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, 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…)

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


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.

Diplomats buried at the Old English Cemetery of Livorno – Part 1 Friday, Feb 3 2012 

Sir John Dick and his mysterious mausoleum

The choice of this beautiful portrait by Gilbert Stuart of Sir John Dick (1721-1804), British Consul at Livorno from 1754 to 1776, was inspired by the strange fact (as some scholars and historians argued) that, in the Old English Cemetery of this place, one cannot find any burial of the several English consuls who lived here since the beginning of the 17th century, until the cemetery was finally closed in 1840 (we will be talking about the New English Cemetery in a specific article sometime later). This “absence” of consular and diplomatic graves is indeed a fact but, as I will show in the next parts of this article, it’s still not entirely true. Sir John Dick himself, or more precisely his grave, is also protagonist of another strange mystery (more…)

Dutch-German Church of Livorno: who paid to build it? (part 4) Sunday, Sep 25 2011 

This is the fourth and last part of the article about the  contributors for the construction of the Dutch-German temple of Livorno (1862-1864). The preceeding three parts described the different categories of donors: members of the Congregation, livornese people not members and foreign contributors. This part focuses on captains of ships sailing in and out of the harbour of Livorno who were persuaded, or chose, to contribute to the building of a protestant church. The list contains ship names as well.

Generally speaking, donations are lower than those made by the other contributors, apart from two or three cases which, (more…)

Dutch-German Church of Livorno: who paid to build it? (part 3) Wednesday, Sep 14 2011 

This is the last but one part of the article about the funding of the Dutch-German Church of Livorno (1862-1864). The previous two parts (see part 1 – see part 2) covered the donors who were also members of the Congregation and the ‘Livornese’ donors who were not members. This third part deals with the ‘foreign’ donors’ list which includes a large number of institutions, individuals and organizations in many parts of Europe and Italy (Florence, Milan, Genoa, Carrara…).

The first series of names on this list are related to the protestant organization Gustav Adolf Verein (now Gustav Adolf Werk) in several central european cities. It was named after King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and it was founded in 1832 in Leipzig as a relief organization, mainly committed to helping protestant religious minorities in many countries and encouraging dialogue with other religions. The list continues with a number of congregations followed by German/Swiss evangelical societies, as well as some german Senate and Government institutions (Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover). Lastly, some cities where money was collected are listed, among which Rotterdam and Geneva which contributed generously.

The list shows also two significant donations: that made by (more…)

Dutch-German Church of Livorno: who paid to build it? (part 2) Thursday, Sep 8 2011 

This is the second part dedicated to the contributors for the construction of the Dutch-German Church of Livorno (1862-1864). The first part presented the list of contributors who were also members of the Dutch-German Congregation, the following list presents the contributors from (more…)

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