Sarah Ermington LOCKYER

Female 1812 - 1867  (54 years)

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  • Name Sarah Ermington LOCKYER 
    Born 4 Mar 1812  Ermington, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    FamilySearch ID LHPX-4BJ 
    FamilySearch link 
    Died 1867  Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
      On Thursday week, Mr. Antsey moved for and obtained a writ of habeas corpus at the instance of Mrs. Sarah North, of Garden cottage, Hastings, commanding Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson and Miss Arabella North on the following morning to produce Arabella Frances North, aged ten years, Sarah North, aged seven years, Dudley North, aged six years, and Helen Margaret North, aged four years, the four infant children of Mrs. North, alleged to be detained by Mrs. Wilson, a lady between seventy and eighty years of age, and Miss North. On the following day the writ issued, and on Saturday Mr. Anstey moved for the return, or that an attachment might issue; when an order was made enlarging the return until Monday, and directing that a petition should be presented in the meantime relative to the guardianship of the infants, and directing that the eldest daughter should be removed from the house of Dr. Digby, of Spring-gardens, that gentleman being a widower, and having no lady at the head of his establishment. That young lady was, at a subsequent part of the day, directed to be placed under the care of Lady Waldegrave, the sister of Mrs. Wilson, until the further orders of the Court, the other three children to continue with Miss North, at the house of her brother, Mr. Frederick North, at Rougham, in Norfolk, where they then were, until further orders. The affidavit of Mrs. North, produced on that occasion, stated that her late husband, Captain Dudley North, and herself, for about two months before his death, frequented, with two of the children, a Roman Catholic chapel at Plymouth, add that since her husband's death, which occurred on the 25th January, she had been received into the Roman Catholic Church; that Mrs. North had resided at Hastings for the last fifteen months, within 200 yards of the residence of Mrs. Wilson, the mother of Captain North, and now the wife of Mr. Gloster Wilson, and Miss Arabella North, her daughter by her former husband, with whom Arabella Frances North had resided, and at whose house Sarah and Dudley had been in the habit of spending many hours daily, taking their meals at home; that on Monday, the 16th of November, Mrs. Wilson called and asked that Margaret North might go to her house, where the other three children already were, for the purpose of reading to her aunt, Miss Arabella North; at the same time Mrs. Wilson asked Mrs. North whether she had conformed to the Roman Faith, and being answered in the affirmative, Mrs. Wilson said she could not permit the children to be brought up in that religion; that, believing Mrs. Wilson was only excited by the conversation, she permitted the child to be taken away, and all remained that night at her house ; that on the following day Mrs. North sent for the children, but her messenger was told by a servant that they were gone away, and she had discovered that Miss Arabella North had left Hastings with them.

      Mr. Antsey, in support of the motion, insisted that by the common law of England the mother was entitled to the custody of her children, within the age of 21, or within the age of nurture. The father had done no act, to deprive his widow, the mother, of that right. He had appointed no testamentary guardian. If the grandmother or the aunt were, as he admitted they were, in every respect proper persons to have the custody of the children, their conduct in abducting the children was enough to induce the Court to say, that they were no longer proper persons with whom to intrust them. He applied to the Court in its common law jurisdiction a jurisdiction in which no discretion was left to the Court.

      Mr. Lovat, who appeared for Mrs. Wilson, said, that the three younger children were with Miss Arabella North, at the house of her brother, Mr. Frederick North, at Rougham, in Norfolk, and that the eldest daughter was at the house of Dr. Rigby, of Spring-gardens.

      His Honour directed that daughter to be placed under the care of Lady Waldegrave till further orders, and the other three to be where they, were until further orders, and that the return of the writ should be enlarged till Monday, a petition to be presented relative to the guardianship of the infants.

      Mr. Antsey pressed on the Court that the eldest daughter should be placed with the mother for the few days till the petition should be disposed of.

      His Honour said that he could not do so. All he said was with the most perfect respect to Mrs. North, but as he understood that lady to have become a Roman Catholic he could not place the infants, or either of them, with her. It might be however, that on hearing the petition they might all be delivered to her: he would direct that Mrs. North should have access to the young lady, in the presence of Lord and Lady Waldegrave, it being understood that the mother should abstain from speaking to her daughter on the subject of religion or religious faith.

      The petition was now presented by the four infants, setting forth that Captain North married his present widow in Australia, where three of the children were born, but after his return to England, in October, 1842, the youngest child was born. That he died intestate, and no letters of administration had been taken out to his estate, which consisted of £500, his debts amounting to £400 ; that Mrs. Wilson, the grandmother, paid the funeral expenses of Captain North and the greater part of his debts; that the children were only entitled to £100, given them after their father's death by that gentleman's brothers, and to a share, if any, of the money left by their father; that soon after the captain's return to England Arabella Frances North went to reside with her grandmother, and had been maintained by her, who has, under her settlement, a considerable fortune to her separate use, and that she and Miss Arabella North had chiefly maintained Mrs. North, the widow, and all the children; that Captain North was a Protestant, and so was the widow until lately, and all the children, with their parents, habitually attended a place of Protestant worship. The petition prayed a reference to the Master, to approve of some proper person or persons to be the guardian or guardians, and that all proper directions might be given by the Court as to the care and custody of the children. The affidavit of Mrs. Wilson was produced in support of the allegations in the petition. The new affidavit of Mrs. North, the widow, stated that she and her late husband were nominal members of the Church of England, and that he was of Latitudinarian tenets, and unfrequent in his attendance at church; and she also was unfrequent in such attendance, was not a zealous church member, and never, from religious scruples, received the sacrament in the Church of England ; that her husband resided with her at Plymouth for about three months before his death, when they went to Ipplepen, at which place he died from the effects of a coach accident; that, about a year before she came from New South Wales, she began to read Roman Catholic books of controversy and devotion, and continued to do so till her being reconciled to the Church of Rome, after her husband's death; but her husband never made any the slightest objection to the same; that her husband wished to go with her to the Roman Catholic chapel at Plymouth, but for a time she declined, lest she might be supposed to be the cause of his change of religion; but at length she consented, and the whole family went, and he was most devout in his attention. The affidavit further proceeded, "And I further say I firmly believe that, at the time of my said husband's death, he was not a Protestant, but what is called a Catechumen, that is to say, an uninstructed and unreconciled Roman Catholic; and further, that but for his untimely death, produced by the accident aforesaid, he would have become reconciled to, and a professing member of, the said Roman Catholic Church."

      Mr. Anstey moved for the return to the writ of habeas corpus.

      Mr. Lovat said, that a petition now having been presented and supported by affidavit, the Court would at once proceed to inquire what should be done with regard to the guardianship.

      Mr. Anstey said he appeared to oppose the petition for a reference, on the ground that the mother was the lawful guardian of the infants during their age of nurture, the father not having appointed one, and there being no imputation on the character of that lady. With regard to the habeas corpus, the affidavit filed by Mrs. North had not been met by anything contradicting her assertions, and what she had stated must, therefore, be taken to be true. If that were so, he must say that the Court could not take such a step as to consign the care of these children to persons who had so conducted themselves as they had done in surreptitiously removing the children from the mother; who had, in fact, so misconducted themselves to the children and towards their mother. Those ladies had, by their own showing, of their own acts, deprived themselves of whatever right they ever had, if they ever had any, to the custody of the children and to the assistance of the Court in obtaining it.

      His Honor- I can only look here at the interests of these children and the rights, if I may use such an expression, of their dead father. Faith must be kept with him in his grave.

      Mr. Anstey--Mrs. North never had any intention to dissever the connection between herself and her husband's family. When on the point of changing her faith, no at- tempt was made by Mrs. Wilson or Miss North to dispute her legal right. They resorted to a subterfuge, and they secretly and improperly abducted the children from their mother. In fact, it was not until Thursday that she knew where those children were. Whatever the Court might do as to its order on the merits of the case, it ought not to commit the custody of the children to persons who had thus already betrayed the faith and confidence which the mother had reposed in them. He should, therefore, insist that the return to the writ should be ordered, or that the usual consequences might follow. The Court could not look at the religious opinions of parents, so long as those religious opinions were not contrary to law. The Roman Catholic religion was not only a legal religion, but since the passing of the first Toleration Act, in the judgment of Lord Mansfield, it was an established religion, and the Court, acting on such principles, would not hold that the profession of that religion was a ground for the removal of a guardian. The following cases and authorities were cited and observed on at very great length by Mr. Anstey-Co. Litt., "Ex parte Bailey,"   5 Dow. Prac. Cas., 311; " Hall v. Hall," 3 Atk., 721 ; "'Tremayne's Case," 1 Str., 168; " Pottinger .v. Wightman," 3 Mer., 67; "Hart v. Mellish," 9 Swan., 533; "Attorney General v. Cullum," 1 Coll. C.   C.; '"Corbett v. Tottenham," 1 Ball and Beatt. ; "Lyons v. Blenkins," Jacob, 256 ; "Talbot v. Earl of Shrewsbury," before   Lord Cottenham ; "Witty v. Marshall,"   Young and Coll., '68; 'and "Stork v. Stork," 3 P. Wins., 61.

      His Honor said-A petition not in any cause is presented to the Court on behalf of four infants, who are in this country, the children of a deceased English gentleman, all being under the age of eleven years, if not all under the age of ten years. Now, as they are without a testamentary guardian, and as they have no real estate, the reference to the Master to appoint a guardian would be purely a matter of course, except that, as it is said, the fact that the children have a mother living, and that the eldest of them is within the age I have mentioned, furnishes a reason against the usual reference to the Master to appoint a guardian or guardians. The rule of the Court, I apprehend is, that where the father has not left nor expressed any direction or instruction as to the religion in which his children are to be educated, it is to be presumed that his wishes are that they should be educated in his own religion; and that I am of opinion, upon the evidence before me as it now stands, and for the present purposes, must be the presumption in this case. My opinion therefore is that, unless this case can be varied by subsequent evidence, it is the duty of the Court to direct that these children shall be brought up as members of, and in the religion of the Church of England. That is an observation, however, which does not dispose of the interim custody of the children. Recollecting, however, that Mrs. D. North, of whom I desire to speak as I feel, and as every one in this case has spoken, and as every one in the case appears to feel, with the highest possible respect, I cannot avoid recollecting that she is a recent convert. Speaking again of her most respectfully, I cannot avoid being strongly impressed with the opinion that, consistently with the most conscientious, kind, and best motives on her part, the children, if placed with her, may receive an inclination and a disposition towards that religion in which, in my view of the duty of the Court, it should see that they should not be educated. The custody of the infants in the meantime shall be with Mrs. Wilson (Mr. Wilson consenting), Mr. Frederick North, and Miss Arabella North, at Hastings; Mrs. Dudley North to have access to them daily for two hours, but in the presence of one or more of those parties, and all topics of religion to be avoided at such interviews. The return of the habeas corpus must be enlarged. As all the relations will have notice of this order, they will all have the right to apply to be appointed guardians, as will Mrs. Dudley North, with them or alone, if she be so advised.

      The same case came before the Lord Chancellor on Wednesday.

      Mr. Cooper and Mr. Anstey moved for the discharge of the above order of the Vice-Chancellor.

      Mr. Stuart and Mr. Lovat appeared in support of the order of the Court below.

      The Lord Chancellor expressed a strong opinion during, the discussion that the order could not be supported, inasmuch as no return had been made to the habeas and hinted he thought a court of common law would not suspend the return to a writ of habeas because a petition of this nature had been presented to a court of equity.

      After the arguments of counsel for the respondents had extended to past 4 o'clock without being brought to a conclusion, an arrangement was come to between the parties, to which the mother, being present in court, consented. The order thus made  was, that she should have unlimited access to her children during the holidays ; and the argument was to stand over till the day of next term.

      The Times of Thursday, commenting on this case, says :-"Whether the mother of    
      children whose father died in a questionable state of religious belief, not having
      ostensibly seceded from the Established Church, nor actually embraced the Roman
      Catholic, but inclining towards the latter, and sworn, on the oath of his widow, to
      have been only prevented, by untimely death, from becoming a professed member of
      it---whether such a mother, by embracing Romanism after her husband's death, thereby
      loses her right to the care and guardianship of her children, who had been previously
      educated in the Protestant faith, on the ground of the legal obligation imposed upon
      the Court of Chancery to see that infants be brought up in the religious tenets of
      their fathers and of the State. We have added the words in italics, because it seems
      to us that the question is not immaterially affected by religious considerations. We
      are not at all satisfied that, if the father had died a Roman Catholic, and the mother subsequently conformed to the Established Church, and an application been made by the Roman Catholic relations of the former, to have the custody of the children committed to them, the decision of the court would be the same as it now appears." [2]
    Person ID I1310  Colston & Wenck families in Australia
    Last Modified 25 Apr 2017 

    Father Major Edmund LOCKYER,   b. 21 Jan 1784, Plymouth, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jun 1860, Woolloomooloo, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years) 
    Mother Sarah MORRIS,   c. 16 Aug 1784, Ermington, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Jul 1853, Pitt Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 68 years) 
    Married 6 Oct 1816  Trincomalee, Ceylon Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F422  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Dudley NORTH,   b. 1805, Hastings, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Jan 1845, Ipplepen, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 40 years) 
    Married 29 Oct 1835  Marsfield, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4, 5
    • MARRIED, On Thursday, the 29th October, by the Reverend Charles Dickenson, at the Field of Mars Church, Dudley, third son of the late Francis Frederick North, Esquire, of Hougham Hall, Norfolk and  Hastings, in the County of Sussex, to Sarah, oldest daughter of Edmund Lockyer, Esquire, of Ermington. [3]
     1. Arabella Frances NORTH,   b. 2 Sep 1836, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Oct 1885, Southampton, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 49 years)
     2. Frederick Edmund NORTH,   b. 21 Feb 1838, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Dec Q 1842, Greenwich, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 3 years)
     3. Sarah NORTH,   b. 26 Jul 1839, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Dudley NORTH,   b. 8 Oct 1840, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Nov 1917, Piccadilly, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     5. Helen Margaret NORTH,   b. 10 Nov 1842, Deptford, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jun 1912, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 69 years)
    Last Modified 22 Apr 2011 
    Family ID F428  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 4 Mar 1812 - Ermington, Devon, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 29 Oct 1835 - Marsfield, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 1867 - Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend Address Cemetery Farm Town Parish City County/Shire State/Province Country Region Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S4] NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages, (, 1228/1867.

    2. [S342] Australian Newspapers, National Library of Australia, 1847 'VICE CHANCELLOR'S COURT.—TUESDAY.', Sydney Chronicle (NSW : 1846 - 1848), 5 June, p. 1, viewed 29 March, 2014,

    3. [S342] Australian Newspapers, National Library of Australia,

    4. [S4] NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages, (, V18351426 19/1835.

    5. [S291] International Genealogical Index(R), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Copyright (c) 1980, 2002), citing microfilm 0993951 (1832 - 1836) for batch M310253, downloaded 20 Nov 2009, 20 Nov 2009.