Young Jane Lucas

Jane Lucas was born in 1825 in Trowbridge, Wiltshire to Robert and Jane Lucas (nee Moon). Jane was the second child and daughter for the couple, who already had an elder daughter Harriet. Robert Lucas was a gardener and a nurseryman, and he and his wife went on to have 4 more children (or possibly 6, but proof and confirmation in required). The known children after Jane are Mary, Robert, Elizabeth and Martha. There is an eight year age gap between Robert and Elizabeth, so the likelihood for at least two more children is there. Her parents attended the Ministry of the Rev. John Warburton, at a Baptist Chapel.

South Australia[]

When Jane was 15 years of age, her family decided to emigrate to Australia. Her sister Harriet, however, was in love with a man by the name of Benjamin Pitman and they did not want to be separated. The Lucas family decided to pretend he was one of their children so he could make the journey with them. He travelled under the assumed name of 'Joseph Lucas'. It is possible (but not proven) that Jane's future husband travelled in the same way, under the name of 'DeNeufville' Lucas. There is reference to a 'DeNeufville Lucas' in some passenger lists for the 'Fairfield'. A person of that name did live in South Australia for a period but has been proven to be from a totally different Lucas family and is highly unlikely to have been in South Australia at that specific time (he arrived later). It is also possible that the reference to a "DeNeufville" Lucas is purely a clerical error.

The family left their home in Trowbridge on 10th July 1840, embarking two days later at Deptford, London on the ship "Fairfield". The journey lasted 5 months, with the family arriving in South Australia on 14/12/1840. The family claimed that several children died at sea during the journey. Considering the gap in ages between children Robert and Elizabeth, this is highly possible, but is also possible that this was a story designed to hide the real fate of Benjamin Pitman and possibly Jane's future husband. Thirty-five passengers are recorded to have died during the voyage and there were 5 births.

Jane and her family can not be located in the 1841 census for South Australia and the birth of her sister Elizabeth in 1841 is not recorded. It is possible that the family were still living roughly at that time, as information from Benjamin Pitman's family indicates they spent some time living under a gum tree and in tents on the banks of the River Torrens. Jane's obituary however, points to the family living "at the Sturt" for a few years, where she recalled walking through the bush to Adelaide to do the shopping. By February 1842, they were living in the Walkerville area. Sister Harriet is believed to have started work at Government House for Governor Gawler, as is father Robert as a gardener. This information is yet to be proven.


Our first official record of Jane in Australia (besides her arrival) is her marriage to Charles De Laine at Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide, South Australia on 13th March 1843. The witnesses were Janes' parents, Robert and Jane Lucas (nee Moon), with Rev. Charles Beaumont Howard officiating. Charles was of French origin, born in Etretat, Le Havre, Normandy, France on 7 February 1818. Charles gave his occupation at the time as servant. Soon after the marriage, Charles took up butchering as his trade from their residence in Sturt Street, Adelaide. When they moved to Clark street Norwood to live, he ran a smallgoods business in the rear of their home and later a smallgoods shop on Norwood Parade. He was also a police officer and detective during a 30 year period in the first police force of the state of South Australia.

International research during 2018 - 2019 has determined exact details of the early life of Jane's husband. However, recorded proof is still required to discover his true arrival in Adelaide.

Past theory: 'Charles' may have arrived in South Australia by deserting a sealing or whaling vessel. Maureen M Leadbetter stated that Charles possibly deserted the French whaling ship 'Mississippi' in approximately 1838/1839.'

There is now definitive evidence of the 'Mississippi' being in New Zealand and Australian waters several times between 1836 and 1839, including a whole winter in Cloudy Bay in New Zealand.

Records now prove that 'Charles' (Mathurin) left the ship 'Asia' in the Bay of Islands in 1836. The 'Mississippi' was in the Bay of Islands near the time of desertion. It was common for seamen to leave ships. At times a whole crew would desert a ship, and a new crew of Maoris replaced them. It is perhaps also relevant that Charles had not only a stepfather but also two step-uncles who were all Masters of Whaling ships. Some of them mastered ships to these waters and also South Australia. His stepfather - Aza Bullard Casper (born in USA) was a renowned master, holding a record for the most voyages spanning the most years of whaling.

The following paragraph, based on earlier research shows dates for 1838-1839. However more recent records in 2019 have been found which show that the 'Mississippi' was in New Zealand; Tasmanian; and South Australian waters earlier than this.

(Previous research): 'There was also a stop over in Hobart in January 1838. The Port Lincoln Herald newspaper reports the "Mississippi" stopping at Port Lincoln in South Australia on 8th October 1839, for water and provisions, staying for 9 days. In Shipping Arrivals and Departures SA 1627-1850, RT Sexton states that the ship departed Port Lincoln on the 17th October for New Zealand, but had to return that night to entrap 2 deserters, the ship eventually arriving in New Zealand on 28/2/1840. Where Sexton obtained the information about the deserters is not known. It is possible that he refers to a file in the South Australian State Library called French Whaling Masters, Reports and Declarations of. Recorded in French, it details a series of questions put to the masters on their return. Some reports list the names of those on board. Reel 2 includes the voyages of the "Mississippi". The end of the report for the 1838 voyage has 'signe' followed by a list of names including "Laine". The home port of the "Mississippi" was Le Harve where Charles states he was born, and being on board a whaling ship is a likely place for him to have learnt the butchering trade that he practiced in his life."

More investigation on the whaling ship "Mississippi" is required to prove if this is a true connection. Other ships which sailed between New Zealand; Tasmania and South Australia must also be considered as possibilities. Even though 'Charles' deserted the 'Asia' - probably with good reasons, it must be remembered that he had a substantial whaling pedigree within his family and therefore may have been welcomed onto other ships.

Jane De Laine (nee Lucas) circa 1880

The Police Force[]

Jane and Charles spent the early part of their married life in Sturt Street, Adelaide. It was in Sturt Street that they had all of their 12 children, two dying in infancy. The children took on several names - such as Berenice, Isabella and Casper - which may give clues to Charles family.

On the 16th April 1845, Charles joined the South Australian Police Force. His service record gave his year and place of birth, stated his previous occupation as butcher, and listed him as 5 foot 7 inches tall, married and with no religion stated. For the next 25 years, Charles had an 'on & off' relationship with the police force, joining and resigning and re-joining again at a later date. It is beleived that resigning and rejoining was caused by the shortage of money in the Colony of South Australia to pay its Police Force. He was made a Detective Constable in 8th April 1867 and then a Police Constable on 15th April 1867, only to be retrenched on 30th November 1869. Charles was so distraught by the situation that he felt compelled to write a letter to the Chief Secretary about his situation. It reads:-

"I have the honour to make application for a subordinate situation under Government, being one of the unfortunate Police Office discharged from the foot Police on account of the retrenchment. I beg most resepctfully to state that in my late capacity I served the Government well and truly as certified by my testimonal enclosed. I therefore humbly request that any situation suited to my capacity at the disposal of the Government may be given to me as I have a family of nine children dependent on me for support. I feel mine to be a hard case, meriting at least the kindly consideration of the Government. Sir I beg further to state that when I last joined the Police Force in 1867 that I was recommended by Chief Justice Hasidon and John Brown esq. and several other gentlemen with an unblemished character. I have been here 30 years and was a Police officer in the early days of this Colony. Sir, being a Frenchman, I hope that you will excuse some of my English in this letter, trusting to Providence and your kind consideration."

Jane and her children at her husband's grave


Charles returned to the butchering trade and conducted a sausage making business from a premises in Sultram Place in Adelaide. In 1876, he moved to a cottage that is today 25 Clark Street, Norwood. He contonued the processing of smallgoods at the rear of the home, until 1883 when a butcher shop was built for the purpose on The Parade at Norwood. When Charles died on 18th June 1886 of asthma, he left all his good and property to Jane. Jane convinced her son Leon (Mathurin Charles Leon De Laine junior)to leave his trade to take over the smallgoods business. One of his brothers joined him in the partnership as he had learnt the smallgoods business, and the shop remined in family hands until 1948.

Charles was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.

The De Laine family on Jane's 80th birthday

Jane would outlive her husband by 23 years. Her children and their spouses all gathered for her 80th birthday at Norwood in 1905. She was afflecited by blindness in her later years, but remained cheerful and was active in domestic duties. It is even said that she performed domestic duties the evening before her death. She had been feeling ill for about a week and the heat of the summer was also affecting her.

Jane died on the 3rd January 1909, leaving a will that divided her property amongst her children. 8 were alive upon her death, as were 50 grandchildren and 31 great grandchildren. Jane was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery with her husband.

Jane's grave in the West Terrace Cemetery


Name Birth Death
Children of Charles and Jane De Laine

Caroline Berenice 3/12/1843
Not recorded, South Australia
Norwood, South Australia

Berenice Isabella 2/10/1845
Adelaide, South Australia
Not recorded, South Australia

Berenice Isabella 8/9/1847
Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Jeanette Emily 16/7/1849
Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Mathurin Charles Leon (junior) 19/6/1851
Adelaide, South Australia
Kensington Gardens, South Australia

George Robert 29/10/1853
Adelaide, South Australia
Parkside, South Australia

Janet Emily 30/9/1856
Adelaide, South Australia
Mile End, South Australia

William Casper 27/12/1858
Adelaide, South Australia
Torrensville, South Australia

Henry James 2/8/1861
Adelaide, South Australia
Ashford, South Australia

Arthur Edward 26/3/1864
Adelaide, South Australia
Parkside, South Australia

Celia Jane 3/4/1868
Adelaide, South Australia
St Leonards, South Australia

Clara Adeline 6/6/1870
Adelaide, South Australia
Payneham, South Australia


  • The De Laine Family History 1840-2008, compiled by Lorraine Willoughby, 2008
  • Birth, Death & Marriage records
  • The South Australian Police Gazette
  • South Australian Police Records
  • Assessment books of Kensington and Norwood
  • Non British Colonists and Naturalisation: South Australia's Early Days, by Maureen M Leadbetter, last updated 17/3/2009, Adelaide Cooperative History
  • A History of Southern New Zealand from 1830 to 1840, by Egbert McNab, Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1913
  • The Port Lincoln Herald, 08/10/1839
  • Shipping Arrivals and Departures SA 1627-1850, by RT Sexton
  • French Whaling Masters , Reports and declarations of, State Library of South Australia