The Blacker Surname
It is regrettable that the history of the Blacker name, in the far recesses of the past is so fragmentary. Certainly much of the
little that can be gleaned is speculation at best. We, who carry that name however, are fortunate in the fact that it is not such
a common name as Smith, Jones, or Brown. The name is sufficiently uncommon, despite its simpleness of spelling and pronunciation,
that whenever and wherever one of us sees or hears it, we find reason to wonder whether all Blackers could be from a single
On the part of many who have had interest in family-name research, regardless of purpose, the possibility remains real
despite the fact that we have found no direct blood-line connections between all Blacker families. Perhaps the major
problem confronting any researcher is the scarcity of records kept, particularly by the family. This is undoubtedly due to the
fact that a family has had no particular incentive or keeping records and if a family kept a record it was not the usual thing.
Social organizations found more need for family records than did the family. For instance, the civil government is interested in
its citizenry, for in the forming of communities, it has been felt every citizen had a responsibility toward that community.
Very often the equalization of responsibility was taken care of by a system of taxation, and so records were kept by the
community government, which expanded into county, state, and national government.
Actually, in most countries, the church antedated regularly established civil governments and became the protector of the
people of the community in such areas as social needs. The minister - usually a vicar or rector - was expected to spend his
full time in such activities as caring for the poor and even constructing roads and bridges. Not only did he require help in a
variety of ways to care for his parishioners, but he and some of his assistants had to be taken care of by means of a salary.
Parishioner responsibility required records be kept, for actually, during these early periods, it was a form of a tax and
everyone was expected to do his part.
Not only were churches expected to respond to physical needs within the boundaries of their respective jurisdictions, but they
also, had the pretense of 'saving souls'. The spirit needs of a community was to be cared for. Babies were to be christened in
most churches and in others baptism was practiced for adults. The church eventually assumed the responsibility of keeping these
records. Marriages, likewise, came under the jurisdiction of the church. Under the banns system it was required of the priest or
minister to announce the intentions of the ones to be married, for three successive Sundays in each of the respective parishes.
There were those wishing to be married who didn't want the publicity that those who were processed by banns received, and
for a fee could buy a marriage license. Thus, there were the three types of records within the marriage ceremony preparations
and event - the record of the banns or the license, and the ceremony itself.
This picture, taken by Loyn Blacker in 1930, is of St. Michaelís Tower located at the top of a hill near Glastonbury, Somersetshire. It is about twenty miles southwest of Clutton, the ancestral home of our proven ancestors. Recent research (2006) located the inserted picture, taken in 1896, which shows the tower more clearly.
In 1837, the civil government started requiring all births, marriages and deaths be recorded in what has become known as
civil registration. If one's ancestry happened to be among the small, but important class of land holders, a record of their
holdings was kept from the 12th century. Actually, particularly in England where all the Blacker families - related and
unrelated- have lived for centuries, there are thirty or more sources of records, any one of which may have some type of
Blacker family information.
Reference has been made of the likelihood of a family history being kept by any Blacker family. Interestingly, one large family
clan had a family history printed in 1901, which goes into considerable detail as to the origin of that family. While no
bloodline connection has been established to our ancestry of the Edward Blacker Family Organization, nevertheless, the data is of
interest to us probably for no other reason than for interest's sake.
Liberty will be taken to quote from it and full credit will be given to those who compiled it. It is questionable as to whether
there ever was a copyright sought or granted, but even if one was granted, after eighty years it is very likely that the copyright
privileges would have run out. No pretense is being made by this compiler to claim any of the information contained in the history
to be of his research. All material used will be within quotation marks to assist the reader in knowing its source.
Hopefully, the reader will be fully aware that the Blacker family which has the printed history to which we will now refer,
is much older than we have traced our own ancestral lines and that no genealogical connections have been found. First, an
introduction as to how a copy of this history was discovered and obtained:
While serving my mission for the Mormon Church in Birmingham, England, in 1929, and being on the lookout for any information
which related to family genealogy, I read an announcement from a daily London paper - as I remember - The Daily Express - of a
coming marriage of the daughter of a Colonel Blacker as of this writing, 1982, I cannot locate his initials or name other than
I wrote to this Mr. Blacker, for his address was given in the article and a few days later I received a package with a letter
Sept. 9, 1929
I send this family tree and history of the family, compiled by a member of the family several years ago for your perusal. I am very interested to get your letter. Perhaps you may be able to trace your ancestors in the tree. Please return the book as soon as you have finished with it as it is the only one I have and they are out of print.
I might mention that owing to the times I am, I fear, obligated to sell the old family place of CarrickBlacker in County Armagh. If you care to go and see it I will send a line to my solicitor, Mr. Girling, in Portadown to show you the place.
After typing all the material and the chart, I returned his copy within a few days. I am unable to determine the initial he used. This entire letter was written in modern-day prescription script by a modern-day busy doctor only to be translated by careful study which we have done at times covering a period of well over 50 years. (L.B.)
The booklet - actually it is but a booklet which was printed by the firm Hogges, Figgis & Co., Ltd. of 104 Grafton Street,
Dublin, is dated 1901. By way of explanation the account begins by somewhat theorizing with some evidence that the family has its
origin in part in Scandinavia. Let me do enough direct quoting to present what the compiler, one Latham C.M. Blacker, Major; Dublin
"The history of this family is interwoven with Norse, English, and Irish records to a remarkable extent. Its origin dates with
considerable certainty as far back as the ninth century, when the North men were spreading down over the countries of Ireland,
Scotland, England, France, and other regions.
"The name is derived from Blacaire, son of Godfred, son of Ivar, son of Regnar Lodbrog, King of Denmark who was descended
from Odin, King of Scandinavia about 2,000 B.C.
"Ivar invaded Ireland about the year 872, at the head of a large fleet, and landed where Dublin now stands, when he and his
companions speedily subjugated the surrounding country, acquiring also the ports of Waterford and Limerick. This Ivar is known in
the Annals as Ivar Beinlaus or the Boneless.
"It is curious that there is still in Norway a town called Blakier, and an ancient family Blackar of Blackargaard,
connected, no doubt, with the Blacaire of those days.
"Blacaire achieved a great reputation by slaying the champion of Ireland, Muircheartache (of the Leather Cloaks), either at
Ardee, County Louth, or on the banks of the Bann, where Carrickblacker now stands. (The River Bann is in North Ireland as
is Carrickblacker, in County Armagh. L.B.) He was, at the time, King of Dublin then known as Dyflin or Bally Ath Cliath Dyglin,
during the absence of his eldest brother Anlaff (Amlave or Amlaiby) on an expedition to Northumbria and who met with a
disastrous defeat at Brunanburgh, near Beverly, (Yorkshire in north England. L.B.) at the hands of Athelstane, first King of
"On Anlaff's return to Dublin, Blacaire was either banished or sent on forays, in one of which he was killed, A.D. 946, with
1,600 men, by Congalock, titular King of Ireland, at the battle of Ath Cliath. His son, Sitric MacBlacar, succeeded him; but the
name now disappears from the Irish Annals, and reappears in Yorkshire in Wigstrum Hundred (Domesday Book) as landholders
before the Conquest.
"From thence it is traced to the parish of Grete Sandall, Yorks., in the Testamenta Evoraciensa, and finally reoccurs in Valentine Blacker, one of the officers of "49' who returned to Ireland about the commencement of the 17th Century, as Commandant of Horse and Foot, and who acquired the lands of Carrowbrack, County Armagh, which are now held by the head of the family, the Rev. Cannon R.S.C. Blacker, M.A., also of Woodbrook Enniscorthy, County Wexford.
County Wexford is the extreme southeast county of Ireland closest to England. Also, later the history states that the above Valentine Blacker sold his inherited estate in Yorkshire, England, and purchased the to-be Carrickblacker in County Armagh - north Ireland - 22 August 1660. (L.B.)
"It has been alleged by some that the family is of English origin: but the great similarity of the name in Norway (Black is
a pure Swedish word, meaning a 'fetter' or 'gyve') couple with the fact that parts of Yorkshire in those days, about the time of
the Conquest, were largely colonized by Danes and Norsemen, who were duly noted in Domesday Book, leads one to the irresistible
conclusion that it is the same stock" (History of Carrickblacker)."
No attempt will be made to follow the history's account of the Scandinavian or Northmen's attempts to get a strong foothold in
the British Isles including Ireland. Such invasions and attempted invasions continued for many years without eventual success
despite the fact that their effects were deeply felt by the local native inhabitants of the areas involved. Many lives were lost in
such warfare. The lifestyles of the people were oft times completely uprooted due to the necessity of leaving their homes
to never return. Also, it must not be overlooked that it was not uncommon for many of the invading forces to find it desirable,
both after victory or even with defeat, to remain and eventually mix with the local remaining populace.
At this point let us return to the history from which we have been quoting:
"In Yorkshire they (the invading Northmen. L.B.) survived even longer (than in Ireland. L.B.) and it was the Danes who rose and massacred William the Conqueror's garrison in York. In revenge, he, William, marched a large force north and devastated the whole country between York and the Tees (the river forming the northern boundary of Yorkshire. L.B.). The Norse settlements in which the Blackers were included seem to have escaped this destruction owing to their location in the corner of the county of Yorkshire.
"Near Barnsley, in the parishes of Darton and Darfield (near the extreme southern and western borders of Yorkshire. L.B.) there were two hamlets called Blacker, where the name occurs frequently as far back as 1330. The legal wills of Yorkshire do not date earlier than 1300; but the records are carried forward nearly up to 1597, the date of birth of Valentine Blacker. These records constitute a most valuable link with the past, and their authenticity is undoubted.
"During the Wars of the Rose (the middle of the 1400s. L.B.) Sandal Castle, near Wakefield, was a noted stronghold, and among the outworks which surround it we find, among other manor houses, Blacker Hall - another landmark in our chronology."
This area in which Blacker Hall is situated is approximately ten miles north of the area of the above two hamlets called Blacker, therefore, unquestionably is connected by family relationship. (L.B. Copied from History of Carrickblacker.)
Early in this nineteenth century, probably between 1825 and 1835, an Englishman by the name of Joseph Hunter compiled a number of family pedigrees in the general area of Yorkshire. Among these family pedigrees is an ancient pedigree of the Blacker family of Yorkshire, which pedigree starts with one Henry de Blakkar whose son, William de Blakkar of Worsborough with a note that he, William, was living in 1300.
This William's eleventh-great-grandson - 12 generations later was Valentine Blacker who was born in 1597 and inherited by the law of primogeniture all his father's holdings. According to the proving of the will on 14 December 1624, the father had died on or before that date.
Prior to our following the story of Valentine, attention might
be called to the fact that according to the above mentioned
pedigree well over three hundred years had elapsed from the first
Blakkar showing up in Yorkshire to the time of Valentine
inheriting his father's property. Actually, within the 12
generations including Valentine's generation, there had to
develop a great posterity, only part of whom carried on the
Blacker surname. Attention might be called to the fact that the
Blacker Hall, a long, long time residence of some of the Blacker
family did not descend to Valentine, but was kept in the family,
but thru another branch.
Now, back to Valentine, for more information is available of
him and his descendants than any other of this large family.
In his younger years, Valentine served in the King's army and
became a captain prior to Charles I losing his head on January
30th 1648. There had been a period of civil war in England with,
particularly, the House of Commons condemning the king for his
failure to sign many of Parliament's proposed bills. Oliver
Cromwell, a member of the House of Commons from the town of
Cambridge, had taken active part in this civil war. He had
actually organized an armed military force with the intent of
overthrowing the king, in which attempt he was successful and
thereby introduced to English history a period of government by
the army known as The Commonwealth. Cromwell himself, was
selected as a 'Lord Protector' of England. He actually became a
dictator with a powerful and devoted army at his disposal. He is
claimed by English history as having been a sincere and devoted
laborer for the good of the people and became known as one of
England's greatest military commanders in all history. It is
claimed to have been a sad day for England when Oliver Cromwell
sickened and died in the summer of 1658, after having been in
command of England for fewer than ten years.
Nothing in the history of Valentine Blacker tells us of his
activities between the time he inherited his father's holdings in
1624, and the death of Cromwell and the ouster of Cromwell's not
so talented son who held on for less than two years. At that
time, after escaping to Holland, Charles' son, with help from the
Loyalists returned and was acclaimed Charles II of England.
Whether Valentine went 'underground' during what became known as
the Comwellian Gap and the return of the royal line, we have no
way of knowing.
Regardless of Valentine's political and military leanings and
activities, he appears to have become dissatisfied to remain with
his holdings in Yorkshire, for two years following the ascension
to the English throne of 30 year-old son of the disposed king,
Valentine sold his possessions and purchased an estate in County
Armagh in northern Ireland, as has previously been mentioned.
Upon Valentine's purchase of the estate known as Carrowbrack
with its large manor house of three stories with a red brick
front faced with white stone, he, Valentine, changed its name,
now to be known as Carrickblacker. It was situated on what is
described as being "on a commanding terraced slope, above the
River Bann, a couple miles from Portadown". I arrived in Belfast,
Ireland, in February of 1928 to start my British Mission service
and spent the next ten months either in Belfast proper or
northward in Ballymena and Ballymoney and by January 1st 1929 I
was transferred to Birmingham, England, at which place I was
laboring when I was loaned this History of Carrickblacker. I
never had the opportunity to return to Ireland to travel
southwest of Belfast about 30 miles to see the manor house and
other holdings at Carrickblacker to which I had received an
invitation from Mr. Blacker in his letter of 9th of September
1929. Although he was not living in Ireland at the time,
nevertheless, I appreciated his offer to forward an introduction
to his solicitor in Portadown. The Carrickblacker holdings were
held by the Blacker family (Valentine's) from 22 August 1660, to
probably early in the 1930s, if Mr. Blacker proceeded with the
intended sale of the property, as mentioned in his letter of
September 1929. Approximately 270 years, or well over 60 years
above and beyond the present age of our country, which was born
in 1776 - this being 1982 - is a pretty good inning for any
Many of the descendants of Valentine Blacker of
Carrickblacker, Ireland, became prominent. Many branches of the
family separated themselves from the home-county Armagh, such as
establishing another Blacker stronghold in County Wexford in
southern Ireland. One family is known to have returned to the old
homeland of Yorkshire; several went to universities in the London
area and remained there. Bristol, in England, is known to have
had some of this family. Also, a Blacker in 1929, who was then
the apparent owner of the Carrickblacker manorhouse, had his home
in Bridport, Dorsetshire, in the south of England. We undoubtedly
would be safe in assuming most larger towns in England would have
any number of Blackers, all stemming from Valentine.
About the year 1950, while we were residing in Ontario,
Oregon, a couple, probably a few years younger than we, stopped
at our home. They were returning, as I now remember, from the
genealogical library in Salt Lake City to their home in LeGrande,
Oregon, and announced themselves as Reid and Jean Blacker.
The CarrickBlacker Manor House in 1901
We spent a couple hours comparing genealogy. Reid's parents'
home was in Ohio and two or three previous generations had lived
there. Their history tells of one Robert Blacker sailing "from
Belfast to Amboy, New Jersey, in 1810 and then he went to western
Ohio." They have made no direct connection to their own family
pedigree; however, Reid's 2nd great grandfather sailed from
Belfast, only thirty miles from Carrickblacker. Could this mean
they were probably of the Blacker family of Ireland? Almost a
It is interesting to note in their history a list of prominent
people over the years all stemming from the family prior to 1901:
A vice-treasurer of Ireland; a high ranking government official
known as an envoy; three lieutenant colonels; five high sheriffs;
one magistrate; one quartermaster-general; and six majors; nine
captains, two lieutenants; one midshipman; one Very Reverend
Dean; one ecclesiastical canon; three prebendaries - a clergyman
officiating in a cathedral; five vicars; five rectors - a higher
salaried minister than a vicar; one incumbent (an ecclesiastical
position); one Champlain; three barristers-at-law; one doctor of
laws; four doctors of letters; several with bachelor of arts
degrees; several master of arts degrees; nine justices of the
peace; one bachelor of surgery; one king's counsel; a few doctors
of medicine, and other various accomplishments.
As indicated above, the family had many of its members
matriculate in schools of higher learning and received one or
more of some several degrees. Dublin's Trinity College had its
first Blacker graduate as early as 1674 and from that time to
1869 - nearly two hundred years - twenty-eight degrees were
bestowed upon fifteen Blacker names. There is no record of family
members not having the Blacker surname, such as children and
grandchildren thru the lineage of the females of the family, who
traded their maiden surnames for a married surname.
From 1808 to 1883 six degrees were presented to five Blacker
boys at Oxford University in south England, all from this family.
Cambridge University in east England, and the University of
Glasgow, Scotland, also issued degrees to the men of this
extended family which had its start in Carrickblacker in
As we depart from our brief review of this branch of a Blacker
family, which started with Valentine reaching out, undoubtedly,
for greater opportunities by leaving Yorkshire for Ireland, we
can't resist to make mention of one item of interest which the
compiler of the history of that family included in his relatively
brief, but important story. The writer titles a note as "Henry
Blacker of Sussex, The Giant" and writes:
"A remarkable notability of the name was one Henry Blacker of Sussex, who attained the considerable height of seven feet six inches, without being badly proportioned. The Duke of Cumberland (the hero of Culloden) was a great friend of his, and some little time ago there appeared a portrait with a description of Mr. Blacker in 'The Strand Magazine', depicting a number of noblemen and gentlemen gazing up at him. He and they are all shown in the costume of the period of George II, (King George II reigned from 1727 to 1760. L.B.) with long waistcoats, full-skirted coats, and three-cornered hats; and none reach up to his shoulder. "This Henry Blacker must have belonged to one of the English branches, one of which was known to have been established in Sussex." (History of Carrickblacker, p. 48).
During the centuries since Valentine left Yorkshire in 1660,
the preponderance of the Yorkshire Blackers remained in that area
so far as is known. Undoubtedly their history and accomplishments
would be as interesting to us as is the history of the family we
have become accustomed to call the Irish Blackers. On the other
hand, in the wake of the great Industrial Revolution, mainly from
1750 to 1850, certainly Yorkshire Blacker families would have a
part in worker migrations, mainly to where industrial centers
would logically be set up. England has always been dependent on
seafaring activities from early world exploration, to bring in
from its early colonies products and goods its own people needed.
In turn, great factories were innovated in England for the
processing of textile fibers such as silk, wool, and cotton from
those colonies. With the invention of the steam engine, the
logical sequence was to use it in factories and in as much as a
fuel was required to produce steam, factories were erected where
fuel could be obtained with as little shipping of coal as
possible. If such combination could be found near a harbor or
seaport town, to ease any eventual transportation, there is where
Climatic conditions also played an important part in locating
some industries, and as a result, cotton from the colonies was
shipped across the Atlantic to particularly Liverpool from where
much of it was taken inland to Lancashire centers such as
Manchester and Bolton. These areas were ideal for cotton spinning
due to the moist atmosphere. In like manner, the climatic
conditions were most ideal in western Yorkshire for the spinning
and manufacturing of woolen goods. Both areas, Lancashire and
Yorkshire, had an abundance of coal and so it was quite possible
that the Blacker families of Yorkshire would have plenty of
incentives to stay northward in England. Whether or not they did,
we really don't know.
By the same token, the great seaport town of Bristol, adjoined
Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, to where the genealogy of the
Edward Blacker Family Organization has been traced. Because these
counties, particularly the latter, were strongly agricultural,
great woolen mills were set up. There were more in
Gloucestershire, due to greater population, but some factories
spilled over into Somerset. Here again, coal was plentiful in
both areas, which as previously stated, became a great
contributing factor in the location of industry.
It must also be recognized that there was widespread
population movement brought on by this Industrial Revolution.
Providing factories were set up locally, there was no necessity
for the people to move. On the other hand, where there were no
factories, word would have gotten around of possible
opportunities at distances afar, and because of boredom at home,
or the lack of desirable opportunities, the venturesome would be
on their way.
Now, returning to the Yorkshire Blacker family, attention may
be called to family problems resulting from the law of
primogeniture - and it was a law, not limited to custom only - by
which the eldest son inherited all holdings of the father. Such
an event happened a generation earlier than Captain Valentine's
going to Ireland. Valentine's father, Ralph, who was the eldest
of several brothers and sisters, rightly inherited his father's
major assets, which included a sizable estate - this in south
Yorkshire. One of Ralph's youngest brothers - probably the
youngest - was named Nicholas, who, despite law or no law, custom
or no custom, felt he was denied some of the privileges and
rights any child should have and he became disgruntled.
Whether there was promise for him to find work or business or
other opportunities down in Lincolnshire - the county adjoining
Yorkshire to the south - we do not know, nor do we know whether
he was yet single, or married. Nevertheless, he left Yorkshire.
Frankly, more should be known of the reason for his dislike of
the primogeniture system.
He returned to Yorkshire after a time and this trip was made
solely for the purpose of taking the matter to the courts. And he
did, but his case resulted in much the way most minorities get
what they claim to be their just dues. He wasn't successful in
'bucking' the establishment and so, Nicholas, again left
Yorkshire so far as we know, for the last time. We can only
wonder what embarrassment there was to him with his family.
Surely his brothers and sisters who were also deprived of any
equity of his father's holdings, must have shared a hope in
And what happened to Nicholas? We wish we knew for it would
throw some light on questions as to certain possibilities.
Further research is needed for us to know whether or not he went
far southward, with him or his children getting eventually into
Somersetshire. Let us put the name, Nicholas, on hold for the
present. We shall hear of that name again.
Other than the early Blackers of Yorkshire, North Ireland and
later south Ireland, and the mention of a Blacker in Sussex, we
also find another early Blacker family resided in Wiltshire in
southern England. No historical account has been found of this
family, however, in the year 1623 Heraldic Visitations were made
in the various counties of England for revenue purposes, among
other reasons, and family data was obtained. Subsequently, the
Harlean Society of London published the pedigrees which have been
printed in the Society's numerous volumes and, in this instance,
known as the Wiltshire Visitation Pedigrees, which volumes are
available in larger libraries of the country, including the
Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City.
The challenge of the Edward Blacker Family Organization has
been and continues to be to extend our Blacker - also allied
lines - which we have done with considerable documentation into
Clutton, Somersetshire, England which will be discussed in a
later chapter. As these ancient Blacker families are being noted
with whom we have no proven connections, we are not disallowing
future possibilities of connections. The fact that Wiltshire
joins Somersetshire on the east may seem the next-in-line
ancestral connection, rather than the other geographically
further away families such as those of Yorkshire or Ireland. We
shall not dwell, however, on the Wiltshire findings, other than
perhaps mention that a Blacker had three sons, among another or
more, whose names are not given on the chart. The three sons'
names are Walter, John and William, who married Alicia de Harnam.
This William's will was proven 30 November 1588, meaning he was
then deceased. Their son, another William, married a Maria
Whetham, who had a son, again named William, who was married to
Anna in 1623. This Blacker line as followed in this pedigree
apparently died out, for two sons and two daughters are shown to
have died without children. Their son, Edwardus (Latin for
Edward. L.B.) does not show issue, however, he was found by
inquisition on 23 Mar 1646/7 as a lunatic. This is interesting,
but really doesn't mean a great deal. Unless we know the intent
of the court, we could use our imagination to conjure up a number
of reasons why he may not be wholly responsible for an act. The
term lunatic could absolve him from any number of circumstances
or penalties. Perhaps he was smarter than some of the rest. We
have no way of knowing.
We are also aware of Blackers of early Somersetshire, but have
such little information, no story can result. From the very early
Roman encampment records, mention is made of a Blacker's Hill
Camp which is supposedly in the area of Chilcompton which is
probably ten miles south of Clutton, our family seat. Also, the
history of the Clutton area mentions a Widow Blacker and her coal
deposits (undoubtedly an open or surface coal deposit of which
there were some in the area) as of 1610. This is much earlier
than we have been able to trace our ancestry - at least two
To confirm inferences already made, the Blacker name in
England is not as uncommon as once we thought it to be. Evidences
are that it can be of antiquity. Certainly the name has been in
England for several centuries. Actually the record of the Great
Roll of the Pipe at the time of King Henry II, shows there were
Blackers in Devon and Somerset, which record is dated as
Even before that early date a Blacaire, King of Dublin, when
disposed, allegedly showed up in Yorkshire. Like England, the
name Blacker is old.