Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

June 2014

This months News



Where there's a will there's a way

Most Oxhillians will be well aware of the slave's grave in our churchyard. It is fairly common knowledge that Myrtilla was probably brought to England from Nevis in the West Indies by one Thomas Beauchamp, who was married to Perletta Meese, twin daughter of the then Oxhill rector, Walwyn Meese.  However, I believe little else has been documented about these families, apart from the baptisms of Perletta's siblings in the Oxhill registers, and some details about Perletta's brother, Walwyn, who was the rector of Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon. So on a slow weekend recently, I decided to see if anything of interest was available on the internet.

Almost immediately I scored a result, with the discovery of the will of Perletta Beauchamp, proved in September 1750. This makes reference to her two daughters, Finetta and Martha, as well as her late son, Meese Beauchamp. Perletta was then living in Greenwich, London, which is interesting as it may indicate the trade associated with the plantations on Nevis was using London as a port rather than, say, Bristol, which was the leading slave port between about 1730 and 1745

On a roll, the same website  then came up with wills for other family members. Out of all of them, though, my favourite has to be Robert Meese, Perletta's older brother, who was apparently a member of the legal profession in London. Not only does he seem to have a wry sense of humour (most unusual to find this illustrated in an 18th century will), but also humility. In his will of 1740, he says:

"...I give to my good sisters Madam Duncomb (Margaretta, Perletta's twin) and Mrs Beauchamp (Perletta) all my household goods now in their custody at Greenwich to be equally divided between them and I give them besides a guinea ring to each to keep if they please in remembrance of their dear departed brother whom they have always used with as much or more decent respect and kindness than they thought an elder brother deserved and hope they will not take it in ill part that I give them no larger legacys in regard they both enjoy ... plentifull estates ..."

And later, "... I give to the poor of Oxhill where I was born twenty pounds ... for I prefer these small charitable legacys much before a gaudy funeral earnestly desiring that mine may be very private and with as little expense as may be  ..."

Anyone interested in knowing more is most welcome to visit a webpage I have set up to document my findings to-date (http://clark-hill.co.uk/index.php?ctype=gedcom&ged=test); it's very much a work-in-progress and will change as more information (hopefully) becomes available. 

Carol Clark (Oxhill resident until flying the parental nest in 1972.)

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Last modified: May 29, 2014