Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington
Genealogical Notes:- The problem with the Blachford family is that all the main sources of information that we have about them contain some degree of conflicting information and I think this mainly arises from a lack of appreciation that we have several John, William and Richard Blachford's from the same family living in Dorchester in the 17th Century. Both Rose-Troup in her book, 'John White the Founder of Massachusetts',(1) and in 'William Whiteway's Diary' (2) there are biographical notes on 'John Blachford the Woolen Merchant of Dorchester'. Here I am concerned with an investor in the Dorchester Company so my starting point is Rose-Troup who informs us only that he married in the parish of Holy Trinity to a Margaret Membury [Menbree] on 6th October 1610 and was buried in the same church on 23 November 1632. Her source for the burial is the Reverend RG Bartelott who was vicar of Fordington from 1906 to 1936 and a well respected antiquarian. I do not have access to the burials but I can certainly confirm that the marriage took place as described.(3)
Immediately it is apparent that if John Blachford died in 1632, he cannot be the same John Blachford who fled to France in 1634. The biographical notes in 'William Whiteway's Diary' done by Thomas D Murphy follow know facts about John Blachford's time in Dorchester and his final sentence says ' Probably the brother of Richard & Thomas Blachford' on whom he also provides biographical notes.
This is a useful stepping off point as Richard Blachford(c1570-1652) of Dorchester had a son Richard who was a merchant of London and he recorded the family pedigree (under the name Blashford) before the Heralds at the Visitation (4) of London in 1633. This also gives us both the Blanchard and his wife's coat of arms as shown in the picture below to the right. The Blachford Coat of Arms are recorded in 'The General Armoury of England' (5) and this informs us that the arms to 'Blachford of London and Dorchester' were only awarded in 1629.
An additional source for information about the family can be found at the Family-forest web site (6) where an account of the life of Richard Blachford has been given and provides the image of the Coat of Arms shown to the left which fits the description given in the General Armoury. The information on this site is based on an account of the family by A.G.Blachard called 'A Family History'. I have not so far been able to access this work but it appears to provide some valuable research although the family tree suffers here and there from the same sort of anomalies I referred to above. It expands the description given in the Armoury to say that the arms were awarded to Richard Blachford (1570-1652) which squares with the date of 1629 when Richard was head of the family in Dorchester.
This site suggests that Richard was the eldest son of William (1545-1624) & Martha Blachford of Holway in the Parish of White Staughton but I have not so far been able to confirm where this information came from. The pedigree suggests Holsworthy in Devon as a birthplace for William and quotes a baptism of 30 Dec 1571 but I am unclear as to what connection this has with Whitestaunton on the Somerset/Devon border and don't have access to parish registers to confirm the baptism or other members of the family so more research would be necessary. I still have to get access and transcribe the surviving registers for Dorchester but I have no reason at this stage to doubt the reference to the death of William Blachford in Dorchester on 12th April 1624 as we know registers for Holy Trinity survived from 1559 and are at the Dorset History Center.
Although James I King of England granted a Charter to the Borough of Dorchester in 1610, the Bailiffs, Captial Burgesses and Common Council did not form the "Company of Freemen" until an incident occurred which galvanised them into action. They issued its constitution and 14 bye laws on 22nd October 1621 and started collection of membership fees the following week. William Blachford paid his 2 shillings membership fee in 14th November 1621 and was clearly one of its founding members.
William Blachford is described by Terry Hearing(19) as a merchant clothier of Dorchester and is said to have dominated the Weymouth shipping records for 1625. He with his son [Richard] had a share in more than three quarters of the cargoes leaving Weymouth that year. This is supported by comments in the History of Dorchester(8) which says ' During the Reigns of Elizabeth, James I, and Charles I; until the great fire and the Civil War, the Manufacture of Cloth flourished and the inhabitants imported and exported a great deal of merchandise at Weymouth.'
William's death would have left Richard his eldest son as head of the family and he and his brothers in charge of this lucrative business. The pedigree also suggests that William & Martha had 4 sons Richard being the eldest, a Nicholas, William & John. This is slightly out of step with the biographical notes in William Whiteway's Diary written by Thomas D Murphy which suggest that Thomas Blachford was probably a brother to Richard and John and according to David Underdown a visiting Minister William Jones dedicated his sermon given on Christmas day 1613 to his friends Richard and Thomas Blachford. Thomas is also executor to a will in 1619 and won the lottery ['a fine pyramided silver salt'] for the benefit of the Virginia Company(7) that year. Richard's son, as will be seen below, was not born until c1605 so this does suggest Thomas being another brother. The reference to Nicholas gives a marriage in London to a Joan Sparrow which certainly took place (9) but again no context to link this marriage to this family.
So what do we know. I agree with Rose-Troup that in all probability the John Blachford (1574-1632) who invested in the Dorchester Company was the younger brother of Richard, married in Dorchester to Margaret Membury in 1610 and died there in 1632(16).
John and Margaret had the following children baptised in Dorchester:-
(1) Elizabeth Blatchford bap 2nd July 1611
(2) John Blatchford bap 25th April 1614 and buried there 8th May 1614
(3) Frances Blatchford bap 25th April 1615 and buried there 1st Sep 1615
(4) Dorothy Blatchford bap 12th October 1616
(5) John Blatchford bap 24th Jan 1618
(6) Margaret Blatchford bap 29 Apr 1621
(7) Margaret Blatchford bap 16th Oct 1625
(8) Sarah Blatchford bap 8th Mar 1628/9
Margaret may have lived to a ripe old age as there is a burial of a Margaret Blachford in the same church in Dorchester on 7 Aug 1681(22). The pedigree suggests that this John Blachford was Mayor of Dorchester in 1626, another fact I still have to substantiate, but if true would fit well with his investment in the Dorchester Company in 1624.
From the numerous factual accounts of the family given by Rose-Troup(1), David Underdown(7) and William Whiteway(2) it is clear that the family was well entrenched and influential in Dorchester before the turn of the century and well before the arrival of the Rev John White in 1606 when Richard Blachford (See below) was already Bailiff of the town(7). On 26th June 1610 King James I by letters patent appointed for the Government of Dorchester Borough - 2 Bailiffs and 15 Burgesses (styled Capital Burgesses and councilors of the borough) out of whom the Bailiffs were to be chosen. He also granted them power to choose a Recorder and Deputy. Both Richard and his brother John were among the first 15 Capital Burgesses chosen(8) and the Recorder nominated was Sir Francis Ashley. King Charles (the First) issued a new Charter to the town on 22nd December 1630 and both Richard and John are still listed as Capital Burgesses. Whilst therefore they were at the center of running the Corporation, and one of the most important families in the town, It is clear they were first and foremost merchants, with extensive interests abroad including New England.
From the Visitation(4) we know Richard had a son John born about 1598 and there is no doubt that he quickly rose to importance within the town as well. He became the driving force behind the merchanting business and must have been the John Blachford who fled to France in 1634. Most references in documentation however are only to a 'John Blachford' so its difficult to be sure to which of them particular events relate. Early references to owning property in Dorchester for example(1) almost certainly relate to Richards brother. On the 6th Dec 1625 Edmund Dashwood another Mercer, bailiff and MP of Dorchester (who was to become its Mayor in 1632) apprenticed his son Francis Dashwood to 'John Blachford' for eight years(6 & 21). As Edmund Dashwood was also one of the original 15 Capital Burgess's this is also probably Richards brother.
Given the scope for confusion and their close involvement with John White I have chosen to outline my understanding of the lives of Richard and his son John Blachford below. Before I do so however a few words about Richard and John's other brother Thomas Blachford. He was also a merchant trader and according to Thomas D Murphy elected to the council of freemen of Dorchester 1629-30. He goes on to say that 'he took his wife and her sister however to live in France in 1632. This is a direct quote from William Whiteway's diary for the 1st June 1632 but I have my doubts that this is Richards brother Thomas as confusion may have arisen between him and Richard's son Thomas born c1605.
The visitation of London actually states that in the year 1633 Richards son was living in 'Roune in Normandy'. It's always possible that both were resident in Rouen as Thomas Murphy goes on to say that Thomas Blachford was in difficulties with the Kings customs collector [Mr John Gardener] in 1634 and living in France in 1644. As will be seen below it was Richards son John Blachford that had the long running battle over customs duty so again I think this is more likely to have been his brother Thomas. Another clue is in the National Burial index which shows the death of two 'Thomas Blackford's' in Melcombe Regis, at the church of St Mary & St John, the first on 8 Sep 1626 and the second on 11 June 1632. Although a great deal has been said about trade out of Weymouth, at this date as a town rather than a port Melcombe Regis was the more significant of the two, Weymouth not even having an anglican church until the 1830's. Whilst more research is necessary it raises the possibility that Richard and John's brother Thomas lived in Melcombe Regis to be close to their shipping business. I have also quoted below an incident where Richard & John were fined for selling wine in Melcombe Regis in 1627 which places them there between the two deaths.
Richard Blachford (1570-1652) was the eldest of his brothers and married c1597 to Frances the daughter of John Combe of Ashmore(23). The visitation for London in 1633 records the family under the surname Blashford and is signed by his son Richard (listed below). It shows they had 8 children and I outline what I know about them below:-
John Blachford (c1598-aft 1661?) of Dorchester the eldest son; See separate section below with details of his life.
Frances Blachford (c1604-) married John Seward a merchant of Lime [Lyme] Dorset
Thomas Blachford (c1605-aft1644) 5th son married Margaret Meech 2 Oct 1627 (2 & 6) lived in Roane [Rouen] Normandy(4) from 1 June 1632 and is thought to have died there approx 1644.
Richard certainly became a member of the Company of Freemen where he is recorded as a merchant of Dorchester on 2nd March 1623(21). When he was admitted he also had two apprentices working for him, a Henrie Mynterne, clothier & John Cooth, a merchant, as he had to pay two shillings each for their admittance as well. He was Bailiff of Dorchester on at least 3 occasions 1606(7); 1621 and 1627. In 1613 and after the great fire he ran the restoration fund with Matthew Chubb who contributed £1,000. A considerable amount of money was involved as collection was made throughout the Country and distribution seems to have been at the behest of Matthew Chubb and himself as William Whiteway the diarist complained ‘no one burgess besides allowed to have any hand therein’. (7)
On 12 Apr 1633 both he and his son John became Feoffees of the Lands of All Saints Parish in Dorchester and during the Civil War he was a Parliamentary captain(10). He was one of four main clothiers in Dorchester, a Capital Burgess, Alderman and Mayor (twice in 1630 and 1646).
His wife Frances Blachford was buried in Dorchester on 16 December 1647 and he died in 1652(7) as he was replaced as a Capital Burgess of Dorchester by Thomas Symonds, grocer on 16 Aug 1652. (21)
His son John Blachford (c1598-aft 1639) a Wool Merchant of Dorchester, was made constable of the town on 29th September 1620 and continued in post the following year. He was made Governor of the company of freemen for the year 1622-23 and when Oliver Haine died on 13th December 1622 he took over as Alderman(2). His father managed to have him elected Capital Burgess(7) on 3rd January 1623, a position he still held during the Visitation of Dorchester later that year(11). He was also Bailiff of Dorchester 1626-27 and 1632-33.(2)
He had extensive contacts with France, Spain, Virginia and Newfoundland and is known to have imported fish from New England(19) and exported food to the continent such as butter, cheese, wheat(7) etc whilst loading cloth and other items for his business in Dorchester on the return voyage. In those days it was a risky business as is evidenced by William Whiteway referring in his diary to him in 1625 losing £350 of goods to French pirates and in 1633 a large consignment of cloth on the ‘Mary of Morlaix’ was lost in a shipwreck off Portland beach of which John Blachford and James Gould were said to have suffered most of the losses. Mind you it could work both ways as there is a petition to the House of Commons by John blachford in 1628(28) " that he may have his third part of a prize ship taken by captain Hinkley".
As traders there had always been difficulties with the payment of customs (which were due to the Exchequer and hence the King) and falling foul of the many Puritan laws passed at this time. On 6th November 1627 for example both Richard and John Blachford of Dorchester , Merchants were fined £20 for selling a 'butt of sock' within the town of Weymouth & Melcombe Regis unto an Edward ROMYN alias FOXE a Country Vintner "being foreign bought and foreign sold".(15)
Other examples exist of his role at the centre of the community:-
23 December 1629 - He rode all the way to London with Mr John Hill and Mr William Derby on behalf of the town to procure from Lord Suffolk or the counsel liberty to muster the men of the town and have a Captain of their own(2). Rose-Troup also mentions ‘that many foreign students found their way to Dorchester, attracted by White’s repute among the Protestant churches abroad and the high esteem in which he was held by all the Puritans. In 1634 Whiteway notes that Sir William Van Ensum, one of the States of Hollande sons, with his tutor John Van Shutenbroick came to live here; they lodged at Mr John Blachford's and dined at Mr White’s and in the same year “Mr John Tredera, a gentleman of Pomerania came to live here and lay at Mr John Blachford’s with Mr Ensum.It was natural therefore for him to understand the business opportunities represented by the colonizing projects in New England being organised by John White and we know in 1630 he contributed £100 towards the fund being raised by John White to produce a better endowed Ministry in Dorchester to underpin their efforts(1). In the end the impressive sum of £1,500 was collected and at a meeting of about eighty contributors in St Peters Church it was agreed that it should be used to buy the parsonage of Seaton and Beer just over the Devon boarder(7). The purchase produced an annual income of £100 to be shared among the Dorchester Clergy and in 1631 John Blachford was elected to the board of management to oversee distribution.
As early as 1631(27) a serious situation arose whereby he and a compatriot Thomas Waltham were accused by the King’s Customer , John Gardener on behalf of the Exchequer of ‘stealing customs duty’ (1)and from an entry in William Whiteway's diary for 25th February 1633 it is evident that his failure to answer a summons to go to London to be examined resulted in a warrant being granted for his arrest. A commission was held at Weymouth to hear the case on 2nd September 1633 but was inconclusive so another Commission sat for a whole month in the Shire Hall in Dorchester at the end of the year.
Rose-Troup says ‘ There were charges of fraud, counter-charges that the customer [John Gardener] had exceeded his duties, recriminations, a stealing by the customer of a commission, imprisonment of the customer for contempt etc etc’.
After many thousands of pounds being spent on lawyers the personal lawsuit against Blachford by Gardener was referred and had to be settled by arbitration(2). In July 1634 Sir John Strangeways awarded Mr John Gardener £250 against the £1,100 he had demanded. Much more serious however was the Barons judgement on behalf of the Crown which is recorded in Williams Whiteway's diary:-
28th November 1634 This day Mr Thomas Gier, John Blachford, and Thomas Ealtham, after a long and chargeable sute followed against them in the Exchequer by Mr John Gardener in the Kings name and his owne were censured by the Barons upon the Statute of labourers for werking on undue times, shipping goods at unlawful howers and in undue manner : and Mr Thomas Gier who was then Maior for permitting such unlawful practices to be done in his house. Mr Gier was fined £3,000, Mr Blachford £2,000 and Mr Thomas Waltham £2,000 and all to be imprisoned: but they provided for their liberty(2).
The net result of this judgement against him was that he entailed away his estates and fled to France(7). It was not until 1639(21) however by which time it was clear his interests now lay elsewhere that they chose to act and remove him as a Capital Burgess of the town. Although his father Richard remained and fought in the Civil War this marked the turning point of the Blachford’s influence in Dorchester which ended to all intents and purposes with the death of Richard in 1652.
Finally we need to cover his marriage and death. He certainly married, probably in Dorset as there is a reference to 'one of his sons' returning in the late 1630's to Dorchester on business and being abused by a poor man called John Chimney who also refers to the boys grandfather Richard(7). The pedigree(6)suggests that he married a Mary Renauld and had 6 children and that John died in Dublin after 1661. Supporting evidence concerning his life after leaving Dorchester however rests solely upon the inscription given on the following memorial:-
This memorial stone is in St Peter's Church, Templeport. St Peter's Church is part of the Parish of Templeport, Swanlinbar and Kinawley in the Kilmore Diocese of the Church of Ireland. Transcription:-
Blachford of Lisnover in 1721 to the Memory of
his Father John Blachford Late of the same Esqr. but
from Dorchester in Dorsetshire the place of his
nativity, who in his life time chose this for a Buriing
place, for him selfe and famely, but dyed in Dublin
was Buried in St. Orvlns Church but his wife Mary
Renald of a Devonsheire famely lies Buried here
As also three sons. and two daughters. viz John
Ambrose. and Thomas. Mary. and Frances.
Here likewise lies Buried two wifes of Majr. William
Blachford, Son to the said John Blashford. viz
Mary Maghee. of an ancient Famely in Scotland.
and Ann Nethercots, of an ancient famely in Lincolnsheire
Cornet Chidley Blachford Son to Majr. Wm.
Blachford Leys buried here who dyed
August Ye. 29. 1722
SUMMARY I have tried to build up a picture of this family from the facts currently available to me and my hope is that more information will come to light. In the meantime I hope that I have at least provided some food for thought. Much more is available about descendants but this is not my role as I am concerned primarily with life in Dorchester and Fordington and placing that information into the public domain
In the name of God Amen: I Henry BLANCHARD of the City of Chichester in the County of Sussex Merchant being sick & weak in body but of sound sane and disposing memory for which I thank the Lord God do make and ordain my Last Will and Testament in the manner and form following, renouncing hereby all former Wills made by me
And: firstly I bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God and my Saviour Jesus Christ desiring pardon for all my sins nothing doubting but confidently believing that by the death and passion of my said Saviour to be externally saved.
And: my body I leave to the Earth to be decently buried in Christian burial.
Item: I give to the poor people of the Parish of St Peters in the said City forty shillings to be distributed amongst them within 3 months after my decease at the discretion of my dear and loving wife Marie BLANCHFORD.
Item: I give and bequeath to my said wife her executors administrators and assigns the lease I hold of the messuage or tenement premises called ENDTONE? by the name of the Sign of the Swan in the said City and all the premises in the said lease demised
And: also the lease I hold for Sir John MORLEY Knight of Parnell of the Broyle farm near the said City and all the premises in the said lease demised To have and to hold the said several leases and the demised premises unto my said wife her executors administrators and assigns for and during the residue remainder of the several terms of years in the said several leases yet to come and expired.
And also whereas I have an obligation made to my wife's mother Elianor BIRD for the remaining of the said lease of the premises parcel of Broyle Farm aforesaid I give and bequest the said obligation to my said wife her executors administrators and assigns with all profit and benefit thereof and power to renew the said lease according to the tenor and effort of the said obligation to the use of my said wife her executors administrators and assigns.
Also I give and bequeath to my said wife her executors administrators and assigns due obligation wherein Charles COMBES standeth bound to me for payment of ten pounds per annum during the natural life of my mother Frances BLACHFORD with all benefit profit and advantage that may by had and raised by force and vintue of the said obligation
Item: I further give and bequeath to my said wife and to my daughter Marie BLACHFORD all my goods chattels plate and implements of household stuff whatsoever (Excepting such goods and implements of household stuff as are in the house wherein my late servant Johan BROWNE Spinster now lives) to be equally divided between my said wife and daughter
Item: Whereas I have mortgaged my capital messuage or tenement and garden in the South Street of the said City to Thomas COBLE And also I have mortgaged other my messuage's or tenements and premises in the said street and also in the lane lying from the South Gate to the East Gate under the walls of the said City unto Robert STANDEN for redemption of which several mortgages I give and bequeath to my said wife Marie BLACHFORD and my good friend Mr. John FARRINGTON of the said City Gentleman all the lands and tenements in which I am seized of my estate in fee simple or fee sale situate lying and being in West Stoke in the said County with the appurtenances to have and to hold unto my said wife and the said John FARRINGTON their heirs and assigns for ever, To that intent and purpose and of several such and consivents? that my said wife and the said John FARRINGTON and their heirs shall with what convenient speed they may sell my said lands and tenements in West Stoke to the best advantage they can And the money thereof or by the sale thereof to be raised shall be by them paid for and towards redemption of the said several mortgaged premises And if the money to be raised on the sale of the said lands and tenements be not sufficient to redeem the said mortgaged premises Then my will and meaning is that the remainder of the money for redeeming the mortgaged premises shall be raised out of the yearly rents and profits of the said mortgaged premises And for that end and that intent and purpose I give unto the said John FARRINGTON and my said wife their executors administrators and assigns the yearly rents revenues and profits of the said mortgaged premises with full power and authority to let sell and dispose thereof for raising the said monies to have and to hold unto them their executors administrators and assigns until sufficient money shall be raised as aforesaid for the redemption thereof And that after the said monies shall be paid and satisfied for redemption of the said mortgaged premises then I declare my will and meaning to be:
And: I give and bequeath to my oldest son Richard BLACHFORD and his heirs for ever the said great capital messuage or tenement and garden backside and Coach house and stable with the appurtenances now in the occupation of the said Sir John MORLEY (except such the messuage's tenements and premises as I have after in this my will given to my said daughter Mary BLACHFORD and her heirs) To have and to hold to him my son Richard and his heirs for ever from and immediately after he shall have attained his full age of six and twenty years if he shall for so long live. And until he shall or might have so attained his said age of six and twenty years I give and bequeath the rents issues and profits of the said premises so given to my son Richard as aforesaid (after the said mortgage shall be so redeemed) unto my said wife Mary BLACHFORD for the maintenance of her and my children
Item: I give and bequeath to my said daughter Mary BLACHFORD and her heirs for ever All my messuage's and tenements in the said South Street and Lane leading from South Gate under the South Wall to the said East Gate (other than such messuage's tenements and premises as are now in the tenure and occupation of the said Sir John MORLEY and are not formally in this my will given and bequeathed to my said son Richard BLACHFORD to have and to hold unto my said daughter her heirs and assigns for ever from and immediately after she shall have attained her age of twenty years or day of marriage which ever of them shall first happen. And until she shall have so attained her said age or be married I give the said messuage's tenements and premises to my said wife for the maintenance of her and my children.
Item: I give and bequeath to my youngest son William BLACHFORD and his heirs for ever the messuage or tenement wherein I now live with the stable backside and gardens thereunto belonging (Except the house wherein the said Johan BROWNE now lives and the curtilage thereunto belonging) to have and to hold to my said son William BLACHFORD his heirs and assigns for ever immediately from and after he shall or might have attained his full age of one and twenty years And until he shall or might have attained his said age I give the said messuage tenement and premises to my said wife and her assigns for the maintenance of her and her children
Item: I give and bequeath to the said Joane BROWNE the messuage or tenement wherein she lyeth with the curtilage or backside thereunto belonging to have and to hold to the said Joane BROWNE and her assigns for and during the term of twenty years to commence next from and after my decease if she the said Joane shall for long live sole and unmarried And after the death or marriage of the said Joane I give and bequeath the said messuage tenement and curtilage to my said son William BLACHFORD and his heirs for ever
Item: I give and bequeath to said Joane BROWNE all such my goods and implements of household stuff which she hath of mine in the said house wherein she now dwells
Item: I give and bequeath to Whereas I stand instantly and truly indebted to my good friend and neighbour Mr Richard WILLIAMS of the said City in several sums of money I declare my will and meaning to be And I desire my executors hereafter named to see the same debt instantly paid with all convenient speed And to pay it him accordingly
Item: I give and bequeath to my loving brother Christopher BIRD one gold ring with a death head worth thirteen shillings four pence And whereas I instantly stand indebted to the said Christopher in certain monies the sum whereof I now remember not I declare my wife to pay it out of the rents and profits of the said messuage's lands and tenements I have in this will given unto her by paying the said Christopher twenty pounds per annum until the said money be fully paid
Item: I make and ordain my said son William BLACHFORD executor of this my will And because he is in infancy and not yet of years sufficient in law to take the said executorship upon him therefore I make and ordain my said wife Marie BLACHFORD and my loving kinsman Timothy BUTTE Gentleman executors of this my will until my said son shall be of sufficient age in law to take the said executorship upon him
Item: I give and bequeath to Elizabeth WATLIE servant to the said Joane BROWNE forty shillings to be paid her within two years after my decease
In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal
Dated the seventeenth day of December in the three and twentieth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King Charles od England Scotland France and Ireland Etc Anno Domini [In the year of our Lord] One thousand six hundred forty seven
H BLACHFORD: Signed Sealed delivered and published in the presence of us George BUTLER; Jasper SOUNTER; William WILLIAMS; Christopher BIRD
PROBATE: Was granted to Maria BLACHFORD Relict of the deceased on 21 Feb 1648
1 - 'John White Founder of Massachusetts' by Frances Rose-Troup FRHS Published 1930 by GP Putnam's London
28 - Calander of State Papers Domestic Charles I volume 124 undated 1628
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