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Sir Robert Lucas Lucas- Tooth (1844–1915)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published:

Sir Robert Lucas Lucas- Tooth (1844-1915), brewer, was born on 7 December 1844 in Sydney, eldest son of Edwin Tooth and his wife Sarah, née Lucas. He was educated in England at Eton and in 1863 rowed in the college eight. In December he returned to Sydney, joined R. and F. Tooth & Co. and became active in the management of the Kent Brewery; in 1868 he became a partner. He had bought the Kameruka estate near Bega from his uncle Frederick in 1864; between 1868 and 1871 it shrank from 75,000 acres (30,352 ha) of leasehold to 22,000 acres (8903 ha) of freehold land. He put into practice there his own humanitarian social ideas, providing his tenant farmers with six-roomed cottages, a school, a church designed by Edmund Blacket, a meeting-hall, store and post office. He planted English trees on a large scale, built an ornamental lake, kept an aviary of golden pheasants and liberated all kinds of game: pheasants, quails, hares and foxes. He gradually changed from grazing Durham and Shorthorn cattle to dairying, founded a fine Jersey herd from imported stock, evolved a matured cheddar cheese and was the first in the colony to make Edam cheeses. Kameruka became a 'transplanted segment of the English countryside'. With his uncles Frederick and Robert and others he was a partner in Tooth and Cran in business ventures in Queensland. In Sydney on 2 January 1873 he married his cousin Helen, daughter of Frederick Tooth.

In December 1879 Tooth contested a by-election for East Sydney. He strongly supported Denominational schools and castigated the government's new excise on colonial beer, which he believed would 'press lightly on the rich man and heavily on the labouring classes' and lead to the extinction of native industries. He was not elected, despite the support of Archbishop Vaughan and John McElhone and the assistance of two bands, and free beer and transport on polling day. However, next December he won the Monaro seat in the Legislative Assembly. He rarely voted but generally supported the Parkes-Robertson ministry and in 1883 served on the Elections and Qualifications Committee.

A member of the Union Club from 1867, Tooth built Eridge Park at Bowral in the late 1870s; the house was lined with barley husks; in 1883 he laid down a coursing track there and planted gorse and blackberries to protect the hares. In 1882 he built a castellated Gothic mansion at Darling Point, with a ballroom larger than that at Government House, and named it Swifts after the family home in Kent. He was awarded a silver medal for his services as a Canadian commissioner at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879-80. In 1881-90 he was a director of the Bank of New South Wales and in 1894-1907 served on its London board and was sometime chairman. A permanent committee-man of the Industrial Blind Society in the 1880s, he was a large shareholder in the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. and a director in 1888-89. In 1888 Tooth & Co. Ltd became a public company; holding 10,000 shares he was managing director until 21 October 1889.

That year Tooth took his family to England to be educated; he settled there but paid frequent visits to Australia, particularly to Kameruka. He leased a house in Queen's Gate, London, and in 1909 bought Holme Lacy, an estate near Hereford. He was a member of the Carlton and Junior Carlton clubs and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1895, as a Conservative, he was defeated for a Leicestershire seat in the House of Commons. In 1902 he gave £10,000 to the King Edward's Hospital Fund for London, and was a member of the management committee of King Edward's Horse (the King's Overseas Dominions Regiment). In 1904 by royal licence he took the name and arms of Lucas-Tooth and in 1906 was created a baronet in recognition of his services to the empire. Soon afterwards he gave £50,000 to promote the physical and moral training of boys, and endowed a scholarship in Sydney for Anglican theological students to attend Oxford or Cambridge universities for three years. On the outbreak of World War I he gave £10,000 to Lady Dudley's fund to set up the 'Australian Voluntary Hospital' at the front and was chairman of its London committee of management.

Lucas-Tooth died of cerebral haemorrhage at Holme Lacy on 19 February 1915. He was survived by his wife, three daughters and youngest son who succeeded him but was killed in action in 1918; his two elder sons had been killed in the war in 1914. His estate was sworn for probate at over £905,000 in New South Wales and over £276,000 in England. In 1920 King George V re-created the baronetcy for the eldest son of Lucas-Tooth's eldest daughter Beatrice, wife of Major Hugh Warrand; he became Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth.

Select Bibliography

  • Tooth & Co. Ltd, The First Hundred Years (Syd, 1935)
  • G. N. Griffiths, Some Houses and People of New South Wales (Syd, 1949)
  • B. Ryan, ‘Kameruka Estate, New South Wales, 1864-1964’, New Zealand Geographer, 20 (1964) no 2
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16-18 Dec 1879, 22 Feb 1915
  • Bulletin, 19 Aug 1882
  • Times (London), 11 Aug 1914
  • Australian Financial Review, 31 Mar 1967.

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Tooth, Sir Robert Lucas Lucas- (1844–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Lucas-Tooth, Robert Lucas

7 December, 1844
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


19 February, 1915 (aged 70)
Holme Lacy, Hereford district, Herefordshire, England

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.