Saturday, February 22, 2014

Robert Blake circa mid 1400s to 1521

Before I move on to the wills that I have managed to transcribe in between Olympic events, I want to think about Robert Blake who wrote his will 16 Dec 1521 and I am quite convinced that it is indeed 1521 and that the Richard who leaves his will in 1522 is his son and the father of Robert, Nicholas and Elizabeth (Mylne).

Robert in his will mentions his son Thomas in particular and Richard occasionally. Thomas is perhaps younger. He also mentions a William Blake and an Andrew Blake but he does not say they are related to him. Robert has given a tenement for life to Andrew Blake.

Richard when he dies in 1522 mentions an indenture with Robert Blake first part and himself, nichi and his wife of the second part at least that would appear to be the correct interpretation as I originally thought it referred to Robert as first son. Richard's wife is still living and he does not name her. He mentions his brother Thomas and that there is a tenament for which he is paying him and this too has something to do with the indenture.

In one of those serendipitous moments, I am seeing that Robert has at least the two sons Richard and Thomas and perhaps a son William but there isn't anything to really prove that. He has perhaps a brother Andrew to whom he has given a tenement for life. Along with that I propose that Richard is the husband of Jone who leaves her will in 1527 mentioning her son Robert, her son Nicholas and her daughter Elizabeth Mylne. She does not give her husband a name.

Thomas and Richard are brothers and the children of Thomas are Margaret (died before Thomas's will was probated), Robert and John. Robert (his son) probates Thomas's will. Is it possible that both men have named their eldest son Robert which is always rather interesting? Is the name of Jone's father Nicholas? Is that the origin of that forename. Is the name of Thomas' wife's father John and again the origin of that forename. The Margaret and the Elizabeth are also interesting but for the most part I am not concerned with the female line of Blake except to note the name of their husbands and possibly their children.

So who is Robert who died in 1521 and what can I learn about him? He is a very generous man remembering many people with a small token. He mentions his sister and a ring for her. His possible brother gets a rent free tenement. Is he quite elderly (perhaps seventy years of age or greater which was a good age in those days? Certainly Nicholas died in 1547 although I suspect his children were only in their 20s at the time giving him a year of birth likely around 1500. Robert has two properties; the one that he lives on where Richard is to live (or is living) and Rawkyns which is to be the home of Thomas. Plus there are his bequests to Andrew Blake and William Blake.

The webpage that talked about a Robert Blake being married to a Maude Snell has long since disappeared and I can not found anything on this particular reference. They were said to be of Benham, Hampshire.But who was this Robert Blake? Can I trace him back any further? Once again the manor papers will likely provide me with information to more fully understand this Blake family at Knights Enham. An obvious pursuit on my next visit to England is to photograph these pages. Unless of course they come on line as more and more material is available on line. In which case we will explore more of England by car; first taking the train to the south of Hampshire and hiring a car and traveling about in south and south west England for a couple of weeks.

The only Benham that I can find is in Berkshire and it is a tything in the parish of Speen. Speen is 15 miles from Andover and 13 miles from Kings Enham. Modern day map shows A34 going south from Speen to Whitchurch where the A303 going west would take you to Andover but there is Red Hill Road/Andover Road from Newbury to Andover. Speen being 1.5 miles northwest of Newbury.

That in itself is quite fascinating as I have transcribed a will for William  Blake of Speen and probated in 1552. This was discussed with the will of Nicholas Blake (blog hyperlink below) because of the mention of Robert Boswell and William has interests at Knights Enham.

and the will of William Blake at Speen and he lives at Benham

Is this the William in the will of Robert Blake written in 1521? There is no reference to a cousin relationship in the will of William. This William has brothers John and Richard so he is not the son of Robert. He could be the son of William or Andrew mentioned in Robert's will. Interesting the forenames in these various families.

Did I find an answer? No, each new will brings up all sorts of new information, new questions and new thoughts. yDNA testing of Blake descendants in the area of Hampshire/Bershire might provide a few clues as to whether or not this is a founding family which has chosen the surname of Blake at least in the case of my line simply because the yDNA of my brother is said to be pre-historic British Isles well before the Celts, the Romans, the Normans, the Jutes/Angles/Saxons. Why did they choose Blake and for that matter why did so many different founding lines choose Blake? Did they marry daughters of the Blake lines that arrived namely Richard le Blak from Rouen Normandy?

Every time a little tidbit comes my way, it drives my curiosity to continue to pursue all of these Blake lines in England through the wills. The answers lie in those wills, in the manor books of the areas they lived in and the subsidies that they paid in those ancient times.

That I am able to go back to the mid 1400s and find Blake on the land at Knights Enham is telling me that this family in itself is an ancient one and if I am correct that this is my line unbroken back to this time then a truly amazing one in that they were part of the indigenous population of the British Isles that saw immigration after immigration coming to their shores but they survived, they merged with the newcomers and here we are over a thousand years later with some still living in the same area. My grandfather never really left England in his heart; his soul was tied to Upper Clatford and he remembered it to the day that he died. He wanted us to remember it; to see it through his eyes and as an eight year old I listened constantly to his stories about his homeland; his Hampshire. He didn't want his Blake to be lost but to be remembered by his grandchildren and his great grandchildren just as he learned about Blake from his father Edward Blake. He could recite his line going back into time and I wish I had, as an eight year old, written down exactly what he said but he repeated it so many times that getting back to Joseph from Edward (Edward, John, Thomas, Joseph) was easy but the eight year old mind muddled the Thomas, the Williams, the Johns but did hold onto "Old Hall" where Nicholas wrote his will in 1547 (Richard too was lost in my mind).

No comments: