Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Some have come to live in Aldbourne after becoming personalities elsewhere but of greater interest are the sons and daughters of Aldbourne (true Dabchicks) who have left the village and created a new life elsewhere.

After 1066, William the Conqueror awarded tracts of lands etc. to his favoured followers one of whom was Robert D’Oilli (originally from Ouilly in Normandy). In return for land in Oxfordshire, Robert had to ‘tender a linen tablecloth worth three shillings every year at the feast of St Michael to his King’. Because the cloth was exclusively for the Royal Family, Robert’s ladies took special care with the fine embroidery and these cloths became known as ‘D’Oyley linen’ and the name has lasted a thousand years in the form of intricate lace and paper ‘doilys’.

Some 500 years after Robert, a descendent of the family, John D’Oyley, lived with his wife Lucy in Aldbourne. Their second son, born in 1617, was Edward D’Oyley (sometimes written Doyley). Lucy was ‘well connected’ but this did not prevent the family being persecuted for many years for their unspecified religious beliefs. Edward was educated at The Inns of Court in London and went on to hold significant civil administration posts. After the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, Edward sided with the Parliamentarians and joined Cromwell’s army, fighting in Wiltshire and later in Ireland.

In about 1654 Edward was posted as a Lieutenant-Colonel, along with an English army of some 7000 troops, to the West Indies where he rose steadily through command, mainly as others fell by the wayside because of tropical diseases. The Spanish had held Jamaica for over 200 years but Cromwell wanted the island and under Edward D’Oyley’s command, the English routed the Spanish in two decisive battles in 1657 and 1658. Allegedly, D’Oyley cunningly gained the support of pirates based on the legendary island of Tortuga by giving them safe haven in Port Royal on Jamaica. By 1657 Edward D’Oyley was made military Governor of Jamaica and following the ‘Restoration’ of Charles II in England in 1660, General D’Oyley was confirmed as the first Civil Governor of Jamaica in June 1661. He effectively disbanded the army, set up the first civil administration and instituted a democratically elected council, later to become the House of Assembly. In 1662 D’Oyley returned to England. He successfully petitioned for a ‘grant of pardon’ for some acts committed under his authority when in Jamaica. He spent his later years in St. Martin-in-the Fields, London where died ‘without issue’ in 1675. For further a detailed account of D’Oyley’s time in Jamaica , see ‘Governors of Jamaica in the C17th’ by Jack Cundall, London (1936) which can be found ‘on line’ via the University of Florida website.

Edward D’Oyley, son of Aldbourne, was an administrator, soldier and the first Governor of Jamaica.