“Pink Hats on Gentle Ladies” Second edition by Vida and Daniel Clift

The second cousin of my grandfather Geoff de Crespigny was Vida Clift née Hopper-Cuthbert (1913 – 2007). She was my second cousin twice removed; our most recent common ancestors were Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (1819 -1867) and Jeanie Hutcheson (1824 – 1864). Vida’s grandfather was David Hawkins (1858 – 1922). Geoff de Crespigny’s grandmother was Jeanie Hughes née Hawkins (1862 – 1942).

David Hawkins and his family lived in New South Wales. Jeanie Hughes lived in Victoria. I do not know whether my grandfather Geoff ever met his second cousin Vida.

In 1974 Vida Clift compiled a family history, which she called “Pink Hats on Gentle Ladies”. Copies of the manuscript were deposited in the State Library of New South Wales and State Library Victoria.

In the Introduction she wrote:

History requires a considerable amount of time and investigation. As I had neither the time, nor the resources for this research, and had to depend on my very unreliable memory for much of the material, this record is, I considered to be neither complete, nor strictly accurate.

Some of the dates included, are open to question and apologies are made for any errors. 

However, material was obtained from old Parish records, Family Bibles and Birthday Books, old headstones, and printed records in the Public and Mitchell Libraries, Sydney; the National Library, Canberra; and the Archives Office of Tasmania.

Many people, relatives, friends, and even complete strangers assisted me by supplying relevant notes and reminiscences. To all who helped in any way, may I express my sincere gratitude.

Should you feel your family has been overlooked, or scantily recorded, it has not been done so intentionally. It is because the requested information has not been sent to me. In some instances, my requests for information were completely ignored, and I have included only those names and dates which, I believe to be accurate.

Although we appear to have had many distinguished ancestors, we ourselves, are who we are neither better nor worse for those ancestors. Although there may have been an odd scallywag here and there in the many families, I have not found any to include in this record, which I have endeavoured to keep accurate as far as possible. Nor is there anything in this book intended to hurt anyone.

This record has been compiled in the hope that future members of the families will keep it up to date. Some may perhaps research more deeply into the families who came from the Old Country. 

Younger members of the families will have a better opportunity than I will ever have, to go to England, Scotland or Ireland and delve into the past there, where the information should be available.

In 2017 Vida’s son Daniel wrote to me:

I have just been searching through the internet checking on some Hawkins Family history and I came across your details.

I too am a relative of Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins. (A great, great Grandson.)

My mother, (Vida Clift), was a daughter of Jessie Hawkins, whose father was David Hawkins, whose father was Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins.

Mother wrote a very incomplete family history, (Pink Hats on Gentle Ladies), and I am now endeavoring to continue the task, which is a very onerous one!

However, just thought I would drop a line and introduce myself.

We have been in correspondence over the last five years.

Daniel has now produced a second edition of his mother’s book, with corrections and additions. A digital copy is being made available on this website.

Introducing the second edition Daniel writes:

Some additional information and photographs have been added, including scallywags, due to the wonders of the Internet. 

Way back in 1973, mother told us she was going to write a book on our Family and all those individuals associated with our family.

To be honest, we had no interest at all at the time, and as is often the case, we now wish we had paid more attention to her efforts. My mother, (Vida), and my elder sister Barbara, could remember dates and names of relatives where they lived, who they married, where they were born and died. I do wish I had recorded all that information.

Now, I am the last one standing, (to quoin a phrase), and as such I am now engrossed in updating the original book and the information mother had gained.

As is stated in the original edition of her book – ‘Pink Hats on Gentle Ladies’, most of the information was gathered by ‘badgering’ family members and those ‘non’ family members into sharing their knowledge and recollections, searching manually through the Mitchel Library, State Archives, Cemetery and Church records.

Mother painstakingly proceeded to put all the information into some sort of chronological order and then typed the whole document using an old Remington typewriter and foolscap size paper!

I still have that original document.

After the book was printed, not published in the true sense of the word, copies were sold, mainly to the family and copies found their way into both the Mitchell Library and the State Library in Sydney. A copy has also found its way into the State Library of Victoria!

It is fortunate, one of the family members, a cousin, Barbara Hopper-Cuthbert, retyped the entire document into electronic format, thus enabling me to add information, photographs, and to correct information and explore the internet for much needed dates, particularly on Births, Deaths, and Marriages.

Original photographs were scanned, some were enhanced and have been included in this second edition.

There is, a lot of information that is incorrect, missing, and difficult to find.

An extensive source of information was gained from the Internet via a ‘web’ of sites dedicated to Family History, and the ability to explore the families of relatives, but, as Mother found, as have I, some questions asked seeking more information, have gone unanswered.

Reformatting the book proved to be far more difficult than I had imagined, asking myself should I change the format, or leave it alone?

I did however where possible, remove a lot of duplicate information and combine it into a single family with reference to the relevant families. Some information is duplicated because it refers to both sides of a family.

A lot of photographs became available from both my mother’s archives and other sources and where appropriate, have been included. I still have a Sea Chest and two filing cabinets full of family history!

Some information has also been included which may, or may not be applicable to the actual family history, but it is included for historical interest.

I undertook a DNA test through Ancestry, and that has brought the relatives ‘out of the woodwork’, which is much appreciated!

Through Ancestry, I have started a Family Tree, (Daniel Clift Family Tree), hopefully this will be available to anyone looking for information on the Clift side of the family, although it does include quite a few other families, some going back 12 generations.

As some family information is vague, I have removed it altogether.


Wikitree: Vida (Hopper-Cuthbert) Clift (1913 – 2007)

Alençon ancestors

Alençon is a town in Lower Normandy on the banks of the Sarthe River, 170 kilometers southwest of Paris.

Old town of Alençon.
Photograph taken in 2011 by David Merrett and retrieved through Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

The Protestant Reformation was preached in the Duchy of Alençon from 1524 and the town became a centre of the reform movement. In 1598, with the Edict of Nantes, King Henry IV gave limited protection to French Protestants (Huguenots), but with its revocation in 1685 by Louis XIV, Huguenots were open to persecution in France. Many left Alençon, emigrating to England, the Netherlands, and the Channel Islands.

Among these were my eighth great grandparents Israel Granger and his wife Marie Granger née Billon, their son René and daughters Marthe and Magdalen.

Israel Granger was an apothecary who had lived in Alençon, on the Rue de Sarthe. He was the son of Pierre Granger , Sieur des Noes, bourgeois of Alençon, and Suzanne Granger née Groustel. Israel was baptised on 4 March 1635. He married Marie Billon on 20 December 1662. Israel and Marie had nine children. Two daughters and one son lived to adulthood.

Israel Granger was prosecuted in 1685 for taking part in an illicit assembly in the woods of la Fuie des Vignes near Alençon. He and his family went to Paris and he was imprisoned for religious reasons. His
property was seized: land called La Bouillière and a house on rue de Sarthe. A decree of the King’s Council of March 20, 1789 (or 1790) ordered the release of these assets in favor of a woman named Marie Victory Jacqueline Duval de la Poterie.

On 14 July 1687 his daughters Magdalen, age 20, Marthe age 21, both of Alençon, made their Reconnaisances at the French Church of the Savoy in London. A Reconnaissance was a recognition of fault in attending a Catholic service and the public avowal of faith on admission to communion.

Savoy Chapel London photographed 2007
Image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons, taken by user Neddyseagoon (CC-BY-2.5)

René, son of Israel Granger, was commissioned as Ensign in the English army 1692, appointed on 25 February 1693 as ensign to Captain Taylor of Sir George St George’s Regiment of Foot. By 1698 he had been promoted to Lieutenant. In August 1699 Lieutenant René Granger, one of the officers of Matthew Bridges’s Regiment of Foot, received 2 shillings when the regiment was disbanded.  (Sir George St George’s Regiment of Foot became Sir Matthew Bridges’s Regiment of Foot when Sir Matthew Bridges became colonel. The regiment eventually became the 17th (Leicestershire) Regiment of Foot). In 1701 René was appointed as an ensign in Sir Matthew Bridges’s Regiment. In October he was appointed quartermaster. On 12 February 1702 he was appointed as Lieutenant to Captain George Withers.

Magdalen married Thomas Champion on 12 February 1695 at St Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street, City of London. They were both of the parish of St Anne, Westminster. Thomas, later known as Thomas Champion Crespigny, was an officer in the English army.

The Church of Saint Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street from The Churches of London by George Godwin (1839) retrieved through Wikimedia Commons

In January 1697 René, Marthe and Magdalen were mentioned in their father’s will. Israel died in 1700 and the will was proved in 1700 at London.

On 8 July 1699 Marthe married Florand Dauteuil at the French Chapel, Savoy, the Strand, London. They were married by licence issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 4 July. Florand Dauteuil was an officer in the English army.

In 1699 René was naturalised. He was stated to have been born at Alanson in Normandy, son of Israell Granger by Mary, his wife. He was attested by Isaac Eyme and John Peter DesBordes.

Mary’s will was drawn up in 1711. Her daughter Marthe had died but Mary left half her estate to Marthe’s three children by Florand D’Auteuil. The other half was left to her daughter Magdalen. René was not mentioned. He presumably had also died before 1711. Mary died in 1713.

Magdalen was widowed in 1712. She and Thomas had six children, two of whom died young. Her relatives by marriage, particularly her brother-in-law Pierre Champion de Crespigny, helped her financially.

Magdalen died in London in 1730.



Remembering E Walter Hughes (1854 – 1922)

Edward Walter Hughes, my great great grandfather, was born on 11 July 1854 in Noarlunga, South Australia, second of the eight children of Samuel Hughes and Sally Hughes née Plaisted.

On the 11th instant, at Kingston, Noarlunga, Mrs Samuel Hughes, of a son.

South Australian Register 13 July 1854

When he was two years old the family moved to Bendigo in Victoria, where his grandfather Edward Hughes was in the timber business. Samuel Hughes moved to Melbourne with his family where he set up an importing and timber merchant firm with the name ‘Hughes Lord & Co’.

Walter Hughes and his brother John went to school at Scotch College from 1867 – 69. In 1869 the family moved to Mount Gambier, in South Australia, where Samuel again founded a timber business.

In about 1870 Walter joined the National Bank of Australasia in South Australia; he ended up in charge of its Naracoorte branch. He resigned in 1873 when his father Samuel returned to Melbourne to establish Samuel Hughes & Co, Importers and Merchants. At this time, the family lived in Moonee Ponds.

In Melbourne, Walter, then nineteen, joined the Bank of Victoria. He was posted for some time to Dunolly as relieving officer, but by 1882 had returned to Melbourne.

Edward married Jeanie Hawkins in Dunolly on 25 September 1883.

HUGHES—HAWKINS.—On the 25th ult., at the Presbyterian Church, Dunolly by the Rev. J. W. Lawson, brother-in-law of the bride, Edward Walter, eldest son of Samuel Hughes, Tan-y-ffordd, Ascotvale, to Jeanie, youngest daughter of the late S. P. Hawkins, Melville Forest Station, Coleraine.

The Argus 2 October 1883

They had four children, the first two born in Melbourne, the second two in Beaufort, where Walter had been posted by the Bank of Victoria:

  • Beatrix 1884–1943
  • Reginald Hawkins 1886–1971
  • Vyvyan Westbury 1888–1916
  • Cedric Stuart Castlereagh 1893–1953
Walter and Jeanie’s four children – Reginald, Beatrix, Cedric and Vyvyan, in 1902
Early April 1916 – (back) Jeanie, Olive Hughes (Chatfield), Vyvyan, Walter (seated) and Beatrix de Crespigny (Hughes); (front) Nancy and Geoffrey de Crespigny
The Bank of Victoria in Beaufort in the 1890s – from Museum Victoria Reg. No: MM 001094
E. W. Hughes

Walter spent thirty-three years working for the Bank of Victoria in Beaufort. Busy in local affairs, he was described on his retirement due to ill-health in 1919 as “one of the most active residents of Beaufort”.

Over £50 was subscribed for the purpose of making a presentation to Mr E. W. Hughes (for 33 years manager of the Bank of Victoria, Beaufort) prior to his departure for Melbourne. A number of representative citizens met Mr and Mrs Hughes on Monday, and expressed their appreciation of their valuable services to the town and district. On behalf of the people of Beaufort and district, Mr J. R. Wotherspoon presented Mr Hughes with a pigeon blood ruby ring and a purse of sovereigns, and Cr R. A. D. Sinclair (shire president) presented Mrs Hughes with a solid leather travelling bag. Both gentlemen referred in eulogistic terms to the good qualities of Mr and Mrs Hughes as citizens, expressed regret at their departure, and wished them health, prosperity and happiness in the future. Their remarks were endorsed by Messrs E. J. Muntz, G. H. Cougle, and A. L. Wotherspoon. Mr and Mrs Hughes feelingly returned thanks.

The Ballarat Star 23 October 1919

On 2 July 1922 at his home at 19 Oakwood Avenue, Brighton, Walter died at the age of sixty-seven, from diabetes and heart failure. He was buried in Brighton Cemetery.

The remains of Mr. Edward Walter Hughes, 67, who died on Sunday at Oakwood avenue, North Brighton, were interred today in the Church of England portion of the Brighton Cemetery. The Rev. Perry Martin officiated at the graveside. Born in South Australia, Mr. Hughes had lived in Victoria for 50 years. He was manager of the Bank of Victoria at Beaufort for 30 years. He has left a widow, two sons, and a daughter. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Monkhouse and Son.

The Herald (Melbourne, Victoria) 4 July 1922

HUGHES On the 2nd July at his residence, 19 Oakwood Avenue, Brighton. Edward Walter, the beloved husband of Jeanie Hughes, aged 67 years. (Private Interment.)

The Argus 4 July 1922

Mr Edward Walter Hughes died on Sunday at North Brighton. Born in South Australia, Mr Hughes had lived in Victoria for 50 years. He was manager of the Bank of Victoria at Beaufort for 30 years. He has left a widow, two sons, and a daughter.

The Ballarat Star 5 July 1922

Walter Hughes was something of a poet, and some of his verse was published in various newspapers between 1902 and 1916. My cousin Gordon Hughes has compiled a booklet of his poems, “E. W. Hughes’s Poems”, and has kindly given me his permission to attached it here.

One of his poems was published in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News with the remark that “Mr E.W. Hughes, of Beaufort, has followed up his recent successes, by winning the ‘Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News’ first prize of £1 1s for the best verse of eight lines descriptive of Cup Day. He also was placed third in the paper’s competition for best anecdote of a Melbourne or Caulfield Cup day.”

These successes, however, were insufficient foundation for a career as professional poet and, like the Lloyd’s bank-clerk T.S. Eliot, Walter Hughes did not abandon his day job. [It is interesting to note that Eliot had a high opinion of the cultural significance of Derby Day, and horses, though not necessarily thoroughbreds, appear in his verse, among them the famous lonely cab-horse who steams and stamps.]

'Tis the Melbourne Carnival once again,
and the heart of the sportsman is glad;
Though a stranger would think at the
Flemington show we'd all gone galloping mad.

In the grandstand the shimmer of silk is
seen; on the flat the simmer of fun;
And the "Books" on the Hill, with the
pencil and quill, are laying the "odds" – bar none.

In the saddling paddock, before "The Cup" race,
the "punters" are keen on their "tips",
And wagers are laid in stentorian tones,
and also by feminine lips.

Horses in line—they're off!—and the sheen
of the colours passing the crowded stand
Makes a race to remember—no matter who
wins—the "Gem" of this Southern land.



Remembering Wentworth Rowland Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1869 – 1933)

Wentworth Rowland Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1869 – 1933), an Adelaide surgeon, was my great grand uncle. He died 89 years ago on 27 June 1933.

He was the fourth of ten children of Wentworth Cavenagh and Ellen Cavenagh née Mainwaring. He was very close to his sister Kathleen, my great grandmother, and her husband, another surgeon, Arthur Murray Cudmore. My grandmother always remembered him fondly and knew him as Uncle Wenty.

Following his death the Adelaide newspapers published obituaries and reminiscences.

Obituary in the Adelaide Advertiser of 28 June 1933:

Dr. Cavanagh-Mainwaring's Fine Record
One of Australia's most able war surgeons, Dr. W. R. Cavanagh-Mainwaring, died yesterday at Palmer place, North Adelaide. He was 64 and a bachelor. For about 25 years he was associated with the Adelaide Hospital, and from 1900, until he retired through ill-health about three years ago, had a practice on North terrace. He was one of the most distinguished of the many accomplished old boys of St Peter's College.
Conscientious skill and courage made Dr. Cavanagh-Mainwaring's war record one of many successes. He enlisted 15 days after the declaration of war, and finished his military work in 1919, being one of the few South Australian doctors to go through the whole of the campaign. While on duty he worked untiringly. No situation was too dangerous for him to tackle, and he became so attached to the 3rd Light Horse that he let chances of promotion pass so that he could remain with that unit. At one stage, when he was in hospital with an injured knee, he obtained transport to Cairo in a hospital ship, joined his regiment and went with it on an expedition as a passenger in a transport cart.

At Anzac
When he left South Australia on October 3, 1914, he was regimental medical officer to the 3rd Light Horse, a position he held until October, 1916. With this unit he reached Gallipoli in May, 1915, a few weeks after the landing, and remained until the evacuation. Late in 1916 he became attached to the 2nd Stationary Hospital in Egypt, which was in close touch with fighting at Magdaba and Rafa, and later moved to El Arish, where almost all of the casualties from the first two battles of Gaza were dealt with. From El Arish the 2nd Stationary Hospital was transferred to Moascar, and Dr. Cavanagh-Mainwaring went to the 14th General Hospital, first at Abassia and later at Port Said. In 1918 he returned to South Australia, but after a short leave returned to Egypt. For his work during the Gaza fighting he was mentioned in dispatches. He was also awarded the Order of the White Eagle, a decoration given by Serbia for good work in the common cause to specially chosen men in the service or the Allies. He left Australia with the rank of captain-surgeon, and returned as major-surgeon.

Academic Achievement
Dr. Cavanagh-Mainwaring's academic career was successful from the time he entered St. Peter's College until he earned the degree of F.R.C.S. He won many scholarships at St. Peter's, and passed at the first attempt every examination for which he sat, whether at college or university. His medical studies were begun at the University of Adelaide and finished in London.

He was a son of the late Mr. Wentworth Cavanagh-Mainwaring and Mrs. Cavanagh-Mainwaring, and was born at "Eden Park," Marryatville. Whitmore Hall Staffordshire, England was the property of his parents. It is now held by a brother, Mr. J. G. Cavanagh-Mainwaring. Mrs. A. M. Cudmore, wife of Dr. A. M. Cudmore, of North Adelaide, is a sister.

“Passing By” column from the Adelaide News of 28 June 1933:

Helping the Wounded
FEW men in the 1st Division of the A.I.F. were more loved, I was told today, than Dr. W. R. Cavanagh-Mainwaring, who has just died at the age of 64. Mr. H.M. Bidmeade, who was one of the first men in the British Empire to enlist (he wrote in offering his services in the event of war, on August 3, 1914), was closely associated with Dr Cavenagh-Mainwaring in Gallipoli and Egypt. He told me today that often the doctor, in his eagerness to help the wounded, had to be dragged out of the danger zone. On Gallipoli, when he had established rest bases for his men in one of the gullies, he would never stay with them and rest, but always hurried off to help the other front line doctors with the wounded. It didn't matter what the danger was, he would go anywhere to help the wounded.
Often, so Mr. Bidmeade said, he would be fixing up the wounded before the stretcher bearers arrived to carry them into safety. And whenever he found stretcher-bearers running short of food he would share his superior rations with them.
Saved From Grave
THERE is one man who, has to thank Dr. Cavanagh-Manwaring that he wasn't buried alive. It was at Quinn's Post, on Gallipoli. About 50 dead Australians and Turks were being temporarily buried in a big trench. The burying party was just going to cover up the bodies when Dr. Cavanagh-Mainwaring stopped them. "Take that man out," he said, pointing to an Australian. "I don't think he's dead. He wasn't. The doctor attended to him: and he re-recovered.

From the Adelaide Advertiser of 29 June 1933 page 10:

Out among the People
By Rufus.
Dr. Cavenagh-Mainwaring
YESTERDAY I met dozens of men who expressed regret at the passing of Dr. Cavenagh-Mainwaring. He was known to his friends as "Cavy," and he was loved by all who knew him. Members of the 3rd Light Horse swore by him. One of them said to me, "If ever a man earned the V.C. it was Dr. Mainwaring." A doctor pal of mine who was at the war said to me:—"Cavy should have been knighted for what he did at the war." Mr. Jacobs said:— "Cavy was a splendid character. Although he could express an opinion in a courageous way, I never heard him say a nasty thing about anyone. With all his worth and knowledge of life he was modest almost to a fault. He was first and last an English gentleman." Cavy was a wonderful mixer, and he always had regard for the under dog. In addition to all his other qualifications, he was one of the best bridge players in Adelaide. He was an excellent field shot, and he loved a good race-horse. In recent years he was motored to the races by Joe Netter, who is at present touring the East with Mrs. Netter. Joe and his wife will be sorry to hear of the passing of their old friend.

From the Adelaide Chronicle 13 July 1933:

The "Old Doc" And His Spurs"
ONE of the Old 3rd,' Glenelg, writes: —'Dear Rufus— The passing of Dr. Cavenagh-Mainwaring will be regretted by all members of the old 3rd Light Horse Regiment. He was a lovable old chap, and long hours on duty meant nothing to him. He had a habit of leaving his spurs attached to his boots on retiring, and as he often conducted the 7 a.m. sick parade in his pyjamas, the spurs looked a little out of place, and did not meet with the approval of his batman. As was usually the case with the rigid discipline of the A.I.F., the batman often issued the orders to his superior. In this case (so the story went at the time) the batman was heard to say to the old Doc. one morning. 'Haven't I told you often enough not to wear those damned spurs with your pyjamas?' Doc, rather sheepishly, explained he did not know he had them on, to which the batman replied, 'Well, if you're not more careful in the future I'll hide the cows on you, and you won't have any at all.' This was a great joke among some of the boys."
Wentworth Cavenagh-Mainwaring (right) at Gallipoli with his brother-in-law, Arthur Murray Cudmore, also a surgeon from Adelaide. The seated man is probably Bronte Smeaton, a fellow doctor from Adelaide.



Death of Lieutenant Reveley in 1857

Matthew Hugh Reveley, one of my second cousins five times removed, was born in 1829 in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, the son of Algernon Reveley (1786 -1870) and Diana Reveley nee Betty (1806 – 1846), both British. His father had been a writer (clerk) in the Honourable East India Company in Bengal from 1803 to 1822.

Matthew grew up in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. He was schooled in classics, with some mathematics, at a private establishment at Shooters Hill, in southeast London.

In 1847, at the age of seventeen, Matthew joined the East India Company‘s Bengal Army as a cadet. In August 1853 he became a lieutenant in the 74th Regiment Native Infantry, at that time based in Cawnpore, an important commercial and military station, 500 kilometers southeast of Delhi. By 1857 the regiment had moved to Delhi, where on 11 May it mutinied in the revolt that became known as the Indian Mutiny.

From a map of Northern India showing the mutiny 1857 – 59. Retrieved from Luscombe, Stephen, “Indian Mutiny.” The British Empire

Bengal Native Infantry regiments typically consisted of 800 privates (sepoys), 120 non-commissioned officers (havildars and naiks), 20 native commissioned officers (subedars and jemadars), 2 British sergeants and 26 British commissioned officers. Regiments were commanded by a lieutenant-colonel and were divided into 10 companies, each assigned 2 British officers and 2 native officers. Each regiment was assigned an adjutant, an interpreter and a quartermaster. In 1857 there were 74 Bengal Native Infantry regiments.

The Sepoys at Rifle Practice: The Enfield Rifle was introduced in India towards the close of 1856. From “1857 : A Pictorial Presentation.”  Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1957, page 3 retrieved from Internet Archive.

The Indian mutiny began—or so it is said—when sepoys refused to use new rifle cartridges, which were rumoured to be lubricated with grease containing a mixture of pig and cow lard, religiously impure for Muslims and Hindus. In May 1857 85 sepoys of the Company’s army in the garrison town of Meerut, 40 mi (64 km) northeast of Delhi refused to accept the new cartridge. They were court-martialled and found guilty of disobedience and sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment with hard labour. On Saturday, May 9, the entire garrison was paraded to witness the sentences being put into effect. On 10 May Indian troops there, led by the 3rd Cavalry, broke into revolt. Some British officers, their wives and some civilians, including 50 Indians, were killed.

Most of the sepoys and sowars from Meerut made for Delhi on the night of 10 May. Early on 11 May, the first parties of the 3rd Cavalry reached Delhi.

The 74th was one of three regiments of Bengal Native Infantry stationed in barracks a few kilometres northwest of the city. They provided guards, working parties and other contributions to a “Main Guard” building just inside the walls, near the Kashmiri Gate on the northern circuit of walls, and to the arsenal in the city and other buildings.

from The City of Delhi Before the Siege – The Illustrated London News Jan 16, 1858 showing:
14. Cashmere Gate, 25. English Church (St James’s Church), 26. Magazine and Store Houses
from an 1857 plan of Delhi retrieved from Luscombe, Stephen, “The Siege of Delhi.” The British Empire
“Kashmir Gate, Delhi, Punjab” taken by Samuel Bourne in the 1860s and showing the damage. In the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Edward Vibart, who at the time of the mutiny was a nineteen year old lieutenant with the 54th Native Infantry, described the Cashmere (Kashmiri) Gate in his 1898 account of the mutiny:

…the Cashmere Gate, as this place was destined to be the scene of our operations for the remainder of this eventful day [11 May 1857]. This gate, like most fortified gates, is approached by two roadways cut through the glacis, one for entry and the other for exit, each of which, passing under a separate arched entrance, leads into a small fortified enclosure, called the Main Guard, which was always garrisoned by a detachment of fifty sepoys under a European officer. It consisted on this day of men of the 38th N.I., under Lieutenant Procter of that corps. This duty, which was taken in turn by each regiment in the
garrison, and lasted for a week at a time, was looked upon as a rather irksome one by the European officers, as the officer in command of the detachment was not allowed to quit the precincts of the Main Guard, and had always to be dressed in uniform.

The events at the Cashmere Gate in Delhi on the afternoon of 11 May including Reveley’s death are told in “The Tale of the Great Mutiny” which includes an eyewitness report by Edward Vibart:

Matters quickly came to a crisis at the Cashmere Gate. About four o'clock in the afternoon there came in quick succession the sound of guns from the magazine. This was followed by a deep, sullen, and prolonged blast that shook the very walls of the main-guard itself, while up into the blue sky slowly climbed a mighty cloud of smoke. Willoughby had blown up the great powder-magazine ; and the sound shook both the nerves and the loyalty of the Sepoys who crowded the main-guard. There was kindled amongst them the maddest agitation, not lessened by the sudden appearance of Willoughby and Forrest, scorched and blackened by the explosion from which they had in some marvellous fashion escaped.

Brigadier Graves, from the Ridge, now summoned Abbott and the men of the 74th back to that post. After some delay they commenced then' march, two guns being sent in advance. But the first sound of their marching feet acted as a match to the human powder-magazine. The leading files of Abbott's men had passed through the Cashmere Gate when the Sepoys of the 38th suddenly rushed at it and closed it, and commenced to fire on their officers. In a moment the main-guard was a scene of terror and massacre. It was filled with eddying smoke, with shouts, with the sound of crackling muskets, of swearing men and shrieking women. Here is Colonel Vibart's description of the scene : —

The horrible truth now flashed on me — we were being massacred right and left, without any means of escape ! Scarcely knowing what I was doing, I made for the ramp which leads from the courtyard to the bastion above. Every one appeared to be doing the same. Twice I was knocked over as we all frantically rushed up the slope, the bullets whistling past us like hail, and flattening themselves against the parapet with a frightful hiss. To this day it is a perfect marvel to me how any one of us escaped being hit. Poor Smith and Reveley, both of the 74th, were killed close beside me. The latter was carrying a loaded gun, and, raising himself with a dying effort, he discharged both barrels into a knot of Sepoys, and the next moment expired.

The death of Lieutenant Matthew H. Reveley of the 74th N.I. was reported in the London Gazette of 10 February 1858 as killed at Delhi on 11 May 1857.

Reveley’s name is recorded on a tablet in St. James’ Church, Delhi, which is situated near the Kashmiri Gate –

Lieutenant M.H. Reveley. Killed at the Cashmere Gate Delhi 11th May 1857.

St James’s Church, known as Skinner’s Church photographed by Robert and Harriet Tytler in 1858. Retrieved through the British Library.

Related post and reading:

  • O is for Orfeur – another cousin on a different branch of the tree, Orfeur Cavenagh (1820 – 1891), also was a British officer during the mutiny


  • Matthew Hugh Reveley (1829 – 1857)
    • Matthew was a grandson of Jane (Champion Crespigny) Reveley (1742 – 1829) and great grandson of Philip Champion de Crespigny and Anne (Fonnereau) Champion de Crespigny

Meet Eric

On 28 April 1916 a man calling himself Eric Claude Champion de Crespigny married Eileen Barbara Lamport by licence at Holy Trinity Church in Vauxhall Bridge Road, London. He stated that he was a soldier, age 22 [so born about about 1894], the son of Claude de Crespigny (deceased). He gave his address as 13 Stafford Road, Stockwell.

Westminster, London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns: Holy Trinity, Vauxhall Bridge Road City of Westminster Archives Centre; London, England; Westminster Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: HTVBR/PR/2/5 retrieved through ancestry.com

On 25 September 1917, Private Claude E de Crespigny, presumably the same man, of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, B Company, was captured by German forces at Ypres [the Third battle of Ypres is also known as the Battle of Passchendaele].

A duckboard track passing through Chateau Wood, near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917. Photograph by Frank Hurley. Australian War Memorial collection number E01220.

On 5 December 1917 he was at reported to be a prisoner at Dulmen, he had previously been in Dendermonde camp; Dendermonde is a city in east Flanders and Dülmen is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia. Records of the International Committee of the Red Cross give de Crespigny’s service number as 10882, stating that he was born 1 February 1894 at Maldon. His next of kin was recorded as his wife, who lived at “Wyvern House”, Llandrindod Wells, Wales.

Prisoners Of War record from FindMyPast

In a report of 8 February 1918 he was stated to be in 1 Münster having previously been in Lager Dülmen (Camp Dulmen) which was just over 30 kilometers south-west of Münster. There was a slight variation in some of the details reported. He was captured 10 September 1917. He was wounded: “Kugel 1 Bein und Schamleiste” or “Ball [bullet] 1 leg and groin”. His birthdate was given as 1 February 1893 and place of birth London.

Prisoners Of War record from FindMyPast

Eric de Crespigny is recorded on Medal Index Cards, compiled towards the end of the war, as ERIC C C D’CRESPIGNY. I cannot find any earlier military records that name him.

Eric Claude Champion de Crespigny was recorded on the 1918 electoral roll for the City of Westminster as living at 48 Eaton Square.

Eileen remarried on 10 November 1919 to a man called Cyril Wardale King, giving her name as Kathleen Barbara Lamport. I have found no record of a divorce, nor have I found any other record naming Eric de Crespigny before his marriage in 1916 or after the 1918 electoral roll.

So who was Eric Claude de Crespigny?

The only man who fits the surname, was possibly the right age in 1892 or 1893 to father a child, and who in 1916 was describable as ‘deceased’ is Claude Champion de Crespigny, who was born in 1873 and died in 1910. Claude did not marry. He possibly fathered an illegitimate son, and this may be the man who called himself Eric de Crespigny.

However, I think that Eric Claude simply assumed the identity and then, from 1919, reinvented himself as Edmund Alexander Champion de Crespigny, adopting the name of a dead child who had died in 1905, the youngest child of Philip Augustus Champion de Crespigny (1850-1912). ‘Eric Claude’ later called himself Claude Edmund Alexander Champion de Crespigny.

His signature on the 1916 marriage record of ‘Eric Claude Champion de Crespigny’ bears a strong resemblance to the signature of Claude Edmund Alexander Champion de Crespigny on 1923 and 1927 petitions for United States naturalization.

Eric’s signature in 1916
Claude Edmund’s signature in 1923
Claude Edmund’s signature in 1927

Why assume somebody else’s surname and then their identity? I think Eric/Edmund/Claude gained a social and perhaps some financial advantage by pretending to be connected to the Champion de Crespigny family.

He did get somewhat out of his depth though when in 1930 in Chicago he claimed to have a PhD and joined the faculty of Loyola University. (A significant shift from his occupation as typewriter salesman reported on the census of 1 April 1930). As Professor Claude Champion de Crespigny, he gave a talk on “Britain in India today”. Professor de Crespigny was said to have ‘served with the British Legation in India’. Since India had not yet gained independence, the term ‘British Legation in India’ makes no sense. Perhaps no one noticed the slip.

Nothing was heard of ‘Professor’ de Crespigny after this. When he died in 1967 his occupation was hotel clerk, of Houston, Texas.

Claude had come down in the world, poor chap. In the long run, stealing another man’s name didn’t do him any good.

Related posts:


Philip Crespigny and his brothers at school in Guernsey

Philip Robert Champion Crespigny (1817 – 1889), one of my third great grandfathers, was the third of five children of Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny and Eliza née Trent.

Philip was born in Boulogne-sur-mer, France, 35 kilometres south-west of Calais. His older brothers, Charles and George, had been born in Aldeburgh, Suffolk in 1814, and in Antwerp in 1815. Philip’s two younger sisters were born in Boulogne in 1819 and 1825.

I am not sure when the family returned to England or where they lived. In October 1830 the three boys were admitted to the Royal College of Elizabeth on the Island of Guernsey. Charles was sixteen years old, George fifteen, and Philip thirteen.

Guernsey is an island in the English Channel (in French, La Manche) on the coast of Normandy, west of the Cherbourg peninsular. A hundred kilometres south is Saint Malo, where Philip later lived before emigrating to Australia.

Elizabeth College, Guernsey was founded in 1563. In 1826 it was re-chartered and renamed the Royal College of Elizabeth. The Rev. Charles William Stocker, D.D. was appointed principal; he set out to raise the academic standing of the school and oversee the construction of the new main building, which was completed in 1829, three years later.

The Royal College of Elizabeth, Guernsey. Lithograph by C. Haghe after J. Wilson (the architect). Image from Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

From the register of old boys: admissions for Michelmas term 1830:

353. Crespigny (afterwards de Crespigny) Charles John
Champion — born at Aldborough, June 20, 1814; son of Charles John Champion Crespigny and Julia Eliza Champion ; left 1831.
Reverted to the family name of de Crespigny ; no profession ; died in London in 1880.

354. Crespigny (afterwards de Crespigny) George Blicke
Champion — born at Antwerp, October 31, 1815 ; brother of No. 353 ; left 1832.
Ensign, 20th Regiment, 1836; Major, 1864; Paymaster of the School of Musketry at Hythe, 1855-1881; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, 1869; reverted to the family name of de Crespigny in 1874 ; Colonel (half -pay) 1881 ; died in 1893.

355. Crespigny (afterwards de Crespigny) Philip Robert
Champion — born at Boulogne, October 4, 1817 ; brother of No. 353 ; left 1831.
Reverted to the family name of de Crespigny ; emigrated to Australia and engaged in farming; became a Police Magistrate at Daisy-hill, near Maryborough, Victoria; Warden of Goldfields and Coroner; died at Brighton, Melbourne, in 1889.

It looks as though Charles and Philip lasted a year or less and George lasted perhaps two years.

In 1831 there were 192 students, an increase from 1826 attributed to the arrival of eighty-nine migrants from England.

The Rev. George Samuel Proctor succeeded Stocker as principal from 1829 to 1832, resigning from the post after a disagreement with the College Directors.

It has been suggested that Proctor was the prototype of Dr. Blimber in Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens (1846-8).

Dr. Blimber’s Academy From Dombey and Son: , ch. 11:

...'I believe the Doctor's is an excellent establishment. I've heard that it's very strictly conducted, and there is nothing but learning going on from morning to night.'

'And it's very expensive,' added Mr Dombey.

'And it's very expensive, Sir,' returned Mrs Pipchin, catching at the fact, as if in omitting that, she had omitted one of its leading merits.


Whenever a young gentleman was taken in hand by Doctor Blimber, he might consider himself sure of a pretty tight squeeze. The Doctor only undertook the charge of ten young gentlemen, but he had, always ready, a supply of learning for a hundred, on the lowest estimate; and it was at once the business and delight of his life to gorge the unhappy ten with it.

In fact, Doctor Blimber's establishment was a great hot-house, in which there was a forcing apparatus incessantly at work. All the boys blew before their time. Mental green-peas were produced at Christmas, and intellectual asparagus all the year round. Mathematical gooseberries (very sour ones too) were common at untimely seasons, and from mere sprouts of bushes, under Doctor Blimber's cultivation. Every description of Greek and Latin vegetable was got off the driest twigs of boys, under the frostiest circumstances. Nature was of no consequence at all. No matter what a young gentleman was intended to bear, Doctor Blimber made him bear to pattern, somehow or other.
Dombey and Son: illustration by H. K Browne (” Phiz “) of Dr. Blimber and His Young Friends. Dr. Proctor (Principal of Elizabeth College 1829-1832) was the original of this portrait.

George de Crespigny left Elizabeth College in 1832 and was admitted to Trinity Hall Cambridge University. From Alumni Cantabrigienses:

CRESPIGNY or DE CRESPIGNY, GEORGE BLICKE CHAMPION. Adm. pens, at Trinity Hall, Oct. 17, 1832. [2nd s. of Charles Fox Champion (1803), Esq., of Tal-y-Ilyn House, Brecon.] Adm. at Lincoln's Inn, Nov. 4, 1833; age 17. Lieut. -Col., late 20th Regt.; Paymaster, Army service, 1880. Sometime on the staff of the School of Musketry, at Hythe, Kent. Married Elizabeth Jane, dau. of Alexander Buchanan, Esq., of Montreal, Canada, Q.C (Canadian Bar), June 11, 1851. Brother of Philip R. C. (1838). (Foster, Baronetage, 1883.)

Philip also attended Cambridge from 1838, admitted to Downing College. I do not know where he received his education from 1831 to 1838.

CRESPIGNY, PHILIP ROBERT CHAMPION. Adm. Fell.-Com. at Downing, Nov. 7, 1838. [3rd s. of Charles James Fox (1803).] B. Oct. 4, 1817- Went to Australia. Some time Warden and Police- Magistrate of goldfields, Ararat, Victoria. Married Charlotte Frances, dau. of William Pulteney Dana, Capt., 6th Foot, July 18, 1849. Brother of George B. C. (1832). (Foster, Baronetage, 1883.)

Charles attended neither Cambridge nor Oxford.

I would like to know more about the education of Charles, George and Philip, and I am curious as to what induced my fourth great grandfather C F C de Crespigny to send his boys to a school in Guernsey.



Valerie Lady Smiley née Champion de Crespigny 1883 – 1978

Valerie Lady Smiley née Champion de Crespigny, one of my 5th cousins twice removed, was born on 26 May 1883 in Maldon, Essex. She was the eighth of nine children and youngest of four daughters of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny the fourth baronet and Georgiana Lady Champion de Crespigny née McKerrell.

At the time of the 1891 census Valerie was recorded as seven years old and living at Champion Lodge in Camberwell, London, with her mother and two brothers. Her father and other siblings were away from home. The household also included four female servants including a parlourmaid, housemaid and cook.

Ten years later, at the 1901 census Valerie was the only member of the family at home at Champion Lodge in Heybridge, Maldon, Essex. The household included one visitor, a professional music singer, and eight servants: a butler, lady’s maid, two housemaids, a kitchenmaid, a cook, and a groom.

Valerie aged 19 from Tatler 22 October 1902

In 1903 Valerie married Captain John Smiley. The Chelmsford Chronicle reported on the engagement  on 24 July:

A marriage will shortly take place between Valerie, youngest daughter of Sir Claude and Lady Champion de Crespigny, and Capt. John Smiley (late Carabiniers), eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh H. Smiley, of Gallowhill, Paisley, and Drumalis, Larne. County Antrim. 

On 27 November the same newspaper published a report of the wedding:

SMILEY—CHAMPION DE CRESPIGNY. A wedding of great interest to Essex, took place yesterday afternoon at StGeorge's, Hanover-square, when Miss Valerie Champion de Crespigny, youngest daughter of Sir Claude and Lady Champion de Crespigny, of Champion Lodge, Maldon, was married to Captain John Smiley (late Carabiniers), eldest son of Sir Hugh and Lady Smiley, of Gallow-hill, Paisley, and Drumalis, Larne. Miss de Crespigny is pretty and has a very charming manner. Capt. Smiley is one of the officers who went all through the South African campaign. He resigned from the 6th Dragoon Guards only a year ago. 
The bride's dress was of white satin covered with old point de Gaze lace, The train was composed of cloth of silver and lace, was borne by two small boys and two girls, viz., Master Claude Lancaster, nephew of the bride, and the Hon. Hercules Robinson, son of Lord and Lady Rosmead, Miss Valencia Lancaster, niece of the bride, and Miss Smiley, sister of the bridegroom. The bride also wore orange blossoms and had in her hair a large diamond shamrock, which, with a pearl necklace and tiara, were the gilts of the bridegroom. 
The four bridesmaids were Miss Brouncker, cousin of the bride, Miss Talbot, Miss Crichton, and Miss Ramsay. They wore dresses of eau de Nil voile, worked with green lace, and with long green sashes; green hats with green feathers, and green shamrock brooches set with pearls, the gift of the bridegroom. They carried pink carnation bouquets. Lady Champion de Crespigny, the bride's mother, wore brown poplin trimmed with velvet, with lace bolero, and brown velvet picture hat. 
The Church had been beautifully decorated with palms, lilies, and other flowers. The service was fully choral, the hymn “O Father, all creating," being sung at the entrance of the bride, later Psalm lxvii., and finally the hymn “O perfect love." 
The clergymen conducting the service were the Rev. H. T. W. Eyre, vicar of Great Totham, and Dr. Robert Port, vicar of Champion Hill, London. The bride was given away by her father, and Mr. P. K. Smiley (21st Lancers), brother of the bridegroom, was best man. 
Dr. Port gave a brief address, couched in beautiful terms. There was much truth, he said, in the old proverb that marriages were made in heaven and by heaven. Those were indeed happy homes which welcomed Christ as the corner-stone. 
A reception was held at Claridge's Hotel, Brook-street, W., after the ceremony, and there the handsome presents were viewed, numbering over 400. 
The bride received a wealth of jewels. Captain Smiley's gifts included a pearl and diamond tiara, an emerald and diamond ring, a diamond and peridot pendant, and some lovely Irish lace. Sir Claude gave his daughter a miniature of an ancestor set in diamonds, and Sir Hugh and Lady Smiley gave some lovely pearls.  Other presents were : —Lady Smiley, pearl necklace; Sir Hugh Smiley, brougham and cheque; Miss Eileen Smiley, necklace and pendant of turquoise and diamonds ; Sir Claude de Crespigny, diamond pendant; Lady de Crespigny, inlaid writing table ; Captain de Crespigny, gold bag and gold purse; Norman de Crespigny, silver ringstand ; Vierville de Crespigny, silver napkin rings ; Rupert de Crespigny, silver fitted writing case; Mrs. Robert Boyle, painting ; Mrs. Granville Lancaster, alver tureen ; Captain K. Smiley, gold watch and pearl and diamond pendant ; Mr. H. S. Smiley, silver tureen; Mr. John M. Smiley (Philadelphia), silver tureens ; and other gifts from Col. and Mrs. L. Horace Phillips, Colchester ; Sir Daniel Dixon, Bart., Sir James and Lady Guthrie, Field-Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood, V.C., Capt. and Mrs. Ffinch, Lady Maud Barutt, Professor and Mrs. Dewar, Sir Leslie and Lady Falkiner, Prince and Princess de Cassano, etc.  The honeymoon is to be spent in Paris. The bride's going away costume was of dark green cloth, trimmed with velvet, with large hat to match.

The wedding present from Sir Claude de Crespigny of  “a miniature of an ancestor set in diamonds” was quite possibly the miniature bequeathed by Mary Feillet née Champion, Valerie’s 5th great aunt, in 1736 to Mary’s nephew Philip Champion de Crespigny (1705 – 1765), Valerie’s 4th great grandfather.

The miniature is apparently no longer in the family. It may have been sold, or perhaps destroyed in one of the two house fires Valerie suffered.

The Smiley family wealth came from cotton and shipping. John’s father, Sir Hugh Smiley, was made a baronet in 1903. He had been prominent in Ulster politics and owned a staunchly Unionist newspaper, the Northern Whig, which was vehemently opposed to Irish Home Rule. Sir Hugh’s wife, Elizabeth Kerr, was a cotton heiress from Paisley in Scotland.

Valerie and John Smiley had four children:

  • Hugh Houston 1905–1990
  • Patricia Margaret 1907–2000
  • John Claude 1910–1995
  • David de Crespigny 1916–2009

On the death of his father on 1 March 1909 John Smiley became the second baronet Smiley of Drumalis. Valerie was then known as Lady Smiley.

In March 1911 Lady Smiley was photographed by Tatler taking a stroll in Monte Carlo as part of “society seeking sunshine on southern shores” and “avoiding London’s fogs and damp”.

From Tatler 1 March 1911 page 233

By April that year, when the census was taken, the Smileys were back in England, at Saxham Hall, Bury St Edmunds. The census lists John, Valerie, their three children aged five, three, and one, with sixteen servants and two visitors to the servants. The servants comprised: housekeeper, two domestic nurses, four housemaids, a kitchenmaid, scullerymaid, a lady’s maid, three footmen, two chauffeur mechanics, and a cook. Saxham Hall had 38 rooms.

On 24 May 1911 Lady Valerie Smiley was presented at Court by the Marchioness of Donegall, widow of the fifth Marquess.

Lady Valerie Smiley: The Court, 24 May 1911: presented by the Marchioness of Donegall.
© Lafayette / Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Used with permission.

Unlike her sister Crystal Ffinch, Valerie Smiley was frequently pictured in society magazines. In July 1911 Lady Smiley, her husband and two children were pictured at a children’s day at Ranelagh Gardens.

From Tatler 12 July 1911 page 37

In 1912 Lady Smiley again attended the children’s day at Ranelagh with her children Hugh and Patricia. This time she was accompanied by her niece Valencia Lancaster, daughter of her oldest sister Cicely.

From Tatler 10 July 1912 page 43
from Tatler 5 March 1913
At Ascot from Tatler 25 June 1913

In January 1914 there was a fire at Barton Hall near Bury St Edmunds, which had recently been leased by the Smileys. The report from the Sunday Times of 11 January 1914:

Barton Hall, the Suffolk residence of Sir John Smiley, near Bury St. Edmunds, was almost totally destroyed by fire early yesterday morning. The outbreak was discovered about one o'clock, and upon the alarm being given the gentlemen of the house party which was being entertained there by Sir John and Lady Smiley turned out in their evening clothes and assisted the estate employees and villagers , who had been hastily called , in their efforts to subdue the flames. 
The fire is believed to have originated in the roof while a dance was in progress. Soon after midnight , when the dancing had just ended , one of the guests, going up to his room, detected the smell of burning. 
A small room in the roof was broken open and was found to be in flames. 
The Bury Fire Brigade and police, in response to urgent messages, also quickly arrived upon the spot to render assistance, but unfortunately the water supply was quite inadequate, and but little could be done to prevent the spread of the conflagration, which soon enveloped practically the whole of the building. Efforts were made to save the personal effects of the occupants as well as the valuable paintings and other effects which the building contained. Fortunately, several paintings were saved, but it is stated that one visitor alone has lost jewellery estimated to be worth £2,000. 
Most of the guests lost everything except the evening dress clothes and jewellery which they were wearing for the dance. A few of them had retired for the night, and had to escape hurriedly in scanty clothing.  The guests assembled on the lawn in front of the house and watched the blaze until towards dawn , when they were taken in motor  cars to the Angel Hotel at Bury St. Edmunds.  The house party included Mrs. Loeffler, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Hoare, the Hon. Mrs. Robert Boyle , Mr. Christopher Anstey, Mr. Graham, Herr von Schubert, Mr. F. Watt, Mr. Edmund Folgambe, Mrs. von Vrumalius, Mr. B. J. T. Bosanquet and Miss Bosanquet, - Captain Claude Rome and the Hon. Mrs. Rome.  Barton Hall is the property of Sir Henry Charles Bunbury, the lord of the manor. It was long the residence of the late Mr. Frank Riley Smith, the well-known  Master of the Suffolk Foxhounds, and had only recently been leased by Sir John Smiley. The mansion was built in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was from time to time much modernised. It possessed no fewer than 365 windows . It included a fine gallery of pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Peter Lely, and many Italian and Dutch masters. Reynolds' famous portrait of Annabella Lady Blake was fortunately saved. Other treasures rescued were Kneller 's portrait of Lord Euston, son of the Duke of Grafton; a Romney of great value ; Reynolds's portrait of Henry Bunbury, the famous caricaturist of the early nineteenth century; and Sir John Smiley's valuable collection of books. These treasures were stored for the time in the garage.  The handsome library was built after a design by Sir William Chambers between 1766 and 1770. It contained many volumes of great value. The failure of the water supply appears to have been due to the fact that the pumping apparatus, worked by electricity, was damaged and could not be operated.  Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, celebrated as the winner of the first Derby—run in 1780 — at one time lived at Barton Hall.

from the Illustrated London News 17 January 1914
From Tatler 28 January 1920 page 99
Golf at Cannes from The Bystander 23 February 1921

At the time of the census held on 24 April 1921, Valerie and her husband and their youngest and oldest sons were living at Oakley Hall in Hampshire. Valerie’s niece Moyra Blanche Boyle, daughter of Cerise, was visiting. There were twelve servants: a house steward, a housekeeper, a cook, a kitchenmaid, a footman, three housemaids, a scullery maid, a male servant, a lady’s maid (French), a sewing maid. Oakley Hall had 47 rooms.

from Tatler 6 December 1922
Lady Smiley with her son David from The Bystander 16 April 1924

In 1927 Sir John Smiley bought Great Oaks at Goring Heath, Oxfordshire, to be the family home. (The house is now a school).

Valerie’s son Sir Hugh Smiley and his wife at Great Oaks from The Sketch 25 July 1934

Sir John Smiley died on 13 April 1930. His death was reported in The Times of 14 April 1930:

Major Sir John Smiley died at Bayonne yesterday at the age of 53.
Born in October, 1876, the eldest son of Sir Hugh Smiley, the first baronet, Sir John Smiley was educated at Eton and entered the Army with a commission in the 4th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Later he transferred to the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) and with them he served in the South African War, holding the Queen's medal with three clasps and the King's with two. In 1914 he rejoined his old regiment and served throughout the War. As a Liberal Unionist he contested West Belfast in 1906 and 1910. He succeeded his father in 1909.
Sir John Smiley married in 1903 Valerie, youngest daughter of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny. She survives him with one daughter and three sons, the eldest of whom, Lieutenant Hugh Houston Smiley, Grenadier Guards, succeeds him.

On 29 September 1939 a Register was compiled of every member of the civilian population. Lady Valerie Smiley was living at The Cottage Smiley, Wentworth, Surrey. Valerie had moved there in 1933 after her son, now Sir Hugh Smiley, took over the family home of Great Oaks. The Wentworth Estate is a private estate of large houses set in woodland, in Runnymede, Surrey, near the town of Virginia Water. It was commenced in the early 1920s. The estate borders  Windsor Great Park and is set around the Wentworth Golf Club.

There, in November 1969 Valerie Lady Smiley suffered a second housefire. The Daily Telegraph reported: 

Paintings saved
Police, firemen and neighbours carried valuable paintings and antique furniture to safety during a fire at the home of Valerie, Lady Smiley, in Meadow Road, Virginia Water, last night. Some paintings were destroyed.
Valerie, Lady Smiley at the wedding of her son David: Tatler 21 May 1947

Dame Valerie Smiley died 1 September 1978. Her death notice appeared in The Times of 6 September:

SMILEY.-On 1st September, Dame Valerie Smiley, aged 90, wife of the late Major Sir John Smiley, 2nd Bt., and youngest daughter of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny, 4th Bt. Cremation private. No letters.


WikitreeValerie (Champion de Crespigny) Smiley (1883 – 1978)

Crystal Ffinch née Champion de Crespigny 1877 – 1961

Crystal Ffinch née Champion de Crespigny, one of my 5th cousins twice removed, was born on 9 May 1877 in Durrington, Wiltshire. She was the fourth of nine children and third of four daughters of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny the fourth baronet and Georgiana Lady Champion de Crespigny née McKerrell.

In the 1881 census Crystal, then aged three, was recorded as residing at Champion Lodge, near Maldon, Essex, with her mother and her five siblings, aged from eight months to seven years. Also present were two visitors and nine live-in servants: a governess, two nurses, two footmen, two housemaids, a kitchenmaid and a cook. Her father was away at the time.

At the next census, in 1891, Crystal was attending boarding school in Exeter called Edgerton House School. Crystal, aged thirteen, and her sister Cerise aged fifteen were two of the ten boarders.

In May 1896 Crystal and her recently married sister Cicely, Mrs George Lancaster, were presented by their mother, Lady Champion de Crespigny, to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales at a Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace on behalf of her Majesty.

Dresses worn at the Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace in May 1896 from The Queen magazine 30 May 1896 page 967
The Chelmsford Chronicle 22 May 1896 page 2

On 18 December 1901 Crystal married Captain Matthew Ffinch at St Peter’s Church, Great Totham, Essex. The reception was held at Champion Lodge, the family home, less than a mile from the church. The couple honeymooned in Madeira.

Weddings of the Week from The Gentlewoman 28 December 1901 page 905

In 1904 Matthew, who had been on half pay from the army, was placed on retired pay. Because of ill health in 1899 he had been placed on temporary half-pay.

At the time of the 1911 census Crystal was in Kent on holidays with her husband Matthew, a retired army officer, staying in a private hotel called Ledge Point at Westgate on Sea. This census asked how long a couple had been married and whether there were any children. The Ffinches were childless.

Ledge Point private hotel Westgate on Sea. 1904 postcard for sale on eBay

I have found only one photograph of Crystal, at a Champion Lodge shooting party in November 1911.

From Tatler 8 November 1911 page 149

In World War 1 Crystal volunteered with the Red Cross at Rivercourt Red Cross Hospital in Maldon. Her mother, Lady de Crespigny, was also involved with hospital matters there. The hospital building had previously been run as a “Home of Rest”, a convalescent home. At the outbreak of war the building was donated by its owner to be used by the Red Cross Society as a convalescent hospital for the troops. It operated from August 1914 to January 1919.

Crystal was recorded as a nurse probationer, who worked part-time. Her contribution, with her nursing duties, was to collect subscriptions and contributions of fruit and vegetables and entertain the patients. Her mother was noted as having the duties of nursing and that she was:

A generous supporter of the Hospital, helped to raise funds, visited regularly for Rifle Brigade. Supplied Patients with literature, cigarettes etc, also fruit & vegetables continually for 4 1/2 years. A valuable patron of the Hospital, entertaining the Patients constantly.

Crystal’s husband Matthew served as a Special constable. In 1916 a Zeppelin numbered L33 crashed nearby, at Little Wigborough, ten miles from Heybridge where the Ffinches lived. It made a forced landing but the crew were largely unharmed. First setting set fire to the airship to prevent it falling into British hands, they trudged off in the direction of Colchester, eight miles north, to give themselves up. (L33 was one of twelve Zeppelins to bomb England. Another, the L32, crashed in flames at Great Burstead, south-west of Maldon, killing all on board.) The crew, found on the road by a Special Constable, spent the rest of the war in captivity. Captain M. Ffinch reported on how the Special Constables of Peldon helped to control the traffic and the thousands of sightseers who descended on the village the day after the zeppelin landed.

In January 1918 Captain Matthew Benjamin Dipnall Ffinch, J.P. Assistant Chief Constable in Charge of Special Constabulary, Essex, was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).

In 1919 Matthew was made one of the Deputy Lieutenants of the County of Essex. In a 1922 directory he was recorded as one of the County Magistrates for the Witham Division.

At the time of the 1921 census, Matthew and Crystal Ffinch were living in a twelve-room house at Langford Mead, Heybridge near Maldon with two live in servants: a cook and house parlour maid.

The British Legion, founded in 1921 as a voice for the ex-service community, had a presence in Maldon, with separate sections for men and women. Crystal, Mrs FFinch, was chairman and her mother, Lady Champion de Crespigny was president. In September 1923 a cavalcade of charabancs took 90 women members, including Crystal and her mother from the war memorial to a garden party hosted by Captain and Mrs Long-Price at their home ‘Rosmeade’ in Ulting.

One of the charabancs departing from outside the war memorial to a garden party in 1923
From Edwards, Francesca. “Stephen Nunn recalls the day Nazi salutes and swastikas came to Maldon.” Maldon and Burnham Standard, 22 Nov. 2020

On 29 September 1939 a Register was compiled of every member of the civilian population. The information was used to produce identity cards and, once rationing was introduced in January 1940, to issue ration books. Information in the Register was also used to administer conscription and the direction of labour, and to monitor and control the movement of the population caused by military mobilisation and mass evacuation. In 1939 Crystal was recorded as living in Langford Meads, Heybridge. Her entry on the 1939 Register is annotated “Vice President British Red +”. In the same house was William Lyddon, a retired colonel of the Royal Artillery, William and Mary Rawlings, who served as chauffeur and parlourman, and a cook. Matthew was recorded at the Grange, Newton Regis, Warwickshire.

Matthew died in 1951. His death was announced in The Daily Telegraph of 15 February 1951:

FFINCH.—On Feb 14. at 85. Campden Hill-court, Kensington, W.8. Captain MATTHEW BENJAMIN DIPNALL FFINCH, C.B E.. late The North Staffordshire Regiment, formerly of Langford, Essex, in his 85th year. Funeral at Ulting Church, Essex, Saturday. Feb . 17, at 12 noon. Flowers may be sent to J H Kenyon Ltd.. 12. Kensington Church-st.. W.8. by tomorrow (Friday).

His death notice in The Times of 20 February 1951 stated:

Captain Matthew Benjamin Dipnall Ffinch, C.B.E., Assistant Chief Constable of Essex from 1914 to 1919, died at his home in London recently at the age of 84.

Crystal died ten years later. Her death was announced in The Times of 17 November 1961:

FFINCH.-On 16th November, 1961, in a London nursing home CRYSTAL, aged 84 years of Langford Meads, Maldon, Essex Widow of CAPTAIN MATTHEW BENJAMIN DIPNALL FFINCH. C.B.E.. and daughter of the late Sir Claude and Lady Champion de Crespigny. Funeral Tuesday, 21st November (arrangements later)


WikitreeCrystal (Champion de Crespigny) Ffinch (1877 – 1961)

Cerise Boyle née Champion de Crespigny 1875 – 1951

Cerise Boyle née Champion de Crespigny, one of my 5th cousins twice removed, was born on 6 December 1875 in Ringwood, Hampshire. She was the third of nine children and second of four daughters of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny the fourth baronet and Georgiana Lady Champion de Crespigny née McKerrell.

On 3 August 1899 Cerise married Commander Robert Boyle of the Royal Navy in the fashionable church of St George’s Hanover Square. Robert was a son of the fifth Earl of Shannon and brother of the then present Earl.

The Queen magazine of 12 August 1899 reported the marriage, with illustrations of the wedding gown, bridesmaids’ dresses, and the bride’s travelling dress.

Fashionable Marriages
Boyle-Champion de Crespigny

On the 3rd inst., at St George's Church, Hanover-square, the marriage was solemnised of Commander the Hon. Robert Boyle, R.N., son of the fifth Earl of Shannon, and brother of the present peer, with Cerise, second daughter of Sir Claude and Lady Champion de Crespigny, of Champion Lodge, Heybridge, Essex. The church was prettily decorated with palms and white flowers, and the service was choral. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a dress of ivory satin Duchesse, the skirt edged with flounces of chiffon arranged in waves ; the bodice had a chiffon fichu and yoke, and sleeves of silver embroidered lace, and old Venetian lace fell from the left side, where it was fastened with orange blossoms. The Court train of handsom Louis XV brocade fell from both shoulders, and her ornaments were pearls. She was attended by four bridesmaids, wearing dresses of pale poudre blue silk voile, the skirts having flounces edged with narrow Mechlin lace ; draped tucked bodices with tucked chiffon collar edged with frills bordered with narrow lace. They carried bouquets of Germania carnations, and wore gold curb bracelets set with turquoises, the gifts of the bridegroom. The officiating clergy were the Rev. Dr Porte, vicar of St. Matthew's Church, Denmark-hill, and the Rev. E. Galdart, rector of Little Braxted, Witham, Essex. Commander C. Craddock, R.N., was best man. After the ceremony a reception was held at 31, Curzon-street, Mayfair, and later the bride and bridegroom left for Scotland, where the honeymoon will be spent. The bride's travelling dress was of pale Parma violet cloth, the bodice having an inner vest of tucked velvet of a paler shade, and applications of guipure lace, and with it was worn a toque of cloth to match, with velvet and black ostrich tips. Lady de Crespigny wore blue crêpe de Chine, with lace appliqué on the skirt and bodice, and toque en suite ; she carried a bouquet of pink carnations.

They had four children. In 1916 a photograph of Cerise and her oldest son appeared in The Sketch. He was 14 and had just joined the navy.

From The Sketch 17 May 1916 page 144

Cerise painted, and her work was exhibited with the Society of Miniaturists in 1901. Among other exhibitions in 1921 and 1937 she exhibited watercolours at Walkers Galleries. In 1945 the Hon. Mrs Robert Boyle raised £115 for King George’s Fund for Sailors from the sale of her water colour sketches exhibited at the University College Buildings in Exeter. Two of her paintings have been sold in recent times. “A Hunter in a Wooded Landscape” painted in 1900 was sold by Christies in December 2012 as part of a collection from the attic of Harewood House. It had been owned by H.R.H. The Princess Mary, Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood (1897-1965) and her husband Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, (1882-1947). In 2006 Gorringes sold “Portrait of a horse Benedict”.

Benedict by Cerise Boyle

Robert Boyle died in 1922. His obituary in The Times of 12 September 1922 gives an account of his career:

Vice-Admiral the Hon. Robert Francis Boyle, M.V.O., R.N., retired, died suddenly yesterday at Harewood House, Leeds. He had been staying with his cousin, the Earl of Harewood, for the last fortnight. A week ago he did not feel very well, and a nurse and a doctor were called in. He was better on Sunday, but yesterday became suddenly worse. During the early part of his stay Admiral Boyle had a good deal-of shooting on Rigton moors with Lord Harewood. Princess Mary and Lord Lascelles were staying at Harewood at the time, and Admiral Boyle was to have been one of the visitors to Doncaster races.

Admiral Boyle was the third son of the fifth Earl of Shannon by his marriage to Lady Blanche Emma Lascelles, daughter of the third Earl of Harewood, and was uncle and heir presumptive to the present Earl of Shannon. Born on December 12, 1863, the late admiral was a half-brother of Captain the Hon. Edward Boyle, R.N., and of Rear-Admiral the Hon. Algernon Boyle, C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O., now Fourth Sea Lord of the Admiralty. Entering the Navy in 1877, he was midshipman of the Minotaur during the Egyptian War of 1882, for which he received the medal and the Khedive's bronze star, and he obtained his promotion to lieutenant in 1886. Selected to qualify in gunnery, he joined, in 1891, as gunnery lieutenant, the Raleigh, flagship at the Cape. From her he was landed for service in Rear-Admiral Bedford's punitive expedition at Bathurst, on the River Gambia, in February, 1894. In this undertaking, for which he was mentioned-in dispatches, he was dangerously wounded, and had been in receipt of a special wound pension from August 1, 1896, until his death. On returning home he was appointed to the Royal yacht Victoria and Albert, and promoted commander from her in 1897. He afterwards commanded the Caledonia, boys' training ship at Queensferry, and was made captain in 1903. He then served as a member of the Cookery Committee appointed by the Admiralty, but from 1905 to 1911 was continuously afloat, commanding during this period the Leviathan, Prince George, Antrim, and Duke of Edinburgh, in home waters and the Mediterranean. From 1911 to 1914 he had charge of the Eastern Coastguard District, with headquarters at Harwich, until promoted to flag rank.

During the early months of the European War he was on half-pay, but in April, 1915, was appointed in command of the Marne patrol area, and remained in the auxiliary patrol service until after the Armistice. Promoted vice-admiral in February, 1910, he retired forthwith, and last year was appointed a nautical assessor to attend the hearing of Admiralty appeals in the House of Lords.

Vice-Admiral Boyle married, in 1899, Cerise, third daughter of Sir Claude Champion-de-Crespigny, and had two sons and two daughters. The elder son, Vivian Francis, entered the Navy during the war and was promoted sub-lieutenant last January.

Cerise died on 7 April 1951 in Kingston, Jamaica, at the age of 75. Her death was announced in The Times of 12 April 1951:

BOYLE.-On April 7 1951, peacefully, in Jamaica, CERISE, wife of the late VICE-ADMIRAL the HON. ROBERT FRANCIS BOYLE, second daughter of Claude Champion de Crespigny, Fourth Baronet, of Drakelow, Virginia Water, Surrey, aged 75 years.


WikitreeCerise (Champion de Crespigny) Boyle (1875 – 1951)