Philip Robert Champion Crespigny (1817 – 1889), one of my third great grandfathers, was the third of five children of Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny and Eliza née Trent.

Philip was born in Boulogne-sur-mer, France, 35 kilometres south-west of Calais. His older brothers, Charles and George, had been born in Aldeburgh, Suffolk in 1814, and in Antwerp in 1815. Philip’s two younger sisters were born in Boulogne in 1819 and 1825.

I am not sure when the family returned to England or where they lived. In October 1830 the three boys were admitted to the Royal College of Elizabeth on the Island of Guernsey. Charles was sixteen years old, George fifteen, and Philip thirteen.

Guernsey is an island in the English Channel (in French, La Manche) on the coast of Normandy, west of the Cherbourg peninsular. A hundred kilometres south is Saint Malo, where Philip later lived before emigrating to Australia.

Elizabeth College, Guernsey was founded in 1563. In 1826 it was re-chartered and renamed the Royal College of Elizabeth. The Rev. Charles William Stocker, D.D. was appointed principal; he set out to raise the academic standing of the school and oversee the construction of the new main building, which was completed in 1829, three years later.

The Royal College of Elizabeth, Guernsey. Lithograph by C. Haghe after J. Wilson (the architect). Image from Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

From the register of old boys: admissions for Michelmas term 1830:

353. Crespigny (afterwards de Crespigny) Charles John
Champion — born at Aldborough, June 20, 1814; son of Charles John Champion Crespigny and Julia Eliza Champion ; left 1831.
Reverted to the family name of de Crespigny ; no profession ; died in London in 1880.

354. Crespigny (afterwards de Crespigny) George Blicke
Champion — born at Antwerp, October 31, 1815 ; brother of No. 353 ; left 1832.
Ensign, 20th Regiment, 1836; Major, 1864; Paymaster of the School of Musketry at Hythe, 1855-1881; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, 1869; reverted to the family name of de Crespigny in 1874 ; Colonel (half -pay) 1881 ; died in 1893.

355. Crespigny (afterwards de Crespigny) Philip Robert
Champion — born at Boulogne, October 4, 1817 ; brother of No. 353 ; left 1831.
Reverted to the family name of de Crespigny ; emigrated to Australia and engaged in farming; became a Police Magistrate at Daisy-hill, near Maryborough, Victoria; Warden of Goldfields and Coroner; died at Brighton, Melbourne, in 1889.

It looks as though Charles and Philip lasted a year or less and George lasted perhaps two years.

In 1831 there were 192 students, an increase from 1826 attributed to the arrival of eighty-nine migrants from England.

The Rev. George Samuel Proctor succeeded Stocker as principal from 1829 to 1832, resigning from the post after a disagreement with the College Directors.

It has been suggested that Proctor was the prototype of Dr. Blimber in Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens (1846-8).

Dr. Blimber’s Academy From Dombey and Son: , ch. 11:

...'I believe the Doctor's is an excellent establishment. I've heard that it's very strictly conducted, and there is nothing but learning going on from morning to night.'

'And it's very expensive,' added Mr Dombey.

'And it's very expensive, Sir,' returned Mrs Pipchin, catching at the fact, as if in omitting that, she had omitted one of its leading merits.


Whenever a young gentleman was taken in hand by Doctor Blimber, he might consider himself sure of a pretty tight squeeze. The Doctor only undertook the charge of ten young gentlemen, but he had, always ready, a supply of learning for a hundred, on the lowest estimate; and it was at once the business and delight of his life to gorge the unhappy ten with it.

In fact, Doctor Blimber's establishment was a great hot-house, in which there was a forcing apparatus incessantly at work. All the boys blew before their time. Mental green-peas were produced at Christmas, and intellectual asparagus all the year round. Mathematical gooseberries (very sour ones too) were common at untimely seasons, and from mere sprouts of bushes, under Doctor Blimber's cultivation. Every description of Greek and Latin vegetable was got off the driest twigs of boys, under the frostiest circumstances. Nature was of no consequence at all. No matter what a young gentleman was intended to bear, Doctor Blimber made him bear to pattern, somehow or other.
Dombey and Son: illustration by H. K Browne (” Phiz “) of Dr. Blimber and His Young Friends. Dr. Proctor (Principal of Elizabeth College 1829-1832) was the original of this portrait.

George de Crespigny left Elizabeth College in 1832 and was admitted to Trinity Hall Cambridge University. From Alumni Cantabrigienses:

CRESPIGNY or DE CRESPIGNY, GEORGE BLICKE CHAMPION. Adm. pens, at Trinity Hall, Oct. 17, 1832. [2nd s. of Charles Fox Champion (1803), Esq., of Tal-y-Ilyn House, Brecon.] Adm. at Lincoln's Inn, Nov. 4, 1833; age 17. Lieut. -Col., late 20th Regt.; Paymaster, Army service, 1880. Sometime on the staff of the School of Musketry, at Hythe, Kent. Married Elizabeth Jane, dau. of Alexander Buchanan, Esq., of Montreal, Canada, Q.C (Canadian Bar), June 11, 1851. Brother of Philip R. C. (1838). (Foster, Baronetage, 1883.)

Philip also attended Cambridge from 1838, admitted to Downing College. I do not know where he received his education from 1831 to 1838.

CRESPIGNY, PHILIP ROBERT CHAMPION. Adm. Fell.-Com. at Downing, Nov. 7, 1838. [3rd s. of Charles James Fox (1803).] B. Oct. 4, 1817- Went to Australia. Some time Warden and Police- Magistrate of goldfields, Ararat, Victoria. Married Charlotte Frances, dau. of William Pulteney Dana, Capt., 6th Foot, July 18, 1849. Brother of George B. C. (1832). (Foster, Baronetage, 1883.)

Charles attended neither Cambridge nor Oxford.

I would like to know more about the education of Charles, George and Philip, and I am curious as to what induced my fourth great grandfather C F C de Crespigny to send his boys to a school in Guernsey.