Sir Edward Lucas: Knockbride native and Mayor of Gawler
Edward Lucas and his twin brother were born on St Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1857. Edward being the fifth son to Adams Lucas and Eliza Lucas (née Martin) who dwelt on a small farm of land leased from Lady Garvagh at Gallonetra, in the parish of Knockbride. In 1856, according to Griffith’s Valuation the Lucas’s neighbours in the same townland were John Alwell, Sharpe McBride, Connor Tackney, John Scott, Edward Sharpe, John Sharpe, John Hicks, Margaret Sharpe and James Wallace.
In 1901, Adams Lucas, aged 79 years and at that time a retired farmer, was still living at Gallonetra, while his son John Lucas and daughter-in-law Isabella were running the farm. John and Isabella’s children, then listed in the 1901 census were Edith, Charlotte, Isabella, Adams Jnr, Margaret, John Edward and Mabel Florence.
Edward Lucas received his childhood education at the Model School, Bailieborough, under Professor Doherty, TCR, and was afterwards apprenticed into the drapery trade before going out to Australia in November 1878 where he gained employment with Messrs John Martin & Co, and then in 1882 he formed a partnership with Mr F.M. Edwards with whom he started a gents outfitting business in Adelaide on Rundle and Hindley Streets.
According to the South Australian Register on Saturday, November 25, 1893, his partnership with Edwards was dissolved in 1886 and not being a man to rest idle, Lucas bought the company of Messrs J. & J. Wilcox in the town of Gawler, where he took up permanent residency, except for the time he returned to Europe for a few months, noted the newspaper. In that year it was noted that Lucas had already served three years in the local council, was a supporter of something referred to as ‘principle of Part XIX’, and a firm supporter of the Barossa water scheme. Gawler, where Lucas settled, is described as ‘the oldest town in mainland Australia’, in the State of Australia, which received its name from Governor George Gawler.
The ‘South Australian Register’ reported on people nominated to stand in the local elections at Gawler and when voting those ended, those deemed elected were Edward Lucas, storekeeper, for Mayor; Edward Henry Hussey, publican, elected councillor for the East Ward; John Daniel Window, bootmaker, elected councillor for the South Ward; while others awaiting results for the North Ward were Leonard Samuel Burton, gentleman, and Charles Thomas Kay, mechanic; and running for auditors, were Thomas Edward Fisher, storekeeper, and Howard Pendlebury Wilkinson, auctioneer.
In a vintage edition of Thom’s Irish Who’s Who, Lucas was noted to have received a knighthood in 1921 and having served as a member of the ‘Legislative Council, 1900-18; of the War Council of South Australia, 1915-18 (and as vice-chairman of the State recruiting committee for the same period); Leader and Chairman of Liberal Party, 1914-18’.
The Advertiser reported that he was ‘Agent-General for South Australia’ and lived in London, England from 1918 to 1925 where he observed ‘the State’s affairs in Britain through the difficult years of reconstruction and re-adjustment’ following the devastation caused by the First World War. The position was to be his for seven terms, the final term requiring a ‘special’ parliamentary act of approval that was, if anything a fitting endorsement of the Knockbride man’s capabilities. Prior to his appointment as Agent-General he served 18 years in the Legislative Council of the Midland District during which time he led the Liberal Party in the Upper House. All in all, one could call it a considerable career. In 1885 he married his first wife Frances Louisa Johnson who sadly died in the second year of their marriage. In 1890, secondly, he married Mabel Florence, a daughter of J. Brock, of Tanunda, Barossa Valley, South Australia. He also outlived Mabel Florence.
Lucas had an altruistic outlook and supported organisations like the District and Bush Nursing Society and the Prisoners’ Aid Association, and other institutions which were of educational and financial benefit to his fellow citizens. He was actively engaged in the business community of Southern Australia and held the directorship of several companies. His philanthropic nature, probably sustained by his faith, in turn led him to take up lay preaching in the Methodist Church and his commitment to spiritual matters as a Methodist earned him a position on the Council of Churches. Another organisation that he was closely linked with was the Adelaide branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).
In 1844, at the demise of the industrial revolution, an inaugural branch of the YMCA was established by George Williams in London, England for the sustainment of a healthy mind, spirit and body in young men based on the practice of Christian values ‘that may help prevent them from partaking in unhealthy activities’. Thereafter the YMCA grew into a worldwide phenomenon that onetime became the subject of a catchy pop song sung by the Village People in 1978.
To commemorate the soldiers from Gawler who fought in the First World War it was decided to ‘ erect a peel of bells’ in the Church of St George, Gawler, ‘through the kindness of the Agent-General’ Sir Edward Lucas and Dr. Walford Davies, who were reportedly intent on obtaining the ‘best chimes’, an account of which can be found on the Monument Australia webpage. Lucas died on Tuesday, July 4, 1950 at the grand old age of 93 years and was survived by his two daughters, Mrs David Craven, of Medindie, and Mrs Alwyn Barker, of Mount Barke.
Edward was predeceased by his son, Cedric Lucas who died in 1947, and a third daughter, Mrs Frederick McBryde who died 30 years earlier. Edward Lucas had seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
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