Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

McLucas, Allen Ernest (1909–1967)

by M. D. Prentis

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Allen Ernest McLucas (1909-1967), headmaster, was born on 24 February 1909 at Amosfield, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Joseph McLucas, selector, and his wife Suzanne, née Harriman. His parents were of Ulster Scottish descent, and ran a store at Stanthorpe, Queensland. Allen boarded (1920-26) at Scots College, Warwick, where he excelled at sport and studies, and was school captain for two years. Influenced by the principal W. W. V. Briggs, he abandoned his wish to become an architect and turned to teaching. He was an assistant-master for three years at Methodist Boys' College, Stanthorpe, while studying externally at the University of Queensland (B.A., 1937; M.A., 1945; B.Ed., 1948). In 1930 he returned to Scots as boarding-master, but in 1935-36 lived at Emmanuel College, Brisbane, to complete his honours degree in English full time. After a further two years at Scots, he joined Brisbane Boys' College as senior English master. At the Methodist Church, Lutwyche, on 7 October 1939 he married Beth Amy Beeston, a brilliant fellow language student who was to prove a faithful supporter.

On 19 May 1941 McLucas was mobilized in the Militia as a lieutenant and posted to headquarters, Northern Command. Transferring to the Australian Imperial Force in January 1943 as temporary major, he served as a staff officer at brigade, divisional and corps headquarters in Australia, Netherlands New Guinea and Borneo. On 18 January 1946 he transferred to the Reserve of Officers. He had written his M.A. thesis on Thomas Hardy while stationed on Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, and subsequently enrolled in education. Having again taught at Brisbane Boys' College, in 1949 McLucas was named principal of the fledgling Scots School, Bathurst, New South Wales. In May 1953 he was appointed headmaster of Brisbane Grammar School; there he increased enrolments and promoted building projects, just as he had done at Scots, Bathurst.

In February 1956 McLucas was invited to apply for the position of principal of Scots College, Sydney. He took up duties on 27 August. A Presbyterian elder (from 1950), he was strongly committed to Christianity as the basis of 'true' education. He also held egalitarian and progressive educational ideas which cut across entrenched traditions and offended their hard-nosed custodians. A number of senior teachers, old boys, parents and—eventually—college council-members saw McLucas's attitudes as threatening. In his Christian vocation, some perceived him as too traditional; in his educational philosophy, as too revolutionary. His undiplomatic handling of people (including staff) and his alleged poor decisions made him an easy target. An atmosphere of subversion eventually spread throughout the school community and led to his forced resignation at the end of 1965.

McLucas reverted to classroom teaching, at Barker College, Hornsby. He belonged to the United Service Club, Brisbane, and the University Club, Sydney, and enjoyed reading, fishing and tennis. Survived by his wife, son and two daughters, he died suddenly of coronary artery disease on 22 April 1967 at his Avalon home and was cremated with Presbyterian forms.

Select Bibliography

  • K. Willey, The First Hundred Years (Melb, 1968)
  • B. Shaw, The Lion and the Thistle (Warwick, Qld, 1993)
  • G. Sherington and M. Prentis, Scots to the Fore (Syd, 1993)
  • Scots College (Warwick, Queensland), Clansman, June 1940, p 26
  • Scots College (Bathurst, New South Wales), Lion, 1957, p 12
  • Scots College (Sydney), Scotsman, Aug 1956, p 5, 1965, p 21, 1967, p 44
  • Scots College Old Boys' Union (Sydney), Lang Syne, Oct 1956, p 1, Jan 1959, p 4, Aug 1967, p 1.

Citation details

M. D. Prentis, 'McLucas, Allen Ernest (1909–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mclucas-allen-ernest-11016/text19595, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 23 October 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2019