Nathaniel Brewster Blackstone

born 30 March 1906 in Melrose, Massachusetts
died 11 September 1981 in Homestead, Florida

Genealogist extraordinary, who wrote a number of genealogical and historical summaries on the Blackstone family. He also corresponded with many Blackstone families of many spellings. He kept hundreds of family group sheets which were donated by his wife Edna Blackstone to the New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGS) library in Boston after his death. The NEHGS is located at 101 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116.

His papers at the NEHGS library are cataloged as a manuscript and are not lendable nor available to anyone but members of the society. They are cataloged as:

Mss 52 Blackstone Papers. People named Blackstone 1082-1870. Inventory location I/A-E/1870 Box 1.
Box 2 is 1871-1977 a continuation of above. Then Blackstones by country/state. Canada, England, Alabama-Oklahoma.
Box 3 is the finish of the above Oregon-Wyoming. Given Blackstone names [male]. Blackstone in-laws 1288-1900.
Box 4 is a continuation of in-laws 1901-1979 [all of the above is for every variation of the Blackstone name spelling and all the data is contained in the Family Group Sheets at the start of the collection.] The box concludes with the following incomplete narrative by Nathaniel B. Blackstone-some pages are numbered and there are pages not present; and papers on Blaichestun Manor and Blakeston School.

Some of the data from Family Group Sheets in this collection have been added to the genealogy files of James R. Dangel. Nathaniel B. Blackstone's family came from England to Pownal, Maine and is distantly related to Blackstones in his family.


A Forward


N. B. Blackstone

Indications are rather obvious, that interest in one's forebears is, and should be, a most normal human trait. Over the years, as I grew older, it became my greatest hobby, with my extensive coin collection taking a back seat.

As I think back on it, my interest in the family line was initiated when my father died. He had made me executor of his estate, and in going through his effects, I found property deeds, and a church deed, to pew #45, located principally in the Pownal, Maine area. At that time, I was primarily interested in my own direct line, which eventually was completed, but being left with numerous others of the same name, decided to continue my compiling. I also found that there were several individuals who had spent many years trying to complete their direct line, but not able to, due to the lack of records, or of where to find the desired information, and thought that maybe I could be of some help to them. At any rate, the subject became so interesting, and the assistance from so many people was so enthusiastic, that it was impossible to resist the temptation to "dig up" all our related lines.

I must, however, give a word of warning, and an apology. Since we do go back to the 12th and 13th century, with the field so broad, and so long, it cannot be pretended that I have been able to locate, or mention, every Blackstone who ought to be listed i n this recording. It would be a marvel if I have been able to avoid errors. Continuing research has actually proven many mistakes, which were first accepted as facts. Many completed chapters have had to be rewritten several times in the light of additional discoveries. We have tried to omit everything which was not capable of documentary proof. Tradition often proves to be mistaken. I am a bit amazed, however, at the frequency with which I have been able to verify tradition by written proof, much of it hidden for scores of years. So, if the reader should find me guilty of omissions and errors, it is hoped that he will understand the enormity of the undertaking and that his forgiveness will be equally generous. You will find that I am not the sole author of this book. A good many have contributed either directly or indirectly. The direct ones were those who answered my communications by filling in their family form (FF), and contributing whatever family information that they could. The indirect ones were from the authors of various histories and genealogies that were already in printed form.

Even though recognition is shown on each family form, that the informant has offered information on, I still wish to say a word of special thanks to each and every person who has in any way assisted in the compilation of this book. It is impossible to mention them all, but the repetition of their name in the lower right hand corner of each family form (FF), under "Source of information, etc." will show the enormity of their assistance.

Homestead, Florida


In compiling this work, several genealogies and historical works have been searched, and hundreds of individuals have been contacted, all of which is noted on each and every Family Form (FF) that the information supplied, applied to, and is found in the lower right hand corner, under "Source of Information" etc.

A great many individuals failed to respond to the opportunity to be included in this compilation, and consequently will be among the missing. Also, it has been found that more than a few contacted failed to respond for the simple reason that they, or their forebears, took the name, being for some reason unhappy with their own family name. As for example, Harry Blackstone, the world's master magician, being of Polish birth, used the name of the Chicago hotel where he was staying at the time for a stage name. All of which is perfectly legal, but will cause confusion to their descendants wanting to trace their family line, as will those who have not cared to include their recordings, which causes dead-ends for their tracers, which we call missing-links. Then there are those who were adopted, and unless we have their own fathers' names in the records, their tracers will be dead-ended.

The study of names and their derivation is one of the most interesting subjects to delve into, second only to genealogy. Originally, only first names were used, as John, Harry, William, Jack, and of course, many others. It was only when "William, The Conqueror" decided and proclaimed that all shall have a surname that the populace devised in their own way, their own surname. In a great many cases, the first son born to a man was, for example, called John's son, Harry's son, William's son, and Jac's (sic) son, so in this case it was simple to take the surname of Johnson, Harrison, Williamson, and Jackson. But this was only one of the many ways that a surname originated. Our prime interest is in the derivation of the name BLACKSTONE. Tradition has it that our ancestors in England lived in a range of hills where an abundance of dark black stones were found and from which came the name, Blackstone Hills. Others claim the surname Blackstone appears to be locational in origin and is believed to be associated with the English meaning, "one who came from, or lived near, a black boundary stone".

It is not known whether any of the Blackstones in early times ever had to bear arms. Somehow it would appear rather doubtful, considering the fact that many held positions in religious work, as well as legal and educational fields. Actually, arms were borne only by the great landowners primarily for identification and recognition in actual combat, as well as in Tournaments of Peace. However, the three cocks on their shield would indicate that the Manor of Blackstone was in the business of raising fowl, and its by-products, and by which they were expected to see that the combatants were fed.

It is said that all of the families of the name are descended from this ancient line, and that they are found with at least seventeen different spellings, such as Blaceston, Blaciston, Blacston, Blackeston, Blackestone, Blackiston, Blackistone, Blackston, Blackstone, Blaicheston, Blaikeston, Blakiston, Blakeston, Blakston, Blaxton, Blaxtone, and Blaykeston. Obvious reasons for the various spellings were:

(1) the 3 common accents in those days and times, as English, Scotch and Irish, combined with the spelling being written phonetically by those who could write;

(2) For euphony (more pleasing sound) and having a greater ease of pronouncing. Writing in those days was an art which "society" people did not practice, but had it done for them by others, such as scribes, clarks (clerks), etc.

The uninitiated "seeker after truth" in family history through Colonial records would soon be discouraged if he discarded all names which were spelled contrary to the modern code. The diversity in spelling of surnames as they appear in the official records has long been one of the most interesting phases of the absorbing study which includes the names, origins, lives and homes of the early makers of this country.

Some of the names lost their original form entirely, at the hands of recording clerks in the early provincial days, and this particular state of affairs made it necessary for men of landed possessions to adopt the incorrect spelling of their names to pre serve their identity as to the persons to whom such lands were patented. There being no rule for proper names, they were spelled phonetically in many cases, and according to the way the special clerk in whose office they were recorded, happened to think they were spelled. Therefore, the tracing of family lineages would be a hopeless and disappointing pursuit did not experience prove that there were as many ways to spell names in those early days, as there were clerks in the offices. It is a certainty that our ancestors would not have permitted the carelessness of clerks to have destroyed their identity in so many cases had they dreamed of the weary hunt they were laying up for their twentieth century descendants.

With very few exceptions the Blackstones of America descended from either 1595-Reverend William Blackstone, the first white settler of Boston, Mass., who later moved into the Rhode Island area, becoming the first settler there as well, or 1591-Nathaniel, who settled in Maryland in 1623, and became the owner of a large island in the Potomac River, called "Blackistones Island", and later on, 1766-Captain William settled in Pownal, Maine in 1790. All three lines are still extending to this day.

Relatively yours,

Nathaniel B. Blackstone
Homestead, Florida
May 26, 1975

[I would appreciate a better image, but I do not know where to contact his descendants for something better. I would love to hear from them]


If you spell it in any of the following variations:

Blaceston, Blaciston, Blacston, Blackeston, Blackestone,
Blackiston, Blackistone, Blackston, Blackstone, Blaichestun,
Blaikeston, Blakeston, Blakiston, Blakston, Blaxton,
Blaxtone, or, Blaykeston.

As a result of many years of research, the following has been compiled as authentically as available records will permit, but at least offers an excellent nucleus for future historians, or genealogists, to work from.

At this particular time (1976), this recording takes us back about 900 years, or at least to William, the Duke of Normandy, who slew Harold, the Earl of Normandy [sic], at Hastings in the year 1066. William I, the Conqueror, ruled England for 21 years (1066-1087), and it was in the year of 1082 that dissension among the religious fraternity of Durham (see pages - ) in the northern part of England, involved a number of Durham canons, several of whom had disregarded the church position on celibacy and were ordered to assume the habits of monks. When they refused, Bishop Carilepho expelled them from Durham in favor of Benedictine monks. The offending canons were sent to various parishes in the Palatinate, including Norton (see pages - ) which thus became a collegiate church of Durham. The Norton College comprised the vicar, and 8 canons, whose stipends were to be provided out of the parish tithe. Bishop Carilepho further granted to the canons the Manor of Blaichestun (see pages - ) one of the chief estates of the Norton parish, lying about 2 1/2 miles northwest of the church. It would be difficult to say a great deal about earlier history of this manor, except that it is quite evident that the family of Blaichestun certainly existed previous to this time period. it has been assumed that the name probably combines the old English "tun" (farm) with a Scandinavian personal name, and if this is so, it means, "the farm of Bleik", and confirms the Norse settlement north of the Tees River. This is only one of many versions in the origin of the family name.

In 1099, Bishop Carilepho was succeeded by Ranulf Flambard. The new Bishop revoked the grant made by his predecessor and gave the lands to his nephew. Just before his death in 1128, however, Flambard repented this deed, and granted ownership of the manor back to the church, although it was agreed that his nephew and his descendants would occupy the manor, provided they acknowledged the supremacy of the church. King Henry I (1100-1135) confirmed the arrangement, and is reputed to have expressed the hope that "no longer would he be inflicted with the clamour of monks". Actually, as regards church property, the church was forbidden by canon law to alienate its property, and to abide by the letter of the canons, yet not be hamstrung by them, the church developed the practice of granting the "use", but not the full ownership of lands to favored laymen.

Somewhere in the ensuing years, as between 1123, and the early 1200's, the name of the manor changed from "Blaichestun" to "Blakiston", and the first mention of a male member of the family was a Robert de Blaikeston, having granted land to the church in 1267.

The next stage of our story occurred about 1265, when the Manor of Blakiston was bestowed upon Geoffrey de Park for a yearly rental of 26 shillings, and services. The Park family originated at Old Park, on the Wear River. They were to hold the Manor of Blakiston for about 80 years (1265-1345). It is recorded that Richard de Park was Lord of the Manor of Blakiston in 1320. Seven years earlier he had been charged with assaulting the vicar of Bellingham - a charge that was dismissed. As if to prove his religious zeal, Richard founded a chantry at "Blakiston", and appointed as his Chaplain a John de Blaykeston. John was instructed to celebrate matins and all canonical hours and masses, and serve the chantry personally with one honest and efficient clerk, on the understanding that "if the chantry cease during 40 days, the founder, or his heirs, shall enter and distrain". In return for his services, John de Blaykeston was granted ox-gangs, toft, and croft with 7 acres of meadow. Thus began the long connection between the Manor of Blakiston and the family who bore the name.

It would seem appropriate to interject at this point the obvious conclusion as to the origin of the family name. Going back to the time of William I, the Conqueror, 1066- 1087, all men were known by their given name only. It was he who declared that all shall have a surname for proper recording in his "Domesday Book". The individual was left to assume his own surname, and since there are 6 or 7 places in Great Britain with the name Blackstone, but none of the other spellings of the name, it is justifiable to reasonably assume that the various spellings were the resulting effects of the three most prominent accents of that day and age, as English, Scotch and Irish, thus in each instance, he spelled his name phonetically in his own particular accent, if, of course, he could write. Thus, if he lived in Blackston Hammock, co. Sterlingshire; Blackstone Place, co. Worcestershire; Blackstone Hammock, West Sussex; Blackstone Village, Renfrewshire; Blackstone Rivulet, South co. Kerry; Blackstone Edge, in Lancashire; or even Black Stone of Odin-Rock, in Orkney, he would be known as John from Blackstone, or John de Blaichestun, if that was his accent and spelling ability. The records show that there was a "Manor of Blaichestun" in 1082, which may have been built by a Blaichestun, who originated from some one of the above mentioned places, but the manor could also have been named for the name of the area where it was built, thus if John was living there when he assumed a surname, he would be known as John de Blaichestun, the "de" before the surname means "from". But the manor had many different owners, or occupants, other than Blaichestun, or any of similar pronunciation. Therefore, though the foregoing may at this time be conjecture to a certain extent, it does have logical aspects, all facts considered.

We now come to the most controversial aspects of the family history. According to the great Durham historian, Surtees, the Blakistons were a new and ambitious family who rose rapidly in the 14th century, from obscurity to wealth and importance. He wrote of John de Blaykeston AS BEING THE FIRST WHO BORE THE NAME - and he began his family pedigree of the Blakistons with Hugo de Blaykeston in 1341. Similarly, Longstaff wrote about "a new family whose members contrived to tear field after field, and finally the manor itself, from their lords". But the origins of the family do not appear to be as straightforward as Surtees and Longstaff suggest. For a start, the family name existed long before our John de Blaykeston, as between 1267 and 1272, lands at Shotton in Northumberland (see page ) were granted to Brinkburn Priory, by a Robert de Blaikeston, and his wife, Olive; and the reference in the carta Robert de Blaikeston, (dated 1267) to "salute animaemeae ante cessorum meorum" (Greetings to my spirits (souls) related to, and other spirits (rest of world) that have come before my time) proved that Robert had ancestors who presumably bore the same name.

In addition, the names of the two wives of the first two Blakistons of Surtees pedigree suggests that the family was much better connected than he seemed aware. Hugo de Blaykeston for instance, was married to Cecelia Fitz-Ralph; and his son, Roger, was married to Christiana de Wessington (Washington). Such marriages would surely be beyond the reach of a new obscure family!

This controversy apart, the continued rise of the Blakistons is quite clear. In 1341, Hugo de Blaykeston acquired a lease to further of the Park lands, and in 1349, the remaining 400 acres were obtained by his son, Roger, the legal adviser and special commissioner of the Bishop of Durham. About 1376, on the seal of Roger de Blaykeston, THERE APPEARED FOR THE FIRST TIME the arms of the family: "argent, two bars gule in the chief, three cocks of the last". Whatever the truth of their origin, the Blakistons of Blakiston had truly arrived. Surtees tells us that few families of private gentry "have spread more wide, or flourished fairer than Blakiston". Indeed, the name Blakiston, in one form or another, is to be found in practically all of the parish registers of County Durham. At different times, members of the family held lands at Coxhoe, Whitton, Old Malton, Gibside (see page ), Seaton, Thornton Hall, Newton Hall, near Durham, as well as the Manor of Blakiston itself, near Norton Church, in Norton, co. Durham, south.

The Seal of Roger de Blaykeston appended to a receipt of sixty shillings from the Prior of Durham in 1357. Surtees Vol. 1 part 11 page CLXXI plate IX (Engraving enlarged).

1398-Nicholas Blakiston (died 1460) and 1465-William Blakiston (died 1533), were particularly successful in adding estates to the family holdings in the south and east of County Durham. Sometimes the Blakistons tried to increase their lands by putting forward dubious claims. In 1357, for example, William Blakiston claimed the estate of Helton Flechan (Flechet) in Westmoreland, saying that it devolved upon him from the marriage of his father, Roger, to Christiana de Wessington (Washington). His claim was dismissed, however, in favor of Christiana's half-brother. As a further example, in 1418, Nicholas Blakiston expelled a Thomas Langton, of Wynyard, from his chamberland estate, and claimed the land for himself. Langton disputed the matter and an inquiry returned to him the disputed house, two cottages and land.

In their pursuit of land, however, the Blakistons preferred the instrument of marriage, which they used astutely. Advantageous unions included those between William Blakiston (1465-1533) and Agnes Conyers; John Blakiston (1535-1586) and Elizabeth Bowes; and Sir William Blakiston (1553-1612) and Alice Claxton, through which one-third of the Wynyard lands were passed to the family. But perhaps the best piece of marital business concluded by the Blakistons was done in 1534. In that year, Roger, a cousin of John Blakiston, was betrothed to the eleven-year-old Elizabeth Marley, her family's sole heiress. Their marriage took place in 1537, and brought "Gibside" in the Derwent Valley to the Blakistons. "Gibside" was about 3 miles southwest of Newcastle-on-Tyne (see page ) and included its underlying coal deposits. The marriage contract of Roger and Elizabeth provided that the expenses were to be borne indifferently between the parties and if Elizabeth died having had children, Roger would inherit the whole estate for life, while if she died childless, he would only have £ 12 per year for life. In recompense for his money paid for said marriage. It was through this marriage that the Blakistons could claim a connection with our present Queen Elizabeth II, for in 1693 Elizabeth Blakiston of "Gibside", sole heiress and descendant of Roger Blakiston, and Elizabeth Marley, married Sir William Bowes. In 1767, their grand-daughter, Mary Eleanor Bowes, married John Lyon, the 9th Earl of Strathmore. The Bowes-Lyon family, of course, are family of the Queen Mother.

Reference #1 titled "The Blackstones and Their Name states that the name of Blackstone is believed to have been derived from the range of hills on the border of England and Scotland, which is called the "Blackstone Hills", because of the frequency of dar k stones in the neighborhood. That the name is found in several variations. That Blackestone and Blackstone are the forms most generally used today. That the ancient seat and great estates of the family of the Barons of Blackstone was located in the County of Durham in the north of England. That the first of this line, of whom there is definite record was a 1510-Sir Hugh Blackstone. That the family reached the peak of its honor and prosperity in the time of Queen Elizabeth I's rule (1558-1603). That the family representative at that time was one 1535-John Blackstone, who was the father of 1553-William, his first son, and had 14 other children, whose names are not certain. 1553-Sir William, son of 1535-John, married to Alice Claxton in 1581, and the father by her of 9 children, six of whom were sons, and living in 1624. William, the fifth son of Sir William and Alice, was born 1595, and is believed to have been the William Blaxton who emigrated to America in 1623 [Later Nathaniel B. Blackstone published a booklet giving the heritage of this 1595-William to another family from Horncastle.]. There was also a Marmaduke Blackston, or Blaxton, and a John Blackston, resident of the county of Durham, in the 16th century. Marmaduke was a deacon of the church of Durham in 1583. At a later date, about 1617, a William Blaxton was graduated from Emanuel College, Cambridge, England. This was undoubtedly the emigrant William. Still another record of the family in England was of a James Blaxton, who translated the history of Larazibe de Tormes from Spanish in 1653. One of the first members of the family to emigrate to America was Nathaniel Blackstone who settled in Maryland in 1623. He is said to have been descended from the John Blackstone who was prominent in Cromwell's time. Nathaniel was the owner of a large island in the Potomac River called "Blackstone's Island". Several branches of this family were among the pioneers to the western states, and others remained in the south, principally in Maryland and Virginia. William Blaxton, or Blackstone, emigrated to what is now Boston, Mass. in 1623. He was the first white man to make his home in that vicinity. William was a lover of solitude and a few years after the settlement of Gov. Winthrop, and his company at Boston, William removed to what was to become, about 10 years later, the township of Rehoboth, Rhode Island. In 1659, he married Sarah, the widow of John Stevenson, of Boston. The only child by this marriage, of whom there is record, was a son, named John. John Blackstone made his home in 1692 at Providence, R.I., with his wife, Katherine Gorham, whom he had married shortly before. His son, John, was born about 1699 at Providence. The family later removed to Branford, Conn. 1699-John, son of 1660-John, was married to Elizabeth Foot(e), by whom he had issue of 1731-John, III, Abigail, Elizabeth and Stephen. The descendants of this line wrote the name variously as Blackstone, Blackistone, and Blackestone. A Scotch-Irish family of Blackstones came from Ulster to Nova Scotia in 1642. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, they migrated to Massachusetts, where they took up their permanent abode. Three of the sons of this family, John, Benjamin, and William, took active part in the Revolution.

To return to our ancestors in England - arrangements at Norton parish church reflected the enhancing importance of the Blakistons. The North Transept became known as the Blakiston-Porch, and was set aside for their exclusive use. It contained the family vault and the altar, maintained by a specially provided chantry priest. A stone priscina can still be seen on the east wall of the porch. The church at Norton baptized, married and buried many of the Blakistons as the parish records show. Thus, in 1562, Nicholas Blakiston opened his will with the statement: "First I give my soull to almyghtie God, my maker, and redeemer, and our Ladye St. Marye, with all the clestial co'pany in heaven, to praye for me, and my bodye to be buried wtin ye p'ish churche of Norton".

The family reached the height of its wealth and importance under John Blakiston (1535-1586). He is buried at Norton and the parish records pay a special tribute to him, referring to him as the "paterfamilias de Blakiston". It must be said, however, that even in his time, as we shall see later, the signs of an impending family decline were apparent.


The Blakistons were mainly Catholic, even after the Reformation of the 16th century, when Tudor governments diverted the nation away from obedience to Rome. At first, it was not too difficult for the family to cling to their faith. The North-East was remote from the center of authority, and successive governments relied on the seal of the local justice of the peace to enforce their will. In areas of the North, where many communities persisted in their Catholicism, it was not uncommon for the justice to actually sympathize with them. Furthermore, for the first 12 years of her reign, Elizabeth I turned a blind eye to the evasions of the law, insisting that she did not wish to make a "window into men's souls". It was only after 1570, following the Rebellion of the Northern Earls, when the Pope took a more positive stand against Elizabeth, and when the intrigues of the Mary Stuart faction began, that a more definite anti-Catholic policy was adopted. The Rebellion of the Northern Earls was the first serious threat to the position of Elizabeth, and members of the Blakiston family joined it. The Rebellion was led by the Earls of Northumberland, and Westmoreland. It began on November 14, 1569, with the destruction of Protestant devices in Durham cathedral, and the celebration of the mass there. On November 16, a proclamation was issued at Darlington, pledging their loyalty to the "Queen" and blaming diverse news, set up nobles around her for destroying the true faith. In spite of their public pronouncements, however, the rebels supported Mary Stuart, and wished to see her wed to England's leading Catholic, the Duke of Norfolk. The Rebellion lasted just over a month before collapsing in total failure. The Earl of Sussex and Sir George Bowes, Martial of the Army, were commissioned to deal with the rebels, and in the returns which they sent to London, the names of several Blakistons did appear.

Fines assessed and levied at Durham, 1st April, 1570, upon divers persons, being offenders in the late rebellion in the North Parts. . . .


Thomas Musgrave, gent. 30/- Richard Smyth 10/-
George Lascelle 13/4 William Chypchis 20/-
Roger Widdowe 10/- Thomas Wrighte 20/-
Robert Gatte (Gates) 6/8 Thomas Carlton 16/-
Robert Robbeson 10/- Roger Jefferson 20/-
Thomas Blakeston 13/4 Nicholas Jefferson 10/-
William Bussey 13/4 William Blakeston 20/-
John Wigan 26/8 William Jefferson 13/4

"25th April 1570. Pardons for all treason, rebellion, and other offences committed between November 1, 1569 and 31, Jan. 1570. On report of their penitence for their part in the rebellion in the North, testified before the Queens' Commissioners. . .

Norton. . . Nicholas Blaxton, Roger Netterton,
John Blaxton, William Kitchen, Robert Crewe,
John Robinson, William Blaxton, Robert Gates,
Richard Smyth, Thomas Blaxton. . .yeomen."

Marmaduke Blakiston actually composed some of the manifestos, but fled to Brussels with the Earl of Westmoreland and was later pardoned.

It is also known that Marmaduke Blakiston, the brother of John, was involved in the Rebellion and the subsequent papal bull, excommunicating Elizabeth, the government began to tighten its legislation against recusants (or practicing Catholics). In 1578, John Blakiston had to do homage for his manor, and take the oath of Supremacy:

"I, John Blakiston, do utterly testify and declare by my conscience, that the Queen's Highness, is the only supreme governor of this realm, as well as in all spiritual, or ecclesiastical things, or causes as temporal, and therefore, I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign jurisdictions, powers, and authorities."

John Blakiston appears to have had enough sense to see that provided he did not offend the authorities he could remain a secret Catholic and keep his land intact. It was one thing for the Government in London to pass legislation, but for it to insure that these laws were vigorously enforced in remote areas, was entirely another. Certainly there is no evidence to suggest that John Blakiston was further troubled by the Government and he died a much respected figure in 1586, his pragmatism having saved his family from a potentially serious crisis. Unfortunately, his son, Sir William Blakiston, although knighted at Whitehall in 1603, preferred to parade his Catholicism openly, and with dangerous consequences for the family. In 1600, he was referred to as "the most obstinate and dangerous recusant in all these parts, whom no man for these seven years past by ‘durst lay hands on'", and part of his estates were given to his brother, Marmaduke by order of the Crown. It is known that he had to sell other lands in order to pay recusancy fines for non-attendance at church. In 1607, he had some of his stock seized, the bailiffs reporting that by virtue of an exchequer commission, "they seized 19 horses and manes, with one fillie; oxen, kyns, 3 steers and heifers, being goods of Sir William Blakiston, and took them away from Blaxton". Following an appearance before the Ecclesiastical Commission in 1609, Sir William was confined to his manor house because of his religious views. Other members of his family suffered similar treatment. Sir William's brother, Marmaduke, was arraigned in Durham Cathedral for Roman practices and is often mentioned in the proceedings of the Court of high Commission. Two of Sir William's nephews were expelled from their benefices for their royalism and Catholic views during the 1640's, viz. Thomas from Northallerton, and Ralph from Ryton. It is ironic that their brother, John, was a prominent Puritan and was to be one of the trial judges of Charles I. Sir William's second son, Ralph, also had lands seized and was in debt to William Lambton, for £ 240.

The dual process of land division and fines for recusancy, further coupled, perhaps, by a split in the family ranks, placed an intolerable strain on the Blakistons of Blakiston. All of which may well explain the Rev. William Blackstone's attitude toward the "Lord-Bishops", as well as the "Lord-Bretheren", that drove him to the New World and the life of a recluse. It also culminated in the decision by Sir Thomas Blakiston, the first son of Sir William, to sell the Manor of Blakiston, in 1615. After 270 years, therefore, the Blakistons of Blakiston were no more and with something approaching inevitability, the junior branches of the family began to wither. It is true that Marmaduke Blakiston, of. Newton Hall, near Durham, brother of Sir William, flourished in various church preferements, and that his sons and nephews married well among the landowners of Durham and Yorkshire, and merchants of Newcastle-on-Tyne (see page ). In time, however, their resources dwindled. Similarly, the junior house of Gibside, after serving for two centuries, passed all its lands to the Bowes family, while its male cousins at Shieldrow, fell lower and lower in the social scale, until, according to Surtees, they fell "into abject poverty". The result was that by 1820, there were no Blakistons recorded as holding land anywhere in Durham.

SPECIAL NOTE: A logical explanation to the gradual disappearance of many of the Blakiston Clans, of whatever spellings, from Durham, or any other part of England, is that a number of them had emigrated to the American Colonies seeking the liberties and freedoms offered them in the New World. It all probably started with Nathaniel and the Rev. William Blackstone, in 1623 and continued for some time thereafter. (NBB-1976)


BARON Eng. History, originally a tenant holding immediately of the King, or other feudal superior; hence a peer of the realm. In Great Britain, a member of the peerage; one of the hereditary nobility entitled to be addressed as "Lord", and to sit in the House of Lords.

BARONESS A Baron's wife; a lady who holds the baronial title in her own right.

BARONET A hereditary dignity, or a degree of honor, next below a baron, and above a knight; also a holder of this dignity. Baronets are commoners, and have "Sir" prefixed to their Christian names. Abbrev.=Bart., or Bt., as Sir William Blackstone, Bart.

CANONS An ecclesiastical decree, a code, or constitution. Specifically, a law. A Clergyman.

CELIBACY State of being unmarried; single life, esp. that of one bound by vows, not to marry.

CHANTRY An endowment for chanting of masses, and offering of prayers.

CHIEF Her.-the upper part of shield, or the charge filling that space.

COUNT A nobleman of the continent of Europe, corresponding in rank to an English Earl.

COURT-BARON Eng. Law - The court, usually that of a manor, in which a Lord exercised his private jurisdiction.

CROFT A small farm worked by a tenant.

DUKE In Great Britain and certain other European countries, a nobleman of the highest hereditary rank, after that of a prince.

EARL In Great Britain and Ireland, a nobleman ranking below a marquis, and above a viscount (vicount) The rank of Earl corresponds to that of the count of the continent of Europe.

EXCHEQUER Eng. Hist.-Originally an office of state, charged with management of the royal revenue.

FIEF May be defined as conditional, temporary, and non-hereditary land tenure, as distinct from the alodium, which was unconditional, permanent, and heretable tenure. In other words, the vassal was entitled to his fief only so long as he fulfilled his services to his Lord. Should those services cease, the fief escheated, or reverted, to the Lord.

GULES Her. - Red, represented in engravings by parallel vertical lines.

MANOR Eng. Hist. - An estate administered as a unit, especially a demesne (domain) of a Lord for which a court-baron was held; later, the holding of a Lord having at least the number of freehold tenants required to entitle it to hold a court-baron.

MATINS Morning prayers.

RECUSANT One who refuses to comply with or conform to some regulation, or practice.

TOFT A knoll site for a home and outhouse.

TRANSEPT The part of a cruciform church which crosses at right angles to the greatest length and between the nave and the apse, or choir.

VICAR A substitute in office; a deputy, or vicegerent.

VISCOUNT (Vicount) Hist.-An officer who formerly acted in place of the Count or Earl; later, a sheriff. A nobleman next below an Earl, or Count, and next above a Baron.

ORDER OF RANK: Prince, Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, Baron, Baronet=(Sir) Knight.

DOOMSDAY BOOK: (Domesday Book) A record of a great survey of the lands of England, made in 1085-86, by order of William, the Conqueror.




The Blackstone Coat of Arms, illustrated herein, was drawn by a heraldic artist from information officially recorded in ancient heraldic archives. Documentation for the Blackstone Coat of Arms design can be found in Burke's General Armory. Heraldic artists of old developed their own unique language to describe an individual Coat of Arms. In their language, the Arms (shield) is as follows:

"Ar. two bars gu. in chief three cocks of the second."

When translated, the arms description is:

"Silver, two horizontal red bands, in top three red cocks"

Above the shield and helmet is the Crest which is described as:

"A cock or."

A translation of the crest description is:

"A gold cock".

Family mottos are believed to have originated as battle cries in medieval times. A motto is not recorded with the Blackstone Coat of Arms.

Individual surnames originated for the purpose of more specific identification. The four primary sources for second names were: occupation, location, father's name and personal characteristics. The surname Blackstone appears to be locational in origin, a nd is believed to be associated with the English, meaning, "one who came from, or lived near a black boundary stone". More information to further your understanding of the origin of names is explained subsequently. Different spellings of the same original surname are a common occurrence. To date, almost twenty variations have been found.

Census records available disclose the fact that there are approximately 900 heads of households in the United States with the old and distinguished name Blackstone. The United States Census Bureau estimates there are approximately 3.2 persons per household in America today which yields an approximate total of 2,880 people carrying the Blackstone name. Although the figure seems relatively low, it does not signify the many important contributions that individuals bearing the Blackstone name have made to our history.

Until about 1100 A.D. most people in Europe had only one name. (This is still true in some primitive countries today). As the population increased, it became awkward to live in a village wherein perhaps 1/3 of the males were named John, another sizable percentage named William, etc.

And so, to distinguish one John from another, a second name was needed. There were four primary sources for these second names. They were: a man's occupation, his location, his father's name, or some peculiar characteristic of his. Here are some examples :

OCCUPATION: The local house builder, food preparer, grain grinder, and suit maker would be named respectively: John Carpenter, John Cook, John Miller, and John Taylor.

LOCATION: The John who lived over the hill became known as John Overhill, the one who dwelled near a stream might be dubbed, John Brook, or perhaps, John Atbrook, and then he who lived near or in a forest was John Forrest, John Woods, or even John Atwood .

PATRONYMICAL: (father's name). Many of these surnames can be recognized by the termination-son, such as Williamson, Jackson, etc. Some endings used by other countries to indicate "son" are: Armenians - ian, Danes and Norwegians - sen, Finns - nen, Greeks - pubs, Spaniards - ez, and Poles - wiecz. Prefixes denoting "son" are the Welsh - Ap, the Scotch and Irish - Mc and Mac, and the Norman - Fitz. The Irish 0' incidentally indicates grandfather.

CHARACTERISTIC: An unusually small person might be labeled Small, Short, Little or Lytle. A large man might be named Longfellow, Large, Lang, or Long. Many persons having characteristics of a certain animal would be given the animal's name. Examples: a sly person might be named Fox; a good swimmer - Fish; a quiet man - Dove, etc.

In addition to needing an extra name for identification, one occupational group found it necessary to go a step further. The fighting man of the middle ages wore a metal suit of armor for protection. Since this suit of armor included a helmet that completely covered the head, a knight in full battle dress was unrecognizable. To prevent friend from attacking friend during the heat of battle, it became necessary for each knight to somehow identify himself. Many knights accomplished this by painting colorful patterns on their battle shields. These patterns were also woven into cloth surcoats, which were worn over a suit of armor. Thus, was born the term "Coat of Arms

As this practice grew more popular, it became more likely that two knights unknown to each other might be using the same insignia. To prevent this, records were kept that granted the right to a particular pattern to a particular knight. His family also s hared his right to display these arms. In some instances, these records have been preserved and/or compiled into book form. The records list the family name and an exact description of the "Coat of Arms" granted to that family.

Interest in heraldry is increasing daily. This is especially true among people who have a measure of pride, and who resent attempts of our society to reduce each individual to a series of numbers stored somewhere in a computer. In our matter-of-fact day and age, a "Coat of Arms" is one of the rare devices remaining that can provide an incentive to preserve our heritage.

See Encyclopedia International, Vol. 8 p. 407 for complete explanation of "Heraldry", Coat-of-Arms, etc.


978-1016 Ethelred the Unready
       1016 Edmund Ironside

1016-1035 Canute
1035-1040 Harold
1040-1042 Harthacnut

1042-1066 Edward the Confessor
         1066 Harold II

1066-1087 William I the Conqueror
1087-1100 William II
1100-1135 Henry I
1135-1154 Stephen

1154-1189 Henry II
1189-1199 Richard I Lion-hearted
1199-1216 John
1216-1272 Henry III
1272-1307 Edward I
1307-1327 Edward II
1327-1377 Edward III
1377-1399 Richard II

1399-1413 Henry IV
1413-1422 Henry V
1422-1461 Henry VI

1461-1470 Edward IV (York)
1470-1471 Henry VI (Lancaster)
1471-1483 Edward IV
        1483 Edward V
1483-1485 Richard III

1485-1509 Henry VII
1509-1547 Henry VIII
1547-1553 Edward VI
1553-1558 Mary I
1558-1603 Elizabeth I

1603-1625 James I
1625-1649 Charles I
1649-1660 Commonwealth (no king)
1660-1685 Charles II
1685-1688 James II
1689-1694 William III and Mary
1694-1702 William III

1714-1727 George I
1727-1760 George II
1760-1820 George III
1820-1830 George IV
1830-1837 William IV
1837-1901 Victoria

1901-1910 Edward VII

1910-1936  George V
        1936  Edward VIII
1936-1952  George VI
1952 -        Elizabeth II

Letter from Nathaniel Brewster Blackstone to a cousin:
August 3, 1981

Dear Cuz'n Pearl:

Thanks for the Blakiston-Blackstone info. Most of it I already had, but like many sources, the discrepancies can be numerous, and very confusing. The Rev. Patrick sent me a copy of the booklet on the "Blakeston Comprehensive School, etc., some time ago. And along with their 900 year history on the family, there's little or no mention of the Blackstone spelling. So, to tie them into the original lines can only be done, at this point, by birth dates, trying to make them fit into that particular date period. It will take studying, figuring and some guess-work, which is not truely satisfying, but we have to start somewhere, until the indisputable evidence proves different. For example: my figuring would go something like this: it has been pretty well established, that 1510-Sir Hugh Blackstone did exist; lived until 1590, but with no proof of who his father was, so we have to see where he would fit in with what info we do have. The only logical parents, may be either, 14(91)-Thomas & Elizabeth (Place) Blakeston of "Blakeston & Blakeston" or 14(90)-William and Eleanor (Millot) Blakeston of "Blakeston & Coshoe". I have tentatively made him the son of 1465-William & Agnes (Conyers) Blakeston of "Blakeston & Coxhoe", but always felt that he was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne (Tin), in Durham Co., possibly of parents as yet unrecorded. I have a 14(85)-Hugh Blackstone, who d. 15(65) (80), of Newcastle, and probably of "Gibside Manor," his wife unknown, but his parents, 14(65)-William & Agnes (Conyers) Blackstone.

I hope this makes some kind of sense to you and Paul. One source will make certain statements, and another source will make the same kind of statements with mixed confusion, one can't be sure which is correct. I am returning the charts that you sent me, along with additional data, and notes that may be of help to you.

Yes, Rev. James sent me the same info, most of which I already had, but I welcome any and all that I can get, until I have an accurate history.

Naturally, 1600-George couldn't be the son of 1595-Rev. Wm., and the Rev. Wm. died in 1675, not 1596. There was a 14(90)-Wm., son of 1465-Wm. who had a son, 15(20)-George, but there's no connection with the aforementioned. The 1595-Rev. Wm. m. in 1659, and had only one son, 1660 John. There are two 1600 Georges. One by 1567-John, and one by 1561-Marmaduke, who is the one who settled in Md. St. Mary's Co. in 1668, with wife Barbara (Lawson) Blackiston, and one known son, 1637-John, out of six children. 1637 John brought his own family along too. His then wife, Ann (Guibert) Blackiston, and 6 children; 5 boys & 1 girl. Incidentally, as you know, 1595-Wm came over here in 1623, not 1620 with the Pilgrims, as the Rev. James' letter by his grandfather stated.

The Rev. James' family have a family get-together, the Sunday before the New Year, each year, which must prove to be a very interesting time!

Edna is hopeing that the airport controllers strike doesn't prevent our taking off for San Diego, Cal. for her family get-together, Aug. 5th to 13th. I just hope we don't get out there, and get stuck on the return trip. I'll be about 40 miles from the Rev. James, but he'll be in England until the 31st., worst luck!

I doubt if I've helped much in trying to tie 1510 Hugh with the others on record, but I tried, with what info that I have. Time will tell the story, I hope.

Stay well, and happy. We think and speak of you often!

Note by James R. Dangel:

The above letter summarizes well how much fun it is to do genealogy. Everything requires detective work and sometimes you have to use your best judgement. Later you may find that you have to change assumptions.

Nathaniel B. Blackstone collected a lifetime’s worth of genealogy and I only wish I had had time in Boston to enter all the family group sheet data into my genealogy program.

Besides a better photograph of Nathaniel B. Blackstone, I would like a copy of the Biography of Sir William Blackstone 1723-1779 that he also wrote and I failed to obtain. So if anyone can share it I will add it also.

Sorry that I may have errors in the files but the OCR is not perfect and I do not see everything. Some spelling errors were corrected but most were left as chosen by NBB. I have not the patience to get all the tabs into the html that should be there from the original, but I have never learned to get them copied with good tabs.

My thanks to NEB, James R. Dangel, August 12, 2001

James R. Dangel
1504 Sawmill Creek Road
Sitka, Alaska 99835 USA

Phone:    907-747-3348


Hiding my address underneath to avoid getting spam and unsolicited viruses has not worked very well. You will have to type in my email address from the picture file above. Perhaps you will also have to verify that you are a real person and not a robot if you are not in my mailing list. I apologize, but I know of no other good way to limit the junk mail.

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