Monday, 1 April 2013

Australian arrival of the Champion Crespigny family on the 'Cambodia' 31 March 1852

Philip Champion Crespigny and his wife Charlotte Frances née Dana together with two children, Ada and Philip, and a female servant arrived in Australia just over 161 years ago.1 They came on the 'Cambodia' , a 914 ton ship which had sailed from Plymouth on 4 December 1851. The master was John Joseph Hammach and the surgeon superintendent was Frederick Wilson. She came with 313 emigrants and cargo.2





Florence Chuk gives an account of the voyage in her book The Somerset years : government-assisted emigrants from Somerset and Bristol who arrived in Port Phillip/​Victoria, 1839-1854.2

The Cambodia was built of oak in Sunderland in 1850. It was sheathed in metal to increase her speed. Despite this the voyage took 116 days from Plymouth to Port Henry as the winds were very light and adverse. It was very cold when they left Gravesend for Plymouth. At Plymouth they took on emigrants from the west country. The third mate absconded at Plymouth and there were only 16 crew to work the ship. There were four births and ten deaths on the voyage. Although the Cambodia was very clean and in good order on arrival, when the Immigration Board examined the surgeon's journal they concluded that the surgeon had not been competent to take on the role. Some stores had disappeared and the seaman appointed to hand out the rations had his gratuity withheld.2

Philip and Charlotte probably came to Australia on the recommendation of Charlotte's brothers who were in charge of the colony's native police force. Charlotte's first husband was pursuing a legal claim against Philip which made it impossible for them to stay in England.3

It appears that it wasn't until 18 November 1852 that Philip obtained a job with the government when he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Goldfields.4


1. Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871 for the Cambodia arriving March 1852 retrieved from prov.vic.gov.au under the index name "Crespigney", further information at Book 5A page 201.
2. Chuk, Florence. (1987). The Somerset years : government-assisted emigrants from Somerset and Bristol who arrived in Port Phillip/Victoria, 1839-1854. Ballarat, Vic. : Pennard Hill Publications; pages 157 to 160.
3. The divorce case is a topic for another blog entry. However the legal issues are hinted at in an article discussing Charlotte's divorce case: OPPROBRIUMS OF LAW . The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (Hull, England), Friday, March 30, 1849.
4. Victoria Government Gazette, Gazette 57, Wednesday, October 5th 1853, page 1459 retrieved from http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/view.cgi?year=1853&class=general&page_num=1459 on 1 April 2013