You might find in reading this that sections are repeated in other articles in the index. This however, is the full article as written by James and printed in the book Nathaniel and Olivia.
Nathaniel Lucas was amongst the first Europeans to arrive in Australia. He established one of the first Australian families. The temptation exists in his case to say with ease that he arrived with the First Fleet on 28th January, 1788 as a convict, but that would not be fair to him. Although officially a convict, it seems possible that he was amongst a number of arrivals that day who were neither volunteers nor worthy of the punishments that were inflicted upon them. However, like many of those people, Nathaniel endured his dilemma, regardless of the degree of his reluctance, raised a law-abiding and God fearing family and worked diligently towards the success of the Colony. Unfortunately, just as he had left England in disastrous circumstances, his life ended in tragedy
Where Nathaniel was born has not been identified. Records of the Church of England in the North Surrey area at about the same time he was born were not properly kept. From a letter written to his father in 1796 and now preserved in the Mitchell Library, he revealed that his father was Mr. John Lucas of Thames Ditton near Kingston, Surrey. It is therefore assumed that this is where Nathaniel came from. To suggest at random that Nathaniel did not deserve to be called a convict is unrealistic, in the first instance, because he had been convicted of theft before a British Court of Justice. Nathaniel was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1784.
Casting aside the familiar story that Botany Bay was founded because of the need for an alternative place for the disposal of convicts who, before 1783 would have been transported to North America, other sound reasons for establishing a British presence in the vicinity of Botany Bay in the South Pacific existed. In fact Cook’s voyages in the region before 1783 when the united States of America gained it’s own independence from Britain are evidence in their own right of the British intentions in regard to Botany Bay.
In fact it could very well be that the Botany Bay development had been forestalled some ten years because of the diversion of attention to the North American problem. The Dutch and French had a presence in the Region and in commerce these countries were competitors with Britain. Botany Bay, therefore, was an ideal Trading Post. However, there was another issue, seemingly of very little importance, that was the needs of the British Royal Navy for the ship’s masts and spars.
Cook had made mention of the Norfolk Island Pines in his Log of the Resolution’s voyage of discovery in 1774. Meanwhile, Britain had encountered in the Baltic States where they were previously obtained. Norfolk Island was considered by planners as far back as 1784 as one of those sources.
Regardless of the Baltic masts supply problem, it was necessary to provide them in the colony for repair of homeward bound ships, at least. However, it would have been necessary to prepare the timbers and to do this chore the answer was simply Nathaniel Lucas, joiner and carpenter [ship’s frame builder]. Thames Ditton was recorded at the time as being a source for supplies to London of wood off-cuts. The off-cuts were apparently the by-product of a more intensive timber preparation process. Because the timber preparation process was close to the docks of London, the timbers were most likely used in the boat building and repair industry.
Later, Nathaniel was to operate a boat building business in Sydney. Nathaniel was the ideal man for the job. Was it possible that by convicting him before a Justice, there was apparently a cheaper and more binding approach rather than the possibility of hiring him. In the circumstances, it would have been highly likely that persons of his background would have refused the job offer.
Whilst he was lodging at a public house in Red Lion Street, Holborn, near London, Nathaniel clashed with the publican’s wife over her demand for early payment of the board and about his lack of patronage at the Inn’s bar. On the following day, personalised items owned by a neighbour were reported stolen. By coincidence, the publican became involved immediately and instantly assumed that his border was the thief and then proceeded directly to the room at the Inn which Nathaniel shared with another boarder. The stolen items were found promptly in the stuffing of Nathaniel’s mattress.
Despite his protests of innocence and the admission of evidence at his trial that others had access to his room in the intervening period following the theft, he was convicted of stealing and sentenced to seven years transportation. After the sentence had expired, he reiterated his protests.
Nathaniel reached Australia on 19th January, 1788, aboard the "Scarborough". Shortly afterwards he was transported on H.M.S. "Supply" to Norfolk Island where he arrived on the 6th March, 1788. He was accompanied enroute by about fourteen other convicts, six of them females. These included Olivia Gascoigne, whom he wed shortly after his arrival there. Dr. Jameson solemnised the marriage in 1788 and the Rev. Richard Johnson confirmed it on 5th November, 1791.
Nathaniel and Olivia lived in Sydney, Norfolk Island, for the next fifteen years and raised a family of eleven children there. They were: Ann , Mary and Sarah , William , Nathaniel , Olivia , John , James , George , Charles , and Sarah .
While he was on Norfolk Island Nathaniel carried out numerous tasks. He built many of the settler’s homes and administrative buildings. In his spare time he farmed on a seventy-five acre grant at Grenville Valley. He was even a constable too and had the water supply contract. He took over other grants which had been abandoned by other less successful farmers.
In 1796 he wrote home to his father boasting of his farming skills and results. That same letter revealed an extremely good relationship between himself and the Lieutenant-Governor, Philip Gidley King. In fact, King took the letter with him to deliver personally to Nathaniel’s father in England, while on leave. However, records of the Island’s activities indicate that Nathaniel did not get on with the military leaders on the island during King’s absence. In fact they had Nathaniel suspended from his job on a number of occasions following clashes.
Prior to the dispatch of his letter, Nathaniel accidentally set fire to two pine trees while clearing land near his home during a storm. He misjudged the situation which actually called for the evacuation of the home. The trees collapsed onto the house killing his twin daughters Mary and Sarah and critically injuring Olivia.
In 1804, King, who had been appointed Governor of New South Wales, invited Nathaniel to Sydney Cove to erect a windmill for the Government on a site on Church Hill [now where the toll gates stand, on the Sydney Harbour Bridge] and added that Nathaniel could erect another for himself on another site in the Government Domain [now exactly where the Shakespeare Memorial stands near the State Library of New South Wales].
The windmills were prefabricated in Norfolk Island and brought across on H.M.S. "Investigator". The interesting point of this is that the mills he constructed were of the unusual post type which were based on the upper unit, holding the propellers rotating on a post with their direction being determined by sails placed like rudders. Wind powered bores today act on the same principal. Prior to that the mills were directioned by calculation and mechanical means. Nathaniel and his sons were later to build more windmills elsewhere in New South Wales.
Olivia and the surviving children moved to Sydney, New South Wales in 1805. Nathaniel leased the Domain mill to Henry Kable, hence the name by which it is recorded today, Kable’s Post Mill. He did , however, operate a seven-acre farm near the site. It appears that the family resided at Church Hill, where amongst many activities, it operated the Government Mill. John Macarthur lived next door. [Number 1 York Street marks the site today].
Nathaniels transfer coincided with the death in 1804 of the Colony’s Superintendent of Carpenters, James Bloodworth. Nathaniel filled the void and assumed this position. The structures known as the Mint Building [formerly the Rum Hospital] and the parsonages at Paramatta and Liverpool were amongst his work. He also contracted for much of this work. He may have been the "Architect" for these buildings.
The Rum Hospital, of course, got it’s name from the concession granted to it’s builders for the importation and sale of liquor in the Colony. Nathaniel actually constructed the Hospital. Most likely he was paid in cash from the proceeds of the sale, however, he did participate in the sale of the liquor. In 1809, he was granted a liquor licence and he built an outlet at Church Hill, patriotically called "Trafalga Hotel".
Meanwhile the family was extended with the births of Mary Ann  and Thomas .
By 1810 Nathaniel had been established as a successful tradesman and a sound businessman. He had started with everything against him in 1788 and reached the stage
Where prosperity awaited him should he just coast along. But he was a very enterprising man and his ambitions were to urge him on to other things.
He "exchanged" by default the post mill in the Domain for a lease at Liverpool [now two miles south-west of Ingleburn]. His son William took over the hotel. At Liverpool he re-established the family and began grazing, farming and wheat growing. He did, of course, continue to engage in building activities and it seems that the family helped him with the farming and wheat side.
In 1812 his son William married Sarah Squire, the daughter of the brewer at Ryde, James Squire. Squire was an empirical type who aspired to improve his brews. Squire was also a colleague of Robert Campbell and John Palmer with whom he shared a private banking arrangement and an interest in producing the ingredients for liquor. Campbell and Palmer by this time had set up activities at Port Dalrymple in V.D.L. Squire had a particular interest in improving the quality of the barley used in his beer.
In 1816 William and Sarah moved to Longford, near present-day Launceston where they secured a one-hundred-acre grant. Sarah grew hops, wheat and barley and William following a similar pattern of enterprise as his father, ventured into building work with his brother, Nathaniel and, at times his other brother, John. The wheat and barley were shipped to Sydney aboard Campbell’s, Palmer’s et al. Ships, like "Hetty", "greyhound" or "John Palmer". It was ground in Nathaniel’s mill and the barley went to the Squire brewery. The Hodgett’s family were similarly involved.
By 1817 everything was going very well for Nathaniel and his family. They had obviously created within the family a network of activities forming a viable business. On observation there appeared to be only one direction for them and that was prosperity. But things just did not go that way at all
It is possible that the marriage broke up in 1816. Son William advertised his home for sale on a number of occasions that year, then in 1817, Olivia and the children moved to Launceston. John and Charles commuted back on several occasions, but not the others. Nathaniel is not recorded as having visited V.D.L. at all. Francis Greenway reported Nathaniel as an alcoholic. However, a contemporary record is held to exist saying that Nathaniel, previously a teetotaller, was suffering from a disease of the mouth and enduring severe and intolerable pain. He was using rum as an analgesic [usual practice].
In April, 1818 he fell into the Georges River -----suicide or accident?
Olivia and her children rushed back to Liverpool to tidy his affairs shortly afterwards. His estate left less than enough to his debts. He appeared to have given Olivia and the children nothing, although it was noted though that Olivia still possessed the farm at Liverpool some ten years later.
Despite his tragic death, Nathaniel Lucas was, nevertheless, an industrious man and a pioneer in the true sense of the word. His business-like manner, as demonstrated during his youthful years, was a precursor to the spirit of many who followed him. His law-abiding and God-fearing family contributed to the formation of a stable society enjoyed by many Australians afterwards.
His was a harsh life in many ways but the nation owes much to Nathaniel and his fellows who laid the foundations to the Australian Nation and the Australian Economy and, most particularly, the Australian family.