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Quinlin, Marcus Stanley (1890–1982)

by Alan Ventress

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Marcus Stanley Quinlin (1890-1982), public servant, was born on 6 February 1890 at Burwood, Sydney, sixth of seven children of George Quinlin, gentleman, and his wife Elizabeth Margaret, née Kirkwood. Marcus, whose parents were born at Armidale, was educated at The Armidale School and as a child sang in the Armidale Cathedral choir. In July 1906 he joined the New South Wales Public Service. First a clerk in the Department of Lands, he subsequently worked in the Immigration and Tourist Bureau for a year before joining the ministerial office of the Premier’s Department in July 1915. On 18 August that year at St Andrew’s Church of England, Toogoolawah, Queensland, he married May (Maisie) Haysom Pryce.

Coming to prominence as private secretary (1925-27) to Premier Jack Lang, Quinlin was responsible for the administrative aspects of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Following Lang’s return to power at the end of 1930, Quinlin was appointed as an administrative assistant; he was in the official bridge-opening party on 19 March 1932. His public service career received a setback with the election of the (Sir) Bertram Stevens government in 1932, when he was seen as a Labor appointee. He moved to the Office of the Director-General of Public Health in 1936; he served on the miners’ pensions tribunal.

In September 1942 the (Sir) William McKell cabinet appointed Quinlin director of New South Wales State Lotteries. A set of marbles costing £1209, bought earlier in 1942 for use in the lottery draw, resulted in a poem ‘Footnote to Fame: Marcus Quinlin’. Recorded in an unidentified newspaper cutting, it finished:

His marbles rattled with a louder noise:
The ‘connie’ worth twelve thousand pounds a go –
And who said ‘marbles’ aren’t a darned good show?

During his time as director, lottery profits increased from under £1 million to £3.5 million. He was reappointed in 1947 but not in 1954. After an unremarkable career as a public servant, he retired in August 1954.

A month later Quinlin joined the public relations staff of Australian National Airways Pty Ltd in Sydney. A keen gardener in his home at Neutral Bay and from 1950 at Gordon, he frequently entered the Sydney Morning Herald gardening competition, occasionally winning high commendation. He also enjoyed watching cricket and regularly attended Test matches and domestic games at the Sydney Cricket Ground. In the 1920s he had purchased land for a holiday house at Taylors Point, Pittwater, with money won for correctly guessing the composition of the Australian Test team. A good-natured man of medium height and build, with a cheeky sense of humour, he often jokingly introduced himself as Marcus Aristacus Demus Lucas Cornelius Stanley Quinlin. He took a great interest in current affairs and the stock market. Widowed in 1964, he died on 4 September 1982 at Killara and was cremated. His two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Feb 1926, p 14, 27 Aug 1942, p 4, 1 Oct 1954, p 5
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 29 Aug 1954, p 28
  • private information.

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Citation details

Alan Ventress, 'Quinlin, Marcus Stanley (1890–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/quinlin-marcus-stanley-15589/text26799, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 24 February 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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