Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wills for the Black family at the National Archives (UK)

A search on the National Archives of the UK site yields 235 wills for members of the Black family with three from the 1500-1599 time period, 10 from the 1600-1699 time period, 97 from the 1700-1799 time period and 125 from 1800-1899.

Blake wills on the other hand held at Kew  include 2 for the time period 1400-1499, 25 for the time period 1500-1599, 143 for the time period 1600-1699, 267 for the time period 1700-1799 and 309 for the time period 1800-1899 or a total of 746 wills.

Most of these wills I will actually be looking at as I collected them when we were in London at Kew five years ago. But I may just take this opportunity to insert information into this blog about each will and whether I should transcribe them for the Blake study. 

The three from 1500-1599 would be interesting and they include (there is a Blake family at Speen and a Blake family at Lydiard Bishop's in this time frame):

Will of Henry Black, Mariner of Brightlingsea, Essex 20 May 1566 PROB 11/48/468

-will transcribe

Will of William Black, Yeoman of Speen, Berkshire 9 Oct 1557 PROB 11/39/420

- this appears to be the same will as William Blake of Speen Berkshire which I transcribed but it was dated 1552 and had a probate, this one has a probate dated 1557. I shall transcribe it as well.

Will of John Black or Blacke of Lydiard Bishop's, Somerset 28 Jan 1577 PROB 11/59/10

-will transcribe


The ten from 1600-1699 include (I will transcribe all of these over time):

Will of John Black of Ottringham Marsh, Yorkshire 30 Sep 1653 PROB 11/226/752

Will of William Black of Cleric, Wraysbury 9 Jul 1667 PROB 11/324/377

Will of Merrald Black, Widow of Saint Botolph without Aldgate, Middlesex 11 May 1687 PROB 11/387/206

Will of Anne Black, Maiden of Upchurch, Kent 30 May 1679 PROB 11/359/706

Will of Christopher Black, Mariner of Saint Paul Shadwell, Middlesex 22 Sep 1691 PROB 11/405/413

Will of John Black, Barber and now Doctor's Mate of His Majesty's Ship Norwich of London 7 May 1674 PROB 11/345/25

Will of John Black, Tailor of Saint Mary Le Strand, Middlesex 30 Apr 1652 PROB 11/221/530

Will of Barbara Black, Widow of Saint Martin in the Fields, Middlesex 19 Sep 1649 PROB 11/209/279

Will of David Black or Blacke 15 Oct 1634 PROB 11/166/322

Will of Thomas Black or Blacke of Coychurch, Glamorganshire 4 Feb 1605 PROB 11/105/93

A search on the Discovery Catalogue yielded an enormous number of Black references 8,026 with 185 from the time period 1000-1099 but most are for places names however there is a reference to Beorhtric Black in the Little Domesday Book at Hanchet Hall, Little Wratting, Suffolk and several other place names in Suffolk.  Another reference to Aelfric Black at Lilley, Hertfordshire in the Great Domesday Book and other places in Hertfordshire. An Alwine Black at Brixton, Broadwood Kelly, Devon also in the Great Domesday Book and other places in Devon. A William Black at Whitstone Devon in the Great Domesday Book. A Robert Black at Wye, Kent in the Great Domesday Book. Finding these early reference to Black as a surname is rather interesting and they precede the presence of Blake in England as far as I can tell.

Since I have found the surname Black prior to the emergence of Blake in England I feel that I can now set aside any thoughts on having to do Black with Blake. Where the names become interchanged (i.e. Blacke for Blake) it is simply a spelling error on the part of the writer.


Black as a surname

I decided to look at a set of records for the Black family on Find My past ranging from the mid 1400s to the mid 1500s.

The earliest record that I found was for a William Black baptized 1540 at Northam Devon (no parents given) and it was the only baptism between 1460 and 1540.

There were 25 burials for Black family members between 1500 and 1580 and they were from all over England - Sussex, Durham, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Somerset. Only one was listed as Blake or Black.


For Blake in the same time period there were eight baptisms, and 125 burials.

The surname Blake does appear to be much commoner in this early time period. It would be interesting to find earlier references to Black family members prior to the parish records.

Looking at Free BMD for births for Black from 1837 to 1851 and the total is1756. The deaths for Black in this same time period 1109. The marriages for Black in this same time period 820.


Looking at Free BMD for births for Blake from 1837 to 1851 and the total is 4310. The deaths for Blake in this same time period 2978. The marriages for Blake in this same time period 2180.

The Blake surname continues to much commoner in this time period. Could Black just be a derivative of Blake? (Again I decide in a later post that Black is an independent surname which arose in England at the time of the Great and Little Domesday survey so prior to Blake in England.)  Going through the parish registers thus far I seldom see an error on the part of the priest recording the surname but occasionally I know that Blacke should be Blake simply because it follows along logically. I have never particularly looked at Black entries and at this point in time will only do so when a family disappears from the parish register and I am trying to find them.

It was an interesting exercise and as I mentioned I would never have taken on Blake as a one name study if I was including Black as well. It would be just too large for me to handle and I would have stuck with Blake in Hampshire/Wiltshire/Berkshire area since my known lines do not stray from this area until my grandparents and father came to Canada (a brother of my grandfather had come first to Toronto in 1911 and this was perhaps part of the enticement to come although my grandfather always planned on returning to England but two world wars later and many of his siblings were gone and his wife died here he simply stayed on and died here. Lucky for us as we got to have this very interesting grandfather living with us as children!).

But the point being raised about the Blake family in Landrake I shall as I work my way through that parish take note of any Black references in the surnames. I left Landrake because it was getting complicated to think through and decided I needed to look at all of Cornwall before I tried to do more than I had already done in terms of putting trees together. Black could be a clue in Landrake of which I will make use when I return.

R1b study for Black and Blake families

The R1b groupings in both Blake and Black studies are numerous and will take more time to analyze.

The Group that is labeled H Irish Ancestry in the Blake yDNA study (said to include Blakes who descend from Sir Thomas Blake b c 1183) is very similar to the group in the Black study (which includes a Blake member) bearing label Lineage V. They are related in a genealogical time frame.

The group that is labeled I Irish Ancestry (Supplementary) in the Blake yDNA study does not have any similarities in the Black study that would be related within a genealogical time frame and probably longer.

The group that is labeled F2 English East Anglia (Suffolk) in the Blake yDNA study does not have any similarities in the Black study that would be related within a genealogical time frame and probably longer.

 The group that is labeled E1 English Ancestry (4) in the Blake yDNA study does have one interesting match but it is only 30/37 so not considered significant for genealogical purposes especially as the surnames do not match.

With K German Ancestry the members have a slight match with this same Blake yDNA grouping but again not within a genealogical framework.


The possibilities for D English Ancestry (3) in the Blake yDNA are three in number but 30/37 so not a match within a genealogical framework with the Black grouping.

The last group is G Irish Ancestry (Galway-Towerhill, Kiltolla) in the Blake yDNA and comparing it with the Black yDNA study. There is one entry that is 31/37 and his surname is Rankin. I have discarded this as a non match.

Just one group appears to match one of the Black groups and that is Lineage V in the Black study and H Irish Ancestry (possible descendants of Sir Thomas Blake) in the Blake yDNA study. Sir Thomas Blake was said to be born circa 1183 and the son of Richard Caddell alias Blake. I have not done very much on the Irish Blake family so simply present this chart as it was prepared by Barrie Blake in terms of the Irish Research. I do hope to revise all the headings for the Blake yDNA study as time passes.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A followup to my earlier post on Blake or Black

The Calendar of Patent Rolls (http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/patentrolls/search.html) is a project of the University of Iowa Libraries and made available on line by them under the leadership of Dr G.R. Boynton.

Checking for Black in that particular set of documents I found that Black occurred 278 times but I was unable to eliminate the colour black from this search overall but could use the find function and then search only for Black. That still gave me 74 matches on the first page. Checking through by eye all of the instances of Black refer to the colour black (alone or as a place name) and not an individual except for references like Mr J G Black, BA of the Public Record Office who was involved in the preparation of the material and the Black Prince. The second page of search results yielded 69 instances but again they were either the colour black (alone or as a place name) or Mr J G Black mentioned above or a new item the Black order (referring to a Roman Catholic order). The last page of the search results yielded 45 instances of the word Black. In one instance Alexander Ratonner is referred to as Black Saundre. There is one reference to the surname Niger with Black in brackets following (1338-1340 (during the reign of Edward III)). I am left to think that Black did not occur as a surname in this earlier time period 1216 to 1452 or they did not do anything that brought them to the attention of the Crown (as that possibility always exists).

Is it possible that it arose as a derivative of Blake - no ideas on that actually and again if anyone wants to take the surname Black on it would certainly be interesting to compare (a later post corrects this thought and I do believe that Black is a surname that arose in England prior to the surname Blake coming from the Continent). There is a yDNA study and I decided to check that out at this time as well. They have 225 members. Now I was almost hopeful as I searched out this data but nothing in my line. However I decided to grab the data and will do a comparison with the Blake yDNA study.

The Blake yDNA project

 https://www.familytreedna.com/public/blake?iframe=yresults

includes haplogroups: I, R, T and G.

The Black yDNA project

http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/black/results?raw=1

includes haplogroups  E, G, I, J, L, Q, and R.

We can eliminate E, J, and Q from the discussion as they only occur in Black and we can eliminate T from the discussion as it only occurs in Blake.

The discussion then will look at haplogroups I, R, and G. G is the smallest so will examine it first and there is no similarity in thousands of years between the Haplogroup G entry in Blake and the Black entries so no common ancestry since surnames have been adopted.

Haplogroup I is the next largest and my own Blake line is part of haplogroup I. Looking at I-M223 which is the group to which descendants of Theophilus Blake belong there is one entry that is similar but only 11/12, 19/25 and 27/37 and this is not considered to be related. Looking at I-M253 there are a number of entries in both Blake and Black. In the Blake study two begin with 13, 23 and I matched them up with the one in the Black study thus beginning and they matched 31/37 which is considered as not matching. Another one beginning 13,24 in the Black study I also compared with this group and the match was 7/12 again not matching is the interpretation. At this time I will make note that the Black study includes Schwartz/Swartz (or Black in German). The group that is left begins 13,22 and there are four samples in Black and 4 samples in Blake. One of the comparisons yields 21/25 and again this is not considered to be a match. Another sample in Black has only 12 markers and the match is 10/12 and generally this is not considered a match as there are just too few markers to analyze. More markers should be looked at before entirely eliminating since we are looking at surnames and the possibility that they are related. The last two Blacks that I am comparing with Blake are interesting but they do not match any member of the Blake group exactly but their differences are within the possibility of being related but I note that the name of one individual is Swartz and of the second Jensson so both continental surnames.

Haplogroup I-M170/253 is a third I haplogroup in the Blake study and there are seven samples in the Black study. I eliminated the testers who differed between 7 and 11 markers on 37 as not being related in a genealogical time frame. That left two who were 31/37 and had further markers to look at. Checking further the differences are such as to exclude both of these samples although interestingly enough one of the Blake samples does resemble these two and is a new addition to the study. Within the grouping to which he is assigned he does not match anyone for instance he differs from my brother's sample by 8 on 12 but because of his haplogroup he does belong to this rather ancient sub clade of the British Isles showing how much variety there can be within a subclade.

Haplogroup R1a will be the next group examined. The group in the Blake study are rather a good match for each other and known to be descendant of Jasper Blake the emigrant to New Hampshire Colony. There are 8 Black samples and 5 Blake samples. Four of the eight Black samples differ between 3 and 5 on 12 so are not a match. Two of the Black samples differ by 6 and 8 respectively on 37 markers and would not be considered a match with this Blake group. The remaining two differ by 4 on 37 or 33/37 and are within the realm of possibility. But they do not match each other and one traces back to Alexander Black 1820-1860 and the second to a Philip Black b c 1750 in Cumberland County PA.

Haplogroup R1b has been broken down into a number of study groups in the Black study and there are matches within a number of these groups.  I will comment further on this group tomorrow. My day at the computer has finished!

Thus far though I would have to conclude that comparing the yDNA studies of Blake and Black does not lead anyone to the conclusion that they are related in the haplogroups thus examined.








Blake or Black

A comment was received on one of my blogs which mentioned the following:

"I'm another descendant of the Landrake Blakes,so thanks for all your work on them. I've not read all previous posts but just wonder why you think the Blakes were immigrants around 1300.That is when people started using surnames,apart from the 'de placename' type.. I suspect that the name may be the same as Black, as spelling was very variable and vowel shifts are common. Even in the 19th cent. one of the Landrake families was entered in a census as 'Blake'.

Tony Wise"

I have skirted around the surname Black through all my time doing this one name study on the Blake family. I think it is partly because I think that Blake is a distinctive and ancient surname that is attached to particular family groupings. I always felt that it had several founders and the England's Immigrant Database showed that to be true with around 30 distinct individuals coming from the Continent and other places in the British Isles (notably Ireland) to England between 1330 and 1550. According to books on surnames (and I will list a few below) there weren't any surnames in Britain prior to the Norman Invasion. There were by names and aliases but no hereditary surnames. This was brought to Britain by the Normans.

Why do I think that Black and Blake are different? I have found, on rare occasions, in the parish registers the surname Blake spelled Blacke - these occasions are rare and I tend to discard them as being a spelling error on the part of the priest. Hence I have never collected the surname Black as I work my way through the registers and other documents. But the comment gave me pause to consider that I should occasionally check out these new sources of information to see what they have on Black as a surname.

 Looking at the England's Immigrants Database (http://www.englandsimmigrants.com/ ) I found 21 entries for the surname "Black(e)".

I eliminated seven of them because they referred to the Black Book of Winchester which also listed the particular individual and this book was edited by W.H.B. Bird of Winchester in 1925. Another eight were eliminated because they referred to Black Torrington hundred in Devon. That left me with two locating in Devon, one each in Essex, Northumberland and Middlesex and the last individual was said to be English (married to an Englishwoman). The individual in Essex lived at Black Notley and so was eliminated. The individual in Northumberland lived at Black Hedley so also eliminated. Thus eliminating 17 of the 21 entries.

Jacobus Black was from India and a servant to Thomas Gale living at Dartmouth, Devon

John Blacke was returning from the Holy Roman Empire but had lived in England for 25 years and is linked by a researcher (William Page) to a John Blagge/Black a grocer in London. No location given in this record. This is rather interesting because I do have a Blake line in London that is quite ancient to that City so will keep this gentleman in mind.

John Goldsmyth living at Exeter, Devon and originally from Flanders had the alias Black John Goldsmyth. In the account he is also named as John Blake. This entry too is quite interesting and I need to check to see if it came up with the entries in the Blake search.

John Black servant to Richard Savage of Monken Hadley, Edmonton, Middlesex hundred (no place of origin given).

So an interesting foray into these records and I thank the correspondent for querying Blake and Black as possibly being surnames in common. Because the name Blake appears to be distinct from an early time in English records I do think that it was an established surname belonging to the grouping "Characteristic Surname." Would this prove that they were the same since the surname is said to mean two different characteristics on the one hand referring to a very pale person and on the other a person who was swarthy. But I suspect as a surname Black was not a very common one but rather given to place names especially when you note that 17 of the 21 entries referred to place names in this sample.

In the Cornwall Records I have not found the spelling Black for Blake other than the occasional time and generally it is Blacke not Black.

Aside from the hugeness of the project if I thought about doing Black with Blake, I just do not think that the two surnames have a common ancestry. If I thought it I probably wouldn't have taken the project on as it would just be too huge and would have stayed just with my Blake line in Hampshire! But I will bear in mind the need to actually look at the records to see in those early years if there were Black entries.

Looking at Black on the Public Profiler software (developed by researchers at University College, London, UK:





The Surname is said to be Celtic and of Scottish origin according to this website. The highest frequency for this surname is in Australia and New Zealand, United Kingdom, then Canada, the United States, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Hungary and Germany (for the top ten countries). 

Population increases in the Colonies/former Colonies of Great Britain can account for these high frequencies as the number of children people had in the colonies was often much greater than in the British Isles itself. The numbers in Europe are rather interesting though and I wonder if they can be accounted for by British Isles people moving to the Continent since the entry of the UK into the Common Market. So once again an interesting foray into the Black surname and probably I should do a comparison map of Blake:



Blake is less frequent than Black worldwide but again the frequency in particular countries is highest in Australia, then Ireland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, United States, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark. Again colonies/former colonies of Great Britain show the highest numbers. Australia leads the way for both Black and Blake. Perhaps one day someone will study Black and then a comparison may be run between the two to determine their individuality or commonality. At the moment I believe that they were distinctive names with Black arising later (this I do revise as in a later blog I mention that Black was a surname in the Great and Little Domesday Books and so was present in England prior to Blake/Blak) as a surname when the bulk of the population in the British Isles took on surnames. I remain convinced that Blake as a surname probably evolved on the Continent and came to England. 

However, I also say that individuals in England took on the surname Blake because in my own line the yDNA says that my Blake line is ancient to the British Isles hence they acquired this surname for whatever reason (and that is one of my must do research queries) at times in the past. Certainly by the mid 1400s my line was using the surname Blake/Blayke. Did they acquire the surname by marriage with a female having the Blake surname? They did have a small piece of property at Knights Enham and finding the earlier history of that property may well give me that answer. For that I need to go to the Record Office in Winchester and have a look at the early records. They do exist and in them is likely the answer. Since I live in Canada I always hope that someone else descendant in my line will do that but perhaps it may yet be me as we still plan to go to England a few more times in the years to come. 

More Blake descendants testing their yDNA may help to solve the mystery of Blake in England. I should imagine that there was a certain novelty to taking on surnames and acquiring one from a daughter of an immigrant with the surname Blake would certainly be one way. Blake was already a prominent surname in the British Isles probably because of individuals from Normandy coming to England with this surname and receiving government posts that put them into eminent positions and more visible to the overall population. That may have increased the ability of individuals with the Blake surname being able to convince people (possibly through marriage) to take on the surname. I know that Richard le Blake, merchant from Rouen, had at least one daughter Alice la Blake. Interestingly in a similar time period at Basingstoke, Hampshire there was also a Joanna la Blake that I have mentioned in an earlier blog. She was married to a Robert le Blake.


The Pipe Rolls of Hampshire 1301 also mention Richard le Blake and possibly his children:

Place                                Surname    Forename       Date
Wargrave                        Blak          John              1301-2
Havant                             Blak         Laurence       1301-2
Wargrave                         Blak, la    Alice              1301-2  (daughter of Richard le Blak)
Wargrave                         Blak, le    Richard          1301-2
Merdon                            Blak, le    Thomas          1301-2
Waltham St Lawrence     Blak          Hamo             1301-2
Waltham St Lawrence     Blak          Walter            1301-2 (son of Hamo Blak)
Staplegrove                     Blake, le    William         1301-2


No mention of Robert le Blake or Joanna la Blake but Robert was already known to be deceased. Joanna mentions her heirs but no names and she could also be deceased as this is ten years later for the Pipe Rolls. Interesting that there are so many entries already for the Blak(e) family just in the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire. I will check the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire my next visit to the BIFHSGO Library.

One other item to mention is the Blake Pedigree Chart held at the Swindon and Wiltshire Record Office. This immense chart (12 feet by 4 feet) takes us back to the time of EdwardI/EdwardII and a particular mention of a land transfer helps to date it even more accurately. The progenitor of this Blake family is said to be Richard Blaake/Blague of Wiltshire Esquire married to Anne daughter of William Cole (the coat of arms is that of the Cole family of Devon). His son is said to be Henry married to Elizabeth Dorrant. The Pipe rolls above do not have a Henry Blak/le Blak but they are also the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire not Wiltshire. Were there two Richard Blakes in this time period? It is all a mystery because the Blake families in Hampshire and Wiltshire are quite ancient back into this time frame. I need to also mention my little map of Blake in England from the Calendar of Patent Rolls blogged here:


Already by the mid 1400s and going back to the early 1200s there were Blake families located all over England although the numbers do not represent people so much as entries and one person could represent a number of entries. One would need to read through all the information and at some point I shall attempt to redo the map looking solely at families. But the frequency of Blake quite fascinated me even at this early time period. One of these days I shall also compare it to the 1881 census for Blake in England.

Lots more work to do and for these reasons I will continue to consider that Blake is distinct from Black. Just recovering from a bout of  influenza but wanted to respond to the comment. Back to resting and reading!

Surname Books

A Dictionary of English Surnames, Revised Edition. P.H. Reaney, Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-860092-5

Families of County Galway, Volume VI of the Book of Irish Families, great and small. Michael C. O'Laughlin, Irish Genealogical Foundation, 2002. ISBN 0-940134-00-4

The Surnames of Wales for family historians and others. John and Sheila Rowlands. Genealogical Publishing Company Inc, 1996. ISBN 0-8063-1516-4

The Surnames of Ireland. Edward MacLysaght, Irish Academic Press, 1999. ISBN 0-7165-2366-3

Penquin Dictionary of British Surnames. John Titford, Penquin Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0-141-02320-5

The Surnames Handbook: A guide to family name research in the 21st Century. Debbie Kennett, The History Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7524-6862-4

Surnames, DNA, and Family History. George Redmonds, Turi King and David Hey. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-19-958264-8