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  • "No doubt many long-standing residents of Witney will have tales to tell of the great characters in this family, my favourites would be the formidable Miss Delnevo and good old Joe who made the best chips in town."
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Family turns into dynasty

Members of the Delnevo family travelled from across the UK and as far away as America to be at Sunday’s reunion

Members of the Delnevo family travelled from across the UK and as far away as America to be at Sunday’s reunion

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

THEY may spell their name slightly differently, but 100 members of the same Italian family have reunited to celebrate their dynasty that owned shops in Witney and Oxford.

The Delnevo family (or Del Nevo, depending on which branch you come from), who all trace their lineage back to brothers who came over to this country between 1882 and 1889, met at Madley Park Hall in Witney on Sunday.

Spanning three generations, the 100 family members had travelled from around the country – including Canterbury, Devon and Reading – to be together.

And grandson Stuart Kerry travelled all the way from California to take part.

The family have not all met since their first family reunion – which marked just over 100 years since the brothers travelled to the UK – at Rhodes House in Oxford in 1991.

The four brothers, Luigi, Giovanni, Guiseppe and Domenico Anthonio emigrated from the small village of Borgo Val di Taro near Parma in Italy to the UK, with Luigi moving over in 1882 and the others following in 1889.

They originally settled in London but then dispersed, with Giovanni moving to Witney and Domenico moving to Oxford – according to a family tradition they decided where to go by throwing their hats in the air.

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Giovanni set up two fish and chip shops, in Corn Street and West End, and a television shop in High Street.

Later, his daughter set up a clothes shop in High Street.

Domenico set up two hairdressers, in High Street, Oxford, and then in Cowley Road, and a greengrocer’s and a fish and chip shop in St Ebbe’s.

Giovanni had 13 children and Domenico seven.

Giovanni’s granddaughter, Anita Ryder, 68, from Witney, helped organise the event and now hopes to trace the family tree to its roots in Italy.

She said: “There are some people I have not seen for years, and so many I do not know. All of us here go back to the two brothers in Oxfordshire.

“Looking around the room you can see the similarities.”

Luigi and Guiseppe made their homes in London and High Wycombe respectively. Luigi ran an ice cream parlour while Guiseppe’s career is unknown.

Matthew Delnevo’s sons, Ben, 14, and Max, 12, are among only a handful of descendants who retain the family name.

Ben said: “I do feel a responsibility. I want to carry on the name because of our family history.”

Three of Giovanni’s children still survive, Helena, 95, Fred, 89, and Joan, 86, but all of Domenico’s children have passed away.

Helena, who lives in a Witney care home, Madley Park House, said: “It is wonderful that everyone is together. I am tremendously proud.”

Joan said: “My father and his brothers came over to this country and worked very hard without any assistance – they just made their way.”

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