Crispin Gill, the Plymouth historian and editor of The Countryman
from 1971 to 1981, has died, aged 88. A countryman at heart, his ideas
helped shape the magazine throughout the decade and succeeded in
raising its readership to 90,000. On his retirement he was appointed
It was in his schooldays in Plymouth that he first developed
his interest in local history. His headmaster was Charlie Bracken,
first of the 20th century historians of Plymouth. Gill was destined to
become his successor.
He joined the Western News and Evening
Herald after leaving school in 1934 and went on to become assistant
editor of the Morning News, a post he held from 1950 to 1971. In those
days, the sub-editors’ room at the Morning News was remarkable for the
monastic silences which usually enshrouded it.
One night, one of
the subs, momentarily released himself from the Trappist vow which all
there seemed to have taken, to call out: “Crispin – is there a British
consul in Dorset?” Crispin, who had a well-developed sense of humour,
drew on his pipe and through an impenetrable cloud of smoke replied: “I
don’t know. I should hardly think so. I don’t think they are hostile”!
the war, he served with the motor boat companies of the Royal Army
Service Corps and was demobilized with the rank of captain.
Returning to the The Morning News he became deputy chief sub and, shortly afterwards, chief sub.
He was married first to Molly Foot, niece of Isaac Foot. This made him a cousin by marriage of Michael Foot.
pre-deceased Crispin, as did all their three children. His second wife
also pre-deceased him. He is survived by his third wife Ana and four
Philip Ditton, industrial correspondent, The Western Morning News, 1949-52