Father: Daniel Oxley (Carpenter in Woolwich Dockyard)
Mother: Becky Oxley (Laundress)
Younger Brother: Tom Oxley (Royal Marine drummer)
He and his brother Tom were frequently roped into helping their mother with the laundry that she used to take in to help supplement the family income. Often, the money she received from this was the only income the family had after Daniel Oxley drank his pay away in the local pub, the Two Caulkers. It was understood that when they were old enough, each of the boys would be apprenticed in their father's trade in the Dockyard.
Due to their father's drunken habits, Sam Oxley wasn't apprenticed at the usual age of twelve. It wasn't until he was sixteen that his apprenticeship was finally arranged, but as he went down to the dockyard to sign his indentures and begin to learn his trade, he was snatched by a press-gang from the ship HMS Achille.
His first few days at sea, aboard HMS Achille, were miserable – he had no way to contact his brother to let him know what had happened. However, the realisation that he was serving in Admiral Nelson's Mediterranean Squadron soon helped him overcome his initial misgivings. He threw himself into learning his new trade over the next few months, and the fruitless chases after Admiral Villeneuve across the Mediterranean and then the Atlantic provided many opportunities to learn and develop his seamanship.
Only a few short months after first being pressed, Sam Oxley (still rated Landman) was involved in the Battle of Trafalgar, although he saw very little of the actual battle from his station on the lower gundeck, as part of the guncrew of 'Jumping Billy' – Number Eight gun, on the starboard side.
From Achille, he was transferred to HMS Euryalus, 32, where served for the next three years, first being rated 'Ordinary' and then 'Able'. He rather liked life in the fast, free-ranging frigate, and took to the life, developing pride in his abilities and seamanship. In late 1808, however, Euryalus had the misfortune to fall in with Confidence, and Sam Oxley and some other men were taken out of the frigate to make up numbers in the bigger ship.
Confidence was not a happy ship, and Sam grew to resent the life of a Navy sailor, eventually making up his mind to run at the first opportunity. However, before he could, Confidence, along with a frigate and a couple of brigs, was involved in providing a distraction for the Army's assault on Oporto, in Portugal, on the 22nd May 1809. It was during this action that Sam was reunited with his younger brother Tom, now a drummer in the Royal Marines and serving aboard HMS Terpsichore, 32. He learned that soon after he was pressed, Tom had resolved to try to find him, running away from home to enlist at Woolwich Barracks.
He is about 5'5” tall with dark/ash blond hair, worn tied back in a sailor's queue, and blue eyes with a direct, open expression. He has fair skin with a tendency to burn before tanning. He has a back scarred from flogging, having been flogged twice for minor offences while serving in Confidence.
He generally wears a checked shirt and white trousers, with a neckerchief knotted casually around his neck. Occasionally he wears a blue jacket with brass buttons (if the weather is colder, for instance, or when required to be smart). He is usually bare-headed, although he has an old-fashioned stocking cap for colder weather, and a smart tarred straw hat for Divisions and other special occasions. He prefers to go barefoot aboard ship.
Sam is cheerful and popular but tough and able to hold his own. He can wind his superiors up, not always unintentionally. He enjoys a practical joke, and contributed to his brother's secret claustrophobia by locking him in the shed behind the family home for a laugh. While he may take a joke too far on occasion, if not reined in, he is not deliberately mean. He doesn't always realise when he has taken something too far until it is too late. He is friendly and honest, despite his habit of speaking his mind. He is loyal to his friends and will do his best to help them out when they need him, and he expects the same loyalty in turn.
He is independently-minded and sometimes speaks without thinking. He can be very blunt in what he says, which has led to getting into fights before now. He is prone to be scornful of people and things that he doesn't like. He is quick with his fists when angry, upset or if he or his friends are threatened.
He has been in the Navy for four years and is rated Able, knowing his ropes. He takes pride in his skills, and is a natural seaman.
He is illiterate.
- "Oporto: Naval Landing Parties" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/by-sea-f6/oporto-22nd-may-naval-landing-parties-t699.htm