Remembering my Grandfather’s Holden cars

From 1948, for more than six decades, one of Australia’s most popular cars was a locally designed and manufactured General Motors sedan called the Holden.

Those days are gone. Holdens ceased to be manufactured in Australia in 2017, and yesterday General Motors announced the ‘retirement of the Holden brand in Australia and New Zealand’.

The first car of my maternal grandfather Hans Boltz (1910 -1992) was a Holden, which he bought in 1959. Hans owned only Holdens. In the 60s I remember he had a blue Holden. My parents had a similar green Holden. In the 1970s he had a metallic gold Holden with red cloth seats. Hans’s last car was a Holden Commodore, white with pale blue seats.

Ridley Street 1966 abt_0002

My grandfather, Hans Boltz, working on his lawn mower in front of the garage with a Holden parked inside. My brother is looking on. Photograph about 1966. Greg tells me this an EH.

1967 St Barbary land with Holden

My parents’ new block of land near Batemans Bay before the house was built. Their Holden car is in the middle. Photo about 1967.

deCrespigny 1968 StBarbary _0010

My parents’ Holden car in 1968 at Batemans Bay. Greg tells me this is an EJ.

A Colonial Dinner

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt photograph has men sitting at long tables for a formal dinner. This reminded me of a painting by my fourth great aunt, Martha Berkeley née Chauncy (1813 – 1899), sister of Philip Chauncy (1816 – 1880), my third great grandfather.

Martha arrived in Adelaide South Australia in February 1837 on the John Renwick with her husband and her unmarried sister Theresa (1807 – 1876). They landed just six weeks after the Proclamation of the Province on 28 December 1836 when, by Vice-regal proclamation, South Australia was established as a British province

Martha was an artist. Several of her works are held by the Art Gallery of South Australia. One of the more notable is a watercolour of The first dinner given to the Aborigines 1838.


Berkeley Martha, The first dinner given to the Aborigines 1838, Art Gallery of South Australia

A notice appeared in the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register on October 27 announcing a conference with the Aborigines of the Province with a dinner to be given to them.


Advertising. (1838, October 27). South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide, SA : 1836 – 1839), p. 1. Retrieved from

Martha’s watercolour was:

Her major work … a large watercolour, The First Dinner Given to the Aborigines (AGSA), depicting the three Adelaide tribes being entertained by Governor Gawler on 1 November 1838. The Aborigines sit awaiting the distribution of biscuits, meat, tea and blankets, while their three chiefs, dressed in new jackets provided by the settlers, stand together at the inner edge of the circle surrounding the Governor, the Protector of Aborigines and their wives. Behind the Aborigines is a standing ring of settlers, which includes obvious portraits. Berkeley added a pencil description of the event on the back of the painting in 1847, which confirms her aim of recording an important historical event for posterity. (Kerr, Joan. “Martha Maria Snell Berkeley.” Design & Art Australia Online. Design & Art Australia Online retrieved from )

This description aligns with a newspaper account of the event in the Southern Australian of 3 November 1838.

THE ABORIGINES.—On Thursday last, in pursuance of an advertisement issued by the Governor, a dinner was given to the natives, and the occasion excited much interest in the town. Soon after the hour appointed for the assembling, a vast concourse of the inhabitants had collected on the ground, and were enjoying the fineness of the weather in promenading for upwards of two hours before the ceremonies commenced.

About two o’clock a band of about 160 natives were assembled, and their appearance was certainly highly pleasing and orderly ; their huzzas would have done great credit to the lungs and voices of English-men, and their general, demeanour upon the occasion was very orderly. The native men were dressed in gaudy coloured cottons and the women had new blankets and rugs; and the tout ensemble of the group had a very striking effect.

Soon after they arrived, His Excellency said a few words, which were translated by Mr. WYATT, expressive of his desire that they should imitate the good qualities of the whites, learn to fear and love God, learn English, cease from quarrels with each other, and pay respect to the property of the whites.— Whether they understood what was said, we know not, but the vacant stare and senseless faces of many evidently bespoke utter ignorance of the meaning of His Excellency.

Immediately after, they squatted on the ground in a series of groups, and were regaled with roast beef, biscuit, rice, and sugar water, and if we may judge of their enjoyment of their repast by the quantity consumed, we should say they certainly did enjoy it. Trials of throwing the spear followed, and at a late hour in the afternoon the company dispersed. The Governor had very politely provided a luncheon on the ground, for the ladies and gentlemen visitors, which was also rather numerously attended, but whether with the same effect we have not the means of ascertaining ; however, every one appeared highly to enjoy the holiday.

Of the usefulness of this ceremony we have some doubts, but we trust it may be productive of good. To some part of it we most decidedly object—that was, rewarding and cheering those who could throw the spear with the greatest accuracy. An hour before, the Governor had told them to respect the white man’s property, and not to spear his sheep and his cattle, and immediately afterwards they were regaled with fine fresh beef, and exercised in the art of throwing the spear! Surely we should induce them to abandon a practice so dangerous to the peace of the colony, and the very source of all broils, and not encourage them in perpetuating their knowledge of such an art.

In May 1838 there had been another dinner of about 200 ladies and gentlemen assembled to farewell Governor George Gawler who was leaving London for South Australia. In Gawler’s speech he spoke of the Aborigines:

There is one interesting circumstance connected with the colony on which I can –
not help remarking; it is with regard to the aborigines. A great many here perhaps are acquainted with a report of parliament on the subject of the aborigines, in which it appears that colonization has been almost every where (I believe there is not an exception save South Australia) either the cause of the destruction or demoralization of the aborigines. I hope South Australia will continue to be an exception to that rule, and I hope I shall never forget towards the aborigines of South Australia, what I never forget to any other men, that as children of one common parent, they are “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” I never yet heard of a man so wild that judicious Kindness did not in some degree succeed in taming, and I hope that this particular case will not prove an exception. (DINNER TO GOVERNOR GAWLER AND THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COLONIZATION COMMISSIONERS. (1838, May 9). South Australian Record (SA : 1837 – 1840), p. 5. Retrieved from )

Gawler arrived in South Australia on 12 October 1838 after a four month journey. One of his early gestures as a Governor was the Dinner for the Aborigines. It is a great pity that colonisation in South Australia did not become the exception but also led to the destruction and demoralisation of the South Australian Aboriginal people.

Adding colour to black and white photos with new MyHeritage in Color tool

Did you know that black-and-white photographs can be colourised?

A new tool to do this, easy to use and free to MyHeritage subscribers, is now available at:

Not everyone would agree that artificially colourised photographs are better than black-and-white photographs. Perhaps it depends on the photo.

What do you think?

Here are some of the photos in my collection that have been colourised with the new tool.

My great grandmother, Kathleen Mary Cudmore formerly Cavenagh-Mainwaring née Cavenagh, and her sisters in about 1908. I wrote about them at N is for Naval husbands.

The school in about 1919 of my grandfather, Hans Boltz (1910 – 1992)

And a picture of my grandfather as a young boy. I wrote about him at Hans Boltz’s school photograph


A photograph taken about 1899 of Greg’s great grandfather John Young (1856 – 1928) with Greg’s grandfather Cecil (1898 – 1975), Jack Young (1896 – 1918), and John’s two step-children Bob (1883 – 1957) and Mary Whiteman (1884 – 1945). I wrote about this photo at Y is for Young family photographs.

Through her eyes: votes for women 1903

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 Dana

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


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

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.


A portrait of Betsy or of Anne?

In 1912 pastel portraits of four members of the Champion de Crespigny family were sold by the art-auction firm Christie’s. The unnamed artist was listed as ‘British school’.

Without offering any authority for its identifications, Christie’s sale catalogue names the sitters as:

  • Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny, Bart., in grey coat and plum coloured vest
  • Susanna, sister of the above, and wife of Sir Richard Sutton, Bart,. in white flowered cloak and straw hat
  • Sarah, wife of Sir William Champion de Crespigny, Bart., in yellow dress with blue scarf
  • Anne, wife of Philip de Crespigny, Esq., in white flowered dress, oval

The portrait of Anne is now considered to have been the work of an eighteenth-century Scottish portrait-painter, Katherine Read (1723 – 1778). It was sold most recently by Sotheby’s auction house in 2018. The other three portraits are probably by the same artist.

CdeC Anne de Crespigny pastel sold by Sothebys in 2018

Katherine Read PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN, PROBABLY ANNE CHAMPION DE CRESPIGNY (1739-1797), BUST LENGTH, WITHIN A DRAWN OVAL sold by Sotheby’s lot 54 29 October 2018

Last year on a visit to Kelmarsh Hall, the Northamptonshire country residence of the Lancaster family who were cousins of the Champion de Crespigny family, I took the opportunity to view the various de Crespigny and other family portraits on display.

The Kelmarsh collection includes oil-on-canvas copies of all four of the portraits sold in 1912. However, there are discrepancies between the names attributed to the sitters of the pastel portraits and those of the oil copies.

Kelmarsh Hall oil on canvas portraits of Claude, Susan, Mary, and Betsy de Crespigny

The first two portraits, Claude (1734 – 1818), the first baronet, in a plum-coloured waistcoat and Susan wearing a straw hat, are clearly copies of the pastels and there is no discrepancy as to who the sitters were.

Susan, Claude’s sister, was born 1735 and died in 1766, which means that her portrait was probably drawn before 1766. In 1765 Susan married Richard Sutton. It seems reasonable to suppose that this portrait was done about the time of her wedding.

The sitter of the third pastel portrait was identified in the 1912 Christie’s catalogue as Sarah (1763 – 1825), wife of Sir William Champion de Crespigny (1765 – 1829).

Kelmarsh Hall has a oil portrait said to be of Sarah, and in this she is wearing a blue dress with a yellow shawl not, as in the pastel, a yellow dress with blue scarf. She is very much younger than the other sitters.

Kelmarsh Hall also has a portrait of Mary (1747 – 1812), wife of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny the first baronet. She is wearing a yellow dress with a blue shawl, as described in the 1912 catalogue. I think it more likely based on the description that the third pastel portrait in the 1912 catalogue is the portrait hanging at Kelmarsh and now said to be of Mary de Crespigny née  Clarke.

Kelmarsh Hall: Lady Sarah Windsor (1763–1825) and Mary Clarke (1749–1812), Wife of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny, 1st Bt

Claude and Mary married in 1764. I think perhaps the first and third portraits were done not long after their wedding, maybe about 1765, at the time when Susan’s portrait was done. It seems likely that the 1912 catalogue misidentified the sitter as the wife of the second baronet. She was in fact Mary, wife of the first baronet. The Kelmarsh Hall portrait of Mary seems to be a better match to the other three portraits and thus likely to be a copy of the third pastel sold in 1912.

There is another possibility: the third portrait is of Sarah Champion de Crespigny née Cocksedge, the first wife of Philip Champion de Crespigny who was the brother of Claude and Susan. Sarah de Crespigny died in 1768. It may be that the 1912 catalogue description correctly identified the sitter as Sarah de Crespigny but misattributed the husband as William de Crespigny (1765 – 1829) instead of his uncle Philip de Crespigny (1738 – 1803). I know of no other portrait of this Sarah de Crespigny.

The fourth portrait, of Anne, has been offered for sale several times since 1912, most recently in 2018. This portrait was probably of Anne Champion de Crespigny, the sister of Philip and Claude, not of her mother, Anne Champion Crespigny née Fonnereau (1704 – 1782), wife of Philip (1704 – 1765). The woman in the portrait, probably drawn in the 1760s, is too young to be the senior Anne de Crespigny.

The pastel portrait sold most recently by Sotheby’s in 2018 and thought to be of Anne de Crespigny, and the Kelmarsh oil on canvas portrait said to be of Betsy de Crespigny née Handly. I am reasonably certain the painting at Kelmarsh Hall is a copy of the pastel portrait and is thus of the same woman – so is the portrait of Anne or of Betsy?

However, the copy of the portrait identified in 1912 and 2018 as Anne de Crespigny is identified at Kelmarsh as being of Betsy Hodges née Handly formerly Borradale, second wife of Philip Champion de Crespigny brother of Claude and Susan and Anne.

Betsy was born in 1743. In 1765 she married George Borradale, a clergyman. They were divorced in 1769 and Borradale died shortly afterwards. In 1770 or 1771 Betsy married again, to Philip Champion de Crespigny, who had been widowed in 1768. Betsy died in May 1772, not long after the birth of her son Charles Champion de Crespigny (1772 – 1774).

It is hard to know if the pastel portrait with a copy at Kelmarsh Hall is of Anne or her sister-in-law Betsy.

At the time of the 2018 sale of the pastel through Sotheby’s, the description of the work stated that there was an indistinct inscription on the reverse. The lot includes a photo of the reverse but I am unable to make out any inscription. Perhaps in the early 20th century the inscription was clearer and thus the attribution of the sitter as Anne de Crespigny was based on that inscription.

Philip Champion de Crespigny (1738 – 1803) had four wives: Sarah died 1768, Betsy died 1772, Clarissa died 1782 and Dorothy died 1837. Clarissa and Dorothy had their portraits painted by the fashionable artist George Romney. Philip was interested in portrait painting and it seems plausible that his first wife would have had her portrait done.

If the inscription on the reverse of the fourth portrait could be deciphered it might give more certainty as to who the sitter was. Similarly if the third portrait re-appears, an inscription would also give some certainty as to who the sitter might be.

I suspect that the 1912 catalogue was correct in the names of the sitters, that is the four portraits were of Claude, Susan, Sarah and Anne de Crespigny. Confusion may have arisen because the 1912 catalogue was incorrect as to who were the husbands of Sarah and Anne de Crespigny. It also may be that Kelmarsh Hall has misattributed the sitters of the portraits of Mary de Crespigny née  Clarke and Betsy de Crespigny née  Handley. Without further documentation I don’t think it is possible to be certain.

Anne Champion de Crespigny (1739 – 1797)

My sixth great aunt Anne Champion de Crespigny (1739 – 1797) was the sixth of seven children of Philip Champion de Crespigny (1704-1765) and his wife Anne née Fonnereau (1704-1782). She was born on 10 October 1739 and was baptised on 30 October 1739 at the Church of St Benet Paul’s Wharf, London.

Anne’s father Philip had a successful career as a lawyer. At one point he held the position of Marshall of the Court of Admiralty, its senior sheriff. Philip’s father Thomas Champion Crespigny (1666 – 1712), a Huguenot refugee, served in the English army. He died at the age of forty-eight, when Philip was only seven years old. Philip was indentured at the age of fourteen to Charles Garrett, procurator of the ecclesiastical Arches Court of Canterbury. In 1731 Philip married Anne Fonnereau, the daughter of Claude Fonnereau a wealthy Huguenot merchant.

  • Philip and Anne had seven children, two of whom died young:
  • Jane Champion Crespigny 1733–died young
  • Claude Champion de Crespigny 1734–1818 the 1st baronet Champion de Crespigny
  • Susan Champion Crespigny 1735–1766
  • Anne Champion Crespigny 1736–1738
  • Philip Champion Crespigny 1738–1803 my 5th great grandfather
  • Anne Champion Crespigny 1739–1797
  • Jane Champion Crespigny 1742–1829

About 1765, Anne de Crespigny’s portrait was drawn in pastel by Katherine Read (1723 – 1778).

CdeC Anne H0046-L155543688

Anne de Crespigny married twice. Her first marriage, in April 1765, only two months after her father’s death, was to Bonouvrier Glover (1739 – 1780). Her second marriage, in 1783, was to James Gladell, later James Gladell Vernon (1746 – 1819). Anne had no children by either marriage..

Anne left a will dated 7 January 1797 probated in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 5 July 1797. (Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1294) At the time this was drawn up her residence was Hereford Street in the Parish of Saint George Hanover Square in the Liberty of Westminster and County of Middlesex. Her will refers to her marriage settlement, her husband James Gladell now James Gladell Vernon, her brother-in-law, the husband of Susan, Sir Richard Sutton, and to George Stainforth. George Stainforth (abt 1747 – 1815) was the husband of Anne’s cousin Fanny Fonnereau (1743 – 1827). She also mentioned and left money to:

  • her nephews Thomas Champion Crespigny (1763 – 1799) and Philip Champion Crespigny (1765 – 1851), sons of her brother Philip Champion de Crespigny (1738 – 1803) and his first wife Sarah
  • Her brother Claude Champion Crespigny, her sister in law Mary and her nephew William (1765 – 1829)
  • Her godson William Other Champion Crespigny, this would have been the son of William, grandson of Claude, born 1789 and died 1816
  • Her sister Jane Reveley, her brother in law Henry Reveley (1737 – 1798), her niece Henrietta Reveley (1777 – 1862), her nephews Hugh Reveley (1772 – 1851) and Algernon Reveley (1786 – 1870), and her niece Elizabeth Anne Roper (1773 – 1816)
  • Her niece Anne (1768 – 1844) the wife of Hugh Barlow and daughter of Philip Champion de Crespigny (1738 – 1803) and his first wife Sarah
  • Her four nieces Clara (Clarissa 1776 – 1836), Maria (1776 – 1858), Fanny (1779 – 1865) and Elizabeth Champion Crespigny (Eliza 1784 – 1831); daughters of Philip and his 3rd and 4th wives Clarissa and Dorothy
  • Right Honourable Alice Countess of Shipbrook, the widow of her husband’s uncle Francis Vernon (1716 – 1783)
  • Richard Glover (1750 – 1822), her brother-in-law from her first marriage

Following the probate records include a letter from Anne to her niece Henrietta, presumably kept because it describes how she wished to have some of her belongings dispersed. I have transcribed this below, keeping the original spelling.

March the 20th

My Dear Henrietta

As I am going to have an opporation performed that renders my recovery doubtful I write you these lines to say that my wardrobe and all that is in my drawers independant of my Trinket Box (which Mr Vernon is intitled to by right. As well as by my desire I leave to you conditionally that you will resave for your own use and benefit all that – is worth your acceptanttance desiring you will give everything else to my maid Mitrell (?) Who having lived but a few months with me is not intitled to great perquisites at the same time would give her what ever is not worth your acceptance an Ivory ffan which John Shore brought me from India & desire may be sent to my ffriend Lady Shelley as a small token of my Remembrance

Most affectionately A. G. Vernon

Anne Gladell Vernon died on 2 June 1797. This was recorded by The European Magazine, and the London Review.

Anne de Crespigny born 1739 and I share the same name, but I was not named after her.

A scarf for General Birdwood

Everyone knows about WWI comfort funds and the socks that were knitted for the Diggers in the trenches.

But have you heard about the scarf that was knitted for their commanding General?

Birdwood Gallipoli 1915 awm 6184034

Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. 1915. General William Riddell Birdwood (outside his dugout at Anzac. Photograph by Ernest Brooks and retrieved from the Australian War Memorial G00761

In 1916, Sophia, Mrs Philip Champion de Crespigny, (1870 – 1936), second wife of my great great grandfather, started a campaign to knit a scarf for General Birdwood, the popular commander-in-chief of Australian divisions on the front.

The first anniversary of the landing at ANZAC was observed on Tuesday 25 April 1916, with prayers and mourning for the dead.

Three days later ‘ANZAC Button Day’, with parades and many stalls and kiosks, was held in Melbourne to raise money for the troops. One of the attractions was a kiosk, ‘erected by the St. George Society’, an English patriotic society, where for sixpence patriotic knitters could add a row to scarf for General Birdwood.

Mrs Philip Champion de Crespigny was responsible for this money-raising idea.

Sophia Cde C nee Beggs 1894

Sophia Champion de Crespigny about 1894

Two of her sons and two step-sons enlisted during World War 1:

Within a week, a quarter of a yard had been added to Mrs de Crespigny’s scarf, with many sixpences added to the funds. She was aiming for 1½ yards.

Adelaide commentators seem to have been a bit over-critical. The edge of the scarf was wobbly, ‘goffered’ it was said, which means fluted or serrated. Knitters ply their needles differently, of course, at different tensions, so the collaborative scarf could not be expected to be perfectly uniform.

By mid-May Sophia de Crespigny had received so many applications for row-knitting that she hired a room at 349 Collins Street, not far from her husband’s office at 257 Collins Street [he was the general manager at a bank there], where she met prospective knitters between 10 o’clock and half past four on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

In June Sophia de Crespigny travelled to Geelong, where would-be scarf-knitters would find her at the Bank of Victoria in Malop Street.

The Geelong Advertiser reported that the scarf was khaki with a border of General Birdwood’s colours: red, purple, and black, and a touch of yellow. The scarf was now 2½ yards long.

By mid-August Birdwood’s scarf, completed, and yard longer than planned, was put on display in the window of Messrs Singer and Co. in the Block Arcade on Collins Street. There was also a book with the names of over 300 of its volunteer knitters. Sophia’s scarf campaign had raised £13. The Melbourne Lady Mayoress’ fund for Red Cross got £2 18/-, and £10 2/- was presented to the Y.M.C.A. for the benefit of the Australian soldiers at the Front (a national appeal).

Melbourne Punch 24 August 1916 page 32

Melbourne Punch 24 August 1916 page 32

Among letters received by General Birdwood, now digitised by the Australian War Memorial, is one from Sophia, Mrs Philip Champion de Crespigny, forwarding the scarf and the book of names of the ladies who worked on it.

Birdwood letter 3 6098253

Letter from Sophia Champion de Crespigny to General Birdwood enclosing a scarf and a book with the names of the knitters. Retrieved from the Australian War Memorial Letters received by Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood, 1 June 1916 – 25 December 1916

scarf AWM 4230193

I have not found a picture of General Birdwood in a scarf. This picture from the Australian War Memorial is from about 1915: The officer in the foreground, rugged up in a greatcoat and scarf, is possibly Major Harold A Powell of the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC). The tents in the middle distance on the left are probably those of a field hospital; the location appears to be the Gallipoli Peninsula.


General Birdwood’s reply to Sophia de Crespigny was published in the Geelong Advertiser.

Birdwood letter Geelong Advertiser 1916 12 05 a

Birdwood letter Geelong Advertiser 1916 12 05 b

Birdwood mentions that his aide-de-camp Henry de Crespigny (1882 – 1946) was a cousin of Sophia’s husband [Henry was Philip de Crespigny’s 3rd cousin once removed]. Birdwood also mentions Dr de Crespigny and ‘his hospital’. This was the 1st Australian General Hospital in Rouen, commanded by Philip’s son – Sophia’s step-son – Constantine Trent de Crespigny.

Birdwood 1918 trench awm 4096023

General Sir William Riddell Birdwood visiting a Battalion Headquarters in the support line trenches in Ungodly Avenue in the Messines Sector, in Belgium, on 25 January 1918. General Birdwood is second from the left. Australian War Memorial image E01495

Across Australia many other scarves were knitted by ladies who gave their sixpences and shillings to raise money for the soldiers, and it seems more than likely that Sophia’s was not the first. I’m not a great knitter myself – I started a scarf in the 1980s, which forty years later is still less than a foot long – but I’m delighted to have a family connection with Sophia’s.



Other scarves were also knitted for General Birdwood during 1916

Australia Day memories

Greg has contributed a guest post about Australia Day:

With the sky over Sydney now clear of bushfire smoke, much of the heat has gone out of the public clatter about the warm weather we’ve been having – sorry, I mean about climate change – and the chatterati have turned their attention to the other staple of the Christmas holiday news vacuum, faux concern about the meaning, the true, deep, meaningful meaning of Australia Day.

Old New Australians—those whose ancestors got here before yours, so there!—line up to parade their grievances against newer New Australians, the class most of us inhabit. Still heavy with the season’s gluttony, grunting bogans rig up Chinese-made Aussie flags on their clapped-out Commodores, while in more leafy suburbs the Wokes of faux outrage, retrospective history-fixers, play Sensitive Snowflake over their pinot grigio.

It wasn’t always so. When I was a boy no one cared much about Australia Day. In January the Land of the Long Weekend was still half asleep after its holiday break, and apart from a few fussy citizens and sweaty politicians no one could be bothered to notice the reason for another day off work. Most people assumed it was something to do with Captain Cook’s landing in Sydney harbour.* Gallipoli may have come into it, or was that later in the year?

I asked Anne what she could remember about her Australia Days. She did her research:


Australia Day beach ball

Australia Day beach ball made in China

Beginning of Anne’s post

I thought I’d check my memories of Australia Day against Trove’s digitized newspapers.

The Canberra Times from 1926 to 1995 has been digitized and put online, so I looked at its Australia Day reports at five-year intervals from 1965 to 1985. Actually, to be honest, although I grew up in Canberra, I didn’t in fact attend any of the festivities the Times reported. Every summer we had our holidays at the beach, a hundred miles away. My Australia Day was my family’s Australia Day, hardly noticed, and rarely commented on.

[Below, where there is no image of a newspaper page or article I have hyperlinked in the text to the digitised image of the article at]

In 1965 26 January fell on a Tuesday. The lead story concerned the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. None of the stories on the front page were about Australia Day or Australia Day honours. (In fact the Australia Day Honours system was introduced only in 1975.)

Canberra Times 1965 01 26 pg 1

Front page of The Canberra Times 26 January 1965

The editorial on page 2 discussed the possibility of Australia giving 500,000 tons of wheat to India as a gift.

The front page of 27 January 1965 also had no mention of Australia Day. On Saturday 30 January an article under the heading ‘Rain may mar holiday‘ noted there was a chance of scattered thunderstorms over coming the long holiday weekend. The front page of Monday 1 February, the public holiday marking Australia Day that year, also had no article mentioning Australia Day or honours. The editorial that day discussed universities.

In 1970 Australia Day fell on a Monday. The front page of the day did not mention Australia Day. Northern Ireland, Vietnam, Israel and Egypt were in the news. The editorial concerned police arrests of homosexual men in public toilets. The Canberra Times on 27 January reported that about 10,000 people had visited the city’s swimming pools on the previous day. In 1971 Canberra’s population was 144,000.

The first Aboriginal ‘tent embassy’  was set up on the lawns of Parliament House on Australia Day in 1972.

In 1975 Australia Day fell on a Sunday and the Canberra Times was not published on Sundays. On Monday 27 January one of the front page stories reported on festivities at Manuka Oval viewed by 3,500 to 4,000 people. There was a brief glance at Australia before White settlement but the more prominenent reenactments concerned other things: the Boer War, Dame Nellie Melba, and the bodyline cricket crisis of 1932-33. I can’t remember where I was for Australia Day 1975 but I am quite sure I wasn’t at Manuka Oval. The editorial of the day discussed the consumer price index.

Canberra Times 1975 01 27 pg 1

The Canberra Times 27 January 1975 page 1


In Canberra the first Australia Day to be celebrated with fireworks was in 1977 on the holiday Monday of 31 January.

In 1980 Australia Day was on a Saturday. One of the front page stories concerned awards for Australia Day Honours. The weather was going to be fine for the holiday weekend. The editorial concerned dissidents in the Soviet Union. On Sunday 27 January 1980 the lead story was a protest by motorcyclists about motorcycle laws. Australia Day sport was promised inside the paper. The editorial was on dog ownership. The front page of Monday 28 January did not mention Australia Day. The editorial discussed the boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games. On 29 January the newspaper reported that Australia Day was celebrated by thousands. The entertainment included the dunking in Lake Burley Griffin of John Haslem, the local member of Parliament.

Canberra Times 1980 01 29 pg 1

The Canberra Times 29 January 1980 page 1 featuring John Haslem being dunked in the lake


On Saturday 26 January 1985 the front page was dominated by a siege in a gunshop in the Canberra city centre, with only a small mention of Australia Day Honours on the front page. The editorial discussed the celebration of Australia Day. It mentioned Aboriginal ‘injustices’. The Canberra Times of Sunday 27 January reported on festivities at Weston Park and Black Mountain Peninsula. A ‘Miss Ocker’ competition was won by an eight year old girl. The festivities included Aboriginal dancers and entertainers. These 1985 festivities seem somewhat similar to the festivities still put on, thirty five years later. The editorial on 27 January discussed the Prime Minister’s cricket match.

Canberra Times 1985 01 27 pg 1

The Canberra Times 27 January 1985 page 1

End of Anne’s post

Greg concludes:

Does any of this sound like public breast-beating over the guilt we are supposed to suffer for our collective good fortune?

* Smarty pants will recognise the small inaccuracies here.

In memory of lost homes

The cynical French epigram “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (The more change she is paid [when shopping], the more a lady will choose…)* describes it nicely: someone who has money left over from his purchase of a house will use it to choose additions and alterations and then, unsatisfied with the change he’s got out of it, will bowl the whole thing over and build a new home for himself on the cleared site.

* [perhaps I have not translated exactly 😉 ]

Many of the houses I recall from my childhood and later years have been destroyed by their new owners.

Of course the new owner is entitled to rebuild, and – who knows? – the new house may be more comfortable. It is not cheap to maintain an old house, and some new houses may be measurably better in every way. Even so, it is sad to see a place you knew and loved simply discarded like a worn-out shoe.

The house I grew up in and where we spent the first 30 years of our married life was bulldozed by its new owners.

The beach house my parents built when I was a child was badly damaged by termites, which had penetrated the concrete foundations. This was discovered too late for the house to be saved and it had to be torn down.

old St Barbary

My parents’ beach house when it was newly built in the 1960s

My paternal grandparents’ house in Adelaide was bulldozed by the people to whom it was sold.

My maternal grandparents’ house was extensively renovated after their death.  Although parts of it remain unchanged, the re-modelled house has quite a different feel to it.

19 Ridley Street about 1966

Me on my scooter outside my maternal grandparents’ house

The house of my mother-in-law, in Albury, was sold after her death. Then her pretty garden was cleared. Soon afterwards the house itself went.

Hovell Street Marjorie bush house

Greg’s mother Marjorie Young nee Sullivan in front of her bush house in the back garden

Hovell Street Greg 1966 Jim Windsor's car

1966: Greg sitting on the bonnet of a 1959 Plymouth. Jim Windsor, a family friend and the car’s owner is behind the wheel. Not sure who is in the passenger seat, probably Greg’s mother Marjorie. The car is parked in the street outside the Young family home.

Hovell Street Greg 1966

Greg outside his home in Albury 1966

My children liked playing in the garden, my son took some of his first steps clinging to the front fence, and there was the most magnificent and prolific lemon tree in the back garden.

Greg’s maternal grandparents’ house in Castlemaine, which he remembers as a lovely old place with chooks and a vegetable garden, has gone. Next door there’s now a car-wash. Down the road is a large estate of new houses, all made out of ticky-tacky. They all look just the same.

Sullivan Home 19 Elizabeth Street Castlemaine

There is an exception. The house of Greg’s early childhood in Ballarat still stands. Out the back Greg can remember a large stable. It’s still there.

505 Drummond Street about 1993

Ballarat snowman back yard 1949

1949 snowman in the back garden of the Ballarat house

For the most part the houses as physical structures have gone, but I will continue to remember them as warm homes I used to know and love.

Longing for ancestors

This week’s prompt for the 52 ancestors series is “Long Line”.

Here’s a long line: (with many millions of other people) I can trace my family back to William I of England, one of my 28th grandfathers. I’m lucky to have forebears whose doings were documented, doubly lucky that the relevant records were preserved. This was their long suit.


Bayeaux tapestry: Duke William raises his helmet so as to be recognized on the battlefield of Hastings. Eustace II, Count of Boulogne points to him with his finger.


Another long line: one branch of my descent has had a long, enduring association with Whitmore, a Staffordshire manor, in the same family for more than 900 years. No long division there.

Whitmore Hall 1841

Whitmore Hall in 1841


And there’s long line as in the line of the surname ‘Long’. I can do this one too (my family tree is wide as well as long):

  • Harriet Frances Jane Long (1857 – 1938) was the mother-in-law of one of my husband’s great aunts.
  • James Long (no dates) was the husband of the sister-in-law of my first cousin six times removed
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882), the American poet, was the father-in-law of my 3rd cousin 4 times removed.

Perhaps occasionally family history feels a bit like long-lining, a commercial fishing technique, where hundreds or thousands of baited hooks are set out in the hope of catching at least something. You can never be sure quite what you’ve dredged up, but it’s a long path that has no turnings, be in it for the long run, every crowd has a silver lining, and for those with Irish ancestors, including me, it’s a long way to Tipperary. Take the long view, go long in the market, and line them up. Just don’t be long-winded.

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