Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Locker, Edward Hawke

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LOCKER, EDWARD HAWKE (1777–1849), commissioner of Greenwich Hospital, youngest son of Captain William Locker [q. v.], was born at East Malling in Kent on 9 Oct. 1777. He was educated at Eton, and in 1795 entered the navy pay office, from which he was promoted to be second secretary to the board of control. In 1804 he became civil secretary to Sir Edward Pellew (afterwards Viscount Exmouth) [q. v.], and served with him in that capacity during his command in the East Indies, 1804–9, in the North Sea in 1810, and in the Mediterranean 1811–14. The emoluments of his office, especially as prize agent in the East Indies, had placed him in easy circumstances, and in 1815 he married a daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Boucher [q. v.], and settled at Windsor till 1819. In that year he accepted the office of secretary to Greenwich Hospital, and in 1824 was appointed civil commissioner. This post he occupied till 1844, when, being in very feeble health, he retired on a special pension, and died at Uxbridge on 16 Oct. 1849.

Locker was a man of varied talents and accomplishments, a fellow of the Royal Society, an excellent artist in water-colour, a charming conversationalist, an esteemed friend of Southey and of Sir Walter Scott. In co-operation with Charles Knight (1791–1873) [q. v.] he edited and largely contributed to ‘The Plain Englishman’ (8vo, 1820–3), a magazine of original and selected articles, described as ‘almost the first, if not the very first of any literary pretension, of those cheap and popular miscellanies which the growing ability of the great bulk of the people to read imperatively demanded in the place of mischievous or childish tracts’ (Athenæum, 20 Oct. 1849). In the first volume appeared a course of religious lectures delivered by Locker on board the Culloden, where he for some time officiated as chaplain; they were afterwards republished separately with the title ‘Popular Lectures on the Bible and Liturgy’ (8vo, 1821). He also published ‘Views in Spain’ (4to, 1824), the record of a tour made during the war in 1813 in company with Lord John (afterwards Earl) Russell, and illustrated with sketches by the author; and ‘Memoirs of celebrated Naval Commanders, illustrated by engravings from original Pictures in the Naval Gallery of Greenwich Hospital’ (1832, imp. 8vo). This volume is preceded by an engraved portrait of Locker.

In 1823 Locker revived a scheme, originally proposed by his father in 1795, of establishing a gallery of naval pictures at Greenwich. Captain Locker had suggested the Painted Hall as a suitable place, but in the turmoil and anxiety of war the proposal had found no acceptance. Edward Hawke Locker now obtained many professional opinions as to the suitability of the Painted Hall, which had been unused for nearly a century; but there were no funds and as yet no pictures. Locker applied himself earnestly to soliciting donations, and with such success that in less than three years he ‘had the gratification of seeing the walls covered with portraits.’ George IV took up the project warmly, and ‘immediately commanded that the whole of the naval portraits in the royal palaces of Windsor and Hampton Court should be removed to Greenwich; and in succeeding years he contributed several valuable pictures from his private collection.’ Many pictures have since been added, but that the gallery is what it is, is almost entirely due to Locker's business aptitude and enthusiasm.

He left issue, among others, Frederick, author of ‘London Lyrics,’ who in 1885 took the additional name of Lampson on the death of his wife's father, Sir Curtis Miranda Lampson [q. v.]; and Arthur, editor of the ‘Graphic.’

A portrait of Locker, by H. W. Phillips, is in the Painted Hall at Greenwich.

[Information from Mr. F. Locker-Lampson; Athenæum, 20 Oct. 1849; Times, 22 Oct. 1849; Gent. Mag. 1849, i. 654; preface to the Catalogue of Pictures in the Painted Hall.]

J. K. L.