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