Claude Philip Champion de Crespigny, one of my 5th cousins twice removed, was born on 3 August 1880 in Maldon, Essex. He was the sixth of nine children of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny the fourth baronet, and Georgiana Lady Champion de Crespigny née McKerrell. The five sons of the fourth baronet all had the first name Claude. Accordingly the four younger sons, including Philip, went by their middle name.
In 1896 Philip joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman. He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant on 15 November 1899 and a year later, on 31 December 1901, he became a Lieutenant. From 28 May 1906 to 1 August 1909 he served as captain of the destroyer HMS Dove. On 31 December 1909 he was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander. Philip was placed on the Retired List at his own request on 17 August 1910, but he remained eligible to apply for the rank of Commander on reaching the age of 40. While retired he attended several short Mine-Sweeping Courses.
During World War I he came out of retirement and was initially engaged in mine-sweeping operations. On 6 June 1915 Claude was appointed to command of the monitor M.32 (a monitor was a small heavy vessel designed for shore bombardment). He was Captain of the patrol boat HMS P13 from January to July 1917, and in command of the monitor M.24 on 24 July 1917 until April 1919. He was mentioned in despatches and in 1919 was awarded the Croix de Guerre. On 11 December 1919 he became Commander (Retired).
Philip is mentioned in various memoirs as well as in the social pages of newspapers and magazines. In 1914 he was photographed by Tatler with Princess Hatzfeldt, an American heiress and the widow from 1910 of a German prince, attending the National Hunt Steeplechases at Cheltenham.
The Princess knew the de Crespigny family; a dinner party she gave at Claridge’s Hotel in 1904 included Philip’s oldest brother Claude, who was also at a shooting party the Prince and Princess held on their estate at Draycot Cerne in Wiltshire. Several other social occasions included various members of the de Crespigny family and the princess, and she was also at the 1910 funeral for Claude. In 1913 the princess lent her Draycot Cerne manor for the honeymoon of Raul de Crespigny. In 1919 Commander Philip de Crespigny and the princess were seen dining at the London Flying Club at Hendon.
In 1923 The Bystander reported a number of English guests at the Imperial Hotel at Menton in January, including Commander P. de Crespigny and Princess Hatzfeldt. In October 1925 Princess Hatzfeldt and Commander P. de Crespigny, the Duke of Devonshire and various others were reported in the Derbyshire Advertiser to be taking the treatment at the spa town of Buxton in Derbyshire.
Princess Clara Hatzfeldt died in 1928. In her will she left bequests to friends. Philip was one of the principal heirs. She left nothing to her relatives.
The will was contested by her nephew but a settlement was reached.
When Philip died in 1939 he left his estate, including his interest in the estate of the late Princess Hatzfeldt, shared equally between his brother Raul and his niece Valencia Lancaster. Philip’s estate was probated at £37,902 ( millions in today’s pounds).
Valencia Lancaster inherited Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire from her brother and set up a trust in 1982 for its conservation. Many portraits of the Champion de Crespigny family hang on the walls, including a portrait of Claude Philip Champion de Crespigny.