|The bushranger Morgan shooting McGinnerty F Cubbitt – circa 1864 Wood engraving|
In 1864, my great-great-grandfather, Philip de Crespigny (1850-1927), then only 14, took a shot at a prowler, missed, and was grazed on the shoulder when the suspicious-looking stranger fired back.
This anyway was how he reported the incident to his father, Philip Robert Champion Crespigny (1817-1889), the Talbot goldfields warden and police magistrate. A manhunt was begun, with the prowler initially thought to be ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan, a bushranger from the neighbouring colony of New South Wales.
|DARING ATTEMPT TO MURDER THE SON OF MR P. C. CRESPIGNY, P.M. (1864, August 18). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66347371|
The Melbourne Punch was more than a little sceptical:
(with a helpful note that the surname is pronounced Crepny)
|THE CRESPIGNY LEGEND. (1864, August 25). Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 – 1900), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176532918|
and the Bendigo Advertiser frankly disbelieved the tale:
Philip Robert Champion Crespigny leapt to his son’s defence. His boy was telling the truth, he said, and he offered a reward of a hundred pounds for the apprehension of the prowler:
|THE LATE ATTEMPT TO SHOOT MR. CRESPIGNY’S SON. (1864, August 31). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5747472|
|NEWS AND NOTES. (1864, September 10). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66347964|
Nothing came of this, however, and Punch continued to milk the incident for laughs:
|NOTES AND QUERIES. (1864, September 15). Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 – 1900), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176533045|