Let’s continue on the subject of fragments. Here is the detailed process of matching fragments to original graves with the help of the computer.

A few days ago while we were cleaning a part of zone C1, next to Honoria Stacpoole, some remains of a destroyed grave showed up.

Traces of the destroyed grave in zone C1 after clearing up the surrounding ground.

Cleaning up terrain in zone C1, some marble fragments pop up.

In the debris we found a few fragments of marble (Image 2) which were completely encrusted with dirt. After a very gentle treatment with water a very nice set of inscriptions was revealed to our eyes. The two pieces seemed very similar to each other and we started trying to figure out whether they matched or not.

The two fragments lying in place just after the discovery

The most obvious thought was that these fragments may have been part of the original slab that was lying over that destroyed grave that we had just found but, as you will see, in this place nothing is as it first seems…

We left the two stones close to the area in which we found them and as soon as I got home I began studying the inscription. After a few moments it was clear that the bottom piece matched the left part of the top inscription: “CIR” + “CUMSTANCES”. Also the first line of the bottom fragment seemed compatible with the first line of the top one.

I decided then to test this hypothesis by using a simple yet well equipped graphic editor called Paint.NET. I virtually cut the contours of both fragments and moved them around on the screen to verify how the letters matched and without much surprise it became evident that they were a single broken piece of the same inscription, but which one?

Matching fragments after editing images

I started my “digital inscriptions’ matcher” and in a few seconds the software told me that these sentences:

“[number?..Y]EAR OF HER AGE…”

“..TH CIRCUMSTANCES…”

“..CH SHE BORE…”

were parts of only ONE possible inscription and that they belonged to Mary Ann LANE, wife of Daniel RAGUENEAU!

Ok then, the fragments are identified… but there’s more. The following day I went back to the cemetery with this news about the newly discovered stones and started searching around because I remembered that Daniel RAGUENEAU, her husband, was lying not far away, in the same zone.

As I reached his grave I noticed the grave next to him, which was in quite bad conditions with only the central part of inscription still intact and two “anonymous” pieces of marble glued above and below it by someone who tried a kind of restoration (!?). You can see it here in full length and with a close-up on the middle part:

Mary Ann's grave - full lenght

Mary Ann's grave - detail of the inscription

We can read some words as an example now: “…pattern of amiableness…”, “acquaintance a sincere friend [an]d the poor a constant benefactress [she] possessed…”, etc…

I had already identified this one as her grave by using the software matching method, but then… how can it be possible that the two new fragments are part of this grave while lying 30-40ft away, totally submerged by the terrain, embedded on the side of another grave? Probably no one would have ever searched for other parts of her grave and certainly not there! Well, now they are back where they were 217 years ago, when she was buried in that place on a warm day at the beginning of July, before her husband who joined her 12 years later.

Let’s read her full inscription now:

Here lies all that was mortal of | Mary Ann wife of Daniel Ragueneau merch. | in whom her disconsolate husband | has lost a most affectionate wife | a pattern of amiableness and virtue | her only son a most tender parent | her brothers the best of sisters | her acquaintance a sincere friend | and the poor a constant benefactress | she possessed the highest mental accomplishments | and the most endearing manners | «adorned with all that Earth or Heaven | could give to make her amiable» Milton | she died July 6, 1793 in the 36th year of her age | of an illness attended with circumstances | peculiarly distressing which she bore | with Christian fortitude and resignation | and lies buried near her father and mother | Theophilus Lane Esq. of Hereford and Mary his wife | towards whom from the dawn of reason | to the hour of their death | she had eminently distinguished herself | for dutiful and filial affection.

Here’s a brief outline of her story:

Mary Ann LANE was baptized on Nov. 4th. 1758 in the Church of St. John at Hereford (England). She was probably the youngest of the daughters of Theophilus Lane, the son of an attorney and Mayor of Hereford and his second wife, Mary Marcha (daughter of a french huguenot merchant naturalized in London in 1723). Her father was a widower and apparently lost an immense amount of money before deciding to establish himself in Livorno, the home of his second wife.

Mary Ann fell in love and married Daniel Ragueneau in Livorno, Nov. 9th, 1784. Daniel was the fourth son of another huguenot merchant, born in Paris, who was as well naturalized English in 1731 and who established himself in Livorno before 1741 where he became a business partner of Pierre Marcha, an uncle of Mary Marcha from Annonay in the Ardèche region of France. He retired to Beverley, Yorkshire a few years later. Daniel and his brothers and sisters were all born in Livorno and he was in business with his brother Abraham. Probably they risked a little bit more than what their father was ready to accept and in his will he judged them as imprudent and extravagant ! Daniel and Mary Ann stayed in Leghorn for the rest of their lives apart from 1795 when Daniel had to escape Livorno during the French invasion. Mary Ann died young, they had only one son, Charles, who became a Postmaster and Accountant-General of the Ionian Islands at Corfu, in  Greece, married there and continued the family line.

Here is the browsable page about Mary Ann Ragueneau-Lane, and the relationship between the husband Daniel, Mary Ann and Pierre Marcha: graph.
Here is a visualization of the genealogical tree of the LANE family over 6 generations: LANE

This was just an example of my research applied to the English Cemetery of Livorno. I did not add here what I learnt  from the descendants and Internet users; I also studied their wills and testaments, business documents from the State Archives of Livorno, from the National Archives in London, from Departmental Archives in France and more. The story continues… maybe one day… in a book or two!

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