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…)

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…)

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.

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…)

Mariners’ casualties in Livorno (1792-1796) Friday, Mar 11 2011 

I extracted the following list from the manuscript ‘Chapel Register‘ of Livorno (1784-1824) by selecting all death/burial acts concerning mariners, sailors and other personnel on board English warships sailing in the vicinity of Livorno or during their stops at the docks in the years 1792-1796.  These ships and their occupants were involved in the English response to the French Revolutionary Wars: Livorno was then used as a supply harbour for the British Mediterranean fleet until the French entered the city during the summer 1796. All English merchant families were forced to flee the town and were able to return only after 1797. Although the sailors and mariners are not directly related to the merchant networks, I thought nevertheless to publish this list as a token of respect in their memory.

Many of the casualties seems related to at least two well known events: the Battle of Genoa (14 March 1795) and the Battle of Hyeres (13 July 1795). The list is ordered alphabetically by ships’ names and, for each ship, individuals are listed chronologically by descending death date. Ships’ classes, type and nominal guns are also included.

I have used the threedecks website as main source for the identification of the ships and the captains’ names. In some rare cases mariners have been buried in the Old English Cemetery of Livorno (they are marked with asterisks in the list) but mainly, as the normal procedure, by the burial-at-sea. Every name is followed by their occupation on board as reported on the death act.

For convenience I made direct hypertext links for ships and captains pointing to the relevant data sheet on In some cases I have indicated two or more captains when either there have been different captains on the ship during the time span of the mariners’ deaths or the captain could not be determined with certainty among two possibilities – in all the other cases data was insufficient to determine the identity of the captain. The mention ‘uncertain data‘ appears also when a doubtful identification of a ship occurs. Finally I added a few mariners whose ship was not revealed by the register. The position on board of each person has been indicated between square brackets and it’s extracted from the register.

If you happen to have any further information on any of these men, please send me an e-mail.

[Ardent-class, third-rate ship-of-the-line, 64 guns]
COTTINGHAM Lewis (-1795) [sailor]
QUINTEN John (-1795) [sailor]
GOWER William (-1795) [sailor]
ROBERTS Daniel (-1795) [sailor]
MITCHEL James (-1795) [sailor]
MEAGLE Stephen (-1795) [sailor]
CORKMAN John (-1795) [sailor]
HAYS John (-1794) [sailor]
LEE Thomas (-1794) [sailor]
JEFFERS Rosswell (-1794) [sailor]

Old English Cemetery of Livorno: Survey and analysis Monday, Apr 12 2010 

Actual Status (with a lucky meeting…)

A few weeks ago I started the first deep survey of this exceptional burial ground, having the chance of finding there a guy who was cleaning up volountarily the “jungle” that keeps growing and literally swallowing the monuments, graves and, with them, the centuries of history that are trying desperately to communicate with us. I have to say that many of the graves have already been “eaten” by the vegetation, and it’s a really hard work to figure out where they were placed in the cemetery and which pieces of stones belong to them if still readable.
Below I posted a few images of the actual state “before and after”. My good fellow (more…)

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