The Age of Sail – Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ first cousins – Lockyer side – Merewether family

Henry Alworth Merewether – Serjeant at Law. Solicitor General to the Queen 1832

On the Lockyer side, Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ aunt, Eliza Maria Lockyer (1791-1837), also known as Mary, married Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864) at St Werburgh, Wembury, Devon, in 1809. 17 year-old Eliza and 29 year-old Henry applied for and received a Special License to marry, granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.   
Henry Alworth Merewether, of the Inner Temple, Southampton St, Bloomsbury, London, was born and lived in Patford Street, the eldest son of Henry Merewether, a Guild Steward of Calne, Wiltshire, and burgess of the borough. His brother Francis (1784–1864) was Rector of Coleorton and Vicar of Whitwick – a prolific writer of letters to politicians and theologians against Roman Catholicism. The brothers were educated at Reading, a selective grammar school for boys with academy status. On 5 May 1809, the year he was married, Henry was called to the bar to become a barrister and Q.C.

On 25 June 1827, Merewether became a Sergeant-at-Law of White Hall Place, Westminster, the most senior type of lawyer from which judges were chosen, and practised on the western circuit with great success. He was appointed a Recorder of Reading by the mayor on 12 March 1830 and Recorder of Yarmouth on 3 April 1832, to record the proceedings of their courts and the customs of the borough. Such recordings were regarded as the highest evidence of fact.*1 On 24 May 1832 he became Solicitor General, and a K.C. in 1833, occupying this position until 1845. On 12 June 1839, Merewether received a Doctor of Civil Law degree from the University of Oxford. 

Serjeant Merewether was elected Town Clerk of London on 23 June 1842, and became high bailiff of Southwark. ‘It is said by those among the Corporation who knew him that the office of Town Clerk had never been filled with such dignity as in his time.’*2 He had considerable business in Parliament and was appointed Attorney-General to Queen-dowager, Adelaide 1846-1850. In 1853, he became king’s counsel with patent of precedence – a published written order by the monarch of a higher social or professional position than his rank entitled him. He resigned the office of Town Clerk on 10 February 1859.

Henry Alworth Merewether 1855

Henry Alworth Merewether was also a historian and prolific author on legal and constitutional issues. In 1816, he wrote A New System of Police, London. In 1822, A Sketch of the History of Boroughs, and of the Corporate Right of Election, London, and Report of the Case of the Borough of West Looe, London, in 1823. He wrote an Address to the King, the Lords, and Commons on the Representative Constitution of England, London (1830), and co-authored with Archibald John Stephens, his major work, published in three volumes, The History of the Boroughs and Municipal Corporations of the United Kingdom (1835). He also wrote: The Speech … at the Bar of the House of Commons against the Bill intituled An Act to make Temporary Provision for the Government of Jamaica, London: Calkin & Budd (1839). He wrote The Speech … upon the Claim of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to the Seashore, London, Dublin, 1850.

Eliza and Henry Merewether had twelve children of which ten survived. John Lockyer and Edmund Robert, twins, died soon after their birth, in 1814. Their eldest, Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877) was a recorder of Devizes and QC; a bencher of the Inner Temple. The second, Francis White Merewether (1813-1835) joined the Royal Navy, as did their fourth son, John Robert Merewether (1818-1841). The third son, Herbert Walton Merewether (1816-1843), was a solicitor. The fifth son, Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893) was an aide-de-camp, colonial secretary, and Commissioner of Crown Lands in Australia. The second youngest son, Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880), served in the British Indian Army, as did their youngest son, Captain Alworth Merewether (1826-1861).

Eliza Maria Merewether, nee Lockyer, died 23 June, 1837, aged 45 years. There is a memorial on the wall of the porch in the St Martin-in-the Fields church, Westminster, London, where her remains are deposited. It reads:

Eliza Maria, daughter of Thomas Lockyer Esquire, of Wembury House, Devon. | and the beloved wife of Henry Alworth Merewether. | Sergeant-at-Law, | of Whitehall Place, Westminster, and of this Parish. | She was exemplary in all the relations of life, | a dutiful Child, an affectionate Wife, a tender Mother, (warm in friendship, active in benevolence) Deeply sensible of his loss | after XXVIII years of uninterrupted connubial happiness | the Husband has erected this Monument. |  

The monument to the Lockyer-Merewether union is described in volume 14 of A Quarterly Magazine of Genealogical Antiquarian, Topographical, and Heraldic Research as a ‘saltire engrailed between twelve billets, Alworth; impaling, on a chevron between three lions rampant, as many ants. Lockyer. Crests: 1, Merewether. 2, A ship in full sail. Lockyer.’ *3
As well as the infant twins, two more sons died before their mother did and were buried in St Martin’s. Their son Richard Thomas, died in 1834, aged 11, in St Martin in the Fields, and Francis White,  a promising officer of HMS Rainbow died at Port Royal, Jamaica, September 1834, aged 21.

At the age of 57, in February 1839, Henry Alworth Merewether married Cecilia Maria Hadow (1806-1874), the eldest daughter of P D Hadow esq of Upper Harley St, at Trinity Church, Marylebone.*4 While working, Henry lived at York Terrace, Regent’s Park, London. Retired, Henry lived at the family seat he created at Castlefields, near Calne, Wiltshire, where he died on 22 July, 1864, at age 83. His brother, Rev Francis Merewether, died one day before him on 21 July, at Cole-Orton Rectory, Leicestershire, after a short illness. Henry was buried in the nave of St Mary the Virgin Church, Calne. A stained-glass window to both Henry and his wife Cecilia was erected later in the south transept by Henry’s children. The Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette described Merewether as being, ‘a man of fine presence … gentle, kind, warm-hearted of nature … ever courteous and kind to a degree … as having intellectual attainments … sound judgement, the strictest integrity and acute perception’.*5

Castlefield. The Residence of Mr. Sergeant Mereweather’, Calne, Wiltshire.

Merewether cousins

Eliza Maria Lockyer (1791-1837) m Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864)

  • Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877)
  • Francis White Merewether (1813-1835)
  • John Lockyer Merewether (1814-1814)
  • Edmund Robert Merewether (1814-1814)
  • Herbert Walton Merewether (1816-1843)
  • Elizabeth Mary Ann Merewether (1817-1900)
  • John Robert Merewether (1818-1841)
  • Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893)
  • Lucy Eleanor Merewether (1821-1898)
  • Richard Thomas Merewether (1822-1834)
  • Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880)
  • Capt Alworth Merewether (1826-1861)

Marble bust of Henry Alworth Merewether, QC (1812–1877) at Devizes Town hall
Portrait of Henry Alworth Merewether Jr 1861

Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877), the eldest son of Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864) and Eliza Maria Lockyer (1791-1837), was born 23 April 1812, and educated at Winchester and Wadham College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 30 June 1827, aged 15. He completed studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, on 10 Dec 1830 and was admitted as a barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple on 3 June 1834. He was called to the Bar on 9 June 1837. Henry served as a Recorder of Devizes from 2 February 1842, for 30 years. He was appointed Queen’s Council on 5 April 1853, a Bencher 30 April 1853-77, a Reader, 1867, and Treasurer, 1868. He was chairman of Wiltshire Quarter Sessions from 10 January 1875 and Leader of the Parliamentary Bar. He retired 18 July 1871; a JP and DL for Wiltshire, Henry was a founding member of Wiltshire Archaeological Society.

Henry Alworth Merewether married Maria Fellowes (1818-70), daughter of British military physician Sir James Fellowes and actress Elizabeth James of Adbury House, Hampshire, on 25 August, 1840. In the 1851 London Census, Henry was residing with his parents and four siblings, a governess and seven servants at 25 Charter Square, Westminster. *6
In the 1850s, he had Bowden Hill House built, on Bowden Hill, Wiltshire, in the Parish of Lacock. ‘The Jacobean style country house was made of squared ironstone with ashlar dressings, Bridgwater tile roofs and shaped ashlar stacks. It comprised of two storeys and attic, with coped shaped gables and mullion-and-transom windows. The main front has 3 gables; a parapet between. There are two rear wings.’ *7
In 2019, the Grade II listed house on the market, with offers wanted in excess of £1.5 million, appears in need of extensive renovation. *8 In the 1861 North Wiltshire Census, those in Bowden Hill House were Henry’s wife Maria Merewether, age 43, his children Evelyn, age 19, Walter, a scholar, age 14, Wyndham, a scholar, age 8 and nine servants including a governess, a nurse, a ladies maid, a cook, a kitchen maid, a butler, two house maids, and a house boy. *9

Bowden Hill House, Lacock, Wiltshire 2019

Henry and Maria Merewether had 13 children. The following are known:
Eveline Maria Merewether (b.1842), spinster.
Capt Henry (Harry) Alworth Fellowes Merewether (1843-1911) of the 66th Regiment married Mary Elizabeth Abby Caldwell.
Cecil Georgina Merewether (1844-1932), 2nd daughter, married Major Ambros Awdry, son of Sir John Wither Awdry. Her husband died 18 May, 1885, from a fall from his horse at Ootacamund, India.
Walton Lockyer Merewether (1847-1912) BA, 2nd son, educated at Eton and Christchurch, Oxford, was admitted age 20 a barrister at the Middle Temple 1867. Barrister-at-law, called to the Bar 6 June, 1871, came to Sydney, NSW, in 1878, shortly afterwards being appointed Crown Prosecutor; a member of the south-eastern circuit. Married Mary Rose, eldest daughter of Joseph Leary, Esq., MLA. They had two children. He was Crown Prosecutor in Sydney for 27 years.
Ethel Lucy Merewether (1849-1921), born in London, married John William Dean (1844-1896).
Rev Canon Wyndham Arthur Scinde Merewether (1852-1928), 8th son; vicar of St Thomas, Salisbury 1861-69; Winchester 1866-71. N. Bradley, 1885-1908; married Harriet Edith (1865-1928) in 1888, daughter of Wilson Fox, MD, Physician to Queen Victoria. They had one son: Christopher Ken (1890-1917) died in Port Said, Egypt from wounds in PA aged 27.
Captain Hubert Digby Merewether (b. 1854), settled first in New Zealand in 1872, then in Canada; Canadian Rifles, Boer War service.
Sergeant Guy Gladstone Merewether (1863-1901). Served with the Wiltshire Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa; drowned in the Zambesi River, June, 1901, when on the way to Fort Jameson. Boer War service.
Audley Edward Merewether, 1863-69. Winchester. Settled in New Zealand in 1872; farming at Lake Heron Station, Ashburton, Church, NZ 1881; Surg. Dentist at Dunedin, NZ 1907. Married Mabel, daughter of John Rees.

At the end of 1871, after his wife Maria died and after 30 years at the Parliamentary Bar, Henry Alworth Merewether retired and visited his children living in India and New Zealand. He also visited his brother Edward in Newcastle, NSW. He wrote about his travels through Egypt, India, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand and America, and in 1874, published By Sea and By Land. *10
Henry Alworth Merewether QC, JP, DL, died at Bowden Hill, Wiltshire, on 29 August 1877 at age 65. On the south wall of St Ann, Bowden Hill, Wiltshire, there are various brass plaques to commemorate the Merewether family of Bowden Hill House. *11

Francis White Merewether (1813-1835), born 10 September 1813 in London, was a pupil at St Pauls School, London, registered there at age eight in June 1822. His rank in the Royal Navy was Mate of HMS Rainbow. There is a wall tablet memorial in the nave at St Peter’s Church, Port Royal, Jamaica, commemorating the 16 officers and seaman of HMS Rainbow, including Francis W Merewether who died of fever from an infectious disease at Port Royal on 20 September 1835. *12

Herbert Walton Merewether (1816-1843), born 20 May, 1816 in Holborn, London, was a ‘Day Boy’ at Charterhouse before he became a solicitor. In 1825 his name appears with his brother Edward on the list of Carthusians, an enclosed religious order of the Catholic Church.*13 He died on 6 July 1843, in Ardres, France, aged 27, and was buried in St Martin’s Church, London.

L-R: Edith Marsh, Eliza Mary Ann Marsh, Matthew Henry Marsh, Bertha Marsh and Georgiana Marsh

Elizabeth (Eliza) Mary Ann Merewether (1817-1900), born in Holborn, London, married Matthew Henry Marsh (1810-1881) on 25 July 1844 in Calne, Wiltshire. Marsh, eldest son of Rev. Matthew Marsh, canon and chancellor of the diocese of Salisbury, was a barrister and KC Duchy of Lancaster who emigrated to Sydney, NSW, on 24 June, arriving 24 September 1840, where, as a pastoralist he made a large fortune. He purchased a 340,000 acre run in New England which he called Salisbury Plains, a 175,000 acre run called Boorolong, and a 200,000 acre run called Maryland on the Darling Downs. Marsh was a member of the Legislative Council 1851-5; he returned to England in 1855 as an MP in the House of Commons (1857-68). He was a strong advocate of establishing a separate colony in Northern Australia and succeeded in the separation of Queensland in 1859 earning him the sobriquet of ‘Father of Queensland’. Marsh was a magistrate for Wiltshire and Hampshire and a deputy-lieutenant of Wiltshire. They lived at Mansion House, Ramridge, Hampshire. Elizabeth died 19 October 1900 in Bath, Somerset. They had three daughters – Georgiana Eliza Lucy Croft (1845-1925), Bertha Maria Macpherson (b.1849) and Edith Anne Best (d.1924).

John Robert Merewether (1818-1841), born 23 June, 1818, in Holborn, London, was educated at Charterhouse School (Day Boy) Mar 1827-Feb 1832 and employed as the Chief Officer of the Indiaman Bucephalus. As the head of deck department of a merchant vessel, he reported directly to the captain and was responsible for performing ship navigation watch duties as well as being in charge of the ship’s cargo on board and in port, and the deck crew. He was held accountable for the stability of the ship, for the maintenance of the ship’s hull, and accommodation, and all the lifesaving appliances of the vessel. *14
On the night of 4 September, 1841, chief officer John Robert Merewether, aged 23 years, was on board the Indiaman Bucephalus, at anchor in Table Bay, about two miles from Mouille Point battery on the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. At nine o’clock in the evening, Prince Rupert, a British barque of 322 tons, on a voyage from London to New Zealand carrying 160 passengers and cargo, ran aground and stuck fast on the Point after entering the bay. *15 John Merewether went in a boat to render assistance.

‘Mr. Merewether succeeded during the night in making three trips between the wreck and the Bucephalus, bringing off thirty of the people, besides others that he put on board the boats that were near him at different periods of the night. About five o’clock, fancying that some persons still remained on board the Prince Rupert, Mr. Merewether proceeded to the wreck a fourth time with a crew of seven men, the surgeon of the Prince Rupert, and Mr. Frood, a passenger whom he had previously brought on board the Bucephalus. When they came under the stern of the wreck, a short sea broke over the boat and nearly filled it, and the succeeding wave upset her, and this gallant and humane young officer, with three of his crew, and Mr. Frood, perished in the surf among the rocks.’ *16

A monument to commemorate John Robert Merewether’s gallant conduct was erected by the inhabitants of Cape Town.

Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893) was born 12 February 1820, in Holborn, London, and educated, like his elder brothers, at Charterhouse, completing his studies there in 1830, and at Westminster 1834-37. Edward entered Oxford University College in 1838 with the intention of taking his holy orders and being ordained a minister but he did not complete his degree. He may have been advised by family members to immigrate to New South Wales as there were plenty of opportunities in the colony and he would benefit from his father’s connections. Henry Alworth Merewether is frequently mentioned in the Sydney newspapers from as early as 1827.

On 6 April 1841, at the age of 21, Edward sailed from London on the fast-sailing, copper-hulled, three-masted Barque SS Stratheden, ‘fitted expressly for First-class Passengers, each State-room being furnished with a separate water-closet, and every other convenience.’*17 One of an elite group of only 12 passengers of wealth and high social standing, he arrived in Port Phillip on 26 July and on 30 August the ship sailed for Sydney which arrived there on 6 September. *18
The portrait of Edward painted on his arrival is that of ‘a personable, self-assured young man. He had an equable nature, possessed good judgement, was meticulous, and held wide interests.’*19 Coming from a well-known family of good reputation meant as soon as Edward arrived in Sydney he was placed in the first rank of society, mixing with only the wealthy and those of high status. He lived with his first cousin Francis L S Merewether in Cumberland Street, neighbouring close family friend Dr James Mitchell.

Francis Lewis Shaw Merewether, 1878

Francis Lewis Shaw Merewether (1811-99) had arrived in Sydney in 1838 to work as a clerk in the Treasury and soon became secretary of the Australian Club. He was appointed Sydney Immigration Agent in 1841, working with Caroline Chisholm as he helped bring out Irish orphans as well as winemakers to the Hunter Valley. Chisholm coined the phrase ‘the eye of a Merewether’, referring to how nothing escaped his attention.*20 He became a member of the first NSW Legislative Council (1851-65); Postmaster-General (1851-1852), Auditor-General (1852-1856), acting Colonial Treasurer (1854-1856), member of the Executive Council, and was a founder and chancellor of the University of Sydney, earning him the nickname ‘Futurity’. *21

At the age of 22, and with no previous experience in the political arena, but with excellent patronage, on 12 January 1942 Edward Merewether’s career took off in one of the highest positions in the civil service as aide-de-camp to Governor George Gipps until July 1846, when he went on to serve governors O’Connell and Fitzroy in the same role. Then, at the age of 27, Edward was appointed Colonial Secretary in the short-lived Port Curtis convict settlement, William Gladstone’s proposed capital of North Australia. Merewether returned to Sydney in January 1847 as Earl Grey recommended he become Commissioner for Crown Lands in 1848 in the Lower Darling district, south-western NSW. Two months later, he was moved to the Macleay River district, stationed at Belgrave, near Kempsey.

In 1854, Sydney, he was appointed Deputy Head of the Clergy and School Lands Board, and of the Distillery Board. Edward chaired the 1855 Royal Commission into charitable institutions and in 1856 he petitioned the New South Wales Legislative Council concerning the need for a Grammar or High School in Sydney.*22 He resumed his position as Commissioner of Crown Lands for New England from 20 March 1856, based in Armidale until the end of that year. In October, the Empire newspaper reported that Merewether was appointed by Governor Denison as Clerk of the Executive Council, in Sydney, which he took up in 1857. At this time, both Edward and his cousin Francis L S Merewether were Justices of the Peace.*23
In February 1859, Edward Merewether arrived in London, to accept the appointment as the colonial representative to England on behalf of the governments of NSW, Victoria and South Australia to negotiate for a steam postal service from London to Sydney via Panama. He was himself a prolific letter writer, both public and personal correspondences numbered in the thousands.*24 Soon after his return to Sydney, Governor Denison appointed Edward to be his Private Secretary.

James Mitchell, 1854 David Scott Mitchell, 1864

On 11 April 1860, Edward Christopher Merewether married Augusta Maria (1834-1922), elder daughter of Dr James Mitchell (1793-1869) and Augusta Maria Frederick Scott (1798-1871) of the Indian colonial family, whose brothers Robert and Helenus Scott were granted large landholdings in the Hunter Valley. Brother Alexander Walker Scott (1800-1883) had been granted a parcel of 456 acres in 1834 near the town of Newcastle. In 1835, Mitchell purchased 900 acres to its west, ‘forming the initial and largest part of what would become the Burwood Estate and a major industrial precinct of early Newcastle.’*25 To its north was the Australian Agricultural Company’s 2000 acres grant.
On 1 October 1860, Edward Hamilton, Merewether’s close friend and now patron, appointed him General Superintendent of the Australian Agricultural Company. The family moved to Newcastle where he built their home The Ridge on the Burwood estate, in the tradition of an English manor with its steeply pitched gable roof, and perched on the edge of the Merewether ridge (now 21 Hillcrest Road).

Edward Merewether had been both friend and consultant to his father-in-law Dr James Mitchell and had become increasingly involved with management of the Burwood estate. In 1869 he assisted the Mitchell family in a court case concerning a German confidence trickster William Ernest Wolfskehl, and a will made during Mitchell’s cognitive decline shortly before his death. Augusta’s younger brother, David Mitchell, relied on Merewether’s prudent financial advice and the wrangling for his father’s estate brought them closer. When Augusta Mitchell died in 1872, the whole of the 950-acre Burwood Estate was bequeathed to her daughter Augusta and husband Edward and the name was changed to Merewether Estate.

The Ridge, Merewether, near Newcastle, NSW

Merewether’s good management of AA Co and the establishment of the ‘Vend’ system in 1872, stabilised coal prices and brought a period of prosperity to the mining companies and miners. He also supervised the company’s large stations and expanded sheep herds at ‘Warrah’ on the Liverpool Plains, north-western NSW.
Edward accrued a personal fortune with his income from the Company and his inheritance of land rich in massive coal deposits, which he leased to mining companies and collected royalties. All this meant he could offer patronage to those whose causes he believed worthy of support in the community. He retired from supervising the company’s large stations on 31 December 1875 and on the 14 January 1876, many of the city’s leading councillors and businessmen staged a banquet and presentation to honour him. ‘Coal and agricultural workers gave him testimonials referring to his fairness, integrity and considerateness.’*26 In 1885, the new suburb of Merewether was proclaimed in Newcastle in recognition of his contribution and a number of Merewether streets are named after family members.

Edward purchased Glendarrah House and grounds in Bondi, which he re-named Castlefield after his father’s estate in Calne, Wiltshire. The Merewethers also built Dennarque at Mt Wilson in the Blue Mountains in 1879, the garden of which was designed by Charles Moore, director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden.

Throughout his retirement, Edward’s generosity was experienced across a wide range of business, sporting, educational, personal and private interests. Geography and Natural Science featured largely in his pursuits. In 1887 he financed T F Bevan’s exploration in New Guinea and the Merewether River there is named after him. He became president of the Royal Geographical Society, New South Wales branch, and he contributed to the Swedish-Australian Antarctic Scientific Expedition.
Merewether was president of the Australian Club (1888-93); the Sydney Lawn Tennis Club, and vice-president of the Belvedere Cricket Club in Sydney. He was also a fellow of the Imperial Institute and was a member of the Linnean Society. He was a benefactor of schools, schools of arts and St Paul’s College, University of Sydney.

Merewether family at Dennarque, Blue Mountains, NSW. Edward Merewether is seated, wearing a hat.

Edward Christopher Merewether suffered from a stroke in 1892 and died on 30 October 1893 at Castlefield in Bondi, NSW, aged 73 years. He was buried in the Anglican section of Waverley Cemetery. Edward and Augusta had ten children, all born in Newcastle, though James died soon after birth. Edward Alworth Mitchell Merewether (1862-1924)
Augusta Eliza Mitchell Merewether (1863-1941)
Henry Alfred Mitchell Merewether (1864-1916)
James W Mitchell Merewether (1865-1865)
Herbet James Mitchell Merewether (1866-1920)
Mary Eleanor Mitchell Merewether (1868-1942)
Hugh Hamilton Mitchell Merewether (1870-1920)
Mabel Maud Mitchell Merewether (1871-1948)
William David Mitchell Merewether (1873-1953)
Frederick Lockyer Mitchell Merewether (1877-1935).
Augusta’s brother, David Scott Mitchell, was the founder of the Mitchell Library in Sydney.

Lucy Eleanor Merewether (1821-1898), born 31 May 31, 1821, in Holborn, London, married John Howard Goldfinch (1819-1899), second son of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Goldfinch KCB in August 1853. They had one son, Arthur Herbert Goldfinch (1863-1917), born in Armidale, NSW, Australia. Lucy died in 1898 in Hampshire, England.

Richard Thomas Merewether (1822-1834), born 24 October 1822, in Holborn, London, was a scholar at King’s College, London, when he died on 5 Mar 1834, aged 11, in St Martin in the Fields.

Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether KCSI, CB (1825-1880) was born 6 February 1825 at 51 Chancery Lane, Holborn, London. He was educated at Westminster School and entered the Bombay Army as a second lieutenant on 18 March 1841. William Lockyer Merewether served extensively for the British Indian Army as a soldier, engineer, political officer and administrator, in India, East Africa and the Middle East.

On 24 March 1843, William Lockyer Merewether served with the 21st regiment of native infantry under Major-General Charles Napier in the victory of the Battle of Hyderadad – the final step in the British conquest to annexe the Sindh as part of the Bombay Presidency. William became a lieutenant on 5 April 1843. In 1846 he was assigned to the reformed 2nd Regiment of Scinde Irregular Horse to patrol the north-west border of Sindh. In 1847, with the frontier force of 133 horsemen, they defeated 700 of the Bhugti tribe, Baloch people, which secured Britain’s hold on the region. In 1848-49, he was second-in-command of Sir George Malcolm’s detachment of Sindh Horse, serving with the army of the Punjab, and was present at the siege and surrender of Multán, the battle of Gujrát, and occupation of Pesháwar. When General Jacob was called to the Anglo-Persian War, William was placed in charge of the Sindh. He managed to suppress not only the rebellion of tribes, but insubordination of his troops.

Merewether’s distinguished services from here-on were numerous. On 23 November 1856, he was promoted to captain. In 1859, he served as Assistant Field Engineer with the Okamundel field force. In 1860, he was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). He became a Major on 18 March 1861, and was nominated Military Secretary to the government of Bombay. He was a member of the Bombay Staff Corps, formed in 1861.
The military forces of the East India Company had captured the port of Aden (Yemen) in 1839, and the British then ruled the town and its surrounds as part of the Bombay Presidency. William resided in Aden from 1863-67. As part of the Persian Wars, he was appointed Political Agent of Aden to deal with Ahmed bin Abdulla, the Fadhli Sultan, who assembled a large force to destroy crops intended to provided food for the British military base. In December 1865, Merewether despatched a small body of troops and eventually a Treaty was signed by the Sultan in 1867. ‘These operations, though subsequently approved by the government, were carried out by Merewether on his own personal responsibility.’*27
William Lockyer Merewether became a Lieutenant-Colonel on 18 March 1867 and was appointed Chief Commissioner in Sindh on 12 June 1867, however, it was not until July 1868 that he was free to take up the position which he served in until September 1877.

Annesley Bay, Gulf of Zula, Abyssinia, c1885. British naval & support ships, Annesley Bay December 1867. Plan of Zula base, 1868.

The British Expedition to Abyssinia began in September 1867. Emperor Tewodros II (King Theodore) of Abyssinia, northern Ethiopia, had ambitions to modernize his kingdom but his pleas to Queen Victoria for military assistance were ignored. To get Britain’s attention, he imprisoned 60 Europeans including two British consuls, and several German missionaries, their families and followers. To free the hostages, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army, Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier, took command of a force consisting of 13,000 British and Indian soldiers, 26,000 camp followers and over 40,000 animals, including elephants, which departed from Bombay.
Merewether had some knowledge of the Red Sea coast so he was sent to assist Napier, and given the temporary rank of colonel. The reconnaissance party under Colonel Merewether included a number of military officers, a Marine company, a squadron of Cavalry, 150 pack mules, followers and lascars which left Bombay on the steamers Euphrates and Coromandel. They reached the Gulf of Zula on 1 October.

The party led by Merewether left Mulkutto on 21 October to explore along the base of the Ethiopian highlands, to discover the best approach from the coast to the Abyssinian tableland and to survey the route that Napier’s expedition should take. Merewether identified Tekonda Pass as the best entrance to the highlands. They returned to base on the 30 October and in early November, Merewether and the reconnoitring party discovered and examined the Senafe Pass. There Merewether sent a letter to Emperor Tewodros, demanding the release of the hostages (which was intercepted and destroyed). When the communication failed, Merewether helped Napier with his military preparations for the expedition campaign to reach the mountain fortress of Magdala and free the hostages.

Elephant Trains. British attack on Tewodros II, August 1868

There were no roads for the large military force to traverse 640 kms of mountainous, rocky, trackless and unmapped country to Magdala. Merewether’s role in the expedition also included surveying and constructing earthworks for the railway at Kumayli; he was Adjutant of Bombay Sappers and Miners. In December 1867, another advance guard under Merewether travelled up the dry bed of the Kumayli River to the Suru Pass, where engineers were busy building a road to Senafe, 101km long, rising to 2,300m, for the elephants, gun-carriages, and carts.*28 Construction of a port had begun and soon  a 640m long pier was completed. During the whole of this reconnaissance period, 280 steam and sailing ships arrived from India, Aden and England, with men and stores to Zula. Merewether’s observation reports were transmitted to Napier at Bombay in several despatches.
Napier arrived at Zula on 2 January 1868 and headed for Senafe on 25 January. It took three months for the 14 battalions of Infantry, four regiments of Cavalry, seven batteries of Artillery and seven companies of Sappers and Miners, to trek over 640 km of mountainous terrain to reach the Emperor’s fortress at Magdala. On 10 April 1868, Napier’s army captured Ethiopia’s capital, rescued the hostages, and rather than surrender, Emperor Tewodros II shot himself with a gun gifted by Queen Victoria.

In 1868, William Lockyer Merewether was promoted to Colonel on 15 August and Brigadier General on 24 August. He was also made Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India for his work in negotiating with Emperor Tewodros II of Abyssinia and for assisting Sir Napier. Having returned to his post as Commissioner of Sindh in 1869, Merewether was one of the founding members of the Sind Club in 1871, and its first president. He returned home in 1876 and was appointed a member of the Council of India 1877-80. His valorous career was distinguished by much personal initiative and he was described as ‘A generous, open-hearted companion and sincere friend, Merewether was universally popular, and was generally acknowledged to be a true soldier, a shrewd politician, and an enlightened administrator.’*29

Merewether Clock Tower, Karachi

There are two memorials built to honour Sir William Lockyer Merewether. The Merewether Clock Tower is a landmark in central Karachi, Pakistan. Merewether Pier, on Kiamari Island in Karachi Harbour was built in 1880.

In 1854 William Lockyer Merewether married Harriett Dale, youngest daughter of J. Dale, esq., of Coleshill, Warwickshire. They had three sons. The eldest, Henry Arthur Merewether (b. 1857), fought in the Afghan War 1880 and Burmese War 1886-8; he was squad commander of 7th Bengal Lancers, Brev.-Col and Commandant at Quetta, 1908. Second born was Sir Edward Marsh Merewether, KCMG, KCVO (1858-1938), Superintendent of the Census 1891, Inspector of Prisons, 1893, Assistant Colonial Secretary and Clerk of Councils 1897; Colonial Treasurer, Malacca; appointed Lieutenant Governor and Chief Secretary to Government, Malta, (1902-11), Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Sierra Leone (1911-16), and Governor of the Leeward Islands (1916-21).

Sir William Lockyer Merewether died in at 31 Linden Gardens, Bayswater, London, on 4 October 1880 age 55, and was buried in Brompton Cemetery.

Capt Alworth Merewether (1826-1861), born 1 October 1826, in Holborn, London, served in H.E.I.C.S., 61st Reg 1, HM’s Bengal Army. He married Julia Ann Talbot (1829-1910) and they had daughter Cecilia Maria (1853-1902) in Mussoorie, Uttaranchal, India. Alworth died 9 May 1861 at Mussorie, Meerut, Upper Bengal, India, aged 34.

Part 6 of ‘The Age of Sail’ looks at Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ second cousins.


1. Munimenta Gildhallæ Londoniensis: Liber albus, Liber custumarum, et liber Horn (Reprint) Volume 2 Part 2 (1859).
2. Some Experiences of a Barrister’s Life by Mr Serjeant Ballantine
3. A Quarterly Magazine of Genealogical Antiquarian, Topographical, and Heraldic Research New Series Edited by H W Foesyth Haewood, of the Middle Temple, Barrister-at-Law. Volume XIV London: George Bell & Sons, York St, Covent Garden. Exeter: William Pollard & Co.
The Monumental Inscriptions of Calne Church, co. Wilts.
Communicated by Arthur Schomberg Pages 37, 90, 212
4. The Gentleman’s Magazine by Sylvanus Urban, Gent, Vol XI New Series MDCCCXXXIX January to June, p203, London: William Pickering; John Bowyer Nichols and Son 1839
5. Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, 28 July 1864, in C. E. Smith, ‘Edward Christopher Merewether’s Family Background’, Hunter District Historical Society, pages 1, 5, 6 (1913), 72.
9. North Wiltshire Online Census Project. Transcript of Piece RG09/1283, Folio 26 Page 15
10. By sea and by land; being a trip through Egypt, India, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand, and America, all round the world by Henry Alworth Merewether (1874) London, Macmillan and co.
12. Captain J.H. Lawrence-Archer ‘Monumental Inscriptions of the British West Indies’ (London, 1875). Page 290
13. List of Carthusians
13a. Queensland History Journal, Vol. 20, No. 13, Feb 2010: 884-903
15. Cape Govt Gazette 1 October 1841; Shipping Register KAB CC 2/15. 
16. Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), Tuesday 23 November 1841, page 2
17. The London newspaper, John Bull, in an advertisement – 85 John Bull, London, 6 January, 1841, 37.
19. Eileen Chanin B.A., M.Ed. (Hons), Cultural Philanthropy David Scott Mitchell and the Mitchell Library. This thesis is submitted to the School of Art History and Art Education at the University of New South Wales in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy 2012
20. Rodney Stinson, Unfeigned love, Historical accounts of Caroline Chisholm and her work (Sydney: Yorkcross, 2008), 33, 34, 48.; Mary Hoban, Fifty-one pieces of wedding cake; a biography of Caroline Chisholm (Kilmore, Vic.: Lowden Publishing, 1973), 48, 55, 66, 71, 92-3
21. Bassett, The Henty’s, 35, 36 cited in Karen Downing, ‘William Henty Stands on His Legs in Front of Governor Gipps. Independence, Manners and Manliness in Colonial Australia’, History Australia, 10:2 (2013), 87, 88.
22. Edward Christopher Merewether, New South Wales Legislative Council Petitions, ca. 1851-1880, September, 1856, ML, A 285, 159.
23. JP Roll 1857
24. Merewether, E. C. Letters are held in the New South Wales State Library, Sydney, and with the Australian Agricultural Company
25. Kelly Strickland and Martin Carney for the Archaeological Management & Consulting Group Archaeological Assessment and Exception Notification for The City of Newcastle January 2014
26. C. E. Smith, ‘Merewether, Edward Christopher (1820–1893)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 8 December 2013. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974
27. Frederic John Goldsmid, Merewether, William Lockyer, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900Volume 37
28. Moorehead, The Blue Nile, p. 270
29. Annual Register, 1880; Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc. 1880; Bombay Government Gazette, 1847; private information.

Illustration Credits 

Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864)
Inscription content: Lettered below image with title: ‘Serjeant at Law. Solicitor General to the Queen. / J. Lucas pinxt. 1832. / Printed by Graf & Soret.’ Lithograph 1832-1834 Print made by: Hannah Sarah Brightwen © The Trustees of the British Museum
Henry Alworth Merewether albumen print by Maull and Polyblank 1855
NPG P120(11) © National Portrait Gallery, London
Castlefield. The Residence of Mr. Sergeant Mereweather, Calne, Wiltshire. Lithograph. Wiltshire Prints, Calne. 128 x 179 mm

Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877)
Marble bust of Henry Alworth Merewether, QC (1812–1877) at Devizes Town hall by John Edward Jones (1806-1862) 1882, H 80 x W 60 x D 35 cm
Henry Alworth Merewether Jr by Camille Silvy albumen print, 2 March 1861, 85 mm x 55 mm. Purchased, 1904 © National Portrait Gallery, London
Photographs Collection NPG Ax51704
House and Heritage 2019

Elizabeth (Eliza) Mary Ann Merewether (1817-1900)
L-R: Edith Marsh, Eliza Mary Ann Marsh, Matthew Henry Marsh, Bertha Marsh and Georgiana Marsh. From the album Ian James McClure’s photos

Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893)
Edward Merewether, c.1841 watercolour attributed to W. Nicholas, ML P2/342
Francis Lewis Shaw Merewether in 1878, from the portrait, Unknown artist, oil on canvas, commissioned by public subscription, University Art Collection, reproduced with the permission of the University of Sydney.
James Mitchell (1792-1869), by unknown artist, 1854
State Library of New South Wales, GPO 1 – 12487
D. S. Mitchell, Dec 19th 1864 / Dalton’s Royal Photographic Gallery, Sydney [carte de visite], 1864
The Ridge, Merewether, near Newcastle, NSW. The Ridge is a heritage-listed residence and former hospital at 21 Hillcrest Road, Merewether, NSW, Australia. It was also known as Hillcrest Hospital. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.
Merewether family, Dennarque. Merewether seated, wearing a hat in front of open window. Merewether Archives, Newcastle Public library. No date.

Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880)
Colonel Sir W. L. Merewether, C.B., K.S.I. 1868
Source: Coomassie and Magdala the Story of Two British Campaigns in Africa
Author: Henry M. Stanley,_C.B.,_K.S.I
AFR V1 D238 Annesley Bay.jpg 12 June 1890 Eritrea. Gulf of Zula, Sketch map – c1885
British naval & support ships, Annesley Bay December 1867,_Annesley_Bay,_1867
Plan of Zula base, 1868

Merewether Clock Tower, Karachi

Research Resources

Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864),_Bonds_and_Licences_in_England_and_Wales
Welch, Charles B., Merewether, Henry Alworth, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885- 1900, Volume 37, Henry Alworth_(DNB00)
Diary of Thomas Moore, 2 October 1818, page 178: cite as Thomas Moore, Diary of Thomas Moore, 2 October 1818. In Lord John Russell and Lord John Russell (ed.), Memoirs, Journal and Correspondence of Thomas Moore, volume 2 (London, 1853), p.78. accessed: 5 September, 2021
The Unpublished Letters of Thomas Moore Vol 1 – Google Books Result › books
Jeffery W Vail
He was appointed Recorder of Reading on 12 March 1830
Recorder of Yarmouth on 3 April 1832 Compiled by Henry Barrett 1834
Riley, Henry T. (Henry Thomas), 1816-1878, Carpenter, John, London. Guildhall, Great Britain. Public Record Office, British Museum. Manuscript. Cottonian Claudius, D.II
Cherhill Gleanings : By the Rev. W. C. Plendeeleath No. LXX. November, 1888. Vol. XXIV.
The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine by Goddard, Edward Hungerford, 1854  of the Society formed in that county, AD. 1858. P264

Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877)
Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900 edited by the mathematician John Venn (1834–1923) and his son John Archibald Venn (1883–1958) and published by Cambridge University Press in ten volumes between 1922 and 1953.
Henry Alworth Merewether_VisitationofEnglandandWales.pdf
The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine by Goddard, Edward Hungerford, 1854 No. LXX. November, 1888. Vol. XXIV. P264
Some Experiences of a Barrister’s Life by Mr Serjeant Ballantine
The Victorian Chancellors Vol II by James Beresford Atlay (1908), Smith, Elder & Co. London
Eileen Chanin B.A., M.Ed. (Hons), Cultural Philanthropy David Scott Mitchell and the Mitchell Library. This thesis is submitted to the School of Art History and Art Education at the University of New South Wales in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy 2012
Henry Alworth Merewether_VisitationofEnglandandWales.pdf
Prayers for the Use of All Persons who come to the Baths of Bath for Cure by Thomas Ken, DD, Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells 1729 Publisher: James Leake, Bookseller at Bath

Elizabeth Mary Ann Merewether (1817-)
E. W. Dunlop, ‘Marsh, Matthew Henry (1810–1881)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 5 September 2021.
This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

John Robert Merewether (1818-1841)
Wheelers Manchester Chronicle 13 Nov 1841 Death Notices

Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893)
Henry Alworth Merewether, By sea and land, being a trip through Egypt, India, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand, and America, all around the world (London: Macmillan and Co., 1874), 209. (DSM/ 910/ M).
A brief look at the history of the Newcastle District Cricket Association
Brian Norman Roach, Th.L., B.A., M.A., Edward Christopher Merewether, A Study of Patronage and Benevolence in Colonial New South Wales,1842–1893. A Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy University of Newcastle, 2019.
Newcastle Morning Herald, 11 March, 1880.
C. E. Smith, ‘Merewether, Edward Christopher (1820–1893)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 8 December 2013. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974
Waverley Council Heritage Assessment Volume II Exhibition Draft July 2020 pdf
Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 27 November, 1890 and Evening News (Sydney), 28 November, 1889
Evening News (Sydney), 21 November, 1891
Andrea Inglis, Summer in the Hills: The Nineteenth Century Mountain Resort in Australia (Melbourne, Vic: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2007), 60.
Mary B. Reynolds, Dennarque’s Story.
Mike Scanlon, Researcher shines light on E.C Merewether’s astounding contribution to early Newcastle, Newcastle Herald 26 March 2021
John Grothen, The History in and about Glenrock Lagoon, p39
Smith, C E,
C. E. Smith, ‘Merewether, Francis Lewis Shaw (1811–1899)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 8 December 2013.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974
SMH ‘Edward Christopher Merewether Long and untiring tradition of giving’ March 29, 2008,_Newcastle

Lucy Eleanor Merewether (1821-)

Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880)
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900Volume 37
Merewether, William Lockyer by Frederic John Goldsmid,_William_Lockyer_(DNB00)
Geographical Results of the Abyssinian Expedition. By C . Markham, Esq., Secretary, Royal Geographical Society. (Read, February 24, 1868, and June 8, 1868.)
I.- Coast Plain Round Mulkutwo.
C. R. Markham“Geographical Results of the Abyssinian Expedition”, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 38 (1868), pp. 14, 16, 34
The Knights of England – A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of All the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of Knights Bachelors. Incorporating a Complete List of Knights Bachelors Dubbed in Ireland · Volume 1 By William A Shaw Genealogical Publishing Company 1970
Lieutenant-Colonel William Lockyer Merewether, C.B., Bombay Staff Corps, to rank -as Lieutenant-Colonel, The London Gazette, March 10, 1868.
Correspondence and letters held in
British Library: Asian and African Studies
British Library, Manuscript Collections
The India Office and Burma Office List Civil and Military March 1877
Geographical Results of the Abyssinian Expedition. By C. R. MARKHAM, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society.
Click to access A021110106.pdf
Times Oct 6 p36; Guardian xxxv, p1330c
Obituary Notices for the Year 1880. London Index Society. 1882. p. 62.

Capt Alworth Merewether (1826-1861)
‘Deaths’ in The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Review, (London: J.B. Nichols), 211, (1861), 213.
Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Saturday 20 July 1861, page 7
Empire (Sydney, NSW: 1850-1875) Tues 16 Jul 1861 Page 1

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The Age of Sail – Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ first cousins – Lockyer side

Thomas and Ann Lockyer of Wembury. Lt Edmund Henry Seppings was raised by his grandmother, Ann


On the Lockyer side of the family, Edmund Henry Seppings (1807-1858) had two aunts, seven uncles and 45 cousins. He was raised by his grandmother Ann Lockyer (1777-1820) at Wembury House, Wembury, Devon, and grew up with his cousin William (1808-1886), Major Edmund Lockyer’s first born, and Henry Merewether Lockyer (1808-1835), Thomas Lockyer’s son of the same age, as well as Nicholas, Thomas, and Jane. The youngest of his aunts and uncles were also still living at home.

The Lockyer’s have a long history of leaving their mark on the places they lived. The earliest records show Lokiers at Much Wenlock, Shropshire, then Glastonbury, Somerset, most notably Nicholas Lockyer (1611–1685), eminent divine and independent puritan, chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, preacher at Whitehall, fellow of Eton College, with several published works; later an ejected minister and nonconformist. The Lockier family next lived in Honiton, East Devon, in the 1600s, until Nicholas Lockyer (1677-1754) became Vicar of Luppit 1705-1754. He married Anne Euins (1692-1743) on 30 Nov 1706 at Honiton on Otter and of their five offspring, born in Luppit, only one son survived beyond childhood.
Nicholas Lockyer (1711-1762) married Joan Tucker (1714-1779) in 1734 at Plymouth, Devon. They had ten children, the youngest being Thomas Lockyer (1756-1806) who married Ann Grose (1755-1820) on 2 Nov 1777 at Charles the Martyr Church, Plymouth.

Members of the family – Edmund, Thomas, William and Nicholas – appear frequently on Plymouth’s list of mayors from 1803 to 1844. Thomas Lockyer’s (1756-1806) older brother Edmund Lockyer (1750-1836), was an important figure in Plymouth – a conveyancer, solicitor and district magistrate, with an office in George’s Terrace, Plymouth, and in St James Square, London – and to the Lockyer family, as he took care of the family’s legal matters. It was said he made his money ‘handling the disposal of prize ships and cargoes’ (1). He became the Deputy Lieutenant of Devon – the Queen’s representative for formal occasions; the director of the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway; a founder of Plymouth Mechanics’ Institute, and in 1833 had Lockyer’s Quay built. He was the first Lockyer to become Mayor of Plymouth and served in this role in 1803-4, 1821-22 and 1824-25.
Edmund Lockyer was ‘one of the most energetic citizens of his day, and one of the greatest promoters of local improvements.’ In order to boost trading after the Napoleonic Wars, he proposed to the Chamber in 1814, ‘the formation of an association to build or purchase vessels to engage in the coal, Baltic, Greenland and colonial trades, for the establishment of a sugar refinery, the conversion of Sutton Pool into a wet dock, and the establishment of East India packets.’ (1a)
Edmund Lockyer married Eleanor Penrose, daughter of Francis Penrose esq, of Durian, in Cornwall, in 1782. Their son, Edmund Lockyer MD (1782-1816), studied botany, chemistry and geology, graduating as a doctor of medicine at Edinburgh in 1805. In London, in 1809, he was admitted as a Licentiate of the College of Physicians and he married Elizabeth Braithwaite at St Alphege, Greenwich, on 10 April. They returned to Plymouth where he ran a successful medical practice in George Street and at the age of 28 became mayor (1810-11). He was also a founder of the Plymouth Library, became a Fellow of the Linnean Society, and vice-president of the Plymouth Philosophical Institution twice, giving lectures on mineralogy and geology. He died of an abscess in the brain on 2 December 1816, aged 34. They had three children, Eleanor-Mary Lockyer (b. 1810), Rosa-Elizabeth Lockyer (b. 1811) and Edmund Leopold Lockyer (b. 1816).
Edmund and Eleanor’s daughter, Eleanor Margaret Penrose Lockyer, christened at St Andrews Church, Plymouth, on 24 January 1784, married Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Pym KCB on 23 May 1802. Samuel was a Plymouth mayor in 1816.
Eleanor was buried at St Andrews Church on 25 April 1807. Edmund died at home in George’s Place, Plymouth, on February 1836 and placed with her in the family vault.

This venerable and highly respected gentleman had reached the advanced age of 85 years, and was amongst the oldest inhabitants of Plymouth, a town he had seen double itself in size, and been an active promoter of all those plans that have contributed thereto, as well as increasing it in wealth and national importance. Mr Lockyer had, by persevering industry, raised himself into independence. He practised as Notary Public during the war with much success; he had been three times called to fill the Chair of the Chief Magistrate of this borough; he was also a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County, and a worthy member of the ancient fraternity of Freemasons. His remains were interred in the family vault in Saint Andrew’s Church yesterday (Thursday), when a large number of the gentlemen and principal tradesmen attended the funeral. Scarcely an institution in the town but enjoyed his great liberality; he was ever ready, with all the means in his power, to promote its general welfare and the poor will, by his death, suffer a great loss.’ (2)

Royal Hotel, Theatre and Atheneum, Plymouth, by Llewellyn Jewitt, mid 1800s

‘The immediate post Napoleonle War period saw a surge in civic pride and responsibility among the inhabitants of Plymouth, who were ably led by members of prominent local families such as the Woollcombes, the Lockyers … One of the first civic schemes was to erect a ballroom, hotel and théâtre, subscriptions being raised on the popular tontine principle.’ (3) The Lockyer family was a major contributor.
In 1810, Edmund Lockyer MD (1782-1816), as mayor, laid the first stone of the Theatre, the Royal Hotel and Assembly Rooms, on Lockyer Street, named in honour of his father.
In Plymouth there is Lockyer Street, Lockyer Road, Lockyer Close, Lockyer Court, Lockyer Terrace, Lockyer Villas, Lockyer House, Lockyer House Hotel, Lockyer Hotel, Lockyer Tavern, Lockyer Street hospital, and Lockyer’s Quay.
Thomas Lockyer (1780-1854), as mayor, opened the Plymouth Market in 1807. When William Lockyer (1785-1858) was mayor in 1815, thousands came to view Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, a prisoner of war, on board Bellerophon in the Sound. In 1843, the year Nicholas Lockyer (1806-1864) was mayor, Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort, visited Plymouth.

Lockyer Mayors of Plymouth:-
1803-4 Edmund Lockyer (1750-1836) – solicitor
1806-7 Thomas Lockyer (1780-1854) – shipping broker
1810-11 Edmund Lockyer (1782-1816) – doctor
1815-16 William Lockyer (1785-1858) – Comptroller of Customs
1821-22 Edmund Lockyer (1750-1836) – solicitor
1823-24 Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847) – Capt RN
1824-25 Edmund Lockyer (1750-1836) – solicitor
1830-31 Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847) – Capt RN
1843-44 Nicholas Lockyer (1806-1864) – solicitor

Lockyers of Plymouth Coat of Arms. The Latin ‘Sedule’ means watchful; ‘Secunde’ means happily, or fortunate.

Before the passing of the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, a Freeman of the Borough of Plymouth was ‘a privileged person who performed important functions in the Local Government of the Town. Only a Freeman could trade within the Borough without the payment of tolls and dues and only a Freeman could vote for the Councillors, Aldermen, Mayor and Members of Parliament.’ (4)

From An Alphabetical List of Freemen of the Borough of Plymouth (1817) –

Edmund LockyerGeorge Terrace, Plymouth
Thomas LockyerWembury House, near Plymouth
William Lockyer 
Nicholas LockyerCaptain, Royal Navy
Charles Christopher LockyerSolicitor
11 Harcourt Buildings, Temple, London
Henry Alworth MerewetherBarrister
51 Chancery Lane, London

In the 1820s, several Lockyers voyaged to New South Wales. In 1823, Capt Henry Frederick Lockyer (1796-1860) and family sailed from London to Port Jackson on the convict ship Henry with the 3rd Regiment (Buffs) and 160 convicts, for service in the British colony. Capt Lockyer and his wife sailed on with his detachment to Hobart on the Mariner. He built a substantial house in Frederick St with stables adjacent to St John’s church. They left when the regiment was transferred to Calcutta in 1827.
Major Edmund Lockyer, his wife Sarah and ten children arrived in Sydney in 1825. The Major led an expedition of the Brisbane River, then in 1926, Darling appointed him to sail from Sydney on the brig Amity, to establish a military garrison and settlement on the west of the continent, named Albany in 1831. There he hoisted the Union Jack, officially bringing the whole of the New Holland continent under the control of the British Crown. The expedition included his son, ensign Edmund Morris Lockyer, who was storekeeper at the settlement. In 1827, the Major sold his commission and retired from the Army, choosing to settle in southern NSW.
In 1840, Edmund Henry Seppings joined the Lockyers in NSW and bought land close to his cousin William. Four more of the Major’s children were born in Australia. The first was Louisa Harris Lockyer at the Parramatta Barracks in 1826. The second was Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer CBE ISO (1855-1933), known for his work as head of the Department of Trade and Customs.
The story of Edmund Henry and his Lockyer cousins is part of the story of the Age of Sail transitioning into the Age of Settlement. Britain carving out another colony, far from the crown; a new nation that with each new arrival and birth meant more lost and taken from an ancient continent and its first people. A history as heartbreaking as it is heroic.

The Ancient Parish Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Plymouth

The following list includes Edmund Henry Seppings’ mother, Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer (1782-1851), her nine siblings and their spouses. All of Thomas Lockyer and Ann Grose’s children were christened in St Andrews Church, Plymouth. Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer and Lt John Milligen Seppings were married there. Numerous vaults and tablets commemorate family members including Capt Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847); William Lockyer (1785-1858), his wife Louise (1791-1845) and brother Charles Christopher Lockyer (1795-1828) were buried there.

Thomas Lockyer, Esq (1780-1854) m Jane Rivers (1783-1859)
Capt Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847)
Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer (1782-1851) m Lt John Milligen Seppings (1770-1826)
Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860) m Dorothea Agatha Young (1790-1816), Sarah Morris (1784-1853) and Elizabeth Colston (1835-1884)
William Lockyer (1785-1858) m Louise Love (1791-1845)
Major Orlando Lockyer (1787-1819) m Anne Flattery (b.1871)
Eliza Maria Lockyer (1791-1837) m Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864)
Jane Edwards Lockyer (1793-1854) m Edward Hobson Vitruvius Lawes (1781-1849)
Charles Christopher Lockyer (1795-1828)
Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer (1796-1860) m Ellis Anne Elizabeth Curry (1798-1861)

Wembury Church, South Devon (1931) linocut by Isabel de Bohun Lockyer (1890-1982), the granddaughter of Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1819-1908). 
Thomas and Ann Lockyer were buried in St Werburgh’s Church, Wembury, as was their first born son, Thomas, and his wife Jane Lockyer.

Thomas Lockyer Esq (1780-1854) married Jane Rivers (1783-1859) at St Petroc, Harford, Devon, on 1 May 1803, when she was 19 years old. Her father, Henry Rivers (1749-1830), squire of Stowford, and his first wife Elizabeth Brutton (1750-1782) had four children. Their son William Brutton Rivers (1778-1806) married Elizabeth Morris, Sarah’s sister, in 1801. The Morris, Rivers and Lockyer family were well known to each other. Henry Rivers ran the Exeter Inn at Modbury and later the London Hotel, a coaching inn at Ivybridge, Harford, in front of the bridge over the river Erme on the main coaching route from Plymouth to London. Henry was married a second time to Elizabeth Byrd (1750-1838), nee Jones, possibly a descendant of a Welsh royal harpist. (5) They had two children – Jane Rivers, her birthdate unknown, was christened on 6 July 1783, and Henry Rivers (1784-1868), the Younger, of Stowford.
In 1796, Henry Rivers purchased Stowford Estate, Harford, including Stowford House, 450 acres, a corn mill and the paper mill which he sold in 1816, declaring bankruptcy. Jane Rivers’ life begins as a mystery. The following story is passed down by Annie Frances Prynne (1844-1927), nee Lockyer.
‘One sunny day a private carriage stopped at the Ivy Bridge Arms and a gentleman got out with a young lady and a sort of nurse. The lady was taken ill and that night a baby was born. The Dr (presumably the ‘gentleman’) interviewed the landlord, a big sum of money (possibly a bag of gold coins) was paid, and he agreed to adopt the baby. Just as he left, he took from the child’s neck a chain with a locket containing a miniature of some man in court robes. It was set in diamonds. The people said the face was one of royalty.’ (5a)
Jane was a very beautiful girl. Thomas and Jane went to London for their honeymoon and she smelled a rose given to her by a small boy selling them in Hyde Park. He was recovering from small pox. She contracted it, became very ill, lost her hair and eyebrows, and her face was left deeply pitted.
Thomas continued his father’s brokerage business after his father died on 9 August 1806, and continued to reside at Wembury house, Wembury. He became a Plymouth Freeman, a Justice of the Peace, a County Magistrate and Deputy-Lieutenant of Devon. On 17 September 1806, he was elected Mayor of Plymouth. 
Thomas and Jane had eight children all born at Wembury House. After his mother died in 1820, and the manor house was sold in 1822, the family moved into ‘Lockyer’s Cottage’ which he had acquired in 1804, to which he extended, creating the much larger ‘South Wembury House’ (now Thorn).
Visitors to South Wembury, with its view of the river Yealm, included Cardinal Wiseman, Mr Bastard of landed gentry, and members of the French aristocracy, such as the Duchess of Orleans, widow of the eldest son of king Louis Philippe I, who rented Kitley House, near Yealmpton, from Mr Bastard. The story goes that when the exiled king and his wife stayed at Kitley, just up the river Yealm from South Wembury House, he would meet with Thomas so they could converse in French. (Read more about Thomas’s adventures in France during the French Revolution here.)
Two of Thomas and Jane’s sons were disowned and disinherited by their father – Thomas (1805-1875) and Edmund Beatty Lockyer (1813-1891). None of the three daughters – Jane, Caroline and Helena – married; the latter two died of cancer. Their third son, Henry Merewether Lockyer (1808-1835), was in the Royal Navy and died, aged 27, in a shipwreck off Jamaica. Thomas had a butler ‘old Robert’ who had served the family from the age of 13 as a page, until 85 years old when he died in Annie F Lockyer’s arms.
Thomas Lockyer had a mistress and five children in Plymouth who were christened Lockyer and used the name after his death, which led to Lockyer becoming a common name amongst trades people. Thomas and Jane Lockyer were buried in St Werburgh’s Church, Wembury, as were his parents, Thomas and Ann, inside the church, north aisle. 

Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860), had 14 children to three wives. Dorothea Agatha Young, nee De Ly (1790-1816), had previously been married to Capt John Young. She married Edmund in 1806 in Galle, Ceylon. They had one child, Lt William Edmund Lockyer (1808-1886), who was born in India and raised at Wembury House, England.
In 1808, Edmund Lockyer and Sarah Morris (1784-1853) began a de facto relationship which lasted until Dorothea died in 1816 and one month later they were married at Trincomalee, Ceylon.
Sarah’s father, John Morris, owned a coaching inn at Ivybridge, on the Ermington side of the road. He was first recorded as paying land tax for Ermington in 1783. Sarah and her sisters, Elizabeth (b. 1782) and Ann (b. 1786), were baptised at the parish church in Ermington; Sarah and Elizabeth were baptised on 16 August 1784. John Morris moved to Plymouth to own the Kings Arms Coaching Inn at Bretonside. There he remarried to Ann and had twins Richard and Ann (b. 1793) and John (b. 1794). Elizabeth Rivers (nee Morris) ran the London Inn on her own after William died at 27 years in 1806, leaving her with Elizabeth (b. 1802), William (1804-1853) and Henry (1806-1816). 
Edmund and Sarah had eleven children, born wherever the British Army sent the Major and his family, including England, Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean, Ceylon, Bengal, Channel Islands, Ireland and New South Wales. Five of the children were given middle names relating to the place of their birth. One died at sea.
Major Edmund Lockyer, retired, married again after Sarah died, to Elizabeth (Eliza) Colston (1835-1884), the only daughter of James Forsaith Colston, Esq, of Edinburgh, at St James Church, King St, Sydney, NSW, in 1854. They had one son and two daughters.
Two of the Major’s sons – Lt William Edmund Lockyer (1808-1886) and Lt Edmund Morris Lockyer (1809-1872) – were in the British Army; his fourth son, Frederick McDonald Lockyer (1822-1904), was Clerk in Charge of Papers, Legislative Assembly, and his youngest son Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer, C.B.E., I.S.O. (1855-1933), was knighted for his work in the Commonwealth Public Service as Australian Chief Commissioner of Taxation and Collector of Customs, and Comptroller-general of Customs. Edmund and Sarah’s daughters married into notable families.

William Lockyer (1785-1858) married Louisa Love (1791-1845) at Tamerton Foliot.
They had one child, a son born at Newton Ferrers and baptised there in 1819, Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904).
His great-niece Mrs Annie Prynne (nee Lockyer) described her great uncle William as ‘short with bristly white hair and a red face.’ He was a collector of antique china and artworks. Annie was very proud of him and fascinated by the colourful art. ‘He gave me coral ornaments and old china … I used to love his china room. He was a very dear old man… He lived in a house in Plymouth with two maids, one Loveday was an attached old servant who I believe had an annuity when he died.’
It is not known why William did not speak to his son or why he left everything in his Will to his nephews Nicholas Lockyer (1806-1864) and James Lawes Lockyer (1819-1885). 

Major Orlando Lockyer (1787-1819) married Anne Flattery (b.1871) in Banagher, Kings County, Ireland, in 1809, and they had two children, Thomas Arthur Lockyer (1811-1896) and Charlotte Lockyer (born after 1813).

Eliza Maria Lockyer (1791-1837), also known as Mary, married Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864) of the Inner Temple, London, Attorney General and Town Clerk of London, of Southhampton St, Bloomsbury, in 1809 at St Werburgh’s Church, Wembury, Devon, by special license. They had ten children, including Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877) who served as the recorder of Devizes, a bencher of the Inner Temple and Queen’s Council; John Robert Merewether (1818-1841) who drowned while saving 30 people from a shipwreck off the Cape of Good Hope; Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893) aide-de-camp, colonial secretary and Commissioner for Crown Lands who married Augusta Maria Mitchell (1834-1922); Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880), an Indian military officer and administrator; and Capt Alworth Merewether (1826-1861) of HEICS, 61st Reg 1, Bengal.

Jane Edwards Lockyer (1793-1854), married Edward Hobson Vitruvius Lawes esq (1781-1849) of the Inner Temple, London, barrister-at-law, on 17 Sep 1815 at St George, East Stonehouse, Devon. They had nine children – Edward Lawes (1817-1852), Jane Lawes (1818-1882), Maria Lawes (1819-), Vitruvius Lawes (1821-1890), Thomas Lawes (1822-), Eliza Lawes (1824-), William Lawes (1828-), Henry Lawes (1832-1834) and Charles Lawes (1833-).

Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer (1796-1860) married Ellis Anne Elizabeth Curry (1798-1861) on 5 May 1819 at the British Embassy Chapel and House of HBM’s Ambassador, Paris, France. They had one child, Ellis Ann Sophia Lockyer (1820-1859), who died in Malta aged 39.

Wembury House, Wembury, Devon

Lockyer cousins

Thomas Lockyer, Esq (1780-1854) m Jane South Rivers (1783-1859)

  • Jane Lockyer (1804-1874)
  • Thomas Lockyer (1805-1875)
  • Nicholas Lockyer (1806-1864)
  • Henry Merewether Lockyer (1808-1835)  
  • Edmund Beatty Lockyer (1813-1891)
  • Caroline Lockyer (1815-1870)
  • Helena Lockyer (1817-1867)
  • James Lawes Lockyer (1819-1885)

Jane Lockyer (1804-1874) did not marry, however, from 1844, she raised two nieces and a nephew at South Wembury House – Eliza Jane Lockyer (b. 1840) who was partly paralyzed, Thomas Gerard Lockyer (b. 1842), and Annie Frances Lockyer (1844-1927) – the children of her brother Nicholas Lockyer (1806-1864) and his wife Eliza. Annie was born 11 August and baptised 10 September. She was not expected to live, so a small silver (lead) coffin was made to bury her with her mother, Eliza, who died 5 September following the birth. 
Annie lived with Jane until her death in 1874 in Wyndham Square, Plymouth.
On 23 Feb 1876, aged 30, Annie married Dr Edward Michael Prynne, aged 60, a surgeon from Cornwall who practiced in Plymouth. He was a widower with four sons close in age to Annie. He died aged 70, in 1886. They had a son, Major Alan H L Prynne, and a daughter. Annie’s brother and sister did not marry.

Thomas Lockyer (1805-1875) studied at Oxford University and while there he signed a guarantee for a debt for a friend that went wrong. This greatly upset his father, enough to disinherit his son. Thomas joined the Belgian Army for some years, he lived away from England until his father died, and taught French in Liverpool where he died.

Nicholas Lockyer (1806-1864) trained and practiced as a family lawyer in Plymouth where he was Mayor (1843-44). He resided at Princess Square, Plymouth. On 21 Nov 1839, Nicholas married Eliza Sykes Jackson (1808-44), third daughter of the late William Jackson, barrister-at-law, at Kingsbridge in 1839. They had three children, Eliza Jane Lockyer (b. 1840), Thomas Gerard Lockyer (b. 1842), and Annie Frances Lockyer (1844-1927). As the mayor’s wife, Eliza took charge of preparations for a reception for Prince Albert’s visit to Plymouth. She was heavily pregnant with Annie and over did it, resulting in her death in childbirth aged 36 years. The children were raised by their aunt Jane Lockyer (1804-1874).

Henry Merewether Lockyer (1808-1835) was born at Wembury House, the same year as his cousin William Lockyer ((1808-1886), who came from Ceylon, just a few weeks old, to live at Wembury House. Henry joined the Royal Navy and in 1831 held the rank of Mate on the sloop Racehorse at Dominica and at sea in the West Indies.
On 4 June 1835, it was reported in Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, that Henry Merewether Lockyer, aged 27, Mate of His Majesty’s late schooner Fire Fly, which was wrecked on the Northern Triangles (off Jamaica) in the Bay of Honduras on 27 February, died. ‘This meritorious young officer had been employed during a period of twelve years on foreign service: his death is most grievously lamented by his bereaved relatives and much regretted by all who knew him.’

Edmund Beatty Lockyer (1813-1891) studied medicine at Edinburgh University but never practiced. His life was fraught with disappointment – a long court case over a breach of promise action, imprisonment twice for debt, and disinheritance.
In July 1839, while a student of medicine, Edmund became acquainted with Miss Janet Sinclair Traill Sinclair of Freswick in Scotland. Her father, Dr William Sinclair, had died in 1838 and Janet was in the care of her uncle Sir John Sinclair in Thurso. Edmund visited her while she was staying with her aunt, Miss Maria Sinclair, in lodgings in Edinburgh. Janet was under age. When she returned home, Edmund took up residence in a hotel in Thurso. From 1839 to 1841, he courted her and they both signed and exchanged written declarations to be husband and wife. No cohabitation followed. (6) He had given her an engagement ring which spelt ‘Regard’ in ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst and diamonds, and an amber necklace, which she returned.
In 1842, Edmund B Lockyer, residing at 101 Princes Street, Edinburgh, raised an action of declarator of marriage in the Court of Sessions against Miss Sinclair whom he claimed he was married to and had a Contract of Marriage with. At trial, Janet testified that she signed the document at the request of Edmund for the purpose of convincing his father to make a settlement. In the process, Edmund assigned to his father the whole of his interest in his mother’s estate. ‘The screw was put on me to make me give up the marriage,’ he said at the Edinburgh Bankruptcy Court 25 years later. His treatment of Miss Sinclair at the trial was denounced by the Judge as ‘impertinent and disgusting.’ (7)
‘It was my misfortune to contract a marriage of which he disapproved. I could not draw back from the marriage, and at the suggestion of the late Town-Clerk of the City of London (his uncle Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864)) I followed it up. I was bound by a dreadful oath to do so, and it proved an awful curse to me. My father forsook me, but he said that “the moment you drop this you are the same to me as ever.” I could not break my most dreadful oath, or God Almighty would have struck me dead if I had, and from that moment I have been as exile from my home. This case has completely unhinged me.’ (8)
Edmund B Lockyer, ‘set all his schemes to work in order to persecute the lady he had unsuccessfully claimed as his wife. His stalwart form, his acquiline features, his long and well-greyed black beard, his ‘loud’ style of dress, and his swaggering gait, distinguished him on the streets of Edinburgh as one likely to have “a bee in his bonnet.”’ (9)
In March 1846, Edmund B Lockyer lost the case. Disowned by his father, he lived off money given to him by family members and friends. In 1854, after his father died, his mother paid the debts Edmund had accrued, including to a wine merchant, brewing company, tailor, hairdresser and hotel keeper. He became a public figure again as a great ‘Railway Economist’ and ‘advertised threats of exposure against the Chairman of the North British Railway Company’, and threatened to upset the ‘bank monopoly’ of Scotland. He became a candidate to represent the Northern Burghs and later described himself as a ‘Political Social Expert’. He tried to unseat his opponent, Mr Loch, with bribery and corruption accusations, but then Edmund bribed the postman to intercept six letters addressed to Miss Sinclair, and opened them. They were arrested on 8 September 1868. He stood trial on 1 March 1869, was found guilty and sentenced to jail in Exeter for a year. The postman received 9 months.
Janet Sinclair died in June 1870 in Torquay, unmarried. After her death, Edmund brought a case against the Trustees of her estate in June 1876 which he lost. In the 1871 census he is recorded as widower with property in Scotland and England. 
He was staying with the Trotters as a lodger in Thurso for six years before he married the daughter Jane Sinclaire Trotter (b. 1857) on 12 Jun 1877 at 72 Princes Street, Edinburgh, when she was 21 years old. Edmund was 63. They had four children. Jane M A C M Lockyer (b. 1879) and Mary Nazareth Lockyer (1881-1974) were born in Edinburgh, Martha Lockyer (b. 1888) in Leith, and their only son Thomas Edmund Lockyer died in 1881 at 37 London Street, Edinburgh.
Edmund appeared at the Edinburgh Bankruptcy Court in 1879, described as residing at 6 Gladstone Place. He went to prison for debt in Holyrood and Exeter. He died 21 January 1891 while living at Chancelot Terrace, Ferry Road, Edinburgh.

James Lawes Lockyer (1819-1885) trained as a solicitor but never practiced. Later in life he had a stroke which left him paralyzed and his niece Annie Frances Lockyer (1844-1927) nursed him through a long illness until he died. He was the last to live at South Wembury and is buried in the churchyard. 

South Wembury House, now Thorn House, Wembury

Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860) m Dorothea Agatha Young (1790-1816)

  • Lt William Edmund Lockyer (1808-1886) British Army

Lt William Edmund Lockyer (1808-1886) was born in India, the only child of Major Edmund Lockyer and Dorothea Agatha De Ly. He was brought to Wembury House, Devon, at barely five weeks old, and christened there. He lived there for the next four years while his father Edmund was home from Ceylon and continued to live there when Edmund and Sarah and their children travelled. The family returned home to Wembury again in 1818 before Edmund served in Ireland. Edmund Henry Seppings was also raised at Wembury House to keep his cousin William company. According to a great great grandson (unknown), William said of his grandmother, Ann Lockyer, ‘she was my best friend.’
William joined the same regiment as his father, the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot and became a lieutenant on 9 April 1825 on their voyage to the colony of New South Wales. They sailed on HMS Royal Charlotte from London on 12 November 1824 with 34 men of the 57th Regt, composing the guard of 136 male prisoners, and stores for Government. William arrived in Sydney on the 29 April 1825 with a detachment of the 57th and with his father and step-mother Sarah, and nine siblings.
William’s younger brother Edmund also joined the 57th Regiment and they were both listed as lieutenants on 29 Sep 1930.

Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860) m Sarah Morris (1784-1853)

  • Lt Edmund Morris Lockyer (1809-1872)
  • Ann Morris Lockyer (1810-1833) 
  • Sarah Ermington Lockyer (1812-1867)
  • Helen Kandiana Lockyer (1815-1886)
  • Eliza Lockyer (1816-1817)
  • Fanny Oceanna Lockyer (1817-1888)
  • Emily Catherine Jersey Lockyer (1819-1906)
  • Charles Weedon Lockyer (1821-1898)
  • Frederick Macdonald Lockyer (1822-1904)
  • Hugh Henry Rose Lockyer (1824-1908)
  • Louisa Harris Lockyer (1826-1911)
King Georges Sound sketch by Major Edmund Lockyer, 1826, where his son Lt Edmund Morris Lockyer was storekeeper.

Lt Edmund Morris Lockyer (1809-1872) was the first born son of Major Edmund Lockyer and Sarah Morris. Like his older brother William, Edmund joined his father in the 57th Regiment as an ensign and was also an adjutant, a military officer who acts as an administrative assistant to a senior officer. The regiment travelled to New South Wales in a detachment of the 57th, of 34 men as escorts to 136 male prisoners on HMS Royal Charlotte in 1824-25. Edmund arrived in Sydney on the 29 April 1825 with the detachment and with his father, mother, and nine siblings.
Edmund Morris Lockyer was assigned to his father Major Edmund Lockyer, appointed Commandant on the brig Amity, to establish a penal settlement at King George Sound which he was involved with from 25 December 1826 to 23 February 1827. Although a member of the 57th Regiment of Foot, he was temporarily attached to the 39th as Storekeeper. The original military post comprised of Captain Joseph Wakefield, one sergeant, two corporals and 16 privates of the 39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment; Ensign Edmund Morris Lockyer, 57th Regiment on detachment to 39th (Storekeeper); William and Thomas Wood, Royal Veterans Corps (Convict Overseers); a surgeon, a gardener and 23 convicts.
Edmund returned to Sydney on Isabella and there rejoined the 57th – known as ‘The Die Hards’ – which also served in small guard detachments on convict transports to Moreton Bay, Melville Island and Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land.
Edmund became a lieutenant on 29 Sep 1830 before going to Madras, India, in 1831. The 57th Regiment was one of a few British regiments to serve in Australian colonies until all garrison forces were withdrawn in 1870. By 1835, Edmund Morris Lockyer had settled in New South Wales and was granted 1,000 acres at Argyle.

NSW Government Gazette 21 July 1857

On 14 July 1857, Edmund Morris Lockyer, esq, was appointed by the Governor General to be Second Lieutenant in the Native Police for the District of the Lower Darling. (2)
He married Emily O’Reilly in Queensland on 19 Dec 1866. His last occupation was as a Tide-waiter, HM Customs – a customs officer who checked the goods being carried when a ship landed in order to secure payment of customs duty.
‘In 1872 the barque Tyra arrived from the (South Sea) islands with a shipment of ‘boys’. The vessel had very bad weather coming across, and for some reason was taken over by the authorities, none of the cargo being allowed to be removed from the vessel. Mr Lockyer was taking his turn as guard one night, and being lonely his wife accompanied him. They sat in a cabin on deck. He had to go round on a tour of inspection at regular intervals. As he seemed to be much longer than usual on one of these tours, his wife grew anxious and left the cabin to find out the reason. The night was dark and the light indifferently lighted. Hearing a moan she made for the direction of the sound, and in doing so fell down a hatch-way, the cover of which had been left off. It was down this that her husband had fallen, and she fell on him. The result of this accident was that Mr Lockyer received serious internal injuries, from which he died about a week later.’ (11)
Edmund Morris Lockyer died 28 June 1872, aged 62, at his home on Birley Street, Spring Hill, Queensland.

Ann Morris Lockyer (1810-1833), eldest daughter of Major Edmund and Sarah Lockyer, did not depart England for New South Wales on 5 January 1825 with her family, she sailed instead with her fiance, Captain James Brown, on the next convict ship to leave Portsmouth, Norfolk, on 17 April. They arrived in Port Jackson on 18 August 1825. The Guard was a detachment of the 57th regiment under orders of Capt Brown; he had been appointed captain in the regiment on 17 January 1822. Ann Morris Lockyer married Capt James Brown on 9 January 1827 at Sydney, and they sailed for Madras with his regiment in 1831, which included her brothers, Lt William Edmund Lockyer and Lt Edmund Morris Lockyer. (12)
Ann wished to escape the heat of Madras and return to New South Wales, so they left on Lady Munro, under the command of Captain Aitkin, leaving Calcutta for Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s land, on 27 June 1833. The trading ship took many passengers on board at Madras, making it very crowded. The 96 passengers and crew consisted of the captain, two officers, 7 ladies, 9 gentlemen, and 11 children. There were also 10 European convicts, 4 European servants, 13 native servants, and 40 Lascars – Indian sailors.
The cargo of sugar was delivered at Port Louis, Isle of France, after which they sailed on, looking forward to meeting up with family members at the end of the journey.
On 11 October, after midnight, the barque struck rocks close to the Island of Amsterdam ‘with such violence that she went down in a moment, stern foremost – pitching some persons who were in the fore part of the ship right out upon the rocks. But few escaped as most of the persons on board were in bed.’ In less than a quarter of an hour the ship went to pieces.

‘The ship staggered about from rock to rock, groaning and labouring, writhing from side to side, like a dying thing in its last agony; the sails and rigging were torn to tatters; the masts and yards went crashing over board piecemeal, one after another, and fell sea ward. Cries and shrieks of despair were now heard in the cuddy, – and the mother’s cry of “Save my children! oh, save my children! ” pierced me to the very soul. The united roar of the surf, the wind, and the crash of falling masts and spars, drowned every human cry; and the hull, at one time heaved high into the air, at another dashed with destructive force upon the rocks, gave one last lurch, and went all to ten thousand shivers.
An excerpt from J M’Cosh’s recollections. (13)

Amsterdam Island, an active volcanic island, is amongst the most isolated in the world. Located in the southernmost Indian Ocean, bordering the Antarctic Ocean, approximately halfway between South Africa and Australia, it is 3,370km from Perth. After managing to live 14 days upon the island, the 22 survivors were rescued by an American whaler and taken to Hobart Town.
Ann Morris Lockyer, aged 23 years, and her four infant children, Ellis, Martha, Edmund, and Ann, drowned – ‘to the great sorrow of her afflicted parents and relatives – Major Lockyer with his family, in this colony; and her disconsolate husband and brothers with their Regiment, at Madras.’ 75 perished, several of them officers of the 39th Regt who were well known in Sydney. (14)

Sarah Ermington Lockyer (1812-1867) was born in Ermington, Devon. She was 12 years old when she arrived in Sydney on the Royal Charlotte on 29 April 1825 with her family. She married Dudley North (1805-1845) of the East India Service, younger brother of Frederick North, MP of Rougham Hall, Norfolk, and Hastings Lodge, Sussex, at the Field of Mars church, Sydney, in 1835. They had five children. Arabella Frances North (1836-1885) and Frederick Edmund North (1838-1842) were born in Parramatta; Sarah North (b.1839) and Dudley North (1840-1917) were born in Goulburn, and Helen Margaret North (1842-1912) was born in Deptford, Kent. The family returned to England in October 1842, the year their son Frederick died.
Following the death of her husband from a coach accident a Ipplepen on 25 January 1845, Sarah lived at Garden cottage, Hastings, with three of her children, Sarah aged seven, Dudley aged six, and Helen aged four years. They lived only 200 yards away from their grandmother, Dudley’s mother, Mrs Elizabeth Wilson, and her daughter Miss Arabella North, with whom Arabella Frances North aged ten years was residing, and maintained by her grandmother. Siblings Sarah and Dudley spent many hours there, daily.
Sarah Ermington North and her late husband were nominal members of the Church of England, attending infrequently. On Monday 16 November 1846, when the children stayed the night at their grandmother’s house, Mrs Wilson asked Sarah whether she had conformed to the Roman Faith. For about two months before Dudley’s death, he and Sarah had visited, with the children, a Roman Catholic chapel at Plymouth, and since her husband’s death, she had been received into the Roman Catholic Church. Mrs Wilson said she could not permit the children to be brought up in that religion.
The following day, Sarah sent for the children, but her messenger was told by a servant that they were ‘gone away’. She went to the Vice Chancellor’s Court and her solicitor obtained a writ of habeas corpus commanding Mrs Wilson and Miss Arabella North on the following morning to produce the children. Their conduct in abducting the children was enough to induce the Court to say, that they were ‘no longer proper persons with whom to intrust them.’ His Honour directed that Arabella Frances North be placed under the care of Lady Waldegrave (Mrs. Wilson’s sister) and added, ‘with the most perfect respect to Mrs North, but as he understood she has become a Roman Catholic he could not place the infants with her.’
Sarah’s counsel argued that the Roman Catholic religion was not only a legal religion, but since the passing of the first Toleration Act (1689), it was an established religion, and the Court, should not hold that the religion was a ground for the removal of a guardian. 
Dudley had not left any instruction as to the religion in which his children were to be educated, so it was presumed that his wishes were that they should be educated in his own religion. It was seen as the duty of the Court to direct that the children would be brought up as members of, and in the religion of the Church of England. Speaking again of her most respectfully, ‘I cannot avoid being strongly impressed with the opinion that, consistently with the most conscientious, kind, and best motives on her part, the children, if placed with her, may receive an inclination and a disposition towards that religion in which, in my view of the duty of the Court, it should see that they should not be educated. The custody of the infants in the meantime shall be with Mrs Wilson (Mr Wilson consenting), Mr Frederick North, and Miss Arabella North, at Hastings; Mrs Dudley North to have access to them daily for two hours, but in the presence of one or more of those parties, and all topics of religion to be avoided at such interviews.’ (15)
All their children died in England. Sarah died in Sydney.

The Kandyan convention 1815 and Town and lake of Kandy 1864

Helen Kandiana Lockyer (1815-1886) was born at Trincomalee, Ceylon, after her father Major Edmund Lockyer fought in the campaign to subdue the old Sinhalese capital, Kandy. Helen (sometimes named Ellen) was given the middle name of Kandiana. She was ten years old when she arrived in Sydney on the Royal Charlotte on 29 April 1825 with her family. She married Captain Robert Jobling (1803-1862), of Newton Hall, Northumberland, on 21 May 1835. He was HCS captain of Duchess of Northumberland, and Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office of the port at Newcastle. Following his death in 1862, she married George Henry Stace in 1866.

Eliza Lockyer (1816-1817) was born at Trincomalee, Ceylon. On 16 September 1817, at fourteen months old, at Kedgeree, Bengal, India, whilst at anchor at the mouth of the Hoogly, waiting for the pilot to take them to sea, she went to bed in perfect health. The next morning she was found dead, ‘having no doubt during the night been seized with convulsions.’ (16)

HMS Ajax. Fanny Oceanna Lockyer was born in 1817 aboard Ajax in the Bay of Bengal

Fanny Oceanna Lockyer (1817-1888) was born aboard HMS Ajax in the Bay of Bengal and christened 26 Jan 1820 at the Parish Church of St Helier, St Helier, Isle Of Jersey, Channel Islands. She was seven years old when she arrived in Sydney on the Royal Charlotte on 29 April 1825 with her family.
She married William Montagu Rothery (1809-1899) on 9 May 1834 at Cliefden, Mandurama, in the Central West region of NSW. William named the homestead after the summer residence of Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III to whose entourage, family tradition relates, a Rothery ancestor was attached. (17) Fanny and William settled at Cliefden in 1842 where they had 15 children (three died in infancy) and took care of three of his brother’s children. Their children were – Edmund Montagu Rothery (1837-1902), St Gerge F Rothery (1838-1909), Ada Fanny Rothery (1840-1888), Albert Rothery (1841-1924), Laura Rothery (1845-1888), Eliza Emily Rothery (1848-1899), Louisa R Rothery (1849-1929), Caroline Lea Rothery (1851-1899), Helena Augusta Rothery (1853-1921), Francis William Rothery (1854-1929), Adelaide Sophia Rothery (1857-1888), and Henry Alfred Rothery (1862-1938).
William Rothery was the first squatter in Australia who sent wool direct to England. He dealt with Messrs Balme and Co, London wool brokers, for 68 years. When he died, he was the oldest member of the Australian Club.

Elizabeth Castle, Jersey – pencil and watercolour by D A B Gould. Emily Catherine Jersey Lockyer 

Emily Catherine Jersey Lockyer (1819-1906) was born at Elizabeth Castle, St Aubins Bay, St Helier, Isle Of Jersey, in the Channel Islands and christened on January 26, 1820 at the Parish Church of St Helier. She was six years old when she arrived in Sydney on the Royal Charlotte on 29 April 1825 with her family. In 1836, aged 15, she married Captain George Potter (1810-1849) of HM 28th Regiment, son of Major Leonard Busteed Potter, at the Church of England in Marsfield, Ryde, NSW. They lived at Cavan Station along the Murrumbidgee River in the Southern Tablelands, south of Yass, NSW. The property was leased by Capt George Potter and his father-in-law Major Edmund Lockyer, from 1836 until 1857. (Cavan is currently owned by Rupert Murdoch.)
Emily and George had eight children – Eleanora Potter (1837-1926), Emily Susannah Potter (1838-1918), Charles Edmund Potter (1839-1925), George Thomas Potter (1841-1931), Frederick Leonard Lockyer Potter (1842-1874), Louisa Catherine Potter* (1845-1926), Nicholas Lockyer Potter (1846-1927), and Alfred Augustus Potter (1849-1921).
After the riding accident death of George on 20 October 1849, Emily, widowed with eight children, and pregnant, married Henry Snodden (1822-1881) on 31 Mar 1851 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Yass. Henry was a bounty immigrant and farm servant on Cavan Station. They had seven children – Martha Snodden (1851-1927), Alexander Scott Snodden (1853-1916), Maria Harriss Snodden (1854-1934), Robert Sloane Snodden (1856-1926), Joseph Snodden (1859-1861), Mary Jane Snodden (1861-1864), and Emily Isabel Ada Snodden (1869-1845).
In a letter written by George Thomas Potter (1841-1931), he described his stepfather as an ‘illiterate, drunken bully.’ According to descendent and family historian Shirley Finnel, Emily was severely physically abused by Henry Snodden, and her daughter Louisa was deemed unsafe.
In 1860 Emily and Henry moved to the Tumut district, where Emily died at her residence, Newtown, Tumut, in 1906. She was described as ‘of a retiring disposition, and spoke very little on matters concerning herself. Was a devoted and kind mother to the whole of her children.’ (18)
*Louisa Catherine Potter (1845-1926), was christened at ‘Lockyersleigh’ and spent her early years on Cavan Station. Soon after the death of her father (1849), Louisa was sent to live with her godmother, Aunt Louisa McWilliam (nee Lockyer), in Dungog, in the Hunter Valley, where she married George, the eldest son of Arthur and Margaret Brown, in 1871. Louisa and her infant son, Walter, journeyed to New Zealand with George Brown’s parents and siblings in 1873 and settled with them in Tuakau.

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

Charles Weedon Lockyer (1821-1898), born at Weedon Barracks, Northamptonshire, was four years old when he arrived in Sydney in the Royal Charlotte on 29 April 1825 with his family. He was educated in King’s School, Parramatta, and afterwards undertook the management of several stations, mostly properties owned by his father. One of these was Lockyersliegh, near Goulburn. ‘Charles worked for a number of years an officer of HM Customs. On retirement, he volunteered his services in connection with the Maori war, serving three years under Colonel Hamilton. For his services he received a grant from the Crown of 50 acres of land and a silver medal. On returning to Sydney, he took up an appointment in the Stamp Office, under Mr. Hemming, but on account of ill-health he was compelled to resign.’ (19)
His first marriage was to Susanna Wilson (1830-1853) on 13 May 1847. They had three sons. His second marriage was to Eliza Rowe (d. 1901) on 4 Mar 1856 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Surry Hills. They had one son and four daughters. He died at his residence, 21 Womerah Avenue, Darlinghurst, NSW.

Frederick McDonald Lockyer (1822-1904) born in Dublin, Ireland, was Clerk in Charge of Papers, Legislative Assembly, NSW. He was three years old when he arrived in Sydney on the Royal Charlotte on 29 April 1825 with his family. He married Amelia Newcombe, second daughter of George William Newcomb, Esq, of Sydney, on 15 Apr 1857 at St James’ Church, Goulburn, NSW.

Hugh Henry Rose Lockyer (1824-1908), born at Westport Barracks, County Mayo, Ireland, on 11 June 1824, was probably named after Lt Hugh Henry Rose of the 19th Regiment of Foot who became captain, by purchase, on 30 June 1824, the same day Edmund Lockyer became a Major, by purchase, at the War Office, with the 19th Regiment of Foot. (20)
Hugh arrived in Sydney with his family on the Royal Charlotte on 29 April 1825 when he was six months old. One of his early memories was of the first steam boat Surprise which ran on the Paramatta River, a paddle-wheel with a treadmill inside for an engine, and a mule for motive power. (21)
He married Margaret Malcolm Wallis on 20 July 1876 at St. John’s Church, Hinton and they had two children – Henry (Harry) Edward Wallace Lockyer (1877-1924), and Marion Rivers Lockyer (1879-1964), both in Newcastle, NSW.
Hugh was a resident of Orange, NSW, for fifty years.

Parramatta Barracks 1860

Louisa Harris Lockyer (1826-1911) was the first of the Lockyer’s to be born in the colony of New South Wales, at the Parramatta Barracks, and was ‘the first white child to see the light in that district.’ (22)
On 10 April, 1853, Louisa gave birth to a son, Edmund Henry Lockyer (b. 1853) at Paramatta. On 31 Jan 1854, she married Thomas McWilliam (d.1883), a noted business man. They went to Dungog and soon became well-to-do as they owned several valuable properties. These, however, were eventually lost.
‘Louisa was seen as representing one of the most prominent families of early colonial history, moving in the highest military and gubernatorial circles of her day, coming in contact with all the prominent figures of the early times, and gathering a mass of interesting information. She was a most cultured woman, who moving in the high circles of Sydney, and London of the early forties, cultivated a charming personality. Her later years were spent in Dungog in unfortunate circumstances that were relieved and brightened by the good offices of a wide circle of friends.’ (22)
They had one son, Thomas Morris McWilliam (1854-1933), of Cangai, Grafton, who served through the South African war.

Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860) m Elizabeth Colston (1835-1884)

  • Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer, C.B.E., I.S.O. (1855-1933)
  • Ellis Sophia Lockyer (1857-1909)
  • Marion Joan Lockyer (1859-1946)

Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer, C.B.E., I.S.O. (1855-1933) born in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, was the son of Major Edmund Lockyer and his third wife Eliza, nee Colston. He was educated at Fort Street Model School and the Lyceum Academy, Sydney, and was a leading oarsman and shark-hunter in his youth; ‘a lithe, vigorous athletic man who had spent one holiday cycling through the inhospitable Moreton Bay country explored by his father.’ (23)
At the age of 13 he joined the civil service as a cadet and in 1870 was appointed clerk to the Treasury Department of New South Wales, where he was closely associated with Sir George Reid.
‘In September-November 1883 he was an inspector of public revenue accounts, in December he was appointed receiver of revenue and in 1886 accountant to the Treasury. He was responsible for the reorganization of the taxation department under the Land and Income Tax Assessment Act of 1895. In 1896 he was appointed to the combined positions of collector of customs and first commissioner of taxation in New South Wales. After Federation Lockyer transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service and in 1908 was appointed assistant comptroller-general of customs. He was by now an impressive, disciplined figure who, despite pince-nez and drawling accent, was credited with the ‘penetrating power of a hundred-ton gun’.’ (24)
Together with Charles C Kingston (SA Premier and leading advocate for Federation) and Sir Harry Wollaston (Chairman of the Committee which reported on the Federal Constitution Bill before it was adopted by the colonies, and first Comptroller-General of the Department of Trade and Customs, 1901-11), Lockyer had been responsible for framing the first Federal customs tariff. When Wollaston retired, Lockyer became Comptroller-General of Customs, and head of the Department of Trade and Customs, between 1911 and 1913, and a member of the inter-State Commission 1913-20.
‘During six months furlough in 1916 Lockyer, with the honorary rank of major, was honorary comptroller of the Australian Imperial Force’s garrison institutes in Australia, troopship canteens and prisoner-of-war canteens. From 1917, as first controller of repatriation, he was largely responsible for the organization of the Repatriation Department. In 1920-33 he was chairman of the A.I.F. Canteens Funds Trust and of the Sir Samuel McGaughey Bequest for the education of soldiers’ children.’ (25)
Lockyer was awarded an Imperial Service Order (1906) whilst Collector of Customs NSW, he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1918) and was made a Knight Bachelor in 1926.
In 1885, Nicholas Colston Lockyer married Mary Juliet Eager, a daughter of Geoffrey Eager (an accountant, colonial politician and NSW civil servant, son of Edward, an emancipated convict who helped found the Bank of New South Wales. Edward left Australia to take a legal battle over the rights of freed convicts to London, and didn’t return. His mother Jemima then married William Wentworth). Mary died in 1898. They had two daughters, Dorothy Hope (who married leading Arts and Crafts architect Rodney Alsop) and Ellis Marion. In 1908 Nicholas married Winifred Wollaston, a daughter of Sir Harry Wollaston. They had one son, Nicholas Lockyer.

Ellis Sophia Lockyer (1857-1909) was born at home at York House, Bay St, Woolloomooloo. On 17 Jan 1888, Ellis married Jerome Walford at St. Andrew’s Church, South Brisbane. They had three children – Nicholas L Walford (1891-1891), Edward J S Walford (b. 1892), and Marion Joan Walford (1896-1973).

Marion Joan Lockyer (1859-1946) was born at home at York House, Bay St, Woolloomooloo. Marion was a respected member of the Royal Australian Historical Society, ‘who in her own person constituted a remarkable historic link with early Australian history. She possessed a bright and cheery personality, and had the great gift of seeing the lighter side of life. She was never happier than when with many a quip and joke she spoke with friends.’ (26) Marion died after a short illness in Sydney.

William Lockyer (1785-1858) m Louise Love (1791-1845)

  • Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904) Royal Navy 
The Hastings seventy four. Lying in Ordinary in the Medway. William Nicholas Love Lockyer served as a lieutenant on HMS Hastings April 1848 – February 1849.

Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904) was born at Newton Ferrers to William Lockyer (1785-1858) and Louisa Love. He entered the Royal Navy in 1832 and passed his lieutenant’s exam in 1838. From 2 November 1838 – 10 June 1840, he served on HMS Melville, a 74-gun, third-rate, ship of the line, as a midshipman, mate, and A.B. From 6 November 1840 to 26 August 1841 he served as a mate on HMS Excellent a 98-gun, second-rate, ship of the line. From 27 August 1841 to 3 October 1844 he served as a mate on HMS Aigle, a 36-gun, fifth-rate frigate.
William’s uncle, Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847) was captain of HMS Albion from 10 November 1843 to 27 February 1847. William served as a mate under Capt Lockyer on this largest two-decker warship built in England, from 4 Oct 1844-31 Oct 1845 and as a lieutenant from 18 Jan-5 May 1846, in the Channel squadron. This 90-gun second-rate ship of the line was fast but had ‘a tendency to roll excessively in heavy weather, making her an unstable gun platform.’ (27)
William Nicholas Love Lockyer became a lieutenant in 1845 and served on the following ships in that role:
21 November 1845 – 17 January 1846 – HMS Bittern a 12-gun sloop brig.
6 May 1846 – 29 October 1847 – HMS Excellent a 98-gun, second-rate, ship of the line.
30 October 1847 – 13 April 1848 – HMS Caledonia a 120-gun, first-rate, ship of the line.
14 April 1848 – 19 February 1849 – HMS Hastings a 74-gun third-rate, ship of the line, built of the highest quality teak wood in Calcutta originally for the East India Company, following Sir Robert Seppings’ principles, which resulted in both longitudinal and transverse support in a vessel. 
Between 20 February 1849 and 8 July 1850, William was Acting Commander and Commander (1849) of HMS Medea, a 179 foot long steam-driven sloop, to suppress piracy in Chinese waters. Following a salt boat stolen from Hong Kong harbour and several vessels sailing from Hong Kong for Singapore reported missing on 28 July, Capt Edward Norwich Troubridge, senior officer in China, sent Cdr Lockyer and Medea down the coast to make inquiries.
‘Reaching Tienpakh, on September 7th, Lockyer found the inner harbour crowded with fifty heavily armed junks, the town deserted by the mandarin for fear of the pirates, and upwards of a hundred trading junks held for ransom.’ (28)
Although he was given some useful information by the mistress of an American master named J. B. Endicott, without sufficient facts on which to act, he prepared to resume his voyage. But with further news of trading ships with British goods on board being seized by the pirates, ‘he returned, manned and armed his boats, and proceeded to search for the prize containing the British property. Five junks fired at him, whereupon he attacked and boarded, and, within half an hour, made himself master of all five, losing, however, one man killed, and nine people wounded. As the main body of the fleet then got under way as if to cut off his boats, he burnt his prizes, and withdrew to his ship. She drew too much water to be able to enter the harbour; and the boats were obviously not strong enough to contend with so numerous a force. 
Lockyer failed to gain news of the ships which he had been detached in search of, and, having gone back to Hong Kong, was sent thence to Whampoa to relieve the Columbine. There he saw six junks which he had noticed at Tienpakh, and informed against them; but the Chinese authorities allowed them to weigh and make off. When at length, on September 28th, the Chinese despatched five war junks after the fugitives, the pirates captured the admiral and his entire squadron, massacred the crews, and roasted the mandarins and officers alive.’ (29)

Capture and destruction of thirteen Piratical Chinese Junks, in Mir’s Bay, by H. M. Steamer Medea

In March 1850, HMS Medea came across a fleet of 17 pirate junks at anchor in Mirs Bay, 30 miles east of Hong Kong. On seeing the warship, many of the pirates jumped overboard in an effort to escape. Volleys from Medea’s guns and musket fire reportedly killed 150 of the fleeing pirates as they swam towards shore. (30) These actions were looked on favorably by the Qing officials, who offered the crew of the Medea gifts of tea, dried oranges, sugar candy, and sixteen oxen and sheep. (31) The British declined the gifts, as the Medea had already sailed for England by the time the offer arrived. The crew were eventually awarded £1,900 in head money by the Admiralty. (32)
By the early 1850s, the Royal Navy with their new steam-powered, screw-driven vessels proved they could destroy large pirate fleets if found. The navy, however, was unable to completely eradicate piracy and it continued with small groups of opportunistic pirates attack mainly opium smugglers and others engaged in illicit activities.

HMS Colonial War Steamer Victoria, Melbourne, 1867

On 14 November 1852, Capt Lockyer sailed from London aboard the ship Dinapore for the colony of Victoria. Established as a colony separate from New South Wales in 1851, Victoria realised it required its own navy. By mid-1852, an appeal was made to Britain for an armed vessel to be stationed in Port Phillip. With the Victorian gold-rush attracting tens of thousands of people from all over the world, local authorities could not enforce control over the port waters. HMS Electra arrived at Williamstown in April but was inadequate.
In the minutes of the Estimates for 1853 submitted to the Legislative Council in November 1852, Governor Latrobe wrote ‘… it is proposed to appropriate sum’s sufficient to purchase and keep in commission a Government steam vessel which if the Council thinks fit, can be procured from England without delay.’ Hearing about the proposed purchase of a war steamer, Capt Lockyer wrote to La Trobe in April 1853, offering his services as her commander. He was prepared to go to England at his own expense and ‘without pay or allowance until he was able to personally supervise the construction of the vessel’. (33)
£11,500 was set aside and Commander Lockyer had been commissioned to procure the required steamer before LaTrobe’s successor Sir Charles Hotham left England to assume office in Victoria. Lockyer departed for Britain on 26 July 1853 aboard the Extreme American Clipper Eagle to supervise the construction of Australia’s first warship, the 580 tons combined steam/sail sloop-of-war HMCSS Victoria. It was the first British-built warship purchased by a British colony.
Soon after his arrival in Victoria, Hotham wrote to Lockyer on 19 July 1854, informing him that the amount placed at his disposal had been increased to £27,000 and he might spend up to £30,0000 if absolutely necessary. He was no longer to consider ‘a light draught of water as a necessity’ but to obtain a ‘good seagoing vessel fitted for general service.’ (34)
Lockyer was named the future Captain of HMCSS Victoria at her launch on 30 June 1855 at the Limehouse Dockyard on the Thames, however he declined the position. The ship was praised by the English press as ‘the foundation of a new naval power in the Southern Seas’. (35) The Victorian Navy had begun and following the success of Victoria in its employment of assisting shipwrecked mariners, carrying out coastal surveys, storing lighthouses, and as a water police ship, the Victorian colonial government ordered an ironclad ship, HMVS Cerberus.
William Nicholas Love Lockyer married Elizabeth-Selina Bell, youngest daughter of Lt-Col Thomas Bell, CB, late of the 48th Reg, in Plymouth, Devon, in 1848. They had four children, the first three born in Plymouth, Devon – Mary G Lockyer (b. 1849), Madeline Lockyer (b. 1852), William Lockyer (b. 1853) and Sidney Lockyer (b. 1856) in Surrey.
On 16 November, 1868, William Nicholas Love Lockyer was promoted to the rank of Retired Captain.

Major Orlando Lockyer (1787-1819) m Anne Flattery (b.1871)

  • Thomas Arthur Lockyer (1811-1896)
  • Charlotte Lockyer (after 1813)

Thomas Arthur Lockyer (1811-1896)
In 1837, aged 27, Thomas Arthur Lockyer was indicted for a fraud to which he pleaded guilty. He was confined six months; six weeks solitary. (36)
In 1843, Thomas Arthur Lockyer married Maria (Harriet) Catchlove (1816-1882) and had one surviving child, Edward Charles Catchlove Lockyer (b. 1839) who owned the Unicorn Brewery in Burra, Clare Valley, SA. (37)


Eliza Maria Lockyer (1791-1837) m Henry Alworth Merewether (1780-1864)

  • Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877)
  • Francis White Merewether (1813-1835)
  • Herbert Walton Merewether (1816-1843)
  • Elizabeth Mary Ann Merewether (1817-)
  • John Robert Merewether (1818-1841)
  • Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893)
  • Lucy Eleanor Merewether (1821-)
  • Richard Thomas Merewether (1822-1823)
  • Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880)
  • Capt Alworth Merewether (1826-1861)
  • John Lockyer Merewether (1829-1829)
  • Edmund Robert Merewether (1829-1829)

Details of the Merewether family will appear in the next blog post


Jane Edwards Lockyer (1793-1854) m Edward Hobson Vitruvius Lawes (1781-1849)

  • Edward Lawes (1817-1852)
  • Jane Lawes (1818-1882)
  • Maria Lawes (1819-)
  • Vitruvius Lawes (1821-1890)
  • Thomas Lawes (1822-)
  • Eliza Lawes (1824-)
  • William Lawes (1828-)
  • Henry Lawes (1832-1834)
  • Charles Lawes (1833-)
The Act for Promoting the Public Health; 1849 & 1850 by Edward Lawes

Edward Lawes (1817-1852), eldest son of Edward HV Lawes sergeant-at-law, was born at Serjeants Inn, Sydenham Hill, and christened at St Andrew, Holborn, London. He became a barrister-at-law and married Caroline Sophia Bowen in 1843, in Lewisham. They had two children, Edward Bowen, baptised on 9 Aug 1848, and Caroline, born in 1850.
‘In March, 1850, a local Admiralty preliminary inquiry into the merits of the “Tyne Navigation Bill” was held by Edward Lawes, Esq., barrister-at-law, and James Abernethy, Esq., civil engineer, who sat for eighteen days, going fully into all the points which Captain Washington had investigated in the previous year. The Admiralty report on the Bill recommended strongly that the management of the River Tyne should be vested in a commission, that the new commissioners should be the parties to judge of the requisite measures of river improvement, and that consequently the works proposed by the Bill should not be sanctioned. Their Lordships also recommended that the greatest possible amount of dues then levied on shipping in the Tyne should, consistent with legal rights, be applied to the new conservancy.’ (38)
In 1851, Edward had a book published, The Act for Promoting the Public Health, 1849 & 1850. He resigned as chairman of the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers in December, 1851, and died aged 35 in 1852 at Sydenham-hill. (39)

Vitruvius Lawes (1821-1890) was an assistant surgeon in the Bombay Army. He died aged 69 years. His wife Jane died 10 September 1898.

Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer (1796-1860) m Ellis Anne Elizabeth Curry (1798-1861)

  • Ellis Ann Sophia Lockyer (1820-1859)

Part 5 of ‘The Age of Sail – Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ first cousins Lockyer side‘, is the Lockyer-Merewether family.

Illustration Credits

‘Thomas and Ann Lockyer of Wembury.’ Sources unknown
Royal Hotel, Plymouth, by Llewellyn Frederick William Jewitt – Day & Son (lithographer)
Llewellynn Jewitt –
Lockyers of Plymouth Coat of Arms
An Alphabetical List of Freemen of the Borough of Plymouth, published in August 1817, a copy of which is held in the Plymouth Local Studies Library.
‘The Ancient Parish Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Plymouith.’ From a postcard.
Wembury Church, South Devon (1931) linocut printing in water-based inks by Isabel de Bohun Lockyer (1890-1982)
‘Wembury House, Wembury, Devon’ –
‘South Wembury House, now Thorn House, Wembury’
Portrait of Major Edmund Lockyer from Battye Library
Portrait of Sarah Lockyer from the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
King Georges Sound sketch by Major Edmund Lockyer, 1826
NSW Government Gazette 21 July 1857′
Isle D’Amsterdam Amsterdam Island, Indian Ocean, Jacques Nicola Bellin antique map 1753′ from ‘Amsterdam Island & St. Paul Island’ old antique copperplate engraving with hand coloring and taken from Prévost’s “Histoire générale des voyages 1753.
The Kandyan convention 1815
Town and lake of Kandy 1864 Lithograph by Jonathan Needham (fl.1850-1874) after Charles D.C. O’Brien of the ‘Town and lake of Kandy’ in Sri Lanka, dated 1 January 1864.
HMS Ajax
Elizabeth Castle, Jersey – pencil and watercolour by D A B Gould.
Emily Catherine Jersey Lockyer – source unknown
Lockyersliegh – National Library of Australia
‘Parramatta Barracks 1860’ –
‘Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer’ – source unknown
‘The Hastings seventy four. Lying in Ordinary in the Medway’ A scene of the Hastings lying in ordinary (meaning a vessel out of service for repair or maintenance) at Medway with men climbing onboard beside her. She is depicted port-bow, whilst various sailing boats are scattered disparately in the background and in the foreground. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
‘Capture and destruction of thirteen Piratical Chinese Junks, in Mir’s Bay, by H. M. Steamer Medea‘ Antique wood engraved print, 1850, London Illustrated News
‘HMS Colonial War Steamer Victoria, Melbourne, 1867.’ Her Majesty’s Colonial Steam Sloop Victoria, dressed with flags for the visit of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh to Melbourne in 1867. The photograph was hand-tinted for presentation to the ship’s commander, William Henry Norman. Reproduced courtesy of Captain Norman’s great-grandson, Martin Lemann for ‘The Crown and Kangaroo Victorian Flags’, Provenance: The Journal of Public Record Office Victoria, issue no. 11, 2012. ISSN 1832-2522. Copyright © John Rogers.
Cover of The Act for Promoting the Public Health; 1849 & 1850 by Edward Lawes

Research Resources
Wembury Local History Society –
Robert Rowland, Traine Farm, Wembury, Devon
Sue Carlyon, Wembury, Devon
Shirley Finnel, NZ historian (Lockyer descendent) 
Letters written by Annie F Prynne (nee Lockyer) to Isabel de Bohun Lockyer, 1926
John Millwood
Colston & Wenck families in Australia
Pat Majewski, Australian historian (re Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904) RN) 
Keith Quinton, Australian historian and author (re Capt William N L Lockyer (1818-1904) RN)

(1) – Crispin Gill commenting on Edmund Lockyer (1750-1836) in Brian Moseley’s post.
(1a) Plymouth at Work: People and Industries Through the Years by Ernie Hoblyn Amberley Publishing (2019)
(2) – Exeter and Plymouth Gazette Death announcement
(3) – The History of Libraries in Plymouth to 1914 – Thesis submitted for the External Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts of the University of London by Margaret Ivy Lattimore, April 1982
(4) – Brian Moseley, Plymouth –,%201817.htm
(5) – In a letter written by Annie F Prynne (nee Lockyer) to Isabel de Bohun Lockyer, dated 4 July 1926, she recalled a harp at Stowford belonging to Elizabeth Rivers (1750-1838), nee Jones, possibly a descendant of a Welsh royal harpist.
(5a) – Excerpt from letter written by Annie F Prynne to Isabel de Bohun Lockyer 4 July 1926
(6) – A Treatise on the Conflict of Laws of England and Scotland, Part 1 by John Hosack
(7) – ‘The Common Law Marriage Contract’ Ch 6 P344-45
Common Law Marriage: A Legal Institution for Cohabitation by Goran Lind
(8) – The Dundee Courier & Argus Northern Warder 29th March 1881
(9) – source temporarily unavailable
(10) – NSW Government Gazette 1857 p.1441
(11) – The Brisbane Courier Sat 28 Nov 1925
(12) The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign …, Volume 24
(13) An excerpt from Narrative of the wreck of the lady Munro, on the desolate island of Amsterdam, October, 1833 by J M’Cosh, W Bennet, Free Press Office, Glasgow 1835
(14) – Perth Gazette 30 November 1833
(15) – Yorkshire Gazette 26 December 1846
(16) Lockyer Family Papers 1498-1918, Nicholas Colston Lockyer, compiler, (Mitchell Library MSS 2513, digitised), pp 177/178.
(17) –,_Mandurama
(18) – 1906 ‘DEATH OF AN OLD PIONEER.’, The Tumut and Adelong Times (NSW : 1864 – 1867; 1899 – 1950), 16 March, p. 2. , viewed 30 Dec 2018
(19) – Australian Town and Country Journal 9 Apr 1898
(20) – THE CONNAUGHT JOURNAL Galway, Monday, August 9, 1824
(21) – Obituary – The Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser Wed 26 Aug 1908 p 538
(22) – Dungog Chronicle and Durham and Gloucester Advertiser 1 Sep 1911
(23) – ‘Lockyer, Sir Nicholas Colston (1855–1933)’ by D I McDonald. This article was first published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986
(24) – Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986
(25) – Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986
(26) – Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society vol 32, pt 4, 1946, page 269
(27) – source temporarily unavailable
(28) – Lockyer to Troubridge, Sept. 8th, 1849 ; Hay, ‘ Suppression of Piracy.’
THE ROYAL NAVY, A History from the Earliest Times to the Present by Wm. Laird Clowes in Seven Volumes. Vol. VI. London. Sampson Low, Marston and Company 1901
(29) – Cdr. W.N.L. Lockyer, Captain of HMS “Medea” to Capt. J.W. Morgan, Senior Naval Officer, China, March 5, 1850. FO 17/166 [110]
(30) – Sū to Bonham, March 14, 1850. FO 17/166
(31) – Bonham to Sū, March 15, 1850. FO 17/166; Fox, British Admirals and Chinese Pirates, 1832-1869, 110–111.
(32) – Victorian Public Records Office (VPRS 1189 PO Unit 580 A53/4698) courtesy of Pat Majewski.
(33) – ‘Our First Warship’ by A.W. Greig The Argus Saturday 3 May 1919 p6
(34) – The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volumes 183-184 p423
(35) – ‘Our First Warship’ by A.W. Greig The Argus Saturday 3 May 1919 p6
(36) – Central Criminal Court. Minutes of Evidence, Volume 7, by Henry Buckler, p115
by Great Britain. Central Criminal Court
(37) –
(38) –
(39) – Justice of the Peace and Local Government Review, Volume 13, 1849 p788

Edmund Beatty Lockyer (1813-1891)
Reports of Cases Decided in the Supreme Courts of Scotland and in the House of Lords on Appeal from Scotland Volume 18 1846
Listing compiled from articles in the Exeter Flying Post. Provided by Lindsey Withers Wednesday, December 4, 1861 – Edmund Beatty Lockyer – Plymouth, Devonshire
Falkirk Herald Stirlingshire, Scotland 6 Mar 1869
Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser Moray, Scotland 5 Mar 1869
The Dundee Courier & Argus Northern Warder 29th March 1881

Lt. William Edmund Lockyer (1808-1886)
A List of the Officers of the Army and of the Corps of Royal Marines
by Great Britain. War Office 1827
A List of the Officers of the Army and of the Corps of Royal Marines
by Great Britain. War Office 1832

Lt Edmund Morris Lockyer (1809-1872)
A List of the Officers of the Army and Royal Marines on Full, Retired, and Half-pay.
Great Britain. War Office. F. Pinkley, 1840
NSW Government Gazette 21 Jul 1857, p.1441
Brisbane Courier 28 Nov 1925

Ann Morris Lockyer (1810-1833)
NSW Archive film of Reports of Vessels Arrived, 1833 – ‘Loss of the Ship Lady Munro’
Sydney Herald, Thursday 26 December 1833, page 4 –
Perth Gazette 30 November 1833 –
Narrative of the wreck of the lady Munro, on the desolate island of Amsterdam, October, 1833 by J M’Cosh, W Bennet, Free Press Office, Glasgow 1835

Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer (1855–1933)
‘Lockyer, Sir Nicholas Colston (1855–1933)’ by D I McDonald. This article was first published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986
Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Monday 28 August 1933, page 6

Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904)
The Argus, 20 November 1852 
The Argus, 27 July 1853
The Argus, 28 November 1854 
National Archives of the United Kingdom

Edward Lawes (1817-1852)
The Act for Promoting the Public Health; 1849 & 1850 / by Edward Lawes : 1848-1851 / by Cuthbert W. Johnson Hardcover – 1 Jan. 1881 by Edward (1817-1852) Lawes (Author)
Justice of the Peace and Local Government Review, Volume 13, 1849 p788
The Jurist, London, 3 March, I860.

Vitruvius Lawes (1821-1890)

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The Age of Sail – Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ first cousins – Seppings side

Plymouth Dock seen from Mount Edgecomb, Devonshire, 1816, by J M W Turner (Tate Gallery)

Lt Edmund Henry Seppings had four aunts on the Seppings side – Lydia, Mary, Helen and Elizabeth, and one uncle, Sir Robert Seppings. His aunts married into the Laws, Gill, Pleasance, and Cornish families. His cousins in this post are Edward, Robert and John Laws, Robert Gill, John Milligen Seppings and the husband of cousin Martha Milligen Seppings – Major James Hull Harrison. Other female cousins were Mary Milligen Seppings who married Dr Robert Armstrong, an Inspector of Hospitals; Louisa Seppings married Edward Lock, a banker, of Oxford, and later Rev William Du Satoy M.A.; and Helen Seppings married Daniel Godfrey, a solicitor of Abingdom, and later Capt George Cecil Thorne.

Cousins Edward, Robert and John Laws joined the Royal Navy, with Edward living in Kingston, Ontario, and Quebec, Canada, and Robert in Plymouth, both as Naval Storekeepers. John began his career serving under Capt Nicholas Lockyer (Edmund Henry Seppings’ uncle) in the British Channel, then to North America and the West Indies, and as far away as South America, the East Indies, Australia and New Zealand, eventually becoming a Rear Admiral.
For this generation of males in the Seppings family, British military presence was extending to the colonies in the antipodes, while ‘at home’, the advent of modern railroads meant the ability for more people to travel to find work in England, more transportation of food crops, raw materials and manufactured goods; more employment to build, run and maintain the railways; and the connecting of the manufacturing districts and the sea ports. Cousin Robert Gill, a railway engineer and pioneer, together with his friend and colleague George Stephenson, built the Manchester and Liverpool railway line, the first to set the style for railway networks around the world. Cousin Capt John Laws RN, like Robert Gill, took up directorships and managerial positions of several railways networks.
Major James Hull Harrison, while related through marriage, not blood, was a high-ranking navy officer in the Seppings family, serving on board HMS Victory as a lieutenant 1808-12, and completing his career in the Royal Marines. John Milligen Seppings, Sir Robert Seppings eldest son, spent his working life in India as an Inspector of Shipping in Bengal, Surveyor H C Marine, Civil Service HEICS, and Superintendent of the Dockland, Calcutta.

Lydia Seppings (1762-), the first (surviving) child of Robert and Lydia Seppings, was sent in 1780 with her youngest brother John Milligen Seppings (Edmund Henry Seppings’ father) to live with their uncle, Capt John Milligen, in Plymouth. Lydia’s first marriage was to William Sampson of Rudham, near Fakenham where she was born. They had one daughter, Ann. In 1790 Lydia married Green Laws Esq, of Waltington, in Foulsham, Norfolk, and had six children: three daughters – Elizabeth (1794-1878), Mary (1798-) and Pleasance, and three (surviving) sons – Edward (1791-1854), Robert (1798-1889) and John (1799-1859), joined the Royal Navy.

Mary Seppings (1763-1799) married Samuel Garrett in 1782 and had one son. A second marriage, to William Brooke Gill (1765-1839), produced four sons – John (d. 1864), William, Robert (1796-1871) and Thomas (d. 1870).

Helen Seppings (1765-) married MD John Pleasance (1759-1793) in 1786 and had two daughters – Susan Elizabeth (d.1874), and Mary. Susan married a tea merchant of London, Joseph Dockerill and had six children. Mary married the schoolmaster at Kings Lynn, William Beloe, and had three children. Their eldest son, Robert Seppings Beloe (1822-1896), became a rector, and his son, Robert Douglas Beloe (1868-) and grandson John Douglas Beloe (1907-1978) followed as reverends. Their second son, Henry Beloe, an artist and photographer, also had a grandson who was ordained, Rev John Seppings Beloe.

Sir Robert Seppings (1767-1840) married Charlotte Milligen (1770-1834), his first cousin, in 1795. They had four sons, but two died in infancy. John Milligen Seppings (1798-1863) survived, as did Andrew Sanders Seppings (1806-1849), but he died an invalid, unmarried. Of their six daughters, Martha Milligen Seppings (1796-1840),  Mary Milligen Seppings (1799-), Louisa Seppings (1810-1891) and Helen Seppings (1812-) survived.

Elizabeth Seppings (b. 1774) married Robinson Cornish in 1798 and had two sons, Thomas and William.

Lydia Seppings (1762-) m Green Laws (1768-)

  • Edward Laws (1791-1854) Royal Navy Storekeeper
  • Elizabeth Laws (1794-1878)
  • Mary Laws (1798-)
  • Robert Laws (1798-1889) Royal Navy Office Clerk (Storekeeper)
  • Rear Admiral John Milligen Laws (1799-1859) Royal Navy
  • Pleasance Laws

Naval Dockyard, Point Frederick, Kingston, Ontario. Commodore’s house on right. 1815.

Edward Laws (1791-1854), born in Foulsham, Norlfolk, was the Naval Storekeeper at Kingston, Ontario, and Quebec, Canada from 1813-21. Being the Storekeeper, Edward was in charge of receiving, maintaining and issuing supplies in storage and was responsible for all money-related items, not only for the stores, but also salaries and wages, contracts in the dockyard, advertising procurement tenders for a variety of materials, services, and construction of buildings at Point Frederick, Kingston.
Edward Laws was storekeeper at the Kingston Royal Navy Dockyard during and after the War of 1812. A stone building, built circa 1813 and used as a hospital, is now known as the ordnance storekeeper’s quarters. In 1815, Edward was instructed by Commodore Owen to extend the hospital and refit any usable huts and remove those not needed. The skilled workers contracted for the job were required to build their own shelters from ‘offal wood of the Yard’, on the peninsula, after their working hours. Edward described the shanties in his 1820 storekeeper’s survey, as ‘in a most wretched condition’, unsafe and unhealthy due to their close proximity to the swamp. (1)
After the Rush-Bagot Treaty of 1817, the many British naval forts on the lakes along the international boundary, were largely demilitarized. The Kingston Dockyard remained open, but there was no new warship construction.
In 1819, Edward Laws was listed by the Admiralty as a Commissioner of the Navy and Naval Storekeeper in Quebec. The modern citadel was built from 1820 to defend the port and secure Quebec City against a potential American attack.

Old Naval Storehouse, Admiralty Way, Pembroke Dock (2015).

On 8 June 1821, Edward Laws became Naval Storekeeper at Pembroke Dockyard in South West Wales.
There was a marriage settlement between Edward Laws and Elizabeth Griffiths of Rochdale, Lancashire, in 1848.
in 1858, he received notification by the Military Secretary that he had passed a satisfactory examination at Burlington House, London.

Robert Laws (1798-1889) was a Navy Office Clerk (Storekeeper) at Plymouth Dockyard, also at Royal Dockyard, Sheerness, at the mouth of the River Medway in Kent, and he was appointed Captain of the Devonport Brigade of the Royal Dockyard Corps in 1848.

British fleet in harbour of Port Cornwallis, Island of Great Andaman, with HMS Sophie on right.

Rear Admiral John Milligen Laws (1799-1859), born in Watlington, Norfolk, entered the Royal Navy on 19 December 1809 as a ten-year-old First-class Volunteer on board HMS Sophie 18 and served under Capt Nicholas Lockyer (Edmund Henry Seppings’ uncle) for nearly two years in the Channel.
In October 1812, John Milligen Laws became midshipman on HMS Ramillies, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line serving under Capt Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy and sailed to North America at the outbreak of the War of 1812. Hardy had served as flag captain to Admiral Lord Nelson, and commanded HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson was pacing the decks with Hardy when he was fatally shot, and as he lay dying, Nelson’s famous remark of ‘Kiss me, Hardy’ was directed at the flag captain.
Hardy led the fleet in Ramillies that escorted and transported the army which captured significant portions of eastern coastal Maine. On 4 December they recaptured the whale Policy from the US Navy and took it to Halifax, Nova Scotia. During 1813 they captured many American brigs, schooners, sloops and ships for prize money. On 9 August 1814 they demanded Stonington, Connecticut, surrender, and for three days they bombarded the town, using Chinese stinkpots as weaponry, but were defeated and sailed off on 12 August after losing many on board. On 12 September they attempted a battle at North Point, Maryland, and suffered two fatalities. In August 1815, Ramillies was under the command of Captain Charles Ogle in the Channel squadron participating in many prize captures.
After serving briefly on HMS Iphigenia 36 at Chatham in October 1815, John joined HMS Antelope 50, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral John Harvey in the West Indies. In 1818, he returned to England as Acting-Lieutenant of HMS Scamander 36 and he was made a lieutenant on 11 November.
From 14 October 1819, John accompanied Capt William Furlong Wise on the frigate HMS Spartan 46 to the West Indies and South America, and in 1821 served on board HMS Pyramus 42, Valorous 26, and Aurora 46. In 1823, he joined Admiral Sir Harry Neale off Algiers on the Falmouth mortar-vessel sloop and, on HMS Wellesley 74, under Capt Graham Eden Hamond, accompanied Lord Stuart de Rothesay on a mission to Portugal and Brazil to negotiate a commercial treaty with Pedro I. The artist Charles Landseer travelled with them.

HMS Satellite in heavy gale, 1838.

John Milligen Laws attained the rank of Commander on 1 July 1825 and on 22 November 1826 was employed on HMS Satellite an 18-gun sloop designed by his uncle Sir Robert Seppings, for experimental duties in the Channel, and then on to the East Indies, Australia, New Zealand, and back to Bay of Bengal. In the Naval Biographical Dictionary, Vol 1, 1849, Capt Laws is said to have ‘afforded relief to some settlers in New Holland who had been hemmed in by the natives, and discharging for fourteen months the duties of Senior officer at Sydney. He also effected the capture of a band of convicts who had turned pirates, and, besides making a survey of the Friendly and Society Islands and New Zealand (in 1829), demonstrated the necessity of frequent visits to those parts.’
In January 1831, after he had extensively examined the east coast of the Bay of Bengal, Capt Laws commanded HMS Cruizer 18, and went to Pondicherry for the purpose of acknowledging the government of Louis Philippe who had become the last King of France.
On 17 April, Capt Laws became Commander (acting Captain) of HMS Southampton 52, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Sir Edward W. C. R. Owen, of the East India station, with whom he returned to England on 12 October 1832. He then joined the fleet under the command Sir Pulteney Malcolm on the coast of Holland during the Dutch Blockade and Seige of Antwerp which ended on 23 December. Malcolm’s fleet included HMS Stag 46, under Captain Nicholas Lockyer’s command.
On 7 January 1833, Capt Laws was confirmed as Captain of HMS Royal William and the Naval Biographical Dictionary, Vol 1, 1849, writes that he ‘has not been since employed.’ He was the Senior Officer of his rank on the List of 1833.


Two of John Milligen Laws’ homes – Darley Hall, Greater Manchester, set in grounds of 300 acres, and No 4 Rock Terrace, Tenby, Pembrokeshire.

At the age of 37, John married Mary Mathias, the only daughter of Charles Mathias, Esq, of Lamphey Court, Pembrokeshire, at St.Mary’s church, Lamphey, on 20 June 1836. They had three sons – Edward (1837-1913) born in Wales, John Milligen Laws (1842-1928) born at Crumpsall Hall, and Mathias Robert Seppings Laws (1847/8). Mary Laws was born in Wales on 5 March 1840 but died four days later. Another daughter was born in 1844, in Shepherds Bush, and died in Wales, at Tenby Norton Cottage on 6 Jun 1882, age 38. Edward joined the 35th Foot Royal Sussex Regiment, commissioned on 13 July 1858. He was a notable public figure in Pembrokeshire for half a century, as a member of the town Council (1897) and mayor of the borough (1900), a Justice of the Peace, and chairman of the Tenby bench. In 1899 he was high sheriff and was the Secretary of Tenby Museum. He devoted his time to the study of the history and archaeology of Pembrokeshire and wrote several books, including the county history, Little England beyond Wales, (1880) and produced an ‘Archaeological Survey of Pembrokeshire,’ 1908. His son, Edward Lucien Laws (1876-1916), died as an army officer in Mombassa, East Africa. John Milligen Laws (1842-1928) became a ‘lunatic’ in the 1880s and was cared for at St Holloway Sanatorium, Ann’s Heath, Peckham. Mathias Robert Seppings Laws was in the 62nd Foot Regiment and became a lieutenant on 26 February 1869.
In 1839, Captain Laws began a new career with the Railways. Most likely due to his connection with his cousin Robert Gill’s work (see below), he held the position of General Superintendent and Director of the Manchester & Leeds Railway Company (1839-46), and railways in Lincolnshire, and was appointed Managing Director of the London & York Company (1846-53). He also served on the Provisional Committee of the Welsh Midland Railway, and was involved with the Sheffield and Gainsborough Line.
John Milligen Laws and his wife Mary lived in several remarkable buildings. Records show them living at Crumpsall Hall, Lancashire, 1842-1846. 20 Sussex Square, Hyde Park, Middlesex, was another address, as was the early-19th-century Darley Hall, Greater Manchester, near Bolton-le-Moors, set within extensive grounds of about 300 acres with a kitchen garden. Also, the large Grade II Georgian listed building No 4 Rock Terrace in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, set back from the street with rear facade overlooking Iron Bar Sands and sea views. They owned and leased additional properties including the farms of Holloway and Frankleston; Gloyne Estate, Lampeter Velfrey, and land in Penally, Tenby and Crinow – on which the Pembroke and Tenby Railway was to be constructed.
John Milligen Laws was ranked Rear Admiral on 21 July 1856 and received a coat-of-arms & seal. He died at Marchfield House in Binfield, Berkshire, on 3 March 1859, age 60. Mary died in Oswald House, the Esplanade, Tenby, in 1889.

Mary Seppings (1763-1799) m William Brooke Gill (1765-1839)

  • John Gill (1793-1864)
  • William Gill (1794-1853)
  • Robert Gill (1796-1871) Engineer, Railway pioneer, property speculator, a Director of the Crystal Palace.
  • Thomas Gill (1797-1870)

Robert Gill, aged approximately 35.

Robert Gill (1796-1871) resided with his uncle Sir Robert Seppings and family at Somerset House, London, after his mother died at the age of 35 in 1799. He was known as Sir Robert’s favourite nephew and became his close confidante. Robert completed his studies as an engineer while living there and together with his friend and colleague George Stephenson built the Manchester and Liverpool railway line, the world’s first modern railroad with inter-city freight and passenger trains, ‘scheduled’ services and terminal stations, opening in 1830. He dug the first turf for the Manchester and Leeds line in 1837 which opened in 1842. Robert became General Manager of the Manchester & Leeds Railway Company, Leeds and West Riding, and Newot and Sheffield Railways, and of the Wakefield, Lincoln and Bolton Railways Companys. An ‘enthusiastic supporter of innovation and modernity’, he spent time on site and in parliament. (2)
In 1842, Robert developed the Palatine Hotel and Buildings in anticipation of the demand for hotel accommodation that would follow the projected extension of the Manchester and Leeds Railway line from Collyhurst to Hunt’s Bank.
Robert Gill’s first wife, Frederice Entwistle of the banking family of Rusholme Hall, Norfolk, whom he married at Didsbury, Manchester in 1838, died in 1843. On 29 December 1846, Robert Gill, Esq, married Fanny Susannah Need (1820-1911) at Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire. She was the second daughter of the late Colonel Thomas Need of Sherwood Hall who made his wealth from timber milling in Canada and founded the town of Bobcaygeon, Ontario. They had four daughters: Frederica Fanny (1848-1924), Mary (1850-1930), Madeline Lucy (1853-70), Eleanor Maud (1856-1930), and one son, Rev Robert John Seppings Gill (1859-1948).
According to the 1851 census, Robert was chairman of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, a title adopted by the Manchester & Leeds Railway in 1847, the largest railway company in England. He was living with his wife, Fanny, and their two children and seven servants, Fanny’s widowed mother Mary, and her brother Walter Need, a commander in the Royal Navy, at the Manor House at Mansfield Woodhouse. The Need family had occupied the Manor House for most of the 19th century. A Grade II listed building ‘of sprawling proportions and stands in lawned gardens on Priory Road,’ the Manor House was considered one of the largest and grandest houses in Mansfield Woodhouse.

The Crystal Palace at Sydenham

Robert was a smart businessman, amassing a great deal of money, and as one of a consortium of eight businessmen bought the Crystal Palace after the closure of the Great Exhibition in 1851. He was involved in its re-erection at Sydenham, which cost £1,300,000 (£133 million in 2019), and continued to be one of its directors for several years.

Manor House at Mansfield Woodhouse.  Apps Court, Elmbridge.

In 1855, the Gill Family moved into their new home, Apps Court, in Walton-on-Thames, Elmbridge, Surrey, a distinctly palatial, centuries-old mansion dating back to pre-Norman Conquest. Situated within 150 acres of grassy parkland, the house was rebuilt in 1824 and described at the time as ‘white brick with a noble stone portico supported on Ionic columns’. (3)
Robert died in 1871 at Apps Court, and in 1898, his widow, Fanny, sold the house and land to the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company, which demolished it and transformed the park into the two reservoirs.


Sir Robert Seppings (1767-1840) m Charlotte Milligen (1770-1834).

  • Martha Milligen Seppings (1796-1840) married Major James Hull Harrison (1783-1853) of the Royal Marines. They had 11 children including John Seppings Harrison (Solicitor); Robert Seppings Harrison (1821-1872), a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Marines; Henry Laws Harrison (1833-1863) a Lieutenant in the Royal Marines; and Horace Sibbald Harrison (1837-1922), an Army Captain.
  • John Milligen Seppings (1798-1863) Royal Navy married Marianne Matthews (1796-1853) in Bengal. Their three children were Capt Edward James Seppings (1826-1857) who died at Cawnpore, Charlotte Marianne Seppings (1828-), and Robert Seymour Seppings (-1881) an unmarried invalid, ending Sir Robert Seppings’ male line.
  • Mary Milligen Seppings (1799-) married Dr Robert Armstrong, a Naval Surgeon in Plymouth (1829) and London (1832), an author (1843), and Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets (1847).
  • Andrew Sanders Seppings (1806-1849) invalid.
  • Louisa Seppings  (1810-1891) married Edward Lock, banker, of Oxford (son of Sir William Lock of Oxford). They had two children – Helen Seppings Frances Lock (1836-1890) and Edward Seppings Lock (1837-1886), Colonel in the 82nd Regiment – Foot. Edward served in India’s North West Provinces to suppress the Mutiny of 1858 and was awarded a medal. Helen married Rev William Reyner Cosens, DD and had six sons and two daughters.
    Louisa married a second time to Rev William Du Sautoy M.A. (1805-1886) and they had a son, James Du Sautoy (1762-1858), an army captain and barrack master. The Du Sautoys are still a distinguished family in England and include Peter Du Sautoy of Faber & Faber publishers.
  • Helen Seppings (1812-) m Daniel Godfrey a solicitor of Abingdon. They had four daughters. Helen was married a second time to Capt George Cecil Thorne.

HMS Victory

Major James Hull Harrison (1783-1853) was born in Bombay, India. He served on board HMS Victory in the Baltic as a lieutenant 1808-12. He completed his career as a Major in the Royal Marines. When an investigation ensued, in India, he was a deputy-judge advocate. (4)
Major James Hull Harrison married Martha Milligen Seppings (1796-1840) in 1817. They had 11 children, the first, John Seppings Harrison, became a solicitor, the second, Robert Seppings Harrison (1821-1872), was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Marines, the 7th was Lt Henry Laws Harrison (1833-1863), also in the Royal Marines, and the 9th was Horace Sibbald Harrison (1837-1922) an army captain.
Major James Hull Harrison died in Plymouth, Devon.

Kidderpore Docks, Calcutta 1892

John Milligen Seppings Esq (1798-1863), Sir Robert Seppings’ eldest son, was born in Plymouth, Devon. He was an Inspector of Shipping, Bengal, Surveyor H C Marine, Civil Service HEICS, and Superintendent of the Dockland, Calcutta. He was an Inspector of Shipping under the East India Company at Calcutta for twenty years. He is listed in the UK Registers of Employees of the East India Company and the India Office as a ‘European Inhabitant’ in India in 1817 and a Marine Board Member of the Bengal Marine Establishment in 1823, as ‘First Surveyor’ Royal Navy.
Two of the first nine paddle-steamers employed in India, PS Irrawaddy (1826-37) and PS Ganges (1826-38) were built by James Kyd & Co, of teak with frames of saul and sissoo wood, at their yard at Kidderpore (Khidirpur), Calcutta. The work was done under the superintendence of J M Seppings, the East India Company’s Surveyor of Shipping in 1826. The drawings of the vessels were originally prepared by his father, Sir Robert Seppings, however it was found necessary to alter them for the climate, and the plans used for construction were designed by J M Seppings. The vessels were launched in early 1827 and used as Bengal government packets and communication boats, mostly in connection with the Tenasserim coast, or as tugs on the Hoogly River. The Ganges was sent to Bombay.

East India Company’s Steamer Irrawaddy and Ganges, and Hoogly plans. Signed by Mr J M Seppings 1830.

In 1828, PS Hoohly was built according to Mr J M Seppings’ plan, ‘with straight timbers in mid-ships, entirely of teak, at the yard of the Howrah Dock Company; cost for hull and fittings, without machinery, 64,600 Sicca Rupees; she is fastened upon Sir Robert Seppings’ new principle; copper bolted to the upper edge of the wales; and has proved herself a most efficient vessel, as regards strength and velocity.’ (5)
PS Forbes was another Steamer built by the new Howrah Dock Company and overseen by J M Seppings, named after Captain Forbes who helped to introduce steam ships into India. The engines were built in Britain by Boulton and Watt.
John Milligen Seppings married Marianne Matthews (1796-1853) in 1821, in Bengal. They had three children – Capt Edward James Seppings (1826-1857) who died at Cawnpore, Charlotte Marianne Seppings (1828-), and Robert Seymour Seppings (-1881) an unmarried invalid, ending Sir Robert Seppings’ male line.

Greenfield, home of John Milligen Seppings – 35 Thurlow Rd, Torquay, England.

When John Milligen Seppings died in 1863 he was living at Greenfield, in Tor Mohun (before the name changed to Torquay), now divided into three flats.

Part 4 of ‘The Age of Sail’ looks at Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ first cousins on the Lockyer side.

Illustration Credits 

Plymouth Dock seen from Mount Edgecomb, Devonshire, 1816, by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Purchased by Tate Gallery 1986.
Watercolor Depicts Naval Dockyard, Point Frederick, Kingston, Ontario. To the right is the commodore’s house. Two ships are under construction: the Canada and the Wolfe. (Original: Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston.) July 1815
Pembroke Dockyard Storehouse – Old Naval Storehouse, Admiralty Way, Pembroke Dock. Designed by Edward Poll and completed in 1822.
British fleet in harbour of Port Cornwallis, Island of Great Andaman, with HMS Sophie on right, by Lieutenant Joseph Moore – National Maritime Museum plate1-2/
HMS Satellite in heavy gale, 1838. Drawn by Chetwynd Plowden Wood. Engraved by Hollway.,_Feby_28th_1838._Lat_29._Long_64._Drawn_by_Chetwynd_Plowden_Wood,_Midshipman_on_board,_2nd_son_of_General._I._S._Wood_RMG_PU6136.tiff
POSTCARD – DARLEY Old Hall, Farnworth, Bolton, Lancashire
Robert Gill, painting by William Bradley. Elmbridge Museum
Crystal Palace, Sydenham – The Crystal Palace General view from Water Temple 1854
by Philip Henry Delamotte (1821–1889), Smithsonian Libraries
Manor House at Mansfield Woodhouse.
The Manor House
Apps Court, Elmbridge.
HMS Victory by Geoff unt;
Kidderpore Docks, Calcutta 1892
East India Company’s Steamer Irrawaddy and Ganges, and Hoogly plans. Signed by Mr J M Seppings 1830. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
The Honble East India Compys Steamers Irrawaddy and Ganges built at Messrs Kyds & Co Dock-yard (Kidderpore near Calcutta.) (Plan, 1830) (PAD6671)
Tassin, Jean Baptiste Athanase Government Litho Press lithograph
The Honble East India Company’s Steamer Hoogly built (opposite Calcutta) by the New Howrah Dock Company. (Plan, 1830)
Tassin, Jean Baptiste Athanase Government Litho Press Calcutta, Hoogly (1828)
Greenfield, home of John Milligen Seppings – 35 Thurlow Rd, Torquay, England.,+Torquay+TQ1+3EQ,+UK/

Research Resources

(1) Laws, Edward 1820 Survey of His Majesty’s Buildings at the Naval Establishment at Kingston. Microfilm, LAC MG 12, ADM 106 vol. 1999, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
(4) The History of the Indian Revolt and of the Expeditions to PersiaChina, and Japan, 1856-7-8. Front Cover. George Dodd. W. and R. Chambers, 1859
(5) A Collection of Papers: Relative to Ship Building in India: with Descriptions of the Various Indian Woods Employed Therein, their Qualities, Uses, and Value; also, a Register, Comprehending all the Ships and Vessels built in India to the present time; with Many Other Particulars Respecting Indian Shipping, and the External Commerce of Bengal by John Phipps, published by Scott and Co (1840)
Our Family History Faith Packard (1989)

Edward Laws (1791-)
Laws, Edward 1820 Survey of His Majesty’s Buildings at the Naval Establishment at Kingston. Microfilm, LAC MG 12, ADM 106 vol. 1999, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
(Nation 1992)
(Brock 1968: 10; Mecredy 1982: 53)
Naval Biographical Dictionary, Vol 1, 1849 (Google Books)
The Royal kalendar and court and city register for England, Scotland
The Navy List By Great Britain. Admiralty (Google Books)
E Laws (report mentioned –

Rear Admiral John Milligen Laws (1799-1859)
A Naval Biographical Dictionary – Volume 1, p151 By William R. O’Byrne (Google Books)
A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of every living officer in Her Majesty’s navy, from the rank of admiral of the fleet to that of lieutenant, inclusive. Compiled from authentic and family documents. Volume 1. By William R. O’Byrne 1849 (Google Books)
NAVY LIST, The 20th JUNE, 1850.
Alphabetical List of the Officers of the Royal Nayy and Royal Marines, with the Dates of their Seniority (Google Books),_John_Milligen
A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of every living officer in Her Majesty’s navy, from the rank of admiral of the fleet to that of lieutenant, inclusive. Compiled from authentic and family documents. Volume 1. By William R. O’Byrne 1849 (Google Books)
British Warships in the Age of Sail 1817-1863DesignConstructionCareers & Fates
By Rif Winfield (Google Books)
Allan Russell – The Sun 13 September 1845, The Leeds Intelligencer 9 April 1845, and –
Manchester Guardian, 30 August 1845; The Builder, 17 January 1846; Herapath, 1 August 1846; Herapath, 17 February 1849; Manchester Examiner, 2 April 1853; Manchester Examiner, 6 April 1853; Railway Times, 9 April 1853; Railway Times, 9 April 1853; Herapath, 30 April 1853; Manchester Examiner, Railway Times & Herapath, 10 September 1853 –

Robert Gill (1796-1871)
The Manor House apps-court

Major James Hull Harrison (1783-1853),_Harry_Burrard_(DNB00)
Dictionary of Battles and Sieges by Tony Jaques (Google Books)
The Navy List, Great Britain. Admirality (Google Books)
Historical Record of the Royal Marine Forces, Vol 1, Paul Harris Nicholas (Google Books)
P 159 The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China and Australasia, Volume 1
Royal Kalender, and Court and City Register, for England, Scotland, Ireland and the Colonies. 1842
P 199 Promotions, Preferments in The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 7 1837, Royal Marines

John Milligen Seppings Esq (1798-1863)
The India Office and Burma Office List 1823 (Google Books)
UK Registers of Employees of the East India Company and the India Office–61-
Plymouth Dockyard (1690) Pre-eminent, alongside Portsmouth, during the wars with France (1793 onwards). Known as Devonport since 1843.
The Steamers employed in Asian Waters, 1819-39 by A. Gibson-Hill
Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
Vol. 27, No. 1 (165) (May, 1954), pp. 120-162
The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and Its Dependencies, Volume 24, Black, Parbury, & Allen, 1827

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The Age of Sail – Lt Edmund Henry Seppings and his siblings

The rise and fall of the British Empire_Manuel Web Belin_1886
Pax Britannica – British Empire 1886

The Age of Sail was a different experience for Lt Edmund Henry Seppings (1807-1858) and the men of his generation compared to that of his father and uncles’. Edmund Henry was born two years after the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) – the decisive battle against the French and Spanish fleets during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) – from which time forward the Royal Navy maintained British maritime supremacy. British blockades kept French ships in ports and prevented them from assembling fleets. The navy had the power to cut off supplies transported by sail and could easily threaten ocean trading routes. The French never again challenged the Royal Navy and major European powers weren’t strong enough to oppose its dominance on the seas. The 1800s saw significant changes, notably the last major action between sailing ships in 1827 at the Battle of Navarino during the Greek War of Independence. Pax Britannica, an era of peace enforced by the Royal Navy, lasted until 1914.

Following the American War of 1812, Britain retained Canada but lost bases on most of the North American eastern seaboard. The Treaty of 1818 saw lasting peace established between Britain and America. The Royal Navy had control of the North Sea, English Channel and influence over trade from the Baltic. They operated in the Western Approaches, Irish Sea, Bay of Biscay, the western Mediterranean, and the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal. The West Indies fleets, covering the eastern Caribbean and the western Atlantic, were based in Jamaica and the Leeward Islands. In 1819, Bermuda became the permanent naval headquarters for the North America and West Indies Station. The Jamaica Station closed in 1830.

Ships at Port Royal, 1820. Lt Edmund Henry Seppings served at Jamaica from March 1829 to April 1830.

The system of Prize Money continued to benefit Royal Navy crew members who received a financial share of the capture of enemy merchant vessels and their cargoes, pirate ships and slave ships. The prohibition of transporting slaves in British ships to British colonies, however, would affect this lucrative scheme. Prior to the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (1807), Britain dominated the trade with more than 150 slave ships leaving its shores each year. (1) The Royal Navy escorted slave ships down the West African coast and kept its own enslaved Africans in its Jamaican and Antiguan dockyards. In the early 1800s, the British government was the largest purchaser of slaves in the Caribbean, many of whom replaced white sailors lost to malaria and yellow fever, and a dependence on rum.

The British economy flourished in the West Indies with its slave-based coffee and sugar production which helped sustain Britain during war. Enforcing the legislation did not happen in a hurry. For the next 60 years the Royal Navy maintained a Blockade of West Africa to stop the illegal trade which required constant naval patrolling. The abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833 made more of a dent to the sordid business, however, indentured servants and farm workers (many from Ireland) were then placed in similarly harsh and exploitative conditions.

Enslaved Africans harvesting sugar cane in Antigua, 1786
Medal commemorating the abolition of the slave trade 1807 (bronze)

It is worth mentioning that sailors in the Royal Navy were commonly intoxicated. A sailor’s daily half pint of rum allowance was mixed with a quart of water (over 1 litre), the ration given twice daily, between 10 am and noon and 4 and 6 pm. (2) Lemon or lime juice was added to prevent scurvy. Rumbullian was procured from molasses by British sugarcane planters and distillers on several Caribbean islands. In 1823, rations were cut in half and in 1850 in half again. Rum was also prescribed to treat various ailments, such as scorpion and spider bites, and was used as currency. It frequently led to intoxicated injuries, fights, alcohol poisoning, and death.

Copper Rum Measure (22 cm tall)                    Serving-grog on HMS Jubille

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy had up to 773 warships, including 176 ships of the line, and required 140,000 highly experienced sailors who would spend months at a time on ships all around the world. With no wars and no slavery, unemployment became a major issue. In 1810, the British fleet was reduced to 398 ships and to 248 by 1820. Only 15 percent of the navy’s 3730 commissioned lieutenants kept their jobs. (3) To be securely hired in the Admiralty during the 1820s and 30s, a young man would have to be very well connected or was selected in recognition of his war records. With less men required, the prospects of a naval career diminished for many thousands and even fewer had chances of ever achieving a commissioned rank.

There were other jobs, such as Naval storekeepers in charge of stores at stations and victualling yards and distribution of the stores to vessels. Naval stores were the most important resource to Britain in the Age of Sail. Clerks supported the senior officers of a yard and usually civilians were employed in the navy department, but sometimes naval officers served as temporary storekeepers in foreign ports.

A First Rate Taking in Stores, 1818 by J M W Turner

During the Age of Sail, the supply of wood from England became exhausted. Britain searched the globe to meet its desperate need for wood, turning to the Baltic for its masts and large timbers as well as to Canada, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, and India, the latter which provided the most successful source of timber for naval shipbuilding, primarily teak. The British East India Company was already building teak warships in the Bombay dockyard and the Royal Navy took over in 1811 further utilising the tough and durable wood.

The navy also turned its focus on making use of England’s coal and iron ore resources, and ships began to be built from iron and steel as substitutes for wood. Using copper on the bottom of ships reduced the amount of timber required for repairs. By the end of the 1840s, steam power was introduced as an auxiliary propulsion.

Britain had expanded its powers around the world and kept more vessels on foreign naval stations than any other nation. Since 1788, Australia was being used as a British penal colony and this continued through the first half of the 19th century, though the Royal Navy did not maintain a permanent force until 1821. Britain, at the height of the industrial revolution, was mainly focused on gaining total control of India – the grandest jewel in the imperial crown – as its trade with India, particularly in cotton, was the reason for the empire’s financial success.

East India Company grandee

Officer cadet training for the East India Company’s armies in Bengal, Madras and Bombay commenced in England at the Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Surrey. Cadets, like brothers Alworth Merewether Seppings and William Lawless Seppings, had to collect recommendations and testimonials and were then nominated by a member of the Board of Control. Starting from the age of 14 to 18 years, cadets received general and technical education, including Latin. After a six month probation to test the required abilities and disposition, studies continued for two years. High class capabilities meant an appointment in the engineers, followed by the artillery. The lowest in competencies joined the infantry. To become a captain, besides efficient skills, an officer needed knowledge of spoken and written Hindustani and written Persian. Once in India, the cadet might be placed in civil duty, or be made an adjutant, auditor, quartermaster, surveyor, paymaster, judge-advocate, commissary-general, brigade-major, aid-de-camp, barrack-master, clothing agent, or head of the police in an area recently evacuated by the military. Many of these offices were very lucrative with salaries up to 4,000. (4)

In 1837 there were 28,000 British troops in India; in 1850 the number was 44,000, comprising 28,000 Queen’s troops, and 16,000 belonging to the East India Company. (5) There were about 5000 British officers governing the entire Indian army of native and British regiments, but many were absent or on leave, or on staff appointments, and so there was insufficient control of regiments and civil duties, and much insubordination. The more Indian territory the Company tried to acquire, the more the locals grew upset. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was the largest anti-colonial uprising in the world in the nineteenth century, involving more than 125,000 soldiers of the Bengal Army. (6) It was a rebellion against the British East India Company, but the power and the armies simply shifted to Queen Victoria, who became Empress of India, and the Government of India (The Raj), and the India Office in London, until independence in 1947.

East India House by Thomas Malton the Younger

The British Empire continued to grow with the possession of Burma, as a Province of British India from 1824 to independence in 1948, New Zealand in 1840, and the rule of Hong Kong after the first Opium War in 1842. The Royal Navy showed its naval supremacy again during the Crimean War in the 1850s with a fleet totalling 613 war vessels, employing 356 captains, 1,700 lieutenants and 84,000 sailors. (7) Some of the biggest changes in the century were that war would, from then on, be communicated through telegraphs and captured in photographs. And Florence Nightingale’s nursing reforms would mean soldiers would no longer die of disease more than from battle wounds.

Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ family in the Age of Sail –

Lt John Milligen Seppings (1770-1826) married Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer (1782-1859) in Plymouth, Devon, in 1804. They had 11 children. Edmund Henry was their third child and was raised by his grandmother, Ann Lockyer, at Wembury House, Wembury, Devon, with his cousin William Lockyer, (Major Edmund Lockyer’s first born). The 7th child, Clara Louisa Seppings (b. 1814), died a month before her third birthday. The first nine children were all born at Lime Kiln Lane, Greenwich, Kent, and christened at St Alphages Church of England,; the youngest two were born at Culver House, New Exeter Street (formerly Culver Street), Chudleigh, Devon, and christened at St Martin & St Mary, Chudleigh. Their five sons all joined the military; three served in the Royal Navy and two in the British Indian Army.

Lt John Milligen Seppings (1805-1863) – Royal Navy
Anne Maria Swainson Seppings (1806-1863)
Lt Edmund Henry Seppings (1807-1858) – Royal Navy
Nicholas Lockyer Seppings (1810-1887) – Royal Navy
Lt Alworth Merewether Seppings (1811-1841) – British Indian Army (Bengal Artillery)
Lt William Lawless Seppings (1812-1845) – British Indian Army (Madras Native Infantry)
Clara Louisa Seppings (1814-1817)
Eliza Jane Bicknell Seppings (1815-1854)
Emily Elizabeth Seppings (1819-1835)
Augusta Mary Seppings (1820-1910)
Charlotte Ellis Seppings (1822-1880)

Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ sisters

Anne Maria Swainson Seppings (1806-1863) married Rev Joseph Cuming (1796-1879) at her home, Culver House, Chudliegh, Devon, in 1827. He was the Master of Pinsents Free Grammar School, Fore Street, Chudliegh, and curate to Rev. Gilbert Burrington. After her father’s death in 1826, Anne’s mother moved into the Grammar School house with them. In 1843 Anne and Joseph moved to London where he took up the headship of a grammar school there. Anne’s mother and her two youngest sisters, Augusta and Charlotte moved to Exeter. Anne and Joseph had six children, all born in Chudleigh – Ellen (1829-1831), John (b. 1831), Henry (b. 1832), Robert (b. 1833), Emily (b. 1837) and William (b. 1841). At the time of Joseph’s death, they were living in Kensington, London. Anne married again to Rev Henry Sam Syers, Rector of Barnack and Canon of Peterborough Cathedral. She died in Wandsworth, London.

Eliza Jane Bicknell Seppings (1815-1854) married Landed Proprietor Thomas Yarde (1796-1870) in 1843, Chudleigh, Devon. They had three sons – Rev Thomas John Yarde (1844-1908); Lt Hugh Henry Yarde (1846-1870) who died at sea on board SS Tangore; and Gilbert Francis Yarde (1848-1849); and one daughter, all born in Chudleigh. The Yarde family bought Culver House in 1851 and occupied it until 1909. Eliza and Thomas both died there.

Augusta Mary Seppings (1820-1910) married Rev Edward Puttock (1824-1877) in 1855, Exeter, Devon. They had five sons – Edward Henry Puttock (1857-1897), James Seppings Puttock (b. 1859), Frederick Lockyer Puttock (b. 1860 – drowned), John Milligen Puttock (b. 1863) and Ernest Alexander Puttock (b. 1864).

Charlotte Ellis Seppings (1822-1880) married George Nutcombe Oxenham (1799-1873), barrister-at-law and son of Rev William Oxenham (Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral and Vicar, Clerk of Cornwood), in 1858, Exeter, Devon. Charlotte was George’s third wife, he had previously married Caroline Hill Hunt in 1830, then Mary Emma Hunt in 1852. Charlotte had been living with her mother, Ann, who died in the home of Charlotte and George at 6 Summerland Place, Exeter, in 1859. They had one daughter, Charlotte, who died on the same day as her father – 15 Dec 1873, at their home in 17 Earls Terrace, Kensington, London. Charlotte died seven years later and was buried with husband George and one of his previous wives in Earl’s Court, London.

Blundell’s School, Tiverton, Devon, 1857, where John Milligen Seppings was educated.

Lt John Milligen Seppings (1805-1863), the first born to Lt John Milligen Seppings and Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer, was named after his father. Their are few records of him, aside from his birth in Greenwich, his first marriage to Sarah Cogswell (b. 1809) in 1846, in Bmenfully, Madras, India, then to Margaret Daly (b. 1830), and his death in 1879, Mysore, India. He was registered as a student of the Blundell’s School in Devon from 15 August 1814 to 16 December 1816, where the syllabus was Latin and Greek.
John and Margaret’s first child was a daughter Mary Margaret Seppings (b. 1856). They named their first born son the same – John Milligen Seppings (b. 1863). They also had a son named Edmund Henry Seppings (1864-1934) who became an Inspector of Hospitals, Burma branch.

HMS Seringapatam at anchor in Valletta Harbour, Malta, between 1824 and 1827.
Edmund Henry Seppings began his naval career on HMS Seringapatam from the age of 13.

Lt Edmund Henry Seppings (1807-1858) began his naval career at the age of 13 on 5 February 1821 aboard HMS Seringapatam, a 46-gun fifth rate frigate under Captain William Walpole. It was freshly built, of teak, when Edmund Henry set sail for the Mediterranean, to be based at Zante, Greece. On 4 Feb 1822, a letter from Seringapatam reported that one of the ship’s company was murdered following a confrontation with Greek soldiers, resulting in 6 of the soldiers being hung. The ship was then ordered to depart for England.

Edmund Henry Seppings joined Captain Robert C. Spencer on 10 July 1823, age 15, as a midshipman on HMS Naiad at Portsmouth Dockyard. By August, the 38-gun fifth rate frigate was fitted for use in the British Channel and the Mediterranean. They remained at Lisbon until late January 1824, when Naiad and Camelion, under Spencer’s orders, visited Algiers.

HMS Naiad towing HMS Belleisle towards Gibraltar 1805.
Lt Edmund Henry Seppings served on HMS Naiad in the British Channel and the Mediterranean from July 1823 until August 1826.

Two Spanish vessels had been captured there, their crews bound for slavery, and the Regency had committed a violation of the British consul’s offices. On 31 January, the Consul General and family were taken on board the Naiad for their safety. On leaving the harbour, the Algerian pirate corvette Tripoli, of 18 guns and 100 men, which had captured the Spanish vessels, was seen and chased. Naiad fired several shots reducing Tripoli to a wreck and killing seven on board. The Spaniards were rescued by Camelion.

During the next few months, Naiad was employed on the Barbary Coast as part of a blockade to suppress Barbary pirates and privateers in the slave trade, and the Algerian dey. Naiad captured two ships for which they received prize money – Quattro Fratelli in March, and Muni on 23 February 1825.

Map of the Mediterranean Sea (1785). Lt Edmund Henry Seppings served along the Barbary Coast, Nth Africa, and in the Gulf of Patras, Greece, from Jan 1824 to Aug 1826.

At half-past eleven on the night on 23 May 1824, Edmund Henry Seppings left Naiad in one of the boats which destroyed an Algerian 16 gun brig of war, full of grain, moored alongside the walls of the fortress of Bona, a seaport in the north eastern corner of Algeria, defended by 400 soldiers. Captain Spencer described the attack by the boats, under the command of Lt Quin, in an official letter to Admiral Sir Harry Neale, commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, dated 24 May:

‘The boats … being guided in their approach by the lights and fires in the different batteries, pulled for what proved to be a sixteen-gun brig of the largest class, whose position was of extraordinary strength, and far beyond what I had even imagined possible. All these obstacles, and the tremendous fire of cannon and small arms, kept up during the whole time the boats were in sight, from the illumination caused by the burning vessel … No language that I am master of can convey to you, Sir, an adequate idea of the intrepidity of the attack, which could only be equalled by the cool courage displayed during the time necessary to distribute the fire in all parts of a vessel under such circumstances … The officers’ names engaged in this service are subjoined; for as all did their duty so nobly on this occasion, and have on all former ones given me such perfect satisfaction, I cannot in justice particularize. I have only to report a few men hurt by severe contusions, and none killed, chiefly to be attributed to the masterly manner the business was conducted in …’ (8)

La cite le port et le mole d Alger – Algiers harbour. Engraving (1690)
As a midshipman, Lt Edmund Henry Seppings fought the Algerian dey here on 23 May 1824.

During the dispute with the dey, which saw Neale’s squadrons assembled in the bay of Algiers ready to bombard the town, Capt Spencer was selected to negotiate and make final arrangements to settle the treaty which he achieved. As a result, Naiad was employed in most of the active duties in the Aegean Sea in the Greek War of Independence during 1825. Capt Spencer was entrusted with several important negotiations with the commander of the Turkish forces in the Morea, and with the Greek chiefs in the Archipelago. In March 1826, Naiad was stationed in the Gulf of Patras during the Third Siege of Missolonghi and Spencer informed the Admiralty of the Ottoman forces captures.

When Naiad left Malta for England in August, Neale wrote to Capt Spencer praising his ‘zeal and judgment and good discipline’ and ‘honor to her officers and ship’s company’ which was said ‘never to have been exceeded.’ (9)

HMS Victory in Portsmouth harbour, where Lt Edmund Henry Seppings served in late 1826.

Back in Portsmouth harbour, Edmund Henry Seppings served on HMS Victory from 10 October to 1 November, and HMS Asia a second-rate ship of the line from 2 November to 30 January 1827 under Capt E. Curzon. On 6 January, they prepared to receive Vice Admiral Sir E. Codrington, K.C.B., appointed Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. He also served on HMS Barham from 31 January to 7 February, recently fitted out as the flag ship for the West Indies, and on HMS Nancy from 9 December 1828 to 2 March 1829.

Edmund Henry Seppings became a lieutenant on 11 September, 1828.

HMS Shannon leading her prize the American Frigate Chesapeake into Halifax Harbour, by John Christian Schetky 1830. One of several ships Lt Edmund Henry Seppings served on in the West Indies.

Leaving Plymouth on 3 March 1829 and arriving at Port Royal, Jamaica, on 10 August, Lt Edmund Henry Seppings served on HMS Shannon, a Leda class 38-gun fifth rate frigate, under Admiral E G Colpoys, commander-in-chief at the West Indies & North American Station until 16 August. He also served on HMS Mersey a Conway-class 26-gun sixth rate post ship, in Jamaica, and HMS Magnificent, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, hulked as a receiving ship there, from 18 August to 10 November 1829. It had been used as a hospital and possibly still was.

During his time at Jamaica, Edmund Henry served under a succession of commanders – Captain George William Conway Courtenay, Acting Captain Charles Ramsay Drinkwater-Bethune, and Captain Henry Smith. His last appointment on the 1930 Naval Register shows that he served on board HMS Ranger a sixth-rate frigate from 11 November 1829 to 2 February 1830, leaving Jamaica on 12 November for St Jago de Cuba. His last payment from the Royal Navy was made on 19 April.

(Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ life in Australia from 1840 and his marriage to Hannah Ann Collis (nee) Staines in 1852 in Wagga Wagga, NSW, and their five children Grace Darling Seppings (1850-1914), Edmund Henry Seppings (1852-1934), Isabella Hannah Seppings (1854-1905), Francis Merewether Seppings (1857-1934), and Clara Seppings (1858-1900), will be looked at in more detail posts to come.)

Somerset House, London 1817. Nicholas Lockyer Seppings worked here as a Stores and Secretary’s Office Clerk from Nov 1825 to 1871.

Nicholas Lockyer Seppings (1810-1887) was a Stores and Secretary’s Office Clerk in the civil administration of the Royal Navy at the Victualling Office in Somerset Place. He began his career as a clerk in the Store Account Branch on 11 November 1825 and then worked as a clerk for the Secretary’s Office from 25 July 1829, which supported the Navy Board and dealt with all correspondence. These offices were presided over by the Comptroller of the Navy until 1832 when the Navy Office was abolished. The administrative staff and all of its functions remained at Somerset House but were overseen by the Admiralty in Whitehall. Nicholas was a Third Class Clerk in 1832 and left the office on 19 June on appointment as Third Class Clerk to the Accountant General of Navy.

Nicholas Lockyer Seppings married Harriet Sarah Blogg (1819-1890) in 1836 at Saint Pancras Old Church, London. According to the 1841 Census, his occupation was ‘Gentleman in The Civil Service’ and his address is given as York Place in the Parish of St James, Clerkenwell, Middlesex. He was 30 years old and his wife, Harriett, age 20. They had two children, Rosa Anna (b. 1836) and Louisa Harriett (b. 1838), and two domestic servants.

In 1848 Nicholas was a Clerk of the Second Class for the Store Account Branch. In the 1851 Census he was listed as Esquire, of the Admiralty, Somerset House. In 1862, he appeared in the Navy List as a Clerk of the Second Class for the Department of the Storekeeper General. By 1871, age 60, he was recorded as a Senior Clerk Admirably Superannuated. In 1881, Nicholas and Harriett, two teenage granddaughters and a servant were living at Sunnyside, Wandsworth, Surrey, where he died in 1887, a Gentleman.

Bengal Troops 1840s

Lt Alworth Merewether Seppings (1811-1841) joined the East India Company’s Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Surrey, in 1825, as an EIC officer cadet. At age 16 he completed his education and ranked 2nd Lieutenant on 13 December 1827. Alworth joined the Bengal Army and arrived in India on 9 June 1828. He became a lieutenant on 3 March 1831 and his rank was altered to 1st Lieutenant on 3 March 1835. In Alexander’s East India and Colonial Magazine, 1836, he was recorded as 1st Lieutenant of the 1st company 4th battalion of artillery, and was appointed to do duty with the Assam Light Infantry from Nov 1836 – 26 May 1838. He was listed in The Asiatic Journal on 25 April 1838 as being in Simla with 8th company; 7th battalion to 1st company; and 4th battalion.

HMS Java

On 6 October 1838, Lt Alworth Merewether Seppings of the Bengal Artillery appeared before a Chief Magistrate at the Police Office in Calcutta for a case of an assault committed on an officer of the ship HMS Java, a 52-gun fourth rate ship of the line, by several of her officers and crew. Thomas John Bell versus Thomas Nelson Howard, Robert Jaques, Lt Seppings and Mr. Morgan.
Thomas Bell, a preventive officer on duty on board the Java, lying off town, was sitting on the poop and leaning against the foot ropes at 9 pm that evening. Mr Howard, the chief mate in command of the ship, came on the quarter-deck and called out ‘keep off the ridge ropes.’ He then went up to Bell and told him to go down from the poop but Bell refused to obey this order. Mr Howard seized him by the collar and tried to force him down the poop-ladder and a struggle broke out between the two. Some of the crew came up and Mr Jaques, Lt Seppings and Mr Morgan parted the two them, seizing Bell and attempting to remove him from the poop.
During the scuffle, Lt Seppings struck Bell several times. Bell’s shirt and coat were torn. Lt Seppings explained he had struck Thomas because Bell had hit Mr Howard. Seppings had been passing the evening with Mr Howard and was about to quit the ship at the time the affray occurred. According to Mr Howard, he had, previous to this, received a letter from Captain Jobbling, the commander of the Java, not to permit Mr Bell to lounge about the ship’s ropes in the disrespectful manner he used to do.
Mr Howard told the magistrate: ‘Mr Bell, at the time he behaved in this strange manner, appeared to have been the worse for liquor. He generally labours under the influence of drink. He brought into the ship a much larger quantity of liquor than he should have done, and made a very free use of it. He once endangered the safety of the ship by his negligent conduct. He got drunk and fell asleep! leaving a candle burning in his cabin all night, which is contrary to the regulations of the ship.’
A summons was sent to Lt Seppings’ regiment at the Royal Artillery headquarters at Dum-Dum, as he was indisposed and wished to have the case against him postponed. A medical certificate was provided and the proceedings resumed on 13 October at 1 pm. Thomas Bell recalled: ‘Lt Seppings struck me twice on the face with his clenched first on several parts of my body. I do not remember on what part of my face he struck me. I did not even remember it the next morning. He could not get at me properly to strike me. He could not strike me severely; for he had to reach over those who were round me.’
Bell’s general conduct was described to have been very violent and outrageous. Lt Seppings was fined 100 rupees, or two month’s confinement in the common jail of Calcutta, in failure of payment. (10)

Lt Alworth Merewether Seppings resigned 19 August 1840 and had no record of active service.

Military uniforms 1830 – the Madras Horse Artillery, the Madras Light Cavalry, the Madras Rifle Corps, the Madras Pioneers, the Madras Native Infantry – which Ensign William Lawless Seppings would have worn – and the Madras Foot Artillery

Lt William Lawless Seppings (1812-1845) joined the 4th Regiment Native Infantry in Madras, India, and qualified as a Cadet for the Infantry at Fort St George military garrison in 1828. Being in the Madras Army his job involved internal security and support for the civil administration. As the army was multi-ethnic, he was encouraged to learn and speak Hindi. He became a lieutenant on 19 March 1831.

In 1832, Ensign William Lawless Seppings was involved in a Court Martial against another in the 4th Regiment NI, Ensign J A Crawford at Headquarters, Vellore, Madras, 9-17 January. The charge for ‘scandalous and infamous behaviour, unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman’ on 12 December 1831, having submitted to being called a liar by Ensign William Lawless Seppings without taking any measures to remedy the insult. The Court found Crawford guilty and discharged him from the Company’s service. (11)

William Lawless Seppings married Isabella Georgiana Catherine White on 22 Feb 1834 in Bangalore, Madras. They had three children, all born Bangalore: William John Seppings (1835-1891), Catherine Ann Maria Seppings (b. 1836) and Edward James Seppings (b. 1838).

Bellary map. Lt William Lawless Seppings was stationed at the cantonment of Bellary in 1840.

On 6 April 1835, William had to face a second Court Martial. He was placed under arrest by order of the Commander-in-chief, upon the complaint of Lt Philip Annesley Secundus Powys, also of the 4th Regiment NI. Ensign William Lawless Seppings was charged with ‘conduct unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman, in having, at Bangalore, on the morning of the 26th of April, 1835, on the public road, struck his superior officer, a violent blow with his clenched hand in the face.’ Lt Powys was on duty as officer of the day.
On 17 May, the court found that the prisoner was guilty of the charge with the exception of ‘conduct unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman,’ and of which the court acquitted him. They sentenced him to be reprimanded in such manner as his Excellency the Commander-in-chief may he pleased to direct and added that the court was induced to pass ‘so lenient a sentence’ in consequence of Lt Powys having been the aggressor, by laying violent hands on the prisoner, by whom a blow was struck in a moment of irritation, when under great excitement. Commander-in-chief Lt Gen R. W. O’Callaghan, Madras, on 10 June released William Lawless Seppings and he returned to his duty. (12)

Willliam is listed as an ensign with leave to 15 March 1839, to Bangalore, and being on furlough – ranked as lieutenant – on 4 September 1838. On 20 September 1839, he embarked on sick leave for Europe from the western coast with 33rd NI Capt Thomas McLellan to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope.  He was  stationed at the cantonment of Bellary in 1840 and on a sick certificate until 1 May 1841.

Lt William Lawless Seppings resigned from military service 23 September 1842, in India. He died where he was born in Greenwich, 1845. His wife Isabella, died in Bangalore in 1860.

Part 3 of ‘The Age of Sail’ looks at Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ first cousins’ on the Seppings side.

Illustration Credits 

Ships at Port Royal, 1820 by James Hakewill, (1875), published in A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica
Enslaved Africans harvesting sugar cane in Antigua, 1786, by William Clark. Held by British Library
Full title:  Ten Views in the Island of Antigua, in which are represented the process of sugar making, and the employment of the negroes (London: Thomas Clay, 1823)
Medal commemorating the abolition of the slave trade 1807 (bronze)
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection.
Copper Rum Measure
Serving-grog on HMS Jubille
A First Rate Taking in Stores 1818 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, England ttp://
East India Company grandee (Getty Images)
East India House by Thomas Malton the Younger. (Getty Images)
Blundell’s School, Tiverton, Devon, with keyed floor plan 1857 by T Wellcome
HMS Seringapatam at anchor in Valletta Harbour, Malta, between 1824 and 1827 by Anton Schranz
HMS Naiad towing HMS Belleisle towards Gibraltar, after the Belleisle had been damaged and dismasted at the Battle of Trafalgar two days previously, 23 Oct 1805.
Water colour by P H Nicholas. Height: 14.5 cm (5.7 in); Width: 21.5 cm (8.4 in)
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Map of the Mediterranean Sea with adjacent regions (1785)
La cite le port et le mole d Alger Algiers harbour. Engraving 1690
HMS Victory in Portsmouth harbour
HMS Shannon leading her prize the American Frigate Chesapeake into Halifax Harbour by John Christian Schetky 1830
Somerset House 1817 by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd
Bengal Troops 1840s
HMS Java, a 52-gun fourth rate ship of the line
Military uniforms 1830 – The Madras Horse Artillery, the Madras Light Cavalry, the Madras Rifle Corps, the Madras Pioneers, the Madras Native Infantry, and the Madras Foot Artillery

Research Resources

(4) The Hand-book of British India: a Guide to the Stranger, the Traveller, the Resident and All who May Have Business with Or Appertaining to India by Joachim Hayward Stocqueler (1845)
(5) The History of the Indian Revolt and of the Expeditions to Persia, China and Japan, 1856-7-8 by George Dodd, Adamant Media Corporation (2003)
(6) ibid
(7) New York Times/1861/12/07/archives/the-british-navy
Royal Naval Biography: Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-Officers, Superannuated Rear-Admirals, Retired-Captains, Post-Captains, and Commanders Collection – Naval and Military History by John Marshall (1829)
(9) The Calcutta Monthly Journal XLIX for the month of December, 1838, published Jan 1839,  p502-4
(10) Royal Naval Biography: Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-Officers, Superannuated Rear-Admirals, Retired-Captains, Post-Captains, and Commanders Collection – Naval and Military History by John Marshall (1829)
(11) The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia, Volume 9. Parbury, Allen, and Company, 1832 – Asia
Alexander’s East India and Colonial Magazine: 1835, 7/12
display_type=ships_search pdf
Thirty Years View or A History of the working of the American Government for thirty years from 1820-1850 Vol 1 p454
War and Empire: The Expansion of Britain, 1790-1830 Bruce Collins, Routledge (2010)

Lt John Milligen Seppings (1805-1863)

Lt Edmund Henry Seppings (1807-1858)
The London Gazette, Part 2 p 301 (1353)
1828 List of Flag Officers and other Commissioned Officers of His Majesty’s Fleet by Great Britain. Admiralty. p334
The United Service Journal Monthly Naval Register p518 1829
The United Service Journal Monthly Naval Register p380 1930
The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol V
The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia, Parbury, Allen, and Company, 1842 – p432,_Frederick,_Robert_Cavendish#cite_note-5

Nicholas Lockyer Seppings (1810-1887)
The Post Office London Directory 1843
The Navy List, Great Britain, 1862
London 1841 Census
London 1851 Census
London 1871 Census
The Post Office London Directory p 30
The London Gazette, May 11, 1860, p 1814
The British Navy’s Victualling Board, 1793-1815: Management Competence and Incompetence, Janet W. Macdonald

Lt Alworth Merewether Seppings (1811-1841)
Alexander’s East India and Colonial Magazine: 1836, 1/5
The Asiatic Journal
British India Office Cadet Papers
The Calcutta Monthly Journal XLIX for the month of December
, 1838, Pub Jan 1839,  p502-4
Naval & Military Gazette and Weekly Chronicle of the United Service – Sat 14 Nov 1840
The India Office and Burma Office List
Officers of the Bengal Army 1750-1854 part IV by Major VCP Hodson 1947

Lt William Lawless Seppings (1812-1845)
Baillie-Ki-Paltan: Being a History of the 2nd Battalion, Madras Pioneers 1759-1930 by Lieutenant-Colonel H. F. Murland p 413
Alphabetical List of the Officers of the Indian Army: With the Dates of Their Respective Promotion, Retirement, Resignation, Or Death, Whether in India Or in Europe, from the Year 1760 to the Year 1834 Inclusive, Corrected to September 30, 1837 by Edward Dodwell, Madras Presidency p 4
Alexander’s East India and Colonial Magazine, Volume 10, p 598-599
The Herald of Peace, Volume 8, p 523
The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia, Volume 9. Parbury, Allen, and Company, 1832 – Asia
Alexander’s East India and Colonial Magazine: 1835, 7/12
Naval & Military Gazette and Weekly Chronicle of the United Service – Sat 10 Dec 1842
Naval & Military Gazette and Weekly Chronicle of the United Service – Sat 23 Nov 1839
Parbury’s oriental herald and colonial intelligencer
UK, Naval and Military Courts Martial Registers, 1806-1930

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Seppings Coat of Arms

On 18 Feb 1825, the Kings of Arms, under Crown authority, granted and assigned a coat of arms and crest to Sir Robert Seppings, ‘to be borne and used for ever hereafter by him and his only brother Lt John Milligen Seppings and by their respective descendants according to the Laws of Arms.’

Seppings_Coat of Arms_18250218 a s

The unique coat of arms consists of a crest on a wreath with a half seahorse adorned with a blue naval crown and holding between its fore fins, a triangle; a shield containing a trident and an ancient galley with oarsmen (a slender warship used by the early Greek, Phoenician and Roman naval powers), above two seahorses holding between their fore fins, a Triangle sable; and at the base, the motto IMMOTUS – the Latin word meaning immoveable.

Sir Robert Seppings petitioned a grant of arms after he received the honour of knighthood on 17 Aug 1819 on board the Royal George yacht ‘under sail, the royal standard flying’ (Heralds’ College), and following many other honours in England and the Continent. The Emperor Alexander of Russia, the kings of Denmark and Holland, all presented him with valuable gifts to mark their appreciation of ‘his various improvements in the constructions of ships of War relative to their form economy and durability’.

The coat of arms, painted on the parchment vellum with the Royal Seals and handwritten Letters Patent – addressed to anyone in the world to whom it may be presented – was mostly used as a seal on legal documents.

Seppings_Coat of Arms & Crest_18250218 a s

Letters Patent transcribed –

to whom these Presents shall come Sir George Nayler Knight GARTER Principal King of Arms and Ralph Bigland Esquire from the River Trent Southwards and Greeting
Whereas Sir Robert Seppings of Somerset Place in the Parish of St Mary le Strand in the County of Middlesex Knight eldest son of Robert Seppings late of Fakenham in the county of Norfolk esquire deceased and Grandson of Thomas Seppings late of Fakenham aforesaid gentleman also deceased both represented unto the Most Noble Bernard Edward Duke of Norfolk Earl Marshal and Sir John Henslow Knight a Surveyor or Commissioner of His MAJESTY’S Navy to learn the Art of Building and constructing Ships and having passed through the various gradations of the Civil Departments of the Dock Yards was in May 1813 appointed Surveyor and one of the Commissioners of his MAJESTY’S Navy that he having during this Period made various improvements in the constructions of ships of War relative to their form economy and durability His MAJESTY’S then Acting as ‘PRINCE’ Regent was on the 17th, august 1819 deemed to confer on him the honour of Knighthood on board the Royal George Yacht while under Sail and with the Royal Standard hoisted on the Deck: That in the same year the select Committee of finance upon Naval Expenditure after examining the Memorialist’s various Medals and improvements on shipping and mentioning the great ability of the same were pleased to conclude their Report in these merits ‘These Services although they have nothing of that brilliancy which forcibly attracts public admiration will continue to confer a lasting benefit to the British Nation long after the period when the beneficial effect of victories however splendid shalt have passed away – That the Memorialist had the honor to receive in the year 1817 from the Royal Society of London the Copleian Gold Medal, and from the Society for the Promotion and Encouragement of Arts Manufacture and Commerce a Gold Medal “for obviating the necessity of lifting Ships” and in addition to then flattering marks of Distinction He has had the satisfaction to be honored with a Jewel Ring presented to him by command of his MAJESTY the Emperor and Judiciator of All the Russias and a Diamond Ring by command of the King of Denmark and being desirous of commemorating these special marks of favor bestowed upon him by his own Sovereign as well as by foreign Monarchs by bearing such Armorial Ensigns as may have some allusion to his professional services. He thereupon requested the favour of His Grace’s Warrant for our granting and assigning such Arms and Crest bearing allusion accordingly as may be proper to be borne by him and by his only Brother John Milligen Seppings a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and their respective descendants according to the Laws of Arms
And forasmuch as the said Earl Marshal did by Warrant under his hand and Seal bearing date the twenty fourth day of December last authorize and direct Us to grant and assign to the said Sir Robert Seppings such Amorial Ensigns accordingly Know Ye therefore that We the said GARTER and CLARENCEUX in pursuance of his Grace’s Warrant and by Virtue of the Letters Patent of our several offices to each of the respectively granted have derised and do by these Presents grant and assign unto the said Sir Robert Seppings the Arms, Mering that is to say Argent two Sea Horses rampant respecting each other proper holding between their paws or fore fins, a Triangle sable a chief wavy azure thereon an ancient Galley and above the same Trident sessways of the first and for Crest on a Wreath of the Colours a Demi Sea Horse proper gorged with Naval Crown Azure and holding between his paws (or fore fins) a Triangle Or as the same are in the Margin hereof more plainly depicted to be borne and used for ever hereafter by him the said sir Robert Seppings and by his Brother John Millgen Seppings and by their respective descendants with due and proper differences according to the Laws of Arms
In Witness whereof We the said GARTER and CLARENCEUX Kings of Arms have to those presents subscribes our Names and affixed the Seals of our several Offices this eighteenth day of February in the Sixth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord GEORGE the Fourth by the Grace of GOD of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and, Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith .. and in the year of our Lord one thousand eight Hundred and twenty five.

Signed by
George Nayler Knight GARTER Principal King of Arms
Ralph Bigland Clarenceux Kings of Arms

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The Age of Sail – Milligen, Seppings and Lockyer Military Men, England

Lockyer_N_Cpt_HMS sophie on right
HMS Sophie, the British 18-gun brig sloop (on right) under Captain Nicholas Lockyer’s command (1809-14)

Born into the Age of Sail, Edmund Henry Seppings (1807-1858), the first Seppings to arrive and settle in Australia, was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. From the age of thirteen he served on numerous ships and in numerous battles in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Like his father, Lt John Milligen Seppings, and his uncle Sir Robert Seppings, both adopted as young adolescents by their uncle Capt John Milligen, Edmund Henry Seppings was raised by his grandmother, Ann Lockyer at Wembury House, Wembury. His father, Sir Robert and uncles on his mother’s Lockyer side – all the men in his family were expected to serve in the Royal Navy, or the British or Indian Army, to ensure Britannia continued to rule the waves, to secure and protect the British Empire’s colonial conquests and trade routes, and to increase revenue whenever they could and wherever they were sent to around the globe.

All Edmund Henry Seppings’ male relatives had roles either directly in military service, or in associated fields. His uncle Sir Robert Seppings was a shipwright, naval architect and Surveyor of the Royal Navy. Other uncles were captains, majors, brigadiers. Three of his brothers were lieutenants. His many cousins were all these and more. Others, without titles, were in positions such as Comptroller of Customs, naval storekeepers and office clerks, Inspector of Shipping, and Inspector of Naval Hospitals. In the following list of family in military service, I have also included notable members who married into Seppings, Milligen and Dacres families.

Edmund Henry Seppings’ male relatives in the Age of Sail –

Great uncle
Capt John Milligen (1730-1788)
Thomas Lockyer (1756-1806)
Lt John Milligen Seppings (1770-1826)
Sir Robert Seppings (1767-1840)
MD John Pleasance (1759-1793) m. Helen Seppings (1765-)
Thomas Lockyer (1780-1854)
Capt Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847)
Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860)
William Lockyer (1785-1858)
Major Orlando Lockyer (1787-1819)
Charles Christopher Lockyer (1795-1828)
Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer (1796-1861)
Lt John Milligen Seppings (1805-1863)
Nicholas Lockyer Seppings (1810-1887)
Lt Alsworth Merewether Seppings (1811-1841)
Lt William Lawless Seppings (1812-1845)
First cousins
Edward Laws (1791-)
Robert Laws (1798-1889)
Rear Admiral John Milligen Laws (1799-1859)
Robert Gill (1796-1871)
Major James Hull Harrison (1783-1853) m Martha Milligen Seppings (1796-1840)
John Milligen Seppings (1798-1863)
Henry Merewether Lockyer (1807-1835)
Lt. William Edmund Lockyer (1808-1886)
Edmund Morris Lockyer (1809-1872)
Frederick McDonald Lockyer (1822-1904)
Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904)
Henry Alworth Merewether (1812-1877)
Francis White Merewether (1813-1835)
Herbert Walton Merewether (1816-1843)
John Robert Merewether (1818-1841)
Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893)
Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880)
Capt Alworth Merewether (1826-1861)
Edward Lawes (1817-1852)
Vitruvius Lawes (1821-1890)
Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer, C.B.E., I.S.O. (1855-1933)
2nd cousins
Vice Admiral Sir Richard Dacres (1761-1837) m. Martha Phillips Milligen (1766-1840)
Lt Colonel Robert Seppings Harrison (1821-1872)
Lt Henry Laws Harrison (1833-1863)
Capt Horace Sibbald Harrison (1837-1922)
3rd cousins
Rear Admiral Sir William Fairbrother Carroll (1784-1862) m. Martha Dacres
Lt Colonel Henry Stephen Olivier (1795-1864) m. Mary Milligen Dacres (1795-1858)
Field Marshal Richard James Dacres (1799-1886)
Admiral Sir Sydney Colpoys Dacres (1805-1884)
Capt Edward James Seppings (1826-1857)
Colonel Edward Seppings Lock (1837-1886)
Edmund Henry Seppings (1864-1934)
Lt Hugh Henry Yarde (1846-1870)

H.M.S. Calcutta 84 guns, PY0844
HMS Calcutta (84) in a gale off the Gulf of Pechili, China 1858, designed by Sir Robert Seppings (1831)

‘Life at sea during the age of sail was filled with hardship,’ states the Royal Museum, Greenwich, website. ‘Men working at sea had much to endure; cut off from normal life on shore for months, even years, they had to accept cramped conditions, disease, poor food and pay. Above all, they faced the daily dangers of sea and weather. A seaman’s life was hard, and he had to be tough to survive, so ship’s officers kept strict discipline on board. In this way they hoped to keep morale high and prevent mutiny.’

The crew of a typical warship in the Napoleonic era (1793–1815), were a mix of two hierarchies – an official rank and position in the chain of command and a traditionally recognized class distinction between gentlemen and common sailors, seen in the names for jobs such as boatswain, coxswain, seamen, all of Anglo-Saxon origin, while those of officers – captain, lieutenant, admiral, are of Norman-French origin.

HMS_Ville_de_Paris_1803HMS Ville de Paris (1803). Lt John Milligen Seppings served under Lord St Vincent on his 1st Rate (104) Ville de Paris from Oct 1798 to Jan 1801 in the Mediterranean and off the Coast of France in a line of Battle ships off Cadiz and Brest. Ville de Paris was designed by Sir John Henslow

‘Fleets were divided into three squadrons made up of the van (forward), the centre and rear. The rear was commanded by a rear-admiral who was subordinate to the vice-admiral commanding the van. The admiral commanded the centre squadron and had overall command of the whole fleet. The ship of an admiral was known as a flagship.’ (1)

The average third-rate ship of the line of 74-guns during Nelson’s day carried 650 men, all of whom had particular jobs at sea and in battle.
‘Typical jobs on board included cook, parson, surgeon, master gunner, boatswain (in charge of the sails), carpenter and quartermaster. Other members of the crew would, of course, carry out all the duties, including keeping watch, handling sails, and cleaning decks.’ (2) A seaman’s diet included boiled beef or pork, peas, oatmeal, butter, cheese and the ‘ship’s biscuit’.

The earliest record of any Seppings involvement with the Royal Navy is on 1 January 1644, when a Thomas Seppens was fully pardoned for his said Offence in the Journals of the House of Commons, Volume 4 by Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons: ‘Upon the humble petition of Thomas Seppens, a prisoner in Newgate, convicted, and adjudged to Death, by the Court Martial; and reprieved by Order of this House.’ There was also a Captain Seppens, according to the Journals of the House of Lords, Volume 10 1509-1649 by Great Britain House of Lords when ‘his Petition, stating that he had been condemned by a Council of War, for writing a Letter to betray the Island of Guernsey, and praying to be reprieved’ was granted a pardon.

Our Seppings ancestors lived in Fakenham, Norfolk, in the 1600s, with occupations related to food – oatmeal makers, butchers, and a cattle dealer. That changed when Robert and John, the two sons of Robert Seppings (cattle dealer) and Lydia (nee Milligen), moved to Plymouth, Devon. John Milligen, Lydia’s father, was a successful linen draper who left money to his son, John Milligen, a captain in the Royal Navy, based in Plymouth.
‘There must have been something very potent in the Milligen genes. Among John Milligen’s grand and great grandchildren were Sir Robert Seppings, Surveyor of the Navy; Field Marshall Sir Richard Dacres, Governor of the Tower; Admiral Sir Sydney Colpoys Dacres, first Naval Lord; and Rear Admiral John Milligan Laws. There were distinguished members of the Dacres family of high rank in both the Royal Navy and the Army’ wrote Faith Packard in Our Family History.

plymouth_devon_getty_623x400Plymouth’s shipyards (1700s)

In 1780, Robert and Lydia’s youngest son, John Milligen Seppings, was sent with his oldest sister Lydia, to live with their mother’s brother, Captain John Milligen, who placed him in the navy at the age of ten years old as a midshipman on Dunkirk, a store ship under his uncle’s command. A year later, Robert Seppings died age 47. His first son, Robert, was thirteen years old and had already shown himself ‘to be intelligent and full of energy,’ according to Faith Packard. ‘His father had succeeded little better at the chancy business of selling cattle than he had at the hard grind of farming and there was seldom enough for an adequate family budget.’ Young Robert ‘developed a business of his own, and, before he reached his teens was entrusted by the Fakenham folk with carrying letters to Wells nearly ten miles away on a mule.’ His father’s death changed the course of Robert’s destiny. His mother struggled to bring up the family on her own and her brother, Capt John Milligen, offered to adopt Robert, too. Robert Seppings left his home in Fakenham, eight miles from Burnham Thorpe, ‘where a man he much admired, Lord Nelson, was born nine years earlier,’ and 23 miles from King’s Lynn, the birthplace of George Vancouver nine months earlier than Nelson.

Royal Navy Officers (1799) –

midshipman-drawing Lieutenant_1799 Captain_1799 Admiral_1799
Midshipman                          Lieutenant                                   Captain                                      Admiral

As in most wealthy or aristocratic families, the Seppings and Lockyer sons were trained to become commissioned officers. Boys joined the navy at the age of 12 to 14 and served at least three years at sea as a volunteer or able seaman and learned to rig sails, keep watch on deck, relay messages between decks, supervise gun batteries, command small boats, and take command of a sub-division of the ship’s company under the supervision of one of the lieutenants.
Next up the rank from able seaman was a midshipman’s mate who would mess and berth in the cockpit. He wore a blue frock coat with white trim.
A midshipman was a cockpit officer, a probationary rank held by young naval officers under training who would also mess and berth in the cockpit. He wore a blue frock coat with white button collar patch. Midshipmen were taught navigation, astronomy and trigonometry by the ship’s schoolmaster or chaplain and were expected to keep detailed navigational logs, which were shown to the captain to assess their progress.
After serving at least three years as a midshipman, and a total of six years at sea, the young gentleman was eligible to take the examination for promotion to lieutenant, at around the age of 19. Midshipmen often took positions as master’s mates for an increase in pay and more responsibility aboard ship to speed up the promotion. As most midshipmen were from the gentry or had family connections with sailing ships, ‘many used their connections to have their names placed on a ship’s books. This allowed some boys to be promoted to midshipmen, or in some cases lieutenant, without having completed the required amount of time at sea.’ (3)

                          Royal Navy midshipman coat 1780s                Royal Navy lieutenant’s epaulette 1812-25

Lieutenants, commanders and captains were appointed by the Admiralty.
A lieutenant, ranking above second lieutenant and below captain, was in charge of deck watches and in action commanded a gun battery and would be in the wardroom with a master, purser, surgeon and chaplain. ‘They were sometimes despatched on shore to find experienced seamen in ports, who were often taken from merchant ships in port at the time.’ (4)
A commander was a non-rated ship captain. Full title ‘master and commander’, he wore a blue frock coat and white waist coat, the same as a lieutenant.

                     The 1774 captain’s full dress frock coat would have been worn by Capt John Milligan

A captain wore a blue frock coat with gold laced buttons. Both captain and commander would mess and berth in the Great Cabin. The captain was responsible for fitting out his ship for sea and had ‘to use his best endeavours to get the ship manned.’ (5) At sea he was responsible for the ship and all on board.
A major is a military rank used by both the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank is superior to captain, and subordinate to lieutenant colonel.
The captain, lieutenant and second lieutenant are called subalterns. The brigadier, colonel, lieutenant colonel and major are considered Field Officers.

American Privateer PIONEER Taken by HMS SOPHIE_1812a
HMS Sophie, under Captain Nicholas Lockyer, captured the 17-gun American privateer Pioneer and 170 men off the American coast in 1812

‘By the end of the 1700s, pay on a naval ship was less than that on a merchant ship … However, as well as basic wages, sailors would expect to have a share of prize money or booty from captured enemy vessels. In the Caribbean, as Spanish power declined and Britain and France asserted themselves as the dominant regional powers it became obvious that potentially lucrative colonies where slaves were growing tobacco or sugar were threatened by uncertainty at sea and something had to be done to stamp out piracy.’ (6)
‘The Royal Navy went from having just two ships in the Caribbean, in 1670, to 124 by 1718.  When the French lost Haiti to a slave revolt in 1804, Britain doubled its number of ships in the area. The Navy hunted down pirates ruthlessly and dispatched quick and summary justice to anyone they caught.’ (7)F7730 001HMS Rodney (1833) Warship Second rate 92 guns designed by Sir Robert Seppings

Model of 'Caledonia' (1808), 120 guns, three decker ship of the line
HMS Caledonia (1808) First Rate ship of the line 120 guns designed by Sir Robert Seppings

The type and class of vessels our ancestors served on are explained by David Lyon in The Sailing Navy List: all the ships of the Royal Navy – built, purchased and captured 1688 – 1860.
‘From the mid-18th century, most European nations divided their principal warships into six ‘rates’ or divisions, according to the number of guns they carried. The first rate ships carried from 100 (after 1810 this increased to 110) guns upwards; the second rates carried from 84 (later 90) to 100 (110); third rates 70 (80) to 84 (90); fourth rates 50 (60); fifth rates 32 to 50 (60); and sixth rates, any number of guns up to 32 if commanded by a post-captain. Such ships when commanded by a commander were rated as ‘sloops’.
The first three rates, and occasionally the fourth, were recognised as ‘ships of the line’, that is, vessels with armaments sufficiently powerful to be able to form up in the line of battle during a naval engagement. Fifth and sixth rate ships were known as frigates whose duties were varied, ranging from active participation battle as signal repeating ships to convoy duty. All six rates of ships had the standard three masts, square-rigged on each mast. There were subsidiary smaller types of vessels such as brigs, sloops, tenders, snows etc. whose duties were outside the scope and range of the main battle fleets.’

The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805
The Battle of Trafalgar 1805

In ‘A Sailor’s Life For Me – A day in the life of a Royal Navy Sailor from 1806’, an article on the website War History Online, it reads, ‘The life of a sailor has never been easy, and during wartime, it is doubly true. It was particularly so in the Royal Navy at the beginning of the 19th century. Britain was embroiled in a struggle against France, which had recently succumbed to revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte had become ruler and he had a grand vision of spreading French influence across Europe and the British channel. To do that, he needed control of the seas. Britain’s Royal Navy was all that stood between Napoleon and his almost complete control of Europe. It was not until the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805, when his fleet was sufficiently weakened, that the British could rest easy knowing a French invasion was impossible. Across the globe, however, the Royal Navy still fought Napoleon’s ships, which harassed shipping and blockaded ports. Life aboard those ships was always tough, but rarely ever slow.’

Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1777a
Halifax, Nova Scotia 1777

Capt John Milligen’s (1730-1788) first known service was as a lieutenant in 1746 at the age of sixteen. During 1755-56, he served as a second lieutenant aboard HMS Eagle at the same time James Cook began his career in the Royal Navy. Cook served on the Eagle, a 58-gun fourth rate ship of the line, from 1755-57 as able seaman, master’s mate and boatswain. John Milligen was commissioned as a master and commanding officer in his Majesty’s Navy from 1761 and by 4 June 1768 was promoted to captain. He sailed for North America in 1777 to Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the American War of Independence, in command of the flagship Blonde, a 32-gun fifth-rate Royal Navy frigate of war, capturing several American and French vessels including Duc de Choiseul which he ran aground on April 24, 1778. He was also in command of the Dunkirk, a 60-gun, fourth-rate naval warship. During his service, Capt John Milligen sailed with Sir George Collier, Rear-Admiral Francis William Drake and Peter Puget when he entered the navy at age twelve. Capt John Milligen returned to Plymouth in December 1779 and resumed harbour service on the Dunkirk in 1780-82 before he retired. The captain was fifty years old when he adopted his nephew John Milligen Seppings in 1780. He died in 1788 age 58.

Edmund Henry Seppings’ maternal grandfather, Thomas Lockyer, died age 49, two years after Edmund’s father, John Milligen Seppings married Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer, and two years before Edmund was born.

Plymouth_Return of fleet into Plymouth Harbour_D Serres 1766
Return of fleet into Plymouth Harbour 1766

Thomas Lockyer (1756-1806) was a successful Sailmaker, Ship Riggings Merchant and Sworn Broker in Plymouth, with warehouses on Southside Street. In the Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811, ‘Master’ Thomas Lockyer made a payment on 26 May 1778 for apprentice Jonathan Cundy and on 18 Nov 1780 for apprentice William Pearson.
The large, wooden sailing ships of the 16th-19th centuries were built mainly in the south of England, in the Royal Dockyards at Deptford, Woolwich, Sheerness and Chatham (Kent), Plymouth (Devon) and Portsmouth (Hampshire). Sails were made from cloth, such as flax (linen), woven from hemp, or cotton, including canvas. Linen had ‘poor resistance to rot, UV light, and water absorption’ (8) and was replaced by cotton during the 19th century. ‘An assemblage of cloths of canvas cut to the necessary length and fashioned to a particular shape … light or heavy according to use in light or heavy winds … (were) numbered according to the thickness and weave.’ (9) The standard length of a canvas bolt was 39 yards and 22-30 inches wide.
‘The hand tools used for making sails 200 hundred years ago are virtually the same as used today.’ (10) Based at ports, the production of sails and ropes were a fundamental industry; essential to both naval and merchant shipping. Thomas Lockyer’s business would have catered to merchant ships trading with Europe and the colonies of North America and the West Indies, the latter two receiving 57 per cent of British exports and supplying 32 per cent of imports by the late 1700s.
‘The Royal Navy had its own Sail Lofts where sails for the RN were made. For Nelsons Victory an outfit of sails prior to Trafalgar was £1300 and it would take 28 men 83 days to manufacture one set of sails.’ (11)
Not long before his death in 1806, Thomas Lockyer advertised in Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, and the Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser, the sale of ‘the handsome fast sailing French private ship of war “L’Intrepide”, 61 feet 2 inches length on deck … Nearly new, has a neat figure head, and well calculated for a privateer, or dispatch vessel’. Plus its cargo of ‘220 hogsheads of red wine; 9 pipes of brandy, 8 hogsheads of brandy and 3 quarter casks of brandy.’ He also had two more condemned prize ships, including L’Aimable Germaine, and the Spanish ship San Pables with its entire cargo, which consisted of ‘Sugar, Cocoa, Jallap, Allspice, Sarsaparella, Corten Eleuthere, Frankincense, Cuchineae, Indigo, Bark, Hides in the hair, Campeachy Logwood, and 1 bale of Plase.’
Thomas Lockyer married Ann Grose in 1777 at Charles the Martyr Church, Plymouth. Five of their sons had successful careers in the Royal Navy and British Army, one as a captain, two as majors and one as a brigadier general.

Edmund Henry Seppings’ father, Lt John Milligen Seppings, was the first of our Seppings ancestors to join the Royal Navy when he left Norfolk for Plymouth.

Seppings_Lt John Milligen s

Lt John Milligen Seppings (1770-1826) entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman on 1st Sep 1780 on the Dunkirk under the command of his uncle, Capt John Milligen. John was almost ten years old. He had a long career as a commander in the Royal Navy and as a Comptroller of Revenue and Chief of Customs at Plymouth, Chatham and Greenwich. In February 1789, he sailed to America aboard a fifth rate frigate, the Penelope 32, where he spent the next two years at the Leeward Islands (where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean) and at Halifax, Nova Scotia. During the next decade he served mostly in the waters of the British Channel, Newfoundland, Holland, the North Sea, and off the Coast of Spain and Portugal in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

H.M.S. Queen, 110 guns... print... , PY0892
John Milligen Seppings became a lieutenant in the West Indies, 1793, while serving on HMS Queen 

John Milligen Seppings was serving on HMS Queen 98 on 1 February 1793, the day that Revolutionary France declared war on Britain. The 2nd Rate ship became flagship of Rear-Admiral Alan Gardner and was commissioned into the Channel Fleet under the command of Lord Howe. By April they sailed to the West Indies and on 14 Oct 1793, John Milligen Seppings was appointed second lieutenant and lieutenant at arms. As an upgraded officer, he served under Sir Richard King on board HMS Aurora 28 and the 5th Rate HMS Druid 32 (1793-97). From March 1797 to February 1798, he served as lieutenant on HMS Swiftsure 74 and on the 2nd Rate ship Blenheim 90 under Captain Arthur Phillips off Cadiz, Spain. He then served under Capt Cuthbert Collingwood on the 3rd Rate Excellent 74. In the Mediterranean and off the Coast of France in a line of Battle ships off Cadiz and Brest, he served for almost three years under Lord St Vincent on his 1st Rate (104) Ville de Paris. On board the Montague he was briefly given the role of acting captain.

In 1801, under Admiral Cornwallis on the Ville de Paris, Lt John Milligen Seppings’ job was to ‘detain and bring into the nearest portal ships belonging to Russia, Denmark and Sweden.’

In 1802, ‘after the unsatisfactory conduct of the Revenue Cutters attached to Nelson’s attack on Bologna it was decided that a naval officer should superintend their equipment. Much against his will he was nominated by Lord St Vincent then 1st Lord of the Admiralty.’ Lt John Milligen Seppings was ‘compelled to accept’ and appointed as Surveyor for Sloops & Boats in the Service of HM Customs. ‘In 1809 the Revenue cruisers were attached to an expedition against Flushing under Sir Richard Strachan.’ Lt John Milligen Seppings was responsible for the ‘management, equipment and reputation,’ and received an appreciative letter from Sir Richard Strachan about ‘their conduct and equipment.’ (12)

Like his brother Sir Robert Seppings, Lt John Milligen Seppings was a man with good ideas. In 1819, ‘I laid before the Navy Board a proposal amphlifying the steering apparatus in Men of War by dispensing with the Sweep – in toto – shortening the Tiller nearly one half and introducing and securing on the rudder iron on with an Alteration in the wheel by which much expense, freedom and accident from shot are avoided – less liable to be out of order. A great comfort and convenience reduced to the Officers of HM Vessels.’ (13)
When he retired in 1821, Lt John Milligen Seppings was considered ‘a very intelligent and meritorious officer.’ (14) He died age 55 in 1826. His brother, Sir Robert Seppings, had a stone monument erected on the south wall of Chudleigh Church, Devon, with the words – To the memory of John Milligen Seppings esquire. He was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and for many years filled an important post in His Majesty’s Customs. As an officer his conduct was marked with discretion and bravery …

Uncles –

Sir Robert Seppings (1767-1840)

Sir Robert Seppings (1767-1840) was one of the most highly commemorated in the history of the Royal Navy for his numerous and important improvements to the functions of ships and the dry dock. In his nearly fifty years of service as a Master Shipwright, Naval Architect and Surveyor of the Navy, Robert Seppings vastly improved productivity in the dockyards, found more economic ways of using timber in shipbuilding, and designed a stronger British fleet. Seppings was the first person to introduce extensive use of iron into shipbuilding, instigating the birth of the iron steamship.
In 1782, fifteen-year-old Robert Seppings was adopted by his uncle Capt John Milligen who found him work with a friend John Henslow, then assistant Surveyor to the Royal Navy at Plymouth Dockyard. Henslow accepted Robert as an apprentice shipwright. Faith Packard wrote, ‘The care with which he was taught by, and the kindness he received from Mr Henslow were to help bring out in Robert those qualities which were to contribute so much to his success in the future. Robert received a carefully planned education at the hands of Mr Henslow in the various docks, ships and lofts at Plymouth Yard, but it seems probable he had already been given schooling at Fakenham.’ John Henslow was an outstanding shipwright and later knighted for his work.

Plymouth Dockyard_Oil painting_Pocock, Nicholas_1798
Plymouth Dockyard 1798

In 1797, Robert was appointed an assistant Master Shipwright at Plymouth Dockyard and in 1800 he invented a device named ‘Seppings Blocks’ which reduced the time and labour required for inspecting and effecting repairs to the lower hulls of ships in dry dock. ‘Where the old system needed the services of five hundred men, Seppings’s system required but twenty men and two-thirds of the time formerly required.’
For this invention Robert received £1,000 from the Admiralty, a gold medal in 1803 by the Society of Arts, and in 1804 was promoted to be a Master Shipwright at Chatham Dockyard.
Between 1805 and 1813, Robert Seppings launched several ship of the lines, frigates, brig-sloops and sheer hulks. He observed truss design in contemporary bridges and applied the same principles to the hulls of wooden warships to increase stiffness, prevent drooping and arching of the keel, enabling ships to better take the force of cross-winds and improving a ship’s sea worthiness. He also fitted diagonal timbers between the gunports and diagonal carlings between beams and laid diagonal deck planking.

Seppings_Robert_Sir_Conway_nile_binders & iron riders
Sir Robert Seppings’ Conway (Nile) binders & iron riders
A truss of ‘diagonal riders_ stiffened the hullA truss of ‘diagonal riders’ stiffened the hull
A conventional frigate compared with the much longer ship made possible by the ‘Seppings_ system of constructionA conventional frigate compared with the much longer ship made possible by the ‘Seppings’ system of construction

Seppings wrote in his paper On the great strength given to Ships of War by the application of Diagonal Braces, ‘Since the time that I first suggested the principle of applying a diagonal frame-work to ships of war, which was first partially and successfully adopted in the Kent, a seventy-four gun ship, in the year 1805, my mind has been continually and anxiously turned to this important subject.’
Quoted as saying, ‘partial strength produces general weakness,’ Robert Seppings significantly improved the strength and seaworthiness of the Navy’s fleet through the design of the bow and the stern, and by using hollow masts. He also understood the heavy loss of life on the Victory at the battle of Trafalgar was caused by shot passing unimpeded through the boarding of the beakhead. In 1807, Seppings recommended a reinforced circular bow. The round stern also allowed the guns a better arc of fire. The RN favoured his battleship HMS Kent until 1811 when larger ships were able to be built with more stability.

Model of 'Caledonia' (1808), 120 guns, three decker ship of the line The framing of Seppings_ circular sternModel of Caledonia 1808 ship of the line, with square bow and stern next to the round bow and stern system introduced by Sir Robert Seppings.                The framing of Seppings’ circular stern

There was a timber crisis in Britain with the best oak from the Weald forests of Kent and Sussex gone for use in shipbuilding. 8,500 cubic meters of timber was used in the construction of the hull of a first rate ship like the Victory – 6,000 trees from 100 acres of woodland; 90 per cent oak. (15) The great curved pieces needed to construct a wooden warship had become unobtainable. ‘The fleet which fought at Trafalgar had been patched up with timber salvaged from ships captured during earlier wars, and a fresh supply would take many decades to grow.’ (16)
Robert Seppings developed his fundamental reform of ship structure at the height of this crisis. The invention of the blast furnace meant iron could be smelted using coal, both of which were plentiful in the north of England and cheap. Seppings advocated the use of iron strapping and iron structural parts to replace those of wood.
On 14 June 1813, Robert Seppings was appointed to the office of Surveyor of the Navy. In 1815, he designed the two-deck 2nd rate 80 gun ship of the line Canopus Class and in 1816 the 46 gun Frigate Modified Leda Class of which the Admiralty ordered six vessels with his modified design that incorporated a circular stern and ‘small-timber’ form of construction. A further twenty-three ships were ordered to this modified design in 1817.

In 1818, the Royal Society gave Robert Seppings the Copley medal

Robert Seppings was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London on 10 March 1814 and invited to present his ideas on the new system in a paper which he read to them, and supplied details in print. He read a second paper before the Royal Society on 27 Nov 1817 and another in March 1820. In 1818, the Royal Society gave him their oldest and most prestigious award, the Copley medal, for his ‘Papers on the construction of Ships of War, printed in the Philosophical Transactions’.
Robert Seppings received a knighthood on 17 Aug 1819 on board the Royal George yacht ‘under sail, the royal standard flying’.

HMSUNICORN_1968a  2006-0131-IMGP0726modcrop-Unicorn-Figurehead-WRS-phot-good-light-BEST-260x300
HMS Unicorn, one of the six oldest ships in the world, was designed by Sir Robert Seppings and is moored at Dundee, Scotland

In 1824, Sir Robert Seppings designed the Unicorn, purposely constructed for Antarctic exploration. It encompassed all of his innovative designs: the Round Bow, Round Stern, diagonal timber bracing replaced with iron knees, riders and stanchions, and built-up solid bulwarks. The Unicorn represents the last of wooden shipbuilding and the transition, within a few years, from wooden sailing ships to ships built of iron and powered by steam. ‘The complete ‘Seppings’ system was so effective that it allowed wooden ships to be built strong enough to stand the weight of heavy steam engines, boilers and coal, and also long enough to provide the extra space needed for these.’ (17)

HMS Conway at Rock Ferry
HMS Conway at Rock Ferry, designed by Sir Robert Seppings (1828)

From 1825 to 1830, Sir Robert Seppings designed the Satellite Class and the Scout Class, an 18 gun Ship-Sloop, the Conway Class and the Andromache Class, a 28 gun Frigate. He retired on 9 June 1832, however, in 1834, he designed the 18 gun Corvette Daphne Class.
In 1836, Oxford University gave him the degree of D.C.L. He received valuable gifts from the Emperor Alexander of Russia and the kings of Denmark and Holland to mark their appreciation of his professional services. He was a member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, honorary member of the Philosophical Society of Cambridge, and a corresponding member of the Philosophical Society at Rotterdam.
Seppings established an official reference collection of ship models which are kept in the National Maritime Museum. The frigate Unicorn is moored at Dundee, Scotland.
Sir Robert Seppings died at Taunton on 25 September 1840 at the age of 73.
His eldest son, John Milligen Seppings, was the Inspector of Shipping under the East India Company at Calcutta for twenty years. His grandson, Captain Edward Seppings, with his wife and two children, was killed at Cawnpore during the mutiny, ending Sir Robert Seppings’ male line.

Helen Seppings (1765-) married MD John Pleasance (1759-1793) in 1796. He was an Inspector of Naval Hospitals.

Edmund Henry Seppings had seven uncles on his mother’s side, five of whom were in military service. Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer’s brothers in service were Captain Nicholas Lockyer, Major Edmund Lockyer, William Lockyer, Major Orlando Lockyer and Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer. His great uncle Edmund Lockyer, a solicitor and four times notable mayor of Plymouth, had a daughter Eleanor Margaret Penrose who married Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Pym KCB in 1802.

Thomas Lockyer (1780-1854) was the eldest son of Thomas and Ann Lockyer. In 1792, aged 12, Thomas was sent off to France for the purpose of learning French, in exchange for a French lad who came to Plymouth. It was common practice for merchants to have their sons learn the business and learn a language. When unrest began in France, the French boy was sent home. Thomas was sent inland to stay with relatives of his French hosts. They became afraid so he left and joined the French Army as a drummer boy, passing himself off as French.
In 1794, Thomas had not been heard of for 16 months and was thought to have been massacred at Noirmoutier. He managed to get to Bordeaux where he heard English being spoken on the quay. For six months he avoided detection, shifting from ship to ship, all under embargo, in the character of an American sailor, but there was no offering of escape until the American frigate Venus, still trading with France, was given permission to sail. The captain who knew his father in Plymouth. Half way across the Channel, the captain put Thomas into a fishing boat to take him to Falmouth and he got home safely.
In 1803, Thomas Lockyer married Jane Rivers ((1783-1859) and they had eight children. After Thomas’s father died in 1806, he continued his father’s brokerage business and continued to reside at Wembury house. After his mother died in 1820, they moved into South Wembury House which he had acquired in 1804. Thomas became a Plymouth Freeman, a Justice of the Peace, County Magistrate and Deputy-Lieutenant of Devon. On 17 September 1806, he was elected Mayor of Plymouth
According to the family, ‘when he was annoyed or upset, Thomas would sit on the veranda and play his drum.’  Granddaughter Annie Frances Lockyer (1844-1927) visited South Wembury House often. She described Thomas as a ‘severe and passionate man, very deaf and used an ear trumpet.’

HMS Sophie

Captain Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847), Thomas and Ann Lockyer’s second child, began his naval career at age eleven, serving during the Napoleonic Wars in the Channel and the Baltic, at Newfoundland, in the Expedition to the Scheldt, on the Lisbon and West India stations, including the blockade of St. Domingo. He was promoted to a lieutenant in 1803, a commander in 1806 and a captain on 29 March 1815. His conduct was considered ‘brave and intrepid’. (18)
From 1809-14, Capt Lockyer commanded the 18-gun Cruiser class brig-sloop Sophie 18 on the Channel and Halifax stations. During the War of 1812, he participated in the ‘economic war against American trade,’ capturing or destroying numerous small merchant vessels, two brigs, ten schooners, and two sloops. His was an active career taking prizes and operating against American privateers. Up and down the Eastern Seaboard he made prizes of American schooners bound for New York with cargoes of rice and corn, cotton, flour and bread, sugar and coffee. (19)

Lockyer_N_Cpt_BattleLakeBorgneHornbrookCapt Nicholas Lockyer led the advance in the Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana, between British and American naval forces in the War of 1812.

In December 1814, Capt Nicholas Lockyer succeeded in commanding fifty boats, barges, gigs and launches, carrying 980 Royal Marines and seamen, to attack American gunboats in the Battle of Lake Borgne. Lockyer attacked a flotilla of five gun-vessels, ‘with such judgment and determination, that, in spite of the enemy’s formidable force, they were all captured in so serviceable a state as to afford the most essential aid to the operations connected with the expedition against New Orleans.’ Lockyer led the advance to the gunboat of the American commander, most of her crew being killed or crippled and in boarding he was dangerously wounded. (20)
Capt Nicholas Lockyer’s subsequent appointments were to a command on Lake Ontario, in passages to Quebec, the Tagus, the Mediterranean, Sierra Leone and off the coast of Portugal. In 1832, he was part of the Dutch Blockade fleet, in command of Stag, 46. On the Albion 90, Capt. Lockyer served at first as Flag-Captain to Sir David Milne at Devonport, then on the Lisbon station, and finally with the Channel squadron. On 28 June 1845, His Royal Highness Prince Albert was received by Capt Lockyer on board the Albion 90, where they proceeded to the captain’s cabin, across the stern gallery and on deck for the presentations of officers. Captain Nicholas Lockyer wore the ribbon of Companion of the Bath.
He died of bronchitis on 27 Feb 1847 on board and while in command of HMS Albion, at Malta, aged 65. He was Mayor of Plymouth 1823-24 and 1830-31. He was described by his nephew, Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer as ‘a distinguished warrior (who) would certainly have been an admiral but for his independent spirit and blunt expression of opinion.’
There is an inscription in St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth –
‘To the Memory of Captain Nicholas Lockyer, R.N., C.B.,  who died in command of Her M. S. Albion, at Malta, February 27 Anno Domini 1847 age 65 years. This tablet is erected by the Officers and Ship’s Company of Her M. S. Albion, and a few shipmates, as a Testimonial to their Regard and Esteem to him, their late Captain and Friend.’


Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860) was an artist, soldier, explorer, Commandant of Convicts, Police Magistrate and Superintendant of Police, a Serjeant-at-arms to the Legislative Council, NSW, the first Usher of the Black Rod, and captain of the first Sydney Volunteer Rifle Corps. His main claim to fame, however, in his 25-year military service, was in establishing the first British Settlement in Western Australia and hoisting the Union Jack at Residency Point, Albany, on 21 January 1826, formally claiming the western third of Australia, and therefore officially bringing the whole of the New Holland continent under the control of the British Crown.

Edmund Lockyer entered the British Army as an ensign in the 19th Regiment in 1803, was promoted to lieutenant and then captain in 1805, and became a major in 1819. He served in England, Ireland, India, and Ceylon in the Kandian War (1815-16). In 1824 he transferred to the 57th Regiment and sailed with them for Sydney in 1825 with his second wife Sarah and ten children.
Governor Brisbane instructed the Major to lead an expedition of the Brisbane River as far as he could go ‘with prudence’. He explored the upper reaches in a small boat, reporting on the fauna, minerals and the ‘natives’, and was the first person to identify coal in Queensland. (21)

Lockyer_Edmund_sketch_King Georges Sound_1826_1279_apAustview
Major Edmund Lockyer’s sketch of King Georges Sound (1826)

Fearing the French might colonise the western coast of Australia, the British government instructed Governor Sir Darling to occupy a site at King George Sound, on the southwest coast. In 1926, Darling appointed Major Edmund Lockyer to sail from Sydney on the brig Amity, to establish a military garrison and settlement, which he called Frederick’s Town; re-named Albany in 1831. The expedition included his son, ensign Edmund Morris Lockyer, Lieutenant Festing and a detachment of 20 of the 39th Regiment under Captain Wakefield, 23 convicts, a surgeon, as well as livestock and supplies.

In 1827, Lockyer sold his commission and retired from the Army, having decided to settle in the colony near Sydney. For his service as an explorer and colonial administrator, he was granted 2560 acres near Goulburn in the Southern Tablelands of NSW which he named Lockyersleigh. By 1837, he had added 3635 acres to the property by purchase, and by 1853 the estate totalled 11,810 acres. He also built a house, Ermington, on an estate near Ryde.

In 1828, Darling appointed Major Lockyer Principal Surveyor of Roads and Bridges, then in 1829 he became Police Magistrate at Parramatta and Superintendent of Police. Lockyer went on to do more exploring, mining of iron ore and silver on Lockyersleigh, was involved in the establishment of Albury, the discovery of coal in Ipswich, and the building of the Great South Road. He married three times and had fifteen children. His wives were Dorothea Agatha Young nee De Ly (1790-1816), Sarah Morris (1784-1853) and Elizabeth Colston (1835-1884). His first son was a lieutenant, his second son an adjutant and his last son was Sir Nicholas Colston Lockyer, C.B.E., I.S.O. (1855-1933), a senior Australian public servant and best known as Comptroller-general of the Department of Trade and Customs.
Major Edmund Lockyer died in 1860 age 76.

William Lockyer (1785-1858) was Comptroller of Customs, and Mayor of Plymouth (1815-16). In the 1812 Plymouth Directory, William, was listed as a Merchant on Southside Street. He was described as a Gentleman; a Plymouth Gent who was made Comptroller as part of his civic duties.
William married Louisa Love (1791-1845) at Tamerton Foliot. Their only child was Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904), born at Newton Ferrers.


Major Orlando Lockyer (1787-1819) joined the 2nd Exmouth Company of Volunteers in 1801 and by 1805 he had been appointed as ensign. Orlando Lockyer became a lieutenant without purchase. He was on the ‘Peninsula Roll Call’ of 25 Mar 1808 with the Regiment 5th Foot Infantry which embarked for Portugal in July for service in the Peninsula War. He served in the Peninsula from July 1809 to Jan 1810, possibly at the Battle of Corunna in Spain under Sir John Moore in 1809. He retired in 1810.
‘Following the Battle of Waterloo and the end of the great English wars against the French, Orlando was one of many unemployed English army and naval officers recruited for the conflict in South America known to history as the Latin American War of Independence or the Spanish Patriot Cause. On 9 December 1817, Orlando was one of 80 officers bound from England for South America on the transport Grace waiting at anchor off Cowes for the weather to clear.’ (22)
It was here, on the Isle if Wight, a duel took place at Northwood House between Major Orlando Lockyer and Lieutenant John Sutton, after Lockyer took offense to a comment made by Sutton whilst both were drinking at the Dolphin Inn. In the morning, at the agreed duelling place, Lockyer shot Sutton through the heart. As duelling was illegal, he was found guilty of manslaughter and imprisoned for 3 months. From his defence Orlando was described as an ‘honourable and good tempered man’ and ‘He had been a soldier from his fifteenth year; he had faced death in the various battles of Buenos Ayres, Albuera, Vimiera, Corunna, Busaco, Rodrigues, Badajos, and Salamanca.’ (23)
It appears Orlando became a mercenary serving in South America under general Gregor MacGregor. It was reported in The Times 18th October 1819 – ‘By the Tarantula which arrived at Plymouth on Tuesday from St Domingo we learn that out of 28 Officers who left this country to join the Standard of the South Americans under Macgregor and who escaped with him to the West Indies after his defeat 20 fell victims to the climate. Amongst these was Major Orlando Lockyer a native of Plymouth.’ Orlando Lockyer died in 1819 at sea aboard the Tarantula at San Domingo age 32.

Charles Christopher Lockyer (1795-1828) was a Freeman of Plymouth and a solicitor of London, at 11 Harcourt Buildings, Temple. He died in his 34th year having endured a long and painful illness.

Lockyer_Henry Federick_British Headquarters_photo
Major General Henry Frederick Lockyer, CB, KH, Brigade commander in the Crimea 1854-1855. Seated in middle, at British Headquarters.

Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer CB, KH, (1796-1861), the youngest son of Thomas Lockyer, joined the British Army as an ensign in the 71st Regiment of Foot on 18 Mar 1813. He served in the Peninsular from August that year to the end of the war including in the Battles of Neville, Nivi, Orthes, Aire (where he was severely wounded on the left wrist and elbow joint), and Toulouse, France. He became a lieutenant on 19 Jan 1814 and captain on 20 June 1822.

71st_Foot_uniform  71st Regiment of Foot

On 28 April 1823, Capt Henry Frederick Lockyer and his family departed London on convict ship Henry comprising of the Guard of 32 rank and file of the 3rd Regiment (Buffs) and 160 convicts from England, Scotland and Wales plus some soldiers who were court-martialled at Gibraltar, Chatham and Halifax. The voyage took 120 days, entering Port Jackson on 26 August. The 3rd Regiment had its headquarters in Sydney between 1822 and 1827 and companies were dispatched continuously to various outstations, serving in Tasmania and with other detachments at Newcastle, Liverpool, Parramatta, Port Macquarie and Bathurst. Captain Lockyer and his wife sailed to Hobart on the Mariner in December 1823. The regiment shipped to India at the end of its service.
Henry was promoted to major on 12 June 1835. He joined the 97th Foot Soldiers unit on 26 Oct 1841 and became a lieutenant colonel two days later. In 1847, Colonel H. F. Lockyer, K.C. was commanding H.M. 90th Regiment in garrison at Malta when his older brother Capt Nicholas Lockyer died there while in command of HMS Albion.
On the 20th May 1854, he sailed for the Pireaus, Athens, in command of the British contingent, directed in conjunction with a French force, for the occupation of Greece. In November, he joined the army in the Crimea, and commanded the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, until August 1855, ‘never missing a tour of duty in the trenches.’ (24) According to the Military Gazette War Office in 1855, Lockyer had the local rank of brigadier general in the Army in Turkey. He was a major general from Oct 26, 1858.
He left the Crimea to take up his appointment as Commander of the Forces in Ceylon. There he was appointed acting Governor of the island on 30 June 1860 until 30 July 1860 when his health failed.
It was reported on page one of the Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 1860, that Henry F Lockyer died 30 August 1860 aged 64 from Atrophy, from the effects of climate, on board the Peninsular and Oriental steamer SS Ripon on his return journey home from Alexandria.

Lockyer_HF_Officier medal of the French Légion d'honneur Lockyer_HF_Medaille_de_crimee
For his services in the Peninsula, Lockyer received the silver war medal and three clasps. He was made a Knight of the Hanoverian Guelphic Order in 1837 and in 1856 was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. In recognition of his services during the war with Russia, he was awarded the Crimean medal with clasp for Sebastopol; made an Officer of the Legion of Honour of France for ‘Excellent military conduct delivered, upon official investigation’ and received the order of the Medjidie of the third class from the Sultan of Turkey.

Peninsula & Orient Steamer Ripon
Peninsula & Orient steamer SS Ripon (on right) on which Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer CB, KH died in 1860

The next blog post – The Age of Sail – Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ and his brothers in the military – looks at Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ RN service and that of his brothers – John Milligen Seppings, Nicholas Lockyer Seppings, Lt Alsworth Merewether Seppings and Lt William Lawless Seppings.

Illustration Credits –

‘HMS Sophie on right from Jack Aubrey’s Commands by Geoff Hunt, RSMA (left to right) HMS Leopard, HMS Surprise, HMS Bellona, HMS Sophie’
‘HMS Calcutta 84 guns, in a gale on the 22nd April 1858, in the Gulf of Pechili, China.’ Lithograph, coloured by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton and Frederick le Breton Bedwell. Dedicated by permission to His Excellency Rear Admiral Sir Michael Seymour KCB, Commander in Chief of the East India and China Stations (PAH0844)
‘HMS Ville de Paris (1803)’
‘Plymouth’s shipyards, depicted in an 18th-century illustration’ (Photo: Getty Images)
‘Midshipman. No.5.; Hand-coloured etching by Artist: Thomas Rowlandson, Engraver: Henri Merke, Publisher: Rudolph Ackermann. Depicts clothing, outerwear: uniform [Royal navy] 1799’
‘Lieutenant.  No.7.; Hand-coloured etching by Artist: Thomas Rowlandson, Engraver: Henri Merke, Publisher: Rudolph Ackermann. Depicts clothing, outerwear: uniform [Royal navy] 1799’
‘Captain. No.8.; Hand-coloured etching by Artist: Thomas Rowlandson, Engraver: Henri Merke, Publisher: Rudolph Ackermann. Depicts clothing, outerwear: uniform [Royal navy] 1799’
‘Admiral. Hand-coloured etching by Artist: Thomas Rowlandson, Engraver: Henri Merke, Publisher: Rudolph Ackermann. Depicts clothing, outerwear: uniform [Royal navy] 1799’
‘Royal Navy midshipman uniform coat 1780s’
‘Epaulette. Part of the naval lieutenant’s uniform of Lt. William Hicks, 1812-25’
‘The 1774 captain’s full dress frock coat would have been worn by Capt John Milligan’ From the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Royal United Service Institution Collection. Object ID: UNI0011
‘American Privateer Pioneer taken by HMS Sophie, 1812′ – BW Photo of watercolor painting by Warren 1812-15
‘HMS Rodney (1833); Warship; Second rate; 92 guns’ –
‘HMS Caledonia (1808) Warship; First rate; 120 guns’ –
‘The Battle of Trafalgar (1805)’ – Oil on canvas by Richard Henry Nibbs, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
‘Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1777’ –
‘Return of fleet into Plymouth Harbour 1766’ Oil painting by Dominic Serres (1766) –
‘Lt John Milligen Seppings’ – Source unknown
‘H.M.S. Queen’ lithograph, coloured, by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
The Ship Ville de Paris under Full Sail, a painting by Thomas Buttersworth
‘Sir Robert Seppings’ – oil on canvas by William Bradley (1833)
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
‘Plymouth Dockyard’ – oil painting by Nicholas Pocock (1798)
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital
‘Sir Robert Seppings’ Conway (Nile) binders & iron riders’ –
‘A truss of ‘diagonal riders’ stiffened the hull’ –
‘A conventional frigate compared with the much longer ship made possible by the ‘Seppings’ system of construction’ –
‘Model of Caledonia 1808 ship of the line, with square bow and stern next to the round bow and stern system introduced by Sir Robert Seppings.’
‘The framing of Seppings’ circular stern’ –
‘The Royal Society Copley medal’ –
‘HMS Unicorn moored at Dundee, Scotland’ –
‘HMS Unicorn’s figurehead’ –
‘HMS Conway at Rock Ferry’ –
‘HMS Sophie’ –
‘The Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana, between British and American naval forces in the War of 1812’ oil painting by Thomas L. Hornbrook
The U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland
‘Major Edmund Lockyer’ – Source unknown
‘Major Edmund Lockyer’s sketch of King Georges Sound 1826’ –,-Western-Australia-Antique.aspx
’19th Regiment of Foot and ’57th (West_Middlesex) Regiment of Foot badge’ –
‘Major Orlando Lockyer’ – Source unknown
‘Crimean War 1854-56 Major General Henry Frederick Lockyer, CB, KH, who commanded a Brigade in the Crimea from November 1854 to August 1855, at British Headquarters. On the left – Lt. Col. Edmund C. Legh, 97th Regiment.’
Royal Archives, Windsor Collection –
’71st Regiment of Foot’ –
‘Officier medal of the French Légion d’honneur’ –
‘Medaille_de_crimee’ –
‘Peninsula & Orient steamer SS Ripon’ –

Research Resources

Our Family History by Faith Packard (1989)

Robert Rowland, Wembury Local History Society
Robert King, Research and Collection Team, Devonport Heritage Centre

9, 10 & 11 from Robert King, Research and Collection Team, Devonport Heritage Centre, referencing  HMS Victory Owners Workshop Manual by Peter Goodwin Haynes Publishing Group (2015) and Oxford Companion to Ships and Sea Edited by Peter Kemp, Oxford University Press (1976)
(12) Notes from Frank Seppings (unknown source)
(13) Notes from Frank Seppings (unknown source)
(14) Notes from Frank Seppings (unknown source)
(15) Victory
(18) Naval Biographical Dictionary/Lockyer, Nicholas
(20) Naval Biographical Dictionary/Lockyer, Nicholas
(24) Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Friday 16 November 1860, page 1

National Maritime Museum –
“Uniform and Medals:Research guide U1: Uniforms: The National Maritime Museum Collection”. National Maritime Museum
“Officer ranks in the Royal Navy”. Royal Naval Museum Navy ranks, rates, and uniforms of the 18th and 19th centuries of the Royal Navy Navy and battles in history/battle of trafalgar 1805.htm Occupations Ship and Boat Building (National Institute)
‘A Sailor’s Life for Me – A day in the life of a Royal Navy Sailor from 1806’
Journals of the House of Commons, Volume 4 by Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons
Journals of the House of Lords, Volume 10 1509-1649 by Great Britain House of Lords
The Sailing Navy List: all the ships of the Royal Navy – built, purchased and captured 1688 – 1860 by David Lyon
British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714-1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates By Rif Winfield (2007) Seaforth Publishing

Capt John Milligen (1730-1788)
With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters: Journals of 12 Crewmen, April–June 1792
Naval Documents of the American Revolution Volume 12, American Theater (1778)
By Navy Dept. (U.S.), Michael J. Crawford, Dennis M Conrad, E Gordon Bowen-Hassell, Nark L Hayes, Naval History & Heritage Command (U.S.), Govt Printing Office

Thomas Lockyer (1756-1806)

Lt John Milligen Seppings (1770-1826)
‘Memorandum of the Services of Lieutenant John Milligen Seppings’ –
from Frank Seppings (original source – Royal Navy records),_1st_Earl_of_St_Vincent

Sir Robert Seppings (1767-1840)
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51 London: Smith, Elder & Co
Seppings, Robert by Edward Milligen Beloe
On a New Principle of Constructing Ships in the Mercantile Navy, by Robert Seppings © 1820 The Royal Society.
Frigates of the Napoleonic Wars Robert Gardiner, London, Chatham Publishing (2000)
Philosophical Magazine: Volume 48 (1819) Royal Society p 458-459
Gentleman’s Magazine, Or Monthly Intelligencer, Volume 49
Seppings, R. (1818) On The Great Strength Given To Ships Of War By The Application Of Diagonal Braces, From The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Bulmer, p. 6

Capt Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847),_Nicholas
The Naval History of Great Britain from the Year 1788-1836, Volume 2 by Edward Pelham Brenton P 531
A List of Flag Officers and Other Commissioned Officers of His Majesty’s Fleet; with the Dates of their Respective Commisions.

Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860)
‘Lockyer, Edmund (1784–1860)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,
First published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Major Orlando Lockyer (1787-1819)

Brigadier General Henry Frederick Lockyer (1796-1861)
Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Friday 16 November 1860, page 1
The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 209, page 443

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The Lockyer Homes – England

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Map of Plymouth (1820)

When our Milligen, Lockyer and Seppings ancestors lived in Plymouth, Devon, it was one of the largest seaports in England. ‘On the west bank was Plymouth Dock, renamed Devonport in 1824, the site of a major naval base and dockyard, which had grown spectacularly during the eighteenth century so that by 1801 its population exceeded that of Plymouth.’ Near the smaller town of Stonehouse were the royal marine barracks, naval hospital and victualling yard. Between 1812 and 1844 the mile-long breakwater was constructed, which created ‘one of the largest and safest harbours in Britain’. (1)

Lockyer – Plymouth

Plymouth Barbican_Victorian
In the late 1700s, the Lockyer family lived in the Island House, on Southside Quay, Plymouth, the stand alone building in the centre of this photo (1890)

Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer was born in Plymouth, Devon, 1782, the fourth of eleven children, named after her mother, Ann Grose. Her father, Thomas Lockyer (b. 1756 Plymouth) was a successful Sailmaker and Ship Riggings Merchant who rented a ‘Plot of ground on which have been erected warehouses’ on Southside Street, Plymouth, ‘Conventionery rent – 1 pound, 5 shillings; 20 pounds fine paid on last renewal 8 Apr 1801’. (2)
He also rented the Island House on Southside Quay, Plymouth, where the family lived. There is a record showing he paid £240 on 23 December 1796 for building and … (possibly adjacent buildings and the lands appropriated to the use of the household).

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The Island House is one of the principle buildings of historic interest on The Barbican, Plymouth, today.

Island House, No 9 The Barbican, named because it has a road around it, was constructed by Mr Johnathon Sparke and is dated as early as 1572 when the quayside was built. It was one of the houses where the Pilgrim Fathers lodged prior to their final departure for America on September 6th 1620 in the Mayflower. (3) Sir William Molesworth, an heir of Mr Sparke, leased the Island House to the Bayly family who, in 1786, purchased the freehold. It is possible that Thomas Lockyer rented the house from the Bayly family soon after when they moved to a new property further along the Barbican.

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Island House, Plymouth, late 1800s and after the Blitz (1941)

The Elizabethan house survived the destruction of Plymouth in the Blitz, but during an air raid on the night of 13th/14th January, 1941, it sustained considerable damage and was restored in 1948 and again in 1992.

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St Andrews Church, Plymouth (1832)

Thomas and Ann Lockyer’s children were all baptised in St Andrews Church, Plymouth. Of the seven boys, one became a mayor of Plymouth, one was the Comptroller of Customs, Plymouth, one became a Captain, one a Brigadier General and two were Majors in the Royal Navy, and one was a solicitor in London. All were married. Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer married Lt John Milligen Seppings at Charles the Martyr, Plymouth, in 1804. Her elder sister had died in infancy but her two younger sisters, Eliza Maria Lockyer (b. 1791), married in 1809 in Wembury to Henry Allworth Meriwether esq. of the Inner Temple, London, an Attorney General and Town Clerk of London, and Jane Edwards Lockyer (b. 1793), married Edward Hobson Vitruvius Lawes esq. of the Inner Temple, London, Barrister at Law, in 1815.

Lockyer – Wembury

Coastal view of Wembury House ruins high up in the distance. 1797 watercolour by Rev. John Swete

Wembury House

In 1802, Thomas Lockyer bought a property out of Wembury village on the south coast of Devon, close to Plymouth Sound. Wembury is six miles from Plymouth and was an area of  ‘medieval manors, open fields, and the emergence of substantial agricultural estates’. (4) With a population of around 400, they were ‘structured in a strict social hierarchy’. A few prominent landowners controlled the estates; beneath them were their tenant farmers and a large agricultural labour community lived in settlements of rented cottages.

In The History of Devonshire Vol 3 (1806) Richard Polwhele writes that Thomas Lockyer paid £26,500 plus £1,500 for the timber at auction for the property which included the ruins of Wembury House, 890 acres, an additional rental manor, and a ‘valuable fishery’. The immense tidal fishpond on the Yealm Estuary, which ‘contrived so as to be stored with fish by the influx of the tide, and closed by the floodgates, which prevented their return to the ocean’ included ‘every sort of fish that frequented the coast’. (5)

‘Wembury Place’ is Wembury House (1809)

The property is described on the Wembury House website as in ‘unspoilt countryside in the South Hams which is designated as an “area of outstanding natural beauty”. Set at the top of a valley it has views down to the Yealm estuary.’ Wembury House has a long and distinguished history dating back to the Augustinian Priory of Plympton, founded in 1121. From the remains of a cell of the priory, the first Wembury House, built by Sir John Hele, was a ‘16th century mansion of legendary grandeur’ and one of the most important houses in the parish. An exceptionally grand multi-storey mansion, it was recorded in the Devon Hearth Tax of 1674 as having 42 hearths – the largest number recorded in any house in Devon. (6)

In 1685, John Pollexfen began to remodel and rebuild the Elizabethan house with ‘elaborate gardens and landscaped parks’ but later generations of his family could not afford to maintain it. John Pollexfen’s granddaughter sold Wembury House in 1757 to Sir William Molesworth who had also owned the Island House in Plymouth where Thomas Lockyer and family lived. By 1797, the diarist John Swete described the manor as ‘in a state of great decay if not entirely dilapidated’. Sir William Molesworth’s daughter was the heiress to his estates and married Earl Camden who sold the Wembury House property to Thomas Lockyer in 1802.

In 1803, the recently retired Merchant decided to demolish the ruin and start again. Polwhele recorded the disposal and removal of materials which Thomas sold for eight hundred pounds, including the gilded sash window frames and the Portland stone facing to the walls (possibly reused in Traine Farm). The Barton Farm, in front of the ruin, was also demolished and landscaped as a park. He then built the present Old Barton Farm and New Barton Farms, splitting the land between them. A member of the Wembury Local History Society, Robert Rowland from Traine Farm explained, ‘A Barton was originally a large farm that grew barley ie Barleytown or barleyton. Wembury Barton was about 400 acres so Thomas made two farms of it and built the farmhouses and barns accordingly. There is an L for Lockyer in the centre of the front wall of one of the barns at Old Barton.’

The Devon Rural Archive describes the late Georgian Manor House built for Thomas Lockyer between 1803 and 1806 as ‘on the lower terrace of a split-level site on a very exposed hilltop site, evidently chosen for its wide views … A large walled area to the west, apparently belonging to the late C16 period encloses a garden of varying levels with a gently sloping central lawn, scarped away to the present house. A raised buttressed terrace at its west end was crenellated and seems to have formed part of a formal garden associated with Sir Hele’s mansion. Flanking walls and tree belts protect the house and its gardens from westerly winds, with a small gothic lodge to the north. Many architectural fragments of the earlier houses are built into these walls. Large walled gardens lie in the valley to the east, at the foot of which is the large tidal fishpond.’ There are several outbuildings including gardeners’ bothy, stables and associated buildings, an orangery and well-house. An earthwork Rampart, or raised terrace, located across the lawn in front of the present house are surviving remains from Sir John Hele’s 16th century house, as are the kitchen garden, conservatory and a pavilion.

Wembury House_garden_archway and steps
Steps to Ramparts, Wembury House. An archway beneath the central steps of the terrace, now walled up, is said to have led to the sea via an underground passage.

Thomas Lockyer’s Wembury House is of national importance. In the Wembury Heritage Data Base, it has two storeys plus attic and basement, built of rubble with ashlar dressing, a slate hipped roof, and rusticated quoins. There is also a Tuscan porch with cast-iron balcony. It has a Grade II National Heritage Listing for the building, garden boundary walls and two pairs of gate piers north-west and south-east, two pairs of gate piers and link walls 230 metres north-north-east, kitchen garden walls built of stone rubble and gate piers with moulded caps and ball finials and ornamental wrought iron gates, thirteen buttresses on the outer wall terrace, steps on leading down to lawn and more buttresses at the sides.

Wembury House_Robert Rowland archiveWembury House

On 9 Aug 1806, Thomas Lockyer died after being thrown out of his carriage and the wheel rolling over his leg which became gangrenous. He was buried on 15 August in the floor of the North aisle of St Werburgh’s Church, Wembury. Thomas’s death led to the manor being advertised for sale in Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post on the 14 July 1808, with the land increased to 946 acres. It was described as including ‘a new-built mansion house, with lawn in front, a coach-house and suitable stabling … a bowling green, and a most elegant vinery and plant-house … Also, the Ferriage or Passage over the Haven and River of Yealme, called Shepeing Ferry, with the Tolls and Dues of the said River, and the Water, Piscary, Fishing, Oysterage, and Royalty of, in, and through the same’.

According to Faith Packard in Our Family History, Edmund Henry Seppings was brought up by his grandmother, Ann Lockyer, in Wembury, and kept his cousin, William (Edmund Lockyer’s first born), a year younger, company. Edmund and William also spent time together in Australia in the early 1840s.

Wembury House_website_banner

Wembury House – see for more interior photos

On 23 June 1809, a document was drawn up to enable partial sale of the estate to Thomas’ brother, William Lockyer of Plymouth, merchant. The sale included West Wembury farm – a large farmhouse built of slate rubble with granite quoins and slate hung front; slate roof with gabled ends, (Rider’s, Hercules’ and Willing’s tenements) Lye’s or Warren’s, Luke’s, Witherage’s, and Nicholas’s tenements, Kelly’s Garden and Furze Park, Wembury Mill, cottages and gardens, Rowe’s, Prinn’s and Tregosses’s tenements, North Ditch and Good House or Kimber’s tenement, Saffron Park, Higher and Lower Church Park, the Old Inn public house, Freesland and Wood Park in Wembury.

West Wembury Farm_1927
West Wembury Farm (late 18th century)

‘Thomas junior was in need of funds to complete the building work on the house etc. and to fulfill the terms of his Father’s Will.  In those days they could not just sell the freehold, they had to do something called Lease and Release in two documents,’ explains Robert Rowland. The Lease was 25 shillings and one peppercorn! Listed on the document in The National Archives are Thomas’ brother Edmund Lockyer of Plymouth, esq, John Harris the younger of Radford, Plymstock, esq, Samuel Wroth of Modbury, maltster, Henry Rivers the younger of Stowford, gent, and Thomas Lockyer (junior) of Wembury House, Wembury, esq, who would have been the executors of Thomas senior’s Will. (7)
‘It is a bit confusing as to which Edmund, William or Thomas they refer as the names occur in both generations. Edmund 1782-1816 was a very important figure in Plymouth so would have taken the lead as head of the family.’

On 26 May 1814, the manor was again offered for sale in Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, reduced to 550 acres. ‘All the doors of the sitting and best bedrooms, 24 in number, are made of a very beautiful Spanish mahogany’ while to the rear was ‘a mount or terrace, about 300 feet in length, 30 feet wide and 30 feet high, commanding extensive views of the ocean’. The Calmadys bought West Wembury from William Lockyer in 1814, extending the Langdon Estate, but the manor house was not sold until 1822, following the death of Thomas Lockyer’s wife, Ann, in December 1820, to the diplomat Sir Edward Thornton. (8)

Thorn House (South Wembury House/Lockyers Cottage)

THORN FROM THE RIVER_1910s_postcard_1914_Thorn House, in isolation on the left_Fishpond Cottage and Boathouse Cottage
A 1914 postcard of Thorn House, on the left, and in the mid ground, on the river bank, Fishpond Cottage and Boathouse Cottage, above them is one of the walled gardens and above that, the stables.

It is possible the Lockyer family lived at Lockyers Cottage while the new Wembury House was being built. Wembury Local History Society member, Robert Rowland, wrote, ‘Lockyers Cottage has had several different names – South Wembury House, South Wembury Court, and now Thorn. It was originally the gate house to the first Wembury House built by Sir John Hele. It is situated by the River Yealm as everything in the early days came via the river. In the Hearth Tax returns of 1662 it was recorded as having 13 fire hearths, quite a substantial property, as most people had one or two. Wembury House was sold off, but the family kept the estate and moved permanently to Lockyers Cottage.’

After Thomas Lockyer’s death, his son, Thomas, moved into what became the new manor house, South Wembury House, overlooking the Yealm, and soon afterwards 536 acres were transfered from the ‘Manor of Wembury’. (9) According to A.G. Collings in A Wembury History – Medieval to Modern, ‘Lockyer’s Cottage’ on the tithe map was depicted as a small structure, but was to be considerably extended by the 1860s. The building was by then the very imposing ‘South Wembury House’ with garden buildings to north and south.’

On the Thorn House and Garden website, it says ‘the exact date of the present house is unknown, however it is on the site of an earlier building which goes back centuries as evidenced by the existence of Tudor cellars. South Wembury House was refurbished in the early 19th century by Thomas Lockyer.’

The ‘Gifthouse’ was the Hele Almshouses. ‘Wembury’ is Wembury House. The other buildings shown are St Werburgh’s Church and Langdon House (1765)

Sir Warwick Hele of Wembury, in his will of 1625, established a charity which ‘appointed and ordained 10 poor people to be kept and maintained in his alms house at Wembury for ever, to be chosen and appointed by him that should be owner of South Wembury House’. (10) In 1806, when Thomas Lockyer succeeded his father in South Wembury estate, there were nine women in the almshouse. In 1812, according to The Charities in the County of Devon, ‘the buildings being in a very dilapidated state, it became necessary to lay out a considerable sum upon them; whereupon Mr. Lockyer, the owner of South Wembury House, advanced the ‘money required, without interest, intending to reimburse himself out of savings arising from vacancies among the alms-people, without discharging any, or stopping their allowances. He has also, at various times, permitted his own materials to be used in the buildings. From his account it appears, that the sum expended in repairs since 1808, amounts to 67 l. 9s. 2; d. The alms people consist of women who are old and very poor … and we are told by Mr. Lockyer, that he proposes to select such poor old persons, of either sex. The alms-people are each paid, quarterly, 15s.’
The Ecclesiastical Chapel at Hele Almshouses in the centre of a row of six rubblestone Residential Hele Almshouses (Listed) were built close to Wembury House by Sir Warwick Hele circa 1590 and are still in use.

The road to Wembury House is described in The Tourists Companion Being a Guide to Plymouth, 1823, as ‘the elegant modern residence of Thomas Lockyer, Esq. commanding extensive prospects over the fertile districts along the banks of the Yealm.’ It then takes us on a short walk ‘to the mouth of that river, where we cross to Newton Ferrers, by the help of a ferry-boat. This village, whose pleasing and salubrious situation renders it a favourite retirement for naval officers, is placed on the banks of the estuary.’

‘The 1851 census confirms the presence of high-status residences in the parish,’ writes A. G. Gollings. ‘Charles Calmady at Langdon Hall farmed 850 acres, while Sir Edward Thornton still occupied Wembury House and Thomas Lockyer occupied South Wembury House’ and owned the Old and New Bartons.

Thorn House_paintingSouth Wembury House (now Thorn House)

The Thorn House and Garden website reveals, ‘In 1876 Richard Cory, a wealthy London coal merchant, bought the South Wembury estate from the Lockyers. The Cory’s added a ballroom and billiard room; guests included the Prince of Wales and his brother the Duke of Edinburgh. In 1920 the house was sold to William Arkwright, who renamed it ‘Thorn’.’ He developed terraces and formal grounds in imitation of those at Sutton Scarsdale. The next owner, the Hon. Mrs Ida Marie Sebag-Montefiore, an enthusiastic horticulturalist, added more. When she left Thorn in 1938, she gave some of the land to the National Trust and the estate was gradually broken up into smaller units. John and Eva Gibson have lived at Thorn since 1981.

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St Werburgh’s church, Wembury (1943)

Thomas and Ann Lockyer, and their son Thomas and his wife Jane Lockyer are buried in St Werburgh’s church, Wembury, and commemorated on wall plaques. The Parish Church, overlooking Wembury Beach, is Grade 1 listed and dates from at least the 14th century.

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Lockyer memorial ledger inside St Werburgh’s church, Wembury, North Aisle

Transcription –
THOMAS LOCKYER ESQ died August 9th 1806 Aged 49 Years
ANN wife of the Said THOMAS LOCKYER Died 8th of December 1820 Aged 65 Years Also THOMAS LOCKYER ESQ Eldest son of the above named THOMAS & ANN LOCKYER who died April 29th 1859 Aged 76 Years

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Lockyer memorial wall plaques inside St Werburgh’s church, Wembury

Major Edmund Lockyer, the third son of Thomas and Ann, was famous for raising the British flag in Albany, Western Australia, on 21st January 1827 and claiming it for the Crown. In the south aisle of St Werburgh’s church is an Australian flag and Western Australian flag. The WA flag was presented to St Werburgh’s in 1941 by the Australian Government to commemorate Edmund Lockyer’s deed. The Australian flag was presented to the church in 1979. Edmund Lockyer’s first son, William, was christened at Wembury House in 1808.

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In the south aisle of St Werburgh’s church is a plaque and a Western Australian flag commemorating Major Edmund Lockyer.
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In the old yard of St Werburgh’s church is Thomas and Jane Lockyer’s youngest son James Lawes Lockyer’s grave.

Members of Thomas Lockyer’s family were Mayors of Plymouth on 9 occasions.
Thomas’ brother Edmund Lockyer was a prominent lawyer in Plymouth and was responsible for building the Royal Theatre and the Plymouth Atheneum in ‘grand Palladian style,’ but it was all lost in WW2. (11) The Lockyer’s are remembered in Plymouth with Lockyer Street, Lockyer Court, Lockyer Road, Lockyers Quay, the once Lockyer Hospital, Lockyers Quay Pub Restaurant and Lockyer House B & B.

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Wembury House, Thorn House and the River Yealm, Wembury

Photo & Illustration Credits

‘Map of Plymouth, Devon’ Engraved by John Cooke (1820)
‘Southside Quay, Plymouth’ (1890)
Google Maps Images – Island House, The Barbican, Plymouth
‘Island House, Plymouth, late 1800s’
‘Island House, Plymouth, after the Blitz’ (1941)
‘St Andrews Church, Plymouth’ hand-painted steel engraving drawn by Thomas Allom and engraved by Wallis for “Devonshire Illustrated” (1832)
‘Wembury’ watercolour by Rev. John Swete (1797) – Devon Record Office
Wembury map (1809) Ordinance Survey First Series, Sheet 24
‘Steps to Ramparts, Wembury House’
‘Wembury House’ photograph by Robert Rowland, Traine Farm – Wembury Local History Society
Wembury House photos –
‘West Wembury Farm late 18th century’ Wembury Local History Society
‘South Wembury’ postcard (1914)
Benjamin Donn’s map of Devon (1765 )
‘South Wembury House’ (now Thorn House)
‘St Werburgh’s church, Wembury (1943)’ Wembury Local History Society
‘Lockyer memorial ledger’ photograph by Wembury Local History Society
‘Inside St Werburgh’s church, Wembury’ photograph by Sue Carlyon, Wembury Local History Society (2017)
‘Lockyer memorial wall plaques’ photographs by Sue Carlyon, Wembury Local History Society (2017)
‘Plaque commemorating Major Edmund Lockyer’ photograph by Sue Carlyon, Wembury Local History Society (2017)
‘Western Australian flag’ photo by Sue Carlyon, Wembury Local History Society (2017)
‘James Lawes Lockyer’s grave’ two photos by Sue Carlyon, Wembury Local History Society (2017)
‘Wembury House, Thorn House and the River Yealm’ (1946) photograph – Wembury Local History Society
‘Thorn House and the River Yealm, Wembury’ photograph

Research Resources
Wembury Local History Society –
Sue Carlyon and Peter Lugar, Wembury, Devon
Robert & Sheila Rowland Traine Farm, Wembury, Devon

(1) Brian Moseley, Plymouth
(2) The Charities in the County of Devon 1839 James Newman, London
Great Britain. Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities 
(3) Brian Moseley, Plymouth
(4) Wembury Local History Society
(5) The Reverend Daniel Lysons, Topographical and Historical Account of Devonshire, London, 1822, p.549
Wembury House, Devon: ‘a house of legendary grandeur’.
(6) T.L. Stoate, Devon Hearth Tax Returns 1674, Bristol, 1982, p. IX.
(7) Wembury Deeds (Ref 447)
(8) Mills, J., Rowland, R. & M., & Broughton, P. 2000 Wembury at the First Millennium: A Description of the Domesday Manors of Wembury Parish in Devonshire p 21
(9) 19th Century Thorn
(10) The Charities in the County of Devon 1839 James Newman, London
Great Britain. Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities
(11) Wembury Local History Society member, Robert Rowland.

Richard Polwhele, The History of Devonshire (3 vols, 1797-1806)
A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies of England By John Burke 1 January 1838
The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009 Available from Cambridge University Press
The Tourists Companion Being a Guide to Plymouth
The_Tourist_s_Companion_Being_a_Guide_to (Plymouth) pdf
A Wembury History – Medieval to Modern A.G. Collings with contributions by members of Wembury Local History Society
Pigot’s Commercial Dir. (1830), 228-30; White’s Devon Dir. (1850), 632-63, 689-91, 696-703; PP (1835), xxiii. 595-6; W. Hoskins, Devon, 208-10, 213-14, 453-60; C. Gill, Plymouth, 77-171.
Devon Gardens Trust

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Where the Milligens Lived

Harleston_Market place_1820
Harleston Market Square, Norfolk

Milligen – Norfolk

The Milligen family came from Glasgow, Scotland, to set up business and settle in the market town of Harleston, Norfolk, England, in the early 1700s. James Milligen was a Linen Draper, as was his son, John Milligen, born in Glasgow, 1694. We don’t know exactly where the family lived in Harleston, but James was buried 9 Oct 1940 at Redenhall near Harleston. The villages of Redenhall and Harleston are now a combined town covering an area of 13.73 km2. In 2001, the population was 4,058 in 1,841 households.

John Milligen married Elizabeth Smith, from Harleston, sometime before 1730. According to Faith Packard in Our Family History, ‘theirs was a happy marriage.’ They had two sons and four daughters none of whom carried on the draper’s business. ‘John retired to Shouldham near King’s Lynn where he bought himself a small estate and lived as a country gentleman.’ Shouldham covers an area of 16.04 km² and had a population of 608 in 246 households when I visited in 2001.

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Harleston, Norfolk                                         Shouldham, Norfolk

John and Elizabeth Milligen’s first born, John Milligen (b. 1730), moved to Plymouth, Devon, to become a Captain in the Royal Navy. Their youngest, Lydia Milligen (b.1740), married the Harleston cattle dealer, Robert Seppings, of Fakenham, Norfolk, in Fakenham, 1760. John Milligen, the father, died on 27 January 1762 aged 68 years at Shouldham, Norfolk, and was buried at the chancel of Shouldham Church in a family vault. The All Saints church is outside Shouldham in an elevated position overlooking the village. Built from a mixture of Carrstone and flint, the tower dates back to the late 13th/early 14th century.

Shouldham Church_Evelyn Simak All Saints church, Shouldham
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In the aisle of the church is a brass plate with an inscription honouring the bodies of John Milligen and his unmarried daughter, Mary (1733-1827), lying beneath.

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Faith Packard made a three cushion canvas work sedilia seat for Shouldham church to commemorate both John Milligen and his grandson Sir Robert Seppings. The sedilia seat was dedicated by the Bishop of Ely on his visit to Shouldham in 1973.

Milligen – Plymouth

Plymouth_The Barbican, Pool & Co_steel engraving drawn by T. Allom, engraved by H. Wallis_1829

Capt John Milligen married Martha Phillips in 1759 in Plymouth, Devon. After his father died in 1762 they were well-off with money inherited from his father’s Will. They had no children of their own, but in 1780, at age 50, the captain adopted two of his sister Lydia’s children – Lydia Seppings (b. 1762) and John Milligen Seppings, age 10 (b. 1770) who was placed in the navy as a midshipman on Dunkirk, a store ship under the command of his uncle. When his father, Robert Seppings, died in 1781, age 47, Capt John Milligen adopted his older brother, Robert, age 14, and their six-year-old sister, Elizabeth. In 1782, he put Robert Seppings to work at the naval shipyards at Plymouth as an apprentice shipwright. He also adopted two orphaned daughters of his brother Thomas Milligen – Martha Phillips Milligen (b. 1766) and Charlotte (b. 1770) who would later marry her first cousin, Robert.
We don’t know where the Milligens and Seppings actually lived in Plymouth – many records were destroyed in WW2 – but it could have been at No 28 Gasken St.

Milligen_Plymouth_28 Gasking St_a Plymouth_Map of WW2 Bombings_1941
Gasken/Gasking St, Plymouth, Devon      WW2 Bombings, Plymouth, 1941

Capt John Milligen died in Plymouth in 1788. In his Will, he bequeathed ‘his house etc, to his wife Martha Phillips Milligen and his niece Charlotte Milligen’. One year later, John Milligen Seppings drew up his Will. At 18 years of age, he wished to leave his worldly estate to his Aunt Martha Milligen who was then residing at No. 28 Gasken Street, Plymouth. The house was probably destroyed during the Plymouth Blitz, 1941, as it no longer exists.

Photo & Illustration Credits

Harleston Market Square, Norfolk (1820)
Google Maps – Harleston, Norfolk
Google Maps – Shouldham, Norfolk
All Saints church, Shouldham, Norfolk, photograph by Evelyn Simak (2010)
Brass plate in All Saints church, Shouldham, Norlfolk, photo by Katherine Seppings (2001)
Handwritten inscription of brass plate by Faith Packhard
Cushion sedilia seat by Faith Packhard, All Saints church, Shouldham, Norlfolk, photograph by Katherine Seppings (2001)
The Barbican, Pool & Co, Plymouth
Steel engraving drawn by T. Allom, engraved by H. Wallis (1829)
Google Maps – 28 Gasking St., Plymouth
Map of WW2 Bombings, Plymouth, 1941 – Plymouth Library

Our Family History Faith Packard (1989)
Letter from Frank Raymond Seppings (2001)

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Seppings Ancestral Homes – England

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Where did our Seppings ancestors live?
The earliest record we have is of William Seppings, son of Thomas Seppings, born in Fakenham, Norfolk, 1638. William, an Oatmeal Maker, and his wife Dorothy, had five sons. The second son, Robert, our ancestor, was born in Fakenham in 1666.

Fakenham, on the river Wensum, is 40 km west of Norwich and 30 km north east of King’s Lynn. The Saxon name Fakenham means Hamlet (Ham) on a Fair (Fa) River (Ken). In 2001, when I visited the region to see where our Seppings ancestors had lived, the population was 7,357 in 3,292 households. In the 1086 Domesday Book, Fakenham only had 150 residents. The hamlet was given a Charter in 1250 and became a market town. On the other side of the river was the larger community of Hempton which hosted pilgrims at its abbey. In 1536 Henry VIII abolished the abbey and Fakenham became the dominant centre with market stalls set up around St. Peter & St. Paul’s parish church.

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Coxford Abbey Farm postcard

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Coxford Abbey Farmhouse 2001

Robert Seppings, also an Oatmeal Maker, married Mary Hobbart in East Barsham, north of Fakenham, in 1706. They lived at Coxford Abbey Farm, Kings Lynn, North Norfolk, with their four children. ‘1712’ can be seen on the side of the building.

The remains of Coxford (Cokesford) Priory are in a field out the back, beyond an old brick wall to the south of the house. Founded around 1140, at St Mary’s church, East Rudham, the Augustinian Canons Regular transferred their community of priests to Coxford in 1216. The priory, dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536, was constructed of flint with stone dressings and is a grade II listed ruin.

In 2001, David and Ann Carter lived at Coxford Abbey Farmhouse. They allowed me to photograph the aerial image (1965) and the B/W postcard above.

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Coxford Abbey Farm 1965

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The remains of Coxford Priory are in a field beyond an old brick wall south of the house. Detail above front door of house.

Robert and Mary Seppings’ third son, Thomas (b. 1704), was our ancestor. Thomas, a Butcher, married Elizabeth Ballestone in 1726 at St Margarets church, Norwich, Norfolk. They had six children. Their third child, Robert, our ancestor, was born in Fakenham in 1734. Elizabeth died on the 4th of June 1752 and her husband Thomas died a week later on the 12th. Robert was almost 18 years of age and his youngest sibling was 11 years old. Elizabeth was buried on the 8th of June in the Churchyard at Fakenham, and Thomas was buried there on the 14th.

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St. Peter & St. Paul’s church, Fakenham.
Thomas and Elizabeth Seppings were buried in the Churchyard in 1752.
Robert and Lydia Seppings married there in 1760 and all their children were christened there. Robert was buried in the Churchyard in 1781.

Thomas and Elizabeth Seppings’ son, Robert, became a Cattle Dealer. He married Lydia Milligen, daughter of a Linen Draper in Harleston, at St Peter & St Paul’s church, Fakenham, in 1760. Robert and Lydia Seppings lived in a house in Holt Street, Fakenham, where their seven children were born. All were christened at St Peter & St Paul’s church. Their first two babies died soon after birth. Three girls and two boys survived. The two boys were Sir Robert Seppings (b. 1767) and his younger brother Lt John Milligen Seppings (b. 1770), our ancestor.

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Robert and Lydia Seppings’ home in Holt Street, Fakenham, where their children were born, including Sir Robert Seppings (b. 1767) and his younger brother, Lt John Milligen Seppings (b. 1770), our ancestor.

The home in Holt Street, Fakenham, is eight miles from Burnham Thorpe, where Admiral Horatio Nelson was born in 1758. (Captain George Vancouver was born nine months earlier in nearby King’s Lynn.) Robert Seppings’ cattle dealing business did not prosper, and from the age of twelve, his eldest son, Robert, carried letters to a neighbouring town by mule to contribute to the family.

The father, Robert Seppings, died in 1781, age 47, and was buried in the Churchyard at Fakenham. John Milligen Seppings and his sister, Lydia, had already been sent to live with their mother’s brother, Captain John Milligen, a retired Mariner in Plymouth, Devon. He and his wife, Martha, had no children, so in 1780 they adopted John, age 10, and placed him in the navy as a midshipman on Dunkirk, a store ship under the captain’s command. When John’s father died in 1781, his uncle adopted his older brother, Robert, age 14, and in 1782 put him to work at the naval shipyards at Plymouth as an apprentice shipwright under senior shipwright Mr Hensow. Captain John Milligen also adopted the boys’ six-year-old sister, Elizabeth Seppings, and two orphaned daughters of his brother, Thomas Milligen – Martha Phillips Milligen and Charlotte who would later marry her first cousin, Robert.

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Map of Plymouth, Devon, 1820

Robert and Charlotte Seppings married in 1795 at the Parish church, Charles District, Plymouth. The navy board recognized Robert’s ingenuity and in 1804 moved him to Chatham as a master-shipwright. They lived at the Official house, Dockyard, Chatham, North Kent. When Robert Seppings was appointed to the office of surveyor of the navy in 1813 he worked in the South Wing of Somerset House, a large Neoclassical building on the south side of the Strand in London, overlooking the Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. Robert, Charlotte and their family of five surviving children lived at 6 Somerset Place, one of a row of houses used as dwellings for Admiralty officials on the western edge of Somerset House, until 1832 when he retired. The row of houses was demolished in 1856 for a Victorian wing. In 1989, I visited the North Wing of Somerset House where the Registrar office held all Birth, Marriage and Death certificates in England and Wales.
Robert and Charlotte moved to No 3 Mount Terrace, Taunton, Somerset, in 1832. Charlotte died there two years later and Sir Robert Seppings died there in 1840, age 72.

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Sir Robert and Lady Charlotte Seppings’ home –
No 3 Mount Terrace, Taunton, Somerset (1989)

Lt. John Milligen Seppings married Ann Maria Marshall Lockyer at Charles the Martyr church, Plymouth, Devon, in 1804. They lived at Lime-kiln Lane, Greenwich, Kent, from 1804 to 1819 where nine of their eleven children were born. These children were all christened at St Alphages Church of England, Greenwich. Lt Edmund Henry Seppings, our ancestor, the first Seppings to live in Australia, was born at Lime-kiln Lane, Greenwich, in 1807. In the Baptism Register at St Alphages, John Milligen Seppings is listed as ‘Gentleman’. He was employed by the Royal Navy as Surveyor of Sloops and Comptroller of Revenue Cutters at Customs House, and Chief of Customs Service. Greenwich was a significant riverside town then but the rest of the borough was predominantly rural. Nearby Deptford and Woolwich had royal dockyards. Lime-kiln Lane is now named Greenwich South Street.

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Edmund Henry Seppings was christened at St Alphages Church of England, Greenwich, Kent, in 1808. Map of Greenwich 1805.

In 1819, when Lt. John Milligen Seppings retired from the Royal Navy, he and Ann moved to Budliegh, East Devon, before purchasing Culver House, a classic double-fronted 3-storey plus attic, six bedroom Georgian home at 31 New Exeter Street (formerly Culver Street), Chudleigh, Devon, where their youngest two children were born. According to the Chudliegh History Group, the name Culverhouse Meadow appears in a will of 1679. All large medieval manors had dovecotes and a culver was a keeper of pigeons, a bird often used in cuisine. A ‘For Sale’ advertisement appeared on 29 April 1819 in the Exeter Flying Post. Lt. John Milligen Seppings was the first recorded occupier using the Culver House name and started living there in 1821. The Chudleigh churchwarden accounts records the first time payment received from ‘Mr Seppings for his seat £1 17s 6d’ in that year.

Chudleigh is a small town in Central Devon, between Newton Abbot and Exeter

Lt. John Milligen Seppings lived at Culver House until his death, age 55, in March 1826. In May, his wife Ann put the house on the market and advertised their home in the Exeter Flying Post. Her uncle, Edmund Lockyer Esq., was involved in the handling of the sale. Culver House consisted of ‘conviently attached and detached offices, courtlage, yards, coach-house, stables, and gardens.’ There were also two fields of rich pasture adjoining the gardens – ten acres amply supplied with water ‘in a high state of cultivations.’

Seppings John Milligen - Sale Culver House by widow_a 1838_tithe_map1_culver_houseCulver House advertisement in the Exeter Flying Post 24 May 1826.
Extract from the 1838 Tithe map showing Culver House, Garden and Meadow plots outlined in yellow.

In 1843, Eliza Jane Bicknell Seppings, second daughter of the late Lt John Milligen Seppings, married Thomas Yarde Esq. in the Parish Church, Chudleigh, Newton Abbot, Devon. They had three boys and a girl. The Yarde family bought Culver House and occupied it from 1851 to 1909. Eliza died in 1854. The Chudliegh History Group note the Yarde family were recorded as ‘making improvements’. The house was probably doubled in size for the Yarde family in 1851/52 and extended again in the early 1880s. In the mid-1930s, the house was converted to nine flats and a vicarage was also located there during 1948-1954. By the 2000s all the flats were empty and in 2015 the building was becoming derelict. In 2016, the property was sold as three separate lots (Culver House, The School House & The Old Vicarage) and by September 2017 the three sections were being restored.
The high stone wall fronting the property is an important feature of the New Exeter Street streetscape. The wall and gate piers are Grade II listed (28 April 1987). The gateway is now the main entrance to the public Culver Gardens – previously the garden of Culver House – which included a Victorian rockery thought to have been a fernery and is now restored as such.
The National Buildings Register entry:
A section of wall containing dipping place for drinking water and gate piers to the
drive of Culver House. Local grey limestone rubble with dressed coping stones and
ashlar gate-piers. Tall stone wall with a round-headed niche for dipping place
(disused). Tall gate piers of square section with pyramidal caps. Larger inner gate
piers have deep chamfered inside corners, the chamfers have stops or moulded
corbels at their tops on which there are flat cap stones.

Culver House today in a derelict state
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Culver House, Chudleigh, early 2000s

In the 1841 census, Ann Seppings, age 55, of ‘Independent means’, was living in Main Street, Chudleigh, Devon, with daughters Eliza (25), Augusta (20), Charlotte (15) and Edward (15). In 1851, Ann M Seppings, Lieutenants Widow (68) was ‘Head of House’, living with daughters Augusta M Seppings (30), Charlotte E Seppings (29) and servants Rhode Drinkwater, the cook (63), and Ann Manley, housemaid (23), at 22 Cathedral Yard in the Parish of St Martin, Exeter, Devon.
The parish of St Martins covered 0.7 hectares. In 1821 there were 329 residents in 62 houses which dropped to 207 in 1867. All the houses are now shops and offices. The Seppings residence is currently Michael Spiers Jewellers (2017).

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Ann M Seppings lived at 22 Cathedral Yard, Exeter, Devon in 1851 (house with blue shutters, now a jewellery shop)

Note: Lt John Milligen Seppings’ brother, Sir Robert Seppings, named his first son John Milligen Seppings (b. 1798) who had two children – Capt Edward James Seppings, born in 1826, Calcutta, India, who died, along with his wife and children, in 1857 at Cawnpore, Utter Pradesh, India, ending Sir Robert Seppings’ male line; and Charlotte Marianne Seppings, born 1828. In the 1841 census, could Charlotte (15) and Edward (15) have been those two children? Lt John Milligen Seppings and Ann M Seppings, had a daughter, Charlotte, but she was 19 years old in 1841. Charlotte E Seppings, age 29, was listed as living with Ann in 1851.

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Ann M Seppings died in 1859 at 6 Lower Summerlands, Exeter, Devon

Photo & Illustration Credits
Google Maps – Fakenham, Norfolk, England
‘Fakenham Sign’ photograph by Katherine Seppings (2001)
‘Coxford Abbey Farm postcard’ photo courtesy David and Ann Carter
‘Coxford Abbey Farm 2001’ photo by Katherine Seppings (2001)
‘Coxford Abbey Farm 1965’ photo courtesy David and Ann Carter
‘Coxford Abbey Farm old brick wall’ photo by Katherine Seppings (2001)
‘Detail above front door of house’ photo by Katherine Seppings (2001)
‘St. Peter & St. Paul’s church, Fakenham’ photo by Katherine Seppings (2001)
‘Seppings’ home in Holt Street, Fakenham’ photo by Katherine Seppings (2001)
‘Map of Plymouth, Devon’ Engraved by John Cooke (1820)
‘No 3 Mount Terrace, Taunton, Somerset’ photo by Katherine Seppings (1989)
‘St Alphages Church of England, Greenwich, Kent’ photo by Katherine Seppings (1989)
‘Map of Greenwich 1805’ Ordnance Survey First Series, Sheet 1 – GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Greenwich in Kent | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Google Maps – Chudleigh, Devon, England
‘Culver House advertisement’ Exeter Flying Post 24 May 1826.
‘Extract from the 1838 Tithe map showing Culver House’ courtesy Chudleigh History Group
‘Culver House early 2000s’ Image 1 & 3 – courtesy Clive Pearce Property, Truro, Cornwall; image 2 & 4 – courtesy Woods Estate Agents & Auctioneers, Chudleigh.
‘Cathedral Yard map’ courtesy David Cornforth Exeter Memories
Google Maps – 22 Cathedral Yard, Exeter, Devon
Google Maps – 6 Lower Summerlands, Exeter, Devon

Research Resources

The Gentleman’s Magazine p 422 (1843)

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Seppings Name

Seppings_Coat of Arms_crop

The name Seppings, originally from East Anglia, England, is thought to have derived from the nickname ‘Sevenpence’, someone not very tall.* One of the earliest listed is John Wolman Sevenpens (1403) in the Calendar of Norwich Freemen 1317-1603: Edward II to Elizabeth Inclusive under Henry IV. In 1524, the name was recorded in the form Sevenpennys and Sevynpenys. Through the centuries, Seppings has been spelt Seppens, Sippins (1540), Sypphinge, Sibbinge (1548), Sibbynge (1552), Seppins (1625), Sipins (1674), Sepens (1674), Sipping (1694), Sippons (1761), Sepings, Sippings and Sepping.

In Our Family History (1989), Faith Packard wrote, ‘It may have originated in north Suffolk as it appears in documents from the Halesworth – Blythburgh area in the 14th and 15th centuries. The parish registers of Fakenham in North Norfolk and the parishes round about have frequent mentions of the name from the beginning of the registers in the mid 16th century.’ In Suffolk, the Seppings name was referenced in 1540 when Nycholas Sevenpennys held lands and a family seat as Lord of the Manor.**

In Fakenham, Norfolk, where the Seppings name is deeply rooted, a fire damaged the town on 4 Aug, 1738 and, unfortunately, the early parish registers were lost and in them ancestral information on the Seppings. Other historic documents shedding light on the Seppings name may also have perished in the Norwich Central Library fire in 1994.

If you have the name Seppings in your family and you come across another Seppings you will be related. ‘The name never became widespread,’ wrote Faith Packard in 1989. ‘Though Seppings families are still met with in Norfolk the current London Telephone Directory lists only one Sepping and one Seppings.’ I met that one Sepping in a philosophy class he and I attended at the University of London, 1988.

There are various family history sites on the internet which estimate the numbers of Seppings on record. In 2017, ‘Ancestry’ claims to have 14,107 historical documents with the Seppings name, including 4,751 Births, Deaths and Marriages, 4,089 Census and Voter Lists, 160 Military Records and 112 Immigration Records. ‘My Heritage’ lists 3,141 people with the Seppings name and 917 with the name Sepping. 55% of Seppings lived in Great Britian, 18% in the United Kingdom, 18% in South Africa and 9% in Australia.

‘Research My Name’ states the Seppings name has been established in Europe for nearly 100 years, originally from Britian. They claim records dating back to 1131 suggest there was a contingency of Seppings’s in the county of Leicestershire, though I have not been able to verify this. Neither can I find a reference to their assertion, ‘It is written that a late 18th century Seppings could out drink a Rhino.’ Perhaps so. Many Seppings have been known to enjoy a drop. I agree with their conclusion of Seppings Traits. ‘The Seppings family are well known for their happy personalities.’ Although not all have had happy lives, just look at those smile lines. Listen to a Seppings laugh.

It is interesting to learn that all Seppings were law-abiding – at least there are no criminal records to be found. What the Seppings family name does carry is an extensive military history. Fifteen Seppings men, mostly from England, served in the First World War. Francis Edmund Henry Seppings of Wagga Wagga, NSW, was in the 1st Light Horse regiment at Gallipoli. Edmund Henry Seppings, the first Seppings to arrive in Australia was a Lieutenant with the Royal Navy, as was his father, John Milligen Seppings whose only brother, Sir Robert Seppings, naval architect, is a name well regarded in the history of shipbuilding and one of the most highly commemorated as a surveyor in the Royal Navy.

‘Seppings Blocks’ was a name given, in 1800, to the invention by Robert Seppings, then master shipwright assistant in the Plymouth dockyard, of a device which reduced the time and labour required for inspecting and effecting repairs to the lower hulls of ships in dry dock.

There were two ships named Seppings. The first Seppings, a barque of 393 tons, left Calcutta in 1839 and arrived in Port Jackson, 1840, via Port Phillip, carrying a cargo of sugar and 18 convicts from India, with four soldiers. The second, Sir Robert Seppings, a 628 ton ship, arrived at Van Diemen’s Land from Woolwich, England, in 1852, with 220 female convicts.

In 1826, Major Edmund Lockyer, first cousin of Sir Robert and John Milligen Seppings, hoisted the British flag at Albany and, on claiming Western Australia, an act which officially brought the whole of the Australian continent under the control of the British Crown, he named the freshwater lake there, Lake Seppings. There is a Seppings Island off the west of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, and a Seppings Hill in Ewes, Scotland. Seppings Peak can be found on the island of Naungdaw, Rakhine, Myanmar. The Eskimo village, Kivalinagmiut, on the arctic coast between Point Hope and Cape Krusenstern, was named Seppings Cape by Cpt. F. W. Beechey, in 1827, while exploring the Bering Straight. Seppings Lagoon, Alaska, is on the shore of Chuckchi Sea, 22 miles NW of Kivalina, Kotzabue-Kobuk Low.

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There is a Seppings Road in Norfolk, England, and in the Bangalore district of Karnataka, India, where Edmund Henry Seppings’ brother, Vice Admiral William Lawless Seppings, served in the military cantonment of the British Raj. In Albany there is a Seppings suburb and a Lake Seppings Drive. There is a Seppings Close in Wilburton, Ely, Cambridgeshire; a Seppings Way in Norwich, Norlfolk; and a Seppings Court in Flagstaff Hill, South Australia.

Various businesses have displayed the Seppings name. A Public House in Norfolk had the name Hogge and Seppings from 1861 into the 1920s. W. J. Seppings Butchers, makers of the famous Seppings sausage, was established in 1919 and still supplies meat to Suffolk and Norfolk from the original shop in Beccles. J. Seppings’ Boot Repairs in Yerong Creek, south of Wagga Wagga, NSW, was destroyed by fire in 1923. There was a Sepping’s Universe Cycle Store in Sydney, NSW, in the 1950s, which expanded to several stores and were run by three generations of Sepping. Alan J Sepping Pty Ltd was a Bicycle Accessories & Repairs shop in West Ryde, Sydney, until 2015.

The Seppings name is found as a fictional character, the butler ‘Seppings’, in the award-winning British comedy Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, and as Samuel Seppings, a ‘stolid-looking working-man’, called as a juror in Chapter 15 of The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman. At Dripstone and Mumbil, NSW, in the 1930s, locals played tennis there for the Seppings Cup.

In the first generation of Australian Seppings there were four girls born. One died. The two boys, Edmund Henry Seppings and Francis Merewether Seppings carried on the Seppings name. Edmund Henry Seppings, my great-grandfather, had ten children. Three girls were born and it seems only one survived (though I don’t know when she died). My grandfather, Edgar Shelley Seppings, had five boys and of the three girls born, two survived. From the five boys, three daughters and ten sons were born. All survived. Those ten sons produced fifteen daughters and ten sons. One of those boys has had a son and the name Seppings lives on in a new generation. My grandfather’s brothers produced six sons between them, but of their five sons, one has died and only one boy is born to the current generation.
Francis Merewether Seppings had four sons and four daughters. His boys had five daughters and eight sons between them. The eight sons had five girls and six boys. For some reason, one of Francis Merewether Seppings’ sons, Francis Obediah, dropped the last ‘s’ on his Seppings name and so there is a branch, living in Sydney, with that spelling.

The names Lockyer, Milligen and Staines, from maternal lines, were repeatedly used as middle names for Seppings boys. As was Merewether – due to a family connection. Seppings has been used for a middle name in the Armstrong, Beloe, Buck, Clitherow, Codner, Colthurst, Cosens, Godfrey, Harper, Harrison, Hook, Howlett, King, Laws, Lock, Mitchell, Moore, Noye, Puttock, Tayton, Tirard, Wilson and Wright families, in England, usually with Robert as the first name. Seppings was also used as a first name in the Hook family. The Seppings name appears hyphenated for the famous artist, Henry Charles Seppings-Wright (1850-1937) and there is currently a Sooväli-Sepping as well as several Sepping in Estonia.

Of all the preferred names in Seppings families, John Milligen was used five times (2 were lieutenants), and in the Laws and Puttock families. Robert Seppings was repeated five times, straight, and once with Seymour added. William was used nine times; Thomas, five. Edmund, Edward, and Francis were used four times each. The most popular girl’s names were Charlotte and Mary. Some of the female names, such as Mary Seppings (nee Rapley), acquired the Seppings name through marriage. When my mother, Joan Katherine Webster (b. 1929), married my father, Edgar Shelley Seppings, she took on the same name as his sister, Joan Catherine Seppings, who died as a baby one month before my mother was born.

In the 1800’s, when a child died, the next born of the same sex was usually given the same name. Edmund Henry Seppings named his first son after himself (there was also another Edmund Henry in the Burma branch) and named his first daughter after Grace Darling, an English lighthouse keeper’s daughter who, in September 1838, became famous for seeing the shipwrecked Forfarshire off the Northumberland coast and helping to rescue nine survivors in a lifeboat. Grace Darling Seppings died in her first year but the name was given to the next daughter who survived. Edmund Henry Seppings’ son, Edmund Henry, named his first born daughter Grace Darling as well, but she, too, died in infancy.

My father, Edgar Shelley Seppings, had the same name as his father, the middle name was attributed to one of the most influential English Romantic poets. Shelley was radical in his poetry as well as in his political and social views. Sentiments not lost on the Seppings family or in the passing of time.

*Dictionary of English Surnames by P. H. Reaney
** ‘Research My Name’ website

Our Family History (1989), Faith Packard

‘Seppings Name’ image cropped from Seppings Coat of Arms grant doc. (1825)
‘Seppings Road – Norfolk, England’ photograph by Katherine Seppings (2001)

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