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

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

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

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

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

Henry Alworth Merewether 1855

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merewether cousins

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

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

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

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

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

Bowden Hill House, Lacock, Wiltshire 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francis Lewis Shaw Merewether, 1878

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

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

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

James Mitchell, 1854 David Scott Mitchell, 1864

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

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

The Ridge, Merewether, near Newcastle, NSW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elephant Trains. British attack on Tewodros II, August 1868

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

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

Merewether Clock Tower, Karachi

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

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

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

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

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


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

Illustration Credits 

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

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

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

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

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

Merewether Clock Tower, Karachi

Research Resources

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy Eleanor Merewether (1821-)

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

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


About Katherine Seppings

Artist, Writer, Photographer
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1 Response to The Age of Sail – Lt Edmund Henry Seppings’ first cousins – Lockyer side – Merewether family

  1. PR says:

    Thank you –
    You are a brilliant Sleuth – putting Poirot & Sherlock Holmes to shame.
    I read the Mereweathers were living in the Blue Mountains – I was born in beautiful, picturesque Leura in 1943. Nearby Katoomba Cemetery has many of my Relatives buried there. A book was written by an Historian about my Blue Mountain Relative (G Grandfather Henry Peckman – he was a Poet, owned a Horse Coach business in Katoomba. He too has left his mark in Blue Mountains History – he has streets & a Lookout named after him. We come from an interesting Gene Pool.
    Many of our past Relatives left their Mark in History. The new Gene Pool – has slipped into oblivion – we are now just another face in the crowd. I wonder what all of the dutiful wives would think of the many ‘Feminist Females’ today & young people out of control. I feel sorry for most women of yesteryear. Educating females was deemed unnecessary. The lady of the house was a brood mare, obviously, love was involved sometimes. Most wives would have had servants, an easy life ….not including childbirth. But a very boring life. I wonder how many dutiful wives went crazy with boredom – Many Intelligent women trapped in society’s expectation of what women were supposed to be
    Countless dutiful wives died in childbirth. The husbands remarried. I read it was not uncommon for wealthy old men to marry a number of times, because their younger wives died in childbirth. Old men with much younger wives that were still able to produce heirs.
    The good old days? The lives of the poor was horrendous. Aptly described by Charles Dickens.
    Mitchell Library in Sydney has 10 Boxes relating to Major Lockyer &!his Family. I was told his Family Bible was still in existence.
    Over the years I had no luck in trying to find it. I regularly went onto the Mitchell Library Website – I am a Member. No Bible being held by the Library. A couple of years ago I was Online with the Library. Out of curiosity again, I typed in Major Lockyer Bible & up it came. I was overjoyed ….. I rang the Library – it was confirmed they do have his Bible. It was Donated a couple of years prior, by a man with the surname of Lockyer who lives in Perth WA. [Corona] Virus arrived and my trips to the Library ceased – Sydney went into lockdown. I can see the Bible – I need to notify the Library prior to my visit, the Bible is in Storage.
    Major Edmund Lockyer was married 3 times – His first Wife was Dorothea de Ly – was a Burgher in Ceylon, I can’t find anything about her.
    I found her Father he was the Dutch Commandant of Ceylon at the time. Dorothea had a Son, William with the Major. The Major had moved on with Sarah Morris, he must have abandoned Dorothea died at 26yrs of age. The Son, was sent back to England and raised by the Parents (Thomas and Ann nee’ Grose) of Major Lockyer. I wonder what Dorothea’s story is…..I can‘t find anything on Ann Grose, the Major’s Mother.
    William was very young, & sent to England whilst his Mother/Dorothea was still alive! The Major must have been living with Sarah Morris for some time, she had children to him, whilst he was still married to Dorothea. He married Sarah just days after Dorothea died. William as an adult, eventually moved to Australia to be with his Father – he never married.
    We all have skeletons in our closets ! I have an Irish Convict in the Lockyer Family Tree. I wonder what the Lockyer Family would have thought about Edward (he became a Shell Harbour Council Alderman) And being Irish…..a full blown alcoholic, who in a drunken stupor drank Rat Poison. Witnesses & female Publican said he died a slow agonising death, he told them he was dying. Coroner (Wollongong Court) concluded, Edward’s Death was not Suicide. He was drunk & drank the Rat Poison by mistake.

    Best wishes & thanks for your wonderful, informative emails
    Pamela Richards
    (GGGrandfather Major Edmund Lockyer & Sarah Morris) Sydney, Australia

    Liked by 1 person

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