Devonian and Cornish Blacketts

Submitted by alkirtley on Thu, 11/21/2019 - 11:55

At least two Blackett families lived in Devon, mostly in and around Plymouth. William Blackett (1791-1853), the son of Ralph Blackett and Elizabeth, had at least six children born in the city, and the splendidly named Sampson Blackett (1802-1887), the son of Jeremiah Blackett and Sarah Chelew, had at least four children born there. The links between these families have not been found, nor which branch of the Blacketts they descend from. For a descendancy chart of Jeremiah Blackett and Sarah Chelew please click here and for a descendancy chart of Ralph Blackett and Elizabeth please click here.

Interestingly, the only marriage around the time in question of a Jeremiah Blackett to a Sarah took place in 1800 in Madron, Cornwall, the bride’s name being Sarah Chelew. Both parties were expressed to be of Penzance (Cornwall) and were shown as a widower and widow. There was a further marriage of a Jeremiah Blackett, a bachelor, to Esther Harper, a widow, in Padstow on the north-west coast of Cornwall, in 1804, which produced at least one child, Joseph, baptised in Padstow on 27 Dec 1804. This Joseph later married Elizabeth Glanvill in Tintagel in 1827. However, since Jeremiah Blackett and Sarah Chelew had a daughter Eliza born in 1807 in Plymouth, where Sarah died in 1846, there must have been two Jeremiah Blacketts in the region at the time, unless the 1804 marriage of Jeremiah was bigamous. A Jeremiah Blackett was buried in Padstow in 1806 and another Jeremiah Blackett in Plymouth in 1807 and if these were the two Jeremiahs in question that would rule out the bigamy theory as above. (NB. FreeReg shows a transcription of the baptism of a Samuel Blacket, son of Joseph Blacket, husbandman, and Dorcas on 11 May 1841 at Crowan, Cornwall, but this appears to be a mistranscription of Samuel Bucket. Samuel is described as such in the Findmypast transcription and this is supported by censuses.)

There may be a connection to Peter Blackett (abt1762-1832) of Stoke Damerel, Devonport, Devon but none has yet been found. On his marriage in 1798 Peter Blackett is described as quartermaster of the ‘Beaulieu’. It is possible that he is one and the same as the Peter Blackett, baptized in Newcastle in 1769, the son of Alexander Blackett, a waterman, and grandson of Peter Blackett of Gateshead, himself a son of Alexander Blackett and Elizabeth Scotland, as shown in Alexander Blackett of Gateshead. No proof of this has been found, however.

Blackett is an uncommon name in Devon and Cornwall and Jeremiah Blackett even rarer. The only other instances of Jeremiah Blacketts in the UK we have discovered were based in Hampshire, and around Appleby and Murton in Westmorland. The latter may possibly provide the clue as to the Devon and Cornwall Blacketts. In the mid eighteenth century Thomas Blackett, the sixth son of Jeremiah Blackett (1708-1781) went to Barbados to work for Sir James Lowther. Jeremiah Blackett was agent for Sir James, a Westmorland landowner who also had estates in Barbados. Thomas Blackett eventually became a landowner on the island in his own right, and at least one brother, Stephen, of Burnt House, lived there. Thomas is believed to have perished at sea en route from Barbados to Great Britain via Bermuda around 1792. It is possible that a member of the Barbados Blacketts landed in Cornwall and decided to settle there. This is no more than speculation, and perhaps a more likely explanation was that Jeremiah was a mariner from Westmorland who sailed the coastal routes down the west coast of England and settled in Cornwall. (Please see also West of the Pennines and Barbados.)

The earliest reference to a Blackett in Devon or Cornwall that we have discovered is the burial of Godfrei Blackett on 19 June 1631 at St. Ewe and All Saints, Cornwall.