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.
My 4th great grandmother Elizabeth Hughes née Jones was born in 1798, the daughter of Edward Jones, a farmer, and Elizabeth Jones née Humphreys. In 1825 Elizabeth married Edward Hughes in Liverpool. She died in Melbourne in 1865. Her husband supplied the information on her death certificate, but although he gave the names of Elizabeth’s parents, for ‘place of birth’ only the county, Cardiganshire, was recorded. The 1851 census also recorded her place of birth as Cardiganshire with no further details.
In Cherry Stones, an account of our Hughes family history, my cousin Helen Hudson wrote:
Elizabeth Jones, Edward’s wife, was the youngest member of a large family. Her father, Evan Jones, known as Squire Jones, was a wealthy farmer in Cardiganshire. Elizabeth was described as a “clever, cultured lady, related in some way to Lord Westbury’s family."
Maybe that was another legend, but like all these family stories there is always a grain of truth somewhere, even if distorted.
When in 1847 Elizabeth’s son, my 3rd great grand uncle Goodman Hughes, died in Marine Terrace, Shrewsbury, the death certificate informant was Annie Jones. Who was she? On the 1851 census Annie Wilton, née Jones, was living at Marine Terrace with her parents Evan and Mary Jones. Evan Jones was a sadler, born in Cardiganshire, aged 66 (so born about 1785). From this it seems likely that Evan Jones was a brother of my 4th great grandmother Elizabeth.
I decided to search for baptisms of ‘Evan’ around 1785 and ‘Elizabeth’ around 1798 in Cardiganshire with the father named Edward. I found only two.
There is an Evan Jones, father Edward Jones, gentleman, baptised 18 May 1784 at Llanfihangel Genau’r-glyn, Cardiganshire, Wales. And on 26 September 1798 there was a baptism at Llanfihangel Genau’r-glyn, Cardiganshire, Wales, of Elizabeth Jones daughter of Edward Jones, gentleman.
I next looked for a marriage of Edward Jones to Elizabeth Humphreys in the district. On 2 June 1778 an Edward Jones, gentleman, of Llanfihanel Gennery Glynn, Cardigan, married Elizabeth Humphreys at Tywyn, Merionethshire. She was of the parish. They married by licence. The witnesses were V??? Humphreys and John Jones.
Title Glan Paith Papers reference 212: Release (in consideration of the intended marriage of the said Edward Jones and the said Elizabeth Humphreys), to make a …, Creation Date 1778, May 30.
Description 1. Edward Jones. 2. Humphrey Jones. 3. Evan Watkin of Moelyherney, p. Llanfyhangelgenerglyn, co. Card., gent. 4. Evan Evans of Knwcybarkit, p. Llanygrowthen, co. Card., and Thomas Pugh of Glanyrafon, p. Llanfyhangelgenerglyn aforesaid, gent's. 5. Mary Humphreys, widow, and Elizabeth Humphreys, spinster, her eldest daughter, both of Towyn, co. Mer. Release (in consideration of the intended marriage of the said Edward Jones and the said Elizabeth Humphreys), to make a tenant to the praecipe for the suffering of a recovery, of Tythin Carreg Cadwgan, Tythyn panty Carrw, Tythin y nantgarrw, Tythin Coed-y-Bongam, Llertai Gleission, Tythin-y-Tymawr, Llyesty Pant Gwynne, and Rhydyrhenedd in the t. of Caylan and Maesmore, p. Llanfihangel generglyn.
The paper immediately preceding 211 is dated 29 May 1778 and concerns the Lease for one year of Tythin Carreg Cadwgan, Tythyn panty Carrw, Tythin y nantgarrw, Tythin Coed-y-Bongam, Llertai Gleission, Tythin-y-Tymawr, Llyesty …,
1. Edward Jones of Carregcadwgan, p. Llanfihangelgenerglyn, co. Card., gent. 2. Humphrey Jones of the town of Machynlleth, co. Mont., gent. Lease for one year of Tythin Carreg Cadwgan, Tythyn panty Carrw, Tythin y nantgarrw, Tythin Coed-y-Bongam, Llertai Gleission, Tythin-y-Tymawr, Llyesty Pant Gwynne, and Rhydyrhenedd in the t. of Caylan and Maesmore, p. Llanfihangel generglyn aforesaid.
Paper 214 dated 1 March 1803 concerns the Lease for one year of Tythin Carreg Cadwgan, Tythin panty Carrw, Tythin y nant garrw, Tythin coed y Bongam, Llertaigleission …,
1. Edward Jones, gent., and Elizabeth, his wife, and John Jones, gent., their son and heir apparent, all of Carreg Cadwgan, p. Llanfihangelgenerglyn, co. Card. 2. John Beynon of Newcastle Emlyn, co. Carm., gent. Lease for one year of Tythin Carreg Cadwgan, Tythin panty Carrw, Tythin y nant garrw, Tythin coed y Bongam, Llertaigleission, Tythin y Ty mawr, and Rhydyrhenedd, with a cottage called Llyesty Pantygwynne, in the t. of Caylan and Maesmore, p. Llanfihangelgenerglyn aforesaid.
Paper 215 is dated 2 March 1803 and concerns Release, to make a tenant to the praecipe for the suffering of a recovery, of Tythin Carreg Cadwgan, Tythin panty …,
1. Edward Jones and Elizabeth, his wife, and John Jones. 2. John Beynon. 3. Humphrey Jones of the town of Machynlleth, co. Mont., esq. Release, to make a tenant to the praecipe for the suffering of a recovery, of Tythin Carreg Cadwgan, Tythin panty Carrw, Tythin y nant garrw, Tythin coed y Bongam, Llertaigleission, Tythin y Ty mawr, and Rhydyrhenedd, with a cottage called Llyesty Pantygwynne, in the t. of Caylan and Maesmore, p. Llanfihangelgenerglyn aforesaid.
I looked for the baptism of John Jones and found John, son of Edward Jones by his wife, baptised 15 January 1782 at Llanfihangel Genau’r-glyn, Cardiganshire.
I think this is the Edward Jones and Elizabeth Jones née Humphreys I have been looking for, but I have not yet found a will or any other document that would make me completely confident of the connection.
The village of Llanfihangel Genau’r Glyn, is now known as LLandre. The older name means St Michaels at the Mouth of the Valley. Llanfihangel is a very common placename in Wales and the name LLandre was changed to avoid confusion. Llandre means ‘Churchtown’.
The geography images site geograph.org has photograph of a farm called Carregcadwgan. I wonder if this is the farm associated with Edward Jones and mentioned in the lease document of 29 May 1778 and again in the lease document of 1 March 1803. Carregcadwgan farm is 5 miles east of Llandre. The community location, a settlement which could not even be described as a hamlet, is called Ceulanamaesmawr.
All this is progress, I suppose, but I am still trying to discover more about the Jones and Humphreys families. I wonder why Elizabeth moved more than a hundred miles north from Cardiganshire to Liverpool to marry Edward Hughes and why her brother Evan moved seventy-five miles east to settle in Shrewsbury.
My fourth great-grandparents Edward Hughes, a builder (1803 – 1876), and his wife Elizabeth Hughes née Jones (1798 – 1865) were Welsh; Edward was from Newmarket, Flintshire; Elizabeth from Cardiganshire. They were married in Liverpool in 1825. Of their eight children three survived to adulthood.
Their fifth child, Goodman Edward Jones Hughes, born in 1834, died aged thirteen in 1847. The Registrar recorded the cause of death as ‘consumption’. His burial record has ‘Kings’ Evil’. This was scrofula (mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitis), a disfiguring disease of the neck lymph nodes, often caused by the bacterium responsible for pulmonary tuberculosis, consumption.
Goodman Edward Jones Hughes is mentioned in several records:
Goodman Edward Jones Hughes was born on 15 May and baptised on 8 June 1834 in the Great Cross Hall Street Welsh Baptist Chapel by the Reverend William Griffiths of Holyhead. Goodman was the son of Edward Hughes, joiner, of Drinkwater Gardens, Liverpool, and Elizabeth, formerly Jones, his wife.
At the time of the 1841 census Edward, Elizabeth, four children (Samuel, Mary, Henry, and Eliza) and a child Goodman Jones, possibly a nephew of Elizabeth’s, were living at Drinkwater Gardens, Liverpool. Edward was a joiner. There were no live-in servants.
It is possible that the child Goodman Jones who was aged 7 was in fact Goodman Edward Jones Hughes and the census-taker misunderstood the relationship to his parents. I have not been able to find a child named Goodman Hughes living elsewhere in 1841.
Goodman Edward Hughes died of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) on 8 July 1847 at Marine Terrace St Julian Shrewsbury. He was the son of Edward Hughes builder and his wife Elizabeth. The informant was Annie Jones, present at the death, address Marine Terrace.
I have traced the Jones family of Marine Terrace, St Julian, Shrewsbury, on the 1851 census. Annie Jones married in 1850 to George Wilton. She and George and a newborn daughter were living with Annie’s parents Evan Jones, his wife Mary, Annie’s married sister Mary Hughes, and a niece of Annie’s aged 13, also called Annie Jones. Evan Jones, born in Cardiganshire, was a sadler, aged 66 (born about 1785). He may have been a brother of Elizabeth Hughes née Jones.
Shrewsbury is 60 miles distant from Liverpool. Goodman may have attended a school in Shrewsbury and returned to live at his uncle’s house when he became ill. In 1851 Goodman’s younger brother Henry, then aged 12, was a pupil at the Kingsland Academy in Shrewsbury run by Mr J. Poole.
Goodman’s body was brought from Shrewsbury to Liverpool, sixty miles north, for burial.
The cause of scrofula was not known until the late 19th century. The illness caused chills, sweats, and fevers. Due to the swelling of the lymph nodes and bones, skin infections and ulcerated sores appeared on the neck, head, and face. The sores grew slowly, sometimes remaining for months or years.
In 1846 Benjamin Phillips, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, presented a paper to the Statistical Society of London on the prevalence and alleged increase of Scrofula. Phillips estimated that “the marks of Scrofula obvious upon simple inspection, among the children of the poor of England and Wales, between the ages of 5 and 16 is, as near as may be, but rather under, 3 ½ per cent.” The latest mortality figures Phillips quoted were from 1831. “In 1831, the population was 1,233,000 the general mortality was 20,910, or 1 in 61; the deaths from consumption were 4,735, or 1 in 258; and the deaths from scrofula 9, or 1 in 135,888 of the population.” Phillips concluded that Scrofula was less present in the present day (the 1840s) than it had been in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Tuberculosis, or consumption, was a leading cause of death in previously healthy adults in Britain in the 1800s. An 1840 study attributed one fifth of deaths in England to consumption. In 1838 the death rate in England and Wales from tuberculosis was around 4,000 deaths per 1 million people; it fell to around 3,000 per million in 1850. The declining death rate at that time before any known cure has been attributed to better food and nutrition.
Scrofula is now treated successfully with antibiotics. Untreated it can develop into pulmonary tuberculosis, with a high risk of death. Perhaps this was the manner in which the disease progressed in Goodman Hughes. He was simply unlucky, unable even to hope that the sovereign’s touch would cure him. Queen Victoria did not attempt to perform the small miracle; the practice had ceased with George I more than a century before.
In 1880, when my great great grandparents Agathe Maria Lang and Matthias Manock were married in Karlsruhe, Agathe provided this information for their marriage certificate:
She had been born in Zizenhausen on 29 December 1852. Her occupation was ‘maid’ (Dienstmädchen, domestic servant). Her mother was Anna Maria Lang, a washerwoman, who lived in Zizenhausen.
Agathe did not name her father.
In 1852, when Agathe Maria Lang had been baptised at Zizenhausen, only her mother, Anna Maria Lang, was named on the certificate.
Five other children of Anna Maria Lang were baptised in Zizenhausen with with no father named:
Paulina baptised 14 January 1844, buried 28 July 1844
Eleonora baptised 30 October 1845, buried 14 November 1845
Crescentia baptised 18 November 1847, buried 5 January 1848
Johannes baptised 6 December 1848
Josef baptised 18 April 1850, buried 19 July 1850
I think it is likely that these children were Agathe’s siblings.
Johannes, son of Anna Maria Lang, married in 1875 and had four children, three of whom died young. I have not found a record of the death of Johannes, nor of his wife Anna and his daughter Frida (born 1876).
I have not been able to find birth, marriage, or death records of Anna Maria Lang, at least those that I am confident refer to my great great grandmother. I have, however, found records of other women with the same name.
An Anna Maria Lang was born in January 1829 to Josef Lang and Maria Lang née Einhart. She married a Kaspar Schästle in 1859 in Konstanz. They had at least eight children. However, I believe that if this Anna was the mother of Agathe and Johannes then her married name would have been given on their marriage certificates.
Another Anna Maria Lang, born in 1814 to Thomas and Caecelia Kun, married Matthaeus Pfeifer at Zizenhausen in 1853. They had a daughter. As with Anna Maria Schästle I feel if this was the mother of Agathe her married name would have been mentioned on Agathe’s marriage certificate.
A third Anna Maria Lang, daughter of Georg Lang and Magdalena Lehri, was baptised at Konstanz on 17 September 1823. Nothing suggests this was the mother of Agathe.
I seem to have reached a dead end with this. But not to worry, these little puzzles are fun. I’ll persevere with it.
Zizenhausen is in the district of Stockach, a kilometre north of the town centre and about six kilometres north-west of Lake Constance. In 1852 the population of Zizenhausen was 1171: 621 female and 550 male. In 1974 Zizenhausen was incorporated into the City of Stockach.
My fourth great-grandparents Edward Hughes and his wife Elizabeth Jones were Welsh; Edward was from Newmarket, Flintshire, and Elizabeth from Cardiganshire. Hughes, however, is not an unusual surname in Wales, nor is Jones, and for a while I’ve been muddling them with another Welsh couple from Flintshire with the same names.
I have since ordered Elizabeth’s Victorian death certificate. She died on 4 July 1865 in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.
Australian death certificates include much information useful to the genealogist, though the reliability of this depends on the knowledge and good will of the informant. In Elizabeth’s case the informant was her husband Edward Hughes.
From Elizabeth’s death certificate I learnt that she was born in Cardiganshire to Edward Jones, who was a farmer, and Elizabeth Jones née Humphreys. She was 66 years old when she died, so she was born about 1799. Elizabeth and Edward married about 1825 in Liverpool when she was twenty-six. They had eight children:
Samuel aged 37 years (at the time of Elizabeth’s death in 1865, so born about 1828);
Mary aged 35 years (born about 1830);
Eliza Ann dead;
Elizabeth Humphreys dead;
Goodman Edward Jones dead; and
Henry aged 24 years (born about 1841).
At the time of her death Elizabeth had been in Victoria for twelve years eleven months, so she had arrived about August 1852. Although she died in Brighton, the home address of her husband Edward was View Street, Bendigo (the town at that time was also known as Sandhurst), a hundred miles north. The cause of her death was recorded as chronic disease of the liver and stomach trouble. She had been ill for two months, which perhaps implies that she had come from Bendigo to Melbourne for treatment.
The Bishop’s transcripts, copies of the parish registers which had been sent to the bishop, of Liverpool marriages includes a record at the church of St Philip for a marriage by banns on 24 April 1825 of Edward Hughes and Elizabeth Jones. Neither had been previously married; both were of the parish. A transcript of the marriage register shows the witnesses were John Parry and G. Jared; I believe the witnesses are not related to the bride and groom.
As this record is a better match for the details given at the time of Elizabeth’s death I am more confident that this is the record of the marriage of my fourth great grandparents Edward and Elizabeth Hughes. Unfortunately, details which would help to confirm that we have the right couple, such as their parents’ names and occupations, are not recorded.
Building a family tree with common surnames such as Hughes and Jones is often more difficult than not, because there is more likely to be confusion over two people with the same name. From the information on Elizabeth’s death certificate, it seems that I was wrong: my fourth great grandmother was not from Ysgeifiog and my Edward and Elizabeth were not married there. I have corrected my tree and added the new information.
In 1881 my husband Greg’s great great grandparents John Plowright (1831 – 1910) and Margaret Plowright née Smyth (1834 – 1897) adopted a boy—their grandson—named Frederick Harold Plowright. The child’s father was James Henry Plowright; his mother was Elizabeth Ann Cooke, née Onthong.
Elizabeth Ann Onthong was born in 1862 in Avoca, Victoria, to Thomas Onthong and Bridget Onthong née Fogarty. The Onthong family later used the surname Cook (or Cooke). Elizabeth was the fourth of six children; she had four brothers and one sister, Mary Ann.
Elizabeth’s parents Bridget Fogarty and John Tong were married on 17 October 1855 in the Church of England vicarage at Carisbrook.
The marriage certificate has them both living in Avoca. Neither could sign their name.
John Tong, son of William Tong storekeeper, was born in Amoy, China. His occupation was cook, and he was 26 years old. The certificate notes that he “could not tell his mother’s name (Chinese)”. This presumably meant that he was unable to transcribe the sounds of her name into English letters. He was probably also illiterate in Chinese.
John Tong’s birthplace Xiamen 廈門 (pinyin: Xiàmén) is a city on the Fujian coast of China. For many years, the name, pronounced ‘Emoui’ in the Fujian dialect, was rendered ‘Amoy’ in Post Office romanization.
At the end of 1854 it was estimated that more than 10,000 Chinese lived and worked on the Victorian goldfields. In 1855 alone more than eleven thousand Chinese arrived in Melbourne, many of them indentured labourers from the province of Fujian via the port of Amoy.
John Tong arrived before the Victorian parliament passed the Chinese Immigration Act 1855, legislation meant to restrict Chinese immigration by imposing a poll tax of ten pounds upon every Chinese arriving in the Colony and limiting the number of Chinese on board each vessel to one person for every 10 tonnes of goods. (£10 was worth about $9,000 today in comparing average wages then and now [from MeasuringWorth.com])
Though at the time of his marriage John Tong’s occupation was cook, he later worked as a miner at Deep Lead near Avoca. Three of his sons were also Avoca miners.
John Tong was also known as Thomas or Tommy Cook. Tommy Cook was mentioned several times in the newspapers. In 1866 he was noted as having “attained considerable proficiency in the English language.” In 1871 his son William gave evidence in a court case and he, William, was the son of “Thomas Cook, a miner, residing at the Deep Lead, Avoca.” In 1875 Bridget bought a charge of assault against her husband, Ah Tong, alias Tommy Cook. He was described as “a tall, powerful, and rather wild-looking Chinaman”. Bridget said he “was very lazy, and when he got any money would go and gamble it away.”
In October 1890 Tommy Cook and his son George Cook gave evidence in the inquest of the death of George Gouge. From the report in the Avoca Mail:
Tommy Cook deposed – I am residing at Deep Lead, near Avoca. I am father of George Cook. Knew deceased. I found the body lying about six o’clock on Friday morning about 200 yards from the hotel …
Several of their relatives had already established themselves in the new colony. In 1838, eleven years previously, Sarah Bock (sister of Ann Plaisted) with her husband Alfred Bock, and Ann’s brother William Green with his wife Tabitha (sister of John Plaisted) had settled there.
The Plaisted family travelled on the ‘Rajah‘, reaching Adelaide on 12 April 1850 after a passage of 4 1/2 months from London.
John Plaisted’s blocks formed two contiguous areas, one of 320 acres near the coast, the other 742 acres close to what has since become the settlement of Willunga.
One of Plaisted’s neighbours was John Pitches Manning, who bought an adjacent block, later called Hope Farm, at the same auction. A family history of Manning and Hope Farm describes his purchase:
"During May 1850, George Pitches Manning journeyed south to Aldinga in search of suitable farming land but was not impressed with the country, which was covered by stunted gum and sheoak trees. His attention was then drawn to a parcel of Crown Land at McLaren Vale, which was, in later years to be the property known as Tintara Vineyards, of which more will be said later. This property was put to public auction but unfortunately he was outbid by a Mr Plaisted."
(Tintara winery was acquired by Thomas Hardy in the 1870s)
"Noarlunga—The foundation stone of the new church to be dedicated to St. Phillip and St. James, was laid on Friday, the 28th ultimo, by the Bishop of Adelaide, in the presence of a numerous, and highly respectable, concourse of the inhabitants. His Lordship read the impressive service used on such occasions, which was listened to throughout with profound attention. Divine service was performed for the first time on Sunday last, at the "Horse Shoe" Inn. Mr Bock, the worthy landlord, fitted up the room for the occasion, and Miss Plaisted led the various hymns on a splendid organ. The arrangements for the accommodation of the congregation were simple yet comfortable, and, in fact, the whole was a great improvement upon the pro tempore places of worship previously used at Noarlunga."
The next year in April 1851 John’s eldest daughter Sally Plaisted married Samuel Hughes of Noarlunga.
On Tuesday, 29th April, at Willunga, by the Rev. A. B. Burnett, Mr. Samuel Hughes, of Noarlunga, to Sally, only daughter of John Plaisted, Esq., of Hornsey, late of Muswell Hill, near London.
In September 1851 John Plaisted, Alfred Bock, Samuel Hughes, and John’s son John Plaisted junior attended a meeting called to establish a monthly market in Noarlunga township. John Plaisted addressed the meeting.
In December 1851 John Plaisted sailed for Melbourne. In the 1850s he and and other members of his family seem to have travelled quite frequently between Melbourne and South Australia.
In February 1852, back in South Australia, Mr Plaisted (it is not clear whether this was John or one of his sons) won a prize of potatoes at the Noarlunga monthly market.
In March 1852 Thomas Plaisted was receiving cargo in Adelaide of 179 bags of flour and 35 bags of bran. In March and in May Job Plaisted (probably John) received mail in Adelaide. In May 1852 a Plaisted received 32 bags of flour.
In November 1852 J Plaisted, S. Hughes and A. Bock were subscribers to a fund for erecting a church at Noarlunga. The three men were generous in their donations, especially. J. Plaisted, who donated 10 pounds.
In August 1854 Messrs. Bell and Plaisted, were in business as grocers at 67 Queen-street. In March 1855 they had moved to 57 Queens Street, advertising a range of goods from pianos to barrels of haddock.
When John Plaisted died of tuberculosis in Melbourne on 4 May 1858, his death certificate stated he had been in Victoria 5 years, thus since 1853; he had been in South Australia for only 3 years.
In his will John Plaisted left to his wife the rent of Hornsey Farm, McLaren Vale, South Australia, and the rent of the Blacksmiths Shop at Noarlunga.