* New Style

As everyone can verify by heading down Via Verdi in Livorno towards the entrance of the “Misericordia” and of the “Old English Cemetery”, the Municipality indicated the historical site by a brown panel which states 1737 as the year of foundation. This date has always been questioned by historians given that the oldest tomb is dated 1646, but some local historians advanced the hypothesis that the oldest graves were actually transferred from private gardens to the burial ground at a later moment, after it received the “official” authorization. The evidence suggests that this theory is inaccurate and that the cemetery was founded long before the official date of 1737. Stefano Villani, in his numerous contributions, has already given ample proof of this by citing older documents referring to the cemetery as existing well before 1700. In some of these documents the site is even named “Old English Cemetery”, but yet no document has been found to attest to a precise foundation date. The document I am presenting here is of the highest importance because it establishes, for the first time, a date at which the cemetery had not yet been built. The testament of Daniel Oxenbridge was first published in an american genealogical magazine (cfr. infra) over a hundred years ago but those who published it only recognized its importance in relation to the links of the family to New England. I believe that this document also makes clear that the English protestant community of Leghorn was already well established by the 1630s, being composed of very notable merchants who considered themselves a fully developed nazione. Another very important element of this will is the citation of  a Thomas DOUBTY as the resident minister of the community at that time: this name is completely unknown to Livorno’s seventeenth century historians and now needs to be researched. Villani advanced the hypothesis that he could be the same person as the ‘mysterious’ preacher staying at Sainthill’s in Livorno (‡) and whose first name only he found to be ‘Thomas’.  Oxenbridge’s extensive family and business network is shown through hypertext links that point to each individual’s data sheet on the project’s database; information is being added and corrected daily in the local database then regularly uploaded to the public database to reflect new findings and documentary evidences.

Finally, here is a small token of respect to the discoverer and transcriber of this and many other wills. Mr. Lothrop Withington lost his life on RMS Lusitania in 1915 while sailing back to England from New York to continue his work on a very important set of documents he had discovered in the Probate Registry Room of Canterbury.

From New England Historical Genealogical Register, vol. LIII, 1899, p.116:

The following most important will supplements the interesting group of Oxenbridge wills given by Mr. Waters in the REGISTER for January, 1890. As this will may be considered a document in the history of old England (the Long Parliament having passed a vote of thanks and, I believe, decreed  a monument for the initial bequest), and as the testator is so closely connected  with New England, it is worth printing in full. I append a brief note concerning the connections of the testator and his brother, Rev. John Oxenbridge.

Lothrop WITHINGTON. 30 Little Russell St., W.C., London.

I Daniel OXENBRIDGE of London now resident and merchant in Liverne [sic] being at this present in a weake Estate of Body but of a good memorie and sound minde doe make this my last and only Will and Testam.t to be performed if it shall please God at this or any other time to call mee out of this life  ffirst I humbly assigne my soule to God its maker….&c & next my Body I comitt to the Earth in such decent manner to be buried as shalbe by my friendes thought fitt. I then constitute and appointe after the time of my decease my Executors John THROCKMORTON, Charles LONGLAND & John COLLYER desyring their care and paines to see effected what here of them is required   First I give to the Right Hon.ble the Lord and Commons now assembled in parlm.t in or neere London & to their use for the prosecution of their designes One Thousand pounds Sterlinge to be paid halfe in twelve monthes after the daye of my decease. More to severall godly people impoverished by the said distractions in England   I give One hundred and fiftie pounds to be disposed of accordinge to the discretion of my brother Mr. John OXENBRIDGE and Mr. Thomas DOUBTY our Minister here residing ffor or towards the buying of a burying place for the English nation in Liverne I give fiftie pounds to my brother-in-law Mr. William LANGHORNE Twenty pounds to my sister his wife fiftie pounds to his son Daniell fiftie pounds to each other sonne or daughter they may have at the time of my death   thirtie pounds to my Broth.r-in-law Mr. Caleb COCKCROFT fortie pounds to my sister his wife fortie pounds to each of their children livinge at my decease   Twentie pounds to my Broth.r-in-law Mr. HUNT and my sister his wife Eightie pounds   To my Broth.r Mr. John OXENBRIDGE minister two hundred pounds readie money if hee requests it and to his wife and sonnes one hundred pounds besides what may be due to him in my bookes.  To my brother Clement OXENBRIDGE all my part proceed of the Tynfarme w.ch is valued at six hundred and ninetie pounds sterlings or there abouts be it more or lesse. To my mother eight hundred pounds besides all lands Houses Testements [sic] as in or neere London or in the Countie of Northumberland are left me by my father her deceased husband in the same manner as it is left unto mee thereout of it discharging such debts and Legacies as were thereon enjoyned mee as by my Fathers will maie appeare   To my sister M.ris Catherine HENLY one hundred pound   To her daughter Katherine FFOWLER one hundred and fiftie pound   To my Coozen M.ris Henry BARNARD [sic] and his wife thirtie pounds and to my Coozen M.r Nicholas SEARLE and his wife a lyke some that is thirtie pounds to each of their wifes in all one Hundred and twentie pounds to you foure  To Mr. Job THROCKMORTON foure hundred pounds   To his wife a chaine of pearles in my deske containing as I conceave 490 pearles or what they are   To my three freinds Mr. Phillipp WILLIAMS, Mr. Charles LONGLAND and Mr. Tho: DOUBTY one hundred pounds apeece that is three hundred pounds to them three   To William REYMES a hundred Dollers   To Mr. Robert and Nicholas ABNY [sic] fiftie dollers apeece for a poore remembrance of mee   To Mr. Samuell BONNELS [sic] fiftie pounds sterling   To Thomas DETHICKE one hundred Dollers   To John COLLYER three thousand dollers   To Leonard DIGGE fiftie Dollers   To Robert BARBOR and Edward RETT one hundred dollers apeece   To George DETHICKE my servant a hundred dollers   To Richard BROWNE one hundred Dollers   To John CON fourtie dollers   To Joanna woman servant thyrtie dollers   To the Governo.r & Mad.na ffran.a five dollers apeece   To Angelina 10 dollers   To John Batt.a the boy five dollers  To Sig. Gualtero VANDERCOORT and his wife fourtie pounds between them to buy a ring in my remembrance   The advance of my estate to be given to my forenamed Executo.rs for their paines in this business   Be it noted that the pounds sterling are to be reduced into dollers at fiftie pence the doller and by a doller is meant a peece of eight effective of Spayne   Lord receive my Soule

5th ffebry 1643   Witness present at the readinge of this Will to Mr. Daniell OXENBRIDGE in his House on the 6th ffeb.ry 1643 and wee heard him say hee confirmed it as his will   beinge demanded if he confirmed this as his will he answered I doe I doe   ffrancis READ Thomas BARNSLY Ralph DUKE Thomas CRATHORNE Robert BARBOR Tho: BANKS John BOMMER

Wee Thomas DOUBTY Charles LONGLAND Phillipp WILLIAMS and John COLLYER being present with Mr. Daniell OXENBRIDGE on the ffirst day of ffeb.ry about twenty foure houres or a little after did at his request heare him declare Verbatim the words written parte on this and parte on the other syde of this paper in words and desired John COLLYER to write them downe to make out of them a will in as good forme as in short time hee could   Wee testifie further that what is in the will hereto annexed under the hand of John COLLYER and consented by the said OXENBRIDGE this morning the 6th ffeb.ry and attested by the seaven Witnesses therto subscribinge is the true Import of what this paper contains according to the intent of the Testator and it was in our company by him confirmed and in Witness of the truth of what wee write hereunder each hath to y.t   I read that Joines these two sheetes of paper   Sett his seale the 6th of ffeb.ry 1643 as before Thomas DOUBTY Charles LONGLAND Phillip WILLIAMS John COLLYER.

Probatum fuit &c. . decimo sexto die Mensis Martij anno dm. Juxta &c 1643 [1643-4]. Willmo CLARKE leg &c &c Arthuri DUCKE leg com &c Juramento Johi THROCKMORTON prin Execut &c Nec non de veros Com.p fuerens Carolo LONGLAND et Johi COLLYER execut etia in humoi Testam.o noiat cum venerunt eam in debita juris forma petitis.

Note by Lothrop Withington:

The testator was a junior son of Dr. Daniel Oxenbridge of London. His two brothers John and Clement were of much mark. Clement may be almost  said to have been the founder of the English post office service. As to John, he was a pioneer in Guiana, Jamaica, Bermuda, &c., a leading spirit in the Commonwealth in England, an intimate of Milton and Cromwell, fellow of the Eton college, and finally minister of Boston in New England. The brother-in-law Caleb Cockcroft died the same year (1644), and the widow married the famous solicitor general, Oliver Saint John. Another sister mentioned, Mrs. Henley, afterwards was wife of the noted general Philip Skippon. Her daughter mentioned in the will, Katherine Fowler, was the poetess, the “matchless Orinda.” I have trace back many hundreds of the direct ancestors of this illustrious family , and have quite a collection of wills bearing on the immediate family connections of Rev. John Oxenbridge, including the will of the paternal grandmother of his wife Frances Woodward. This will shows that her father Ezekiel Woodward originated not in Worcestershire, as stated by Anthony a Wood, but in Hereford, a shire as yet little explored by genealogists. I trust to publish some of these additional Oxenbridge notes later on. – L.W.

[Location of original will: Commissary Court of London, Reg. No.29, fo. 239.]


(‡): Stefano Villani, «Cum scandalo catholicorum…». La presenza a Livorno di predicatori protestanti inglesi tra il 1644 e il 1670, Nuovi Studi Livornesi, vol.VII, 1999, pp.10-11 and n.3.