Charles Thomas (Snr)

There have been many wars over the course of history but one that stands out was the “Great War”, which began on July 28, 1914 with Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war with Serbia. It began in Europe but quickly spread throughout the world. Australia automatically entered the war with Britain’s decision to enter the fray on August 4, 1914.

In October 1914, Albany, Western Australia was the gathering point for ships carrying the AIF and NZEF, which later were to become known as the “Anzacs”. Merchant ships carrying troops from NZ and the states of Australia departed from Albany on November 1, 1914. A second convoy departed in late December 1914.

As the commemorative event for the Anzac Centennary in Albany is nearing, it is fitting to add the story of the leader of our family, the pioneer who started this large clan known as the Cripps Family of Mumby, Northampton.

Charles Thomas CrippsCharles Thomas Cripps was born the 6th child of Thomas Joseph CRIPS and Ellen NEALE on August 24, 1854. Charles was only 7 years old when his father died of chronic bronchitis in November 1861 leaving Ellen to care for 5 young children and heavily pregnant with Thomas who was born in January 1862.

Bert Turner, a grandchild of the eldest brother, George Thomas Cripps, told the story of how Charles at the age of 16 apparently disobeyed his father who told him not to gallop the herd of horses he was taking to be sold. But on returning through the Epping Forest, the echo of his horses hooves sounded like highway men were following him, so he galloped home as fast as he could go. On arrival his horse was frothing at the mouth so his father punished him by giving him a good whipping. This upset Charles so much that he ran away ending up at a sea port and while walking along the side of the wharf he accidently fell in and was rescued by a sailor. The sailor asked where his home was but Charles told him he had no home and was an orphan. He was given a job on board a ship bound for Australia.

This ship was the Palestine arrived in Australia, January 25, 1870 although the story goes that he jumped ship in the north of the state of Western Australia and went cattle droving, before making his way to Shark Bay to cart sandalwood.

While working in Shark Bay he befriended Frank Hall and the two of them attended a ball in Northampton where he met Margaret Haigh, a widower with two young children, Lena and Lizzie Haigh.  Charles married Margaret, the daughter of pioneers, Owen and Mary Williams on January 25, 1882 at Gwalla Church, Northampton. It was a double wedding with Frank Hall marrying Anne Carpenter.

Charles took up the licensee of the Miners Arms hotel where their first born “Tom” was born December 5, 1882. He later took up Mumby Farm by swapping a team of horses for a block of land in 1893. The official title date is October 4, 1894.

Eight children were born to Charles and Margaret and as the boys were now old enough to run Mumby, Charles moved his family to Northampton in 1913 where they lived in Robinson Street. When war broke out, the boys were unfortunately not able to join the war so Charles enlisted in the army at Blackboy Hill near Northam, August 17, 1915 at the age of 61, however he told the authorities that he was 45. I guess back then they didn’t ask for proof of age.

On his 61st birthday, August 24, 1915, Charles left for overseas catching the train from Northampton. He served with the 12th Reinforcements, 11th Battalion and later the 1st Division Salvage Company and was put in charge of distributing whiskey to the men before they faced the front line. His official discharge was on December 19, 1917 having served two years and 112 days.

Charles became a member of the Northampton Road Board, a Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge and President of the newly formed Returned Services League. On April 13, 1923 he passed away to be followed six months later on October 18 by his wife Margaret.


Further stories of the life and times of Charles and Margaret Cripps can be found in the book “Beyond the Horizon, Centennary of Mumby Farm, Northampton 1894-1994″ by Jenny MacKay. Please contact Jenny at to purchase a downloadable copy.

References to the “Great War”:

View photos of Charles Thomas Cripps (Snr) HERE






About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
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