Discovery: Cavour’s maternal grandmother was buried in Livorno. Thursday, Apr 19 2018 

Cavour

Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour (1810-1861)

In Italy, notwithstanding a profound religious culture, cemetery studies are a very understudied subject if one compares what other countries are doing. This is one of the main reasons for which, when analyzing Livorno’s cemeteries and their archives, the potential for discoveries is definitely high as very few researchers have studied many of their aspects in depth; this is also one of the reasons which fueled my curiosity and engagement in this research spanning almost two decades.

I was recently filling some missing data from an interesting register at the AEG (Archives d’Etat de Genève) regarding the baptisms and marriages of Citizens and Bourgeois of Geneva occurring abroad. While scrolling for information of interest to include in my database, I found a reference to (more…)

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The Story of a man, of his diseased body and his grave (including his medallion) Monday, Feb 13 2017 

[The identity of Mr. H will be revealed later in this article]

Mr. H. whose identity will be revealed later.

Born in Edinburgh in 1778, the eldest and first surviving of seven children, Mr. H. was a delicate child. He matriculatd at Edinburgh University and chose to study law, aspiring beyond that to public life, funded by his profession. He also studied political economy and joined several academies and societies. In 1799 he espoused “the ancient Whig politics of England, which are at present so much out of fashion, being hated by both parties”, his mentors being David Hume and the French physiocrats. He passed advocate in 1800, but finding little success he switched to the English bar, entering Lincoln’s Inn in 1802 and becoming, in the meanwhile, acquainted with the whig lawyers and literati Romilly, Abercromby, Mackintosh and Sharp, who welcomed him as a “Northern Light”. In the same period he helped found the Edinburgh Review. He found a place in the Parliament in 1806. He opposed the control of trade by export licence to counter Bonaparte’s continental system in 1808 and, critical of the naval battering of Copenhagen, voted for Whitbread’s peace motion. He supported Catholic relief and his role model Romilly’s bid to reform criminal law. Mr. H. felt he was “made, or educated, for the sunshine of an improving community”. He was a member of the Holland House circle and, in 1810, he clearly displayed his talents in the Bullion Committee, arguing that there had been an excessive issue of paper money since the stoppage of cash payments by the Bank of England in 1797, and that bullion importation was the solution. Later he criticized the East India Company’s trade monopoly, and advocated a presbyterian chaplaincy in India. He supported Whitbread’s peace bid and was a consistent opponent of the protectionist corn laws in 1813–14. He also quizzed Castlereagh on his failure to obtain universal abolition of the slave trade during peace negotiations. The Dictionary of National Biography of 1891 stated that: “H. was a man of sound judgment and unassuming manners, of scrupulous integrity, and great amiability of character. He was a correct and forcible speaker, and though without the gift of eloquence or humour, exercised a remarkable influence in the House of Commons, owing to his personal character. Few men, with such small advantages at the outset of their career, ever acquired in such a short space of time so great a reputation among their contemporaries. As a political economist Horner ranks deservedly high.”

H. suffered from a pulmonary ailment, and during the autumn of 1816, having been advised to winter in a warmer climate, he travelled to Pisa (Italy) with (more…)

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…)

Anonymous writer identified: a new source about Tuscan life in the 1840s Thursday, Mar 8 2012 

Few days ago I stumbled upon a curious and intriguing citation on the “Church of England Magazine” issue for October 31st, 1857, p.287:

“NOTICE OF BOOKS:

AMONG the books which have lately reached us are the following: 

The Bow in the Cloud a Memoir of MEH. By her Sister, London: Hatchard, 1857. This is the account of a young lady who lived, for the most part of her life, and ultimately died, abroad. The pity we feel for those, whose lot it is to dwell far from their fatherland, augments the interest with which we peruse such records. The disadvantages, social, political, and religious, of the continent, are obstacles and stumbling-blocks which to many have proved of ruinous effect. And yet, in spite of them, God has often been pleased to cherish the spiritual life of his people, and render such sojourners the means of usefulness to those around them. Thus it seems to have been with the subject of this memoir. An accident in early life destroyed the sight of one eye; and subsequent ill-health was a continued chastening from the Father of her spirit. She was brought into believing union with the Saviour; and the copious extracts from her journal depict very touchingly the working of her inner life. Her last hours were peace; for Christ sustained her; and she sleeps (having died in her 27th year, a few weeks after her father, and a few months before her mother) with her parents in the British cemetery at Leghorn, in sure and certain hope of joyful resurrection. We cheerfully give our testimony to the value of this little volume; and we think it likely to be acceptable and useful, especially to young persons.

I was not yet sure whether this information on the author and her family was true or invented and I went (more…)

Gould Francis Leckie (c.1767-1850): the rediscovered grave and a biography. Sunday, Mar 4 2012 

In 2009, during frequent email exchanges with Professor Michela D’Angelo and Dr. Diletta D’Andrea of the University of Messina I was informed that Dr. D’Andrea was carrying out a research on an English Esquire named Gould Francis Leckie. He was a classic scholar and a publicist who lived in England between the end of the XVIII century and the beginning of the XIX. As Dr. D’Andrea had found out, he had also spent some years in Sicily and, later on, had moved to Tuscany where he had probably died, though nobody had ever known where or when exactly, so I was asked by them to check my sources for any further information.

Checking the Chapel Register vol. 2 (1784-1824) and the inscriptions at the Old English Cemetery of Livorno did not reveal any trace of his. Next possibility was to check the Registers of the New Cemetery. Indeed, I felt a strong emotion when I read “Leckie, Gould Francis, 4-9-1850” in the Burial Register kept by the caretaker of the New English Cemetery in Livorno. I made copies of the whole register and wrote down the reference to the location of the grave.

This happened in the winter 2009. The cemetery was completely overgrown. My first attempt at finding the grave ended as soon as I arrived close to the relevant section, where the tomb should be: the whole area was totally covered with brambles to a height of 7-8 feet.

I immediately advised (more…)

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…)

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