Friday, 29 January 2016


The bushranger Morgan shooting McGinnerty F Cubbitt - circa 1864 Wood engraving

In 1864, my great-great-grandfather, Philip de Crespigny (1850-1927), then only 14, took a shot at a prowler, missed, and was grazed on the shoulder when the suspicious-looking stranger fired back.

This anyway was how he reported the incident to his father, Philip Robert Champion Crespigny (1817-1889), the Talbot goldfields warden and police magistrate. A manhunt was begun, with the prowler initially thought to be 'Mad Dog' Morgan, a bushranger from the neighbouring colony of New South Wales.

DARING ATTEMPT TO MURDER THE SON OF MR P. C. CRESPIGNY, P.M. (1864, August 18). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 2. Retrieved from
The Melbourne Punch was more than a little sceptical:
(with a helpful note that the surname is pronounced Crepny)

THE CRESPIGNY LEGEND. (1864, August 25). Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 - 1900), p. 3. Retrieved from

and the Bendigo Advertiser frankly disbelieved the tale:

ANOTHER VERSION. (1864, August 25). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved from

Philip Robert Champion Crespigny leapt to his son's defence. His boy was telling the truth, he said, and he offered a reward of a hundred pounds for the apprehension of the prowler:

THE LATE ATTEMPT TO SHOOT MR. CRESPIGNY'S SON. (1864, August 31). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 7. Retrieved from

NEWS AND NOTES. (1864, September 10). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 2. Retrieved from

Nothing came of this, however, and Punch continued to milk the incident for laughs:

NOTES AND QUERIES. (1864, September 15). Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 - 1900), p. 3. Retrieved from

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