Ten years ago I was contacted by Joyce Chesmond-Moxham, who was researching the origins of the Moxham family from her home in the Netherlands. Joyce was descended from a family from Kent, but the information she passed on to me stretched back much farther than I would have thought possible, to the de Mockesham family of Wiltshire in 1236. During a short correspondence Joyce was kind enough to send me a chart covering her own family, the earlier family in Wiltshire from the 1630s, and the various isolated references from even earlier. Unfortunately, the chart was printed out at a tiny scale due to the expanse of information, and even more unfortunately I managed to spill water on it the very day I received it, making parts of it illegible. I was unable to contact Joyce again after this, and I understand she has since passed away. Joyce was passionate about family history and I know she made contact with a lot of people over the years in an effort to leave no stone unturned (she found my name and address in a phone book while visiting Ireland on holiday) so it’s possible that other people also have this information, but if not then it perhaps falls to me to pass her research on to others.
One source suggests that the surname comes from ‘Mogg’s ham‘ (Margaret’s hamlet), although this research suggests the name evolved in a small area around the village of Great (or East) Chalfield in Wiltshire, not far from Bath. In all probability the Moxhams of Longford, and elsewhere, are descended from this family, and I’m told that DNA testing has in fact shown a direct link from Australian Moxhams, via the Longford branch of the family, back to the Wiltshire region. The information on this very early period is largely covered in the entry on Great Chalfield found in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7 (1953, online here), although Joyce’s notes go into more detail and also construct a tree from surviving church records. The parish of Great Chalfield was considered to consist of three estates – those of Great Chalfield Manor, Bowood, and Moxham – and there are extensive references to the family in connection with nearby Atworth, Cottles, Bradford-on-Avon, Wraxall, Melksham and Corsham between the 1200s and the 1700s, after which the family left the area. The earliest Moxham connection to Longford I have found is William Moxham, who was living at Rathsallagh with his two sons in 1688, but whether William arrived in Longford at this time, was the son of an earlier Longford settler, or moved from elsewhere in Ireland, may never be known. Joyce’s family tree includes a William Moxham, son of Robert Moxham, baptised in Great Chalfield in December 1645, who would fit well with this William, but this would be pure speculation. This coincided with a period of great upheaval locally, as Chalfield served as the headquarters of the Parliamentary Committee for Wiltshire during the Civil War, and the Manor of Great Chalfield (a beautiful moated manor house built in the late 1400s, which still stands and is open to the public) was a garrison for the Parliamentarian army from late 1644 to late 1646 and suffered attack by Royalist forces. Moxham’s Farm contributed money towards the upkeep of this Roundhead garrison. One theory has suggested that three brothers – James, Henry and Richard Moxham – came to Ireland from Bristol as commissioned officers under King William of Orange but, while this could be true, William Moxham was already living in Longford a year before King William’s arrival in 1689. Interestingly, Sartain or Certaine is another surname associated with the Chalfield area which also turns up in this part of County Longford during this era.
Joyce Chesmond-Moxham’s great-grandfather Robert Hale Moxham arrived from Jamaica and settled in Cudham, Kent, where he raised a large family. Although Joyce was uncertain of the precise link to the Moxhams of Great Chalfield, it seems fairly obvious that there was a connection, as members of the Wiltshire family were noted as owning plantations of sugar in Jamaica. ‘Moxhams House‘ was built during the 18th century in Bradford-on-Avon for one of its wealthier residents, but the last known owner of Moxham’s farm was James Moxham in 1783 – a sugar refiner resident in London.
To the best of my abilities I have tried to recreate the chart sent to me by Joyce at much bigger scale (above), but there are inevitably a few mistakes and omissions, for which reason I have also posted a scan of part 1 of that original chart for others to decipher (below). UPDATE: sincere thanks to Mary McLoughlin for providing numerous and valuable corrections and additions to the above chart concerning the descendants of James Moxham, the sugar refiner born in 1730. Mary adds, “Information on the various people in the tree has been included only because it has been verified by records, directories, letters, photographs etc., including Joyce’s tree. If anyone knows of any other information or corrections I would be glad to incorporate them. The names of descendants who are possibly still alive have been deliberately omitted to respect their privacy.” In particular, there is little information about the early life of Robert Hale Moxham, the Argentinian family of Gerald Moxham and Maria Brocca and the Canadian family of Norman Victor Moxham and Agnes Longbotham.
At a slight tangent, there was also a Moxham family well established at Glastonbury by 1700, probably from the same origins. This family is well documented through church records and land transactions. At one point their estates were controlled by Joseph Moxham, who handed over to his brother William (a distiller in Bristol) when his regiment was transferred to Ireland. It seems very likely to me that this is the Joseph Moxam of the 17th Dragoons (a regiment which transferred to Ireland in 1764), who married Susannah Blanchflower in St. Werburgh’s Church, Dublin, on the 11 February 1775. Joseph Moxam became a captain in June 1772, and the Irish newspaper clipping below (from 1794) recounts a legend about his adventure fighting the American rebels at Long Island in 1776, accompanied by his beautiful wife and Patt, their brave Irish servant. Joseph doesn’t seem to have had any Irish Moxham descendants.
Finally, the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland gives a recap of the origins outlined above, but helpfully compiles a map of the frequency of the surname in 1881. Unfortunately, as the Irish census returns from before 1901 were destroyed, we can only look at Britain, but we can be sure there would have been a splash of deep red in the middle of Ireland too. Interestingly, the concentration of the name in Lancashire is due in no small part to the many Irish Moxhams who moved the Liverpool area in the decades after the Great Famine, and who therefore are recorded in the 1881 census.