Roman Catholic Blacketts

Submitted by alkirtley on Thu, 11/21/2019 - 12:13

Joseph Byron Blackett (1824/25-1905), who married Caroline Mary Cutler in 1857, was a London physician and surgeon, as was his younger son, Edward (1870-1948). Although Joseph’s place of birth is shown in the censuses as Westminster, no baptismal record has been found. This is almost certainly because the family were Catholic, as Joseph’s elder brother, Charles (1822-1861), became a Catholic priest and his sister, Ellen, became a nun. Joseph’s eldest son, Joseph (1858-1936), also became a Roman Catholic priest.

Joseph senior was a child of the second marriage of Powell Charles Blackett (abt. 1791-1847) to Jeanne Gille, who was born in Belgium 1801/02. Powell Charles Blackett became a naval surgeon in 1809, but is shown as being on half-pay in the 1840 Naval List. His younger sister, Ann Harriot Blackett, was a governess, born in Marylebone, London in 1797/98, who died unmarried. Powell Charles, Mary Josephine and Ann Harriot were children of Arthur Blackett and Mary Barlow. Arthur Blackett was an apothecary in Mayfair, Westminster during the late 18th/early 19th century and although he was mentioned in the bankruptcy lists of 1794 he was still living in Mayfair as late as 1813. In his will, executed in France in 1818 he left the bulk of his estate to his two daughters and only a legacy of one shilling to his son Powell Charles Blackett. Interestingly in the grant of probate to the will Arthur is referred to as ‘Arthur Blackett otherwise Armetryding’, though the reason for this is unclear.

Powell Charles Blackett seems to have collected a number of artefacts during his time as a naval surgeon, which formed the basis of his private museum. After his death a number of these were acquired by The Cuming Museum in Walworth, London.

Image removed. Please also see A Blackett medical device in Odds and Ends.

For a descendancy chart of Arthur Blackett and Mary Barlow please click here.

It is not clear whether the husband of the female poet Mary Dawes Blackett (see Blacketts and Literature), who died in 1792, is connected with the family of Arthur Blackett. Her husband seems, however, to have been a Roman Catholic, as Mary refers in her published letters, “The Monitress; or, the oeconomy of female life”, to the fact that her only daughter Catharine had been taken from her to be educated as a Catholic at a convent in Nice, France, whereas Mary is herself a Protestant. It seems likely that Catharine was born around 1773, but no baptism for her has been found, presumably because she was baptized as a Catholic. Mary seems to have been a widow for some time when the letters comprising The Monitress were written (around 1790). A grant of probate to the will of Thomas Blackett of King Street Bloomsbury, London, Gentleman, was issued to his widow Mary on 11 Oct 1773, but no burial for Thomas Blackett has been found, suggesting that he may have been buried as a Catholic. Mary continued to occupy the King Street property until at least 1781. However, the only likely marriage that has been discovered was of a Thomas Blackett, widower, to Mary Roberts, widow at St. George, Bloomsbury on 29 Dec 1772. No likely earlier marriage of a Mary Dawes to a Mr. Roberts has been identified. Mary is shown as Mary Ann Dawes Blackett at her burial in 1792.

It is possible that “Dawes” was an additional Christian name of Mary, rather than her maiden surname, but she nevertheless probably descends from Rev. Lancelot Dawes DD, (1580-1653/4) of Barton Kirk, Westmorland. For a chart of the known descendants of Lancelot Dawes please click here.

A further line of Catholic Blacketts descends from John Blackett, believed to be from Sunderland, who married Ann Middleton in Durham City in 1817. Ann was a Catholic and all 10 of the couple’s children were baptised into the faith. For a descendancy chart of John Blackett and Ann Middleton please click here.