Christopher Locker

Christopher Lockyer – an incorrigible vagabond

Chris first takes our notice for running a brothel in Mulgrave Street in April 1894 and by so doing, his “bad characters” residents rowed and disturbed the divine service at St Paul’s Church next door. The house was owned by Chris and his older brother William.

Chris was subsequently charged for “keeping a common bawdy house”. The frequenters of the house “being the lowest characters in town”. Accused spent his time fetching beer for them. He was found guilty and imprisoned for three months.

In October the same year, the court ordered the Lockyer house be demolished as it was considered a danger to the public. Sarah Marsh wrote in protest to the Evening Post: “I believe it is the only entailed property under the old English law of entail there is in the city …. It was left to them by their father, a very decent, respectable, hard-working old man. The place is, I know, in very bad condition, and I believe, frequented by queer characters …. They are old and will not bother this very respectable world for very long, but I do think if the Hermit is allowed his cave, and the fishermen their huts, the Lockyers should certainly be allowed their own freehold den”.

By 5th November, the house was down and the timbers auctioned off by order of the City Council.

On 13th November, Chris’ brother William died aged 73. He had been living with the Barnes family in Haining Street who had taken him when the house was demolished. It was said he died from grief “at seeing the roof which had sheltered him for nigh on fifty years, laid low”. He was buried in Karori Cemetery.

In 1895 Chris was charged with vagrancy. He was described as an aged and exceedingly feeble man who was found sleeping under an old sack on his now empty property “… and here the wretched old creature next to God’s house, and in the midst of a well-to-do and populous quarter, eked out a miserable existence that even a  dog would have turned his nose at…..The law is harsh at times” wrote the Wairarapa Times.

His subsequent charges were 1896 “an incorrigible rogue”, 1897 for being “a rogue and a vagabond”, 1898 for being an “incorrigible vagabond”,  1899 for “vagrancy at Johnsonville”. He then disappears from newspaper records.

Chris died in 1904, aged 75, and is buried in what is presumed to be a pauper’s plot, in the Church of England section at Karori.

Assumed Lockyer dwelling to the north of Old Saint Paul’s. Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library
Chris Lockyer’s unmarked plot in Church of England section. Photo courtesy of FIndaGrave.