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Lochée, Francis (1811–1893)

by Merab Harris Tauman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Francis Lochée (1811-1893), lawyer, editor and banker, was born on 8 March 1811 in London, one of identical twin sons of John Lockée, barrister, and his wife Louisa, née King. He was a descendant of a Huguenot family. His great-grandfather, naturalized by an Act which received royal assent on 8 May 1780, established the Royal Military Academy, Little Chelsea, London, about 1770. After the early death of their parents the boys and an elder sister were left in the care of a guardian. It was their father's wish that the boys should enter a university and then train for a profession. Francis chose law, his brother Alfred medicine. Their vacations spent on the Continent added a mastery of French and Italian and some knowledge of Spanish to their formal classical training. In the 1830s Francis Lochée became interested in colonial affairs and particularly in the settlement at Swan River.

He sailed from Spithead in July 1838 in the Britomart and reached Fremantle in December. His fellow passengers were congenial and he established a lasting friendship with one of them, Dr Samuel Waterman Viveash, who was travelling with his family. Another passenger, William Tanner, who had large interests in the young settlement, was returning to the colony after a visit to England.

Well read, interested in politics, political economy and public affairs, a stimulating companion and an accomplished musician, Lochée was a welcome addition to colonial society. Governor John Hutt became a close friend and persuaded him to become the first Freemason initiated in the colony. He became a distinguished member of the lodges of St John and St George. Legal training, social background and personal tastes drew him into the circle of young lawyers who shared many of his ideas on colonial development. With William Tanner, landowner, farmer, banker, chairman of the town trust, he was a sleeping partner in a farming venture at Yandergine, ten miles (16 km) east of York in the fertile Avon valley. Together they also started another enterprise more suited to Lochée's abilities: the weekly journal, the Inquirer: A Western Australian Journal of Politics and Literature, with Lochée as editor. The first number appeared on Wednesday, 5 August 1840. In June 1843, dissatisfied with its progress, Tanner withdrew his support. Lochée remained proprietor, editor and publisher until 1846.

As editor of the Inquirer he gave critical scrutiny to matters affecting colonists everywhere: crown land policy and prices, labour and capital supplies, the Colonial Office, Wakefieldian ideas and practices, and the policy of colonial governors. He was convinced that accurate information and cautious appraisal of prospects were necessary to encourage immigrants. In 1841 he published in Perth Report on the Statistics of Western Australia in 1840; with observations by the Colonial Committee of Correspondence. In May 1842 he became a member of the provisional committee of the Western Australian Society which aimed at attracting capital and making the colony widely known in Britain. He contributed to the funds of the Vineyard Society, set up in 1842 to establish a model experiment with the propagation of all types of vines; in 1845 he became a member of its committee and published its Manual for the Cultivation of the Vine and Olive in Western Australia. He also published the Journal of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Western Australia in 1843 and in 1842 The Record, or Pastorals for Guildford, a short-lived monthly journal edited by William Mitchell. With public spirit he shared with John Septimus Roe the work of organizing the cathedral choir. He also joined the first Education Committee but resigned with two other members in 1856 when Governor (Sir) Arthur Kennedy tried to make it an appendage of the colonial secretary's office. At Bishop Mathew Hale's request he joined the board of the bishop's new school. He also served as a member of the Town Trust, as a justice of the peace and, with Hutt, Richard Nash, and Vigors, in the activities of the Colonization Assurance Corporation. In 1846 Lochée was elected cashier (manager) by the shareholders of the Western Australian Bank established in 1841.

A man of definite ideas, but sparing no effort to inform his mind, his opinions influenced the board of directors. Their policy was often over cautious but the bank, entirely Western Australian in origin and ownership, proved very profitable to the shareholders and showed substantial earnings and capital appreciation over the years. Before his retirement Lochée saw the bank housed in permanent buildings, with branches opened at Fremantle, Geraldton and Bunbury.

On 27 August 1846 Francis Lochée married Emma, the sixth and youngest child of James Purkis, formerly of London. They had one son and seven daughters. He resigned from the bank in January 1889. His retirement was marred by ill health and impaired sight. He died on 22 November 1893. He was survived by his wife and three daughters: Charlotte Elizabeth Vigors, wife of Edward Shenton, Mary Ellen Landor, wife of Arthur Bridges Wright, and Constance, wife of Robert Edward Bush.

Select Bibliography

  • British Medical Journal, 10 May 1840
  • A. Burton, ‘Francis Lochee: A Versatile Pioneer’, Early Days: Journal and Proceedings (Western Australian Historical Society), vol 2, Oct 1939, pp 54-59
  • Western Australian Bank records (Bank of New South Wales Archives, Perth)
  • Honourable Society of the Inner Temple records.

Citation details

Merab Harris Tauman, 'Lochée, Francis (1811–1893)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lochee-francis-2365/text3101, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 25 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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