Books about The Oxenham Arms

Oxenham Arms Hotel & Restaurant


Blood & Silver - A history of Piracy in the Caribbean and Central America by Kris E. Lane 1999 ISBN 1-902669-00-2

P.32. The Elizabethans included the lokes of John Hawkins, Francis Drake, John Oxenham and Thomas Cavendish, and their various exploits in Spanish American waters were generally better documented than those of their French predecessors.

 P.41. True or false, these rumours of war and even full scale invasion were a great aid to small time Elizabethan adventurers like John Oxenham, a companion of Drake in the 1572-1573 raid. Oxenham was another West Country seaman of middling status, but rather than wait for Drake's great voyage and circumnavigation in 1577, he set out again for Panama in 1575 with some 250 men in four small ships. Again allying with the Cimarrones of Vallano, Oxenham and his men crossed the Panamanian Isthmus and built a forty five foot pinace in the Gulf of San Miguel. There he began menacing the Spanish in the Pacific, the forst enemy European to do so. A lucky hit on an unsuspecting ship coming into the Gulf of Panama yielded 60,000 pesos in gold fromthe Audencia of Quito and an unkown quantity of silver. Wiser pirates might have saled home with such a large take, but Oxenham was either overcom with greed, pride or drinkperhaps and soon found himself in Spanish hands. His temporary base on the north coast at Acia was taken by a Spanish force before he could return to it, and Oxenham and many of his maroon allies were captured by a force sent into the Vallano country, Still fearful of a large scale Engkish or French attack, the Spanish transported Oxenham to Lima, where he was tried by the Inquisition for heresy and hanged in 1580 ( as a protestant and hence heretic, Oxenham's body was probably burned rather than buried, gicing rise to the legend that he was burned at the stake )

Whether or not Oxenham deserved such a bad end is open to question, but he had certainly set a new standard forpirate behaviour during his raids on the small settlements of the Peral Islands, in the Gulf of Panama. There Oxenham and his men had desecrated and burned a church, defiled several religious paintings and sculptures and even made an ugly sport of a Franciscan friar by crowning him with a chamber pot. Aside from this, Oxenham made all sort of outrageous claims about a coming English invasion, which he said would consist of at least 2,000 fighting men. As before, no such support was forthcoming, but rumours of it terrified Spanish officials who knew just how weak their own position was. As mentioned above, the Vallano maroons were largely reduced by a a force sent from Lima in 1577, but other Englishment lurked off the North Shore, near the Chagres River. One such potential ally of Oxenham was Andrew Barker, who left Bristol sponsored by the Earl of Leicester, with his ships Ragged Staff and Bear, but Barker failed both to meet up with Oxenham and to take any Spanish prizes. Francis Drake would have a chance to try and ransom the unfortunate Oxenham in Lima in 1579 but without success.

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