Eliza Champion Crespigny (1784-1831), my 5th great aunt, was the 11th of 14 children of my 5th great grandfather Philip Champion Crespigny (1738-1803), second of four children by his fourth wife Dorothy Scott (1765-1837). Eliza was born on 29 July 1784 at Hintlesham Hall, Suffolk, ten miles from Ipswich in the east of England. Three of her half-siblings had died before she was born. At the time of her birth, her father was a member of Parliament for the seat of Aldeburgh.

Eliza’s father died on 1 January 1803 and his wife married Sir John Keane on 27 March 1804. 1804 seems to have been a year of changes for the de Crespigny family.

  • On May 19 1804, at the age of twenty-one, by purchase George became an ensign, a regiment’s lowest-ranking officer, in the 13th Regiment of Foot.
  • On 17 July 1804, at the age of twenty-eight, Maria married John Horsley Esquire, a Captain of Royal Horse Guards at St George’s, Canterbury.
  • Eliza, aged twenty, eloped with Richard Hussey Vivian (1775-1842) and they married at Gretna Green on 14 September 1804.
record of marriage of Richard Hussey Vivian to Eliza Champion Crespigny from the Gretna Green marriage register retrieved through ancestry.com. Original data: “The Lang Collection of Gretna Green Marriages Records.”

Eliza and Richard had five children

  • Charles Crespigny Vivian 1808–1886
  • Charlotte Elizabeth Vivian 1815–1877
  • John Cranch Walker Vivian 1818–1879
  • Jane Frances Anne Vivian 1824–1860
  • Georgina Agnes Augusta Vivian 1828–1835


Richard Hussey Vivian, 1st Baron Vivian, by William Salter (died 1875). Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Richard, later Sir Hussey Vivian, joined the army in 1793 and had a successful career. He served in Flanders and the Netherlands. In 1800 he was promoted to Major and served in the Peninsular War. On 20 September 1804, one week after his Gretna Green marriage, Richard was promoted lieutenant-colonel in the 25th light dragoons, but he never never joined the regiment, and on 1 December exchanged back into the 7th light dragoons. He was an aide-de-campe to the Prince Regent and was promoted to Major General in 1814. In 1815 he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

Vivian served at Waterloo; the account in Wikipedia summarises his achievements in that battle:

After the enemy were repulsed, Vivian’s hussars made the final charge of the day between Hougomont and La Haye Sainte, sweeping the Middle Guard and Line units before them before breaking upon the squares of the Old Guard, which they soon learned to avoid. This service was rewarded by the thanks of both houses of Parliament, an award of the KCH (Royal Guelphic Order from the House of Hannover), and the Orders of Maria Theresa and St. Vladimir from the emperors of Austria and Russia.

After the war, Vivian entered politics and sat in Parliament from 1821 to 1831. The History of Parliament states that Vivian described his wife as:

‘violent, jealous and touchy, but she has a good heart at bottom and is open and honourable to an extreme’.

The History of Parliament also quotes a description of Lady Vivian and her husband by Mrs Arbuthnot, whose stepson later married Charlotte, the Vivian’s oldest daughter. Mrs Arbutnot described the couple:

a very pretty woman, a great coquette … [who] practises her art with great success on my eldest brother … I don’t like her at all, for she is the most complete Mrs. Candour I have ever met with, and an amazing gossip. He is a good-natured, rough hussar.

In June 1830 Eliza became ill and Vivian left his parliamentary business, despite at that time Parliament considering a proposed legislative restriction on smoke emissions from factories; the legislation posed a threat to the Hafod copper works, a Vivian family business. At the time Vivian also wished to sell his house, Beechwood House, near Lyndhurst in Hampshire as it was considered too damp for his wife’s good.

Vivian was offered an appointment to command the forces in Ireland and to leave Parliament. However, he initially turned down the Irish appointment on account of his wife’s health. He wrote to his brother:

‘in poor Eliza’s dreadful state I can think of but one thing’. The following day, contemplating her inevitable early death, which would leave him with ‘three motherless girls’, he confided to [his brother] John Henry:
I sometimes think I shall give up Ireland altogether and go abroad with my whole family for two or three years. In short, I know not what to think or determine on. It is a grievous affliction to look forward to, but it must come ere long.

He left Parliament and withdrew from politics on account of the desperate condition of his wife, who died five months later aged 47.

Following her death, Vivian took on the Irish command of the forces and remarried in 1833. Vivian died in 1842.


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