Friday, September 28, 2007


The Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery in Florence has embarked on what is not so much an oral history project as a cyber one. Because we have put the catalogue of the tombs on the web, to be found at through, the descendants of those buried here find us from as far away as Africa and Australia, visiting us, sending further archival materials, and funding the restoration of their tombs.

Our very first tomb is very beautiful, very romantic, very sad, of the young fifteen year old son, Jean David Marc Gonin, of the Swiss Pastor, Jean Pierre Gonin. The Cemetery lists three members of this family:

^* ANTOINE GONIN/ SVIZZERA/ Gonin/ Antonio/ Giovanni/ Svizzera/ Firenze/ 15 Febbraio/ 1872/ Anni 54/ 1199/ Antoine Gonin, Genève, Suisse, fils de Jean Gonin, et de Louise, née Lafond/ Antoine Gonin/ D25I

^*° JEAN DAVID MARC GONIN / SVIZZERA/ Gonin/ Giovanni/ Giovanni/ Svizzera/ Firenze/ 17 Gennaio/ 1828/ / 1/ JEAN DAVID MARC GONIN/ NE A GENEVE LE 28 AVRIL 1812/ MORT A FLORENCE LE 17 JANVIER 1828/ JEUNE ET . . . D'AVENIR/ DONT LA TOMBE SOUARIT DANS . . . /N° 1/
N° 1 Le dix neuf Janvier, mil-huit-cent-vingt huit John Gonin
fils de Jean Gonin Président de Consistoire et de Louise
née Lafond, né . . .
mort à Florence, le dix sept Janvier, mil huit cent vingt huit
a reçu les honneures del la Sepulture en présence de Louis Wolf,
Giacomo Bizenzi, Louis Recordon et de plusieurs autres membres
du Consistoire . --- . En foi de quoi j'ai signé
Auguste Colomb Pasteur~
D25I/ Sculptor: Pietro Bazzanti: signature: P.BAZZANTI.F

Portrait of Jean David Marc Gonin painted 1834 by Salomon Guillaume Counis, as if at 22, instead of only 15, owned by descendants in Paris

^* JEAN PIERRE GONIN/ SVIZZERA/ Gonin/ Giovanni/ Pietro/ Svizzera/ Pignone/ 13 Luglio/ 1854/ Anni 71/ 544 / Jean Gonin, Genève, domicilié a Pignone près Florence, ancien negociant, agé de 72 ans, fils de Pierre Gonin/ Jean Pierre Gonin/ D25I

JEAN PIERRE GONIN (1783-1854). Of Huguenot origin, his grandfather was a French pastor and was martyred, his father grew up in exile in the Waldensian valleys, and he himself was born in Geneva, but came to Florence as a young man to engage in industry. His home was the clandestine meeting place for the Protestant group that in 1826 requested permission of the Grand Ducal government to open a chapel. A convinced Calvinist, he was the energetic and devoted president of the Consistory of the Evangelical Reformed Church, from 1827-1846. One of his children, Jean Marc (1812-1828), was the first person to be buried in the cemetery: two other sons Constantino and Antonio [Antoine] were long active in every initiative in favour of the Evangelical community.

Two other tombs with extant portraits of interest are those of Sarah McCalmont ( and Mary Spencer Stanhope (, in the latter case her father likewise painting her as the age she would have been had she lived. We believe that this can be a model for other cemeteries to follow and we are applying to the European Union for funds to train young people in gardening, stone restoration and webweaving to carry out this work in England, Iceland and Romania, sharing our European culture.

We are now at 1388 signatures on the web at,
'That the Swiss-owned, so-called 'English' Cemetery in Florence be kept open, be restored and be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site', and with 3664 signatures in-house from our visitors, for a total of 5052 signatures. We have decided to keep them coming.

If you wish to donate to the Aureo Anello Association for the restoration of the 'English' Cemetery you can do so by a cheque made out to 'Aureo Anello' and posted to 'English' Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello 38, 50132 Florence, Italy; or through the Pay Pal 'Donate' button below, which can also be used for the CDs, for the hand-bound limited edition books or for the sculptures of Elizabeth and Robert's 'Clasped Hands' or tondos with their portraits (Amalia Ciardi Duprè's sculpture can also be found at, or some or all of these.

Julia Bolton Holloway
Aureo Anello Association for the Library and Cemetery
Piazzale Donatello, 38

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