Saturday, 19 April 2014

Q is for quarrelling including a duel

Heaton Champion de Crespigny (1796-1858) was my second cousin five times removed. He was the son of Sir William Champion de Crespigny (1765-1829), the second baronet, (who accused his coachman of stealing his harness).

1n 1828 Heaton fought a duel in Calais. Briefly Mr Long Wellesley  (1788-1857) accused Sir William de Crespigny of intimacy with  Miss E Long, the sister of Mr Long Wellesley's late wife. Long Wellesley believed the accusations had been confirmed by Heaton de Crespigny. Heaton later retracted the confirmation. A duel was fought. The matter later went to court which found against Long Wellesley. 

William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley, 4th Earl of Mornington, drawing about 1812. From Wikimedia Commons
Drawing of the Hon. William Pole Tylney Long Wellesley
Reverend Heaton Champion_de_Crespigny (1796–1858) by Philip August Gaugain Oil on canvas, 73 x 62 cm Collection: Kelmarsh Hall URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/reverend-heaton-champion-de-crespigny-17961858-49124 
William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley, 4th Earl of Mornington, is described in the History of Parliament as "surely one of the most odious men ever to sit in Parliament". His obituary notice in the Morning Chronicle claimed that he was redeemed by no single virtue, adorned by no single grace. He was from a distinguished family. One uncle was Governor-General of India, another was the 1st Duke of Wellington. In 1812 he married Catherine Tylney-Long, a very wealthy heiress, believed to be the richest commoner in England at the time. At the time of the marriage William changed his surname to acknowledge his wife's surname. Catherine died in 1825 and William sought custody of his children (and through them access to his late wife's wealth). William was a notorious rake and was cited as co-respondent in a divorce case for adultery. Before her death Catherine was planning to divorce him and had entrusted her children to the care of her unmarried sisters. The matter went to Chancery court. William's uncle, the Duke of Wellington, intervened to keep the children out of William's custody.

In the course of the proceedings in the Chanceery court, Long-Wellesley attempted to show that his late wife's sisters were not suitable guardians for his children. He wrote a letter, published in The Sunday Times, asserting that Sir William de Crespigny and Emma Long, one of the sisters, had been intimate. (I have not found a copy of the original letter.)  Long-Wellesley asserted that Heaton de Crespigny, Sir William's son, had confirmed the story. While Heaton at first appeared to have confirmed the story, he later spoke to his father, and then retracted the confirmation.  He then requested Wellesley to retract his assertions. Otherwise he insisted on immediate satisfaction.


Wellesley and de Crespigny fought a pistol duel in June 1828 in Calais. They both fired, missed, and withdrew.

Extract  from "Duel Between Mr. L. Wellesley And Mr. De Crespigny." Times [London, England] 30 June 1828: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
 Duelling was against the law, hence the duel had to move to France once the police became involved.

This is another account of the duel:
from Wellington's Voice: The Candid Letters of Lieutenant Colonel John Fremantle, Coldstream Guards, 1808-1821 (Google eBook retrieved from http://books.google.com.au/books?id=pGIh9k2VPIgC&pg=PT412)

 In 1829 Heaton's father, Sir William de Crespigny, sued William Long-Wellesley for libel. It was found that 
in an action for a libel, it is no plea, that the defendant had the libellous statement from another, and upon publication disclosed the author's name. 
Sir William de Crespigny was awarded one thousand pounds in damages, the equivalent of around one million pounds in today's money or two million dollars.

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