Major William Duff 1754 – 1795

One of my fifth great grandfathers was William Duff (1754–1795), the second natural son of James Duff, later Earl Fife of Banffshire (1729–1809).

William Duff was baptised on 16 March 1754 at Fordyce. His mother, Margaret Adam of Keith, was the personal maid of the Countess Fife, the mother of James Duff, that is, the mother of William’s father.

James Duff acknowledged William and his brother James and sister Jean as his children and all three received a good education at his expense. Care of the children was entrusted to William Rose, the factor (agent) of Lord Fife . The correspondence on this matter between William Rose, Lord Fife, and the three Duff children is extant, some being published in the 1925 book Lord Fife and his Factor.

William Duff was educated at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich in southeast London, a training college for commissioned officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers. There is a letter from William in 1770 when he was about 16 years old describing his course of studies:

Rise at 6 and go for a walk. Breakfast 7.30. Study from 8 to12. After dinner, military exercises. 3 to 6 study.

The book of the Duffs Volume 2 page 516

The Old Royal Military Academy, in use 1741–1806. The cadets were taught in the left-hand half of the building, the right providing a Board Room for the Ordnance Board. Image by George Rex – Image from Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

On 11 December 11 1770, William obtained a commission as Lieutenant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, and in September 1771 he wrote from Chatham Barracks to his father at Duff House :

Since I wrote your Lordship last I have been detailed, with twenty men, for a week, to Upnor Castle, a place about four miles from here. This is a duty we take by turns. All this marching about of late has been very expensive to me, and within these two months (during which time I have never been settled in one place) it has cost me upwards of eighteen pounds. Our regiment, I believe, will remain as it is for the winter, but it is generally thought we shall march some other way before February next. My brother sets off for Scotland, with the first ship. I wanted to get to London, for a day or so, to see him before he went, but I really could not get leave. We are now so thin, that I have the Sash every other day almost. I understand your Lordship is killing the Deer just now, and I dare say you will have good diversion. I have just got another step in the Regt., so that there is now five under me.

The book of the Duffs. Volume 2 page 517

Eighteen pounds in 1771 is probably equivalent to more than 30,000 pounds today. The website MeasuringWorth states to compare the value of a £18 0s 0d Commodity in 1771 there are four choices. In 2020 the relative:

  • real price of that commodity is £2,413.00
  • labour value of that commodity is £32,180.00
  • income value of that commodity is £35,310.00
  • economic share of that commodity is £273,500.00

On 15 April 1773, William Duff embarked with his regiment for Canada, the journey taking 11 weeks. He was still in Canada in 1775, when the American War of Independence broke out. He wrote to his brother, Sir James Duff of Kinstair, on 21 May 1775 from Quebec. The 7th Royal Fusiliers were stationed with the 26th Foot in Lower Canada; the two regiments were loosely scattered among frontier posts, and both were at very low strength, together mustering only seven hundred men.

At the time of the American invasion of Canada in 1775, most of the regiment was forced to surrender. The 80 man garrison of Fort Chambly, Quebec, attempted to resist a 400-man Rebel force but ultimately had to surrender in October 1775 and the regiment lost its first set of colours.

The King’s Color of the British Seventh Regiment of Foot. It was captured by American forces at Fort Chambly, Canada, in October of 1775. As the first flag captured by the new American Army it was sent to Congress as a trophy. and is now in the West Point Museum. (Photo from West Point Museum Facebook page).

William Duff was taken prisoner by the Americans, probably at Fort Chambly in October 1775. Though it was hoped he might be returned in an exchange of prisoners, he was not released until early 1777.

In February 1777 he wrote to his father from Staten Island about the purchase of a company in the Regiment. William foreshadowed the expense stating “There is not a Company that has sold for less than Seventeen hundred pounds.” He asked his father to confirm that his father would purchase it for him and requesting security.

Seventeen hundred pounds in 1777 was probably equivalent to three million pounds today . From the website MeasuringWorth:

  • real price of that commodity is £224,600.00
  • labour value of that commodity is £2,858,000.00
  • income value of that commodity is £3,110,000.00
  • economic share of that commodity is £22,870,000.00

William left the 7th Regiment and was promoted to captain in the 26th Foot on 9 April 1777.

On 4 January 1786, William Duff now Captain of the 26th Regiment of Foot was promoted to Major; at the time he and the regiment were serving in Ireland.

On 9 April 1787 at Redmarshall, Durham, Major Duff of the 26th Regiment married Miss Skelly, of Yarm, daughter of the late Gordon Skelly Esq., Captain in the Navy. The book of the Duffs describes Dorothy as niece of Lord Adam Gordon, and the third Duke of Gordon; her grandmother Lady Betty Skelly (1717 – 1769) was sister to Cosmo, 3rd Duke of Gordon (1720 – 1752. Dorothy’s great uncle, Lord Adam Gordon (1726-1801) was colonel of the 26th Regiment of Foot from 1775 – 1782.

In May 1787 William wrote to William Rose from Cork :

We expect to sail to-morrow for Quebec. After various delays we reached this place a fortnight since. I am, as you often told me I should be, happier than ever in possession of a real, confidential friend. Everyone likes her. Were we richer it would be better.

The book of the Duffs. Volume 2 page 522

The headquarters of the regiment in July 1787 at Quebec was under the command of Major William Duff. The regiment moved to Montreal in 1789, and then to the frontier posts along the Niagara River in 1790. It moved to St. John in 1792.

William took his wife Dorothy to Canada. They had one daughter, Sophia Henrietta, born about 1790. It seems likely she was born in Canada.

William Duff retired from the army in March 1793.

William Duff, major in the 26th foot, died on 5 July 1795 at Fulford near York. He has a memorial in the Duff House Mausoleum at Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The inscription reads:

Sacred to the memory of William Duff of the 26th Regiment, a meritorious officer, a most sincere friend, an affectionate husband, an indulgent parent. He lived esteemed and respected. He died regretted and lamented in the 41st year of his age in the year of the Lord 1795.

“The Annals of Banff.” New Spalding Club, 1893, Issue 10, page 369.
Duff House Mausoleum retrieved from

William’s daughter Sophia was about five years old when her father died. Sophia and her mother stayed in contact with William’s family.


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Preserving family history

Family history is an engrossing hobby, a fascinating challenge to trace relationships, and an opportunity to discover how a family has experienced historical events.

I am fortunate that quite a few of my forebears and their relatives were also interested in family history, sufficiently interested to write it down. Several of them published books, for example:

  • Philip Chauncy, my 3rd great grandfather, wrote about his sister and wife in his “Memoirs of Mrs Poole and Mrs Chauncy” 1873 republished in 1976
  • J G Cavenagh-Mainwaring, brother of my great grandmother Kathleen Cudmore, formerly Cavenagh-Mainwaring nee Cavenagh, in 1935 published “Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford : an account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent; with special reference to the manor of Whitmore”. His book has now been digitised and is available at
  • In 1985 Helen Hudson nee Hughes, first cousin of my paternal grandfather, published “Cherry stones : adventures in genealogy of Taylor, Hutcheson, Hawkins of Scotland, Plaisted, Green, Hughes of England and Wales … who immigrated to Australia between 1822 and 1850”.
  • James Kenneth Cudmore (1926 – 2013), my second cousin once removed, of Quirindi New South Wales, commissioned Elsie Ritchie to compile a family history of the Cudmore family in Australia: “For the love of the land: the history of the Cudmore family”. This was published in 2000.
  • In 2017 my father published Champions from Normandy: an essay on the early history of the Champion de Crespigny family from 1350 to 1800”. It was a revision and rewriting of his 1988 work “Champions in Normandy; being some remarks on the early history of the Champion de Crespigny family”.
Some of the family history books written by my relatives

I have been able to confirm the family history in these books through access to records such as birth, marriage and death certificates, baptism and burial records, censuses, wills, military records, and other primary records.

I organise my family history in a family tree database, with the most complete database at I can attach documents to it, both of records held by Ancestry and also those I upload. My Ancestry tree is a “public” tree, that is, anyone with a subscription to can view it and the records I have attached. Currently my tree at has 11,533 people with 18,823 records, 2,480 photographs and images, and 357 stories.

I back up that tree to my own computer using Family Tree Maker, which includes software that synchronises Family Tree Maker with I also have a copy of the tree at MyHeritage and at FindMyPast.

I also upload my genealogy to WikiTree, a collaborative project intended to produce a ‘singular worldwide family tree’. I hope the research that I have contributed to WikiTree it will be there as a resource for my cousins to use now and in the future, safe, I hope, from accidental and malicious damage. There are several single worldwide trees, including FamilySearch and Geni. In my experience I have found Wikitree the most accurate and carefully compiled. As I add each person I cite sources to show how I know the facts and relationships. Adding my family tree slowly to Wikitree is an excellent way to review my family history research.

This online research journal is archived by the PANDORA archive, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996. Its stated mission was: Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia (hence the acronym PANDORA). The National Library states it is committed to ensuring long-term access to all its digital collections, including the PANDORA Archive.

However, I am a great believer in the durable qualities of paper, and I regularly print copies of this blog using an instant print service called Blog2Print ( I find it easier to read the paper version. So far there are five volumes. My father has a copy.

Many years ago my daughter asked me to compile a family history photo book. I included a family tree up to her great grandparents, including her aunts, uncles and cousins. Photos were briefly captioned.

More recently I used the company MyCanvas to generate a book about the family of my husband Greg. It wasn’t just a matter of pressing a button. I added many photos and also relevant entries from this online research journal to compile the family history, which I later shared with Greg’s brother and sister and their families. The MyCanvas system of compiling books has since changed. It no longer uses Adobe Flash.

Late last year my father and I published a biography and family history of Charlotte Frances nee Dana (1820-1904), my third great grandmother. She emigrated to Australia at the time of the gold rushes with her second husband Philip Robert Champion Crespigny (1817-1889). We wrote about her forebears, her father’s bankruptcy, her first marriage and scandalous divorce, living in the relatively new colony of Victoria amidst the goldrushes, and her grandchildren who lived into the twentieth century.

Publishing a family history is a good way to preserve the research but it is certainly challenging. There are so many facts to be compiled and checked. This online journal is an efficient way to share my research with those of my cousins who are interested in our family history. I have been writing for nearly ten years and have published 584 posts, a considerable body of research.

Amy Johnson Crow, an American genealogist, recently wrote about How to Preserve Your Genealogy Research ( She made the following points:

  1. Organize Your Genealogy
  2. Write and Record Your Family History
  3. Pass It Around
  4. Find the Next Generation
  5. Donate Your Genealogy — with Preparation

The best organising tool I have is to attach documents and photographs to my online family tree database. If I am looking for a document there is a good chance that I will find it there.

My online research journal has been a terrific tool to write and record my family history.

I recently learned that the extensive genealogical research of one of my cousins had been substantially destroyed. After he died, his wife, suffering from dementia of some type, would go through the “papers, time after time, weeding out the bits she thought irrelevant and re-arranging them all. So they are now a lot less substantial and a lot less organised.” Fortunately his conclusions were incorporated into the published research of another cousin but the original sources were unfortunately not noted.

As for passing on the research to the next generation, I talk to my children about our family history but I feel publishing it and sharing it more widely on the web will help to make sure our family history is passed on.

The papers of several of my forebears have been archived:

  • The deeds and documents J G (Gordon) Cavenagh-Mainwaring used to compile his Mainwaring and Whitmore family history were deposited in the Staffordshire archives. One relative who could not find them thought my great aunt Rosemary had destroyed them as she took over Gordon’s study as her sitting room after his death and perhaps consigned Gordon’s papers to the boiler room. Fortunately the important papers in fact survived:
    • Description: Staffs (Whitmore, Biddulph, etc) deeds, family and estate papers Date: 13th cent-20th cent Reference: D 1743
    • Held by: Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service Staffordshire County Record Office NRA catalogue reference: NRA 25297 Cavenagh-Mainwaring
    • Staffordshire archives catalogue link:
    • Description
      • D(W)1743 includes early deeds from c.1275, manorial court records, family settlements, leases, personal papers including appointments to public office and military or naval commissions, legal documents, estate papers including surveys, field books, survey of coal mine, maps (Whitmore, Acton in Swynnerton, Biddulph), rentals, and some later estate administration papers.
      • D5376: Papers of the Mainwaring Family of Whitmore, particularly of Edward Mainwaring (the eighth Edward of a consecutive line). The collection consists of inventories of goods on the death of several family members (1604-1694), land tax assessments for Clayton and Seabridge and Swynnerton (1735), several wills (1756-1770), legal correspondence (1616-1825) and leases particularly in relation to lands in Lancashire (1744-1768).
      • Extent D(W)1743 is 9 box equivalents and 7 maps D5376 is 2.5 boxes, 2 vols

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Tree progress September 2021

In May 2018 I wrote about the progress I was making on my family tree. The previous ten generations of my forebears have a maximum total of 1,023 people. How many of these, I wondered, could I name.

I found that I knew the names of only 319 of these (31%) Today, three and a half years later, I can name 358 (35%), only 39 more.

Ten generations takes your to your 7th great grandparents. Most of my children’s 7th great grandparents were born in the 1700s (where I know their date of birth). I know the names of 86 of the 512 forebears of this generation. I don’t know very much more than the names of 62.

For the last year I have been transferring my research to WikiTree, a collaborative project intended to produce a ‘singular worldwide family tree’.  (The genealogist Kitty Cooper discusses the scheme in a post of 26 April 2019). By contributing my research to WikiTree it will be there as a resource for my cousins to use now and indefinitely into the future, safe, I hope, from accidental and malicious damage.

There are discrepancies between my personal research tree and WikiTree. For one thing, I have names of forebears on my personal tree about whom I know nothing more than their name. These people cannot be added to WikiTree until I have more information about them. When I add a person to Wikitree, I provide source citations: I state how I know the facts being added and how I know about the relationship of the newly-added profile to the existing people on the tree. Adding my family tree slowly to Wikitree is an excellent way to review my family history research.

When looking at the 1,023 individuals of the previous ten generations of our forebears, I have only 258 recorded on WikiTree, 25% of the possible maximum.

A useful challenge that categorises ancestral profiles was posed earlier this year by the Dutch genealogist Yvette Hoitink. She suggests there are six levels of profile beyond ‘Unidentified’ (where not even the name is known):

  1. Name only – perhaps the forebear is named in a child’s record but no other details are known
  2. Vital statistics – know the dates but little else
  3. Occupations, residence, children, spouses – know several key points of information; know when and where they were born, married, and died, but also where they lived between those key dates and what they did for a living; know who their children were, and if they married multiple times.
  4. Property ownership, military service, religion, criminal activity – filled in more biographical details about their lives; researched in court, notarial, cadastral, church and military records, where applicable; if they owned property, how they acquired it, how they disposed of it; whether they left a last will or if they had a prenuptial agreement; for men, whether they served in the army; what religion they were and which church they attended; if they were criminals, what they did and what their sentence was.
  5. Genealogical Proof Standard – Yvette categorises this as ancestors for whom she has finished reasonably exhaustive research and has proven who their parents are; finished researching them in a wide range of records, such as newspapers, town records, and tax records; documented them according to current genealogical standards, analyzed everything properly, resolved conflicts, written up her conclusion, and met the Genealogical Proof Standard.
  6. Biography – Yvette categorises this as ancestors for whom she has not only finished the research, but has produced a biography or family story with historical context from it.

I have started a preliminary review of our tree against these criteria. I have been reasonably conservative in assigning levels: for example, I have written more biographies or family stories with historical context in this online research journal than are shown in this chart.

Surname groups from left to right: Young, Cross, Sullivan, Dawson, Champion de Crespigny, Cudmore, Boltz, Manock.
Forebears where I only know the names (level 1 shown in blue) are not yet recorded on Wikitree, I need more information to record them there.
The chart was generated with DNAPainter.

The chart was generated using DNAPainter and the dimensions facility on the ancestral tree tool. DNA Painter Dimensions are custom categories giving the ability to create and share different views of your direct line. One of the dimensions you can apply to your tree is what stage you have reached for each forebear in the six levels of ancestral profiles of Yvette Hoitink’s level-up challenge. I learned about the addition of this new DNA Painter ‘dimensions’ feature in April. I have been meaning to apply it.

Applying the dimensions to each of the profiles was laborious. I sped it up slightly by applying level 1 (only know names) to all profiles on the tree. I then individually edited each of the other profiles with what I felt to be a fair assessment of the state of my research.

When I finished adding the categories I was able to generate a summary of genealogy facts. For example for the tenth generation (the outermost ring on the fan chart) I could produce the following summary:

7th-Great-Grandparents 86 of 512 identified

Surnames: Way, Bishop, Colling, Way, Bishop, Moggeridge, Morley, Read, Hemsley, Jenner, Whalley, Hague, Gilbert, Trevithick, Huthnance, Ralph, Champion de Crespigny, Fonnereau, Scott, Gough, Trent, Phipps, Phipps, Tierney, Dana, Trowbridge, Kinnaird, Johnstone, Bayly, Holmes, Grueber, Smyth, Snell, Chauncy, Brown, Cosnahan, La Mothe, Perez, Corrin, Quay, Mitchell, Hughes, Price, Plaisted, Sier, Wilks, Wilkinson, Green, Neilson, Taylor, Miller, Cudmore, Apjohn, Furnell, Massy, Gunn, Manson, Harper, Cavanagh, Lane, Orfeur, Kirkby, Palliser, Wogan, Coates, Odiarne, Haffenden, Mainwaring, Bunbury, Latham, Kelsall, Duff, Skelly, Harrison

Research Level

  • Level 1: Names only  62 12.11%
  • Level 3: Occupations, residence, children, spouses  11 2.15%
  • Level 4: Property ownership, military service, rel  10 1.95%
  • Level 2: Vital statistics  2 0.39%
  • Level 6: Biography  1 0.2%
  • Unassigned  426 83.2%

I look forward to more research and exploring and recording my family history beyond collecting the names.

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John and Jane Edwards of St Erth

Who were the parents of Thomas Edwards 1794 – 1871?

Thomas Edwards was one of the 3rd great grandfathers of my husband Greg. He died suddenly, of “congestion of the brain”, on 7 January 1871 at Bungaree, near Ballarat, Victoria. An inquest was held two days later. The coroner, who seems to have been advised by a member of the family,  was the informant on Thomas’s death certificate.

1871 death registration for Thomas Edwards (marked with red star)

Thomas Edwards, born about 1794, was 77 years old when he died. He had been a wheelwright. His parents are recorded on his death certificate as John Edwards and Jane Edwards nee Gilbert. Thomas’s father was a labourer. Thomas had been born in Cornwall and had spent 22 years in Victoria. He had married Mary Gilbart at the age of 33, in about 1827. Eight children – 6 boys and 2 girls – are noted, but their names and ages are not given.

There is only one baptism for a Thomas Edwards about 1794 in south-west Cornwall: Thomas, son of John and Jane Edwards, was baptised on 6 July 1794 at Towednack, a village 5 miles north-west of St Erth.

Thomas Edwards married Mary Gilbart on 14 March 1826 in the parish church of St Erth. If he was 77 when he died in 1871, he was about 32 in 1826 when he married Mary Gilbart. The witnesses to the marriage were John Gilbart and Sarah Gilbart, both of them probably relatives of the bride.

On the 1841 census Thomas and Mary Edwards were living in Bridge Terrace, St Erth. Thomas, a carpenter, was 45 (born about 1796 but on the 1841 census ages of adults were rounded to the nearest 5 years). The household members were Thomas, his wife, and five children; one child was away from home staying close by in Battery Mill, St Erth, with her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Gilbart nee Huthnance.

After the 1841 census Thomas and Mary had a further three children. Altogether they had nine children, but one died as an infant in St Erth. 

In 1849 Thomas and Mary Edwards and their children emigrated to Victoria on the ‘Lysander’. The passenger list gives Thomas’s age as 53.  His occupation was recorded as wheelwright.

The dates on Thomas Edwards’s death certificate are consistent with those on the Lysander passenger manifest and the marriage record. 

Marriage of John and Jane Edwards, parents of Thomas

I am unable to find a marriage for a John Edwards and a Jane Gilbert or Gilbart. Some online trees have John Edwards as the husband of Jane Harvey, with their marriage on 21 June 1788 at Breage. On that marriage John is from Breage and a tinner by rank or profession, Jane Harvey is from Germoe. The witnesses were Thomas Edwards and Thomas Johns. Germoe is less than three miles west of Breage. I think this is the likely marriage of Thomas’s parents and that Thomas’s death certificate incorrectly gives his mother’s maiden name.

Siblings of Thomas Edwards

As stated above Thomas, child of John and Jane Edwards was baptised 6 July 1794 at Towednack, Cornwall. Between 1788 and 1820 there were only two other children baptised at Towednack to parents named John and Jane Edwards:

  • William baptised on 7 August 1796
  • Honour baptised on 21 October 1798

It seems unlikely that the John and Jane Edwards who were married in 1788 had only three children and that the first, Thomas, was born six years after marriage. I looked for other baptisms in south-west Cornwall for parents John and Jane Edwards in the period 1788 – 1820.

The neighbouring parish of Lelant also records baptisms of children with parents John and Jane Edwards. However, because some of these are in 1794, 1797, and 1798, thus overlapping with the children born to the Towednack family, it appears that the Lelant baptisms are for a separate family. 

On 26 December 1805 there is a baptism of a Sarah Edwards to John and Jane Edwards at Breage, 7 miles south-east of St Erth and 12 miles south-east of Towednack. It is also the marriage place of John Edwards and Jane Harvey.

There is a baptism of Charlotte Edwards on 4 May 1810 at Gulval. Gulval is just under five miles south of Towednack and just under 6 miles south-west of St Erth.

Some online family trees suggest a James Edwards born about 1805 is also the child of John and Jane Edwards, however I have not located a baptism for him with a mother named Jane in the indexes of the Cornwall Parish Records (Online Parish Clerk OPC) database. I have found a baptism for James in Germoe on 4 March 1804 with father John and mother Jenifred; Jenifred is possibly a variation of Jane. There was also an Anne Edwards, daughter of John and Jenifred baptised at Germoe on 2 May 1802.

I am puzzled though that there were apparently no children born to that marriage before 1794. However, the list of all Cornish baptisms on the OPC database to parents John and Jane Edwards has no other likely candidates for these baptisms in the period 1788 – 1794.

But there is a John Edwards baptised in Gulval on 23 November 1788. His mother’s name is not given. On 28 November 1790 there is a baptism at Madron, a village two miles west of Gulval, for Francis Edwards son of John, also without the mother’s name. On 24 June 1792 Jane Edwards, daughter of John, was baptised at Madron, again without the mother’s name. On 9 May 1806 Elizabeth, daughter of John (no mother named) was baptised at Penzance. She appears on the Madron register. I think it very likely that these four children are siblings of Thomas. 

Map of south-west Cornwall showing St Erth, Towednack, Breage, Germoe, Gulval, and Madron

To summarise, the possible family of John Edwards and Jane:

Birth yearNameBaptism dateBaptism placeParents
1788John23 November 1788GulvalJohn
1790Francis28 November 1790MadronJohn
1792Jane24 June 1792MadronJohn
1794Thomas6 July 1794TowednackJohn and Jane
1796William7 August 1796TowednackJohn and Jane
1798Honour21 October 1798TowednackJohn and Jane
1802Anne2 May 1802GermoeJohn and Jenifred
1804James4 March 1804GermoeJohn and Jenifred
1805Sarah26 December 1805BreageJohn and Jane
1810Charlotte4 March 1810GulvalJohn and Jane

Two of Thomas’s siblings, James and Charlotte, emigrated to Victoria, arriving in Portland on the Oithona in 1855 with their spouses and some of their children. Unfortunately, the death certificates for James and Charlotte give no details of their mother.

John, Francis, Jane, William, Honour, and Anne Edwards died in Cornwall. English death certificates do not record information about the deceased person’s parents and so will not help to confirm details of John and Jane Edwards.

I am yet to trace whether Sarah Edwards married or emigrated, and when she died.

Deaths of John and Jane Edwards

In May 1817 there was a mining accident at St Ives which killed John Edwards and injured one of his sons. The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 31 May 1817 reported:

A few days ago, John Edwards, of the parish of St. Erth, was killed, and his son for the present deprived of his eyesight by the untimely explosion of a hole in a mine near St. Ives. A person who called at the house of the survivor, was informed at the accident was occasioned by the use of an iron tamper, the powder and quills and a little rubbish had been put into the hole, but it had not been wet swabbed. It is to be hoped that this distressing event will deter all others from the use of such dangerous implements, and induce them to adopt such means of safety as [article ceases]

John Edwards was buried 24 May 1817 at Gulval. His residence was St Erth and he was 54 years old [so born about 1763].

On the 1841 census a Jane Edwards age 75 was living in St Erth in the household of William and Charlotte Thomas; Charlotte was Jane’s daughter. On 10 May 1842 Jane Edwards, age 76, was buried at St Erth.


The 1871 death certificate of Thomas Edwards seems reliable, though his mother’s maiden name appears wrong, possibly confused with his wife’s maiden name. His mother was probably  Jane Harvey who married Thomas’s father John Edwards in 1788. John and Jane Edwards lived in the area of Gulval, Towednack, and Germoe in south-west Cornwall. They had ten children .

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Sophia Duff

Sophia Henrietta Duff, my fourth great grandmother, was born about 1790, probably in Canada, to Major William Duff of the 26th Foot and Dorothy Duff nee Skelly.

William Duff and Dorothy Skelly were married on 9 April 1787 at Redmarshall, Durham. William was an illegitimate son of James, second Earl of Fife. Dorothy was the great granddaughter of Alexander, second Duke of Gordon.

Shortly after their marriage William’s regiment was posted to Canada and Dorothy accompanied him there. William retired from the army in March 1793 and the family returned to Yorkshire.

Major William Duff died aged 41 on 5 July 1795 at Fulford, near York. He was survived by his widow and only child. His inscription in the Duff family mausoleum (at Duff House, Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland) stated:

Sacred to the memory of William Duff of the 26th Regiment, a meritorious officer, a most sincere friend, an affectionate husband, an indulgent parent. He lived esteemed and respected. He died regretted and lamented in the 41st year of his age in the year of the Lord 1795.

Cramond, William (editor). The Annals of Banff. New Spalding Club, 1893, Issue 10, page 369. Retrieved through Google Books 

Dorothy and Sophia stayed in touch with William’s family. A letter written by Dorothy to her father-in-law in London mentions a visit to William’s sister, and that Sophia was visited at school by her paternal grandfather.

Dorothy Duff (William’s widow) to Earl Fife
Richmond, Yorkshire Dec’r 23rd, 1801.
My Lord,— I have to thank you for a letter which yu were so good as inclose me fr Lady Duff before you left Duff House, and after being so long without hearing fr your Lordship, was glad to have so good an account of you which was confirmed to me by ye Miss Whartons who wrote me after ye Ball you gave them and that they seemed to have much enjoyed. I have to thank you, my Lord, likewise for your visit to Sophia at Doncaster, where, she tells me, you were so kind as to call upon her notwithstanding a very bad day on which you walked up to ye School, and by which she was much flattered. I had ye pleasure of receiving her a few days ago in perfect health when I returned home after being near three months with my friends at Redmoss Hall. Sophie is wonderfully grown, and is now nearly as tall as I am. When she was with me in Summer I had her at Scarborough two months for ye sea bathing, which gave us an opportunity also of being wt Miss Duff who we had not seen for a very long time. She is by this time gone to Ly Norcliffe. I hope ye much wished for Peace will be ye means of bringing Sir James and Ly Duff soon to England. Your Lordship may perhaps have heard that my Brother is married. It took place here a week ago, before I came home, and he has entirely left ye army — in which he has relinquished very flattering prospects.
Your Lordship would be sorry for ye death of poor Ld Adam Gordon — in whom I lose an affectionate relation and friend. I was deeply hurt at ye event- Sophia and I were to have spent this coming Christmas wt him at ye Burn. It was so settled when he was so kind as visit me here in ye summer, but our plans formed so long have proved vain. Sophia sends her duty to your Lordship.— Wh my respectful good wishes I remain, My Lord, your much obliged, etc., etc.,
D. Duff.
The Earl of Fife, Fife House, London. 

from Alistair Tayler & Tayler, Helen Agnes Henrietta, 1869-1951, joint author (1914). The book of the Duffs. Edinburgh W. Brown. Volume 2 page 523 retrieved through

The letter mentions :

  • Sophia, who was about 11
  • William’s sister, Jean Duff,
  • William’s brother, Sir James Duff and his wife Basilia, Lady Duff nee Dawes
  • Dorothy’s brother, Gordon Skelly, who on 15 December 1801 married Elizabeth Newsome
  • Dorothy’s great uncle, Lord Adam Gordon, the brother of Dorothy’s paternal grandmother. He died on 13 August 1801.

Sophia’s school at Doncaster was probably the school of Mrs Ann Haugh on Hall Cross Hill, which opened in February 1797, accepting 12 young ladies. Mrs Haugh was the wife of the painter George Haugh, who taught his wife’s pupils.

1 Hall Cross Hill, the location of Mrs Haugh’s school in 1801; image retrieved from

Dorothy Duff nee Skelly, widow of Richmond, Yorkshire, remarried to Captain George Tobin of the Royal Navy on 13 June 1804 at St George, Bloomsbury, England. Her daughter Sophia was then about 14 years old.

Two children were born to Captain Tobin and Dorothy: George in 1807 and Eliza in 1810.

Sophia met her future husband Rowland Mainwaring at a picnic at Devonport on 11 July 1808. In his book “The First Five Years of My Married Life” he described their meeting as `love at first sight‘. They became engaged two years later in November 1810 and were married on 31 December.

from pages 21 – 22 The First Five Years of My Married Life by Rowland Mainwaring
A portrait of Sophia painted in 1841, many years after her death in 1824; the portrait is now hanging at Whitmore Hall.


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Rowland Mainwaring: from midshipman to rear-admiral

One of my 4th great grandfathers was a British naval officer, Rowland Mainwaring (1782 – 1862). I have written about the early years of his career in my post Midshipman Rowland Mainwaring.

At the Battle of the Nile, Rowland Mainwaring was a midshipman on HMS Majestic, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, George Blagdon Westcott, captain. Westcott was killed, and Mainwaring moved to the Thalia, a 36-gun frigate.

In about 1799 Mainwaring moved to the Defence, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, commanded by Lord Henry Paulet. Mainwaring completed his time as midshipman under Paulet.

The Defence served off Lisbon and Cadiz, and in the Mediterranean. During 1800 the boats of the Defence were active in inshore operations, capturing the Nochette and several gunboats at St. Croix on 11 June, and assisting in the capture and destruction of boats in Bourgneuf Bay on 1 July. Head-money (a reward paid per head of captured enemy personnel) was distributed 25 years later to those involved in the action of 1 July and for capturing the ship La Thérèse of 20 guns, a lugger of 12, a cutter, and two schooners of 6 guns each.

Mainwaring was present on the Defence at the Battle of Copenhagen of 2 April 1801. The Defence was in the reserve and did not see action.

Nelson Forcing the Passage of the Sound, 30 March 1801, prior to the Battle of Copenhagen painting by Robert Dodd in the collection of the Royal Museums Greenwich.
The leading British ship, the ‘Monarch‘, 74 guns, is in the right foreground. She is followed to the right by the ‘Elephant‘, 74 guns, with Nelson flying his flag as Vice-Admiral of the Blue. These leading ships and several others following to the left have passed the batteries of Kronborg Castle. Although the Defence is not pictured it was also a 74 gun ship.

Mainwaring was made lieutenant on 7 December 1801 and was appointed to the Harpy sloop. His later appointments were:

  • 4 August 1802 to the Leda, Captain Robert Honeyman, 38 guns
  • 8 November 1804 to the Terrible, a 74-gun third rate ship of the line, serving again under Lord Henry Paulet
  • 7 October 1806 as first lieutenant to the Narcissus, a 32-gun fifth-rate frigate

On the Leda, Mainwaring was entrusted with the command of a boat fitted with what was called an ‘explosion-machine’ in an attack upon the Boulogne flotilla.

The attack on Boulogne Oct 1804: ‘A S. E. View of the Town and Harbour of Boulogne with the Encampments on the Heights. Shewing also the situation of the French and English Squadrons as taken at anchor by E. D. Lewis H.M.S. Tartarus off Boulogne’. The flagship, centre bottom is identified as the ‘Monarch‘, 74, Admiral Lord Keith, then in charge of the anti-invasion blockade. The Leda is the second in from the bottom left-hand corner.
Drawing held in the collection of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

In August 1806 the Terrible was caught in a hurricane and dismasted. The Terrible was at the time in pursuit, in the West Indies, of a French squadron under the command of Jérôme Bonaparte, the youngest brother of Napoleon.

An account of the dismasting of the Terrible from The Annual Biography and Obituary, Volume 17 (1833) retrieved through Google Books.

In later life Mainwaring commissioned seven marine paintings. These are mentioned in his will. Two have been mislaid; five are at Whitmore Hall. One is of the extant paintings is ‘The Battle of the Nile’ (mentioned in an earlier post). Another appears to be of a dismasted ship, perhaps the Terrible.

One of the marine paintings at Whitmore Hall

Mainwaring had been on continuous service from 1795 to the end of 1810. In December 1810, he took leave to marry Sophia Duff. This was followed by eight months of half-pay. On 16 August 1811 he was appointed to the Menelaus, a 38-gun fifth rate frigate.

His service on the Menelaus included the following:

  • the capturing, without loss, of the St. Josef, a French brig, pierced for 16 guns, lying within pistol-shot of one battery, flanked by another, and also by musketry from the shore, near the Bay of Fréjus in the south of France. The account was gazetted on 25 April 1812.
  • in 1812, Menelaus was part of the blockade of Toulon in the Mediterranean and operated against coastal harbours, shipping and privateers off the southern coast of France with some success. Mainwaring was noticed for the following:
    • the attention and assistance he afforded on the occasion of the Menelaus (together with the Havannah and Furieuse frigates and Pelorus brig) being chased by the French Toulon fleet
    • by his admirable gallantry and good conduct when the Menelaus, having pursued the French 40-gun frigate Pauline and 16-gun brig Ecureuil under the batteries in the vicinity of Toulon, once more effected a masterly retreat from the fleet that had come out to their protection, by passing through its line ahead of one 74, and astern of another
    • by the manner in which, under circumstances peculiarly honourable to him, he boarded and brought out the French xebec or zebec La Paix, mounting 2 long 6-pounders, with a complement of 30 men, from within pistol-shot of the towers of Terracina, under a galling fire
    • by his highly creditable behaviour in cutting out, under a heavy fire from the batteries in the river Mignone, near Civita Vecchia, the French letter-of-marque St. Esprit, pierced for 12 guns, but with only 2 6-pounders mounted
    • by his conspicuous gallantry in burning the enemy’s vessels in the port of Mejan (Méjean), Marseilles, in September 1812.
Watercolour Painting by Nicholas Pocock of the British ship, HMS Menelaus. HMS Eclair is on the left, Menelaus, right of centre in in starboard bow view. To the far right is a Mediterranean setee. Pocock served as a lieutenant in the Adriatic from 1811 to 1814. From the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, UK.

On 13 August 1812 Mainwaring was awarded a second promotal commission to the rank of commander for gallantry and valor.  He later served in these vessels:

  • Edinburgh, a 74-gun third rate ship of the line
  • Gorgon, a hospital-ship at Malta
  • Undaunted, a Lively-class fifth-rate 38-gun frigate
  • Euryalus, a 36-gun Apollo-class frigate
  • Caledonia, a 120-gun first-rate ship of the line; she was Admiral Pellew’s flagship in the Mediterranean.
  • Kite, a 16-gun brig-sloop
  • Paulina, a 16-gun brig-sloop of the Seagull class

Rowland Mainwaring kept a diary all his life. He published several books based on his diary. One of these was ‘The First Five Years of My Married Life‘ (1853), a record of Mainwaring’s activities afloat and of his domestic life. The book includes a detailed account of 1815, his last year of active service.

In 1815 Mainwaring was engaged in operations against American privateers operating in the Mediterranean against English shipping as a consequence of the ongoing Anglo-American war of 1812. Although the war officially ended in December 1814, Mainwaring received communication only on 26 April of the ratification on 17 February of the treaty of peace with America, and thus all hostilities in the Mediterranean ceased 40 days after that date, that is by 29 March.

In February 1815 on the Paulina Mainwaring was directed to proceed from Palermo to Corfu with dispatches and from there to Zante (Zakynthos, Greece), with the transport (chartered vessel) Enterprise, and embark the Phygalian Marbles, later known as the Elgin Marbles or Parthenon Marbles, for conveyance to Malta; they were then to be transported England. Mainwaring was annoyed by the orders for he had hoped to collect bounty from capturing privateers instead. He estimated his loss as £2,000 (between £150,000 and £1.5 million in today’s money).

There was a flurry of activity after Napoleon escaped from Elba in late February 1815. The Paulina was first involved in escorting a convoy of transports from Bona, present-day Annaba in Algeria, and Cagliari in Italy. The Paulina then proceeded to Naples and Gaeta in charge of a convoy with arms and ammunition for the Austrian forces. On arrival there was news of the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and Gaeta surrendered.

He proceeded to Genoa and Marseille and at Marseille attended a grand civic ball. In September he was back in Valetta and reunited with his wife and her third child who had been born on 14 August. This son was named in honour of Edward Pellew, Lord Exmouth, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, and who had consented to be the child’s godfather. The Paulina was then ordered to proceed to Plymouth. He sailed on 30 September with his “family, goods and chattels, a milch goat, and various little comforts and luxuries for the voyage home.”

Map showing the Mediterranean ports mentioned by Mainwaring in 1815

Mainwaring was paid off in November 1815 and did not serve afloat again.

On the accession of William IV, Rowland Mainwaring was one of the old war-officers selected by Lord Melville as deserving of promotion. He was posted by commission–made captain–on 22 July 1830, one of 18 commanders elevated to the rank at that time.

On 29 September 1855 he was promoted to Rear-Admiral. He was one of 11 Captains on the Retired List promoted to be Retired Rear Admiral without increase of pay, on terms proposed in the London Gazette of September 1, 1846. Of the 11 captains promoted on 29 September 1855, 9 had been promoted to captain at the same time as Mainwaring.

Portrait of Captain Rowland Mainwaring painted by Mr. John Phillip, afterwards R.A., at Whitmore in May 1841


  • O’Byrne, William R. A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy, from the Rank of Admiral of the Fleet to that of Lieutenant, Inclusive. 1849. Page 711. Retrieved through
  • Marshall, John. Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes … with Copious Addenda: Captains. Commanders. 1832. Pages 126 – 130. Retrieved through Google Books.
  • Mainwaring, Rowland. The First Five Years of My Married Life. 1853. Retrieved through Google Books.
  • Cavenagh-Mainwaring, James Gordon. The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford; an account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent, with special reference to the manor of Whitmore, with appendices, pedigrees and illustrations. 1934. Pages 104115Retrieved through
  • Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine and Britton, Heather, (editor.) Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013. Pages 82 – 92.

Related posts

Wikitree: Rowland Mainwaring (1782 – 1862)

A Bombay wedding: George Symes and Katherine Lucas 1939

On 10 August 1939 Katherine Lucas, future first wife of my step-grandfather George Symes, embarked on the Strathallan at Port Adelaide, bound for London. At the time, it was widely believed that another war was inevitable, and indeed, scarcely three weeks afterwards, World War II began with Hitler’s invasion of Poland on 1 September and the British response two days later.

The column ‘Lady Kitty Hears’ in the Adelaide Advertiser of 11 August 1939 announced:

On The Strathallan

ON BOARD the Strathallan yesterday, Mrs. Peter de Peterson passed through Adelaide on her way home to Bombay, after spending three months in Melbourne with her parents, Colonel and Mrs. P. W. Vaughan. Her husband will meet her at Colombo. Travelling in the same ship is Miss K. Lucas, who is bound for England.

Built in the previous year, the Strathallan was one of 5 ‘Strath’ liners designed for the Australia run. They were known as the ‘White sisters’, for P&O had them painted white with buff funnels, a colour scheme made possible by the fuel they used: coal had been replaced by oil, and though black paint had usefully concealed the dirt from coal-smoke, white was clean, modern, and much cooler in the tropics.

RMS Strathallan was the fifth and final vessel of the Strath-class liners, launched in September 1937 with her maiden voyage in March 1938. She was 23,722 gross registered tonnes, 664.5 feet long (202.5m), and could carry for 448 1st Class and 663 Tourist Class passengers.

On 3 September, during the voyage, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. A letter back to South Australia published on 20 October 1939 in The Times and Northern Advertiser of Peterborough, South Australia described the voyage after war was declared. The Strathallan was :

… on their way to Suez when war was declared and the steamer had to return to Aden and await orders from the Admiralty. They left Aden on 2nd September, and that night all the passengers had to transfer to the first class cabins—as the ship was “all black out” it was rather an ordeal, but the passengers made the best of it and enjoyed the fun of bumping into each other in the dark with their goods and chattels. They had to attend boat drills, first aid classes, wear life belts, carry emergency outfits, practise disappearing below when the air raid and gun warnings were given and not returning until the “all clear” signal sounded. The men passengers, eight on each deck, kept two hourly watch from 6 p.m. until daybreak, the life boats were kept in readiness, and each passenger had his own appointed place therein, so that everything possible had been arranged for their safety.

The Strathallan did not arrive in London until 9 October. When the letter was written, on 12 September, the ship had “been touring continuously without sighting land” for 10 days.

It seems Katherine Lucas may have already disembarked in Bombay in late August, perhaps intending to continue her voyage later or to defer the trip to England because of the anticipated announcement of war.

On 2 December 1939 the column ‘Lady Kitty Hears’ in the Adelaide Advertiser announced:


THE ENGAGEMENT is announced of Miss Katherine Bellairs Lucas, second daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. C. de N. Lucas, of Hyde Park, to Brevet Lieut.-Colonel George William Symes, of York and Lancaster Regiment, India. The marriage will take place in Bombay on December 11.

Katherine Lucas’s  portrait appeared in The Advertiser of 5 December.

Miss Katherine Bellairs Lucas, who recently announced her engagement to Brevet
Lieutenant-Colonel George William Symes. — Dickinson-Monteath portrait.

A report of the wedding was in the Adelaide News of 3 January 1940 in the column ‘Conducted by Candida’.

Adelaide Bride In Bombay

A WEDDING of interest to Adelaide folk was that of Miss Katherine Bellairs Lucas, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Claude de Neufville Lucas, formerly of South Australia, which was celebrated at the Afghan Memorial Church, Bombay, India, on December 11.

The bridegroom was Lieut.-Col. G. W. Symes, M.C., York and Lancaster Regiment, attached to the General Staff of Bombay District Headquarters. He is the son of Mrs. G. Symes, of Swanage, Dorset, England.

Vice-Admiral H. Fitzherbert. Flag Officer commanding the Royal Indian Navy, and naval officers and their wives, officers attached to Bombay District Headquarters and military units in the garrison and their wives, the Bishop of Bombay and other friends of the bride and bridegroom filled the church, the sanctuary of which was simply decorated.

The bride walked to the altar on the arm of Major-Gen. G. de C. Glover, officer commanding Bombay District.

She wore a white chiffon dress with long sleeves, a full skirt, with flared godets, and an attached hood coming half-way over the head. She was attended by Mrs. P. de Peterson, who wore a dress similar to the bride’s but ice-blue in color.

The Rev. J. W. F. Ruddell, chaplain of Colaba, officiated.

The bride and bridegroom left the church, under an arch of swords provided by brother officers of the bridegroom.

A reception was held at the Gun House, Colaba, where Major-Gen. Glover proposed the health of the bride and bridegroom.

The honeymoon was spent in Agra and Delhi, and the bride wore a going away frock of powder blue flat crepe.

from a photo album compiled by George Symes. He has captioned the wedding party: Phyl de Peterson, ‘Toots’, Katherine, John Marshall, 11 December 1939

I notice that the bridesmaid, Mrs P de Peterson was mentioned as travelling on the Strathallan at the same time as Katherine.

On 7 February the News published a photo of the wedding.

 (1940, February 7). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

Katherine and George had no children. When George retired from the army, they moved to Adelaide, where Katherine had grown up.

Katherine Symes died 15 March 1961.

George married a second time, in 1967, to my grandmother, Kathleen Champion de Crespigny nee Cudmore.

He died in Adelaide on 26 August 1980, and was buried in Centennial Park cemetery with his first wife, Katherine.

Centennial Park cemetery Adelaide Location: Acacia B, Path BT, Grave 135A – photographed February 2014


Remembering Helena Gill drowned 10 July 1932

Eighty-nine years ago Helena Lucy Gill née Hughes, my second-great-grand-aunt, drowned when the SS Casino sank in Apollo Bay, Victoria. She was 65 years old.

Helena was the second youngest of eight children of my third great grandparents Samuel Hughes (1827-1896) and Sally Hughes née Plaisted (1826-1900); she was the younger sister, by twelve years, of my great-great-grandfather Edward Walter Hughes (1854-1922).

Drowned Stewardess (1932, July 11). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from

In April this year Greg and I went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road. We visited Apollo Bay and had lunch at the Apollo Bay Hotel. The hotel has a memorial to the Casino, which includes the ship’s wheel.

sign remembering the SS Casino in Apollo Bay opposite the Apollo Bay Hotel
extract from newspaper clipping on display at the Apollo Bay Hotel
Green, A. C. (c. 1900). Casino. Retrieved from the State Library of Victoria image H91.325/1112.
The “Casino” at Apollo Bay. (c 1920). Rose Stereograph Co. Retrieved from the State Library of Victoria Bib ID 1731943.

The Casino carried cargo and up to 25 passengers between Melbourne and Portland, stopping at Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy, for almost 50 years, from July 1882 to July 1932. She made more than two thousand of these coastal passages.

From about 1914 Helena Gill worked on the Casino as a stewardess. Her bravery in the shipwreck is recalled in a newspaper clipping, part of the display at the Apollo Bay Hotel.

Tomorrow there will be a small ceremony to mark the anniversary of the sinking. A service will be held at the Casino memorial in Gipps Street at 10 a.m. on Saturday 10 July.

S.S. Casino memorial, Port Fairy. (no date). Image from State Library of Victoria Image No: a07643.

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My yellow card

In 1971, when I first travelled overseas, Australians were required to carry an ‘International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP)’, also known as the ‘Carte Jaune’ (yellow card). This was an official vaccination report recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO).

My card was printed by the Government Printing Office in Canberra in 1969. My first vaccinations, on 19 April 1971 were for smallpox, cholera, and typhoid. I received boosters on 3 May 1971. I was not vaccinated against yellow fever.

The Certificate was introduced following the International Sanitary Convention for Aerial Navigation of 1933, meant to protect communities and air crew against diseases spread by air travel. The convention established regulations to prevent the spread of plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhus and smallpox..

The World Health Organisation was formed in 1946 and the Fourth World Health Assembly adopted the International Sanitary Regulations (alias WHO Regulations No. 2) on 25 May 1951, replacing the earlier International Sanitary Conventions. International certificates of vaccination replaced the old International Certificates of Inoculation and Vaccination.

In 1969 the International Health Regulations (IHR) were adopted by the WHO’s World Health Assembly. The 1969 IHR focused on four diseases: cholera, plague, smallpox, and yellow fever. A model International Certificate of Vaccination was introduced. My Certificate was in line with this.

After smallpox was successfully eradicated in 1980, the International Certificate of Vaccination against Smallpox was cancelled in 1981, and the new 1983 form lacked any provision for smallpox vaccination.

Greg’s certificate was issued by the Australian Department of Health and printed in 1984. It includes the statement, “WHO declared on 8 May 1980 that smallpox had been eradicated. Smallpox vaccination is therefore no longer justified. It may even be dangerous.”

I can’t detect my smallpox vaccination scar on my upper left arm anymore. It looked similar to this one, though this scar in the photo is from the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin or BCG vaccine which is used to protect people against human tuberculosis. Photo from Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

My travels since 1989 have not required my vaccinations to be recorded on a certificate.

I have recently been vaccinated to protect against infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. I have a digital immunisation history statement which can be viewed on my mobile phone. My influenza immunisations are shown as well as my Covid-19 immunisation. The immunisation history statement is not a vaccine passport and there is no easing of travel restrictions within Australia as a result of immunisation. In fact there is no international recognition of Covid-19 vaccinations and in April 2021 the World Health Organisation in April 2021 that it does not recommend that countries “require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution.”

It seems likely that any update to my Yellow Card to certify that I have met vaccination requirements for international travel in the future will be digital and not paper-based. Digital versions of the Yellow Card have already been developed for Yellow Fever.

Philip Champion Crespigny married Clarissa Sarah Brooke 1 July 1774

Philip Champion de Crespigny (1738 – 1803), one of my fifth great grandfathers, married four times. His third marriage was to Clarissa Brooke on 1 July 1774 at St Marylebone. They married by licence with the consent of her father, James Brook(e) of Rathbone Place. She was a minor, of the parish of St Marylebone. Philip was recorded as an Esquire, of Walton upon Thames, County of Surry, widower. He signed his name PC Crespigny. The witnesses were James Brooke and Hester Brooke.

Clarissa Sarah, daughter of James Brooke an engraver, and Esther Brooke nee Bent of Fleet Street in the City of London, was born on 29 April 1755 and baptised on 3 June 1755 at St Bride’s Fleet Street. Clarissa’s mother Esther later left her husband and became an actress.

The Gentleman’s Magazine London, England July, 1774

Clarissa and Philip had four children:

  • Clarissa (about 1775 – 1836) who married Edward Toker
  • Maria (1776 – 1858) who married John Horsley
  • Harry (1777 – ?) baptised 14 August 1777 at Walton-upon-Thames, Surrey and presumably died young
  • Fanny (1779 – 1865)

Clarissa and two of her daughters were painted in 1780 by George Romney. By 1780 Romney’s portraits, according to Horace Walpole, were ‘in great vogue’. Romney’s diary notes that the painting was oval and he charged fifty pounds.

Fifty pounds in today’s value is around £7,000 ($AUD13,000) when measured as a real price. However it could be valued as the labour earnings of that income or wealth equivalent to £80,000 ($AUD150,000) or looked as relative income value of that income or wealth being £95,000 ($AUD175,000). I think the two latter values more closely measure how much Romney was earning and thus what Philip needed to earn in order to pay him.

Clarissa Champion de Crespigny and two of her children by George Romney. It would seem that the daughters shown are Clarissa born about 1775 and Maria born about 1776.
The painting was last sold in 1989 from a private seller to a private buyer through the London dealers Leger Galleries. This image is from a reproduction of the painting and came from Alex Kidson, Research Fellow of the Romney Society.

Clarissa had appointments to sit for the portrait on 14 and 17 April and each of the four days from 13 to 16 June 1780. She cancelled four further appointments around those dates. In his 2015 catalogue of the paintings of George Romney, Alex Kidson notes the unusual landscape oval format and the “subtleness of design in the angling and interlocking of the figures”.

Clarissa died on 15 May 1782 in Palace Yard, Westminster, and was buried at St Marylebone on 22 May. She was twenty-seven years old. A short biographical piece on her father refers to her as an amiable and accomplished lady who died in the prime of life.

Smith, Thomas. (2013). A Topographical and Historical Account of the Parish of St. Mary-Le-Bone, Comprising a Copious Description of Its Public Buildings, Antiquities, Schools, Charitable Endowments, Sources of Public Amusement, &c. London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1833) retrieved from The same obituary appeared elsewhere, for example in the Hampshire Chronicle of 2 November 1807.

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