A Blackett "State funeral"

Submitted by alkirtley on Tue, 12/10/2019 - 13:31

A "State funeral" was conducted at Trinity Church, in Portsmouth Virginia on Sunday the 15th of October 1775. The Commanding officer of the Virginia detachment of the 14th Regiment of Foot, Captain William Blackett, had died the previous day

The Mourners were led in procession by the Royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, and included about two dozen officers, of the 14th Regiment and two HMS. warships that were in Norfolk harbour at the time, and nearly the entire Virginia detachment of the regiment.

While the burial records of Trinity Church, for 1775, have apparently been lost, Trinity was the only Anglican burial ground in Portsmouth at the time, so Captain Blackett was almost certainly buried there.

This event, the last "State funeral" in colonial Virginia, had been largely forgotten, probably because the actual "shooting war" in Virginia, part of the American Revolution, started about a week later.

1775 was a rough year for the officers of the Fourteenth Regiment; the regimental Adjutant and an Ensign were killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, they lost their Senior Captain, William Blackett, buried in Portsmouth, and in December, three more officers were killed in action at the Battle of Great Bridge, in what is now Chesapeake Virginia.

Given his rank Capt. Blackett may have been a descendant of the Blackett Baronets, and possibly the son by an earlier marriage of William Blackett, Lt. Governor of the fortifications at Plymouth, Devon (see A Blackett governor). No conclusive proof of that has so far been discovered, however.


Our thanks for the above are due to the American historian and author, John Phillips, Esq., Professor of Colonial American History.