Founder far from home
Bareley a trace remains of the once lengthy inscription carved into the headstone of the founding father of Albany, Major Edmund Lockyer.
Buried alongside second wife Sarah Morris, the final resting place of Maj. Lockyer is unrecognisable as lichen covers the monument in Camperdown Cemetery, Sydney.
Maj. Lockyer carved himself into Albany’s history when he sailed into King George Sound aboard the brig Amity on December 25, 1826 to claim Western Australia for Britain.
The Devon-born Englishman first arrived in Sydney in April, 1825, but was instructed to establish settlement on the west coast of Australia amid British Government fears the French were planning to establish a colony there.
Maj. Lockyer returned to Sydney in 1827 before he died of influenza on June 10, 1860 in Woolloomooloo, NSW.
Camperdown Cemetery Trust chairwoman Jenna Weston estimates it would cost $10,000 to restore the sandstone monument above Maj. Lockyer’s grave.
“As Edmund Lockyer’s grave monument lies flat, rain often soaks in and the text has become somewhat difficult to read,” she said. “There is also a build-up of lichen in areas which could be scraped back, but in line with the conservation approach in the cemetery, we do not recommend cleaning the headstone as this can damage or erode the original sandstone fabric.
“The trustees are sometimes able to arrange for restoration of the graves of prominent individuals, or monuments that have been recently damaged; however, we estimate that on average it would cost at least $10,000 per grave for repair works.”
According to The Argus on January 12, 1931, Maj. Lockyer’s son Nicholas Colston Lockyer had the following inscribed on his father’s headstone: “As commandant at King George’s Sound Major Lockyer hoisted the British flag on January 21, 1827, in assertion of the first official claim by the Imperial Government to British possession over the whole continent of Australia.”
Ms Weston said the cemetery trustees acted in a voluntary capacity to maintain more than 2000 grave sites but restoration was the responsibility of the families.
“Maintenance of grave sites are the responsibility of the relatives of people interred in Camperdown Cemetery, and occasionally relatives choose to restore their ancestors’ graves,” she said.
“As there is no guaranteed Government funding for such restoration works, the cemetery is said to be in ‘graceful decay’, as the cost of attempting to restore each stone requiring repair is prohibitive.
“Nevertheless, the trustees use the cemetery’s limited income to maintain the grounds, and to undertake as much restoration and conservation works as possible, in accordance with the cemetery’s conservation policy.”
Albany founder Major Edmund Lockyer’s grave in Camperdown cemetery, Sydney.
The Parade Street site where Major Edmund Lockyer raised the British flag.