My great great grandfather Philip Champion de Crespigny was born on 4 January 1850 in St. Malo, Brittany. He was the son of Philip Robert Champion de Crespigny, who later became a police magistrate and goldfields warden in Australia, and his wife Charlotte Frances née Dana. Philip junior was the second of their five children.

With his parents Philip emigrated to Australia, arriving in 1852.

Philip Champion de Crespigny had a long career with the Bank of Victoria from 1866, and he became the bank’s General Manager in 1916. Early in his career, however, he resigned from the bank to travel in the Pacific islands with his cousin George Dana.

On 18 April 1871 P.C. Crespigny sailed on the cutter ‘Gem‘ from Melbourne for Port Resolution, Tanna Island, in the New Hebrides group.

On 28 July 1871 George Dana’s two partners, James Bell and William Ross, were murdered by natives on Tanna island. George Dana gave evidence at the inquest and conducted the burial service. Philip Crespigny is not mentioned in reports, perhaps because was not on Tanna at the time. Many years later he recalled to his grandson Philip George de Crespigny (1906 – 2001) the uneasy feeling of being moored in the evening on a small ship just offshore, with a strong sense of hostile eyes in the jungle a short distance away.

Port Resolution, Tanna, from A year in the New Hebrides, Loyalty Islands, and New Caledonia by F. A. Campbell (1873) opposite page 32 retrieved though archive.org

With his cousin George, and Henry Bell (brother of James who was murdered), Philip Crespigny, age 21, is recorded on the passenger list of the Gem when it returned from New Caledonia to Melbourne on 4 October 1871.

Philip decided that the life of an island trader was not for him and decided to return to the bank. He regarded himself as very fortunate in being allowed to rejoin, for it was a general rule that a man who had left that service should not be employed again.

Philip presented his sister Rose and his mother with photograph albums. The albums include portraits of Philip as a young man.

One portrait was taken at the studios of J. Botterill in Melbourne between 1869 and 1874 and the other by Bardwell studio in Ballarat, possibly at the time of his marriage to Annie Chauncy in 1877. The studio of J. Botterill was at 19 Collins Street from 1869 and moved to the Bee-Hive Chambers, Elizabeth Street in 1874, the second copy of the portrait is a reprint of the first taken in the early 1870s.

Philip died on 11 March 1927 in Melbourne and was buried in Brighton Cemetery.

Related posts:

Wikitree: Philip Champion de Crespigny (1850 – 1927)