Saturday, January 26, 2013

Calendar of Patent Rolls - Blake family

I am in the process of proofreading the OCR'd extracts of the entries in the Calendar of Patent Rolls which were pertinent to the Blake family of the British Isles. The 162 pages of text will eventually be on the Blake one name study website and hopefully sooner rather than later:

One of my missions when next at Kew includes looking at published material to see if I can locate any earlier references to Blake. But it would appear that the earliest thus far is 1230. Somewhat a disappointment for Blake members who have been researching for a considerable period of time and tracing their line back to the Norman invasion of England. I think for myself it is nice to have an ancestral past that consists of tradespeople going back and forth and eventually deciding to leave their (it would appear) native France and establish their family in the British Isles. The holdings at Kew are enormous with regard to early writings and you can actually browse the shelves online! Many of the early books are also on Internet Archive and I am only just beginning my exploration of some of these books.

In my own line at Andover the earliest records appear to be in the 1200s as well. Now I guess the question is why would so many different French families chose the surname Blak/Blake/Blanc. But perhaps when you see the last word you can understand the reasoning. Blak being gaelic for pale or light coloured and Blanc being French for light coloured and now white. But the surprise is perhaps finding Richard le Blak of Rouen, Normandy in 1272 making his way to England in the wool business. Already his name is Blak but then the French also spoke a form of Gaelic and I do not know the "age" of the use of the word Blanc in French. But it appears to be the name of a silver coin that was used in the 14th century.

I have only just really become inspired to look at the really early history of the Blake family. Some posts on the ISOGG list have rather inspired me to look into the deep ancestry of the family which has become quite obvious by the yDNA testing of the Blake lines thus far. Now finding so many different locations for Blake in the British Isles between 1230 and 1452 and in particular the centre of these many different locations do appear to be the likely locations for some of the yDNA lines thus far tested does tend to give credence to the idea that this was a surname well established in France and different members came to the British Isles over a time period establishing themselves in different locations. Why did they go to these different locations? In the case of the Hampshire people I suspect it was the wool trade since they are still in that trade two and three centuries later.

As usual I am putting down my thoughts of the day with regard to the Blake family, sharing them with any readers who wish to share them and keeping them for the future. I also backup my blog just in case :)

The online repository that has the Calendar of Patent Rolls (  is a freely searchable set of files made available as a project of Professor G.R. Boynton and the University of Iowa Libraries. Thanks to them for making this set of documents available.

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