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Major Edmund Lockyer

By: Grant Peake, Member of the Wajarri Yamatji people

Published: 22 May 2024

THE FIRST SETTLEMENT OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA

A visionary vanguard, who with the assistance of his officers, the convicts and the Menang people, laid the foundation for Western Australia. 

It was on the afternoon of Christmas Day, 25th December 1826 that a small vessel named Amity sailed into the haven of King George’s Sound on the west coast of New Holland (Australia). At this point in history, this section of water was identified as King George’s Sound before becoming known today as King George Sound.

Having battled treacherous storms in the Southern Ocean on the journey from the east coast of Australia, Major Edmund Lockyer, and all aboard were thankful of arriving safely in calmer waters.

Major Lockyer had been assigned the task of establishing a penal outpost of the New South Wales Government on the west coast of New Holland.

On board the Amity were twenty troops and twenty-three convicts to assist Lockyer with this important undertaking. Initially Lockyer and his crew chose not to row ashore in case of a hostile reception from the Aborigines.

Whilst Captain Matthew Flinders, who had sailed into King George Sound in 1801 enjoyed cordial relations with the local Aboriginals over a three-week period, Lockyer was cautious. Staying on board to celebrate Christmas Day and thankful that their brig Amity had weathered foul weather, Lockyer and his men enjoyed some time to relax and rejoice.

It was imperative that a suitable site was located to commence a penal settlement. Lockyer set out with Lieutenant Festing, the commander of the Amity, to examine the local area for various locations on Boxing Day, 26th December 1826. Searching various locations, it was decided to settle a camp at the foot of Parade Street where a stream of fresh water flowed into the sea. This stream is still visible and is near to where a replica of the brig Amity is displayed.

It was not until 21st January 1827, being Major Lockyer’s birthday, that a party was sent ashore to proclaim the land for the British.  A plaque in Parade Street commemorates the raising of the Union Jack flag to proclaim the land for Great Britain as instructed by the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Earl Henry Bathurst.

A feu de joie, or ‘fire of joy’ was fired by the troops to mark the annexing of the territory for the British Imperial Government. This was the official beginning of European settlement in Western Australia. The settlement was under the authority of the Governor of New South Wales. 

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Major Edmund Lockyer, H.M. 57th Regiment

Being so remotely isolated from its governing body, King George’s Sound was completely reliant upon continual supplies being delivered. There were occasions during Lockyer’s tenure when the situation was dire, and the penal outpost was in peril of starvation.

 

Major Lockyer’s stay in Frederick’s Town, as Albany was then known, was brief, a mere one hundred days. Lockyer departed from Albany on 3rd April 1827 leaving Captain Joseph Wakefield to take over command of the penal settlement. It is interesting to note that the name ‘Frederick’s Town’ was never formally adopted, and the area was known as ‘King George’s Sound.’

Finally, on 7th March 1831, the name Albany was formally adopted, and the settlement fell under the control of the Swan River Colony. On reflection, we do not know a great deal about this intrepid naval seaman, Major Edmund Lockyer. We do know that Lockyer named the settlement after the reigning monarch’s, King George IV, younger brother, Frederick Augustus, Duke of York, and Albany, along with a few more titles that I have not included. As a matter of interest, Prince Frederick was the favourite son of his father, King George III who had died in 1820. Unbeknown to Major Lockyer, Prince Frederick had died on the 5th of January 1827, just days prior to the claiming of Frederick’s Town for the Crown.

It is time that we explored Major Lockyer’s background and his illustrious career up until the time he was appointed to sail to the far-flung shores of the west coast of this vast continent. Come with me while we travel back in history and search the life of Major Edmund Lockyer. I take the liberty of informing the reader that I have endeavoured to provide accurate details from resources available. Some dates and details may vary slightly as records differ occasionally. Recollections of historical events often differ and are subject to erroneous recording and will always be a subject of debate.

Edmund Lockyer was born in St. Andrew’s Parish, Plymouth, Devon, England on 21st January 1784. His father, Thomas (25th December 1756-8th August 1806) was a successful Sailmaker and a Ship Rigging Merchant. His mother’s name was Ann, nee Grose (1755-8th December 1820). Edmund was one of seven sons and there were four daughters born to Thomas and Ann Lockyer. Thomas Lockyer was a prosperous businessman who made a sizeable fortune. He described himself as a ‘Sworn Broker.’

Edmund initially lived with his family in the town of Plymouth and was given a formal education. Excelling as a student, Edmund was destined for greater things in life. In 1802, Thomas Lockyer chose to retire and proportioned extensive funds into the purchase of the ruins of Wembury House, with expansive views of the harbour.

The site consisted of 890 acres (360.17 hectares), an additional rental manor and a tidal fishery on the Yealm Estuary which contributed considerable monetary income. Construction of a grand manor house commenced in 1803 on the site of the old Wembury House ruins. Wembury House, which still exists today, is in the parish of Wembury, in the county of Devon situated six miles (9.6 kilometres) from Plymouth.

By 1803, Edmund aspired to join the British Army and leave his family for a new chapter in his life. The young Edmund joined the British Army as an Ensign of the 19th Regiment in June 1803. An Ensign was the lowest commissioned subaltern rank in infantry regiments in the British military until 1871 when it was replaced by the rank of Second Lieutenant.  Lockyer’s leadership abilities were soon noticed, and he was promoted to Lieutenant early in 1805 and acquired or purchased a Captaincy in August the same year.

In early 1806, Lockyer was posted to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he displayed remarkable governance qualities. Quite tragically in August 1806, Thomas Lockyer, Major Lockyer’s father, died because of an injury sustained when falling from his gig coming home to Wembury House.

The Lockyer family had only just moved into the newly built Wembury House one month before.

At Galle, Ceylon, on 12th August 1806, Lockyer wed a widow, Dorothea Agatha Young, nee de Ly (21st January 1790-13th September 1816). Quite ironically, Dorothea shared the same day of birth as Lockyer, 21st January. Dorothea was the sixteen-year-old widow of Captain John Young.

In 1808 Edmund and Dorothea had a son, named William Edmund (28th August 1808- 25th November 1886) who was born in India. We know that Major Lockyer did serve in India for a brief period.

The young child was sent back to Wembury House in Devon to be brought up by his grandmother, Ann Lockyer, at the tender age of five weeks old.

Why this occurred is unknown however there must have been a valid reason why William was sent back to England. According to records, William was particularly close to his grandmother, Ann.  A great, great grandson (unknown) was quoted as saying that William said of his grandmother, ‘she was my best friend.’

The young baby, William was christened and lived at Wembury House for the next four years while his father, Captain Edmund Lockyer was home from Ceylon. Whether the marriage of Edmund and Dorothea was unhappy, we are unable to determine. However, from information that I have researched, circumstances indicate that their relationship was strained. Records reveal that Dorothea was of a Catholic or Dutch Reformed religious background; therefore she would not have consented to granting Captain Lockyer a divorce had he asked. Fate stepped in when Dorothea, Lockyer’s wife died in Galle, Ceylon aged twenty-six on 13th September 1816. She was buried in the Dutch Church Cemetery in Galle with her mother, Dorothea Petronella de Ly.

William, Lockyer’s son, continued to live at Wembury House while Major Lockyer was away. It was very soon after Dorothea’s death that Lockyer married Sarah Morris (16th August 1784 - 11th July 1853) on 6th October 1816 at Trincomalee, Ceylon. The Morris family were well known to the Lockyer’s in Devon. Therefore it can be assumed that Captain Lockyer was already acquainted with Sarah Morris in England. Prior to his second marriage, Lockyer was in a de facto relationship with Sarah and had fathered offspring. Their firstborn child was a son, Edmund Morris Lockyer, born on 5th July 1809 at Taunton, Somerset, England. This was not even a year after the birth of William, Lockyer’s son to Dorothea.

I have included some brief details regarding Edmund Morris Lockyer as father and son would share a significant maritime experience in years to come. From extensive research, it is quite clear that father and son shared a common fascination of the sea and all manner of naval and miliary interest.

Captain Lockyer (as he was then known) encouraged his son, Edmund to fulfil his dreams and join the British Army. Later in life, Edmund became an Ensign and was assigned with his father, Major Lockyer, who was now in the 57th Regiment (West Middlesex) on Foot (known as the Diehards). Father and son sailed from Sydney as part of the retinue to establish the penal colony on the west coast of New Holland (Australia).

Although a member of the 57th Regiment on Foot, Edmund was temporarily attached to the 39th Regiment as storekeeper whilst at the penal settlement at King George Sound. Edmund sailed from King George Sound on 23rd February 1827 to return to Sydney on the Isabella. There he rejoined the 57th Regiment and departed for India in 1831.

In 1818, Lockyer and his wife, Sarah and family came to live at Wembury House prior to Lockyer being posted to Ireland. Elevated to a Major in August 1819 and transferred to the 57th Regiment (West Middlesex) on Foot in August 1824, Lockyer continued to impress his superiors. By this time, Lockyer’s exemplary military service had been in England, Ireland, Ceylon, and India.

Sailing to Sydney with a detachment of the 57th Regiment, Lockyer arrived on the HMS Royal Charlotte. Accompanying Lockyer was his wife, Sarah and their nine children. It must be noted that a daughter, Eliza died at just 14 months old (5th July 1816-16th September 1817) at Kedgeree, Bengal, India. Eliza had been born in Trincomalee, Ceylon whilst Lockyer was posted there.

The Lockyer’s last child, Louisa Harris Lockyer, (13th August 1826- 31st August 1911) was born at Parramatta, New South Wales after the Lockyer’s had arrived in Sydney. William, Major Lockyer’s son from his first marriage, had also made the journey with the family on the HMS Royal Charlotte. With the addition of William from his first marriage, Major Lockyer arrived in Sydney with ten children he had fathered.

The retinue had sailed from London on 12th November 1824 with thirty-four men as escorts of the 57th Regiment. This comprised the guard of one hundred and thirty-six male prisoners and Government stores. During the journey, William became a lieutenant on 9th April 1825. The Royal Charlotte arrived in Sydney on 29th April 1825. Upon arrival, Major Lockyer’s priority was to settle his family in a new country. It was not long before Major Lockyer was summonsed to undertake his first assignment.

Given the task to explore the Brisbane River region in August 1825 by the Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, Lockyer proceeded to Moreton Bay in the cutter Mermaid. He was instructed to investigate the Brisbane River as far as was considered safe to venture and provide a detailed report of the animals, birds, minerals, and the general disposition and appearance of the natives. This was no small request, yet Lockyer was determined to succeed and show his superiors he was capable and reliable.

Major Lockyer commenced this mission on 1st September 1825 with John Finnegan, a former castaway who had assisted the explorer John Oxley in the district during 1823/24. The pair managed to travel a significant distance up the Brisbane River in a small vessel for 150 miles, further than Oxley had travelled. Lockyer discovered the stream that bears his namesake and the Stanley River, finding coal near Ipswich. The present-day Lockyer Creek and Lockyer Valley and Lockyer Valley Regional Council in Queensland are named after Major Lockyer. Of course, we must mention the Albany suburb of Lockyer and several other Albany entities named after the Major.

The discovery of coal by Lockyer was extremely significant and was the first known deposit of coal in Queensland. The Mermaid was sailed back to Brisbane, being the first sea-going boat to sail the Brisbane River. A plentiful supply of timber was taken aboard, and the Mermaid arrived in Sydney on 16th October 1825. Major Lockyer was lauded for the handling of the expedition and his intrepid prowess dealing with difficulties encountered on the arduous journey. Shortly afterwards, Lockyer would be involved in an expedition to the far side of the continent that would forever be associated with this man.

The early exploration

To provide us with a true perspective of exploration on the west coast of Australia, it is imperative that we mention some important visitations by these skilful mariners. Initially there was the visit by Dutch explorers Dirk Hartog in 1616 then Willem Janszoon in 1618 and Willem de Vlamingh in 1696. That of course is another story of the history of this land.

 

The most significant early European sighting of the site of Albany was by Dutchman, Peter Nuyts, in the ship Golden Zeepaardt in 1627. There is no evidence that Nuyts sailed into the harbour, yet his discovery placed the southern coastline on the map. A survey was conducted by Nuyts near King George Sound which was included on a map issued by the Dutch East India Company in 1628.  Therefore the location of Albany, as we know it today, was documented some four hundred years ago. Just imagine if a settlement had been commenced all those years ago!

 

Following the Dutch, William Dampier (1651-March 1715) an Englishman, described as an explorer, buccaneer, pirate, privateer, navigator, and naturalist, made an extensive exploration of the west of coast of Australia. Dampier, apart from being a colourful character of dubious disputation, was an extremely talented mariner. On the 6 of August 1699, Dampier and his crew aboard the Royal Navy ship Roebuck passed between Dirk Hartog Island and the Western Australian mainland into what he named Shark Bay. Whilst he never reached as far south as Albany, Dampier has been credited to be the first Englishman to explore various parts of the Australian coastline. Additionally, he was the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. A feat which was amazing for that era.

By the eighteenth century, the French Government were also taking an avid interest in the west coast of New Holland (Australia), which led to grave concerns that the French would take possession of the land. Previous visits by French explorers to the western portion of Australia had occurred over a succession of years, prior to 1826.

 

One explorer of significance was the French Navy officer and explorer, Louis Aleno de St Alouarn (28 July 1738-27 October 1772), who landed at Dirk Hartog Island on 28th March 1772 with the 16-gun storeship Gros Ventre. On 30th March 1772, the first European claim of possession for Western Australia unfolded. The territory, named Australie-Occidentale francaise or French Western Australia, was formally annexed by the French for King Louis XV. This claim of possession took place at the ‘Bay of Taking Possession’ later renamed Turtle Bay, at Dirk Hartog Island. Officer Jean Mengaud de la Hage performed the event while Louis Aleno de St Alouarn remained on board the ship.

A French royal white ensign flag was raised by the ceremonial party and a bottle was buried containing the relative document proclaiming the annexing of the territory. Alongside the bottle they buried two silver ecu coins. The French annexure was never followed up with a permanent settlement. Ironically, in early 1998 a lead bottle cap was found at Turtle Bay with a shield coin set into it. Then on the 1st of April 1998, a WA Maritime Museum expedition found a complete intact bottle, capped with a lead seal surrounding another ecu. This bottle was discovered in the same vicinity yet contained only sand.

 

Some anecdotal evidence exists supporting the annexure claim. It seems that decades earlier, a stock worker had found the claim of French annexation and stored it at a sheep station homestead operating on Dirk Hartog Island. This building was later destroyed by fire.

In 1792, Antoine Raymond Joseph de Bruni, chevalier d’Entrecasteaux, known as Bruni, was another French naval officer, explorer, and colonial governor, who sailed along the coast of Western Australia.  He sailed near to Cape Leeuwin and named the small group of islands off the tip of Cape Leeuwin, as the St Alouarn Islands; after his compatriot, Louis Aleno de St Alouarn. Hence, we have the French locality names of Esperance, Point D’Entrecasteaux and the Recherche Archipelago. The latter was named after the French frigate Recherche under the command of Bruni d’Entrecasteaux.

 

He had been commissioned to search for the lost French naval officer and explorer, Jean-Francois de Laperouse who had been missing since 1788, later to be Anglicised to ‘La Perouse.’ That is also another story of French naval interest in Australian waters. Another significant French explorer was Commander Nicolas Baudin who in May 1801 made detailed navigation maps of the west coast of Australia and then the little-known southern coastline.

 

The two vessels used for this specialised survey of the coast of Nouvelle Hollande (Australia), as the French termed it, were the corvettes, Naturaliste and Geographe. Baudin recorded in his detailed diary that he and his crew came ashore on the south coast of Australia, encountering Aboriginal people who they treated with the utmost respect. A close bond was developed between the local Aboriginals and the French, trading items amongst one another. The French marvelled at the resilience of the Aboriginals, their hunting skills and ability to read the heavens by watching the sun, moon, and stars. Various places were named, and among these places are Cape Naturaliste, Geographe Bay and Hamelin Bay to name a few.

Louis de Freycinet (Sub Lieutenant) was another notable French navy officer who had sailed along the coast of Western Australia. In 1811 he published the first detailed map of the coastline of Australia. De Freycinet entered King George Sound on 11th February 1803 with the schooner Casuarina and the naval corvette Geographe.  De Freycinet mentions in his diary the following words, “the only well-known point of New Holland where it is possible to obtain fresh water at all times.” The crew stayed until 1st March 1803, coming ashore to examine the soil, which they found to be sandy.

A vast quantity of botanical specimens was collected, and they marvelled at the diversity of plants and amazing array of animal life. In all, there are over two hundred and sixty French place names recorded in Western Australia. It is sufficient to say the French had been quite active, and their attention was drawn to the varied flora and fauna which was meticulously drawn and exhibited back in Paris. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was suitably impressed and encouraged further voyages to the ‘great south land.’ Possible colonisation was seriously considered but with Napoleon’s various military exploits keeping him busy, no further attempts were made at establishing a French presence on the west coast of New Holland. Who knows what might have been!

The British had to act quickly or lose this strategic portion of the continent to another nation, especially their historical arch enemy, France. If this part of the continent was lost to the French, then trade routes from Asia would be substantially effected. There would be no port available for British vessels to shelter and take in provisions.  The trade route between Britain and Port Jackson was paramount and the founding of a penal outpost at King George Sound would enhance matters greatly. Sailing ships were subject to inclement weather and a safe harbour was a welcome sight to the mariners of yesteryear.

Captain, George Vancouver (1757-1798)

Of notable inclusion in this article is the exploration conducted by the British Captain, George Vancouver (22nd June 1757-10th May 1798). Commissioned to explore the Pacific Region, Vancouver sailed from England with two ships, the sloop, Discovery, and the armed tender Chatham on 1st April 1791. Vancouver first sighted the west coast of Australia on 27th September 1791 and two days later sailed into a large bay on the south coast of the continent. Sailing into what we now know as King George Sound, he navigated to Possession Point, aptly named by Vancouver where the British flag was raised to claim the land for the Crown.

 

A small plaque commemorates the raising of the flag where a stream of water flows out into Frenchman Bay approximately twenty kilometres from Albany.  Vancouver also named Bald Head, the barren looking promontory overlooking the water and Breaksea Island which allowed some protection from the prevailing winds.

 

Michaelmas Island was named because it was Michaelmas Day (29th September) and Seal Island due to the abundance of seals inhabiting the small island. Importantly, Vancouver named Princess Royal Harbour after Princess Charlotte Augusta Matilda, first daughter and fourth child of King George III.

 

Finally, Vancouver named Oyster Harbour when their boats became grounded on a hidden bank after they had sailed in to explore its merits. This was quite fortuitous as the bank was a profusion of oysters and they were able to feast upon the bounty. Vancouver and his entourage spent just over two weeks in Frenchman Bay, inspecting the area and mapping while the two vessels were watered and refitted following the gruelling journey.

 

Vancouver’s instructions did not include any order to make claims of possession of new discoveries for the British. However, Vancouver did so regardless. Research has never unearthed any evidence that the British Government officially accepted this claim of possession. If it had, then Western Australia would have been established in 1791.

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Captain George Vancouver (1757-1789)

Later in 1801/02, we have the visit of Captain Matthew Flinders RN, who was instrumental in carrying out the first inshore circumnavigation of the Australian mainland. Flinders has been credited as the first person to use the name ‘Australia,’ including Van Dieman’s Land (now Tasmania) as the entire continent. He preferred the name to ‘Terra Australis’ (Southern Land) as Australia had been referred to before in earlier maps. Flinders named Cape Leeuwin on 6th December 1801 and proceeded south to survey Princess Royal Harbour in early 1802.

 

Finally, we cannot forget the visits of Lieutenant (later Rear Admiral) Philip Parker King. King was the son of the third Governor of New South Wales, Philip Gidley King.  On King’s first visit of 1817/18, King anchored off Oyster Harbour in January 1818 and had come ashore but had not encountered any Aboriginals. He did however notice smoke near to their landing spot and the Aboriginals in turn would have seen King and his men.

 

It is worth mentioning that on board the cutter Mermaid was an Aboriginal named Bungaree, from the Darug people north of Sydney.  From written records of King, he considered Bungaree to be equal to the other crew members and was treated well.

 

King returned on another voyage on 23rd December 1821 with the schooner Bathurst and remained for a two-week period, enjoying cordial relations with the local Menang people. They dropped anchor on the western shore of King George’s Sound and one mile to the entrance to Princess Royal Harbour. A friendly relationship was forged with a local Aboriginal who was referred to as ‘Jack.’

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Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)

Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)

He was permitted to board the Bathurst and even assisted the ship’s botanist, Alan Cunningham to obtain botanical specimens when the crew went ashore. There is a significant amount of historical information that could be said concerning the visits of Lieutenant King, and most importantly mention that this man was responsible for charting the coastline of Australia. By sailing close to the shoreline, a dangerous tactic to play, King and his team were able to carefully plot the coastline and fill in many gaps that Captain Flinders had been unable to determine.

 

Finally, just prior to the arrival of the brig Amity, a French vessel, the Astrolabe had anchored in King George Sound in November 1826. Its commander was Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d’Urville, a French explorer and naval officer, who was a qualified botanist and cartographer.

 

The renowned French painter, Louis Auguste de Sainson had accompanied the expedition and painted various specimens including portraits of Menang people. These portraits are exceptionally well detailed of the local Menang inhabitants who were pleased to welcome the French visitors to their shores.

This overview was given to provide the reader with a mental picture of the enormous interest that this land attracted prior to British colonisation.

The despatch orders, duty-bound for King George Sound

It was decided in March 1826 by the British Government’s representative, Earl Henry Bathurst, Secretary of State, and the Colonies, to despatch orders to Governor Sir Ralph Darling of New South Wales.  These orders were to have a contingent hastily sent to the west coast of Australia and claim the land for the British Crown. Darling was reticent concerning the British Government’s instructions however he complied and acknowledged the request.

King George Sound was the site chosen for a penal settlement to be established and Major Lockyer was again given the privilege to carry out this important commission. This decision to sail into King George Sound was based on the advice of Captain Matthew Flinders from his visit to the Sound in 1801 with H.M.S. Investigator. Flinders takes the credit for being the first person to lead an inshore circumnavigation of the Australian mainland. Flinders had marvelled at the protection King George Sound offered sailing vessels, along with the inner stretch of water being Princess Royal Harbour. His detailed notes and sketches were of immense assistance to Lockyer and the crew.

Given his orders on 4th November 1826, Major Edmund Lockyer, along with Captain Thomas Hansen and Lieutenant Colson Festing RN, convened without delay to discuss their route and organise appropriate supplies. Six months provisions were placed aboard the Amity along with a selection of various plants, seeds, and animals that were intended for breeding purposes until the settlement was completely self-sufficient.

The most essential was taking twenty-three specially selected convicts, who were skilled in various trades to set about the establishment of a penal outpost. The irony of this manoeuvre is quite interesting. Major Lockyer had been told by Governor Darling that should the French already have a presence on the west coast, Lockyer was to take his troops ashore and inform the French that the whole of New Holland, including the west coast, was now subject to the British Government.

 

What would have transpired if the French had been present on the west coast is open to speculation!  It is doubtful that the French would have complied, let alone allow a British vessel to enter the harbour. Had the British really known the true intent of the French visits, then they might not have been so hasty to initiate a settlement.

 

From French historical documents dating to around the time of the early nineteenth century, we can ascertain that the French were far more interested in the flora and fauna of the land than claiming the territory for themselves. Admittedly, there were earlier discussions by the French under Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800’s to proclaim this newly discovered land, however this did not materialise.

 

New Holland (Australia) offered a distinct and varied ecological landscape with a plethora of plants, animals, and reptiles.  An abundance of specimens was taken back to Paris for further scientific analysis and botanical examination.

Let us continue our journey of uncovering more details regarding Major Edmund Lockyer. Lockyer sailed from Sydney Cove on 9th November 1826 on the brig Amity with Lieutenant Colson Festing, as Sailing Master of the Amity, twenty-three convicts and a detachment of twenty troops from the 39th (Dorset) Regiment under Captain Joseph Wakefield’s command.  Wakefield was second-in-command and an engineer.

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Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst  (1762-1834)

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General Sir Ralph Darling (1772—1858)

The Amity’s captain was Captain Thomas Hansen. Accompanying the Amity was H.M.S. Dragon and their escort H.M.S. Fly. These latter two vessels were to ensure that the Amity left the shores safely and entered the passage for the Southern Ocean without mishap. The Amity would need to sail through the Bass Strait, considered to be one of the notoriously roughest stretches of water in the world. A favourable wind permitted good sailing however as the ships continued south down the coast, the weather altered for the worse until the fifteenth of November. Then conditions improved enabling days of clearer weather as they sailed toward Bass Strait.

 

It was just prior to the end of his escort that Captain Wetherall of the Fly boarded the Amity. Wetherall advised Captain Festing to sail westward to clear Bass Strait while the clear weather remained. Shortly after, contact was lost with both the escort Fly and the Dragon. The Amity was on her own, subject to the impending elements that would threaten to consume the tiny vessel and all who were on board.

Major Lockyer’s eldest son, Edmund, to his second marriage, was on board the Amity. As previously stated, Edmund had been assigned as storekeeper. The Naval Surgeon on board the Amity was Dr. Isaac Scott Nind who Nind Street in Albany is named after.  For interest purposes we can name some of the convicts who sailed on the Amity.

Dennis Dineen (1806? -1849) an Irishman from Cork, was a blacksmith and was speared by a Menang man on 27th December 1826. (Some records state 26th December). Dineen, although wounded, survived the attack. Lockyer handled the matter with diplomacy and ensured that no retribution take place until he had reasoned with the Menang men. We will explain this incident later in the article. Another convict was James Shuttleworth (carpenter) John Ryan (sawyer) and John Brown (gardener).

The Amity was now on its own and made steady progress however this was soon to be hindered. Unfortunately due to foul water taken on in Sydney, the Amity had to deviate its course and call into Port Dalrymple, (George Town) on the northern coast of Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania). The containers were unclean thereby rendering the water useless for human consumption. Fresh water was taken on board along with additional supplies including 186 pounds of fresh beef.

 

This delay was unforeseen, and Lockyer was disturbed that this setback would hamper their journey time. Leaving at dawn on 23rd November, the Amity utilised a light breeze to commence her voyage.  As night descended upon the Amity and its crew, the wind became gale force from the northwest and battered the brig for three days. The wind was so strong that it blew the vessel eastwards and away from Bass Strait.

 

Choosing to sail south of Van Dieman’s Land fate dealt another blow when a further treacherous storm was encountered.  The Amity was in a precarious situation sailing ever closer to the east coast of Van Dieman’s Land and possibly being wrecked.  Her master, Captain Hansen decided to sail eastwards to clear Bass Strait and reach the coast of Van Dieman’s Land.  By the 29th of November, when the Amity was off Storm Bay, Major Lockyer wrote in his journal, “Towards evening the breeze shifted to the N.W. and blew a perfect storm with a very great sea, which broke on the vessel during the night, and poured down the cabin and also carried away the main boom and stove in part of the bulwarks.”

On this occasion the Amity was severely damaged thereby causing it to sail to Hobart for needful repairs. Further provisions to replenish depleted supplies were taken on board along with a quantity of bricks. Eventually the Amity departed Hobart on 6th December and again sailed into severe weather. Strong seas and violent winds tossed the vessel relentlessly as it sailed across the Southern Ocean. 

We can only try to imagine how such a small vessel as the brig Amity laboured with the strain of the fierce weather conditions. The crew were brave, astonishing men who valiantly kept faith and brought the Amity through this unforeseen ordeal. It took three weeks of gallant sailing to bring the Amity into King George Sound, Albany on the afternoon of 25th December 1826.

At noon, Bald Head was sighted followed by Mounts Manypeaks and Gardner. Then they saw Michaelmas and Breaksea Islands, aptly termed the twin protectors of the eastern access to King George Sound. It was when passing by Michaelmas Island that the crew noticed a large fire. Lockyer, realising that the fire was not a welcome to the Amity yet rather a call for help, was intent to return to the island once they had established their chosen site to camp.

 

The crew dropped the brig’s anchor at 5.30p.m. about a mile off the northern shoreline at a place named Point Frederick, now known as Residency Point. In all the Amity (148 tons) had taken forty-four days since leaving Sydney Cove to sail into King George Sound.

 

A permanent settlement was to commence on the western shore of New Holland (Australia). As a forerunner to the arrival of the Brig, we learn from historical naval records that the crew were barraged with such ferocious conditions that it was thought the Colonial brig Amity would be lost.

 

The crew were assailed by days of minimal sunlight. It was as though a permanent shroud encompassed the Amity. Dark ominous clouds loomed over the small vessel as it struggled to remain afloat. These valiant mariners maintained a vigilant course with the constant fear that they would lose their way. Perseverance and pure tenacity allowed the Amity to limp into King George Sound and then into Princess Royal Harbour. There they anchored and Lockyer and all on board were grateful for their safe arrival.

Coming ashore

It was not until the next day, 26th December, at 4a.m. that Lockyer, along with Lieutenant Colson Festing, came ashore. After a thorough investigation, a camp site was chosen at the base of, what is now known as Parade Street. This was the same site that Flinders had chosen when he had landed. By way of interest, Parade Street is the oldest street in Western Australia. Next time you are in Albany take a walk along Parade Street and flavour the history of this remarkable place.

A careful investigation of the land lying within a triangle bordered by Mount Melville, Mount Clarence and the entrance to Oyster Harbour was considered the ideal site for the penal outpost. Stores and baggage were then boated ashore.

 

This site was perfect as there was a clear running stream flowing by permitting a plentiful supply of fresh water. Friendly relations were forged with the Aboriginals on the 26th and early on the 27th of December. During the day, Lockyer reported that four Aboriginal men had been brought ashore from a nearby Michaelmas Island with at least one having severe lacerations on his neck. The scars were probably inflicted by a cutlass.

 

Earlier that day, Captain Wakefield had taken some soldiers to Michaelmas Island and rescued the four desperate Aboriginal men. The men were duly released back onto the mainland. The victim, whose scars were quite evident, showed some other Aboriginals who were gathered around the camp site. They all departed quickly exhibiting anger at the landing party. Lockyer suspected that sealers were the culprits in kidnapping the Aboriginals.

Later that day, the same man who had the scars, was observed when an attack took place upon the watering party of the penal outpost. This was when the convict Dennis Dineen was speared three times and seriously injured.  Dineen survived and returned to his duties, later returning to Sydney where he died in 1849. (I will mention that there are various spellings of Dineen’s name).

Despite the attack, Major Lockyer chose not to react until he had further details regarding this random attack. His intuition told him there were underlying factors contributing to the unprovoked assault. Wise to the cause of the violence being an act of revenge, Major Lockyer let the matter rest, however he issued a stern order. No hostility or ill-treatment was to be reprised against the Aboriginals for their actions.

 

Shortly afterwards, the body of a male Aboriginal was discovered on Green Island in Oyster Harbour which enraged Major Lockyer immensely. The man was lying close to a partially complete raft. Lockyer was determined to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. His assumption that they had arrived at a feud between the Menang people, and the sealers was proved tp be correct. To Lockyer, it was clear that an unknown party of sealers has committed this act of hostile aggression.  It would not be long before Major Lockyer had his opportunity to locate the source of these brutalities.

A flourishing outpost

In the meantime, the penal outpost continued to flourish, although hampered by lack of sufficient provisions. By 30th December 1826, adequate storage facilities had been completed and all the convicts had been disembarked. Lockyer was disappointed with the quality of the poor soil for growing vegetables, essential to the settlement’s diet. In his journal, Lockyer states, “though most of the ground in the neighbourhood is a loose sandy soil with a mixture of vegetable mould; with the exception of the gardens it would not answer any other purpose of farming or agriculture.”

 

Lockyer was impressed with the surrounding landscape, commenting on the two hills, Mount Clarence (Corndarup) and Mount Melville (Kardarup) being ideal as “an extremely eligible situation for a town.” The beautiful vista of water surrounding the shoreline, being the large expanse of water that Captain George Vancouver had sailed into in 1791, naming it ‘King George the Third’s Sound’ was the ideal situation for a settlement to be created. Since then the name was altered to what we know it today as King George Sound.

New Year's Day January 1827 Major Lockyer records, 

"Monday January 1st, Every person exerting themselves to get the stores up. The soldiers being under cover, everyone employed as most useful. The weather squally and cold. No appearance of the natives since their attack on the watering party." 

Major Lockyer writes that the weather was quite cold, with squally winds and heavy rain. This was unusual weather conditions for summer. 

By 10th January 1827, the convicts had buildings erected for housing, albeit simple structures. A garden was dug, and a plentiful supply of fish kept the small group of people fed. A significant amount of provisions had been water damaged or lost to the elements during the horrendous sea voyage from Sydney.

Three women and four children, the family of officers, were amongst those that landed at Residency Point, where Lockyer chose to inaugurate the penal outpost. At this juncture, I wish to point out that one of these women was pregnant, Mary Hill, who was the wife of Private William Hill of the 39th (Dorset) Regiment, assigned to keep order at the penal outpost and manage the convicts. A son was born to the young couple on 29th July 1827, named Frederick. Therefore we have the first recorded birth in the penal outpost, later to be known as Albany.

Ironically the child's place of birth was listed as "King Georgetown, NS Wales." His parents, William and Mary had their place of residence listed as "Sydney", as this applied to all parts of Australia under the authority of the Governor at that time.

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King Georges Sound sketches by Major Edmund Lockyer, 1826.

Uprising amongst the convicts 

A convict, who I have previously named, John Ryan, a sawyer (sawing or cutting wood mostly using a pitsaw) was responsible for an uprising amongst the convicts. Ryan and some other convicts argued that they had received an insufficient meat ration. The convicts rejected the meat allocation, staging a rowdy protest.

Further investigation from Major Lockyer’s diary reveals that the Major was deeply troubled that no vessel had called into the settlement for a period of time. Supplies were running low, and it was deemed necessary to limit the convict’s rations. The convicts outnumbered the soldiers and there was always the distinct possibility that the convicts might try to usurp their overseers.

Ryan was a troublemaker and intent on causing an uproar.  I quote a portion of Major Lockyer's journal regarding Ryan; "no doing anything with him except the cat." The Major was referring to the cat of nine tails lash, a severe punishment given to misdemeaning characters.

 

As reprimand, Major Lockyer ordered that Ryan’s rations of tea, sugar and tobacco be stopped until he had changed his behaviour. Major Lockyer ordered that Ryan receive punishment for his actions however no one would carry out Lockyer’s command. It fell to Major Lockyer to administer the sixteen lashes to John Ryan!

Detaining the sealers

It was by coincidence, on the 10th of January 1827, that a sealing boat arrived in Princess Royal Harbour.  On board the ship were eight sealers who promptly boarded the Amity asking Lieutenant Festing to give them food and water.  Festing referred the request to Major Lockyer.

The boatsteerer, a man named William Bundy provided a note from his employer, a Mr Robinson, stating that the writer would “pick up the bill.” It transpired that the sealers were part of a sealing gang from a schooner named Hunter (not Governor Hunter as erroneously recorded by Major Lockyer). There were also crew from another schooner named Brisbane, the captain “having gone off and left these men on the islands here.”

Major Lockyer agreed to allow the sealers to remain aboard the Amity overnight, providing victuals for the motley assortment of men. The next day, Major Lockyer began his interviews with the men. Of note is the testimony of William Hook, a Māori, who gave a detailed account of the killing of the man on Green Island in October 1826. This information included the kidnapping of Menang women which forced Major Lockyer to request that Festing detain the sealers and their boat. As a result of this injunction by Major Lockyer, the brig Amity became the first watch house in Western Australia.

The following day, Hook was again interviewed by Major Lockyer, questioning the man regarding his understanding of the meaning of an oath and quoting from Lockyer’s letter to the Colonial Secretary, “the nature of an Oath and the consequence of swearing to what was not true.” William Hook claimed he fully understood the ramifications of the oath and upon this declaration, Lockyer made Hook sign the statement. Lockyer arrested two of the sealers for ‘committing outrages’ against Menang people, as Lockyer held sufficient evidence to support his actions. This statement was sent to the Colonial Secretary as part of Lockyer’s report. This piece of evidence is the only known source that records the sealers’ crimes of October 1826.

By way of background information, sealers had operated extensively in the waters off Albany and were familiar with the tides and the Indigenous population. A barter or trade system had been instituted with the local Aboriginals and the sealers. Whaling and sealing boats from America and the Scandinavian countries, namely Sweden and Norway, had frequently visited the region.  There was an abundance of whales and seals during the mating season in King George Sound which had attracted the attention of the sealers.

Lucrative financial benefits were to be obtained when selling the whale and seal carcasses, prized for their blubber which was rendered into oil. The blubber was highly sought after in the perfume industry and in the production of soap, candles, and cosmetics and for fuel in oil lamps.

It seems that the sealers had been unkind to the point of being ruthless to the Aboriginals. When coming ashore they had inflicted considerable anguish and heartbreak. It was common for the sealers to murder the Aboriginal men and kidnap the women. Hence, when Major Lockyer sailed into King George Sound the Aboriginals treated the new arrivals with deep suspicion and mistrust.

Major Lockyer immediately instigated an enquiry with the sealers regarding their behaviour to the Aboriginals. The sealers admitted to perpetrating atrocious crimes against the Aboriginals, including murder and kidnapping. They confessed to taking four male Aboriginals and marooning them on Michaelmas Island. The story behind this act of inhumane conduct by the sealers involved five Aboriginals who had requested the sealers to take them to Green Island in search of food. The sealers had complied but left the Aboriginal men stranded and returned to shore to find the women.

They captured four women whereupon two of them managed to escape. The terrified women returned to their Menang tribe (also spelt as Mineng, Minang, Minanga, Mirnong) and related the horrific experience. The other two women were held hostage and retained for the sealers use!

The sealers sent a boat back to Green Island with water for the Aboriginal men who rushed the sealers. One man was shot and killed, and another struck with a cutlass; the same man who was later rescued by Captain Wakefield.

For some unknown reason, a sealer went back to Green Island and took the remaining four Aboriginal men to Michaelmas Island and had left them to their own devices. Lockyer sent a party of soldiers to Eclipse Island where they found one of the offending sealers, Samuel Bailey and one of the Aboriginal women. Samuel Bailey was taken into custody to await trial and transportation back to Sydney on the brig Amity when it sailed on 24th January 1827.

Some other sealers were later apprehended however Major Lockyer was not successful in having them sent back to Sydney by the time he left the outpost. It would fall to Captain Wakefield to deal with these inhumane miscreants and was only too pleased when they signed up on a passing ship. Consequently, these sealers escaped retribution which Major Lockyer had desired for them. During his questioning, Major Lockyer obtained information from the party of sealers that the French explorer and naval officer, Jules Dumont D’Urville had surveyed King George Sound in November 1826. This confirmed Lockyer’s fears that the French were interested in the west coast of Australia.

The first foundation of Western Australia

Major Lockyer chose his birthday, Sunday 21st January 1827, to institute the instructions given to him by the Governor of New South Wales. Major Lockyer was forty-two years of age.

The Union Jack was raised, and the annexing of the territory formally announced by Major Lockyer on behalf of the British Crown. Lockyer named the settlement, ‘Frederickstown’ in honour of His Royal Highness Prince Frederick, Duke of York, and Albany. Prince Frederick, who Major Lockyer wished to honour, was the Commander in Chief of the British Army. Major Lockyer had completed the assignment allotted to him with no hostile resistance from the local Aboriginals. With this proclamation, Major Lockyer had now officially taken possession of the western third of the continent for the British Crown.

Major Lockyer records in his journal the following words. “This day at sunrise the colours were displayed on the Flag Staff; at twelve o’clock a Royal Salute was fired from the Battery and a Fei de Joier by the Troops, and an extra allowance of flour with raisins and suet was ordered on the occasion to be issued to the troops and convicts; a number of the natives having come to the Settlement on the morning the seine was hauled on purpose to give them a feast; about three hundred weight was taken of capable fish. The day proved fine and the whole, went off well.”

It has been documented that the date of the 21st of January 1827 is the actual foundation or establishment day for Western Australia, not the day celebrated by the Swan River Colony, later to be called Perth. In attendance were Menang people and according to a document recording the event, there is a mention of an elderly Menang man dressed in military uniform. He had regularly paraded alongside the Red Coats, the uniform of the officers, which was not discouraged by Major Lockyer. This may have been the father of Mokare (maw-ka’ree), yet there is no definitive proof to confirm this statement. The colour red appealed to the Aboriginals which encouraged the men to paint themselves in the red ochre colour.

Friendly associations existed in the fledging community of King George’s Sound with the local Menang people.* I wish to explain the meaning of the word ‘Menang’ as we know it today. As I stated earlier, there are variations of the spelling, however I came across another historical document, from which I would like to share with you. The local Aboriginals of the area which became Albany, were the ‘Meananger’ people, a name reflecting their hunter-gatherer society. ‘Mean’ or ‘Mearn’ is a red edible root and the word ‘anger’ the verb ‘to eat.

 

It is of paramount importance that I talk about Mokare.  Mokare was a member of the Menang people, a lively character with a ready smile. He was spoken of affectionately in Dumont d’Urville’s diary in November 1826. Mokare acted as an interpreter and a liaison between the Menang people and the French explorers.  Later, when the British arrived under the command of Major Lockyer, Mokare assumed this role again.  Mokare was deeply respected and provided invaluable assistance to the new settlers with communication.  Always of a cheerful disposition, Mokare was an exemplary man and much admired by everyone in the camp.  Nothing was a hinderance to Mokare, to him life should not be imposed with barriers.  Doctor Isaac Nind, the penal surgeon gave Mokare the position of an aide and servant and relied upon Mokare’s advice when dealing with the Menang people.  Sadly, Mokare succumbed to illness and died on the 26th June 1831.

Ensuring that a peaceful existence between Aboriginal and settler was of prime importance to Major Lockyer. Lockyer realised that for the penal outpost to survive, the ‘newcomers’ had to understand and respect the people who inhabited the land. The settlement developed slowly; however Lockyer made every attempt to ensure the penal outpost survived. An air of decorum and satisfaction existed in the camp which Major Lockyer had strived to install in every person.

On the surface to an observer all was orderly and functioned like clockwork according to Major Lockyer’s instructions. This was not entirely the case. There were rumblings and disagreements amongst the convicts and the officers, respectively. Major Lockyer was constantly assailed by mutterings of dissatisfaction and the living conditions left a lot to be desired. Dust and dirt were a problem that afflicted the campsite continually.

Lockyer even made a comment in his notes that he was weary with the frequent discontent that existed throughout the camp.  The convicts regularly complained of insufficient food and the constant ritual of daily life. Major Lockyer was a military man and to him this was just normal and a part of his daily regime. He found it difficult to accept anything else and expected the convicts and officers alike to be grateful for what was provided. Lockyer had organised a piece of land to be called ‘the Square’ where discussions and punishments would take place. This was similar to a meeting place for the penal outpost.

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Robert Dale (draughtsman), 1832 and Robert Havell Jnr (engraver), 1834. Panoramic view of King George’s Sound, part of the colony of Swan River 1834.  The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Photographs: Christian Capurro.

On 12th February 1827 Lockyer, accompanied by five soldiers, attempted to search an inland plateau that Major Lockyer had seen from his telescope not long after his arrival. These hills are the Porongorup Range as we know them today.

The first known existence of the ancient plateau was during the visit of Captain George Vancouver in September 1791. Major Lockyer had been given explicit instructions that the establishment of the settlement was to take precedence before any investigation of the surrounding land be taken. The written instructions from Governor Darling read as follows:

“You will proceed to explore the neighbouring country so as to ascertain whether there are any rivers or other objects of importance, to examine the nature and quality of the soil, its fertility and the purposes to which it may appear more immediately applicable with reference to the views of Settlers.”

Having efficiently carried out the order to have a penal outpost fully functional, Major Lockyer then turned his attention to the great inland range of hills. Major Lockyer wrote in his diary the following words. “About thirty miles directly north inland is a ridge of moderately elevated hills covered with timber to the very summit, and, from the dark foliage and verdure about these hills, I should presume the soil there is very different from what it is in the immediate neighbourhood of the seashore. Shall therefore avail myself of the first leisure to examine that part.”

The Commandant, Major Lockyer’s title while in command of the penal outpost, left the settlement at 5 a.m. by boat for the French River (now the Kalgan River) via Oyster Harbour. Following breakfast on Green Island, the boat sailed into the estuarial mouth of the river to go north. The party was halted by a ridge of rocks across the river, approximately six miles from Oyster Harbour. Major Lockyer states in his journal that the ridge of rocks prevented the ocean’s tide from entering the upper extremity of the river. Quoting from an extract of Major Lockyer’s journal, “the river is fresh and runs in deep lagoons with still water at the end which overflows and runs into the one below.”

The boat was anchored securely in the river below the ridge of rocks. It was safe from any interference from the Aborigines who could not swim. This site can be identified as the pool of water below the Upper Kalgan Bridge. The party set out northwards on foot and by the next day (13th February) they estimated that twenty-five miles had been traversed from the settlement. They returned to the boat at 5 p.m. and camped overnight.

On the 14th of February, Major Lockyer set out on the same route as the previous day with his men and four days of provisions. The weather changed dramatically by midday and heavy rain hampered their progress. To secure their provisions, they stored them in a hollow of a tree. Torrential rain with claps of roaring thunder continued the remainder of the day until 9 a.m. the next morning. The men’s clothing was soaked, and one soldier, Deane became ill with a fever and chill. Two other men had developed feet problems. This caused the party to return to the settlement and abandon any further attempt of  exploration. Having returned to their base camp, the schooner Isabella had arrived with orders from Governor Darling that Lockyer return to Sydney. Darling advised Lockyer that Captain James Stirling had made a reconnaissance visit of the Swan River in HMS Success.

Major Lockyer immediately wrote to the Colonial Secretary with a detailed description of the appalling sailing journey westward from Sydney Cove. In this letter, Major Lockyer included all details that had transpired at the settlement. Major Lockyer was not keen to promote the idea of a settlement around Albany, but he did think that the locality would make a fine seaport. Quoting a section from a letter that Major Lockyer wrote to the Colonial Office just prior to his departure from King George Sound, he wrote, “The settlement, Frederick Town, is on the north side of Princess Royal Harbour, which with King George’s Sound and Oyster Harbour, is one of the largest and probably one of the finest seaports in the world.” Lockyer goes on to express that should the colonisation of Swan River succeed, then King George Sound would be the best location for a port. It would not be until 7th March 1831 that King George Sound and its surrounding area would be officially proclaimed as part of the Swan River Colony. Major Lockyer was never overly enamoured with King George Sound and his main focus was to function as its founder and carryout the instructions of Governor Darling.

Returning home to his family in Sydney was Major Lockyer’s prime motivation. On 3rd April 1827, Lockyer sailed for Sydney on board the HMS Success and Captain Joseph Wakefield took over command of the penal settlement.

Lockyersleigh Estate

Upon Major Lockyer’s return to Sydney, he sold his commission and was appointed a Police Magistrate at Parramatta. Prior to leaving for King George Sound in 1826, Lockyer had purchased some land in what is now known as Melrose Park, a suburb twelve kilometres northwest of the Sydney CBD.

 

In recognition of Lockyer’s service to the Crown and successful exploration of the Brisbane River, he was granted 2560 acres of land in 1827. Locker went about constructing a substantial country residence at Brayton, in the Marulan district near Goulburn New South Wales in 1828. The cost was an exorbitant 1200 pounds, and the estate was called ‘Lockyersleigh.’

Major Lockyer was chosen to be Principal Surveyor of Roads and Bridges in early 1828 on an annual salary of six hundred pounds. This role did not last long and was abolished by May 1828. Lockyer then chose to construct a substantial home on the land in Sydney.

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Lockyersliegh Estate, near Goulburn, home of Major Edmund Lockyer and family.

A mortgage was raised, and the house was named ‘Ermington House,’ after the parish of Ermington in Devon. The house was quite imposing, being a two-storey Georgian mansion of sandstone blocks and wrap-around verandah. An extensive garden was planted with stately trees to compliment the house. There was even a private wharf on the Parramatta River.

In December 1829, Lockyer was reappointed to the role of Police Magistrate at Parramatta and from February to December 1830, he was selected to be Superintendent of Police. This particular role the Major enjoyed and laboured diligently to succeed. He was well respected by all who worked with him.

Lockyer acquired 1900 hectares of land and had procured pastoral interests. This proved to be largely unsuccessful, and the ‘Lockyersleigh’ estate was in a desperate need of development. Funds were not allocated to upgrade the estate regularly and it languished, proving to be unprofitable. One record says that ‘Lockyersleigh’ was run with ‘very miserable, coarse sheep bred from ‘old culls.’

A devoted parent and with an interest in painting, Lockyer was easily persuaded into schemes that did not benefit the family’s interests. Purchasing additional land at ‘Lockyersleigh’ increased the size by 3635 acres in 1837 and by 1853, the estate amounted to 11810 acres. Iron was discovered on ‘Lockyersleigh’ land around 1838 and mining commenced. This was disbanded later due to a lack of labour shortage during the Gold Rush era.

As a point of interest, the spade that was used to cut the turf for the Sydney Railway Co. in July 1850 came from Lockyer’s iron. The economic downturn of the early 1840’s resulted in financial difficulties for the Lockyer family.

A further Government position granted to Lockyer in 1842 was being a delegate involved with the commission to import Indian labour. The Lockyer family income was only subsidised by Lockyer’s various government appointments. Part of the land in Sydney, owned by the Lockyer’s, was subdivided, and auctioned off as the suburb of Ermington, named after the Lockyer home. Due to a lack of ready cash amongst the population, only a few lots were eventually sold. After some years, the remaining lots were sold by 1854.

Major Lockyer was appointed to the role of serjeant-at-arms to the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1852.  This position involves the ceremonial functions and duties as the custodian of the mace, this being the symbol of the authority of the Crown and the House; and in addition, acting as the messenger for formal messages from the House to the Senate. It is considered a responsible role as it also embraces order in the House removing disorderly people, by force if required, on the instructions of the Speaker of the House. A responsibility that would suit a military gentleman such as Major Edmund Lockyer.

Sarah, Major Lockyer’s second wife, died on 11th July 1853 aged sixty-eight years. Lockyer was commissioned a captain on the founding of the Sydney Volunteer Rifle Corps, which was a civilians’ militia force, in September 1854. Married for the third time on 18th November 1854 to Eliza Colston (some sources cite Elizabeth) brought three more children to the Lockyer family. By 1856, the Lockyer family finances had dwindled due to living beyond their means. This forced the sale of ‘Lockyersleigh,’ and the Lockyer’s moved back to Sydney. Elevated to the appointment of the New South Wales Legislative Council’s first Usher of the Black Rod on 16th May 1856 further cemented Lockyer’s standing in the community.

Later, Lockyer and his family had moved to ‘York House’ on Bay Street, Woolloomooloo where on the 10th of June 1860, Lockyer died from the effects of influenza. He was 76 years of age. Edmund Lockyer was buried at the Camperdown Cemetery, Sydney.

Major Lockyer was a leader and a tolerant man who displayed wisdom blended with diplomacy and military skill. From the moment that Lockyer left Sydney Cove, his sights were fixed on securing the penal outpost on the western coast of Australia. Failure was not an option for this tenacious man. Success always remained in Lockyer’s sights regardless of problems encountered. To summarise Major Lockyer’s achievements , we can honestly declare that he was a visionary vanguard, who with the assistance of his officers, the convicts and the Menang people, laid the foundation for Western Australia.

Lockyer was not a pleasure seeker nor one to boast of his accomplishments.  He remained dedicated to his fellow men from whatever walk of life they hailed from. Today the city of Albany stands proud amongst the Australian people, and we owe a debt of recognition and gratitude to this man, Edmund Lockyer.  Albany walks towards its bicentenary with a sense of purpose and joy as it rejoices and honours those who have made it possible.

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