Lives of the fellows

Constantine Trent Champion (Sir) de Crespigny

b.5 March 1882 d.27 October 1952
DSO(1917) Kt(1941) VD( ) MB ChB Melb(1903) MD Melb(1905) MRCP(1919) FRCP(1929) FRACP(1938)

Constantine de Crespigny could trace his ancestry to a Norman who took part in the Conquest. His father was Philip Champion de Crespigny, general manager of the Bank of Victoria in Melbourne, his mother Annie, the daughter of Philip Lamotte Snell Chauncy. He was born in Melbourne and went up to Trinity College of its University from Brighton Grammar School, Victoria. After resident posts at the Melbourne and the Melbourne Women’s Hospitals he was appointed medical superintendent of Adelaide Hospital, 1920-15, and had been a year on the staff of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital when he joined the Australian Army Medical Service in 1915. Between then and 1918 he commanded the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Egypt and Lemnos and the 1st General Hospital in France before he became a consulting physician to the Australian Army Medical Corps. For these services he was awarded the D.S.O.

He was to hold many other appointments including honorary physician to the Adelaide Hospital, 1918-38, lecturer in pathology at the University of Adelaide until 1919, when he was dean of the faculty and lecturer in medicine, and chairman of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, 1939-52. From 1942 to 1944 he was president of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Though naturally proud of his lineage de Crespigny was not conceited, but his tall, spare figure, always immaculately dressed, inspired awe in students who knew of his uncompromising scorn of slip-shod work. His teaching, thorough and with a basis of pathology, was always lucid and logical, but lightened by a dry humour.

He was knighted in 1941. He was twice married; by his first marriage in 1906 to Beatrice, daughter of E. W. Hughes, of Melbourne, he had two sons and two daughters; by the second in 1945 to Mary, daughter of William Jolley, of Wentworth, New South Wales, one daughter. His hobbies until 1950, when heart trouble forced him to retire gradually from work, were motoring, chess and gardening.

Richard R Trail

[Adelaide Advertiser, 28 Oct. 1952 (p); Brit.med.J., 1952, 2, 1048; Lancet, 1952, 2, 891; Med.J.Aust., 1953, 1, 423-5; Times, 28 Oct. 1952.]

(Volume V, page 100)

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