Lucas, Theodore Mari.
Name: Lucas, Theodorus Mari
This one of the best known Captains from the early days, mainly because there is a painting with his name on it. As a result he is sometimes even identified as being the first captain of the company. There were several before him. But he did join the company right from the beginning as he was assigned as 3rd Officer to the new building of the ss Rotterdam (I) then under command of Captain Hus which was the FIRST captain of the company. Six years later he would be in command of the same ss Rotterdam when the fleet was expanding.
Born: Rotterdam on 31 December 1847 as son of Johannes Lucas en Diderika Groenevelt (c)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Languages: English and German (a)
There is nothing known about his time before joining the company. He was 25 at that time and must have sailed somewhere. Either in sail or in steam. No records found as of yet.
Married on 27 July 1876 at Rotterdam with Johanna Maria Nell (24) born on 14 Oct. 1851 at Rotterdam. Daughter of Jan Hendrik Nell and Catharina Francina Seback. It is unknown if there were children.
As most captains he was a member of the local (Rotterdam) Captains association (Maatschappij tot Nut der Zeevaart) from 1878 to 1886 and carried their flag pennant R26 (c)
He sailed for the company until 1884, when while in command of the ss Amsterdam (I), the ship stranded at Sable Island on 30 July. 264 (*) Passengers and crew were on board and it was decided to go into the lifeboats. During the process of landing the boats on Sable Island two passengers and one crew member (a fireman) lost their lives as the boat overturned in the surf. The crossing had brought a mixed bag of weather but during the evening of the 30th. around 20.00 hrs. thick fog set in. As Lucas thought that he was about 35 NM. South of the island he kept the ship going at full speed and thus the ship ran ashore at full speed at 21.45 hrs. Because of this full speed the ship ended up high on the shore and had to be given up. (d)
(*) There are also reports of 242 passengers and 65 crew on board, thus a total of 307.
(ED) I have no information yet what the company thought of this as losing ships in those days due to the weather, Fog, storm, lack of clear skies was not usual, but I question the wisdom of the decision to keep up full speed while in the Fog regardless of where the ship was. But this was not an unusual practice in those days.
It is noted in the company administration that he was dismissed from the company on 27 September 1884. In this case the word “dismissed” does not give an indication either of the why, as the personnel clerks used this word for every employee when their voyage ended.
On 3 March 1885 Capt. Lucas joined the Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland (SMZ) a Dutch ferry company which operated (and still does, although it has now been absorbed by the Stena Line and only sails from Hook of Holland) from Vlissingen to Harwich in England.
His starting wage was an Fl.1000, — a year. Note: Holland America Line Captains were paid by the voyage, ferry captains by the year as they had a must more regular schedule. Thus the wages were similar but a ferry promised more time at home. So if Captain Lucas had left Holland America at his own decision then this was a good reason to switch sailing areas. It gave much more of a chance of a regular family life.
Part of being able to work on the ferries is the need to have a pilot exemption certificate for which you have to make a large number of entries and exits both in the ports of Vlissingen as well as in Harwich. Thus it can be assumed that in the gap period between leaving HAL and joining SMZ, he qualified for both areas. After 2 years as First Mate he is promoted to Captain on 01 June 1887 with a salary increase to Fl. 3000, – (Or Fl. 250, — a month)
1887 Captain Willem Prins van Oranje (Paddle wheeler)
1889 Captain Prinses Marie (Paddle wheeler)
On 24 April 1894, his new home town becomes Middelburg which is much closer to Vlissingen for his work. (By 1909 it is noted that he was living in Vlissingen itself)
1895 Captain Koningin Wilhelmina (Paddle Wheeler) (b)
On 15 May 1902 there is a salary increase to Fl. 3500
In 1906 he goes shore side and becomes Inspector External Affairs for the company. Which most likely entailed visiting the ships and dealing with the operational side. On 1 January 1907 salary increased to fl. 3800,–
Once ashore he becomes a pillar of the local community with being a member of the commission for supervising the transport of emigrants (1906) at Vlissingen. (He remains in this function until November 1916. Although Vlissingen was not directly a emigrant departure port such as Rotterdam, emigrants left from here to travel to England and emigrate from there but also Emigrant Ships came in “by the voyage” if an agent had a larger number of emigrants waiting and it made a call worthwhile. That “waiting” could cause a problem whereby emigrants ended up for a lot of money in very substandard accommodation. The Emigrant Commission had as task to inspect the accommodation of the ships and the shore side hotels. If either was substandard than the ship could be banned from the port and the Hotel could see its operating license revoked.
In July/Aug. 1907 there is a newspaper announcement that he has been re-appointed as member of the commission for supervising secondary education by unanimous vote.
Decorations and Medals:
- In April 1909 together with the Director of the company and a fellow captain he is awarded the Order of Knight of the House Order 2nd class of Saksen-Ernestine by His Royal Highness the Duke of Saksen-Coburg and Gotha.
- In October 1910 he is awarded the cross of merit for his 15 year service as First Lieutenant of the Royal Navy Reserve.
- In October 1911 He is awarded the Knights cross 4th. Class of the Crown Order of Prussia by His Majesty the Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia.
(I have not been able to find out why he received the first and the last medal but until verification I believe they were given for his work on the emigrant side.) (e)
1 January 1914 at the age of 67 he retired with compliments of the Company and a bonus of Fl. 1500 and moved (from Badhuisstraat 137) to The Hague in 1916.
He passed away on 13 Sept. 1922 at the Age of 75 years. (b) His wife preceded him on 15 November 1921 with city of death certificate being Amsterdam (c)
- (a) Hal Archives as being held in the Municipal Archives of the City of Rotterdam
- (b) Piet’s Scheepvaart Index (For the ferry boats of the SMZ)
- (c) E. A. Kruidhof (via Genealogy Sites and Local Newspapers). For almost all the personal information.
- (d) New York Times, various editions.
- (e) Various Internet Medal Websites.
Sailing List: (a)
Date: Function: Ship: Wages and/or remarks.
Sept. 1872 3rd Officer Rotterdam 40,- has first rank cert
Oct. 1872 2nd Officer Maas 60
May. 1874 2nd Officer Scholten
Jul. 1875 2nd Officer Rotterdam
Nov. 1875 Chief Officer Scholten 100,–
Feb. 1878 Captain Rotterdam 200,–
15 Jun. 1881 Captain Amsterdam
30 Jul. 1884 Captain Amsterdam Stranded at Sable Island
27 Sep. 1884 Dismissed from company