early-perth
Early Perth, looking all black and white

Keziah Lockyer was not a woman to meddle with. She had arrived in Perth with hubby Paul and their many children in early 1830. Keziah had to finance the trip herself, since Paul was broke and, it turns out, feckless.

The worthless husband immediately abandoned his family and took up his favourite hobby: drinking. Mostly in the Sailor Jim Inn at Fremantle.

For the next two years he kept up the boozing and saw nothing of his family. Worse, his grog was bought by selling the few clothes the family owned. Eventually, Paul cruelly announced he no longer needed to be troubled by a wife and children at all.

Keziah’s daughter Eliza struck lucky when she married William Nairne Clark, a lawyer and journalist, while Keziah sought comfort in the bed of her employer, William Temple Graham. These two men had once been friends, but had fallen out. Unfortunately, Clark befriended his drunken father-in-law and the two schemed to embarrass their mutual enemies.

In March 1838, they placed an advert in the paper:

Caution

Paul Lockyer hereby intimates, that he will not be responsible for any debts contracted by his wife, Keziah Lockyer, who resides with Mr W. T. Graham.

How they must have chuckled. But they had underestimated Keziah. She got mad. And she got even.

The following week, a large advert declared: “Paul Lockyer ought to have stated that I have not resided with him since 1832, previous to which he deserted me and my children, as is well known”.

Paul is well aware I never had any debts for which he was troubled; he would do well to think of his own.

Paul is requested to pay the cash borrowed from me since he deserted me; also the doctor’s bill for the cure of his dislocated shoulder (got in a drunken brawl) under which he lay thirty weeks at Mr Graham’s expense.

Dodgy Perth wish we could say her story ends well. It doesn’t. Her employer-lover sought his own revenge by seducing Eliza, the wife of his mortal enemy. Naturally, this did not go down well with Keziah. While Graham was sneakily at Eliza’s house, Keziah arrived in a fury. “You old villain,” she screamed, “you have had enough of me, and now you want to make a whore of my daughter.”

Unfortunately, Keziah had now embarrassed one of Perth’s leading citizens, so was told to leave on the first available ship and never return. On 6 May 1839, Keziah arrived in Tasmania to begin a new life, and vanishes from our view.