Born in Plymouth, Devon, Lockyer was son of Thomas Lockyer, a sailmaker, and his wife Ann, nŽe Grose. Lockyer began his army career as an ensign in the 19th Regiment in June 1803, was promoted lieutenant in early 1805 and made captain in August 1805. Lockyer was promoted to major in August 1819 and in August 1824 transferred to the 57th Regiment. Lockyer arrived at Sydney, capital of the British Colony of New South Wales, aboard the Royal Charlotte in April 1825 with men from the 57th; also with him were his wife and ten children.
In August 1825, Lockyer was asked to lead an expedition to explore the upper reaches of the Brisbane River, which had only recently been settled by Europeans. On 2 September, Lockyer sailed from Sydney in the cutter Mermaid, arriving at the settlement of Brisbane on 7 September. Leaving the Mermaid at Brisbane, he travelled in a small boat up the river. Lockyer saw coal in deposits on the banks, becoming the first person to identify coal in Queensland. Lockyer arrived back in Sydney on 16 October 1825, and made a report to Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane.
In late 1826, Lockyer led an expedition to claim Western Australia for Britain. He sailed on the brig Amity, arriving at King George Sound on 25 December, with twenty troops and twenty three convicts. This was the beginning of the first European settlement in Western Australia. The military base established by Lockyer was named Frederick's Town, later renamed Albany, and would become an important deep water port. His interview with two sealers, arrested for crimes against local people, revealed intelligence of Dumont D'Urville's survey of King George Sound. Lockyer had planned an overland journey to the Swan River region in February, but learned that James Stirling had already examined the area. Lockyer was to remain in the settlement until command could be given to Captain Wakefield. Lockyer returned to Sydney on 3 April 1827, sold his army commission and settled in Sydney.
Edmund Lockyer died in 1860 and was buried in Camperdown Cemetery, Sydney.
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