On Tobias Smollett’s grave(s)… Reality or poetic licence? Thursday, Mar 29 2012 

Tobias Smollett’s grave in the Old English Cemetery of Livorno has always sparked people’s interest: numerous visitors were attracted to the English Cemetery just to see the tomb of the great Scottish writer and historian. Some of them even took pieces of marble off as souvenirs, or left messages inscribed on the monument. Many travellers left short accounts on their visit to the cemetery and to Smollett’s tomb. Later on, the apparent mystery of its wrong inscription led to a written confrontation between Consul Montgomery Carmichael and Col. Buchan Telfer on the pages of The Times. More recently, after WWII, some concerned readers wrote to the Editor of The Times to denounce the state of neglect of the cemetery and of Smollett’s grave. The newspaper even published two pictures of the burial ground, of which one portrayed the writer’s monument at that time (1953).

The following picture shows (more…)

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Reminiscences of Mary Thompson, daughter of the British Vice-Consul in Livorno Wednesday, Feb 29 2012 

by Piero Posarelli, edited by Matteo Giunti.

On the Internet site www.bristowefamilies.com, we can read the passage Reminiscences of my young days, written by Mary Thompson, daughter of Frederick Thompson who was British Vice-Consul in Livorno from 1839 to 1852. The first part of the Reminiscences speaks about Mary’s memories of that period, when Livorno was full of revolutionary ideas that brought to the battle of Porta San Marco in 1849. On the site we can also find information about her father and her family.

There is little known about the first years of Frederick Thompson’s life. We know that  he was born about 1805 in Maldon, Essex, England, and that for some unknown reasons he went to Malta where he opened a school. In Malta he met and married Mary Ann [Mary Ann Bingham born 1810, NdR], who was born there from English parents [William Bingham and Eleanor Temple, NdR], and had two children: Fred (born in 1833) and Mary (born in 1835). It is from the information that Mary left us in the form of reminiscences written in her later life in Charlcombe, Somerset, England that it is possible to piece together some of the events surrounding the life of this family. (more…)

The Old English Cemetery in Quotes: a new page. Friday, Feb 24 2012 

For a long time I have been collecting brief excerpts or longer citations regarding the Old English Cemetery of Livorno. Many of these have the power of giving us a glance of what it was like in the past by describing in colourful detail its vegetation, or the railings and low wall enclosing it, or the magic and melancholy atmosphere that could be felt while wandering there, or some of the white marble monuments of all shapes, with their inscriptions in many different languages…  These passages were written by people visiting it during a day off at Livorno’s harbour waiting to sail to some other places. Others came just to see the famous tombs of Smollett and Horner, or to look for the grave of an acquaintance or of some other person they particularly respected… Some of them fell in love with it and would even dream of dying in the surroundings so they could be buried in such a wonderful garden, while some others compared it to other cemeteries, or noted its uniqueness in Italy or its age. Certain writers depicted Livorno as the Italian ‘Babel’; it was populated with merchants of all tongues, mariners and pirates, noblemen and their courts passing through on their way back to Florence, and consumptive gentlemen hoping the sea breeze would make their health better.

Here’s one of these excerpts:

Piero Sraffa, M. H. Dobb, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, 10, 1955, 321-322.

Letter, Thursday 24 Oct.r Pisa [1822]

(…) We also saw the English Burying Ground in which we were very much (more…)

History of the Old English Cemetery: a new page of the blog. Wednesday, Feb 22 2012 

Introduction.

The survey of the Old English Cemetery of Livorno which I began in 2009 and my subsequent analysis of the data has revealed an elevated amount of discrepancies. Some examples are: the position of the existing tombstones not matching the complete survey made in 1906 (see below), the great number of missing slabs and tombstones, the astonishing collages of inscription fragments mounted together with no apparent logic, some artistically/historically incoherent monuments, the total loss of the iron railings that were enclosing a number of graves, the mysteriously empty areas, the enormous quantities of debris, dumping material and objects found everywhere, etc…

The very limited local bibliography on the subject lacks any detail on the history of the cemetery, and gives only opinions and hypotheses. It relays unreliable information from previous books and articles and transmits oral statements of unknown origins. Everything about this place has always been uncertain, from the year of its foundation (historians have dated it anywhere from 1594 to 1737), to the events of World War II. On the other hand, Prof. Stefano Villani has provided some very interesting evidence about the enclosure of the cemetery and other documents related to the first hundred years of the burial ground’s existence. I recently discovered the testament of a Leghorn merchant which finally establishes, for the first time, the year of the foundation of this cemetery (see related article on this blog).

Read the new page: History of the Old English Cemetery of Livorno: an outline.

The Chamber of Commerce of Livorno: a brief outlook on its origins. Wednesday, Aug 31 2011 

As Vittorio Marchi and Ugo Canessa tell us in their massive 4-volume book about the history of the Chamber of Commerce of Livorno (*), an ancestor of this institution can be identified in the Deputation formed by the city Governor, the Consuls and at least four merchants, created in 1642 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. This Deputation is then reformed in 1692 and evolves into the so called Deputation of Commerce or Board of Commerce in 1717. At this time the chosen Deputees were eight, half of them Tuscan, half foreigners: (more…)

Is 1644* the foundation date of the Old English Cemetery of Livorno? The Testament of Daniel Oxenbridge of Liverne. Tuesday, Apr 26 2011 

* 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 (more…)

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