Claude Champion Crespigny (1620-1695) and his wife Marie née de Vierville (1628-1708), my eighth great grandparents, were Huguenots, French Calvinists. After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, the family fled France, abandoning most of their property.

Claude and Marie died in London and are buried at Marylebone. Their gravestone indicates that they were refugees from France.

The couple’s memorial originally had this inscription:

Hic jacet in fornice Claudius Champion de Crespigny et Maria de Vierville ejus uxor

E Galliae persecutione profugierunt cum integrâ octo liberorum familiâ

tandem in cǽlum veram patriam transmigrarunt

Ille: Ann.Sal: MDCXCV; Ǽtat LXXV

Haec: Ann Sal:MDCCVIII; Ǽtat LXXX

In English this means:

In this vault lie Claude Champion de Crespigny and Marie de Vierville his wife

who, on account of persecution, fled from France with all eight members of their family and have at last reached their true home in the heavens:

He in the Year of Salvation 1695, at the age of seventy-five;

She in the Year of Salvation 1708, at the age of eighty.

The original inscription is recorded in a manuscript held at Kelmarsh Hall with other family papers.

Kelmarsh book extract

Photocopy from the “Kelmarsh Book” a manuscript of the Champion de Crespigny family history held at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the stone was still in the churchyard of St Marylebone but much of the inscription was illegible. A new memorial was set up, with an inscription in English.  The year of Claude’s death is given wrongly as 1697, not 1695:

The Burial Place of Claude Champion de Crespigny a refugee from France, Died April 10, 1697 Also of Marie de Vierville his wife, Died June 21, 1708

Marylebone Crespigny stone

A cousin recently visited the memorial stone of Claude and Marie at Marylebone

To know more about Marylebone, I read W.H. Manchee’s paper on ‘Marylebone and its Huguenot associations’ published in 1916 in the Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London.

The parish of St Marylebone has had four churches on three different sites. The first church was built in about 1200 AD. It was demolished in 1400. The second church was located on a new site. It fell into decay and was demolished in 1740. The interior of the second church is depicted in one of William Hogarth‘s Rake’s Progress paintings from between 1732 and 1734.

William_Hogarth_Rakes Progress 5

Rake’s Progress number 5 of 8 paintings by William Hogarth – The marriage: Tom Rakewell attempts to salvage his fortune by marrying a rich but aged and ugly old maid at St Marylebone. The shabby setting of Marylebone church, the second parish church building, was then a well-known venue for clandestine weddings on the northern fringes of London. In the background, Tom’s fiancee Sarah arrives, holding their child while her indignant mother struggles with a guest. It looks as though Tom’s eyes are already upon the pretty maid to his new wife’s left during the nuptials.

In 1916 the parish church, built in 1742, was the third in that  location. The second church was erected in 1400 and demolished in 1740. Manchee notes that as late as 1779 it was considered a country walk through fields to get the church in Marylebone. A fourth parish church was constructed between 1813 and 1817 on the Marylebone Road. In 1916 the third church was a chapel-of-ease for the parish church, that is a church building other than the parish church, built within the bounds of a parish for the attendance of those who cannot reach the parish church conveniently. The 1742 church building was on High Street Marylebone and the churchyard backed on to the National School. The 1742 church was demolished in 1949, and its site, at the northern end of Marylebone High Street, is now a public garden.

Manchee mentions the gravestone and its replacement (page 75). In 1916 it seems both the old and the new gravestones were in the same garden. He describes the churchyard as one of the prettiest spots in the neighbourhood, and writes that the “old tombstones are still in situ and in the centre is the pillar forming the memorial to Charles Wesley. Near by under the shade of a tree, is to be found the memorial stone to Sieur Claude de Crespigny.”

Manchee page 75

Manchee page 76

pages 75 and 76 of the article by Manchee

In his discussion of the family, Manchee is wrong about which Philip escaped from Paris during the reign of terror. I have written about that previously.

In an appendix Manchee includes a list of Families of foreign names resident in the Parish of Marylebone for the years 1728 – 1780 which has at

  • page 115 Mrs Cripigny [sic] living at 20 Orchard Street in 1770. At the same address also in 1770 was Philip Crespigny. In 1780 Ann Crespigny was living at 29 Duke Street.
  • page 118 Mrs Fonnereau living at Welbeck Street 1750, 1760; Philip Fonnereau living at 37 Upper Seymour Street in 1780

The scene is quite different today, of course:

Claude and Marie’s gravestone is in the Garden of Rest at 65 High Street Marylebone, around the corner from the nineteenth century parish church. Other family gravestones, such as that of Betsy de Crespigny nee Handley (1743 – 1772), second wife of Philip de Crespigny (1738 – 1803) which was mentioned in the 1795 Environs of London, have not survived.

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