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Biographical entry Lucas, Thomas Pennington (1843 - 1917)

13 April 1843
Dunbar, Scotland
15 November 1917
New Farm, Queensland, Australia
Entomologist and Physician


Thomas Lucas practiced medicine in Melbourne and Brisbane while also pursuing his interest in entomology, particularly Lepidoptera. He assembled a large collection of butterflies, mostly from Queensland, much of which is now in the South Australian Museum. Included in this collection were many specimens acquired from Roland Illidge. Lucas's attempt to become Chief Entomologist at the Queensland Museum foundered on professional disagreements with local entomologists. As a physician Lucas was considered somewhat eccentric. He argued against surgery and germ theory, and was not shy of making his views known. Convinced of the efficacy of pawpaw extract for treating a range of medical conditions, he manufactured a pawpaw ointment that is still being produced by his descendants. Lucas's publications include entomological papers, medical books and tracts, and dystopian novels.



1861 - 1917
Career position - Member, Linnean Society of London
Education - Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries, London
Education - Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh
Education - Member, Royal College of Surgeons, London
1871 - 1878
Career position - Practiced medicine in Herefordshire and London
Life event - Migrated to Melbourne, Victoria
1877 - 1885
Career position - Medical practitioner, Melbourne, Victoria
Career position - Founding Member, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
1881 - 1917?
Career position - Member of the Linnean Society of New South Wales
1886 - 1911
Career position - In private practice in Brisbane and South Brisbane, Queensland
1887 - 1917?
Career position - Member, Royal Society of Queensland
Career event - Opened his private Vera Papaw Hospital in New Farm, Brisbane
Career position - Sacred Songs and Nature Pieces book of poetry published in Brisbane (Edwards, Dunlop & Co.)

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources


  • Lucas, Thomas Pennington, Sacred Songs and Nature Pieces (Brisbane: Edwards, Dunlop & Co., 1914). Details
  • Musgrave, A., Bibliography of Australian Entomology, 1775-1930 (Sydney: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales., 1932), 380 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Thearle, M. John, 'Dr T. P. Lucas and the Paw Paw - "the most wonderful tree in the world"' in "Outpost medicine": Australasian studies on the history of medicine: Third National Conference of the Australian Society of the History of Medicine, Hobart, February 1993, Atkins, Susanne, Kirkby, Kenneth, Thomson, Philip and Pearn, John, eds (Hobart: University of Tasmania and the Australian Society of the History of Medicine, 1994), pp. 45-63. Details

Journal Articles

  • Metcalf, William J., 'Dr Thomas Pennington Lucas: Queensland scientist, author, doctor, dreamer and inventor', Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, 19 (5) (2006), 788-804. Details


See also

  • Moulds, M. S., 'The history of Australian butterfly research and collecting' in The biology of Australian butterflies, Kitching, R. L., Scheermeyer, E., Jones, R. E. and Pierce, N. E., eds (Melbourne: CSIRO Publications, 1999), pp. 1-24. Details

McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn