The second cousin of my grandfather Geoff de Crespigny was Vida Clift née Hopper-Cuthbert (1913 – 2007). She was my second cousin twice removed; our most recent common ancestors were Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (1819 -1867) and Jeanie Hutcheson (1824 – 1864). Vida’s grandfather was David Hawkins (1858 – 1922). Geoff de Crespigny’s grandmother was Jeanie Hughes née Hawkins (1862 – 1942).
David Hawkins and his family lived in New South Wales. Jeanie Hughes lived in Victoria. I do not know whether my grandfather Geoff ever met his second cousin Vida.
In 1974 Vida Clift compiled a family history, which she called “Pink Hats on Gentle Ladies”. Copies of the manuscript were deposited in the State Library of New South Wales and State Library Victoria.
In the Introduction she wrote:
History requires a considerable amount of time and investigation. As I had neither the time, nor the resources for this research, and had to depend on my very unreliable memory for much of the material, this record is, I considered to be neither complete, nor strictly accurate.
Some of the dates included, are open to question and apologies are made for any errors.
However, material was obtained from old Parish records, Family Bibles and Birthday Books, old headstones, and printed records in the Public and Mitchell Libraries, Sydney; the National Library, Canberra; and the Archives Office of Tasmania.
Many people, relatives, friends, and even complete strangers assisted me by supplying relevant notes and reminiscences. To all who helped in any way, may I express my sincere gratitude.
Should you feel your family has been overlooked, or scantily recorded, it has not been done so intentionally. It is because the requested information has not been sent to me. In some instances, my requests for information were completely ignored, and I have included only those names and dates which, I believe to be accurate.
Although we appear to have had many distinguished ancestors, we ourselves, are who we are neither better nor worse for those ancestors. Although there may have been an odd scallywag here and there in the many families, I have not found any to include in this record, which I have endeavoured to keep accurate as far as possible. Nor is there anything in this book intended to hurt anyone.
This record has been compiled in the hope that future members of the families will keep it up to date. Some may perhaps research more deeply into the families who came from the Old Country.
Younger members of the families will have a better opportunity than I will ever have, to go to England, Scotland or Ireland and delve into the past there, where the information should be available.
In 2017 Vida’s son Daniel wrote to me:
I have just been searching through the internet checking on some Hawkins Family history and I came across your details.
I too am a relative of Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins. (A great, great Grandson.)
My mother, (Vida Clift), was a daughter of Jessie Hawkins, whose father was David Hawkins, whose father was Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins.
Mother wrote a very incomplete family history, (Pink Hats on Gentle Ladies), and I am now endeavoring to continue the task, which is a very onerous one!
However, just thought I would drop a line and introduce myself.
We have been in correspondence over the last five years.
Daniel has now produced a second edition of his mother’s book, with corrections and additions. A digital copy is being made available on this website.
Introducing the second edition Daniel writes:
Some additional information and photographs have been added, including scallywags, due to the wonders of the Internet.
Way back in 1973, mother told us she was going to write a book on our Family and all those individuals associated with our family.
To be honest, we had no interest at all at the time, and as is often the case, we now wish we had paid more attention to her efforts. My mother, (Vida), and my elder sister Barbara, could remember dates and names of relatives where they lived, who they married, where they were born and died. I do wish I had recorded all that information.
Now, I am the last one standing, (to quoin a phrase), and as such I am now engrossed in updating the original book and the information mother had gained.
As is stated in the original edition of her book – ‘Pink Hats on Gentle Ladies’, most of the information was gathered by ‘badgering’ family members and those ‘non’ family members into sharing their knowledge and recollections, searching manually through the Mitchel Library, State Archives, Cemetery and Church records.
Mother painstakingly proceeded to put all the information into some sort of chronological order and then typed the whole document using an old Remington typewriter and foolscap size paper!
I still have that original document.
After the book was printed, not published in the true sense of the word, copies were sold, mainly to the family and copies found their way into both the Mitchell Library and the State Library in Sydney. A copy has also found its way into the State Library of Victoria!
It is fortunate, one of the family members, a cousin, Barbara Hopper-Cuthbert, retyped the entire document into electronic format, thus enabling me to add information, photographs, and to correct information and explore the internet for much needed dates, particularly on Births, Deaths, and Marriages.
Original photographs were scanned, some were enhanced and have been included in this second edition.
There is, a lot of information that is incorrect, missing, and difficult to find.
An extensive source of information was gained from the Internet via a ‘web’ of sites dedicated to Family History, and the ability to explore the families of relatives, but, as Mother found, as have I, some questions asked seeking more information, have gone unanswered.
Reformatting the book proved to be far more difficult than I had imagined, asking myself should I change the format, or leave it alone?
I did however where possible, remove a lot of duplicate information and combine it into a single family with reference to the relevant families. Some information is duplicated because it refers to both sides of a family.
A lot of photographs became available from both my mother’s archives and other sources and where appropriate, have been included. I still have a Sea Chest and two filing cabinets full of family history!
Some information has also been included which may, or may not be applicable to the actual family history, but it is included for historical interest.
I undertook a DNA test through Ancestry, and that has brought the relatives ‘out of the woodwork’, which is much appreciated!
Through Ancestry, I have started a Family Tree, (Daniel Clift Family Tree), hopefully this will be available to anyone looking for information on the Clift side of the family, although it does include quite a few other families, some going back 12 generations.
As some family information is vague, I have removed it altogether.
Family history is an engrossing hobby, a fascinating challenge to trace relationships, and an opportunity to discover how a family has experienced historical events.
I am fortunate that quite a few of my forebears and their relatives were also interested in family history, sufficiently interested to write it down. Several of them published books, for example:
Philip Chauncy, my 3rd great grandfather, wrote about his sister and wife in his “Memoirs of Mrs Poole and Mrs Chauncy” 1873 republished in 1976
J G Cavenagh-Mainwaring, brother of my great grandmother Kathleen Cudmore, formerly Cavenagh-Mainwaring nee Cavenagh, in 1935 published “Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford : an account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent; with special reference to the manor of Whitmore”. His book has now been digitised and is available at archive.org https://archive.org/details/mainwaringsofwhi00main/page/n5/mode/2up
In 1985 Helen Hudson nee Hughes, first cousin of my paternal grandfather, published “Cherry stones : adventures in genealogy of Taylor, Hutcheson, Hawkins of Scotland, Plaisted, Green, Hughes of England and Wales … who immigrated to Australia between 1822 and 1850”.
James Kenneth Cudmore (1926 – 2013), my second cousin once removed, of Quirindi New South Wales, commissioned Elsie Ritchie to compile a family history of the Cudmore family in Australia: “For the love of the land: the history of the Cudmore family”. This was published in 2000.
I have been able to confirm the family history in these books through access to records such as birth, marriage and death certificates, baptism and burial records, censuses, wills, military records, and other primary records.
I organise my family history in a family tree database, with the most complete database at Ancestry.com. I can attach documents to it, both of records held by Ancestry and also those I upload. My Ancestry tree is a “public” tree, that is, anyone with a subscription to Ancestry.com can view it and the records I have attached. Currently my tree at ancestry.com has 11,533 people with 18,823 records, 2,480 photographs and images, and 357 stories.
I back up that tree to my own computer using Family Tree Maker, which includes software that synchronises Family Tree Maker with Ancestry.com. I also have a copy of the tree at MyHeritage and at FindMyPast.
I also upload my genealogy to WikiTree, a collaborative project intended to produce a ‘singular worldwide family tree’. I hope the research that I have contributed to WikiTree it will be there as a resource for my cousins to use now and in the future, safe, I hope, from accidental and malicious damage. There are several single worldwide trees, including FamilySearch and Geni. In my experience I have found Wikitree the most accurate and carefully compiled. As I add each person I cite sources to show how I know the facts and relationships. Adding my family tree slowly to Wikitree is an excellent way to review my family history research.
This online research journal is archived by the PANDORA archive, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996. Its stated mission was: Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia (hence the acronym PANDORA). The National Library states it is committed to ensuring long-term access to all its digital collections, including the PANDORA Archive.
However, I am a great believer in the durable qualities of paper, and I regularly print copies of this blog using an instant print service called Blog2Print (https://www.blog2print.com). I find it easier to read the paper version. So far there are five volumes. My father has a copy.
Many years ago my daughter asked me to compile a family history photo book. I included a family tree up to her great grandparents, including her aunts, uncles and cousins. Photos were briefly captioned.
More recently I used the company MyCanvas to generate a book about the family of my husband Greg. It wasn’t just a matter of pressing a button. I added many photos and also relevant entries from this online research journal to compile the family history, which I later shared with Greg’s brother and sister and their families. The MyCanvas system of compiling books has since changed. It no longer uses Adobe Flash.
Late last year my father and I published a biography and family history of Charlotte Frances nee Dana (1820-1904), my third great grandmother. She emigrated to Australia at the time of the gold rushes with her second husband Philip Robert Champion Crespigny (1817-1889). We wrote about her forebears, her father’s bankruptcy, her first marriage and scandalous divorce, living in the relatively new colony of Victoria amidst the goldrushes, and her grandchildren who lived into the twentieth century.
Publishing a family history is a good way to preserve the research but it is certainly challenging. There are so many facts to be compiled and checked. This online journal is an efficient way to share my research with those of my cousins who are interested in our family history. I have been writing for nearly ten years and have published 584 posts, a considerable body of research.
The best organising tool I have is to attach documents and photographs to my online family tree database. If I am looking for a document there is a good chance that I will find it there.
My online research journal has been a terrific tool to write and record my family history.
I recently learned that the extensive genealogical research of one of my cousins had been substantially destroyed. After he died, his wife, suffering from dementia of some type, would go through the “papers, time after time, weeding out the bits she thought irrelevant and re-arranging them all. So they are now a lot less substantial and a lot less organised.” Fortunately his conclusions were incorporated into the published research of another cousin but the original sources were unfortunately not noted.
As for passing on the research to the next generation, I talk to my children about our family history but I feel publishing it and sharing it more widely on the web will help to make sure our family history is passed on.
The papers of several of my forebears have been archived:
My 3rd great grandfather Philip Chauncy’s papers are in the state libraries of Victoria and New South Wales
The Royal Historical Society of Victoria has a transcription of the Journal of Philip’s sister, Theresa Chauncy, from 1836-37. Her Journal of a residence of three months in the British province of South Australia describes the early settlement in South Australia and the physical, social, economic and cultural aspects of pioneering life. Descriptions of flora and fauna, exploration, cost of living and general observations of life in the colony from a woman’s point of view.
The deeds and documents J G (Gordon) Cavenagh-Mainwaring used to compile his Mainwaring and Whitmore family history were deposited in the Staffordshire archives. One relative who could not find them thought my great aunt Rosemary had destroyed them as she took over Gordon’s study as her sitting room after his death and perhaps consigned Gordon’s papers to the boiler room. Fortunately the important papers in fact survived:
Description: Staffs (Whitmore, Biddulph, etc) deeds, family and estate papers Date: 13th cent-20th cent Reference: D 1743
D(W)1743 includes early deeds from c.1275, manorial court records, family settlements, leases, personal papers including appointments to public office and military or naval commissions, legal documents, estate papers including surveys, field books, survey of coal mine, maps (Whitmore, Acton in Swynnerton, Biddulph), rentals, and some later estate administration papers.
D5376: Papers of the Mainwaring Family of Whitmore, particularly of Edward Mainwaring (the eighth Edward of a consecutive line). The collection consists of inventories of goods on the death of several family members (1604-1694), land tax assessments for Clayton and Seabridge and Swynnerton (1735), several wills (1756-1770), legal correspondence (1616-1825) and leases particularly in relation to lands in Lancashire (1744-1768).
Extent D(W)1743 is 9 box equivalents and 7 maps D5376 is 2.5 boxes, 2 vols
When the over all gold [alluvial gold] was booming, the squatters’ drovers became restless and left to go gold digging, and the squatters in desperation imported Chinese by the thousand, at one time 100,000 Chinese were here and they also left for the gold. They were paid by the squatters per month and keep. The pastoralists advertised In China and the Chinese paid £3 boat fare and brought their own food.
In 1862 the bill was passed to open up the land and started the selected going north. And in 1874 with his brother Thomas and a little money saved, James came to Charlton and pegged out two 320 acre blocks adjoining making the square mile. An Act passed in 1862 allowed a selector only 320 acres at £1 per acre with conditions such as, the selectors had to build, fence and clear with 10 years to pay off, which the selectors could not do, and the payment was extended from time to time.
James Edwards went back to Geelong after selecting land in Charlton and married Elizabeth Ann Nicholas on 29th December 1874 and started making preparations to come to Charlton. They got together 4 horses, a buggy, a light wagon and bare necessaries and started off in the late autumn of 1875. It took two weeks to arrive at Charlton and heavy rain slowed the travel, it took three days to go from Charlton to the selection 12 miles out. It was a big trial especially for James Edwards’ young wife who had not been out of Geelong, she had known her husband quite a few years. She had three brothers and one sister Ellen, who married a Shire Secretary at Wagga and lived there all her life and reared a big family. Her own mother corresponded regularly and I remember how the letters were looked forward to. Our mother was a stout strong woman, as her father who, tradition says held the belt for wrestling In Cornwall.
The coming to Charlton, and the prospect of a home, allowed them to look forward to their future life. Her parents said to her when leaving, in 10 years you ought to be able to retire back to Geelong, little did they know the hardships of Pioneers. The first job after arriving at the selection was to build a home, which consisted of logs and mud, the roof was the tent and the house consisted of one room. With improvements to this they lived there three years, and during that three years they were building the home which we know. There were plenty of straight pine trees which were stood up 3 feet apart with slabs across and filled with mud.
I have often heard our mother say how lovely it was to get into this new house, bark of a big tree and flattened with weight was used a lot for roofing. A poem by Tom Murphy would fit in here
Wattle and Dab formed the walls of the hut From gumsucker saplings the highbeams were cut And the roof over the heads of my parents and I Was the bark of a box from the gully near by The furniture crude in the old fashioned shack Was the pine from the pine ridge a mile or so back And the hole still remains not far from the door Where they puddled the clay for the old earthern floor The flesh of the roo for mutton did pass And faces were washed in the dew laden grass This beautiful towel was the bright morning sun And the moon gave them light when the daylight was done Our porridge a corn twint, the wheat and the oat Whilst we coloured our tea with the milk from the goat But although they were days of trials and fears They but used them as steps did our old pioneers.
Our mother was a wonderful woman and took her part in the pioneering of the district. A little woman named Jane Prichard came up with her and stayed with her for 10 years, a grand little woman. The first 10 years being the hardest for the pioneers. Our mother’s first born arrived in November 1875. She journed to her old home in Geelong for the event, the rest of her family were born at ‘Lamorna’. Ada the second girl was born in the tent, there was quite a big population coming there by that time, and a few of the old women acted as maternity sisters and the friendships in the District was a wonderful help to those old pioneers.
The Narrewillock school had 60 on the rolls and the families of those old pioneers always had 8 to 10 children, in fact 3 families adjoining us had 13 children. Within a few miles of our parents home there were a dozen big families, amongst the neighbours were the Douglass family of 12 only 1/2 mile away. Alec Coote, W. Coote and Tom Coote, O’Callaghan, O’Mearers, William, and a few others, all good neighbours and would all help one another.
For the first 10 years clearing the land carting water, and sinking storages was the big worry, the years 1875 to 1907.
The dingo gave them a worry, I have heard our father speak of the last dingo shot, he hid in a big bush one bright moonlight, expecting the old man dingo he came back to the kill of the night before and shot him. His 4 paws and tail were hanging up in the barn for many years. Kangaroos and Emus were all gone and driven back by 1880. About the early 80’s the rabbits put in their appearance, our father came home excited one day with a young rabbit and in a few years there was a plague of them. I caught the first fox in about 1890 with the sheep dogs. That was their first appearance and of course that pest will be always here now. The Shire gave a bonus of £1 a scalp and I got the £1 for the skin we kept for many years.
The native wild life that was on the Lamorna farm In the 1870s are now gone. Kangaroo, Emu, Native Cat, Wood mice, Curleu, Woodpecker, Ground Pluver, Chatterona Brown Bird, twice the size of a starling. The fox, rabbits and house cats, gone wild, are responsible for their disappearance.
Schooling for myself and four sisters was at Narrewillock five miles from home, the school had a few rooms attached, and an old man lived there named Brightwell, he kept the Post Office. Our eldest sisters did all their schooling there, later there was a school built one mile away from home called Hallam school, myself and youngest sister went mostly to this school. All walking was the order of the day. A teacher called Os Derrick stayed at Hallam four years and this was really the only schooling I received. Our parents lost one of the family, a girl they called Mary Beatrice who died of quinsy in 1880 which was a heavy blow to our parents. Two of the biggest worries was the shortage of water and money, and carting water was a constant job and sometimes from the Avoca River 7 miles. This worry was not realised [relieved] till 1921 the year I tapped the Marmal Creek and filled our dam, when the creek ran in the winter time. This creek ran eight years out of ten, the farmers are now served by a channel from Lake Lonsdale, in 1948.
On the 640 acres there were two patches of about forty acres without trees and these patches got more than their share of cropping, as the clearing of this was a big job. Our father bought a mower with two horses to pull in 1877 and a little peg drum thrasher to thrash the barley, and in about 1882 bought a stripper and winnow from South Australia which was wonderful in those days.
This type of stripper was used till the turn of the century. Our father bought the first H. V. McKay harvester in 1906 and from then on harvesting became much easier.
The horses named Darling and Jess were two good mares, they bred from them and their breeding was carried through right to the time the horses were discarded on the farms in about 1935, some farmers favoured horses earlier and some later. The prices for grain were too low for the farmers to prosper, the prices were controlled by spectator [speculators] being about 2/6 for wheat and as low as 1/- for oats, lambs 10/-. On less [Unless] a compulsory pool was established in 1916 but still no price fixed. In 1928 the Wheat Growers Association was formed which I was a foundation and executive member and from then on we gradually took control. The stabiliasion [stabilisation] scheme has been paying 12/- for quite a few years. I stayed on the State Council of the Victorian Wheat Growers Assoc. for five years and for the work and enthusiasm I put into the Association in the pioneering days, the Association at the Annual Conference in 1964, I was made a life member.
The season in this part of Victoria was uncertain, sometimes a very wet year and sometimes a drought. 1902 was the big drought and the next year 22 inches of rain. The big drought that I remember was 1902, 1914, 1920, 1929, 1940, 1944. I Frederick James took over the control of the farm in 1907. Nell the eldest married in 1902 to J. Findlay. Ada was music teaching in Ararat and Jean the youngest sister was with her, and Beatrice married P. Toose in 1909. I married in 1910 and had our 5 children there and for a while drove them to Narrewillock school but in March 1920 bought this house in Charlton and have lived there ever since. My wife Anne died 9th January 1963. Our family all turned out well they were all big, strong and good sports. Gwen (4 daughters) now Mrs. Richards, Bob married Joyce Parker (3 daughters) and is now at Beaumaris, Freda (1 son & 1 daughter) now Mrs. Piccoli and is now at Barraport. Joyce with two sons is on the farm, Nan (2 daughters) now Mrs. Nagel and lives at Black Rock.
The following is from my father James Edwards Diary.
1874. Met the surveyor from St. Arnaud and pegged out the two blocks at Narrewillock, the ground looks good plenty of grass but no water. I was married on 29th December 1874.
1875. Spent a few months in preparation in coming to Charlton, left Bullarook on 22nd May having lived there 14 years. My father has recorded they were very happy there. Arrived at the farm having spent 16 days on the trip. Very wet which made the travelling hard. First child born in November (Nell).
1876. Sowed the first patch of wheat, carting water.
1877. Second child born (Ada) .
1878. Drove to Geelong — one horse and buggy. We shifted to the new house having lived in a tent for 3 years.
1880. Rabbits were in plague proportion. Brought first stripper which proved a success.
1881. Lost two fingers, a sad event. Father suffered severely and was in St. Arnaud hospital for awhile.
1882. Started a Sunday school at Narrewillock which he kept on for 25 years.
1883. Shortage of water is causing hardship, sold 150 sheep 7/-.
1884 Received £11/7/3 as fathers share of Will B. Gilbart (London).
1885. Very bad year, 167 bags (4 bushels) total cheque £115/11/11.
1886. Another bad year 94 bags from 150 acres. Sold 61 bags for £34/19/6.
1887. First plague of Locusts.
1888. Sold 220 bags wheat price 2/10 ½ per bushel. Rev. Kirkwood started preaching at Narrewillock, he stayed there 20 years. Bought 125 sheep at 6/5d. , wheat price this year 1/9d.
1891. Sent two trucks of sheep and lambs to Melbourne, price £87/5/- for 226 sheep.
1892. Later sent 165 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £54/4/10. Bought stripper and winmower, the winmower is still at the farm. Bought cow and calf for £3.
1893. Sold 163 bags for 1/9 a bushel some at 1/7 ½, sold 115 bags oats @ 6 ½ d.
1896. Wheat price rose to 4/6 ½. 696 sheep were shorn, shearing cheque £5/2/- for shearers.
1897. Sent 130 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £41/1 2/10.
1898. Rented Howards 1200 acres for 3 years, £150 per year, this land is held now by Hillard, Blair, McGurk and L. Douglass.
1900. Ordered first seed drill, Massey Harris £45.
1901. Very dry, carting water takes the whole time.
1902. The first big drought, practically no rain for the year, horses went to Lang Lang and sheep sold, this from now on is written by F.J. Edwards.
1903. The year was good and from now on the farming system very much improved.
1905. We bought a H.V. McKay harvester which made harvesting from now on much easier.
1907.  Uncle Tom died, he had been a great help mate to father all his life – age 81
1908. Our mother died, she had been in Ararat with Ada, but came home when she became sick – age 65.
1909. Sister Beatrice married P. Toose
1910. Myself married to Annie Morcon of Bendigo.
1914. Another drought, no wheat, the first big war started.
1916. Our father died this year aged 81 both he and our mother are buried in Terrappee cemetery.
1920. Been having good seasons, my wife and self bought our home in Charlton, we have five of our family.
1921. I sank the big dam at the farm 9000 yds it took three five horse teams about three months, a big job.
1925. Ken McPherson took wheat growing on the shares, he and his wife stayed five years.
1929. Another drought, sent 24 horses to Tatura on swamp country, Gerald Buckley property, stayed 6 months.
1930. The Wheat Growers Association was formed this year the first big move to organise the wheat growers as a foundation member. I stayed on the State Council five years. The next ten years was the depression years, fair seasons but low prices.
1931. Bob 21 was now working the farm, I made over Pratts and Howards 560 acres to him.
1941. Son Bob married and built the new home at the farm, costing about £3,000.
1944. Very bad drought, Bob Edwards took over the full management and bought O’Mearers land 500 acres @ £7 per acre.
1948. Bob bought 2,000 acre property at Ballan and left the farm.
1949. Joyce and Bob Chambers left the Bank and gradually took over the whole farm, bought Bob Edwards’ land for £20 per acre.
1963. 9th January mother died and is buried in Terrappee Cemetery, her passing has left a blank in the family.
1964. Another good season, the Chambers have two good boys, one 19 and the other 13, these boys should and I think will carry on and uphold the tradition of the Pioneers, and who will carry on the farm at Narrewillock.
I was pleased to receive a copy of a brief history of the Edwards family in Australia—one branch of it, at least—from one of Greg’s Edwards cousins, a descendant of his great great uncle James Edwards. Greg’s mother Marjorie was descended from Francis Gilbart Edwards, youngest son of Thomas and Mary Edwards nee Gilbart.
Marjorie was quite interested in her family history and passed on many stories to me. She was especially fond of retelling the history of her Edwards and Gilbart forebears and their connection with a missionary family named Tuckfield.
The history, six pages long, will be continued in future posts.
HISTORY OF THE EDWARDS FAMILY
This short history of the Edwards Family was compiled by Frederick James Edwards, the son of James and Elizabeth Edwards who was born at the farm in 1884, ten years after the parents came there as Pioneers.
James Edwards was a great reader and very literary minded and from the time he arrived on the selection he kept a day to day diary from 1874 to 1901, and at the end of this history I will note the principle events of each year from year to year. It was partly from this diary that I got the particulars that is in this history.
For the benefit of future generations the following is a brief history of the Edwards families just prior to coming to Australia and since that time.
The founder of the Australian family was Thomas Edwards who was born in St. Earth [Erth], Cornwall in the year 1798 and during his manhood of the 49 years in Cornwall he had interests and worked in a foundry known in those days as Rolling Mills and manufactured principally mining equipment, carts, shovels and picks.
He married in 1826 to Mary Gilbart, the daughter of a prominent Methodist family. It is traditional that John Wesley stayed with the Gilbart family when founding the Wesleyan Church in Cornwall, they provided land for the first church and copper laid pulpit for the church.
Mary Gilbart’s elder sister came to Australia in 1838 as the wife of Rev. Frances Tuckfield, the first Wesleyan Minister appointed to Victoria.
Thomas and Mary Edwards had 5 sons and one daughter [7 sons and 2 daughters], the continuation of our family was the third son James, who was born on January 28 1835, at St. Earth [Erth] and came to Victoria at the age of 14 with all the family as immigrants and arrived in Corio Bay, Geelong on Christmas Day 1849 [13 January 1849] in the sailing ship “Lysander” and on account of the poor landing facilities and adverse wind did not land until the next day, The time taken by the ship from Plymouth to Geelong was about 100 days. This ship “Lysander” of 475 tons had 238 passengers and there were 9 births and 7 deaths on the passage. The ship had one more trip to England for immigrants and bought back to Victoria the documents signed by Queen Victoria for the separation of N.S.W. from Victoria in 1851. It was then fitted out as a hospital ship and acted in that capacity for many years and acted as a Hospital Ship at the Crimean War.
The Victorian Government paid all shipping freight for tradesmen on all tools used by the trade. We have an anvil forged made and steel faced at the farm, brought out under those conditions.
The hardships of landing in a new country with no housing and a big family can be imagined. The father was a wheel right and carpenter and the eldest boys were also in the trade. And in Geelong, while there was plenty of work, later James with the eldest brother Thomas, who stayed with James and worked together through life, followed the gold rush without success, and then went farming at Little River, Buninyong and Bullarook where they stayed 14 years.
The farm at Bullarook proved quite a good farm, potatoes were the main crop. As the open up the land cry was on, and all the Western District was taken up they decided to select at Charlton. When the parents grew old they went to Bullarook with Thomas and James and died there and are buried in the old Ballarat cemetery, The years at Bullarook was 1860 to 1874 with the sale of the Bullarook land at £10 per acre gave Thomas and James a IittIe money to start at Charlton. The finding of gold in Victoria brought thousands of immigrants from overseas and the service [surface] gold soon worked out and selectors took up land going north as the Western District was already taken over by squatters. These dates were from 1853 to 1870.
Greg and I have visited the graves of Thomas and Mary Edwards at Ballarat Old Cemetery.
This biography of Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny nee Dana (1820 – 1904), also includes her forebears, siblings and descendants.
Charlotte Frances Dana, of middling gentry background, was married to a county solicitor when she met her second husband Philip Robert Champion Crespigny. After a scandalous divorce and a brief exile in France, they came to Australia in 1852 where Philip Robert became a Warden and Magistrate in the goldfields.
Viewed through the life of Charlotte Frances, this is an account of a migrant Victorian family of the nineteenth century.
CHAPTER ONE Prologue: The family background of Charlotte Frances nee Dana The Dana family in America 1 Edmund Dana in England and Scotland 3 The children of Edmund Dana and Helen nee Kinnaird 14 William Pulteney Dana, father of Charlotte Frances 31
CHAPTER TWO The Road to Divorce The Bible and the census 43 Breakdown 53 Divorce 59 France to Australia 67 A note on the Crespigny surname 77
CHAPTER THREE Victoria in the Gold Rush The Dana brothers and the native police 79 Family in Victoria 95 Commissioner, Magistrate and Warden of the Goldfields 105 Letters from home 113
CHAPTER FOUR Amherst and Talbot 1855-1871 Settlements at Daisy Hill 121 Public and private life 128 Farewell to Talbot 142 In search of Daisy Hill Farm: a note 145 Tragic cousins: George and Augustus, the sons of Henry Dana 149
CHAPTER FIVE Ararat to St Kilda 1871-1889 Bairnsdale, Bendigo and Bright, with a brief return to Talbot 157 Magistrate at Ararat 163 Constantine Trent in Australia 1875-1881 173 Rose Crespigny and Frank Beggs 182 Philip Crespigny and Annie Frances Chauncy 191
CHAPTER SIX Eurambeen 1889-1904 The second marriage of Philip Champion Crespigny 207 The letters of Constantine Trent Champion Crespigny 1889-1896 207 Banks and the land: the crisis of the 1890s 216 The Eurambeen Letters 1898-1904 218
CHAPTER SEVEN Epilogue: The immediate descendants of Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny nee Dana Philip Champion de Crespigny 1850-1927 253 Philip Champion de Crespigny 1879-1918 256 Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny 1882-1952 259 Francis George Travers Champion de Crespigny 1892-1968 261 Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny 1897-1969 262 Royalieu Dana [Roy] Champion de Crespigny 1905-1985 263 Claude Montgomery Champion de Crespigny 1908-1991 264 Rose (1858-1937) and Frank Beggs (1850-1921) 265 Postscript: Ada, Viola and Rose 266 John Neptune Blood 1869-1942 267
A great emigration necessarily implies unhappiness of some kind or other in the country that is deserted. For few persons will leave their families, connections, friends, and native land, to seek a settlement in untried foreign climes, without some strong subsisting causes of uneasiness where they are, or the hope of some great advantages in the place to which they are going.
Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)
Charlotte Frances Dana and her second husband Philip Robert Champion Crespigny came to Melbourne in 1852. Through their son Philip, who took the full surname of Champion de Crespigny, they were the founders of the Australian branch of the family.
In Champions from Normandy, published in 2017, Rafe de Crespigny discussed the history of the family, later known by the surname Champion de Crespigny, from the earliest records in France to their forced emigration as Huguenots in the seventeenth century and then the establishment in England during the eighteenth century. The present volume considers the experiences of the first generation in Australia. It is centred upon the life of Charlotte Frances, for she and her brother were central to the decision to emigrate, and she lived to see her first great-grandchildren in the new country and the new century.
Born in 1820, Charlotte died in 1904, and that period of eighty-four years was a time of enormous and dramatic change. She was first a subject of King George IV, former Prince Regent, and she lived through the reigns of William IV and Queen Victoria into the first years of Edward VII. Her voyage to Australia in 1851-52 lasted four months; fifty years later a steamship passage took only six weeks, less than half that time. When she arrived in Victoria, travel was by horse and cart, often no faster than seven miles a day; she would later take a train from the goldfields town of Beaufort and reach Melbourne in a matter of hours; while at the time of her death the Wright brothers in the United States were making their first powered flights at Kitty Hawk.
So it was a time of progress, but it was also an age of uncertainty. Health and medicine were both erratic, and diseases which are now quite easily treated were dangerous and could be fatal. Infant or child mortality was very high – to such a degree that many children were baptised with the name of an older sibling who had gone before them: Charlotte had two brothers christened Francis Richard Benjamin, three called Douglas and two more named William. And even those who grew to maturity could be crippled or killed by accident or sickness: one brother died in his thirties and another at the age of just forty; two young nephews died of scarlet fever and one of tetanus; and Charlotte’s son Constantine Trent Champion Crespigny and her sister-in-law Sophia nee Walsh both died of tuberculosis.
Such dangers applied still more to women of the time. Childbirth always carried a risk and stillbirth was by no means uncommon, while the absence of any practical means of contraception meant that pregnancy was often frequent: Charlotte had seven children, but she had twelve full and half-siblings, both her father and her mother had twelve brothers and sisters, and her mother’s father had sired ten more on another wife. Similarly, in her first marriage she experienced three pregnancies in three years, with one daughter who would live to maturity, a son who died in his very first year, and a third child which was still-born. With the vagaries of midwifery and the chances of infection, many women were weakened or simply worn out by such frequent fertility.
Apart from these physical matters, social and financial life could likewise be a question of fortune, good or ill. Charlotte’s family could fairly be described as gentlefolk: her grand-mother was the daughter of a Scottish baron; her grandfather came from a notable back-ground in the American colonies; one of her uncles was a general in the British army and owned a landed estate; two of her aunts married wealthy men; and in 1839 Charlotte herself was married to a prosperous solicitor in Gloucestershire.
Apparent security, however, could change very quickly. Soon after Charlotte’s wedding her father’s printing business failed, he was sent to prison for debt and was stripped of all property. The last years of his life were survived on a small pension in the home of his daughter and son-in-law.
Bankruptcy and indebtedness were indeed a constant threat: if a bank failed, its notes were worthless – and much of the currency in circulation was issued by private banks; the system of limited liability was not in common use, so the failure of a business could bring ruin to its owner; and a batch of unpaid bills could bring a cascade of misfortune.
The position was even more precarious for women. Until quite recent times, a married woman was identified with her husband, with no separate legal or financial existence, while unmarried women had limited opportunities for a meaningful career which might enable them to support themselves. Married, unmarried or widowed, most women were obliged to rely upon their families. When Charlotte Frances’ husband Philip Robert was taken ill, he was entitled to a pension, but after his death there was no further official or government support; and her unmarried daughters Ada and Viola were equally dependent upon the goodwill of their more prosperous kinfolk.
One question may always be raised of any Australian whose family arrived within the last 250 years: “Why did they come?” For convicts, it was compulsory; very often, notably in the years of gold rush, it was the hope of sudden fortune. For Charlotte’s brother Henry Edmund Dana, educated as a gentleman but with few opportunities at home, it was the hope of better prospects than could be expected in England – and for Charlotte and her second husband Philip Robert Champion Crespigny it was a means to escape the social and financial embarrassment of a dramatic and well-publicised divorce.
Regardless of such an erratic beginning, however, that second marriage was affectionate and companionable, and even after Philip Robert’s sad slow death Charlotte was able to enjoy the support of her daughters and the successes of her son Philip and her grandchildren. In a letter of 1858, her father-in-law wrote in praise of her patience and courage, and of her determination to make the best of everything.
Richard Rafe Champion de Crespigny and Christine Anne Young nee Champion de Crespigny December 2020
Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh (1856 – 1935), a first cousin of my great grandmother Kathleen Cudmore née Cavenagh (1874 – 1951), was the son of Sir Orfeur Cavenagh (1820 – 1891). He was interested in family history and heraldry and he spent a considerable amount of time researching Cavenagh family history in the Irish National Archives.
W.O. Cavenagh presented his research to the Office of Arms in Ireland and the original manuscript and typescript (about 175 pages) is held by the Genealogical Department, Dublin, Ireland; it is much used by Cavenagh family historians. His research has also been microfilmed by FamilySearch.
Other family history documents, including many fine heraldic illustrations, are in the possession of his grand-daughter.
Some of his research on the Cavenaghs of Kildare has been transcribed by another cousin, who has given me permission to share it.
Nevertheless, my first topic was not ANZAC Day but the blog itself which, I explained, I had established ‘to share the stories I discover while researching my family history’. My blog was to be only indirectly about great historical events and movements. Its real focus was the lives of people with whom I have a family connection.
My second post concerned two distant relatives, my first cousins four times removed George Kinnaird Dana and Augustus Pulteney Dana. This set the pattern for most subsequent posts, and the blog in effect became an online research journal, supplementing with richer detail the bare record of facts – the names, places, and dates of people – in my family tree.
I have continued to move from here to there in my family tree, writing about what takes my fancy. My system, to the extent that I have one, is to tag posts with the surnames and places they concern. In eight years I have accumulated many tags. The surname I have written about most frequently is, perhaps not unexpectedly, the one I was born with, Champion de Crespigny. Most of my place-tags are set at the Australian state or British county (or similar) level, with the most frequent Victoria and Cornwall.
Most of my posts are prompted by my current family history research, but now and then they are written in response to themes suggested elsewhere. For example, every week the Sepia Saturday blogging group publishes an historical image, inviting its members to write an item related to it. The prompt image becomes a launching-pad for all sorts of interesting journeys. Similarly, since 2014 I have participated in an event called the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Every day in April (except on Sundays), with A for 1 April, B for 2 April, and so on, I write a post with the prompt that day’s letter of the alphabet. It is a lot of work but very satisfying. Through these and other blogging communities I have met many family history bloggers in virtual blog-space – sometimes called the blogosphere – and I have been entertained and encouraged by reading their posts and their comments and support of mine.
After 500 posts have I run out of topics? Not at all. I’ve got much more to say and many more posts to research and write.
The last day of what was now feeling like a too-short English holiday was 31 May 2019, a Friday. We didn’t have to be at the airport until the evening, but we were required to vacate the flat by ten in the morning, so to save two trips to Heathrow, we packed our bags and left them with a drycleaner along the street. We spent the day at the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The National Gallery was very very crowded, and it was sometimes quite difficult to get past other people to see the paintings. It was particularly annoying to have your view blocked by selfie-taking teenagers. A bit of social distancing would have been nice, but that idea was still a year off…
Peter and Charlotte went on to the Natural History Museum, in places also impossibly crowded. We had lunch there and then wandered around various collections. The minerals were especially interesting (to those who enjoy that sort of thing, I suppose).
A three-minute walk took us to the Victoria and Albert – also very crowded -for afternoon tea, where we were lucky enough to get a table in the Poynter Room and admire its tiled pictures. We revisited some of the exhibitions that we’d seen the day before, among them the jewellery display. With so much to look at, how odd it is that you find yourself gazing at what you’d rather not see. For me it was a small boy bouncing a basketball through the sculpture gallery, with his mother looking on admiringly. A clip over the ear would have been quite in order but I didn’t administer it, and I held my tongue.
We collected our bags from the drycleaner and took a minicab to Heathrow. We were early, but I’m glad we had a little time in hand, for Peter’s precious bottle of whisky, unopened, was discovered in my hand luggage. I was pulled to one side and given the option of forfeiting the bottle or going back out and checking it in as stowed luggage. We’ve been working our way through the Old Pultney since our return, so I’m pleased to say I went back out and came in again. What was first intended as a carry-on backpack was accepted as checked-in luggage by the airline and the bottle arrived safely back in Australia.
It was a long flight home. A few hours in Singapore was a rest of sorts, but it was night and raining and the airport butterfly house, one of its attractions – or distractions? – was closed. We ate some some Singapore food, I bought some perfume – not much cheaper than in Australia – and got on board again. Only Charlotte was able to sleep. Bed in Ballarat, dearly wished for, finally arrived.
On the morning of our fourth day in London Greg and I walked around to the Leighton House Museum in Holland Park, only a couple of blocks from our flat. In the afternoon we went to the National Gallery.
Leighton House Museum is the former home of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896), best known for his ‘Flaming June‘. Leighton was a most successful painter, popular and wealthy. Unusually for the period, he lived alone, unmarried, and with no children, and as a consequence free to decorate it entirely to his own taste. Leighton’s house, which includes a large studio, was itself a work of art and a showcase and advertisement for his talents. The interior was inspired by his travels. The design of the Arab Hall, for example, which has a fountain and a golden dome, is based on a palace in Palermo. It uses tiles he collected from Turkey and lattice-work windows from Damascus. G.K. Chesterton is supposedly responsible for the phrase ‘vulgar without being funny’; Leighton’s high-Victorian excess seems quite over the top without actually being kitch.
We travelled to the National Gallery by bus, through streets jammed with traffic, getting off at Pall Mall to walk when we noticed that pedestrians were going faster.
We had a terrific afternoon at the Gallery. Some paintings, famous and familiar, we were seeing for the first time in the original; there also seemed to be no end of marvellous works we had never seen before. For a while we followed a guided tour, well worth it, even though at times it was hard to agree completely with the guide’s interpretation.
Let’s hope the pandemic is soon over and we can go back.