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Blandford Family History

Blanford - Blandford Origins

The first Blandford to migrate to Maryland was Thomas Blandford, Gent. in early 1674. His place of origin is not known. The name is English and arms had been granted to the family in Dorsetshire and to the bishop of Worcester (1665), but there are no records of árms being granted to Thomas. The Marquisate of Blandford was a title granted to the Duke of Marlborough (Churchill) after 1700 and the son and heir apparent to the dukedom uses the title of Marquis of Blandford until he succeeds to the dukedom of his father. In analyzing the Blandford family in Maryland it seems that the first generation of the family were Scotch and members of the small and well knit Presbyterian group which settled in or near the Patuxent river in Prince George’s County. The same can be said of the Mills family. Their friends, neighbors, and associates such as Alexander Magruder, Ninian Beall, and Edward Willett are definitely proved adherents of Scotch Presbyterianism which flourished for only a short time on the western shores of Maryland. For this reason it is believed that this early generation was not of the Roman Catholic faith. It was not consistent with the times for a member of the Roman Catholic Church to entrust Presbyterians with the superintendence or management of their estates after death. Further, Robert Owen, who preached the funeral sermon of the first Thomas Blandford, cannot be placed as one of the early Maryland Jesuits. Catholicism apparently did not become the religion of the Blandford Family until the second or third generation, though there were members of the Bevan family who espoused the established church. But it had definitely entered the family by the third generation, for marriages with such families as Mitchell, Hagan, Clarkson, Mudd, and Mahoney document this. All are definitely families who worshipped under the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church.

    No serious attempt has been made, as of about ten years ago, to establish the British parentage of Thomas Blandford except for some preliminary gestures to see if any secondary sources on the name were available in local libraries. The total absence of the family from the Heraldic Visitations of England in the 16th and 17th centuries leaves some slight evidence that the family was Scotch rather than English, yet Blandford is a place name in Dorsetshire, which is a County in southern England bordering on the English Channel. The only Arms granted to the family of Blandford, according to Burke’s Armory, were to the family of Dorsetshire and to the Bishop of Worcestershire in 1665 who was prelate of the Established Church and a scion of the family.

    These facts dispute the possibility that the Maryland emigrant was Scotch, but strengthens considerably the belief that the emigrant was non-Catholic. There has also been speculation that Thomas was not from Dorsetshire at all. Norva Jean (Ginger) Weeks writes in 1991,

"I wish someone could send me the documentation where Thomas the immigrant came from England. All I have found is speculation. Even Filby shows England but none of the sources he used have actual documentation. I’m running way out in left field. Since I found out that Blandford’s Forum in Dorsetshire wasn’t established until about 50 years after Thomas was here I feel questionable about his coming from there. This is just a thought off the top of my head that I’m leaning toward. In 1638 a John Blandford came to Sudbury Connecticut (not Massachusetts) with his wife Mary who he lost in 1641. In 1642 he married a widow, Dorothy Wright. They had several children one of which was a Thomas born about 1648. He spelled the name Blaynford and was known as Thomas of Watertown. In 1673 he married Elizabeth Eames and nothing more is known of  him. My thought is that he left the area and went to Maryland. I’ve read in several books that no headright was given to unmarried men in Maryland, so Thomas must have been married to get it. I have the document where he got the headright. Why didn’t he get one for his wife, or was she already dead? I got the impression that in Massachusetts he was known as a Gentleman and may have had good means. When Thomas arrived in Maryland he was considered a Gentleman with means as he had the money to buy land. Is it just coincidence that there were Wrights, Mills, Blandfords, Longs, and other names involved with the families and living in the same areas in Massachusetts and Maryland? I have found one reference to Thomas (Maryland) having been married before Tabitha, but her name was unknown. If I’m right that this is the same Thomas his father was from Wiltshire, England. I’m not too sure about his mother but the IGI has a reference in Wiltshire to the marriage of John and Dorothy Wright. Not sure if it happened in England or Massachusetts. If it was in England then he made several trips back and forth. Some of the children’s names are very similar."

    You will note that the above information provided by Mary McWay Seaman 1807 Essex Dr. Ft. Collins Colorado in 1995, is different from that given in the notes for Thomas Blandford. I do not know which is correct or if both have inaccuracies. All we can do is to continue checking and trying to verify information.


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