Constantine Pulteney Trent Champion de Crespigny was born at St Malo, France, on 5 May 1851, the son of Philip Champion Crespigny and his wife Charlotte Frances née Dana. He was christened on 28 May at the Anglican Chapel, Saint-Servan-sur-Mer, which is two miles from St Malo. He was the third child of the couple; his older sister Ada was born in 1848 and his brother Philip was born in 1850.
Not long after his birth his parents emigrated to Australia from England with their two older children. They left Constantine in England in the care of his grandparents and aunt. The Champion Crespigny family embarked from Plymouth on the Cambodia on 3 December 1851 when Constantine was not yet 7 months old. They must have determined he was too small and not strong enough to make the journey.
The family stayed in touch by letters and copies of some of this correspondence survives. For example:
undated but before July 1856
My dearest little Ada and Loup Loup:
A thousand thanks for your nice little letter which delighted me. Little Conny could not read them but Charlie learnt them by heart and repeated them to the little darling. I hope Ada has received the little books I sent her by this time and that you have both had a ride in Papa’s new carriage. Grandpapa will send you some seeds for your garden by the Great Britain Steam Ship and I hope you will have as much pleasure in growing your mustard and cress as Charlie has. Conny and Charlie are always talking of you and longing to have you both as playfellows. Do send me word what I can send you my little darlings to amuse you. I am very glad the boots fitted so well. Goodbye to you both. Conny and Charlie send you many kisses and I am ever your Affte. Gd. Mama.
Gd. Papa and Aunt send you many loves and kisses.
The letter is from Eliza Julia Champion Crespigny née Trent (1797 – 1856), wife of Charles James Fox Crespigny (1785 – 1875), and mother to Philip senior. Loup Loup was a nick name for Philip junior and means wolf. Charlie is the cousin of Constantine, Charles Stanley Champion Crespigny (1848 – 1907), the son of Philip’s older brother Charles John Champion Crespigny (1814 – 1880). The aunt was Philip’s sister, Eliza Constantia Frances Champion Crespigny (1817 – 1898). It was Constantia who spent much time caring for young Con.
from letter of 9 January 1858 from Charles James Champion Crespigny at Cheltenham to his son Philip
… The care she [Philip’s sister Constantia] takes in your dear Con and the delight she has in him is not to be described. It will be a great loss and pain to us to part with him when the time comes that he must go to school. He says positively that he will not go till he is eight and gets on so well with us that it will be time enough. I much wish to live long enough to see him grow up and started in the world but this is hardly to be expected.
When old enough and if we think it will be best to send him to the College here – 600 boys! but it is very good and terms very moderate, within sixty pounds a year – if a boy is at a boarding house, the last forty and twelve or fourteen to the college and about twelve per annum to hire the presentation or pay about one hundred in purchase of a presentation which is always saleable when you want it no longer. I have offered to pay for Charlie’s if Charlie will send him there and I think Charles has made up his mind to do so. I much wish the two dear boys to be brought up together. They are exceedingly fond of each other. Conny is of course exceedingly fond of Constantia but he will say that he likes me but “except you know my Papa and Mama and my brothers and sisters, I like them best of all.” He is often talking of you all and asking various questions about you. He has excellent qualities and gets on well in everything. He never will be idle a moment but must read or write or draw, but it would be needless to speak of him as I am sure Constantia has told you all about him. He is delighted now with Charles with us for his holidays. …
I must give you Conny’s last remark to Constantia just reported: He said: “Grand P was sent to school at 5 years old because he was not loved. Now I am so much loved you will not bear to part with me at 8. You will not know how to let me go to school.” The fact is I was so hideous they could not bear the sight of me and till 5 I was left always with servants in the country.
From about 1858 there was a photograph of Con taken with his grandfather. The original is in my father’s possession.
From: Constantine Pulteney Trent ChC
To: Philip Robert [his father]
April 9 1859
My dear Papa
I beg you will write to me next time. I am sorry Mama had rheumatism when you wrote. Charlie has got the measles. I have seen a panorama * of Delhi with the Massacre of Cawnpore! My Aunt did not go as she could not stand that, so I went with Payne.
I am too busy pasting in my scrap-book to finish this myself. Charlie and I had no more pictures to paste, but Grd.papa went out and brought us home 4 dozen old “Punch’s”. I send my love to all and remain
What fearfully hot weather you have had! I am very glad you are en permanence
at Amherst. We have your letters up to Feby.12.1
In 1861 Con was living with his grandfather, aunt and three servants (cook, parlour maid and house maid) at 11 Royal Parade Cheltenham.
Contemporary photos of a Royal Parade house currently for sale given an indication of their home:2
From: Eliza Constantia Frances ChC [Aunt Constantia]
To: Ada ChC [age 14]
May 19th, 1862
My dearest Ada
I was delighted to receive your very nice note and to read such a cheering and pleasant account of you all and I am sure it must fill you with joy to see your dearest Papa’s health so wonderfully improved. I hope both he and your dearest Mama continue well. It was also a great comfort to me to find you were all getting the better of that dreadful whooping cough. Your dear brother Con is not looking well just now and I shall be glad when we can go to the sea or somewhere for a change next month and when you receive this I hope we shall be not here. Perhaps we shall go to Malvern as that is much nearer than the sea-side and the mountain scenery is very beautiful. Con would enjoy it I think even more than the sea.
A young friend of ours at College here has asked Con to take a long walk with him on Saturday and he is looking forward to it with great joy! The young Collegian is much older than Con who is rather proud of being patronised by him but I don’t much like Con going out in the scorching sun and shall persuade them to put off their walk to the evening.
I have nothing more to tell you, my dearest Ada, except to beg you to write to me as often as you can and to tell me all about each one of the family at Daisy Hill. [Daisy Hill was the name of the goldfield by Amherst.] With fondest love to all
Ever yr Affte Aunt E C F Crespigny
In 1871 Con was still with his grandfather and aunt at 11 Royal Parade Cheltenham. There were still 3 servants, one of whom, Susan Tolman had been in the household ten years ago. Con was an ensign with the 69th Regiment.
Con’s grandfather died 4 March 1875. Con joined his parents and siblings in Australia. He arrived in Melbourne on 16 November 1875 on the iron clipper ship Melbourne which departed London on 17 August. It was the maiden voyage of the ship and a report of the ship and the voyage appeared in The Argus of 17 November 1875 on page 4.
From: Eliza Constantia Frances ChC [sister of Philip Robert]
To: Rosalie Helen Beggs
12th May, 1876
My dear Rose
I have not written to you since your marriage but I very often think of you all and especially of you and your dear Frank, and believe you are all very dear to me for yr loved parents’ sake tho’ so far away and unknown. Con being amongst you seems to bring you all even nearer to my heart than ever, and you, the youngest of all my nieces, yet the first to marry, you of whom your dear Mother has so often written in deep sorrow and anxiety when you have been laid upon a bed of sickness, – you can hardly imagine the tender interest I take in you, or how earnestly I wish and how fervently I pray that your married life may be blessed with true happiness, for dear Con assures me your husband is one of the best fellows he ever met and sure to make you happy! And the satisfaction and comfort yr parents feel in seeing their darling married to one they have so long known and esteemed must, I think, render yr happiness as perfect as it is possible to be in this world.
Con had been enjoying himself immensely in your house when he last wrote to me. It was such a pleasure to him to see his little sister in her dignified matronly character! Poor Con! ‘Twas a sad fate for him to lose his profession and to be an idle man at 25. But the love of parents, brothers and sisters which you have all so freely and fondly bestowed upon your newly imported brother, has brightened his life, hitherto so sadly clouded, and if only his hopes of employment are realised, I trust his life may yet be a happy and useful one.
I feel so grateful to everyone of those who have been so kind to Con and I know how kind and hospitable your father-in-law has been and how he has enjoyed himself at Eurambeen (I don’t know if I spell the name right!). I suppose Con rides with you sometimes when you are together. Mount him on a good horse and he is at the summit of felicity! He has told me of the rides he has enjoyed. He must be dreadfully missed in your old home, particularly, I should think, by Vi, as she is nearest yr age. I hope she enjoyed the ball at Woolaston to which she was enabled to go by yr dear Frank’s kindness.
Try and find time now and then to write to yr old Aunt, my dear Rose, and with much love to you both
Believe me always
Yr affte Aunt
E C F Ch. Crespigny
In June 1877 Con was appointed truant officer for the Education Department: From The Argus of Friday 15 June 1877 page 4:
Mr. T. C. Crespigny has been appointed truant officer for the St. Kilda district.
From The Argus of Saturday 16 June 1877 page 7:
Mr. Crespigny’s appointment as truant officer, announced in Friday’s Argus, includes the district of Prahran as well as St Kilda.
In July 1877 Con wrote a letter to the paper concerning an attack on his dog, a terrier, in Albert Park. He was living in Gurner Street, St Kilda. The letter was published by The Argus on 7 July 1877 page 8.
|Map showing Gurner Street and Albert Park retrieved from Google maps 7 April 2013
In 1879 there was an assault case in which Constantine seems to have been involved. Waiting on newspaper report digitisation to be completed. Will update this post then:
- FRIDAY, MARCH 14.
- The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian (Vic. : 1866 – 1888) Saturday 15 March 1879 p 3 Article
LrConstainines ” Crespigny summoned Mathias Lyons for assault. The evidence. showed that the plaintiff and walking near the South Beach last Sunday
The Sydney Morning Herald
of 10 August 1880 reported the arrival of the Wotonga
at Sydney on 9 August having sailed from Melbourne. Passengers included CP Crespigny and P C Crespigny. This may well have been father and son, C P being Constantine Pulteney, or possibly Con was accompanied by his older brother Philip. This appears just to have been a visit to Sydney. CP Crespigny left Melbourne on board the Sobraon
in February 1881.
From The Argus of 14 February 1881, Shipping Intelligence on page 4:
From: Eliza Constantia Frances ChC
To: Rosalie Helen [her niece]
29 Kingsholm Road
4th Aug, 1881
My dear Rose
Con wishes me to tell you how glad he was to get your letters and how much he regrets his inability to answer them. He has been very weak and ill ever since his return. A few weeks ago there was some slight improvement. The intense heat we had seemed not only to benefit his lungs but to relieve his fever. Certainly he ceased during those extremely hot days to suffer from daily attacks of fever, tho’ in some ways the intense heat tried him severely. But with a sudden change in the weather and fall of temperature his fever returned with increased severity. One of the lungs got worse and had to be treated with repeated blisters. It is now better but the daily attacks of fever are terrible, lasting sometimes 8 hours during which he suffers acute headaches, shortness of breath, cough and nausea. He seems sometimes ready to die, so very ill is he.
Under these circumstances I am sure you will see how difficult it is for him to write even a few lines to his Mother and I am always trying to impress upon him that he ought not to tax his strength by writing, and that if he must write, it should be onlyto his Mother and let that be considered enough for the family. I feel sure you will forgive him for deferring to write to you till he is better, altho’ it is a very great pleasure to him to hear from you. I hope this will find you and your husband pretty well. I was sorry to hear that he had not been well. With fond love from Con and much from me
Ever Yr affte Aunt
E C F Ch Crespigny
Con is only able to take a short drive for little more than half an hour on his best days when he feels his best.
From: Eliza Constantia Frances ChC
To: Rosalie Helen [her niece]
Tuesday, 6th March 
My dearest Rose
Just one line to enclose 2nd half £5 notes. I hope you recvd first half all safe in last mail.5
My heart aches for yr poor Mother who would now, as I believe be receiving my letter of 25 January, telling her how near death her darling was – tho’ I scarcely knew that he must be taken from me the very next day. I miss him more and more and long to go to him.
God bless you and your husband, dearest Rose.
Your affte Aunt
E C F Ch Crespigny
Con’s death was announced in The Argus of 24 March 1883:
Constantine is buried at St Peter’s, Leckhampton, Gloucestershire with his grandparents. His grave states:
“Constantine Trent Pulteney Champion_Crespigny. Late of HM 69th Regt. Born 5th May 1851. Died 26th January 1883. Youngest son of Philip Robert Champion Crespigny of St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia”6
The verse under Constantine’s inscription is Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
On 5 March 1882 Constantine’s nephew, the second son of Philip, was born at Queenscliff, Victoria and named Constantine Trent.
Letters, copy held by my father Rafe de Crespigny:
The originals of these letters were in the possession of my grandfather Sir Constantine Trent ChC/CdeC. After his death in 1952, his second wife Mary Birks nee Jolley, Lady de Crespigny, had them copy-typed by Ms W M Walsh, and distributed the copies among members of the family. I obtained a set through my father Richard Geoffrey CdeC, Constantine Trent’s elder son. It seems probable that most of the letters were collected by Ada Champion Crespigny (1848-1927), eldest daughter of Philip Robert ChC (1817-1889), for many of them are addressed to her.
1. Constantine ChC, born in May 1851, was now just under 8 years old.
The asterisk has a note by the transcriber: from here adult writing by Charles James Fox ChC.
The siege of Cawnpore [modern Kanpur] concluded on 24 June 1857 with the slaughter of the British defenders as they sought to leave under promise of safe conduct. Panoramas were common forms of exhibition at this time. The spectators entered a large room and the event was displayed, normally in two dimensions, on the surrounding walls, aided by special lighting.
In February 1859 Philip Robert was appointed from Justice of the Peace to Police Magistrate at Amherst in the county of Talbot, some 5 kilometres northwest of that town. Philip Robert had formerly held general posts as Assistant Commissioner for Crown Lands, Magistrate in the Colony of Victoria and Warden of the Goldfields.↩
2. images retrieved from Google maps http://goo.gl/maps/66hZh retrieved 7 April 2013 and from http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/21093258 7 bedroom property for sale £1,800,000 Royal Parade, Cheltenham GL50↩
3. from page 215 of The Army List Author Colonel H. G. Hart Published 1870 Original from Oxford University Digitized 15 Oct 2007 retrieved from http://books.google.com.au/books?id=C_ANAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA215 3 February 2012 ↩
4. Constantia, born in 1825, was now 51 years old. Rose, born in October 1858, was now 17 years old. She had married Francis Beggs of Beaufort on 3 February 1876. ↩
5. One means of sending money with some security by post was to cut bank-notes in two. Each note was printed with a number in two places. Half a note, with only one number, was valueless, but when the two halves were put together they could be credited with a bank. ↩
6. Tombstone inscriptions from http://www.stpeters-leckhampton.org.uk/ retrieved 7 April 2013.
The full tombstone transcription is:
M11 Chest-tomb, on base, inward sloping sides, worn, once painted. Sc: LEWIS.Sc.
South: IN MEMORY OF
CHARLES FOX CHAMPION CRESPIGNY,
BORN AT HINTLESHAM HALL NEAR IPSWICH 30TH AUGUST 1785,
DIED AT CHELTENHAM 4TH MARCH 1875.
IN SURE AND CERTAIN HOPE OF BEING RAISED WITH THE FAITHFUL IN CHRIST
TO EVERLASTING LIFE.
ALSO OF CONSTANTINE TRENT PULTENEY CHAMPION CRESPIGNY.
LATE OF H.M. 69th REGT BORN 5TH MAY 1851. DIED 26TH JANUARY 18–.
YOUNGEST SON OF PHILIP ROBERT CHAMPION CRESPIGNY
OF ST KILDA, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
– – – – – – LL YE THAT LABOUR AND – – – HEAVY LADEN – – – WILL OF – – –
North: IN MEMORY OF /
ELIZA JULIA, THE BELOVED WIFE OF
CHARLES FOX CHAMPION CRESPIGNY ESQUIRE,
WHO DIED THE 17TH DAY OF JULY 1855, AGED 59 YEARS.
PURE AND INNOCENT OF MIND, KIND AND BENEVOLENT, “HER WAYS WERE WAYS OF
PLEASANTNESS, AND ALL HER PATHS WERE PEACE.” PROVERBS. III.17.
UNTO YOU THAT HAVE MY NAME SHALL THE SUN(sic) OF RIGHTOUSNESS ARISE
WITH HEALING IN HIS WINGS. MALACHI IV 2
I WILL RANSOM THEM FROM THE POWER OF THE GRAVE I WILL REDEEM THEM
FROM DEATH. HOSEA XIII.I.
– -EL- – – – NOT SHARE OUR SORROW, S——– THE -OT-E— BLESSED
– – – – – – – A FUTURE LIFE – – – – – – – – – -SAVED – – – – – .
The verse under Constantine’s inscription is Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. The verse for his grandfather is derived from the Book of Common Prayer but is not a direct quote. ↩