Canarios mios
Domestic canaries by Optiknv (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


LOCAL AND GENERAL NEWS. (1917, January 27). Riponshire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved  from

The Miss de Crespigny who donated the canaries was probably my 3rd-great-aunt Viola Julia Constantia Champion de Crespigny (1855-1929).

The canaries were raffled to raise funds for the war effort. The Beaufort Girls’ Patriotic Club forwarded comforts parcels, including parcels of socks, to 130 soldiers from the district.

Advertising (1917, April 7). Riponshire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from

Later in 1917 Miss de Crespigny donated another pair of canaries to the Beaufort, Waterloo, and District 15th Infantry Brigade Comforts Depot. Mrs E.W. Hughes, wife if the bank manager (my great great grandmother) also made a donation of socks and tobacco.

Advertising (1917, August 18). Riponshire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 1. Retrieved from
BEAUFORT. (1917, August 20). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 – 1880; 1914 – 1918), p. 6 (DAILY.). Retrieved from

Breeding canaries was a pastime of my third great grandmother Charlotte Frances de Crespigny née Dana (1820-1904). In 1898, in a letter from Eurambeen to her daughter Ada, Charlotte wrote:

I have 4 beautiful young canaries and the other little hen sitting. Rose has 10 young ones I have to look after.

Charlotte had two sons, Philip (1850-1927) and Constantine (1851-1883) and three daughters, Ada (1848-1927), Viola (1855-1929), and Helen Rosalie, called Rose (1858-1937). Rose married Francis Beggs and lived at Eurambeen and St Marnocks near Beaufort.

In 1900 Charlotte’s letter to Ada mentioned canaries again:

Would you very much mind putting my big canary cage under the tap and clean it for the poor little birds when I come. They will be so crowded I shall have to put them in a bigger cage till I sell them.

I believe Charlotte was at Eurambeen and writing to Ada in Melbourne. It seems from the letters that Viola also lived at Eurambeen with her sister Rose and mother and brother-in-law.

On the 1914 electoral roll Viola is listed as living at St Marnock’s, Beaufort. At the same property were Francis and Helen Rosalie Beggs. On the 1903 roll Francis and Rose Beggs and Viola and her mother were living at Eurambeen near Beaufort.

Viola had four nephews who served in the war:

  • Philip Champion de Crespigny (1879-1918) enlisted in 1918, served with the Light Horse and was killed in action in Palestine.
  • Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny (1882-1952) enlisted in 1915and served as a doctor.
  • Francis George Travers Champion de Crespigny (1892-1968) enlisted in 1917 and served as a doctor.
  • Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny (1897-1969) enlisted in 1914 but resigned shortly thereafter and joined the British Air Flying Corps.
Constantine Trent married Beatrix Hughes from Beaufort. Beatrix had two brothers who served in the war:
  • Vyvyan Westbury Hughes (1888-1916)
  • Cedric Hughes (1893-1953)
Beatrix’s third brother, Reginald Hughes (1886-1971) was rejected for enlistment on medical grounds.
Besides these close relatives there were almost certainly many other relatives and friends who served.