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 (Pt 1)

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, as well as his uncles on his mother’s Lockyer side, the men in his family were all 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 or 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-)
Capt Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847)
Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860)
William Lockyer (1785-1858)
Major Orlando Lockyer (1787-1819)
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)
Major James Hull Harrison (1783-1853) m. Martha Milligen Seppings (1796-1840)
John Milligen Seppings (1798-1863)
Lt. William Edmund Lockyer (1808-1886)
Edmund Morris Lockyer (1809-1872)
Henry Merewether Lockyer (1807-1835)
Capt William Nicholas Love Lockyer (1818-1904)
Herbert Walton Merewether (1816-1843)
John Robert Merewether (1818-1841)
Edward Christopher Merewether (1820-1893)
Major General Sir William Lockyer Merewether (1825-1880)
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 to live with Lydia’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 and Ship Riggings Merchant in Plymouth, with warehouses on Southside Street. 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)
Five of Thomas Lockyer’s 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 in 1780 on the Dunkirk under the command of his uncle Capt John Milligen. 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 five uncles in military service on his mother’s side. 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.

HMS Sophie

Captain Nicholas Lockyer (1781-1847), Thomas 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.


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 eleven 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 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.
(The Library and Museum in Plymouth are currently being rebuilt so the Naval records for William Lockyer cannot be checked.)


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.

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

Part 2 of ‘The Age of Sail – Milligen, Seppings and Lockyer Military Men, England’ looks at Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ RN service and that of his brothers and cousins.
A more detailed military service will appear on individual profiles (yet to come).

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

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

Plymouth_map_nile_1820a sMap 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).

The Island House_Plymouth_Satelite map_a s Island House_The Barbican_Plymouth_05_crop s
Island House_The Barbican_Plymouth_01_crop s Island House_The Barbican_Plymouth_04_crop s
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.

pinsdaddy-plymouth-barbican-island-house-18 Island House_Plymouth_the Blitz_1941_crop
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.

Plymouth_St Andrews Church_handpainted_1832 s
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

WemburyHouse_Devon_1797_ByRevJohnSweteCoastal 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’.

Edmund Henry Seppings stayed for a time with his grandmother, Ann Lockyer, in Wembury, to keep his cousin, William (Edmund Lockyer’s first born), a year younger, company. Edmund and William also spent time together in Australia.

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.

Lockyer_Thomas_memorial slab Wembury_St Werburgh's Church_North Aisle_Sue Carylon photo_2017 sLockyer 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 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.

a-Wembury-Cliffs-and-Yealm-Estuary_edited-1-492x550 Thorn House_aerial
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

Fakenham map_02 England_Norfolk_Fakenham_sign_20010911 s

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.

England_Norfolk_Fakenham_Holt St house_Seppings_20010911a s
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.

Plymouth_map_Engraved by John Cooke_1820
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.

UK_Kent_Greenwich_St Alphages Church_1989a s Greenwich map_1805-Ordnance Survey First Series, Sheet 1 - GB Historical GIS_University of Portsmouth
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
culver-house-230000-2 Culver House_Clive Pearce Property_05 Culver House 1
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).

Cathedral Yard map 22 Cathedral Yard_02
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.

6 Lower Summerlands_02
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.

Pearson_Maya_The Pines_Kirby Cane_England_20011101068

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 sausages, 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, Colthurst, Cosens, Harrison, Hook, Howlett, King, Laws, Lock, Mitchell, Moore, Puttock, Tirard, Wilson and Wright families, in England, usually with Robert as the first name. 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 (Rear Admiral) 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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