About a mile west of the village of Hamsterley, County Durham stands a cottage now known as Holly Bush, at one time the home of Thomas (‘Tommy’) Blackett (1722-1806). Tommy Blackett was the ancestor of several eminent Blacketts, including Lord Blackett (see A Nobel Prize for a Blackett), Sir Basil Philott Blackett (see A Blackett in high finance) and Edmund Thomas Blacket (see Architecture).
Tommy Blackett was a weaver, the youngest son of James Blackett and Elizabeth Wheatley and a 4xgreat-grandson of Nicholas Blackett of Woodcroft. Although he was baptised into the Church of England, he records in his diary/notebook that he became, somewhat reluctantly, an Anabaptist after witnessing the “fighting of the parsons and people in the [Hamsterley] church” (see paragraph on Thomas Blackett in The Blacketts that we don’t talk about).
Despite his humble profession he could read and write and possessed a number of books. He is believed to have built the cottage, and over the front door, now largely obscured by a porch, is the inscription “Thomas Blackett May 6 1761”. In addition, in the front garden still stands a pump bearing the inscription “T B 1784."
The cottage remained in Tommy Blackett’s family for six generations and was finally sold in 1953 by his 4xgreat-grandson John Patrick Murray Blackett (1868-1964), a retired schoolmaster.
Tommy, together with his wife and two younger children, is buried in Hamsterley churchyard.