Claude Vierville Champion de Crespigny, one of my 5th cousins twice removed, was born at Heybridge, Maldon, Essex, on 25 January 1882. He was the seventh of nine children and fourth of five sons of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny the fourth baronet and Georgiana Lady Champion de Crespigny née McKerrell. The five sons of the fourth baronet were all given the first name Claude. The younger four sons each had a middle name: Raul, Philip, Vierville, Norman.
On 25 January 1900, just a few weeks after it was established, Vierville joined the Imperial Yeomanry, a volunteer light cavalry force, to serve in the war in South Africa. On the record he claimed to be 20 years old; he was actually 18. Two of his older brothers were already serving in the army, the other was in the navy.
From January 1906 to September 1909 he was employed with the King’s African Rifles. He was said to have spoken Swahili fluently. In 1908 he was tried and acquitted of the charge of causing the death of his native servant by a rash and negligent act.
In 1910 he was promoted to captain. From 1912 he served in the Special Reserve, a force established on 1 April 1908, responsible for maintaining a reservoir of manpower for the British Army and training replacement drafts in times of war.
On 19 July 1911 Vierville married Mary Nora Catherine McSloy on 19 July 1911 at the Brompton Oratory in Kensington, London. They had one daughter together, Mary Charmian Sara Champion de Crespigny (1914 – 1967).
In December 1916 he was appointed Assistant Provost Marshal, with rank equivalent to staff captain. He was promoted to major in 1917. In December 1918 he incurred the Army Council’s displeasure when he turned a water hose on men who were attempting to rush the doors of the Albert Hall during a boxing tournament. He was demobilised in July 1919.
In June 1919 he sailed for Canada with his wife and daughter intending to settle there. They lived on a ranch near the remote settlement of Wilmer, British Columbia. However, Vierville left in December 1920 and returned to England.
Claude Raul Champion de Crespigny, one of my 5th cousins twice removed, was born at Durrington, Wiltshire on 19 September 1878. He was the fifth 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 were all given the first name Claude. The younger four sons each had a middle name: Raul, Philip, Vierville, Norman.
On 24 Jun 1913 Raul married Violet Rose (Vere) Sykes in the Royal Military Chapel (The Guards’ Chapel) on Birdcage Walk opposite St James Park. Vere’s brother Claude Alfred Victor Sykes was also an officer in the Grenadier Guards.
An article in a New Zealand newspaper called the ‘Dominion‘, dated 29 January 1918, with the headline ‘The Perfect Soldier’ described Raul’s distaste for staff work and eagerness to return to his battalion. He was:
'One of those commanding officers who believe in being in the thick of the fighting, he used to lead his men over the top with a 'loaded stick' as a weapon. In one of the recent engagements in Flanders he charged a Hun machine-gunner who was scattering death right and left with his stream of bullets. With one mighty swing of his stick he broke the neck of the Hun, and the regiment went on. The Hun's gas mask and steel helmet are in England now hanging on the walls of Brigadier-General de Crespigny's Essex home among innumerable trophies of the chase, grim relics of a man whose hobby is fighting.'
The article goes on to list his sporting accomplishments in steeple-chasing, boxing, cricket, shooting and aquatic sports.
Though Champion Lodge was certainly cluttered with sporting trophies, bashing a Hun to death then then mounting a trophy of the occasion on your wall seems more likely to have been a literary trope than solid fact. Nancy Mitford’s ‘Uncle Matthew’ comes to mind, in ‘The Pursuit of Love‘:
"THERE is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children sitting round the tea-table at Alconleigh. The table is situated, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, in the hall, in front of a huge open fire of logs. Over the chimney-piece plainly visible in the photograph hangs an entrenching tool, with which, in 1915, Uncle Matthew had whacked to death eight Germans one by one as they crawled out of a dug-out. It is still covered with blood and hairs, an object of fascination to us as children."
Raul’s marriage ended in divorce in 1926.
Raul became the 5th baronet after the death of his father in 1935. He died on 15 May 1941. His obituary in the Chelmsford Chronicle noted that he “settled at Champion Lodge, and took a kindly interest in the affairs of the neighbourhood, especially the British Legion. His last public duty was performed a few months ago, when he opened the gift sale of the Maldon Farmers’ Union in Maldon Market on behalf of the Red Cross.” Members of the British Legion provided a guard of honour at his funeral.
Claude Raul had no children. Of the five sons of the fourth baronet, only Claude Vierville had a daughter, but women could not inherit the baronetcy. The title passed to a cousin, Henry Champion de Crespigny (1882-1946), son of Philip Augustus Champion de Crespigny (1850-1912). Philip was the younger brother of the fourth baronet, second son of the third baronet.
Claude Champion de Crespigny, one of my 5th cousins twice removed, was born in London on 11 September 1873. He was the oldest 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 were all given the first name Claude. The younger four sons each had a middle name: Raul, Philip, Vierville, Norman.
Claude was an accomplished polo player, on his regiment’s team until his retirement from the army in 1909. In 1907 and 1908 his team the Leopards won the Roehampton Cup, in England the game’s most prestigious trophy. In 1909 he played for England against Ireland, and in 1910, for the English Hurlingham Club touring the United States.
On 18 May 1910 Claude, then thirty-seven, was discovered dead by the side of the road at Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire. A friend lived nearby. The coroner found that Claude had killed himself in a temporary fit of madness which may have been caused by influenza and repeated heavy falls while playing polo. The New York Times however, noted that he had been named as co-respondent in a divorce case, and speculated that Claude had believed the only way to save the woman’s name and honour was to commit suicide. This explanation was not offered at the inquest.
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.
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.
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.
Arundel was still in military service towards the end of his life; in 1375 he was involved in the destruction of the harbour of Roscoff in Brittany.
Arundel married twice. His first marriage was annulled by Pope Clement VI on 4 December 1344 on the grounds that he had been underage and unwilling. His second marriage, in 1345, was to Eleanor of Lancaster (1318 – 1372), widow of John de Beaumont, 2nd Lord Beaumont (died 1342). Eleanor had one son by her first marriage and five children by her second marriage.
Eleanor died in 1372 and was buried in Lewes Priory. In 1375, a sculpture for her tomb and that of her husband, carved by the master mason Henry Yevele, was shipped from Poole Harbour in Dorset to London, then transported to Lewes. Arundel probably saw the completed effigies before his death.
He died on 24 January 1376 at Arundel Castle, aged about 61, and was buried in Lewes Priory. Arundel wrote his will on 5 December 1375, a few weeks before his death, asking to be buried at Lewes Priory next to his wife ‘Alianore de Lancastre’ and he left specific instructions that his tomb in the Chapter House of Lewes should not be higher than that of his wife.
Richard Earl of Arundel and Surrey, at Arundel Castle, December 5, 1375. My body to be buried in the Chapter-house of the Priory at Lewes, near to the tomb of Eleanor de Lancaster, my wife; and I desire that my tomb be no higher than hers ; that no men at arms, horses, hearse, or other pomp, be used at my funeral, but only five torches, with their morters, as was about the corpse of my wife, be allowed ; and that no more than D marks be expended thereon.
[D Marks = 500 marks = £333 which would be worth at least £200,000 today]
At the time of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries from the mid 1530s, the sculpture of Arundel and Eleanor was saved and moved from Lewes Priory to Chichester Cathedral. The earliest certain record of its presence there dates from 1635. Only the monument, without the bodies, was moved when the priory was dissolved. The bodies of Richard and Eleanor were not reinterred. The Priory is now in ruins.
Unfortunately there is no unbroken chain of transmission beyond this, and the popular belief that the Chichester sculpture is that of Arundel and his wife Eleanor has no certain basis.
The cathedral carvings have no names, and the attribution is based on the lion on the knight’s crest and the style of his armour (which is very similar to the armour on the effigy of Edward, the Black Prince, who died in 1376 and is memorialised in Canterbury Cathedral.)
In 1635 a Lieutenant Hammond of the military company in Norwich wrote of Chichester Cathedral in an account of a tour to the south and west of England:
In the North Ile by the wall lyeth a Prince in Armour, who (as they say) liv’d i the woods in Edward 3d time, with a Lion at his Feet, and his Lady by him.
A Relation of a Short Survey of the Western Counties : made by a lieutenant of the military company in Norwich in 1635
In 1820 James Dalloway, the English antiquarian, wrote in “A history of the western division of the county of Sussex” :
The man has the sharp conical helmet and the chain gorget, and on his surcoat a lion rampant. Such were worn by Richard Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel, in the early part of that reign, and to whom a coenotaph was erected in the chapel of Lewes Abbey;. Might it not have been brought here at the suppression, and then so divided for convenience of space.
By the 19th century, the Arundel effigies had become badly mutilated, and were separated, with the knight placed against the north wall of the Cathedral and the woman at his feet. In 1843 the sculptor Edward Richardson (1812–1869) was commissioned to restore them. His restoration is regarded as faithful to the original pose.
The stone used for the monument is very soft, and in the 1980s the effigies were again showing signs of decay.
The Chichester Cathedral memorial effigies supposedly depicting Arundel and his wife Eleanor are the subject of a 1956 poem by Philip Larkin“An Arundel Tomb”, which begins:
Side by side, their faces blurred, The earl and countess lie in stone, Their proper habits vaguely shown As jointed armour, stiffened pleat, And that faint hint of the absurd – The little dogs under their feet.
The last stanza, with all Larkin’s wistful, hopeless (and, some would say, posturing and very funny) pessimism on show in its final lines, reads:
The stone fidelity They hardly meant has come to be Their final blazon, and to prove Our almost-instinct almost true: What will survive of us is love.
Richard and Eleonor were my 18th great grandparents. I am descended from them by 177 different paths. (Many many people, of course, are descended from the couple.)
Foster, Paul; Brighton, Trevor; Garland, Patrick (1987). An Arundel Tomb. Otter Memorial Paper. Vol. 1. Chichester: Bishop Otter College Trustees. ISBN0-948765-29-1.
My 7th great grandfather Thomas Champion de Crespigny (1664 – 1712) was a Huguenot refugee.
In 1676, when he was twelve years old, Thomas was sent from Normandy in France to London, where he was taken into the care of family friends and relatives.
In 1689 he joined the English army, with his first commission in Lord Cardross’s Regiment of Dragoons. This regiment, which had been formed in response to the 1689-1691 Jacobite Rising in Scotland, fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie on 27 July 1689, with severe losses. de Crespigny joined as a Cornet, equivalent to the present-day rank of 2nd Lieutenant. (I suspect he had been in the army before this post but have not found any records.)
(Dragoons were mounted heavy infantry who sometimes fought on foot. From the early 17th century dragoons were employed as conventional cavalry, trained for combat on horseback with swords and firearms. Dragoon regiments were established in most European armies during the 17th and early 18th centuries; they provided greater mobility than regular infantry but were less expensive than cavalry.)
In December 1690 army reorganisation saw Lord Cardross’s Regiment of Dragoons taken under the command of Colonel Richard Cunningham. A regiment was commonly designated by the name of its colonel; the expanded regiment was called Colonel Cunningham’s Regiment of Foot.
In 1696 Thomas transferred to be Captain-lieutenant in Lord Lorne’s Regiment of Foot. Within a month he transferred back to his former regiment retaining, however, his new rank. Both regiments were stationed in Flanders. Captaincy of the first company of a regiment was formally held by the regimental colonel, and a captain-lieutenant commanded that unit on his behalf.
In February 1696 Thomas returned to London and married a fellow Huguenot, Magdelaine Grainger (1664 – 1730), who appears to have accompanied him on his military postings. Late in 1696 Magdelaine was issued a pass to travel to Flanders, presumably to join Thomas who was posted there.
They had six children:
William 1698–1721 born at Bruges, Belgium
Marie 1699–1700 born at Dumfries, Scotland
Jeanne 1700–1776 born at Jedburgh, Scotland
Claude 1701–1703 born at Jedburgh
Philip 1704–1765 born London
Claude 1706–1782 born London
There was little military activity after the fall of Namur. On 1 October 1696, Cunningham was promoted to Brigadier-General. William Kerr, Lord Jedburgh succeeded him and the regiment became Jedburgh’s Regiment of Dragoons.
In 1697 the regiment served in the campaign in Flanders under Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria. After the Treaty of Ryswick, which ended the Nine Years War, the regiment returned to England and was first quartered in London. Numbers were reduced to a peace-time establishment. The regiment moved to Scotland in February to March 1698. The regimental history is silent on its activities from 1698 to 1702.
Three of Thomas’s children were born in Scotland in that period: Marie in Dumfries in 1699, and Jeanne and Claude at Jedburgh in 1700 and 1701.
When Queen Anne ascended to the throne in 1702, the Regiment remained in Scotland to suppress any Roman Catholic resistance to her rule. At that time, the Regiment’s establishment was 6 troops, each with about 30 mounted troopers.
Thomas Crepigny was recorded as Captain Lieutenant on the Muster-Roll of the Marquis of Lothian’s Regiment of Dragoons, Marquis of Lothian’s Troop, at Jedburgh, 11th September 1703.
In 1703 William Ker became Marquess of Lothian and the regiment’s name was changed to acknowledge his new title.
The seat of the Marquess Of Lothian is Ferniehirst Castle about a mile and a half south of Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders area. The castle, first built in 1470, was reconstructed from 1598 having been attacked by King James VI in 1593 in response to the Kerr family’s role in a conspiracy against him.
Jedburgh is 10 miles (16 km) from the border with England. Jedburgh Abbey, which followed the Rule of Saint Augustine, was founded in the 12th century. When the Protestant Reformation arrived in 1560, the monks were allowed to stay but the abbey was used as the parish kirk for the reformed religion. However, by 1671 the church was decaying and unsafe, and worship was moved to the western part of the nave. The town of Jedburgh is dominated by the Abbey ruins.
Thomas de Crespigny’s regiment spent most of the 1702-1714 War of the Spanish Succession in Edinburgh. In 1704 Thomas sold his commission and returned to London. His will, dated 24 June 1704, was written there.
Cannon, Richard (1842). Historical Record of the Seventh, or the Queen’s Own Regiment of Hussars: Containing an Account of the Origin of the Regiment in 1690, and of Its Subsequent Services to 1842 retrieved through Project Gutenberg https://www.gutenberg.org/files/53900/53900-h/53900-h.htm
de Crespigny, Rafe. (2017). Champions from Normandy : an essay on the early history of the Champion de Crespigny family 1350-1800 AD Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-2899050253 pages 119 – 124
Rowland Mainwaring (1745 – 1817), one of my fifth great grandfathers, was the fourth of the five sons of Edward Mainwaring (1709 – 1795) and his wife Sarah Mainwaring nee Bunbury (1709 – 1798). As a younger son, Rowland was unlikely to inherit the Mainwaring estates. Expected to make his own way in the world, he joined the army, becoming a captain in the 1st Regiment (Royal Scots) and later a major in the Staffordshire Militia.
Rowland married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth Mills of Barlaston, died soon after their marriage in 1777. There were no children. In 1780, three years later, he married Jane Latham, daughter of Captain Latham (d. 1762) of the Royal Navy. From this second marriage there were seven children, with four sons:
Edward Henry Mainwaring began his military career in the Staffordshire militia. In 1795, at the age of fourteen he became an ensign without purchase in the 13th Regiment of Foot (Light Dragoons). He became a lieutenant by purchase in 1796 but retired 9 months later. He is recorded as a cadet in the Bengal Army, appointed ensign from 23 September 1797. On 10 September 1798 he was made a lieutenant. He died unmarried in 1807.
July 22 1807 At Dacca, in the East Indies, Lieut. Edward Henry Mainwaring, of the 3d Regiment of Native Infantry, eldest son of Rowland M. esq. of Northampton. While out at exercise he complained of a sudden attack in the head, and died in a few minutes, in consequence of a rupture of a blood-vessel in his brain.
Thomas Mainwaring was educated at Mr Kelly’s Northampton Academy, with emphasis on writing and accounts. In late 1800 or early 1801, at the age of sixteen, Thomas petitioned to become an East India Company Writer, the organisation’s most junior rank. He arrived in India on 23 August 1801.
At this time, a considerable part of the revenue of the British East India Company derived from its monopoly on salt. In the 1780s salt was its second largest revenue source, and in 1858 10% of its income was still from salt. Many of Thomas Mainwaring’s appointments were in the Company’s Salt and Opium Department.
1804, 15 March Second Assistant to the Superintendent of the Western Salt Chowkies. (Chowkies are stations for collecting customs on all branches of trade)
1805, 20 May Assistant to the Superintendent of Eastern Salt Chowkies
1808, 2 August In Charge of the Office of Superintendent of the Eastern Salt Chowkies
1810, 5 July In Charge of the Office of Superintendent of the Salt Golahs at Sulkea (A golah is a warehouse. Sulkea was opposite Calcutta on the west bank of Hooghly River; Sulkea was originally a place where salt was brought and stored in warehouses. Present day Salkia)
1811, 1 November Sub-Secretary to the Board of Trade, Salt and Opium Department
1814, April Nominated to Endorse Stamp Papers
1815, 11 March Collector of Tipperah (the princely state of Tripura now located in the present-day Indian state of Tripura.)
1815, 21 March Acting Superintendent of the Western Salt Chowkies
1835, 22 January Acting Salt Agent at Tumlook (present day Tamluk)
1835 He was granted furlough to Mauritius and died on the way there on 6 May.
Deaths: On the 6th of May, on board the ship the Duke of Roburgh, on his way to the Mauritius, where he was proceeding for the benefit of his health, Thomas Mainwaring, Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service
English Chronicle and Whitehall Evening Post of 24 October 1835
George Mainwaring was accepted as a Writer in 1807. His petition to join the civil service of the Honourable East India Company was dated 23 December 1806. He was about fifteen years old. He attended Haileybury College from 1807 – 1809. He was appointed to the company in 1810 and arrived in India on 30 July 1810. Some of his early appointments also included the administration of salt:
1815, July 18: Assistant to the Salt Agent at Tumlook.
1815, Oct 27: Officiating Superintendent of Eastern Salt Chowkies.
He became a Civil and Session Judge of Benares and agent to the Lieutenant Governor of Benares. He retired in 1841 and died in England.
Salt agents in Bengal
In Bengal salt was not made by solar evaporation—the usual process—but by boiling concentrated brine, extracted from salt-rich soil by washing with seawater. Bengal salt was known as panga. The Bengal method followed a boiling process because Bengal’s extreme humidity made it difficult to crystallize brine by solar power alone and readily available fuel such as grass and paddy straw made panga production possible there. The brine was boiled for long hours in small earthenware pots at low temperatures producing fine white salt.
At the end of the 18th century, the East India Company divided the salt-producing areas of Bengal into six agencies run under salt agents — Hijli, Tamluk, the 24-Parganas, Raimangal, Bhulua and Chittagong. In the early 19th century, to make the salt tax more profitable and reduce smuggling, the East India Company established customs checkpoints throughout Bengal and an inland customs line was built across India from 1803 to prevent smuggling of salt from coastal regions in order to avoid the substantial salt tax; it was initially made from dead thorny material.
The agents would contract with the malangis, salt labourers, and pay advances to them as well as supervise the entire process of salt production, the storage of salt in the Company’s warehouses, and its delivery to merchants. Agents were also required to be on the lookout for illegal production and smuggling. A chain of native officers at different stages in the production process enabled a salt agent to manage the entire scope of commercial activities within his region. The salt agents were responsible for producing the authorized annual quota; success or failure in production would determine the Company’s salt revenues. Salt agents were active in production. For example, salt agents advanced money to the malangis, the salt labourers, and occasionally helped the malangis procure fuels in order to prevent delay to production.
Relatives in high places
When looking at the Writers’ petitions for Thomas and George, in both cases I noticed that in presenting the nomination to Henry Strachey the petitioner was a grandson of Lady Strachey. Jane Latham’s widowed mother Jane Latham nee Kelsall (1738 – 1824), had married Henry Strachey in 1770. Henry Strachey was private secretary to Lord Clive from 1764. Jane Strachey nee Kelsall, was first cousin to Margaret, wife of Lord Clive.
As younger sons of a younger son, Thomas and George Mainwaring did not expect to inherit the estate. A career was necessary and it seems their maternal grandmother’s second husband, Henry Strachey, helped with their introduction to the East India Company.
One of my fifth great grandfathers was William Duff (1754–1795), the second natural son of James Duff, later Earl Fife of Banffshire (1729–1809).
William Duff was baptised on 16 March 1754 at Fordyce. His mother, Margaret Adam of Keith, was the personal maid of the Countess Fife, the mother of James Duff, that is, the mother of William’s father.
James Duff acknowledged William and his brother James and sister Jean as his children and all three received a good education at his expense. Care of the children was entrusted to William Rose, the factor (agent) of Lord Fife . The correspondence on this matter between William Rose, Lord Fife, and the three Duff children is extant, some being published in the 1925 book Lord Fife and his Factor.
William Duff was educated at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich in southeast London, a training college for commissioned officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers. There is a letter from William in 1770 when he was about 16 years old describing his course of studies:
Rise at 6 and go for a walk. Breakfast 7.30. Study from 8 to12. After dinner, military exercises. 3 to 6 study.
The book of the Duffs Volume 2 page 516
On 11 December 11 1770, William obtained a commission as Lieutenant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, and in September 1771 he wrote from Chatham Barracks to his father at Duff House :
Since I wrote your Lordship last I have been detailed, with twenty men, for a week, to Upnor Castle, a place about four miles from here. This is a duty we take by turns. All this marching about of late has been very expensive to me, and within these two months (during which time I have never been settled in one place) it has cost me upwards of eighteen pounds. Our regiment, I believe, will remain as it is for the winter, but it is generally thought we shall march some other way before February next. My brother sets off for Scotland, with the first ship. I wanted to get to London, for a day or so, to see him before he went, but I really could not get leave. We are now so thin, that I have the Sash every other day almost. I understand your Lordship is killing the Deer just now, and I dare say you will have good diversion. I have just got another step in the Regt., so that there is now five under me.
The book of the Duffs. Volume 2 page 517
Eighteen pounds in 1771 is probably equivalent to more than 30,000 pounds today. The website MeasuringWorth states to compare the value of a £18 0s 0d Commodity in 1771 there are four choices. In 2020 the relative:
real price of that commodity is £2,413.00
labour value of that commodity is £32,180.00
income value of that commodity is £35,310.00
economic share of that commodity is £273,500.00
On 15 April 1773, William Duff embarked with his regiment for Canada, the journey taking 11 weeks. He was still in Canada in 1775, when the American War of Independence broke out. He wrote to his brother, Sir James Duff of Kinstair, on 21 May 1775 from Quebec. The 7th Royal Fusiliers were stationed with the 26th Foot in Lower Canada; the two regiments were loosely scattered among frontier posts, and both were at very low strength, together mustering only seven hundred men.
At the time of the American invasion of Canada in 1775, most of the regiment was forced to surrender. The 80 man garrison of Fort Chambly, Quebec, attempted to resist a 400-man Rebel force but ultimately had to surrender in October 1775 and the regiment lost its first set of colours.
William Duff was taken prisoner by the Americans, probably at Fort Chambly in October 1775. Though it was hoped he might be returned in an exchange of prisoners, he was not released until early 1777.
In February 1777 he wrote to his father from Staten Island about the purchase of a company in the Regiment. William foreshadowed the expense stating “There is not a Company that has sold for less than Seventeen hundred pounds.” He asked his father to confirm that his father would purchase it for him and requesting security.
Seventeen hundred pounds in 1777 was probably equivalent to three million pounds today . From the website MeasuringWorth:
real price of that commodity is £224,600.00
labour value of that commodity is £2,858,000.00
income value of that commodity is £3,110,000.00
economic share of that commodity is £22,870,000.00
William left the 7th Regiment and was promoted to captain in the 26th Foot on 9 April 1777.
On 4 January 1786, William Duff now Captain of the 26th Regiment of Foot was promoted to Major; at the time he and the regiment were serving in Ireland.
In May 1787 William wrote to William Rose from Cork :
We expect to sail to-morrow for Quebec. After various delays we reached this place a fortnight since. I am, as you often told me I should be, happier than ever in possession of a real, confidential friend. Everyone likes her. Were we richer it would be better.
The book of the Duffs. Volume 2 page 522
The headquarters of the regiment in July 1787 at Quebec was under the command of Major William Duff. The regiment moved to Montreal in 1789, and then to the frontier posts along the Niagara River in 1790. It moved to St. John in 1792.
William took his wife Dorothy to Canada. They had one daughter, Sophia Henrietta, born about 1790. It seems likely she was born in Canada.
William Duff retired from the army in March 1793.
William Duff, major in the 26th foot, died on 5 July 1795 at Fulford near York. He has a memorial in the Duff House Mausoleum at Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The inscription reads:
Sacred to the memory of William Duff of the 26th Regiment, a meritorious officer, a most sincere friend, an affectionate husband, an indulgent parent. He lived esteemed and respected. He died regretted and lamented in the 41st year of his age in the year of the Lord 1795.
“The Annals of Banff.” New Spalding Club, 1893, Issue 10, page 369.
William’s daughter Sophia was about five years old when her father died. Sophia and her mother stayed in contact with William’s family.
Alistair Tayler & Tayler, Helen Agnes Henrietta, 1869-1951, joint author (1914). The book of the Duffs. Edinburgh W. Brown. Volume 2 pages 516-524 retrieved through archive.org
In August 1806 the Terrible was caught in a hurricane and dismasted. The Terrible was at the time in pursuit, in the West Indies, of a French squadron under the command of Jérôme Bonaparte, the youngest brother of Napoleon.
In later life Mainwaring commissioned seven marine paintings. These are mentioned in his will. Two have been mislaid; five are at Whitmore Hall. One is of the extant paintings is ‘The Battle of the Nile’ (mentioned in an earlier post). Another appears to be of a dismasted ship, perhaps the Terrible.
His service on the Menelaus included the following:
the capturing, without loss, of the St. Josef, a French brig, pierced for 16 guns, lying within pistol-shot of one battery, flanked by another, and also by musketry from the shore, near the Bay of Fréjus in the south of France. The account was gazetted on 25 April 1812.
in 1812, Menelaus was part of the blockade of Toulon in the Mediterranean and operated against coastal harbours, shipping and privateers off the southern coast of France with some success. Mainwaring was noticed for the following:
the attention and assistance he afforded on the occasion of the Menelaus (together with the Havannah and Furieuse frigates and Pelorus brig) being chased by the French Toulon fleet
by his admirable gallantry and good conduct when the Menelaus, having pursued the French 40-gun frigate Pauline and 16-gun brig Ecureuil under the batteries in the vicinity of Toulon, once more effected a masterly retreat from the fleet that had come out to their protection, by passing through its line ahead of one 74, and astern of another
by the manner in which, under circumstances peculiarly honourable to him, he boarded and brought out the French xebec or zebecLa Paix, mounting 2 long 6-pounders, with a complement of 30 men, from within pistol-shot of the towers of Terracina, under a galling fire
by his highly creditable behaviour in cutting out, under a heavy fire from the batteries in the river Mignone, near Civita Vecchia, the French letter-of-marqueSt. Esprit, pierced for 12 guns, but with only 2 6-pounders mounted
Rowland Mainwaring kept a diary all his life. He published several books based on his diary. One of these was ‘The First Five Years of My Married Life‘ (1853), a record of Mainwaring’s activities afloat and of his domestic life. The book includes a detailed account of 1815, his last year of active service.
There was a flurry of activity after Napoleon escaped from Elba in late February 1815. The Paulina was first involved in escorting a convoy of transports from Bona, present-day Annaba in Algeria, and Cagliari in Italy. The Paulina then proceeded to Naples and Gaeta in charge of a convoy with arms and ammunition for the Austrian forces. On arrival there was news of the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and Gaeta surrendered.
He proceeded to Genoa and Marseille and at Marseille attended a grand civic ball. In September he was back in Valetta and reunited with his wife and her third child who had been born on 14 August. This son was named in honour of Edward Pellew, Lord Exmouth, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, and who had consented to be the child’s godfather. The Paulina was then ordered to proceed to Plymouth. He sailed on 30 September with his “family, goods and chattels, a milch goat, and various little comforts and luxuries for the voyage home.”
Mainwaring was paid off in November 1815 and did not serve afloat again.
O’Byrne, William R. A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy, from the Rank of Admiral of the Fleet to that of Lieutenant, Inclusive. 1849. Page 711. Retrieved through archive.org.
Marshall, John. Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes … with Copious Addenda: Captains. Commanders. 1832. Pages 126 – 130. Retrieved through Google Books.
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, James Gordon. The 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, with appendices, pedigrees and illustrations. 1934. Pages 104 – 115. Retrieved through archive.org
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine and Britton, Heather, (editor.) Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013. Pages 82 – 92.
A week ago I received an email about a photo in a family collection: “I have come across a photo of Peggy Champion De Crespigny with my mother, Ruth Smith, circa 1942, both in Army uniform.
They enlisted in the army around the same time and were good friends. I don’t know if this friendship pre-dated the war, but mum used to talk about the Champion De Crespigny’s with great affection. I don’t think they ever met up in future years even though they both eventually lived in Adelaide – mum since the mid-1950s. Mum passed away in 2005. [Peggy died in 1989.]
Mum has written on the back of the photo: Peggy de Crespigny and Ruth coming from the Torrens Parade Ground along King William Road near Govt. House, Adelaide.”
The Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) was formed in August 1941 to release men from less important military duties so that they could serve with fighting units.
Isobel Ruth Smith (Service Number – SF64955), 23 years old, enlisted at Adelaide on 21 May 1942. Her occupation was clerk.
Margaret Champion de Crespigny (Service Number – S65003) enlisted at Adelaide on 26 May 1942. Her occupation was coding and deciphering, she had just started the signals course the day before.
From 25 May 1942 to about August Ruth and Peggy attended a communications course called the Australian Signals Course No. 41.
On 13 August 1942 Ruth was transferred to a special wireless school at Bonegilla near Albury. Ruth was graded as a Group 1 Wireless Telegraph Operator and later promoted to Sergeant. She was discharged in January 1946.
Ruth’s son sent another photo of Ruth “Also a photo of my mum, Sgt. Ruth Smith, who served in signals with the Australian Special Wireless Group a somewhat secretive outfit who were told that they were never mention their role, or mention the Aust Special Wireless Group, and were never to march in ANZAC Day parades (and she didn’t). Interestingly the ASWG became the Defence Signals Directorate.” He also recalled that his parents “would talk fluently in high speed Morse code, especially if they didn’t want [him] to know!”
On 17 August 1942 Peggy de Crespigny became a Sig [Signaller] Wm Gp 2 with SA L of C [South Australian Line of Communications Area]. In July 1943 she attended the LHQ [Land Headquarters] School of Military Intelligence at Southport, Queensland. In December 1943 she was discharged at her own request on compassionate grounds. Peggy’s mother Beatrix had died 11 November 1943.
I was interested to see that the attesting officer on Peggy’s forms was Captain May Douglas. I met May Douglas many years later. She was a friend of my grandmother Kathleen—both played golf—and she was also much involved in the Girl Guides.