as the matron from the 27th. A synopsis of the reasons for his dismissal was reported in various newspapers during the Royal Commission. The papers reported

Shortly before the removal of the school from Newcastle, Mr. George Lucas the superintendent in charge at the time of our inquiry, was appointed, and he has since resigned on being called up to show cause why he should not be dismissed. Previous to his appointment, Mr. Lucas appears to have been known as a citizen of Sydney taking considerable interest in the destitute classes of the city. Of a kindly disposition, he devoted a considerable portion of his time to the management of a night refuge for the homeless poor, and enjoyed the consequent popularity arising from his charitable conduct. On the removal of Mr. Clarke from the office of superintendent, the Government of the day, in consequence of representations from numerous persons that Mr. Lucas was, by his disposition, suited for the office, appointed him to the vacant post, at the same time giving the office of matron to his wife. Beyond the possession of good intentions, Mr. Lucas appears to have possessed no qualifications for the post requiring a singular combination of natural and acquired attainments for the successful discharge of its duties. At the time of his nomination to the office no one seems to have been aware of the fact that Mr. Lucas was unable to write the simplest report in grammatical English. Besides his deficiency of education, there was soon exhibited a disregard of appearance, and a slovenliness of attire very much calculated to destroy the respect of young people, quick in associating roughness of manner and appearance with want of culture and refinement.

The ADB wrote glowingly about LUCAS after his dismissal as Superintendent: 'Although acknowledged to be kindly, George was unable to cope with the bawdy, unseemly behaviour of the girls and the lack of support from staff. An inquiry by the Public Charities Commission (1871-73) elicited strong criticism of the Lucas administration. Despite their good intentions and their pioneering and Christian philanthropic work, Mary and George requested a formal release from duties in December 1873. The Reformatory continued until 1888 with a trained teacher in charge, and then reverted to a gaol.50 There is considerable evidence remaining that this statement contained in LUCAS's ADB biography is incorrect and quite likely sanitised.

George died at the age of 87 at George Street, Canterbury,51 Sydney, on 30 April 1900. He was described as formerly of Francis Street, Hyde Park in his Funeral Notice that identified his continuing involvement with the Temperance movement up until his death. He was buried at Rookwood.52

Mary LUCAS née BRANFOOT

Husband Robert Jeremiah MARTIN b. 182053 m. 184854 d. 185355
Wife Mary Ann BRANFOOT b. 182856 m. (1) 1848 (2) 1853 d. 1900
Son James MARTIN b. 184357 m.58 d.59
Daughter Elizabeth LUCAS b. 184660 m.61 d.62
Daughter Georgiana MARTIN b. 184763 m.64 d.65
Son Alfred MARTIN b. 185066 m.67 d. 187568

Mary Ann BRANFOOT had been born in about 1826 in Yorkshire, England. She was the daughter of William BRANFOOT, a gardener. She came to Sydney in about 1846 so had arrived at about the age of 20. No arrival has been identified by her in any of the easily accessible immigration arrivals into NSW, Victoria or Queensland. It may be that she arrived under a different surname. She has not been identified ont he 1841 census in York, England, but may appear under a spelling variation such as BRUMFIT or BRAMFIT. On 9 May 1848,69 at the Chippendale Wesleyan Chapel, Mary Ann married Robert Jeremiah MARTIN, a shopkeeper. While the ADB identified two children who were alive at the time she died, likely registrations for two others seem to be recorded in the NSW BDM Index. Robert died in 1853. After her second marriage Mary Ann became heavily involved as a community worker and temperance advocate in Sydney.

It was common during the 1800s that a husband and his wife was appointed by the government in institutions. This was the case as Mary Ann took up the role of matron of the Newcastle Industrial School when her husband, George, became superintendent. She was not involved as matron of the Newcastle and subsequently Biloela reformatories. This role was continued by Agnes KING. There is very little doubt that the procedures and expectations established by the government as to how the school was overseen should have continued once the school moved from Newcastle to Cockatoo Island. While the ADB stated that: 'Mrs Lucas introduced training schemes in laundry and domestic skills and dressmaking to assist the girls to become more employable' there is abundant evidence that this statement is incorrect. The expectation from the inception of the school in 1867 was that the inmates would earn their keep with sewing and needlework. They were to make shirts for the boys on the Vernon who would make shoes for the girls. Clothing was made for the Randwick Asylum. For further details of sewing see Life in the School in The School. There was continuity of staff in the changeover from Newcastle to Biloela and Margaret KELLY transferred as teacher. KELLY was responsible for the academic and vocational education of the girls and was the person who taught sewing. Correspondence between the Colonial Secretary and the superintendents KING, CLARKE and WALKER and the relieving superintendent, DALE, clearly outlined, in the weekly reports sent to the Colonial Secretary, the items of clothing both made and mended. Few weekly reports have been found that had been written by LUCAS but it is expected that if any are found they will follow the same outlines established by KING and CLARKE and maintained by DALE and WALKER. No evidence has yet been found that girls were paid by either LUCAS or his wife from moneys acquired through the sale of items but if this occurred and was discovered by the government, further criticism of the couple would have been made.

Of Mary LUCAS the Royal Commission stated:

The ease with with Mrs Foot, Mrs Kelly (the Schoolmistress), and the Sisters of the House of the Good Shepherd, managed the children when brought into contact with them, proves how great was the influence that persons of superior culture had over the girls. Unfortunately the matron was no helpmate to the superintendent in discharging the duties of his office, as the evidence discloses the frequent exhibition by her of an infirmity of temper which rendered it quite impossible that she could restrain others whose untrained dispositions and tempers especially requiring the teaching which is instilled by example.70

The ADB identified that Mary and George's daughter, Ruby, assiste with sewing lessons on Biloela but it is not yet known whether she was employed there or whether this work was voluntary.

After her dismissal as matron Mary continued her involvement with the Temperance Movement. In September 1882 she attended the first NSW meeting of the WCTU, and was elected to the executive where she subsequently held many offices. In 1896 she became the Australasian superintendent and remained on the executive for the rest of her life. Mary Ann LUCAS died on 6 July 1900, at the age of 74, shortly after the death of her husband at her home in George Street, Canterbury.71 She was also buried at Rookwood Cemetery. A daughter and a son of her first marriage, and four sons and two daughters of her second, survived her.

Updated September 2016

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