One of my great grandmothers was Beatrix Champion de Crespigny née Hughes (1884-1943). She was born on 23 April 1884 in Ascot Vale, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, the eldest child of Edward Walter Hughes (1854-1922) and Jeanie Hughes née Hawkins (1862-1941). Edward Hughes was the manager of the Bank of Victoria in Beaufort, Victoria, from about 1888 until his retirement in 1919.
Beatrix had three brothers:
- Reginald, born 1886 in Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne
- Vyvyan, born 1888 in Beaufort
- Cedric, born 1893 in Beaufort
As a girl Beatrix studied music and in 1902 did well in her examinations, but beyond this I know very little about her when she was young.
The Hughes family knew my 3rd great grandmother Charlotte de Crespigny (1820-1904) and her daughter Rose Beggs who lived at Eurambeen near Beaufort. There are several mentions of the Hughes family and Trixie Hughes in letters written by Charlotte de Crespigny in 1900 and 1902. Charlotte de Crespigny’s grandson Trent de Crespigny, then known by his family as Con, was a frequent visitor to Eurambeen in the holidays.
In about 1900 in a letter to her daughter Ada (1848-1927), Charlotte de Crespigny wrote:
We had a very pleasant evening, both afternoon tea and a magnificent iced cake with almonds all over it, and a lovely tea, 14 sat down to it. Con’s ducks were most delicious, and a magnificent ham and meat pies, sweets of all sorts. I wished so much you could have had some of the good things and Loo would have enjoyed the ducks so much. Con and Rose were wishing he was there and you too. I was thinking all the time what a dull old Sunday you would all be having, without any servant.
After Tea, Frank drove me with Rose and Mr. Minchin to the other house. All the young people walked in the lovely moonlight. They stayed out playing games till nearly 10 when Frank came in and read prayers. After that, supper and home, Mr Hughes and all the whole crowd walking home Anna and Ethel, [?] coming as well, having a little more refreshment. They did not go till after the Hughes and Minchins drove home, near 12, and then Con and Jack walked back with them enjoying the moonlight, no one wore any hats or bonnets, and all the white dresses looked so pretty. Trixey Hughes and Edith Minchin gave Rose pretty little presents.
In 1906 Beatrix married Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny, a doctor then practising in Glenthompson, fifty miles from Beaufort.
Beatrix and Trent had four children.
The eldest, Richard Geoffrey, known as Geoff, was born in Glenthompson in 1907.
Their second child, Nancy, was born in Adelaide in 1910. Constantine Trent was Superintendent at the Adelaide Hospital from 1909.
In World War 1 Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny, who reached the rank of Colonel, had a distinguished career commanding military hospitals. On the home front Beatrix contributed greatly to fundraising efforts for the soldiers at the front.
In 1919 Beatrix had two more children, twins. Sadly, one of these, Adrian, suffered a brain injury at birth, and spent most of his life in care. The other child was a girl, Margaret.
Beatrix died in 1943 at the age of 59. Her obituary made mention of her charitable work, drawing particular attention to her contribution to child welfare which included many year’s service to the Mothers’ and Babies’ Health Association in Adelaide.
The day after her obituary, the Adelaide newspaper carried a letter from Paquita Mawson, President of the Mothers’ and Babies’ Health Association, and Dr Helen Mayo, the founder of the Mothers’ and Babies’ Health Association and Honorary Chief Medical Officer, who spoke of Beatrix’s wise management and sound decision making.