Inside the Collection

Linking Napoleon, Byron . . . and Kings Cross

Medal, `Waterloo', military with bar, awarded to Captain J H Crummer, with unofficial bar for Peninsula service and action at Quatre Bras, silver, ...

Captain James Henry Crummer earned this Waterloo medal for his part in the final battles of the French and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815) fought over continental Europe between neighbouring European states hostile to the French Revolution and Napoleon’s rise to power. The added bar on the ribbon inscribed with ‘Peninsular’ tells us he fought on the Spanish Peninsular and also in the battle at the strategic crossroads of ‘Quatre Bras’ in France in 1815. Crummer’s travels however, did not end there and he arrived with his family in Sydney in 1835 with the 28th of Foot (North Gloucestershire) Regiment. He was seconded for duty as a police magistrate in 1836, and promoted to major in 1840. In that year his regiment was ordered to India and Major Crummer decided to retire from the British army and continue his service as police magistrate in New South Wales. As magistrate he served at Newcastle, Maitland and Port Macquarie; retiring in 1864 after 59 years service in both the British Army and the civil service of the Colony in a career marked by his reputation for diligence and humane behaviour. He died at Port Macquarie in 1867. His widow, Catherine Crummer died at Kings Cross, Sydney aged 98 in 1907 and had an interesting story of her own that has only just come our way . . .

Renae Mason, a Web Producer at the Powerhouse was looking on the web for stories relevant to another project when she came upon details of Catherine Crummer’s extraordinary life. I made the connection between her and the medal in the Museum’s collection and now an already significant object has another layer in its past. Catherine would have owned her husband’s medal after his death. Significantly she was the first female Greek settler to migrate to Australia.

Catherine was born Aikaterine Plessos in the Epiros region of north-western Greece and like so many Greek women who followed her, it was her husband’, Major James H Crummer’s career path that brought her to Sydney. Raised by her mother in the regional capital, Ioannina, her extraordinary life included being betrothed to Dr Ioannis Kolettis (a future Prime Minister of the Hellenic Kingdom), meeting Lord Byron in the town of Mesolonghi, fleeing to the British-occupied Ionian Islands, marrying our veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, James H. Crummer, then moving to England, Ireland and finally, New South Wales. She outlived her husband and nine of their eleven children and lies today in a family grave in Waverley Cemetery.

Paul Donnelly, Curator design & society


HP (Pat Boland) label, notes, Sydney Mint

Australian Hellenic Council website (accessed 10.11.2010):

Chambers dictionary of World History

17 responses to “Linking Napoleon, Byron . . . and Kings Cross

  • Have just read the above article with interest. My husband was Major James Henry Crummer’s great, great Grandson. We have had contact with Pat Boland over the years etc. The medals were given to the Art Gallery of NSW, by a great aunt, and were in a case under a painting of Forming the Square given in memory of the Major by Eccleston Du Faur who was married to one of the Major’s daughters. The painting is now part of the “loan” section and is hanging, as far as I know, in the breakfast room at Vaucluse House. Because there was no room for the medals they were despatched to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and thence to the Powerhouse. They have hardly ever seen the light of day since. There was an exhibition over the Bicentenary time and then they disappeared again. The family would really prefer they were with The Royal Gloucester Regiment where they would be on show. We have already sent his swords, Military Mentor etc. over to the UK as we wouldn’t leave anything else in Sydney as it seems everybody can just break up collections as they see fit.
    We have his Imperial Gazateers from his days as Police Magistrate in Maitland and several other books, but loath to part with them as yet. They were offered to the Mitchell Library but they wanted to pick and choose etc.
    I would like to get your opinion re the medals as I think it is useless having them put away where nobody sees them or even knows to ask to see them.

    • Hi Patricia, Thank you for your comment. Paul Donnelly is the most appropriate curator to reply to your questions and is currently on leave, he will endeavor to reply on his return in February.

      Kind regards, Erika Dicker

  • I am a decendent of Major cummer and his wife, my great grandmother was Eileen May Crummer, before marrying Edgar Johnson. We would be very interested in any futher information, or resoures that could be passed on to us, as we are attemping to trace our family tree.

  • I am a decendent of Major cummer and his wife, my great grandmother was Eileen May Crummer, before marrying Edgar Johnson. We would be very interested in any futher information, or resoures that could be passed on to us, as we are attemping to trace our family tree.

  • I am a decendent of Major cummer and his wife, my great grandmother was Eileen May Crummer, before marrying Edgar Johnson. We would be very interested in any futher information, or resoures that could be passed on to us, as we are attemping to trace our family tree.

  • I am a decendent of Major cummer and his wife, my great grandmother was Eileen May Crummer, before marrying Edgar Johnson. We would be very interested in any futher information, or resoures that could be passed on to us, as we are attemping to trace our family tree.

  • My maternal grandmother is Sarah Maude Griffiths, daughter of Arthur John Crummer, granddaughter of James Henry. She lived in Morningside, Brisbane, and prior to that the NSW South Coast & highlands. My wife Cheryl has been diligently researching the family history using We agree that the regiment is most likely the safest and most appropriate repository for James’ medals and other documents, as sad as it is to see them leave Australia where he spent the best part of his life. We are interested in any information and documents that might be scanned, so that they can be added to the Ancestry database.

  • It is important for the family to be content where their family’s memories lie. I should state that the Powerhouse would be happy to add such important items of Australian history to the Crummer medal. The James Crummer archival material would constitute a rarity in Australia, whereas in the UK it will join others of great similarity.

  • The interesting this is that this is the first link between Sarah, her father Arthur and James Henry. If she did donate the medals, then one can only assume she had family carriage of them. But we have not yet associated Arthur John as a son of James Henry.

  • Hi Patricia, John et al

    I am also related to Sarah Maude Crummer; she was my great aunt. My grandfather was Sydney Leslie. Our great mystery in the family history research is where Arthur John Crummer, Sydney and Maude’s father,’ is linked to. II read in one piece that Maude, who was indeed from Mornnngside, made the donation. That would be a very strong indication that Arthur John came from the James Henry line and if so I have a theory on where the connection sits even thought here is firm evidence yet to support my theory.

    This connection would also say something about my own military experience and that of my son and daughter, in as much as we would then have a military lineage of some five generations dating back to the early part of colonization.

    So if anyone can build the bridge between Sarah and the medals, then that would be important for my research. my email is


    David Hudson

  • I too have a connection with Sarah Maude Crummer, she being my grandfather’s sister. As much as some would like to see a connection to Major James Henry Crummer, at this stage in my research, I have deep reservations that there is any close connection.
    Admittedly there is some confusion as to the lineage of Arthur John Crummer, however there is/was always a widely held belief by a number of his grand daughters (most now deceased) that he was born in New Zealand, making a link with Major Crummer if not impossible, then somewhat nebulous.
    I am certain my grandfather, the eldest son, held no knowledge of the alleged link to the famed magistrate, and although there was never any shortage of familial anecdotes, to the best of my knowledge, none was raised in evidence to support this hypothesis.
    Further,should she have been the donor, I am at a loss to understand why Sarah Maude Crummer/Griffiths, a long time resident of Queensland, would donate Major Crummer’s medals to another state, viz. The NSW Art Gallery. Is there a receipt/letter of thanks for the donation? Should there be so, then that would put a lid on the matter.
    I would welcome any confirmation of the origin mystery of Arthur John Crummer.
    James Driver

    • James
      I share your view. Arthur John Crummer is certainly the mystery man from an ancestry perspective. I am waiting an Ancestry DNA test to determine anything from that line of research (esp. possibly Oceania heritage). I can identify three lines of Crummers (John Henry and his mainly Sydney line, Arthur John and his Brisbane/Sydney line, and a Tasmanian link through a convict Crummer). Arthur John was an interesting bloke. I have a record of his support to the Morningside School of Arts (not 1 km from my house now) in a role as committee member).
      Almost certainly not linked to the magistrate.

  • Hi James

    Apropos your comment on familial anecdotes; these are so fleeting and fragile. Could we collaborate on putting them on paper, even if just at a family level. I have found with history collection that there is nothing more important than the ordinary.

    Care to chat, my number is 0408 619 010

  • Hi,
    The family tree can be found in the following:
    Australians and Greeks the Early Years Vol. 1 by Hugh Gilchrist pp 45-51 and 370-371.

    Yet another relation

  • Hi, My name is Larry Crummer from the U.S. I have been researching the family for some 40 years… With the exception of the Major’s family being from Co. Mayo, all others seem to be only from Cos. Fermanagh or Donegal. Just recently, I visited cousins in the Cook Islands and New Zealand… and found their connection to the Tubrid, Co. Fermanagh.. where my family lived before coming to the U.S. Some Canadian Crummers have also done ancestry DNA and has matched mine. Do you know of any male descendants of Arthur John Crummer in Australia that could do an ancestry DNA… I do have a 1992 letter from a Crummer in Frenchs Forest, who told me that her husband was the last Crummer from the Major. Henry line…. One other letter (1874) in my possession was from the husband of Frances (Fanny) Crummer McKay Murray, who immigrated to NZ from Co. Fermanagh. I will transcribe and post it later, but in it Mr. Murray says that Frances’s sister, Sarah, had migrated to Australia… Also interesting… The Murrays lived on South Island… Would it be possible that Sarah had a child out of wedlock and then moved to Australia? Larry

    • Major James Henry Crummer was born in Birr, County Offaly, (Leinster Province), Ireland. Between 1620 and 1899 it was called Parsonstown.

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