Tuesday, January 26, 2010

it’s been 222 years…

The Lucas Clan in Australia

… since my family has lived in Australia.

Nathaniel Lucas was transported to Australia at the age of 24 – accused of robbery. To this day there are still claims that the goods were planted because he was such a good carpenter and the new colony needed his expertise. He travelled to Australia on the Scarborough and wasn’t long in the colony before he was sent to Norfolk Island.

Olivia Gascoigne, convicted of armed robbery, was destined for the gallows had her death sentence not been commuted, and she was transported to Australia on the Lady Penrhyn instead. Part of the English aristocracy one wonders how she found herself in the position of an armed hold-up.

Nathaniel Lucas and Olivia Gascoigne met on their voyage to Norfolk Island, were married and had thirteen children together. I am descended from their sixth child, Olivia Lucas.

It is claimed that Nathaniel and Olivia’s descendents now form Australia’s largest family. At the time the book above was published in 2004 there were 40 789 known ‘family members’ (estimated to be 80% of the total family),   a staggering 33 300 of whom were known to be living. Perhaps you are one of my family?

So what does this mean to me?

I’m incredibly proud that my ancestors were a formative part in building the modern Australian nation. They were courageous, survivors, hard workers and entrepreneurs. But there is also shame. Shame to be linked, even as unwilling participants, to the invasion of another people’s home. I experience so much ambivalence on Australia day – why do we need to celebrate Australia on the day that also marks so much loss to the original people of this land. Couldn’t we choose another date on the calendar to celebrate?

Nonetheless I am glad that Nathaniel was convicted, even if he was set up, and I’m thankful that Olivia in someway “lost-it” and was found to be guilty of armed robbery. Sending them on their way to this beautiful land has been very fortunate for me. I love living a stone’s throw away from beautiful sandy beaches, frolicking in the river, walking in the Australian bush. I relish hot summers and lazing about. I revere that we are multi-cultural.

I am cautious however not to celebrate a singular Aussie spirit and buy into the mythology of being Australian. It worries me to my core that phrases such as “un-Australian” are becoming part of the vernacular. Exclusion can only cause trouble. I feel deeply troubled when I see cars sporting Aussie flags billowing from the rear windows and then nasty “F@#k off we’re full” stickers on the rear windshield. Is this really pride?

In what ever way you choose to spend today, HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY to you!

9 comments:

  1. Wow. If I'd posted about Australia Day, Sally, the last half of your post is pretty much word for word exactly as I would have put it. Good on you - I totally agree. On a different note... how lovely to know your heritage... and how incredible that there is a published work on your family history. Thanks for a fabulous post :) K

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  2. I married into the great multiculture that is Australia, before which I had never realised what Australia was like until my husband took me to visit family. We share the same sentiments you laid down here, the tragedy of a culture built on diversity which has grown to strive for some twisted ideal of just what an 'Australian' should be... Thanks for sharing a glimpse of you family with us!

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  3. Such a well-composed and thought-through post Sal. It's hard to find a healthy expression of 'national pride' in our culture - one that expresses gratitude for the unbelievable riches we have in this country, and ownership of the reality that it has come at great cost to the land's first inhabitants.
    Does it make you feel more connected to know your history? Olivia sounds like a card!

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  4. Happy Australia Day! It's kind of a weird day, I think, and I agree that it would be far (somewhat?) less complicated if the date was changed. Having heard it referred to as 'invasion day' by a number of people, it's a rather uncomfortable celebration of what we are. And the plethora of Australian flags that appear - for some reason it feels to me like an aggressive statement of patriotism that I'm fairly sure I don't identify with.

    I would love to know more about the real lives of my ancestors. I'm discovering bits and pieces (like I'm apparently at least 3/8 German!) but I'd love to know more about why they came here.

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  5. Wow, that's wild! I have no idea of my heritage, my dad was born in Scotland and my mum's family have some Dutch and German blood! It feels like a huge mission to get all the info. Happy Australia Day to you - I feel enormously blessed that my destiny was to be born here.

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  6. while I don't have much of an exciting past (English/scottish ((we do have a kilt though))/dutch my little one will have a very interesting one... me (the above), dad (French Ecuadorian) (french grandad has some pretty exciting war time stories that I need to record). So little M the only one who is born in Australia!

    I have just been reading over your past entries. Love all of the costumes! My mum made us nurse and doctors outfits when young too! We lived in a very tropical climate and I think there is a photo of my little brother naked and in a nurses outfit (great black mail material when he was younger!) the cake is fantastic!!!! yes, will ice M's the night before! Mr E is very lucky!

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  7. Great post Sal and happy Australia day to you. Mikes grand fathers family came over on the first fleet - accused of stealing a pig. We looked up ancestory.co.uk and found just about all of them. Its always nice to know where you came from :)

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  8. I love the story. A friend's family was a convict arrested for stealing peoples dog and then colledting the reward money.
    I am hoping the weird aussie day stff will pass soon

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  9. Do you know if the book is still available? I'm a descendant of Nathaniel and Olivia through their daughter Olivia who married John Hodgetts. I have a terrific book on the Hodgetts written by Richard HOdgetts of Hobart, and the two families are closely connected by marriage. I was just googling for info on the Lucas's and there is heaps of stuff. I might be some time.

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