Among the papers of my great grandfather Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny (1882 – 1952) donated to the State Library of South Australia by his daughter Charlotte de Crespigny is a letter of bequest, giving directions about the distribution of the writer’s belongings after her death.
The bulk of her possessions she leaves to her niece and goddaughter Ada Isidora Crespigny. She also mentions Ada’s sister Viola, Philip Crespigny, and various relatives, including her grandfather Edmund Dana.
The author was fourth great aunt Anna Penelope Wood née Dana (1814 – 1890). Anna had no children to receive her possessions automatically upon her death; her bequest is rather a considered working-out of who should get what, an insight into her opinion of the people she regarded as suitable recipients.
It is interesting that Anna was still so closely connected with her Australian relatives, for following the emigration of the family to Victoria in 1851, Charlotte Crespigny and her daughter Ada never returned to England and Anna did not travel to Australia. But it is clear that they stayed in correspondence. Anna sent a copy of “Two Years Before the Mast” to her sister Charlotte, for example.
The following directions I wish to be faithfully fulfilled after my death.
To my niece Ada Isidora Crespigny I bequeath my evening dresses, lace dress, scarves, shawls, my dressing case (once belonged to my Father) & all the Jewelry & ornaments which it contains (except the Diamond ring and the plain torquoise ring which I leave to Mrs Greenham & her daughter after her – To Ada I Crespigny I also leave my Gold watch and bracelets containing the miniatures of my Grandfather the Revd Edmund Dana, also the portrait of him hanging over the piano. My great grandfather Charles 6th Lord Kinnaird – his likeness is the one in the scarlet coat – my grandfather is dressed in a blue velvet coat – I also leave the said Ada my brooches containing the miniatures of my Grandfather the Revd Ed. Dana my great grandfather the Revd Dr Grueber Provost of Trinity College.
Dubin & My brother William Pulteney Dana, all the photographs of the Danas & George 6th Lord Kinnaird & George 9th Lord Kinnaird & of Queen Victoria also my photograph album, and other photos in cases and frames – all these family portraits I wish for Philip Crespigny and his sons to inherit after the death of Ada so that they and their descendants so that they may retain them in their family for ever. All my music books, work boxes & baskets all my fancy articles, I also bequeath to my niece and goddaughter Ada –
To Rose E Greenham I leave my amethyst brooch and bracelets my little fancy work bags and
Longfellows poems. To Edith ? Greenham I leave my Indian pebble bracelets, my red leather writing case – To Katherine Maltby I leave my amethyst earrings. To Viola Crespigny I leave my cameo bracelets, the likeness of her mother when a girl, & the little dog lying on a red cushion which she worked. Also to Ada Crespigny I leave the portraits of the Countess of Chesterfield (the Honble Anne Forester) – the photograph of her cousins grouped together – the portrait of our uncle Sir William Rowan Hamilton & the photograph of our cousin Mrs Rathbone & the one of myself and our father grouped together – To the said Ada I also leave all my books among which are Dana’s and Longfellows’ works. To Alice Gough I leave my Indian Cedar Wood Chest which stands in the Drawing Room
also a book called “The Land and the book” To Grahame Parry I leave my three Japanese China jars These are simple keepsakes to dear friends who have been kind to me – To my good and faithful Sidney Smith I leave my carbuncle ring Farrers Life of Christ & Picturesque Europe. To his brother Jasper I leave Capcis Family Bible for a keepsake. To Mary Ellen Jones I leave all my wearing apparel (except what I have left to Ada Crespigny) my sewing machine & all the odds and ends ?? ?? my clothing. I particularly desire that she will keep for her own use every thing that I have left to her. She is not to part with a single article. To my dear Wilfred I leave all the furniture books pictures plate ??? plate China House linen & whatever money or property I may possess on condition that he takes care of and provides fo as far as he is able Mary Ellen Jones & Catherine Wood as far as he is able as long as they live.
My father has some of the miniatures Anna mentions, for example the Reverend Edmund Dana and the Reverend Dr Grueber. He also has “the little dog lying on a red cushion which [Charlotte Frances] worked.” When I was a child this tapestry – later left to my grandfather Geoff CdeC by Viola’s younger sister Rose Beggs née Champion de Crespigny – hung in my bedroom.
State Library South Australia Records of Sir Trent de CrespignyNumber ACC 2898
William Barnston (1592-1665) of Churton, a village some seven miles/twelve kilometres south of Chester, was among the royalist defenders of that city against the attacks of parliamentary forces and the final siege of 1645-1646. He was imprisoned for a time after the Civil War and was obliged to pay a fine to the Interregnum government before he could return to his estates. The area had suffered heavy damage during the war, but soon after the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 Barnston was able to rebuild his parish church of St Chad at nearby Farndon, and he added a chapel with a memorial panel to his experience of the war and a window commemorating his comrades of Chester.
After general conflict in Cheshire between royalists and parliamentarians, the parliamentarian forces under Sir William Brereton (1604-1661) established supremacy in the county. Chester, held out as a royalist stronghold, however, and was important as an entry-port for troops from Wales and Ireland. After some early attacks in 1643 and 1644, full siege was laid in September 1645. The city held out for several months, repelling many assaults, but as supply lines were cut the people were faced with starvation, and the garrison surrendered in February of the following year.
After three and a half centuries it is not surprising that the Farndon window has suffered damage and decay: one panel at the top is missing and many details are blurred. By good fortune, however, a coloured copy was made in the early nineteenth century and an engraving of it was published in Ormerod’s History of Cheshire:
In the Barnston chancel …[is] a curious historical subject, which was rescued from a state of extreme decay, and repaired at the expence of the late dean of Chester. It is represented in the attached engraving, on a scale reduced about two-thirds from a fac-simile drawing, which was executed under the inspection of the dean, when the glass was in his possession.
The Dean of Chester was Hugh Cholmondeley (1773-1815), who held that office at Chester Cathedral from 1806 until his death, four years before Ormerod published his History. In the engraving, the blank panel at the top is occupied by a title sheet with an attribution to his patronage.
The engraving is presented on a two-page spread-sheet. It is certainly clearer than the photographs, and given that it was prepared under supervision we may accept it as a fair reproduction. A full copy appears at the end; details are used for comparison and clarification in this essay.
The window is divided into four registers, with four larger panels in the centre, four each across the top and bottom, and four each again in column on either side. Since the overall measurement is no more than 28 inches/72 centimetres high and 18 inches/46 centimetres wide, the twenty pictures are all quite small.
The four central panels have a display of arms, armour and other equipment, and the one in the upper left also shows an officer standing outside a tent and carrying a baton of command. From the shield part-hidden behind him: or, three mallets sable [yellow, with three black wooden hammers], he can be identified as Sir Francis Gammul (1606-1654). A former mayor of Chester, when King Charles raised his standard at Nottingham and issued a call to arms in August 1642 he raised troops in the city and brought a contingent to join him. He played a leading role in the defence of the city and was made a baronet in 1644.
Eight small pictures on either side of the window show figures of armoured infantrymen with muskets and pikes, and in four larger pictures across the base there are a pikeman, a junior officer bearing a flag, a flute-player and a drummer. In his discussion of the window, Colonel Field notes that the figures are based upon contemporary drawings published in France by the engraver and water-colourist Abraham Bosse (c.1604-1676): styles were the same on both sides of the Channel.
Like Sir Francis Gamull, the flag-bearer can be identified by the shield in the corner of his picture: the shield is black, with three white greyhounds, surrounded by a white border [sable, three greyhounds courant argent, within a bordure of the last]. This was the insignia of the Berington family of Cheshire, and the top of the shield has a “label of three points” – a bar with three pendants – indicating that he is an eldest son whose father is still living.
The senior lineage of the Berington family had held the estates of Bradwall and Moores-barrow, a short distance southeast of Middlewich in Cheshire, but they passed by marriage to the Oldfield family in the late sixteenth century. A cadet branch, however, still held property at Warmingham, some five kilometres/three miles south of Middlewich, and Hugh Berington was baptised there in 1626. In 1644 Hugh would have been eighteen, and Ensign – equivalent to a second lieutenant at the present day – was an appropriate rank for a young gentleman.
The shield of the Grosvenor family, blue with a yellow sheaf of grain [azure, a garb or] is marked at the top by a label of three points, indicating that – like Ensign Berington above – Richard Grosvenor is the eldest son and his father is living.
A label also appears on the shield of William Mainwaring. In his case, however, his father Edmund was a second son, so the family shield of two red bars on a white ground [argent, two bars gules] is also differenced by a crescent for cadency.
The Barnston shield is complex: blue with an indented bar of speckled with black across the centre, and six complex yellow crosses [azure, a fess dancettée ermine between six cross-crosslets or (ermine is a formulaic rendering of the animal’s fur)]. It does not, however, have any marks of difference, so William Barnston was the head of his family.
The colours in the window have been affected by age and in several places they are uncertain. Where the Cholmondeley copy, for example, has sashes in differing colours and Gamull and Grosvenor with yellow coats, Field argues that all the sashes and the senior officers’ jackets were originally red. With the handsome headgear, this was parade dress; Barnston, however, was wearing the long, close-fitting “buff coat” of heavy leather, often made from buffalo- or ox-hide, which gave basic protection in combat.
As pictured in the side columns of the window, some pikemen bore half-armour of metal plate over the leather. Such corselets, however, were heavy to wear and were going out of use, while musketeers had sufficient problems with their weapons. Two shown in the side panels are holding “matchlocks,” dangerous and erratic and requiring a pole to rest upon, but even the new, lighter “firelocks” shown in the other pictures were awkward to manage. Horsemen, like William Mainwaring’s cousin Philip, carried pistols and swords and were often armoured, but the soldiers in the Farndon window were defending a city and had no use for cavalry.
William Barnston, who had the Farndon window made in the early 1660s, has already been discussed, while nothing more is known of Ensign Berington – even his identification as the Hugh Berington baptised at Warmingham in 1626 is uncertain. We can, however, offer a brief account of the other officers shown in the window:
Following the surrender of Chester in 1646, Sir Francis Gamull was able to compound for his estates, but in 1654 he joined a rising against the newly-established Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. The rebellion was defeated and Francis Gamull was executed. He left no sons, and the baronetcy was extinguished.
The Grosvenor family of Eaton Hall in Eccleston, just to the south of Chester, were leading gentry of the county. As a member of Parliament in the 1620s, Sir Richard Grosvenor (1585-1645) had been a strong supporter of the royal interest, and he had been made a baronet by King Charles in 1622. His son, also Richard Grosvenor (c.1604-1665) was High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1643 and raised troops in the royal cause.
Richard Grosvenor succeeded to the baronetcy at his father’s death in 1645, and later generations of the family became increasingly successful and prosperous. The present-day Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, one of the wealthiest men in England, is a direct descendant, and Eaton Hall in Cheshire is his country house.
William Mainwaring (c.1616-1645) had been a Sergeant-Major of the troop brought by Sir Francis Gamull to join the king’s forces when he raised his standard at Nottingham in 1642. William took part in the campaign which led to the battle of Edgehill on 23 October, first engagement of the civil war, and he was knighted by the king at Oxford in January of the following year.
William’s father Edmund (1579-c.1650) was a younger son of Sir Randle Mainwaring of Over Peover (d.1612), some fifty kilometres/thirty miles east of Chester. While many gentlemen of the time determined their allegiance in the war through family interest and local alliances rather than by any political or religious conviction, the Mainwarings were divided. Philip Mainwaring of Over Peover, whose armour is shown above, was a son of Sir Randle and first cousin of William, but as William defended Chester for the king Philip was commanding a troop of cavalry in the parliamentary army.
Sir William Mainwaring was killed in October 1645, fighting on the walls of Chester. It was reported that he had been wounded by musket-shot under the arm and died on the following day. His widow Hester was left with two daughters and an infant son, who died a few months later. The elder daughter Hester had no children, but Judith married John Busby, who was knighted by Charles II in recognition of the service given by his father-in-law, and their daughter Hester married Thomas Egerton of Tatton Park near Knutsford in Cheshire; her descendants became barons and earls.
 There is a general history of the war in Cheshire in The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester: compiled from original evidences in public offices, the Harleian and Cottonian mss., parochial registers, private muniments, unpublished ms. collections of successive Cheshire antiquaries, and a personal survey of every township in the county; incorporated with a republication of King’s Vale Royal, and Leycester’s Cheshire Antiquities, by George Ormerod (1785-1873), 3 volumes, Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Jones, London 1819 [archive.org] Ormerod, History I, xxxv-xxxviii, and a modern account in “Early Modern Chester 1550-1762: the civil war and interregnum, 1642-60,” 115-125; digitised by British History Online [BHO] from A History of the County of Chester, Volume 5 Part 1 “The City of Chester: General History and Topography,” published by Victoria County History, London 2003; online at british-history.ac.uk/vch/ches/vol5/pt1/pp115-125.
 After the victory of Parliament in the civil war, gentlemen who had fought on the royalist side did not suffer a direct confiscation of their estates, but had to pay in order to keep them. The process was known as “compounding.”
 The window is discussed, with photographs, at the following websites:
There is also an article on “Army Uniforms in a Stained Glass Window in Farndon Church, Cheshire – temp Charles I,” by Colonel C Field, in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research V.22, 174-177 [https://www.jstor.org/stable/44227597].
I also acknowledge the most impressive and helpful site cheshire-heraldry.org.uk, described as “A web site dedicated to the art and science of heraldry in the County Palatine of Chester.” It provides a quantity of information, with excellent sources, and has impressive illustrations.
Ormerod, History II, page 408. This introductory paragraph is followed by another with a description of the contents, which has been drawn upon for some of the discussion which follows.
 His dates of appointment are given by Ormerod, History I, 221. Reproductions from the engraving are referred to below as the Cholmondeley copy.
 Ormerod notes disagreement whether Sir Francis received a baronetcy or only a knighthood, and the shield in the window is unclear, but the Cholmondeley copy shows the red hand, insignia of baronetcy, in the centre of his shield.
 “Army Uniforms,” 175. He suggests that five bars [Gamull and Grosvenor] may have indicated a colonel, four [Mainwaring] a lieutenant-colonel, and three [Barnston]
 “… two men of Captain Mainwaring:” Alice Thornton, quoted in Roger Hudson [editor], The Grand Quarrel: from the Civil War memoirs of Mrs Lucy Hutchison; Mrs Alice Thornton; Ann, Lady Fanshawe; Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle; Anne, Lady Halkett, & the letters of Brilliana, Lady Harley, Folio Society, London 1993, page 92.
 Summary accounts of weapons, armour and tactics at this time appear in Austin Woolrych, Battles of the English Civil War, published first by Batsford, London 1961, then by Pan 1966, at 100-101; and William Seymour, Battles in Britain and their political background, volume 2 (1642-1746), Sidgwick and Jackson, London 1975 and Book Club Associates 1976, at 26-27.
My paternal grandfather, Richard Geoffrey Champion de Crespigny, oldest son of Constantine Trent Champion De Crespigny (1882-1952) and Beatrix Champion de Crespigny née Hughes (1884 -1943), was born in Glenthompson, Victoria, on 16 June 1907. He died in Adelaide, South Australia, on 12 February 1966. Today is the 113th anniversary of his birthday.
Geoff’s father was in private medical practice in Glenthompson from 1906 having previously worked for several years in Melbourne hospitals after graduation. In 1909 he took up the position of Superintendant of the Adelaide Hospital and the family moved to Adelaide. Geoff’s sister Nancy was born in Adelaide in 1910.
In 1933 Geoff married Kathleen Cudmore. They had one son, Rafe.
In 1939 Geoff enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served in the Middle East and New Guinea rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. His extended period of nine months in Tobruk, earned the nickname of `The old man of Tobruk’.
After graduating from Melbourne University in 1930 Geoff was a resident medical officer at the Adelaide Hospital from 1931 and then undertook postgraduate studies in England in 1932. On his return to Adelaide he took up general practice. He specialised in paediatrics and was on the Honorary Staff of the Adelaide Childrens’ Hospital from 1936. He was admitted to the Royal Australian College of Physicians in 1938 and made a Fellow in 1953. He gave up private practice in 1960 to take on the role of Medical Director of the Mothers’ and Babies’ Health Association. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1960 and in that year he was President of the South Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association.
In December 1965 he suddenly became ill and died less than two months later on 12 February 1966 of a brain tumour.
England has so many people waiting for other people to die.”
Kathleen Cavenagh Symes nee Cudmore (1908-2013)
On 4 January 1901 Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny nee Dana, then living at Beaufort in Victoria, wrote to her daughter Ada in Melbourne with news of their English cousins and a letter describing their sad disappointment:
I send you poor Gwen’s letter… I am so sorry for them and it is very hard to lose so much money. Y[ou]r Uncle G[eorge Blicke] thinking Harry provided for by this wealthy man who adopted him, and Harry Trent, his godfather, left him nothing, Georgina getting George’s money.
“Gwen” was Gwendolyn Blanche Champion de Crespigny nee Clarke-Thornhill (1864-1923), who was the wife of George Harrison CdeC (1863-1945), known as Harry; they had married in 1890 and had three children. Harry was the son of George Blicke CdeC (1815-1893), an elder brother of Charlotte Frances’ late husband Philip Robert (1817-1889), so he was Charlotte Frances’ nephew by marriage.
The indication from Charlotte Frances letter is that since Harry CdeC was expected to receive a considerable legacy, his father George Blicke had bequeathed his own property to his daughter Georgina Elizabeth, Harry’s sister. She duly inherited after his death in 1893, but when Harry CdeC’s godfather Harry Trent died in 1899 it turned out that he had left nothing to his godson. So Harry CdeC and Gwen gained nothing from either source.
Gwen’s original letter has now been lost, however, and without its guidance Charlotte Frances’ text is misleading as it stands. The facts were a good deal more complex.
George Blicke ChC (1815-1893) second son of Charles Fox ChC (1785-1875), joined the Twentieth Regiment of Foot in the British army and rose to be Paymaster in the School of Musketry at Hythe in Kent, retiring with the rank of Colonel; he died at neighbouring Folkestone in 1893. In 1851 he had married Elizabeth Jane Buchanan, daughter of a leading lawyer in Montreal, Canada. Of their three children, Julia Constantia was born in 1852 and died in 1876, and Georgina Elizabeth was born in 1856 and died in 1938; neither married. George Harrison was their third child and only son.
In 1890 George Harrison CdeC married Gwendolyn Blanche Clarke-Thornhill. They had one son, George Arthur Oscar (1894-1962), and two daughters: Mildred Frances (1892-1946), who would marry a Major Harold Cartwright; and Gwendolyn Sybil (1900-1967), known as “Guinea,” who never married. Charlotte Frances had received photographs of the two elder children in February 1900, but Gwendolyn Sybil was not born until the following December; the letter from Gwen which Charlotte Frances discusses on 4 January 1901 must have been written in the last weeks of pregnancy.
The godfather of George Harrison CdeC was Harrison Walke John Trent (1830-1899); both godfather and godson were known as Harry.
Harry Trent was the son of Francis Onslow Trent (1797-1846) and the grandson of John Trent (1770-1796) of Dillington House in Somerset. Eliza Julia, wife of Charles Fox ChC, was the daughter of John Trent and the sister of Francis Onslow, so her three sons George Blicke, his elder brother Charles John and his younger brother Philip Robert, were Harry Trent’s first cousins. Harry’s grandfather John Trent had held property in Barbados, both in his own right and through his wife Judith nee Sober, but very little money had passed to later generations: a court case in 1804 found that the Dillington estate had limited value, and when Harry Trent’s grandmother Judith died in 1871 her property was less than £2000.
Harry Trent had joined the Sixty-Eighth Foot – the Durham Light Infantry; he was awarded medals in the New Zealand wars of 1864-66, and became Colonel in command of the School of Musketry where George Blicke ChC had been Paymaster.
Harry Trent did not marry until 1889, when he was aged fifty-nine. His wife Rose nee Plunkett was a sister of Frances the third wife of Charles John CdeC, elder brother of George Blicke, so there was already a family connection.
Rose had previously been married to Anthony Stoughton of Owlpen House in Gloucestershire, a wealthy landowner, Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of the county. He died in 1886, leaving an estate probated at more than £14,000, and his widow received the bulk of that property. When Harry Trent married Rose three years later he obtained royal licence to take the name of Stoughton-Trent – a mark of the importance of the Stoughton inheritance – and when he died in 1899 his personal property was valued at just £1400, with his wife as executor and principal beneficiary. Rose had no children by either marriage, but lived a presumably wealthy widow until 1926.
Since most of the money was his wife’s, it does not appear that Harry Trent had a great deal to leave his godson. There may have been a token of goodwill, but nothing substantial.
While neither the Trent nor the CdeC families were particularly well off at this time, Harry CdeC’s wife Gwendolyn came from a prosperous background.
Gwendolyn’s father, born William Capel Clarke, married the heiress Clara Thornhill in 1855 and added her surname to his own. Their first child, Thomas Bryan, was born in 1857, and five more followed in the next six years. Gwendolyn, the youngest, was born at Eaton Square – a good London address – and her mother Clara died three months after her birth.
William Capel Clarke-Thornhill inherited his wife’s estate, which included the very large Rushton Hall in Northamptonshire with other properties in the country and in London, and he was a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of the county. Gwendolyn went to a private school at Brighton, and in the census of 1881 the staff at Rushton Hall numbered eighteen, while two porter’s lodges and other houses on the estate gave accommodation to gardeners, labourers and other servants. The house remained in the family until the 1930s, then became a school and is now a hotel.
Harry CdeC himself, moreover, may fairly be said to have had great expectations, for he had been adopted by Oscar William Holden Hambrough, the owner of Pipewell Hall, which was close to the Clarke-Thornhills’ property at Rushton Hall in the parish of Desborough. It is not known how Harry became acquainted with his patron, nor why the arrangement was made. It may have been through neighbourly connection, but it happened that the Hambroughs were linked by marriage to the Windsor family which held the earldom of Plymouth – and the baronet lineage of the Champions de Crespigny had also married with the Windsors. Though the connection was distant, Harry CdeC was considered to be a cousin.
Oscar had been born in 1825 on the Isle of Wight, where his father John Hambrough built Steephill Castle in Victorian baronial style. John died in 1863, leaving the castle to the family of his eldest son Arthur, who had died two years earlier, but Oscar received Pipewell Hall. As a leading landholder of Northamptonshire he became a Justice of the Peace and served a term as Deputy Lieutenant of the county.
In 1859 Oscar had married Caroline Mary Hood, daughter of the third Viscount Hood and descended from a noted admiral of the eighteenth century. The couple had no children, and Caroline died in January 1890.
In 1864 Oscar obtained royal licence to take the name of Holden Hambrough. His grandfather John had married Catherine Holden, daughter of a Lancashire family, and combined their surnames, but his son had chosen to drop the addition. Oscar now revived the connection, no doubt in part to distinguish himself from his brother’s lineage.
For his part, George Harrison CdeC was listed with the surname Champion de Crespigny in census records until 1881, but when he married Gwendolyn Clarke-Thornhill at Rushton on 18 December 1890 the parish recorded his surname as Champion Holden de Crespigny. We may assume that the adoptive relationship had been established in the course of that year, and George Harrison took the additional surname – albeit in curious and clumsy fashion – as acknowledgement of his new patron. Harry and Gwen’s only son, born in 1894, was christened George Arthur Oscar with the surname Champion-Holden de Crespigny.
A newspaper entry of 1893 summarises the situation, commencing with Dudley Arthur, the son of Oscar’s elder brother:
…Mr Dudley Arthur Hambrough … represents the elder branch of the Hambroughs of Steephill Castle, Isle of Wight, and Pipewell Hall, near Kettering, Northants. Mr D A Hambrough’s great-grandfather [John (1754-1831)] married into the good old Lancashire family, the Holdens of Holden, and added their surname to his own; but this distinction was dropped by Mr Hambrough’s grandfather [John (1793-1863)]. The latter, however, bequeathed the Pipewell property to his younger son, who revived the double patronymic, and still survives as Mr Oscar William Holden-Hambrough. He is married to the only daughter of the late Viscount Hood and sister of the present peer, and, having no issue, he is understood to have adopted as his heir Mr George Champion de Crespigny, a remote cousin of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny, the Essex baronet.
Oscar Holden Hambrough had properties in London and elsewhere, and in the census taken on 5 April 1891 Harry and Gwen are recorded at Pipewell Hall with the surname Champion Holden de Crespigny. There were five servants in the house: a butler, a lady’s maid, a cook and two housemaids, with other workers on the estate housed separately. Though adequate for a new family, this was a much smaller establishment than the one maintained by Oscar Holden Hambrough ten years before: the census of 1881 had listed a staff of fourteen, including kitchen, laundry and scullery maids supervised by a house-keeper, together with footmen, a coachman and grooms – almost as many as the complement of eighteen at Rushton Hall.
Some time later, Oscar returned to Pipewell, and Harry and Gwen moved to the Manor House in Desborough itself. Now known as the Old Manor House, it is a substantial building of the seventeenth century, and though smaller than their previous accommodation it was not inappropriate to their needs and could be regarded as a place in waiting for the future residents of Pipewell Hall.
When Oscar died in 1900, however, the provisions of his will were somewhat unexpected. They were summarised by the Northampton Mercury:
Whereas Harry and Gwen had evidently believed that he would be the chief legatee, he now received only a life interest in some furniture – whatever that may have meant in practical terms – and a pension from the income of the lands at Desborough. It was not ungenerous, but it was not what they had hoped for and – allowing for the time that letters took to reach Australia by ship – Gwen was writing to Charlotte Frances quite soon after the provisions of the will were known.
The will itself must have been prepared some time earlier, for Oscar’s younger brother Windsor Edward, a clergyman, had died in November 1899. He was not wealthy – his estate was probated at just £156 – so the pension of £1 a week was not generous, while it appears that Oscar had no interest in his two nephews and a niece.
At the same time, the appointment of Otho as residuary legatee was a reasonable balance between Oscar’s obligations to his adoptive son and to his natural family. Otho was the fourth son of Oscar’s brother Albert John, but two older brothers were dead; by this means, once the life interest and trust had expired, all property would revert to the Hambrough lineage. In the event, Otho died in 1925, leaving no children, but George Harrison CdeC lived until 1945.
In immediate terms, the will must have been a disappointment: a life pension and a collection of furniture is not the same as full ownership of a large house with extensive grounds. Two further blows came at much the same time. Harry’s godfather Harry Trent died in August 1899, one month before Oscar Holden Hambrough, and he too left no substantial legacy – he had, as we have seen, limited money of his own; and Gwen’s father William Capel Clarke-Thornhill had died in June the year before, leaving an estate valued for probate at more than £100,000. Most of that property was real estate and the principal legatee and executor was naturally his eldest son Thomas Bryan; Gwen would already have received a marriage settlement, which meant she had small claim to more – and Harry’s expectations would have meant that her father, like Harry’s, felt there was no need. It must nonetheless have been galling to see her family home so near and yet so far removed.
On the other side of the family, when Harry’s father George Blicke CdeC died in 1893, his estate was passed for probate with a value of just £25; one must assume he had already passed most of his property to Harry’s sister Georgina. She died unmarried in 1938, with rather more than £11,000, and the major beneficiaries were her two nieces, Mildred Frances and Gwendolyn Sibyl, the daughters of Harry and Gwendolyn.
So Gwen and Harry had not done badly, but their immediate situation was disappointing. When the census was held on 31 March 1901, six months after the death of Oscar Holden Hambrough, the family was living at a house in Kettering named Bryher on a street named Headlands: husband and wife, three children – one aged three months – and three servants: a cook, a parlourmaid and a nurse for the baby. This was surely not the accommodation or the circumstances which they had expected. Not entirely surprisingly, the surname has reverted to Champion de Crespigny, without the Holden, while the six-year-old boy is listed as George A, with no mention of his first baptised name of Oscar; he would later be known as Arthur.
At the same time, however, by one route or another – possibly as a non-valued item in his father’s deceased estate – Harry had obtained the portrait of Dorothy nee Scott, mother of Charles Fox CdeC, which had been painted by the noted artist George Romney in 1790, and on 27 April 1901 the painting was sold at Christies for £5,880. Such an amount would have purchased a large house and land, and the proceeds were used to lease the Hall at Burton Latimer, a fine Elizabethan building in a village just east of Kettering. In another letter, written on Boxing Day 1902, Charlotte Frances expressed surprise that Harry had sold [the portrait of] his great-grandmother, but she admired the photograph of their house.
The staff now included a proper complement of servants, including a butler, a governess, a cook and maidservants, and three gardeners to keep the grounds in trim. Harry was a justice of the peace and an honorary colonel in the local militia, while Gwen – short and stout, with a formidable personality – was an energetic lady of the manor, holding garden parties for the aristocracy and gentry and quarrelling with the vicar of the local church.
So – with a little help from Harry’s great-grandmother – all ended well.
After the departure from Burton Latimer of the Villiers about 1904, the Hall was leased to Colonel and Mrs. George Harrison Champion de Crespigny who had three children, Arthur, Mildred and Gwendoline.
Col de C, a tall handsome man with a distinguished military bearing, was later appointed a magistrate for the Kettering bench. His wife was a short stout lady of very strong character who had been born a Clark-Thornhill of Rushton Hall.
Life at the Hall in those days was kept up in style, with a butler, two cooks and several house and parlour maids. Three gardeners maintained the grounds in a beautiful state – the lawns velvet smooth, the yew hedges clipped and the long herbaceous borders a riot of colour. The gardens were often opened for parties and charitable events.
Arthur was a Lieutenant in the Northamptonshire Regiment during the first world war and at home he had a favourite King Charles spaniel named “Pincher”.
Mildred was very fond of painting and about 1907 a well known artist, a Mr. Stannard stayed at the Hall to give lessons to the young ladies: some of their friends were also invited to join them at classes, and one was Mabel Talbutt the baker’s daughter from Church Street. Several of their paintings have survived, also Mildred’s easel.
Mrs. De C had her own little buggy or trap drawn by a brown pony which would take her into Burton or Kettering . Canon G.L. Richardson (Rector 1911-1920) incurred Mrs. De C’s displeasure one Sunday morning at Matins when he criticised in his sermon, people who preferred to be in their potting sheds rather than at church.
Col de C was fond of plants and also was not a regular churchgoer – so his wife took this as a personal slight – standing up in her pew she glared at the Rector and marched out of the church to the surprise and awe no doubt of the congregation.
Another unfortunate occasion in church – Mrs. De C arrived for service and was very annoyed to see a strange woman sitting in her pew. Not saying a word she sat very close to the unsuspecting visitor, but every time it was necessary to stand up to sing or kneel to pray, the “interloper” was gradually eased out into the aisle, until she had to find herself somewhere else to sit.
The great blizzard of March 1916 brought Mrs. De C out of doors on foot to make a call in Church Street, being heavily clad in furs and a cape, not to mention the large hat, she was probably not easily recognisable to the cheeky young machinists at Hart and Levy’s factory in Bakehouse Lane, who called out of the windows and poked fun at her. But the furious lady stopped in her tracks and let forth such language that the windows were hastily closed.
 His obituary was published by the Folkestone Express, Sandgate, Shorncliffe & Hythe Advertiser on 8 July.
 His obituary was published by the Bristol Times and Mirror on 5 August 1899.
 Wikipedia mentions a claim that Charles Dickens was a friend of Clare Clarke-Thornhill, that he visited Rushton Hall on several occasions, and that it became the model of Satis House, the residence of Miss Havisham in his novel Great Expectations.
However, since Dickens was born in 1812, he was twenty-four years older than Clara, and she was married at the age of nineteen. It is doubtful that her wifely and motherly duties would have allowed her much time to make his acquaintance, so the story is unlikely. Restoration House in Rochester, Kent, is a more convincing candidate for the original model.
 The house was demolished in the early 1960s and the land is now a housing estate: see Wikipedia and also “The Forgotten Castle” by David Paul (originally published in Wight Life, August/September 1973) at round-the-island.co.uk.
 The name appears sometimes with a hyphen – as Holden-Hambrough – and sometimes without: e.g. Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, 1898 edition at 717; and Kelly’s Directory of the same year, cited in note 9.
On 22 May we drove from our B&B at Troston in Suffolk to our next stay, a small rented house in Lewes, Sussex. We went via Ipswich and Maldon, crossing the Thames at Dartford. The weather continued glorious: sunny and warm but not hot, with clear skies and a pleasant breeze.
Ipswich, once an important seaport on the River Orwell, was the home of some of my Fonnereau forebears. In 1734 my 7th great grandfather, Claude Fonnereau (1677 – 1740) purchased and moved with his family to Christchurch Mansion, an imposing three-storey edifice with a large park, just a few streets from the centre of the town.
Since 1885 the Mansion has been a public museum. We were given an excellent tour, our guide, friendly and knowledgeable, doing all he could to make the Fonnereau relatives from Down Under welcome. In her diary my daughter wrote:
“In Ipswich we visited the Christchurch Mansion. This mansion was owned by the Fonnereaus who married the de Crespignys. Mummy was delighted by this mansion and went on a long tour and took lots of photos of portraits. The rest of us humoured her and were very patient.”
Claude Fonnereau (1677-1740) my 7th great grandfather
One of the paintings above the doors on the landing. These may be the daughters of Claude Fonnereau one of whom was my 6th great grandmother Anne Champion de Crespigny née Fonnereau (1704 – 1782) – perhaps this is her portrait.
hatchments for Rev. Dr. Claudius Fonnereau died 1785 and Rev. Charles William Fonnereau died 1840
From Ipswich we drove on to Great Totham, in Essex near Maldon. Champion Lodge, nearby, was once the home of Sir Claude de Crespigny (1847 – 1935), the fourth baronet, my fourth cousin three times removed. It is now a nursing home, not open to the public. We had lunch on the sunny terrace of a village pub.
Totham Lodge Care Home
gates of the former Champion Lodge
pub at Great Totham
a really excellent sandwich
There had been a family mausoleum at Champion Lodge but when the estate was sold in the 1940s the mausoleum was destroyed, with the remains of those buried there reinterred at St Andrew’s Hatfield Peverel, near Maldon.
St Andrew’s Hatfield Peverel with Champion de Crespigny graves
Surprisingly, the various church inscriptions at St Andrew’s make no mention of the Champion de Crespignys. It appears that the family worshipped at St Peter’s Church Great Totham, where they had a private pew. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit St Peter’s, where there are many de Crespigny monuments and memorials. I do not know why the family graves were moved to Hatfield Peverel, not Great Totham.
Continuing south, we crossed the Thames at Dartford. The Dartford Crossing bridge – the crossing also has two tunnels – soars 200 feet over the river. Sorry; the great views going over were poorly captured by the photographer.
the highway south
Late in the afternoon we reached Lewes (pronounced ‘Lewers’), a very pretty town about ten miles inland from Brighton. Our house there was clean and comfortable but it was difficult to get to, approachable only by a series of one-way narrow lanes, known in Sussex as ‘twittens‘. The word has a Germanic root meaning ‘alley’; Greg thought it might be something to do with scratches on the paintwork of a hired German car. Ours was a Mercedes; we squeaked through with a just a single layer of black paint to spare.
All four grandparents and seven of the eight great grandparents of Philip Champion de Crespigny were Huguenot refugees. Philip was my 5th great grandfather. His Huguenot forebears are highlighted in purple on this fan chart. His great grandparents are some of my 8th great grandparents.
When Louis XIV revoked the Edict he claimed it was no longer needed because there were no Huguenots left in his kingdom and so their special privileges had become unnecessary. He had been persecuting Huguenots for some time, but in 1681 the campaign against them entered a new phase. Louis instituted a policy of ‘Dragonnades‘, meant to intimidate Huguenot families into either leaving France or returning to Catholicism. The policy, in part, instructed officers in charge of travelling troops to select Huguenot households for their billets and to order the soldiers to behave as badly as they could. Soldiers damaged the houses, ruined furniture and personal possessions, and attacked the men and abused the women. Huguenots could escape this persecution only by conversion or by fleeing France.
Protestant engraving representing ‘les dragonnades’ in France under Louis XIV From: Musée internationale de la Réforme protestante, Geneva and retrieved through Wikimedia Commons.
It is estimated that some 50,000 Huguenots fled France to England. Others settled in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brandenburg-Prussia, Ireland, and America. It was illegal for Protestants to leave France. The borders were guarded, and disguise and other stratagems were employed to get across.
The majority of the refugees established themselves both as members of the French community in England and also as British subjects. There were three stages to the process: reception by a church in England, grant of denization or permanent residence by the British government, and formal naturalisation. Denization and naturalization required an Act of Parliament, and those seeking naturalization had to present a certificate confirming that they had received the sacraments according to the rites of the Church of England.
When they arrived in London, many Huguenot refugees presented their credentials, ‘Témoignages‘, which were documents from a previous congregation witnessing that the holder was a member of the Reformed Religion, Calvinist Protestantism. With this they could be received into a new congregation. The document gave an indication of when the family had arrived and from where.
Noon: Plate II from Four Times of the Day by William Hogarth 1736. The scene takes place in Hog Lane, part of the slum district of St Giles with the church of St Giles in the Fields in the background. The picture shows Huguenots leaving the French Church in what is now Soho. Hogarth contrasts the fussiness and high fashion of the Huguenots with the slovenliness of the group on the other side of the road. The older members of the congregation wear traditional dress, while the younger members wear the fashions of the day. Retrieved from Wikipedia.
The de Crespigny family presented their témoignages credentials at various times. Claude Champion Crespigny (1620-1695) and his wife Marie née de Vierville (1628-1708), my eighth great grandparents, and four of their children: Pierre, Suzanne, Renee and Jeanne, registered their témoignages on 30 June 1687 at the Savoy Church in the West End of London. The two elder daughters Marguerite and Marie were already married and travelled separately. My 7th great grandfather Thomas Champion de Crespigny and his brother Gabriel had been sent separately to England by their parents when they were about 12 years old; Thomas in 1676 and Gabriel in 1678.
The next step was to obtain denization. A denizen was neither a subject (with nationality) nor an alien, but had a status akin to permanent residency today. A denizen had the important right to hold land.
All eight children of Claude and Marie became denizens of England by an Act of 5 March 1691. Their parents, however – Claude and Marie Champion de Crespigny – did not find it necessary it necessary to take that step.
Gabriel was naturalized on 12 March 1699, but Peter and Thomas waited until 1706. It is clear that this final step was not considered urgent: by 1706 Pierre had been in England for twenty years, Thomas and Gabriel perhaps ten years longer; and both held full commissions in the army. There is no mention of any women of the family being naturalised.
When Huguenot refugees first arrived in England they relied on private charity, but in 1689 the joint monarchs William and Mary inaugurated the Royal Bounty with funds from the Civil List – money allocated by Parliament for personal expenses of the royal family. The Bounty was later maintained by Acts of Parliament. During the reign of Queen Anne from 1702 to 1714 the program was known as the Queen’s Bounty. The list of recipients is held in the library at Lambeth Palace, and an extract copy was provided to our cousin Stephen Champion de Crespigny in 1986. In 1707 Marie and Renée – with the surname Champion de Crespigny – were living at 37 Wardour Street, Soho, and the amount of the pension was £18.
Claude and Marie died in London, Claude in 1695 and Marie in 1708. They are buried at Marylebone. Their gravestone indicates that they were refugees from France. Many other members of the family were buried at Marylebone in the family vault. The vault as not survived, but a copy of the headstone is in a garden of remembrance near the site of the old church.
from Rocque’s 1746 map of London. The orange arrow shows the Savoy Church. In the north west the pink arrow shows the church of St Mary le bone. The green arrow shows Wardour Street, the home of Marie and her daughter Renee and also Marie’s son Pierre. The blue arrow to the east shows Doctor’s Commons near St Paul’s Cathedral. John Rocque’s 1746 map of London can be explored at https://www.locatinglondon.org
Minet, William, and Susan Minet, Livre des conversions et reconnaisances faites à l’église françoise de la Savoye 1684-1702, transcribed and edited, Huguenot Society of London Publications XXII, 1914 [archive.org]
Shaw, William A, Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in England and Ireland 1603-1700, Huguenot Society of London Publications XVIII, 1911 [archive.org]
Shaw, William A, Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in England and Ireland 1701-1800, Huguenot Society of London Publications XXVII, 1923 [archive.org]
de Crespigny, Rafe Champions from Normandy : an essay on the early history of the Champion de Crespigny family 1350-1800 AD. Lilli Pilli, New South Wales Richard Rafe Champion de Crespigny, 2017. Can be viewed at Champions from Normandy
The youngest surviving child of Thomas and Magdelaine was Claude (1706 – 1782). In 1721, the same year his brother William died, Claude became a junior clerk in the South Sea Company. His mother probably could not afford to apprentice him to a lawyer like his brothers.
The South Sea Company had been established ten years previously. It was formally constituted as an enterprise to trade with South America and islands of the ‘South Seas’ – hence the name – but it in practice it quickly became an institution dealing in government finances, particularly the national debt. It was arranged that holders of official debt could be reimbursed with shares in the Company. The government paid annual interest and a fee, and the money was available for distribution as a dividend to shareholders. As payment of moneys owing to Thomas by the Government at the time of his death, Magdelaine Champion Crespigny received shares in the South Sea Company when her husband Thomas died.
The arrangement was in competition with the Bank of England. It was ingenious but it was open to corruption, and the celebrated “South Sea Bubble” of 1720 caused widespread financial ruin and brought down the government.
A parliamentary inquiry was held to determine why the bubble had burst. In the wake of this investigation, a number of politicians were disgraced, and people who were found to have profited immorally from the company had their personal assets confiscated in proportion to their gains (most had already been rich and remained so). Despite this, the Company was restructured and continued to operate.
Although most histories emphasise the Bubble and the Company’s position at the centre of the disaster, the South Sea Company continued to function for another 130 years, issuing shares to raise money, lending that money to the government, and using the interest received on the loan to pay dividends on the shares. No longer a source of reckless excitement among investors, it was a substantial organisation whose stock provided steady dividends. It was traded at a rate comparable to the East India Company and the Bank of England.
Claude Champion de Crespigny joined the company immediately after the 1720 collapse. He worked his way through the ranks, and ten years after joining, Claude, 25 years old, was appointed First Clerk in the office of the Secretary. reported in The Gentleman’s Magazine of April 1731. He was 25 years old.
In May 1745 an employee of the Company named Thomas Shuttleworth embezzled the very considerable sum of twenty thousand pounds and fled to Amsterdam. He was thought to be headed for Italy, and the directors offered two hundred pounds to anyone who captured him. They also sent Claude Crespigny, and it was reported in July that he had recovered a banker’s draft for ten thousand pounds originally intended for Mr Shuttleworth.
Claude Crespigny (1706–1782) by Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1684–1745) (attributed to) In the collection of Kelmarsh Hall and retrieved through artuk.org
In October 1753 The Gentleman’s Magazine reported that Claude Crespigny Esquire had been appointed Secretary of the South Sea Company, replacing the former Secretary, who had died in office. He was Secretary – Chief Executive Officer – of this major financial institution for almost thirty years before dying in office himself.
The location of the Old South Sea House on the corner of Bishopsgate and Threadneedle Streets is marked with a black x
de Crespigny, Rafe Champions from Normandy : an essay on the early history of the Champion de Crespigny family 1350-1800 AD. Lilli Pilli, New South Wales Richard Rafe Champion de Crespigny, 2017. Pages 140-7. Can be viewed at Champions from Normandy
In 1718 my 6th great grandfather Philip de Crespigny (1704 – 1765) was apprenticed to a proctor (lawyer) at the Arches Court of Canterbury named Charles Garrett. Philip’s widowed mother Magdalene Champion de Crespigny paid £126 ‘premium’ for this arrangement.
Philip’s older brother William had been appointed to a lawyer, a member of the Inner Temple, one of the Inns of Court. Philip was entering a different area of law to William. Had he not died an early death (in 1721) before he qualified, William would have gained the right to practice in the regular courts of England governed by Common Law, that is, law based on precedent and derived from judicial decisions of courts and similar tribunals.
The Arches Court, which Philip entered, was an ecclesiastical court that specialised in the legal practice of Civil Law based on the Roman tradition. This legal system originated in Europe, and was set within the framework of Roman law, with its core principles codified into a referable system serving as the foundation of its jurisprudence.
The intellectual framework of Common law systems, by contrast, is derived from judge-made decisional law, which gives precedential authority to prior court decisions.
Besides its jurisdiction over members of the clergy in the Province of Canterbury, governing all the southern part of England, the Court of Arches had authority over legal matters concerning inheritance and marriage, notably the probate of wills and questions of divorce. Oddly enough, practitioners were also authorised to deal with cases of admiralty law. Given that these commonly involved international affairs, admiralty law was based on Roman law rather than English Common Law. The separate jurisdiction developed in medieval times and continued into the nineteenth century.
The 1857 Act abolished separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction over wills and testaments, and a Matrimonial Causes Act created a new court to deal with divorce. Both these areas were now opened to practitioners of the Common Law, and members of the College lost their special authority. In 1859 an Act established the High Court of Admiralty too, and the remnant ecclesiastical matters handled by the Court of Arches were also abolished a few years later. The purpose of the College thus came to an end, and the buildings of Doctors Commons were demolished in 1865.
Proctors or procurators of the Court of Arches were analogous to solicitors, and entry to their ranks was based upon a seven-year term of service as an articled clerk. Since there were only thirty-four Proctors, and each was allowed just one such apprentice at a time, Philip was fortunate to have obtained a vacancy; there may have been family assistance [Mum ponied up 126 quid!]. Apprentices were required to have a good classical education, best provided by a grammar school, so someone in the family, probably his uncle Pierre Champion de Crespigny, had worked to prepare the young man for the opportunity.
Philip had a very successful career, culminating in his appointment as Procurator-General of the Court of Arches.
In 1731 he married Anne Fonnereau at St Paul’s Cathedral, not far from his offices at Doctor’s Commons. Their daughter Jane was baptised in 1733 at St Benet’s, Paul’s Wharf. Five of Jane’s siblings – Claude, Susan, Anne, Philip, and another Anne – were also baptised there.
Doctors Commons [circled] between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Thames. The church of St Benet’s Paul’s Wharf[e] is marked in blue. Detail from John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1720
Philip de Crespigny, indenture year 1718 : index record from FindMyPast record set Britain, country apprentices 1710-1808
De Crespigny, Rafe Champions from Normandy : an essay on the early history of the Champion de Crespigny family 1350-1800 AD. Lilli Pilli, New South Wales Richard Rafe Champion de Crespigny, 2017. Pages 147-9, 153. Can be viewed at Champions from Normandy
O’Day, Rosemary The professions in early modern England, 1450-1800 : servants of the commonweal. Longman, Harlow, 2000. Pages 156-157
Human frailty was daily laid bare in the Court proceedings. Two cases brought in 1699 and 1700 by Godfrey Lee, a proctor in the Court of Arches, against his wife Mary and her lover Charles Garrett, a fellow proctor, brought to light reports of ‘a frolique’ involving cross-dressing and the singing of ‘obscene and smutty songs’ in the garden of Lee’s house at Streatham. Perhaps Doctors’ Commons was inured to such tales; the careers of Lee and Garrett were unaffected and both rose to be senior proctors in the Court.
Among my paternal grandmother’s photographs is a casual shot of her father, Arthur Murray Cudmore, her future father in law, CTC de Crespigny, and Bronte Smeaton, another Adelaide doctor, in deckchairs on RMS Mooltan sailing to Lemnos in the Aegean, near Gallipoli, in 1915. Both Drs de Crespigny and Cudmore held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel: de Crespigny was Registrar and Secretary and Cudmore a consultant surgeon of the 3rd Australian Hospital.
Arthur Murray Cudmore with Trent de Crespigny [centre] & Bronte Smeaton [left] in 1915 at sea. Picture from my grandmother Kathleen née Cudmore’s scrapbook. (Kathleen later married the son of Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny.)
18 May 1915 Crowds of well-wishers farewell Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) personnel who have just embarked on the transport HMT Mooltan at Port Melbourne railway pier. Australian War Memorial image id C01009 retrieved from http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C01009/
In January 1916 the hospital closed. De Crespigny was put in charge of the 1st Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis. The staff of the hospital sailed for Marseilles in 1916 from Alexandria.
On 24 March 1916 Alice Ross King received her orders to sail to France. She and her fellow nurses from No. 1 Australian General Hospital waited on the pier at Alexandria, weighed down with the booty from a final shopping spree. One nurse had a canary in a cage. A captain was told to make sure all the nurses were on board the hospital ship Braemar Castle.‘Not knowing the AANS he told us to form a double row to “number off”,’ Alice recounted.‘He wanted 120. Each time he got a different number. He was terribly worried. Finally our big [commanding officer] Col De Crespigny came down the gangway to see what was the matter. In his tired voice he called out, “Sisters! Form a fairly straight line. Left turn! Get on board.” “Oh! Sir,” said Matron, “they are not all here.” “Then they’ll be left behind,” said our CO. Our first hard lesson! We had always been fussed over [and] spoilt before,’ Alice wrote, with a shade of overstatement. (Rees, Peter. The Other Anzacs: Nurses at War 1914-1918. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2008. Retrieved from https://epdf.pub/other-anzacs-the-nurses-at-war-1914-1918.html)
I never knew my great grandfather Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny, and my impression of him is derived from what my father can remember and other people’s memoirs. But this story, of him of directing people to get on with it, sounds characteristic. It certainly brings him to life for me.
Another shipboard anecdote is set in the journey home. My great grandfather, supposedly averse to brisk exercise, did his rounds of the deck very very slowly. But he met a satirical suggestion about his speed with a rapid retort:
My third great grandmother Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny née Dana, lived from 1820 to 1904, a period of great change in the political status of women.
Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny née Dana (1820 – 1904) photograph probably taken in the late 1850s
In 1902, when she was 82 years old, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 granted Australian women the right to vote and the right to stand for election to the Commonwealth Parliament.
When the list of voters was compiled, Charlotte was recorded on the Electoral Roll for the polling place of Beaufort, Division of Grampians, State of Victoria, as Charlotte Champion, living at Eurambeen, occupation home duties. (Eurambeen was about 11 kilometers west of Beaufort.) Also on the Roll were her daughters Viola Julia Champion and Helen Rosalie Beggs née Champion Crespigny, both also living at Eurambeen with the occupation of home duties.
The Commonwealth of Australia 1903 Electoral Roll for the polling place of Beaufort, Division of Grampians, State of Victoria, pages 2 and 3 showing the surnames of Beggs and Champion. Image retrieved from ancestry.com
Oddly, it appears that Charlotte and Viola were recorded twice. There are entries on page 4 of the roll for Crespigny Frances and Crespigny Constantia, also both of Eurambeen; Frances was Charlotte’s middle name and Constantia was Viola’s third given name. When names were collected for the roll the surname Champion Crespigny went over two lines and so did their given names. There was not enough space on the form: the result was two Roll entries each.
The Commonwealth of Australia 1903 Electoral Roll for the polling place of Beaufort, Division of Grampians, State of Victoria, pages 4 and 5 showing the surname Crespigny. Image retrieved from ancestry.com
On the 1909 roll Viola’s surname was changed to Crespigny, with her full name recorded as Crespigny, Viola Julia Con. C. At that time she living at St Marnocks with her sister and brother-in-law.
A Victorian state election was held in October 1902 but for this women were as yet not enfranchised. The next year, however, there was a Federal election on 16 December and Charlotte and her daughters were eligible to vote.
The Federal Division of Grampians was retained by the sitting member Thomas Skene (1845 – 1910) of the Free Trade Party, an anti-socialist party which advocated the abolition of tariffs and other restrictions on international trade.
Charlotte and her daughters, from a prosperous family of graziers, probably supported Skene, a pastoralist. Voting was not compulsory, however, and though she was entitled to vote, Charlotte was unwell and probably unable to travel to the polling station at Beaufort to cast her vote.
There was provision for postal voting but it was very complicated, with specific witnesses required.
All in all, the story of my great grandmother’s enfranchisement is not especially remarkable. She was not a fire-breathing suffragist, but an ordinary person who, late in life, accepted a new political privilege with no great fuss.
Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903 retrieved through ancestry.com first published by the Australian Electoral Commission