The Oxenden family have, through the centuries,
created a tradition of public service to Church and Crown.
Sir Henry's ancestor - Henry
Oxenden (1608-70) was the first recorded owner of books,
spending most of the Civil War period at his home in Barham,
Kent. After his death his collection of more than 700 titles was
inherited by his daughter Katherine.
The Oxenden family became linked with Barham towards the
end of the 17th Century by the marriage of Elizabeth Dixwell, daughter
of Sir Basil Dixwell of Broome to
George Oxenden who was the great grandfather of Henry.
Henry Oxenden of Broome Park
Henry was born
on 14 May 1756 in London, an only child and was sent to
Eton at the age of 7 and then to Cambridge where, on one occasion, he
undertook to construct by morning, a machine which would carry him by
sail over a measured mile of ice in five minutes. On his
return to Barham it was not unusual for travellers on the Dover Road to
see the same machine with a crew of three skimming along Barham Downs at
a speed of some 15 - 30 miles per hour.
Sir Henry managed the lowering of Bridge Hill and the
hill opposite Barham Court in his work as a Commissioner of Dover
Harbour, a post that he held for 50 years whilst also commanding a troop of Yeomanry in the early
years of the Napoleonic Wars.
Sir Henry's wife
Mary bore him 12 children of whom 11
survived him. On succeeding to his title and estate his
major interest was the care of his fine flocks of 1200 - 1400 Southdown
sheep and improvement of his land by methods which placed him in the
forefront of agriculturists of his time.
died on 22 September 1838 at Broome Park and was buried in Barham Church which was draped
in black. One of ten coffin bearers was his old friend the
Duke of Wellington. He is buried with his wife in the Lady
His obituary in
The Gentleman's Magazine says "His
tenantry have lost a kind, considerate, liberal landlord and; East
Kent has to regret parting wqith one of the few remaining perfect
Old English country gentleman".