Charles Fox Champion Crespigny, son of Philip Champion Crespigny and Dorothy Scott was born on 30 August 1785 in Hintlesham Hall, Hintlesham, Suffolk, England. He died on 4 March 1875 in 11 Royal Parade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. He married Eliza Julia Trent (1797-1855) on 20 March 1813 in St. George Hanover Square, London, England. He was my fourth great grandfather.
I have inherited through my father a photocopy of nine hand written pages written about Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny by his grandson Charles Stanley Champion de Crespigny (1848-1907) in about 1908. The photocopy has a brief annotation by Charles’s son Charles Leonard C de C (1898-1977). My father received his copy from our cousin Stephen C de C who made annotations in 1964.
Charles Stanley was the child of Charles John Champion de Crespigny (1814-1880) and Emma Margaret nee Smith (c 1820-1848). Emma died just over two months after Charles Stanley was born and Charles Stanley was brought up by his grandparents.
To my Readers
Every word in This Booklet is true. Much is suppressed & names are changed that neither pain nor shame may attach to the dead who are beyond reach of ink or pen or to those living whom I love.
But in every essential particular it is true & in no single fact is it untrue or imaginary in this history of a Human Document.
My first memories are of a large country house not many miles from London.(1) I can just see its lovely grounds its quaint old world house. I can still see & hear the old Parson of the Parish (2) who would come across every Sunday after his honest but dreary discourse to dine at my Grandfather’s Table. A worthy man – a Doctor of Divinity- doing his little – his very little best — but still his best according to his lights, in his Master’s name. I still sleep the troubless innocent sleep of a child lulled by his dreary diatribes. I remember that village choir, that vacillating violin that terrible treble. And I remember asking my
dear old Grandmother if that holy man in white surplice & hood & afterwards in black gown & white bands was the God whom I was taught to love & fear.
For I was living with my Grandparents then. My father had left me in their loving care for my Mother died within two months of my Birth. And I doubt if it were not for her at least for the best. Of my Grandfather what can I say? The greatest Gentleman, the truest Simplest most lovable man, I ever knew. Sustained in my boyish memories still at my nearly sixty years of age, I have never looked upon his like again – A grand old head – with the whitest of
white hair, the Silken Touch of which my childish fingers loved to feel & which the fingers of an old man still dream the can feel now as in the long ago. A grand old man hating shams of all kind, gentle to a woman whatever her degree, politer to his tradesman than his peers, loved by his servants & hated only, if hated by anyone, by some parvenu upstart who would presume that a well lined pocket entitled its owner to be braggart & bully. “What is not good enough for my servants is not good enough for me” – I have often heard him say & the fare of the Servants’ Halls was every whit as good as the fare of the Master’s table
A gentleman as the French say to the tip of his fingernails – never discourteous to anyone, in his quarrels of word or pen attacking with the rapier of an honourable foe not with the dagger of the Assassin. In his youth an officer of Dragoons (3) – present at that celebrated Ball in Brussels on the Eve of Waterloo anent which he told me a curious tale.(4) He was dancing in a Quadrille & in one of the figures he noticed a Colonel of British Cavalry suddenly turn pale & stagger as if about to faint. In the dance my Grandfather asked what ailed him. “My dear C” said the Colonel, “I had a dreadful vision I saw my body dressed as I am now without a head.” Not long afterwards
the Bugles sounded & the British officers marched off to that Battle, which was the triumph of Wellington & the Downfall of Napoleon – Waterloo.
The Colonel’s body was found decapitated the head having been carried off by a round shot – & never being found.
He had faults, but such faults as has a child, such faults – as I believe are better than some men’s virtues. He did not know the value of money (5) – “dirty money” as he called it. But no tramp passed his house that could not get a glass of beer & a hunk of bread & cheese – & no beggar asked for alms in vain if he seemed feeble or was short of limb or had not the capacity – to work-
“You Encourage imposters” I once heard a friend say to him. “Perhaps I do”, said the dear old man, “ but if I help one poor devil in real distress out of ten who beg the other nine may go hang & my dole is well given. Had I waited to make enquiries & get characters & references the one deserving man would have suffered & the nine imposters would have cared not one jot.”
A hint that the Charity organizations might well take! To me there is something incongruous between the idea of “Charity” & “organization” – As well “Purity-Chastity” & say “Insurance”!
A grand old man too – a breed that is dying out if it be not already dead. He could tell & hear & enjoy a good story of even what is termed today a blue one but he could not treat a woman save as a woman. Peasant or Duchess had equal measure of courtesy from him & even to courtesan he would speak as if she might be his Daughter or sister – & was certainly the one or the other to some other man. He would drink his fill of good old Port too & enjoy his liqueur of good old Brandy but even after I held her Majesty’s commission I remember his saying to me – “Don’t drink spirits in the Daytime like a groom my boy.”
Ah well he lies buried in an old world Churchyard in the shadow of the Cotswold Hills & may the turf lie lightly upon him. (6) I do not think he left an enemy behind him & if he had as many thousands a year at the beginning of his life as he had of fifty pounds at its close I believe he lived the life. I have often heard him talk of “Be brave & a Gentleman” heard say “wd you can do no wrong that God will not forgive.”
And they are wise words. For all punishable crime is cowardly & no other crimes could be committed by any one who claims the gentleman’s only motto “Sans peur et sans reproche”. [fearless and above reproach]
He was nearly a centenarian when he died & remembered & recite the odes of Horace but a few days before the End & to his loving tuition do I owe a knowledge of Latin & Greek & the English Language which made me successful in Army & other examinations.
I must note before I regretfully pass from my memories of my grand old man refrain from repeating oft told test of a real gentleman “Ask him to dinner” he would say & I will quickly tell you if he is a real gentleman -”
And when I see the Youth of today – the “about town” youth – not the “Sort” that fought & died in South Africa – but the
[it ends here, either pages missing or never completed – annotation by Charles Leonard Champion de Crespigny, only son of Charles Stanley].
(1) the large country house not many miles from London is probably Harefield House. On the 1851 census Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny was living there with his half-brother Philip (1765-1851), wife Eliza, son Charles John, daughter Eliza (1825-1898) and grandson Charles Stanley (aged 2). There were 12 live in servants. Charles Fox lived at Harefield until about 1856/7. 1851 census for Harefield, Middlesex (2B) page 35: Class: HO107; Piece: 1697; Folio: 376; Page: 35; GSU roll: 193605
(2) On the 1851 census the perpetual curate (incumbent) of Harefield is John Lightfoot then aged 66. 1851 census for Harefield, Middlesex (2B) page 21: Class: HO107; Piece: 1697; Folio: 369; Page: 21; GSU roll: 193605. He was still at Harefield in 1861 aged 76 Class: RG 9; Piece: 768; Folio: 23; Page: 4;GSU roll: 542698. He died in 1863 aged 79.
(3) Stephen Champion de Crespigny note that Charles Fox entered the Army, 1st or Royal Regiment of Dragoons became a cornet 16 January 1806, Lieutenant 1808, Captain in 1810. He resigned in 1811 as a Lieutenant by sale of Commission.
(4) He may have been in Belgium in a civilian capacity but is not mentioned in the Waterloo Muster rolls. His second child George was born at Antwerp, Belgium on 31 October 1815, just over four months after the Battle of Waterloo which was fought on 18 June. The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball held on 15 June has a known invitation list and Charles Fox is not on that list. However, Sir Hussey Vivian (1775-1842) was on the list and did attend, writing about the ball to his wife Eliza, who was the sister of Charles Fox. Perhaps Vivian took his brother-in-law Charles Fox. The sources for Vivian’s attendance are:
Sir Hussey Vivian confirms that he attended the ball in:
– his letter to his wife dated 23rd June 1815. In: Vivian, Cl. R.H.Vivian, first baron Vivian p.264
– his diary, cited in: Vivian, Cl. R.H.Vivian.First baron Vivian etc. p.263
– his undated letter to E.Vivian, in: Vivian, Cl. R.H.Vivian, first baron Vivian p.266
Claud Vivian’s memoir of Richard Hussey Vivian, digitised and available through archive.org, shed no light light on Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny’s presence in Belgium, he is not mentioned by his brother-in-law.
(5) Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny inherited a considerable fortune but it dwindled away during his life. At this stage I don’t know how, perhaps there were some significant failings in investments or a bank. He does not appear to have been a gambler.
(6) Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny is buried at St Peter’s, Leckhampton, Gloucestershire with his wife and his grandson Constantine Pulteney Champion de Crespigny (1851-1883)