Merchant and diplomat Horatio Palavicino was born about 1540 in Genoa where his family had made a fortune in handling the papal monopoly of alum, an essential ingredient in the dyeing process. Horatio represented the firm in the Low Countries. When Thomas Gresham, the government’s chief financial agent, died in 1579 Palavicino was the most capable person to succeed him. Having settled in London, he was made a denisen in 1585, and knighted two years later. He resided in a large house on the west side of Bishopsgate Street.
Palavicino maintained close relations with the court (as a money lender) and was employed by Elizabeth on diplomatic missions to the Continent. He married Antwerp-born Anna Hooftman (van Eyckelberg), daughter of one of the richest men in the Low Countries, in April 1591. Horatio died in July 1600, leaving Anna as his sole executor. In 1601, she married heavily indebted Oliver Cromwell of Hinchinbrook, the Royalist uncle and godfather of the later politician. Not only did he improve his condition by marrying into Lady Hooftman’s inheritance, he also managed the extraordinary feat of marrying his two daughters Catherine and Jane out of his first marriage with Elizabeth Bromley to Henry and Toby Palavicino in April 1606, and later marrying his eldest son Henry to Baptina.
The Palavicino/Hooftman fortune was captured by the Cromwell-gang in the most efficient manner. In 1603 the couple lavishly entertained the newly crowned King James I at their home. Anna gave birth to four Cromwell-children, but only one of them lived beyond early adulthood. Her son Giles Cromwell lived at The Hague in the service of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, daughter of King James I, died in 1634 unmarried and without children. Anna passed away in 1626. Oliver died in 1655.