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Gresley Lukin (1840–1916)

by H. J. Gibbney

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Gresley Lukin (1840-1916), editor, was born on 21 November 1840 at Launceston, Van Diemen's Land, son of George Lukin, brewer, and his wife Mary Anne, née Wilkins. He was educated in Carr-Boyd's College at Campbell Town, studied engineering for two years and then became an actor. In 1865 he joined his elder brother George Lionel in Queensland and on 1 September became recording clerk in his brother's Maranoa Land Office at Roma. On 8 January 1868 at Nurindoo on the Balonne he married Rebekah Hall from the Hunter River. In March he was transferred to the Lands Department in Brisbane and was soon promoted chief clerk possibly because of his work in drafting the Crown Land Sales Act of 1868. In November 1871 he became chief clerk of the Supreme Court.

Lukin had bought shares in the Brisbane Newspaper Co. and in 1873 he resigned his office to become editor of the Brisbane Courier and the Queenslander. He soon succeeded in improving both papers and in 1876 secured a major scoop by sending an expedition under Ernest Favenc to explore a proposed transcontinental railway route. He was popular with both Liberals and Conservatives and played a major part in forming the National Agricultural Association and the Johnsonian Club. In 1879 he was a commissioner for Queensland at the Sydney Intercolonial Exhibition but in February 1880 was bankrupted on his own petition because of unwise land and mining speculation. Soon afterwards he left Queensland.

Lukin was discharged from bankruptcy in March 1880. He was in Melbourne looking for a new paper in February 1881 and in February 1884 appeared in New South Wales as manager of a tin-mining company. However, journalism still called and, after being appointed managing director of the Sydney newspapers the Globe and the Sunday Times (1886-87),  in March 1890 he bought the Boomerang from William Lane. Maintenance of the paper's radical stance alienated middle-class support while advocacy of the Griffith policy on coloured workers alienated the Labor Party. Deepening financial depression came to a head and Lukin lost heavily when the paper was finally wound up in April 1892.

Anxious to improve his health, Lukin went to New Zealand in 1893 and took employment as a parliamentary reporter on the Evening Post in Wellington. In 1896 he succeeded E. T. Gillon as editor and remained in office until he died at Wellington on 12 September 1916. Predeceased by his wife in 1906, he was survived by one son and three daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, vol 1 (Christchurch, 1897)
  • G. H. Scholefield (ed), A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol 1 (Wellington, 1940)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1880, 2, 1387
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 29 Nov 1879
  • Argus (Melbourne), 13 Sept 1916
  • Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand), 13 Sept 1916
  • A. G. Stephens papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • insolvency files (Queensland State Archives).

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Citation details

H. J. Gibbney, 'Lukin, Gresley (1840–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

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