Notes for William Blake: THE "BLAKE FAMILY" IN ENGLAND. THE earliest accounts that I can gather of the "Blake Family" I have received from John H. Blake, Esq., of Roxbury, who sent to England expressly for the purpose, and obtained the following from the Records there.
1st.--John Blake, of Little Baddow, Co. of Essex, England, Gent. 2d.--John Blake, of Little Baddow, Gent. He m. Anna, dau. and heir of Rawson. His children were--Richard, John, Robert, Francis, Humphrey, Christopher, and Anna who m. (i.) Wm. Pascall, and (ii.) (???) Barry. 3d.--Richard Blake, married Mabel, daughter of Coverte of Essex. His children were--Giles, who married Dorothy, daughter of Capt. Tweedy, of Essex; Christopher, of Ferling in Essex, Gent., married Phillipa, daughter of John Rochester, of Ferling; Mabel, married Isaac Withington, of Northumberland; Richard, John, Thomas, Vincent and Edward, all died without issue. 4th.--Giles Blake, m. Dorothy Tweedy. She was daughter of Capt. Tweedy, of Essex. Children--William, b. 1594, m. Agnes; Giles, Richard, John, Thomas and Arthur, ob., Arthur, Mary, Dorothy.
FIRST GENERATION IN NEW ENGLAND.
I. 1. WILLIAM BLAKE, married Agnes. He was son of Giles and Dorothy (Tweedy) Blake, of Little Baddow, Essex, England. He emigrated to America in 1630, with his wife Agnes, and their children. They came in the Ship "Mary and John," Capt. Squeb. They sailed from Plymouth, England, March 20, and arrived at Nantasket (now Hull) May 30, 1630, having a comfortable though long passage. This was the first vessel that arrived, of a considerable fleet that sailed about the same time from Plymouth, laden with passengers for this then far western world. This company finally set themselves down in Dorchester, and commenced their settlement early in June. For a few years, we do not find any mention of our ancestor, but we may be justified in the belief that it was this William Blake who went to Springfield, with William Pynchon, of Roxbury, and others, early in 1636. Soon after their arrival there, viz., May 16, 1636, they drew up and signed an agreement, by which they would govern themselves, and be governed. It is a document of considerable length, and at its close they say, "We testifie to the order above said, being all of the first adventurers and undertakers for this plantation. William Pynchon, Nath. Michell, Henry Smith, the mark I of Jehue Burr, William Blake, Edmund Wood, the mark T of Thomas Ufford, John Cabel." "Ordered for the disposinge of the hasseky marish, and the granting of home lotts, these five men or theyre Deputyes, are appointed to have power:" Mr. Pynchon, Mr. Michell, Jehue Burr, William Blake, Henry Smith. "Ordered, that William Blake have 16 polle in bredth, for his home lott, and all the marish in bredth abuttinge at the end of it, to the next high land, and three ackers more in some other place. The above five men to lay out highways when they shall see meete." It is afterwards recorded that Blake, with seven others, gave up or sold their allotments to the Company; but whether it was that year, or the following, I am unable to ascertain by the records. It is my opinion, however, that he did not move his family from Dorchester, but was at Springfield through the summer of 1636, and perhaps 1637. Dorchester Town Records, in 1637, state that William Blake is one (about 104 in all) among whom the land on the Neck was divided. We find that William Blake was made freeman of Dorchester, March 14, 1638--9. In the early days of New England it was an indispensable requisite that a person must be a church member, before he could be admitted a freeman. At what time he joined the church, I have not been able to ascertain. In the year 1645 he was chosen one of the Selectmen, and also in the years 1647 and 1651. In 1645, according to "Blake's Annals," "they agreed upon ye Building of a new Meeting-house, and granted a Rate of o250; the Committee Mr. Glover, Nathl. Duncan, Mr. Atherton, Mr. Jones, Dea. Wiswell, Dea. Clap and Mr. Howard; Raters, Edwd. Breck, Wm. Sumner, Thos. Wiswell, William Blake and Roger Clap." Whether the rate of o250 was granted expressly for building the meeting-house, or was for the yearly town expenses, inclusive, I cannot by the record satisfactorily decide. In 1656, Blake says in his "Annals," "This year Wm. Blake, Sen. was chosen Recorder for ye Town & Clerk of ye Writs for the County of Suffolk; he was to have 20s. per year & be ratefree." In 1663 he says, "This year Died Mr. William Blake, who had been Clerk of ye Writs for the County of Suffolk, & Recorder for ye Town, near 8 years. He was also Clerk of ye Training-band. He Died ye 25th of ye 8th Mo. 1663, in ye 69th year of his age." In 1678--"This year, Agnes, the Widow of William Blake, died July 22d." I have no means of knowing what was her maiden name, or when or where she was born. Tradition has told us that two brothers, William and Richard, came together in the ship Mary and John in 1630, but I cannot find any proof of the assertion. There was Richard Blake, servant, aged 16 years, came in the ship Confidence, from London, in 1638. In 1644, Richard Blake, of Dorchester, was creditor of the estate of Samuel Sherman, of Boston, deceased. In 1645, by the History of Andover, Richard Blake was the 15th in order as they came into the town to settle, and he was a church-member the same year. He died in Andover in 1695, and left no children in that town. I have not been able to ascertain what relation these two were to each other. Richard could not be son of William, for we have the names and whereabouts of his five children; and he could not be his brother, for William's brother of that name was born about 1598. He might have been cousin or nephew, and in all probability was such. It is my impression, though I may be mistaken, that this Richard was the ancestor of many of the name who now reside in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The following is an exact copy of William Blake's Will, as it stands on the Records, in the Probate Office, Suffolk County. It was without doubt written by himself. It is short and explicit, and shows the ability and character of the man.
"The last will and testament of William Blake, (being of perfect memory & understanding ye good lord god bee blessed and praysed therefor) made ye third day of September in ye year, one thousand six hundred sixty & one, as followeth. Imprs. My will is yt my body bee decently buried in hope of A joyfull Resurrection at ye Last day;
It. I give & bequeath unto ye town of Dorchester, twenty shillings to be bestowed for ye Repairing of ye Buringplace, so yt swine & other Vermine may not Anoy ye Graves of ye saints; pvided it be Repared wthin one yeare after my Decease. The Rest of My Land Goods & estate after My funerall Expenses & debts discharged; my will is And I doe give & bequeath Unto My five Children ye one halfe of My Lands Goods & estate to bee equally divided Amongst them by Equal p-portions; not that I disrespect My eldest son, for he hath ben and is soe dutifull a child unto mee as any of my children, but because he hath Least neede of it & he hath no charge: ye other halfe of my lands goods & estate I doe give & bequeath Unto my beloved wife & do make her sole executrex of this my last will & testament. And I doe Intreat my beloved breathren, Brother Edw: Clapp & Jno. Capen y they would bee pleased to bee ye ovrseers of this my Last will & testament, to see yt it bee fullfilled and prformed. finally my will is yt my wife doe not dispose of Any of her estate left her by this my last will & testament during ye time of her life without ye Advise and consent of my overseers & My four sones or ye Major part of them, yet nevryelesse in her Last will she may dispose of it Unto whome shee please; In Wittnesse whereof I have hereunto sett my hand & Seale In ye presence of
WILLIAM BLAKE wth a seale: John Capen Jno Minott.
Att a County Court held Att Boston 28. January 1663 Jno. Capen & Jno. Minott deposed that having subscribd their names to this paper was prsented & did both see and heare Wm Blake to signe & publish ye same to bee his Last will & testament, yt when he so did he was of A sound disposing minde to their best knowledg:
EDWARD RAWSON, Recorder."
"The Inventory of all ye goods & Lands of WM. BLAKE of Dorchester deceased. Imps. his waring apparell & Money his purse 009. 15. 02 his house & Lands 154. 15. 00 his Cattle hay & Swine 017. 01. 00 his plate & spoones 001. 06. 00 his pewter & brass 007. 08. 04 his bedding & sheets table Cloths & pillow beers 017. 18. 00 his bookes 001. 12. 00 his apples & quinces & Indian Corn 002. 18. 00 his tables chests & bedsteads 003. 03. 06 his Ironpotts pans axes & pott hangers & saws & hamers & wedges & other Lumber 008. 15. 00 o224. 12. 00
WILLIAM SUMNER: JAMES HUMFREY
Owing to ye Estate 03. 10. 00 Debts Owing from ye Estate 39. 08. 00 More Owing from ye Estate 03. 08. 00
Att A County Cort held Att Boston 29 January, 1663, Mrs Anis(*) Blake deposed that this is A true inventory of the Estate of ye late William Blake her late husband to her best knowledge, that when she knows more she will discover itt to ye Court.
Allowed off EW. RAWSON, Recorder."
The Will decides the question explicitly, about his children, that there were four sons and one daughter, and we also have their names and residence.
I had formerly supposed that our ancestor built a (*) Should be Agnes. house and lived at Dorchester Neck, near the Point, towards the Castle; but by investigation, I think he lived in the neighborhood of the main settlement. The precise spot it is not easy to locate at this distance of time; but we are very sure that he had land at the Neck granted to him in 1637, and that a part of the same land has remained in the family to this day. He appears to have been a man of consequence in the new settlement, and also of public spirit, as the first bequest in his will goes to prove. I infer that the town complied with the provision in the will, as I find afterwards that the executrix paid it to the town. At that time the burying-place was small, but a few rods square, on the corner (now Boston and Stoughton Sts.). He and his wife Agnes, in all probability, were both buried in that enclosure, but, sad to relate, no memento is to be found to tell the spot where they repose. This is much to be regretted, and it seems no more than an act of justice that his descendants should appropriately mark the spot of the resting-place of one who was a pioneer to this then wild wilderness, who without doubt labored and suffered much, in faith and hope, that his offspring might enjoy a bounteous harvest. Though his first bequest was but a trifle, yet it served to show the principle and the taste of the man, and was much for him and the times in which he lived. The grave-stones of his descendants, of the successive generations of the family, to the present time, have been righted up, or re-set, and cleansed of the accumulated moss which had rendered them almost illegible for years (by the writer), and now they stand renovated, telling their short but truthful story, of the quick succession of the generations of men; and leading our thoughts back, to the early settlement of New England, to contemplate their hardships, their sacrifices and their trials.
II. Chil. of William and Agnes Blake, probably all b. in England. 2. William, b. 1620; d. 1703, in Milton. 3. James, b. 1623; m. Elizabeth Clap. (2) 4. Edward, b. (???); d. 1692, in Milton. 5. John, b. (???); d. 1688, in Boston. 6. Ann, b. (???); m. Jacob Legare, of Boston.
Blake, Samuel. Blake Family. Boston: David Clapp,1857, p. 9-14. ~~~~~~~~~ William Blake, Sr., born June 05, 1594 in Over Stowey, Somerset, England; died August 25, 1663 in Dorchester, Suffolk County, British Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was the son of Robert Blake, Sr. and Eleanor last-name-unknown. He married Agnes Thorne September 23, 1617 in Pitminster, Somerset, England.
Agnes Thorne, born January 12, 1593/94 in Pitminster, Somerset, England; died July 22, 1678 in Dorchester, Suffolk County, British Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was the daughter of Hugh Thorne and an unknown female.
Notes for William Blake, Sr.: William's birth date is actually his baptismal date. It was recorded:
"1594 Ano dom 5 day of June was baptized William blake sonne of Robert Blake."
He resided at Aisholt, a parish adjoining Over Stowey, where the Blakes were lords of the manor, patrons of the church, and owners of most of the land. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a neat structure, consisting of a nave, chancel, and south aisle, and tower at the west end containing three bells. In the church are several monuments to the Blake family, who continued to reside there as patrons and incumbents until the beginning of the nineteenth century. By the 1880s the Egmonts were lords of the manor, and the Reverend John West was patron and incumbent of the church. [A Record of the Blakes of Somersetshire, Horatio Somerby, 1881]
William appears to have married a widow in Pitminster, and most of his children were baptized there.
He probably came to America in the fall of 1635 or the winter of 1636, and remained at Dorchester or Roxbury, making the acquaintance there of William Pynchon and others, who were considering a settlement on the Connecticut River. Whether or not he was with Mr. Pynchon on the 14th and 16th of May, 1636, at which time they with their associates drew up and signed the articles of association at Agawam, now Springfield, the agreement is still preserved with his signature. The men named were given authority to make assignment of lots and manage the general affairs of the settlement, and the first alotment of land was made to William on May 14, 1636:
"It is ordered that William Blake shall have sixteen polles in bredth for his home lott and all the marish in breadth abuttinge at the end of it to the next high land and three acrs more in some other place."
Nonetheless, it appears that he soon returned to his family in Dorchester. He probably lived on the eastern slope of Mount Bowdoin, perhaps not far from the modern Bowdoin Street and Union Avenue.
William was made a freeman of the Colony March 14, 1638/9, at which time, to comply with the order of the General Court, he must have been a member of the church. The Dorchester church records indicate that he and his wife became members before November 1639. There can be no doubt that he was a man of integrity and above the average intelligence of his neighbors. He served the town in various important capacities: constable in 1641, selectman from 1645 to 1647 and in 1651, on committee to build the new meeting-house in 1645, and in many other ways. According to in 1646 he was elected a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.