The stabbing affray at Warrah.

Luke Barwick wrote an article in the book, "1912 Warrah Subdivision" called "Beyond the southern Boundary", page 62, about the early settlers who took up land to the south of the Warrah estate, to the top of the range. In this article he mentioned a resident called 'Lockyer', who apparently murdered his wife. He also mentioned that there was a headstone appeared at Willow Tree anglican cemetary, with the inscription - In memory of Martha Lockyer, died April 16th, 1886, aged 42 years.



Martha Lockyer's gravestone is at the Willow Tree anglican cemetary. A recently found map shows that she is buried at the Willow Tree cemetary, roughly the spot, but unmarked. Towards the road from the tree in photo.


Thanks to 'TROVE' and digital newspapers online, and the national library of Australia, we can have a pretty good idea of what happened to this poor lady.


There is still remnants and evidence of this families house where it was situated. Neil Barwick, Luke Barwick, Maurice Seymour and a few others visited the site about 20 years ago.

This was published in

The Maitland Mercury.


20th April 1886.

And was reprinted from the Murrurundi Times.


Link. lockyer murder&searchLimits=


The Stabbing Affray at Warrah Creek.


Murrurundi Times, April 17.


We are in receipt of further information with regard to this sad affair, which occurred at Warrah Creek on Monday night last, and to which we briefly referred in our last issue. Sergeant Brennan has kindly favoured us with the particulars, which are as follow. On Tuesday morning, about 11 o'clock, he (Sergeant Brennan) received a telegram, stating that there was a man deranged in his mind at Warrah, and immediately afterwards he received another from Doughboy Hollow, to the effect that a serious stabbing case had occurred at Warrah Creek. He at once proceeded to Doughboy Hollow and upon arriving there, he saw a youth named Warden, and having gleaned some information from him regarding the affair, he galloped off to Warrah, where he arrested Thos. Lockyer, a boundary rider in the employ of the A. A. Co. He took Lockyer to the Willow Tree Station, and handed him over to Constable Dorris, who brought him on to Murrurundi. The sergeant then made for Lockyer's residence, and on arriving there found Dr. Bell was in attendance, and had dressed the wounds of Mrs. Lockyer, who had been seriously stabbed in the back, and had one of her hands badly cut. It appears that Lockyer had been very eccentric in his manner for a few days previous to the occurrence, and imagined that his wife was acting in league with some persons in the neighbourhood to steal his cattle. On Monday night he loaded a rifle, left it in the house, and went away for a few minutes. Fearing her husband might do some mischief, Mrs. Lockyer fortunately discharged the rifle during his absence.


On returning to the house, Lockyer got the gun, and called his wife to him again and pointed the weapon at her, but did not fire. Warden was in the sitting-room, and could see all that was going on. Lockyer gave Warden the gun, and went out at the back, telling him to shoot her (his wife) if she moved. The gun was not loaded. Lockyer came back and wanted to load the gun, but Warden tried to get the powder from him. A second time Lockyer pointed the gun at his wife and pulled the trigger, but there was no cap on it. When the gun would not go off Lockyer threw it down, and drawing a knife he had in his possession, attempted to stab her. She tried to defend herself, and got her hands severely cut and being overpowered, she fell, and was stabbed in the back just below the ribs. The youth Warden pluckily grappled with Lockyer, and managed to pull him away before any" further mischief" was done. He, too, however, was overmatched, and pretending to run he managed to entice Lockyer away from his wife. Lockyer proceeded in the direction of the Four Mile, where he was observed shouting " murder" by two men named Vivers and Hixley, who had a scuffle with him, and dispossessed him of the knife. He told them he had murdered his wife, and then made towards Warrah, where he was arrested. The unfortunate woman lay out in the cold and rain all that night, and was not noticed until next morning, when she was taken inside by Mrs Bree, who, together with a Miss Gallagher, had been attending on her since. Dr. Bell stayed with her all night, and did all it was possible for him to do, but owing to the time which elapsed before he was called on, and the serious injury caused by the wound being exposed all night to the cold air and rain, he entertains very faint hopes of her recovery. We are informed that Mr. Fairbairn, the respected Superintendent of Warrah, has rendered "every assistance" to alleviate the distress of the family since the occurrence, and as there are three children, it should be very acceptable.


On Thursday morning, Lockyer was brought up at the local Police Court, before Mr. G. R. Evans, J.P., charged with attempted murder, but at the request of Sergeant Brennan, he was remanded till next Friday, in order allow the police time to procure evidence.


The following deposition by Mrs. Lockyer was taken by Dr. Bell, in his capacity of Justice of the Peace, prior to his returning to town on Wednesday:-


"I, Martha Lockyer, residing at Warrah Creek, declare that on Monday, April 12th, 1886, between 7 and 8 o'clock p.m., my husband said I was giving the signal to some cattle stealers. He asked for his rifle, which I had fired off while he was away, because I was frightened he might do some mischief with it, as he had been very strange lately. He then presented the rifle at me, and ordered me to give the signal, and I told Joe Warden to " cooey." He threw his rifle down and drew his knife, which I grasped, and cut my fingers. The boy then got hold of him behind and I fell, and felt a cut by my shoulder. My children ran about the neighbourhood. No one came to assist me until morning."


Yesterday afternoon it was reported in the town that Mrs. Lockyer had taken a turn for the worse, but we are not in possession of any definite information to that effect.



She had indeed taken a turn for the worst, because she died soon after.


In a later publication of "The Maitland Murcury", 1st June 1887, it was printed,...... 





Thomas Lockyer, a middle-aged man, was arraigned upon an indictment charging him with having, on the l6th April, 1886, at Warrah Creek, feloniously and maliciously murdered Martha Lockyer. Mr. Wade, instructed by Mr. R. W. Thompson, was assigned by the Crown for the defence. From the evidence adduced on behalf of the Crown, the case was shown to be one of a very sad character, in as much as it was shown that the accused took the life of his wife whilst he was of unsound mind. The accused had been employed as boundary rider on a run at Warrah Creek, where he lived with his wife and two or three young children. On or about the date mentioned in the indictment, he appears to have become mentally deranged, and deluded into the belief that his wife was conspiring with others to steal cattle from the run. He became very excited on the evening of the 12th April last year, and threatened to shoot his wife with a rifle. He subsequently drew a knife, rushed at her, and during a scuttle she received a wound in the shoulder which penetrated through the ribs into the lung. The prisoner behaved in a very violent manner, and was subsequently arrested with the knife in his possession. His wife, after lingering for a few days, died from the effects of the wound she had received.


For the defence it was shown that while the prisoner was incarcerated in Maitland gaol he exhibited decided symptoms of insanity, and was subsequently declared insane, and removed to the Parramatta Asylum. He was placed upon his trial on two previous occasions, but was found not to be in a position to plead to the indictment. Mr. Wade addressed the jury at some length, after which his Honor summed up. The jury found the prisoner not guilty, on the ground of insanity. The accused was ordered to be kept in close custody until the pleasure of his Excellency the Governor was known concerning him.


The Court then adjourned until the following day.

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25.09 | 09:36

Absolutely delighted to come across a part of my direct ancestors history about which I knew very little and shall endeavour to find out more
Thank you Prof. A.

23.09 | 22:23

Very interesting Kelaher family history. Impressive number of trained nursing sisters. Jack lent the Copelands a cream horse, Playboy, in 1950's, ridden by Kate

09.09 | 17:58

Wonderfully informative. Thank goodness for Jane and John Atchison's work

06.09 | 14:33

I am Jack Kelaher and I am proud of my pop, dad and ancestors.

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