A Family History - By A.G. Blachford
Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester & Fordington Feb 2014

© A. G. Blachford known as Jack sadly died in 1993 and this account appears by kind permission of Owen Strickland descendant


Introduction: --- Go to
FORDINGBRIDGE 'Sand Hill and Over Burgate' ---Go to

I first became interested in my origins when my elders insisted that I pronounce my name BlaShford, although it is spelt with a C (BlaChford). They had some mysterious pride in the family, a blind faith in some glorious past though none knew the reason why. This dilemma, confusing but interesting, had exciting prospects. I embarked on a project that has enabled me to journey back through the centuries and to some extent enter the lives of some of my illustrious ancestors. For many years I received much help from Donald Blachford of Wallington in Surrey, and later from John Blachford of Poole who was able to discover many intimate details of the lives of our predecessors.

In 1984, we were joined and greatly assisted by Eric George Blachford of Southampton, who journeyed far and wide to obtain information. One day a letter arrived from America and revealed a whole new field of family history. Alan and Alane Blachford of Capron in Illinois had researched their own pedigree and the quest had led them to Dorchester, the New Forest, and the Isle of Wight. Overnight we were presented with hundreds of American cousins. Canadians and Australians have contributed much to the family records, and we have enjoyed meeting many of them and exchanging stories of Blachfords around the world. A book such as this could not possibly record the lives of all, so I have selected the main characters of each generation in an endeavour to portray the many and varied careers, the wealth and poverty, the fortunes and misfortunes and the courage and determination displayed by my predecessors. I was cheered to discover that the family as a whole managed to exist within the law of the day. I was also grieved to find we had a slave trader amongst us, but as the trade was not illegal at the time we must try to forgive, though we cannot forget. As our story unfolds we discover men of great wealth and others of abject poverty. Some followed a military career, others were merchants, some entered politics. Farmers, tradesmen, seamen, fishermen, and smugglers all contribute to embellish the destiny of the family BLACHFORD.

I dedicate this book to future generations who I sincerely hope will gain strength and inspiration from the efforts and exploits of their ancestors.


A.D. 1200. In this year, historical records reveal a number of men and women bearing the same family name, related by marriage, and living in the Ringwood area. Osmond de Blachford was in possession of the farm at Blashford. His son Ralph Fitz Osmond de Blachford held land adjoining Osmonds.

The Ellingham family of Pont Chardon were of some note in Hampshire as early as the thirteenth century. Roger, Robert and Oliver de Punchardon held land in the county under King John and King Henry III (1199 —1272).

From a precept of February 5th, 1205, we learn that Robert de Punchardon was then in Normandy, and that Walter Fortin had a farm on his Ellingham land. Robert de Punchardon gave, at a rent of ten shillings due every Michaelmas to Ralph Fitz Osmond, half a yardland of arable lying within the land held by Osmond, eighteen acres of land, and four of meadow with three perches of his own demesne meadow close to the Fossatum Monachorum de Ellingham. The grant was confirmed by Robert, son of the granter, and afterwards by Reginald, son of William de Punchardon. Ralph de Blachford gave the land to the Monks of Beaulieu, and Sir Robert confirmed the gift. William Leybrooke, Sir Roger de Mul, Oliver de Punchardon, Robert Tessum and others, witnessed the grant by which Sir Robert, for ten marks, sold to the Monks of Beaulieu, a ten shilling rent which he had been accustomed to receive for their tenement, formerly belonging to Ralph.

Ralph gave his daughter Juliana in marriage to William de la Hulle, and as a marriage settlement, once acre of meadow in Southwidale below Blashford, lying between the meadows held by William Fitz Alured de Blachford and Sywards land. Ralph had a nephew Walter, a son of Herbert le Engleis, who held land in the neighbourhood of Ringwood and Fordingbridge. Walter sold land around Ellingham to his uncle. Walter held a messuage under Reginald de Punchardon for which he paid sixteen pennies rent. Reginald, with the consent of his wife Christiana and his heirs, granted the rent to the Monks of Beaulieu. Walter remitted his yearly rent of a pound of cumin to John Roscelyn de Ybbesley. We find him giving a messuage to Henry de Lindewode, and afterwards granting messuage with a cartilage at Blashford to the Abbot of St. Saveur de Coutance. The Abbot again conveyed the property it appears, to the Vicar of Ellingham (Sir William) son of Reginald de Punchardon. A like gift was bestowed upon Sir William by his father Reginald. All the tenement which he had received from Walter de Blachford and Henry de Lindewode (one messuage and curtilage arable land meadow and turf land in the moors of Assemooors and Buchmere) given to him by Reginald his father, William the Vicar gave to Acelina de Blachford, daughter of William Buche for her services. Acelina made over the tenements to the Monks of Beaulieu; to be held in free socage at the price of one hundred shillings. Acelina was born native (neife or vassal) to Walter Tessum de Ellingham, and with all her sequela had been given by him to the forester Richard de Burley.

Denys, son of Herbert le Engleis, gave his nephew Walter a messuage and two acres in Blashford that Walter's father had given him previously, and one acre which stretched along from the croft that had once belonged to Ralph.

Walter and Denys had a brother, William, who, with the consent of his wife Lucia and his sons, sold two acres in little mede to John Roscelyn son of Roscelyn Hulle, for one mark of silver. For consenting to the sale, John was to give to Lucia a pair of gloves (un um par chirothecarum) and to the eldest son a pair of Cordovan Sandals (Sunuas subtal ares de Corduv). The appellation `de Blachford' would not have been a true surname in early days, but we know these people were all of one family, and living in the same area, namely Blashford. Once the appendage `de Blachford' had been attached to a man's name it would also be applied to his sons, and eventually became the family surname. Researching old records we discovered a Robert de Blachford in 1211, a Roger de Blachford in 1296, Richard de Blachford in 1314, and a William de Blachford in 1327, in the manor of Broad Winsor, as well as a Thomas de Blachford and Roger de Blachford, brothers, in Marshwood Vale in the Whitchurch Hundred.

After this Blachford seems to have been accepted as the family name. In 1525 we found a William Blachford of Winterbourne, two John Blachfords — father and son 1525 and 1545. In 1542 John (senior) was recorded as having a bow and six arrows, and his son John had a billhook, a truly formidable pair of antagonists. We also discovered William and Richard Blachford both of Bridport in 1545. These two may well have been brothers as could John (senior) also. William may well have been the father (William) of Richard Blachford of Dorchester, which is where this family story commences. William, Richard, Robert, and John are names recurring continuously throughout the following centuries, and no doubt we shall, with further research, be able to trace our roots deeper into the past.
A Pedigree of the de BLACHEFORDES of Ringwood Hampshire
Approximately 1160-1260


The absence of reliable records, bad spelling, the acceptable meaning of words that change from generation to generation, the new Gregorian calendar commencing January the first, 1752 instead of Lady Day, the twenty fifth of March, as previously. The recording of baptisms instead of birth days, a newborn baby given the same name as an older brother or sister, who died in infancy. When two or more Johns, Roberts or Richards appear in the same generation, one has difficulty in knowing to which one the record refers.

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, England was ravaged by pestilence and disease. Disaster followed disaster, the people suffered tyranny and religious intolerance, but they struggled and survived with that indomitable spirit that surfaces in adversity in every generation. Many papists underwent martyrdom at Dorchester. In 1587 Thomas Pilchard a Priest, was hung drawn and quartered for denying the Queen's supremacy. In the year 1591 and in 1594 others suffered death for the sake of their religion. In 1595 a dreadful plague caused havoc among the inhabitants and carried off so many, that barely enough were left to bury the dead. The Roman Catholics naturally regarded this as a direct intervention by heaven on their behalf. The powers that be were not deterred by this and continued to persecute the Papists until the year 1642 when the last instance occurred according to recorded history.

Richard Blachford, the son of William Blachford of Holway in the Parish of White Staughton, was born in approximately 1570. Richard spent his early years in the employ of Gilbert Smyth, a merchant in the town of Exeter who imported and exported goods trough the post of Weymouth. Richard married Frances, the daughter of John Combe of Ashmer and started his own business in Dorchester in approximately 1593. He went into partnership with John Finn, and also with his eldest son John, importing and exporting wool and other goods through many ports between Bristol and London. Richard was a town councillor, Alderman, a member of the Company of Freemen, and Bailiffe of Dorchester. In the municipal records on the 20th September, 1606...... Mathew Chubb and Richard Blachford, Bailiffes, leased a plot of Ground (land) to Thomas Bushrode, haberdasher, at a rent of 4 shillings per year. Richard's eldest son John married Margaret Mambree at St. Peter's church Dorchester on the 6th of October 1610. The record of the marriage appears in those of the church of the Holy Trinity. St Peter's has no records as early as 1610, so there is some doubt as to in which church the ceremony actually took place.

James I, by letters patent dated 260' June, 1610, appointed for the government of the Borough two Bailiffes and fifteen burgesses (styled) the Capital Burgesses and Councillors of the Borough. From these Bailiffes, to continue in office until the Monday after Michaelmas next, fifteen Capital Burgesses and Councillors forming the common council were to remain in office for life or good behaviour. John Hill was the first Governor of the Company of Freemen of the Borough of Dorchester in 1621, followed by John Blachford in 1622. Governors were elected each year until the year 1824, when Joseph Stone (gent) was elected annually until 1834, when he was chosen for the last time and had no successor.

"The Freeman's Oath"

    Ye shall colour no foreigners good under or in your name whereby the Town might or may lose their advantages. Ye shall know no foreigner except in Fairs or Markets within this town, but ye shall warn the Governor there of, or one of his assistants.
On the 6"` August, 1613 Dorchester was ravaged by fire. The conflagration was thought to have started in a Tallow Chandlers works next to the shire hall, and the loss it caused was estimated at £40,000 pounds. This was a considerable amount when one considers the relative value of money in those days. The fire swept through the town totally destroying the churches of Holy Trinity and All Saints, as well as one hundred and seventy houses in the three Dorchester parishes. A smaller fire in 1622 consumed thirty five houses in the parish of Holy Trinity.

It is not know exactly when the BLACHFORD ARMS were granted, but during the Herald's visitation of the counties of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, three pedigrees were recorded for the same name. The Arms were :- for Richard Blachford of London and Dorchester, Merchant. A confirmation by William Segar "Garter", 1629

"Barry wavy of six OR and GULES on a cheif AZURE, three PHEONS ARGENT. The CREST was a SWAN rising with wing elevated `GUTTEE des LARMES" (that is sprinkled with blue drops).

The Swan has been used as a charge in Heraldry or as a badge from early times. Its use stems from the very early fable of the SWAN KNIGHT. The SWAN was the crest of EUSTACE Count of Boulogne before the Conquest, who, tradition asserted, had married the daughter of the SWAN KNIGHT.

    The legend of the Swan Knight
    The gallant knight appeared one day in a boat drawn by a white swan. He arrived just in time to rescue a fair maiden in distress. He subsequently married the lady, after she had promised faithfully never to inquire as to who he was or from whence he came. When their small daughter was about three years old, the mother could restrain her curiosity no longer and begged the knight to reveal his secrets to her. In great sorrow he was compelled by destiny to bid them both farewell, and sailed away into the sunset in the same small boat drawn by the same white swan.
At the visitation of London in 1633/34 a pedigree of Blachford was recorded. The Arms are the same as those above. This is obviously the Paternal Coat, but in this instance it impales another coat quarterly of twelve. Two crests are given. One is the swan as above; the second crest is a three tiered plume of ostrich feathers. The quartered coat of arms with the crest of ostrich feathers were the arms of the Moleynes (or Mollineu) family, the ancestors of Eleanor Waterton, wife of Richard Blachford, the third son of Richard Blachford of Dorchester. It combines the Arms of MOLEYNS, COURTE; MONTAGUE, MONTHERIER, and FRAMLINGHAM. This pedigree was collected in 1530, 1575, 1622, and 1634.

Richard's second son William, merchant of Dorchester, was admitted to the company of freemen on the fourteenth of November, 1621. Books in the Dorchester library in 1631 included these given by Mr. William Blachford :
Saliani Annales Vol. 3
Centurise Magdeburgh Vol. 3
Bradwardinus de Causa Dej.
Zan chij Opera Vol. 3

A fourth son, Henry, married Maria (Mary) Bird at Chichester on the 30th October, 1629. Henry appears to have grown apart from the rest of the Dorchester family as there is no mention of his brothers in his will, although he does mention his mother Frances, for whom he showed great affection.

He settled in Chichester after his marriage, and died in 1646, owning considerable property including:
    "Premises called Or Known by the name of the Signe of the Swan in the City of Chichester", "Capital Messuage or Tenement and garden in the South Street of the City" "The lane leading from the Southgate to the Eastgate under the walls of the City" and "West lands and Tenements in West Stoke in Surrey".
Henry also owned Broile Farm near the City.

Richard's eldest son John was elected a Capital Burgess of the Dorchester Borough Council on the third of January, 1623. Francis Dashwood, son of Edmund Dashwood mercer, was apprenticed for eight years to John Blachford merchant of Dorchester on the sixth of December, 1625. An extract from a letter when Edmund Dashwood was Mayor, to the Mayor of Oxon reads
    "concerning the merchants of this town, none of them have any trade with Newfoundland, Verginea, or Spayne, save only Mr. John Blachford who is now in London."
Council minutes, 28th August, 1639.
    "In regards to Mr, John Blachford of the said Borough hath been absent from this Borough and lived in France for about three years, whereby he could be of no service in the place where he was chosen. It is ordered that a new choice shall be made of another Capital Burgess in his place on Wednesday 3rd, September next."
4th September 1639
    "John Bushrode versus John Blachford who has resided in France for three years past" (John Bushrode elected)
From the Charter of Charles I, 29/9/1629
    "A Major shall be chose from the more honest and discreet Burgesses"
Richard and John Blachford were among the first fifteen Capital Burgesses, and Richard was one the first six Aldermen. Thomas Blachford was one of the first twenty four members of the Common Council. On August 8th, 1629 the Council received the following directive:

    "Where as I have received a commission of rebellion, a writ of assistance, and another writ upon the statue of Northampton to disarm divers persons which are in the said commission of rebellion. These are therefore to will and require you whose names are here under written, and twenty other more sufficient persons, house holders and inhabitants of the town of Dorchester which under my under sheriff shall and loth nominate, appoint, and warn, to come and appear personally before me at the sign of the Lion in Shaftbury within this county on Wednesday next the twelth (sic.) day of this month of August, by two of the clock in the afternoon of the same days at the farthest time, and there be ready with your necessary and sufficient arms, to attend and be assisting unto me in all things diligently as becometh you and every of you according unto the said writs and my command on that behalf. Where of fail you not as you tender his Majesty's Service, and will answer the contrary at your uttermost peril . Given under my hand and seal this eight day of August Ano 5 Reg's Caroli (1629)"
Thomas Still, Vie. Reinoldo Knapton (under sheriff) Richard Blachford (merchant) and William Whiteway junior (merchant) 'Bailiffes' of the town of Dorchester , or one of them to come. Henry Maber (clothier) ' Constable', Denys Bond (merchant) John Perkins (merchant) Joseph Paty (clothier) William Paty (clothier) ...etc. Thirty four more names follow.

December 23rd, 1629
    "This day a commission was granted by the Mayor and company unto Mr. William Derby, Mr. John Hill, Mr. John Blachford, and Mr. Robert Blake, under the new Town seal, for the petitioning of the Privy Council about the privileges of the Town concerning musters."
September 22nd, 1629
    "The document appointing Sir Francis Ashley as Recorder, was signed by (inter alia) Henry Whittell and Richard Blachford (justices)"
and on October 6th, 1629
    "The company of freemen chose Mr. Richard Blachford and others as assistants to the governor"
In November 1630, the corporation decided to purchase the rectory at Seaton and Beer in Devonshire. John White the Rector of Holy Trinity was the active mover in raising a sum of about £1,500, to be invested as an endowment for the minister of All Saints' and the assistant minister of St. Peter's, and with this, the Parsonage of Seaton and Beer was bought. £100 was given by Mr. John Blachford, a Magistrate of the town. The documents relating to the transaction included a lease of twenty one years from William Fry to Richard Blachford (merchant) ....John Hill (iremonger) and Richard

Savage (draper) of Dorchester and dated October, 1630. One of the beneficiaries from the profits of the estate at Seaton was a Mr. Benn, minister of All Saints' until 1643. The property was sold in 1648 when Richard Blachford was Mayor.

Dorchester was notorious for its disloyalty during the Civil War: (Clarendon says)
    "A place more entirely dis-affected to the King England had not. It was the magazine from whence the other places were supplied with the principals of rebellion, and was a considerable town and the seat of great malignity."
The town was early fortified against the King by the leaders of the republican faction. The fortifications were begun on July 20th, 1642, and carried on with the greatest activity until May 1643. Several bulwarks and forts were erected, a fort and platform at the South gate, a platform for ordinance at the West gate, works and a court of guard at the East gate, and works at the North gate, at the Priory, and at Maenbury. The Civil War began in 1642 and Dorchester was strongly Parliamentarian; though, despite its fortifications, it quickly fell to Royalist forces under Lord Carnarvon. It was soon recaptured for Parliament by Colonel Sydenham in July 1644. Oliver Cromwell was there in March 1645.

In the days of Richard Blachford.

Link to explanation of Map

Individual family records during these troubled years of mistrust, confusion and bloodshed are almost non-existent, but Richard's part in the Civil War is recorded in the minute books of the Dorset Standing Committee. These minute books record the Parliamentary Standing Committee which sat in Dorset during the civil war and interregnum. They range from 23rd. September 1646 to May the 8th 1650, and are probably the only examples of these books of the county committees throughout the Kingdom which have survived to the present day. The functions of the Committee were of a comprehensive character, comprising matters Civil, Military, and Ecclesiastical.

(Fol.63. 17th November, 1646, Dorchester)
    "Thomas Hayter......where as it appeareth that Captain Richard Blachford did for two years since take up thirty yards of Broad cloth of one Thomas Hayter a clothier by order of the committee, It is ordered that the treasurer of this county pay unto said Thomas Hayter the sum of six pounds for the thirty yards of cloth aforesaid."
(Fol. 103. 29th December, 1646, Dorchester)
    "William Edmonds.....It is ordered that you pay unto William Edmonds of Woolbridge, clothier, the sum of seven pounds for fourty (sic.) yards of broad cloth which the said Edmonds delivered to Captain Richard Blachford at the appointment of the committee of this county, for the clothing of his soldiers in February 1644."
(To the treasurer Mr. Richard Burie)
(Fol. 38. 13th March, 1647, Dorchester)
    "John Covett......It is ordered that the treasurer pay unto John Covett the sum of twenty pounds as soon as he is able, being for one grey mare, and one horse with saddle and armes employed in the parliamentary service, as by several certificates under the hands of captain Edward Masters and captain Richard Blachford appeareth, and in the mean time the public faith of the Kingdom is for security unto the said John Covett engaged for the payment of the said sum of twenty pounds."
Richard was elected Mayor of Dorchester in 1647. In the following year the Civil War ended and Oliver Cromwell, on the 26th of December, decided to push through the trial of Charles I. On the 30th of January, 1649, Charles was executed. Oliver Cromwell never had the slightest doubt that the decision to put the King to death for war guilt was the right one. He told the General council of Officers at Whitehall in March, 1643
    "God hath brought the war to an issue and given you great fruit of that war, to wit — the execution of exemplary justice upon the prime leader of all this quarrel."
Richard Blachford died in 1652, the monarchy was re-established in 1660, and by 1681 the Blachford influence in Dorchester was apparently at an end. An address to King Charles II, in August of that year, contained over three hundred names of Dorchester people, and there was not a Blachford among them.

FORDINGBRIDGE `Sand Hill and Over Burgate'

The free hold Manor of Sand Hill belonged to Richard Moleyns, who died in 1507. Henry Moleyns who held the manor in 1562, apparently left it to two granddaughters; Anne, the wife of John Somers, and Joan, the wife of Robert Waterton, to whom it belonged in 1612. Joan who succeeded to the whole of the Manor and left two daughters (co-heiresses). One became the wife of Thomas Urrey and the other — Eleanor Waterton — married Richard Blachford, merchant of London and Dorchester, at Fordingbridge in Hampshire on the 16th August, 1623. This Richard was the third son of Richard Blachford, Mayor of Dorchester in 1647.

Richard and Eleanor appear to have lived most of their married life in London, Their first born — Robert — was baptised in the Parish Church of St. Michael Bassishaw in London, on the 21st of January 1625, as was his brother Richard on the 12th of September, 1627, and his sister Eleanor on the 20th of November, 1628. There were two more daughters, Frances, who married Stephen March of Newport in the Isle of Wight, and Margery. A third son Walterton probably died soon after birth, as he was buried at Newport in the Island on the 13th of March, 1635. Richard the father died in the same year (1635) and his widow Eleanor must have returned to Newport at that time. Eleanor re-married a Thomas Cesar of Southampton at Newport on the 19th of March, 1636. Robert Watterton of Newport, Isle of Wight, gentleman, being sick of body, of great age, feeble and weak, made his will. He left his grandson Robert, (son of Robert and Eleanor) "my farm at Over Burgate with the appurtenances within the parish of Fordingbridge in the County of Dorset....... To my grandson Richard Blachford (brother of Robert) my stone house with the appurtenances at the east in the Parish of Wippingham, Isle of Wight."

His grandchild Frances Blachford (sister of Robert and Richard) was also a beneficiary of the will. "To Eleanor Cesar (previously Blachford) my only daughter my sole and my whole heir and executrix...... Sand Hill Manor in the parish of Fordingbridge in the County of Dorset."

Thus the Blachford family inherited and acquired the estates of Sand Hill and Over Burgate from the Wattertons of the Isle of Wight. Robert Blachford (born 1625) married Elizabeth Wright of Winchester and together they raised a large family. Robert the eldest son, followed by sisters Elizabeth, Eleanor, Mary, Anne, Sarah, Hannah, Maud, and last but by no means least, Daniel, the youngest son. During the Civil War, those who supported King Charles I's cause, had their estates compounded or had to pay fines to the government. Unlike his grandfather, Richard of Dorchester, Robert was a Royalist and appeared before the commissioners for sequestration and sale of the estates of the Royalist nobility and gentry. He appeared on the second count for those Royalists permitted to compound on payment of a fine. At the hearing Robert was described as a gentleman of Over Burgate in the county of Southampton. He appeared before the commissioners on the 13th of May, 1651, and made reference to three properties. He referred to a conveyance made to him about four years previously upon his marriage, of a farm called Over Burgate in the parish of Fordingbridge in the county of Southampton. The farm was settled on him for life; remainder to his wife for life; remainder to their heirs to be begotten; remainder to his brother Richard Blachford and his heirs and assigns forever. The estate was worth about seventy pounds per year according to the compounder, Robert Blachford.

Robert wished to compound for the moity of the manor at Sandhill at Fordingbridge, and to certain old rents in the parish of Durston in Somerset belonging to the manor of cross; and likewise to a house in Salisbury in the occupation of Francis Swanson esquire, which premises he claims on equitable interest..... "but cannot clearly make out what the name is". Robert appeared again on the 12th of August in the same year, stating that the Salisbury house was now valued at six pounds per year, and the farm at Fordingbridge was worth eighty pounds a year. The old rents in the manor of Cross were now worth two pounds ten shillings, but after three lives (i.e. after the three people who appeared on the lease as lease-holders had died) it would be worth seven pounds ten shillings more per year. It is presumed that Robert paid the fines imposed and left the family cupboard bare, His wife Elizabeth (Wright) died and was buried at Fordingbridge on the 12th of June, 1663.

Robert re-married (Anne) and spent his last years in Newport, Isle of Wight. He made his will on the seventh day of October 1670 and died soon after. Over Burgate and Sandhill Manor it would appear were left in trust to be passed to the son and heir. Due to the Civil War and the ensuing it became necessary to dispose of the property, This necessitated a legal document to Bar entail (that is to cancel a previous deed leaving everything including debts to one particular heir). Robert of Sandhill and his son and heir Robert Blachford of New Inn Middlesex both signed the deed. This enabled Robert of Sandhill and his heirs to sell the estates. Robert Blachford of New Inn, Middlesex, the son and heir, succeeded to Sandhill Manor and Over Burgate, and with his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Mann of Merstone in the Isle of Wight, took up residence at Sandhill. Elizabeth inherited the estates of Osborne and Barton in the island from her grandfather Eustace Mann.

Robert and Elizabeth had six children according to an old family tree, but there were others who did not survive, the Fordingbridge parish records show that Elizabeth, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth of Sanhill Manor, was baptised 22nd November, 1676, but on the 2nd of December her name appears in the burial register. A custom of these times, confusing to present day researchers — on the 25th of April, 1678 the baptism of another Elizabeth, also daughter of Robert and Elizabeth of Sandhill is recorded. When a child died within a time of birth, it's name was often given to the next child of the same sex to be born.. This happened several times in this family, as no doubt it did in many others. Child mortality was high, as indeed was the birth rate. The surviving children of Robert and Elizabeth were Robert born 1673, Daniel born 1675, Elizabeth born 1678, George born 1681, John born 1684 and Jane born 1685. On October 26th of the same year, Elizabeth wife of Robert Blachford was buried in Fordingbridge. Left with a young family to raise, Robert soon remarried (Mary) probably an older woman to care for the children. Mary died within ten years and was buried. at Fordingbridge on the 3rd of October, 1695 `in linen'. This would probably account for young John being sent off to London at the age of sixteen to serve an apprenticeship with John Cartlitch, (Gold Smith.).

Until about the middle of the reign of King Charles H. it was the custom from ancient times to bury the dead in linen shrouds which were often of a highly ornamental character and very costly. (The custom probably had its origin in the gospels. Joseph of Aramathea took the body of Jesus from the Cross and wrapped it in linen). In 1678 in order to reduce the importing of linen from overseas a law forbidding burial in anything but a WOOLEN shroud was passed by parliament, incurring a fine of five pounds for evasion. Church wardens in every parish had to provide themselves with a copy of the act, and keep a book in which all burials with an affidavit for each sworn before a justice were entered and taken every year to the nearest sessions. The form of affidavit for `Mary' would have read:-
    " Be it remembered that on the third day of October 1695 at Fordingbridge. I being a credible person loth make oath that `Mary Blachford' late of Fordingbridge was not putin, wrapped on wound up, or buried in, any shirt, shift, sheet or shroud made or mingled with flay, hemp, silk, hair, gold or silver, or any other that what is made of sheeps wool only. or in any coffin lined or faced with any cloth, stuff, or any other thing what so ever, made or mingled with flay, hemp, silk, hair, gold, or silver , or any other materials but sheeps wool only."
    Sworn before me, one of his Signed (by a justice of the peace) Majesties justices of the peace.
Mary, however, was not buried in wool but in a linen shroud. So one has to presume that the family paid the fine of five pounds to the local justices.

When researching these early records the date shown can vary by a year either way. Early church records were computed from March 25th (the annunciation of the blessed Virgin, or `Lady Day') to the same day of the following year. Thus the first three months of each year were recorded in the previous year. In 1752 the New Year began on January 1st and has remained so.

Sandhill Manor Fordingbridge
also known as Sandle Manor

The son of Robert and Elizabeth Mann, Major Robert Blachford and his wife (Anne Bridges) now living at Osborne in the Isle of Wight, sold Sandle (Sandhill Manor) and the manor of Upper Burgate at Fordingbridge to Thomas Warre in 1702. From about 1960 onwards Sandle Manor, like so many large and ancient houses became a preparatory boarding school for boys and girls.

Several member of the Blackford family visited Sandle in June of 1986 when the gardens were opened to the public in aid of charity. It is a beautiful house surrounded by extensive grounds ablaze with the colour of rhododendrons and azaleas. The old entrance to the estate is though huge Iron gates set in a semi circular brick wall. The drive winds though woodland and fields for three quarters of a mile to the house, passing a huge walled garden with the remains of very large greenhouses and cold frames clearly visible; and on through an extensive Orchard to the stables and coach house. The Headmaster and his wife were living in the converted coach house, but much of the original house still survives. As we were descendants of the early owners of the estate we were given the V.I.P. treatment by the Headmaster and his staff. In return for such concern and understanding we unanimously agreed to purchase a silver cup for competition within the school. It will be known as the Blachford cup and will be a perpetual trophy competed for annually, the winner keeping a replica or money voucher.

Sandhill Manor Fordingbridge
also known as Sandle Manor

NOTE:- 2 more pictures to be added
John Blachford born 1682, the fourth son of Captain Robert Blachford and Elizabeth (nee Mann) of Sandhill Manor, was baptised at Fordingbridge on 18th April, 1684. At the age of eighteen John was sent to London, a long and tiresome journey by coach, where he was probably met by relatives, who as we already know were established in the trade and commerce of the in the city. In the apprenticeship register of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths of the City of London, this entry appears :-

"March 17th, 1700, Memorand that I, John Blachford, son of Robert Blachford of Fordingbridge in the County of Southampton, Gent, Do put myself Apprentice to John Carlitch citizen and Goldsmith of London, for the term of seven years from this day". signed, John Blachford.

John prospered in his profession and gained his `freedom by service' on the 16th March, 1710; a period much longer than the seven years he envisaged. The Company has no record that he ever registered a makers mark at the Assay office, so probably he was not a working goldsmith in his own right, but became a retailer of precious metals.

At this time he lived in Silver Street not far from Goldsmith's Hall where the headquarters of the worshipful Company still stands. In 1744 he became Prime Warden of the Goldsmith's Company, the most highly respected position among the members of his craft. In the meantime John had been taking an active interest in Civic affairs, and on the 9th May, 1743 he was elected Alderman for the Cripplegate ward of London. He served as a Sheriff in 1745/46 and his name appeared with those of the other Aldermen on the dedication panel of John Rocque's map of London published in 1746 [see]. On the 18th of August 1746, John was one of the Sheriffs present at the executions of Lord Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino (a fact that appears to be out of keeping with John's professed sympathies with the Jacobite cause). The executions took place on Tower Hill, and the instrument used was the axe. Another active Jacobite, Lord Lovat, was then in the Tower awaiting trial, and his execution in 1747 was the last performed by that method in this country.

John was not the only City Alderman who favoured the Jacobites, and he associated in particular with five others whose names also appear in the dedication panel, and who all became Lord Mayor (William Benn, Sir Henry Marshall, Thomas Rawlinson, Robert Alsop, and Edward Ironside). In 1728 John bought the Manor of Bowcombe near Carrisbrooke in the Isle of Wight, and in 1746 he and his friends named above assembled at Bowcombe, and had their portraits painted by Thomas Hudson (a well known artist of the time) seated round a table drinking wine from long stemmed Jacobite glasses; doubtless the occasion included drinking of a toast to the young pretender across the sea. The painting, a very large one, which became known as Benns' Club, was presented by John to the Goldmsiths Company in 1752. It hangs to this day just inside the main door of Goldsmiths Hall in Foster Lane, where it fills one wall of the entrance hail, and may be seen by any visitor.

Bowcombe or Beaucombe; the name means a pleasant valley, was the old name of Carrisbrooke Parish. Bowcombe Manor lies on the south east side of Bowcombe Down amidst the range of hills to the west of the Medina river. To the north east is Clatterford pleasantly situated within the shadow of Carrisbrooke Castle near Lukely Brook and the mill race. Bowcombe Down, its sides covered with the trees of Row-ridge and Monkham in the west, and Bowcombe woods to the east, with its ancient road track the site of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and Tumuli, is a magnificent walking ground.

To return to London — in 1749 Sir Samuel Pennant became Lord Mayor. His name appears above John's on John Rocque's commemoration list. One of the Lord Mayor's duties was to preside over the Court, sitting in the Sessions House, next door to Newgate Prison over against Fleet Lane in the Old Bailey. In earlier times trials had been held in the Prison itself, but it was notoriously an insanitary place and jail fever had carried off many prisoners and Court officials, In 1750 jail fever (now identified as typhus) struck again, having been brought into court by prisoners, and as a result the Lord Mayor, two judges, an Alderman, an under sheriff, and fifty or sixty court officials died. John Blachford was made Lord Mayor for the remainder of that year.

Wednesday 23rd May, 1750
At a court of Hustings held at Guildhall for electing a Lord Mayor for the remainder of this year in room of Sir Samuel Pennant deceased, Sir John Barnard, father of the City in the chair. John Blachford and Francis Cockayne esq. were returned by the common hall to the court of Aldermen, who chose John Blachford esq. After this the Lord Mayor elect entertained the court of Aldermen at the Goldsmiths Hall where he keeps his Mayoralty, and at eight o'clock in the evening he was presented by the court of Aldermen to the Lord Chancellor at Powis House, who approved of their choice.

Friday 25th May, 1750
The new Lord Mayor who was sworn in at Westminster, to which he went in the City Barge attended only by the Goldsmith Barge. The ceremony was deliberately low key in respect to the tragic death of his predecessor.

There were no formal property qualifications for Lord Mayors at that time, but they were almost without exception men of wealth, and they were expected to hold property to the value of at least £ 15,000. City Aldermen were frequently connected with the aristocracy or were bankers, directors of moneyed companies or large holders of Government stock. In February of 1739/40, John had been elected a governor of the Foundling Hospital recently established in Lamb's Counduit fields by captain Thomas Coram as a home for exposed and deserted children. John became a governor of Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, and in the elected President's absence abroad, was made temporary President on the 13th of June, 1751. When the elected president died, John was elected president of the hospital on the 8th of February, 1754, and remained so until his death. His name appears with others inscribed on panels in the great hall of the hospital as having donated £200 towards the cost of new building carried out around the middle of the century. Those giving £50 or more were made governors.

Monday the 14th July, 1755
A jury of Freemen of the company of Goldsmiths of which Mr. Alderman Blachford was foreman, met at Goldsmiths hall to make an assay or trial of the pix, or standard coin of the nation, (coined in the Tower of London between 1750 and that day) and went from thence to Whitehall to make their report to the Lord Chancellor ... on which occasion several Lords of the Council and chief officers of the state were present. The Lord Chancellor, having given an excellent charge to the jury, withdrew with the rest of the Lords. Upon the trail the jury found all the coins in weight and fineness perfect standard and reported them so accordingly.

John held property during his lifetime in London, Bowcombe in the Isle of Wight, Northaw in Hertfordshire, and the lease of a small holding called Newshay in the Manor of Hartgrove near Sixpenny Handley in Dorsetshire.

(From the manorial records of Hartgrove Manor) Copy holders of Newshay:

First copyholder (25.4.1699-1709) Robert Blachford of Sandhill
Second copyholder (1709-1709) Daniel Blachford of Wilton
Third copyholder (1729-1759) John Blachford (Alderman) of London
Fourth copyholder (1753-) John Blachford (farmer) of Shaftesbury

There is an old farm at Hartgrove (otherwise Black Venn) in the Fontwell Magna parish, still known as Blachford farm. Probably the farm of John Blachford the farmer of Shaftesbury. The last years of John Blachford, Goldsmith, and Lord Mayor of London were lived at NORTHAW where he eventually passed peacefully away. Samuel Gregory, in his notes which are in the Guild Hall Library, reported that in the centre aisle towards the west end of Northaw church in Hertfordshire was a flat grey stone which he saw on the 26th of February, 1840, bearing this inscription:-

Here lie the remains
John Blachford esq.
Citizen and Goldsmith of London
late Alderman of Cripplegate Ward
President of St. Bartholomew's Hospital
who, having successively enjoyed
the supreme offices in that great City
filled them all with dignity and honour
equalled by few, excelled by none.
He died in the Parish
universally lamented
27th September A.D. 1759
in the 77th year of his age.

John Blachford's tombstone can no longer be seen in the church at Northaw. It may have been removed when the church was damaged by fire, and rebuilt in 1881. Where is it now, if it still exists, is not known.


The Manor of Osborne (East Bourne or Eastern Waters) is modem compared to many on the Island. The first owner was a Bowerman. It passed by marriage to the Arrays and was then purchased by Lord Lovibond in the reign of Edward VI. The house was a Tudor mansion, and the massive Bembridge limestone buttressed walls of the cellars are still in existence. Eustace Mann bought Osborne in 1630, and several years later he added Merstone Manor to his possessions. Elizabeth Mann, the sole heiress to the estates, married Robert Blachford of Sandhill Manor near Fordingbridge in Hampshire. Major Robert Blachford, their son and heir, succeeded to Osborne and Merstone Manors.

Eustace Mann was a strong adherent of King Charles I. He is said to have been much alarmed at the depredations of the Parliamentarians, and decided to bury a large sum of money in a copse at Osborne, at a spot he unfortunately forgot to mark. Whether this was so or not, a copse to the east of the house adjoining Barton Wood is known as `Money Copice'. At the Restoration, Mann obtained a grant from the Crown of all waifs, strays, wrecks, and treasure trove, and the privilege of free warren for the Manor of Osborne, The money has never been found. Eustace Mann gave the fine 17th century communion service (silver) to Newport Church, part of it in 1680, and the remainder at the end of the century, probably at about 1698 as it is stamped with the figure of Britannia, the standard mark for silver adopted 1697. His son John Mann, who endowed the schools at Arreton, and left a large sum of money in charities (Mann's gifts as they are called), died in 1705 and the estates of Osborne and Merston became the property of the Blachford family.

Robert Blachford of Osborne, son of Robert and Elizabeth of Sandle Manor, and the eldest brother of John, Lord Mayor of London, was born or baptised on the 26th of June, 1673, and married Anne, daughter of Marshal Brydges of Tibberton, in Herefordshire, on January 7th, 1693 at Madley in Herefordshire. There were three surviving sons of this marriage, Robert Blachford of Merstone, John Blachford of Bombay, and Brydges Blachford of Osborne. Robert and John are the subject of ensuing chapters. Meanwhile Brydges of Osborne married Anne, daughter of Robert Pope. They had a large family, they were John, William, and Robert, who all died in infancy.

The eldest surviving son was Robert Pope Blachford born 19th April, 1742. He married Winifred, daughter of Sir Fitz William Barrrington, Bart. of Swainston in the parish of Calbourne. She was born in 1754, twelve years his junior. Robert Pope Blachford demolished the old Tudor house and built a Georgian mansion in its place. We are fortunate to have a painting of this house which was destroyed by Queen Victoria when the present Osborne House was built. On the 21st of August, 1766, Lovelace Bigg (Wither) of Manydown, married his second wife Margaret Blachford, daughter of Bridges Blachford esq. of Osborne in the Isle of Wight, and younger sister of Robert Pope Blachford. Margaret brought a dowry of £3,000 and Lovelace settled upon her a jointure of £300 out of the estates in Wiltshire and from house property in Pangbourne (Berkshire).

In the summer and autumn of 1767, Lovelace and Margaret, with her brother Robert Pope Blachford and his wife Winifred (nee Barrington) made a driving tour through England to the north. The journey took them through Buckinghamshire, the edge of Oxfordshire, and the greater part of Warwickshire. Lovelace Bigg, in a series of well-written letters to his father, describes the journey. At Stowe, he says "Lord Temple has added much to his uncle's plan". They drove on through Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire. At Manchester the Duke of Bridgewater's canal, thirty miles long, seems to have impressed them greatly as a vast undertaking especially considered as the work of one man. "He has two objects (1) to convey his coal to Manchester, (2) to extend his cut to the river near Liverpool. He sells coal to the poor at 31/2 pence a hundred." The travellers admired the Peak District, and Lovelace calls Matlock "a little public place in a romantic scene...Chattesworth is shamefully neglected, having only the outside of a princely house.....Buxton wells are I presume of great service in many cases, otherwise they would not be frequented. The place is paltry, it rains every day all year round, and is very cold." They stayed at York, saw Castle Howard, and made the acquaintance of Lord Rockingham, who, `appears as quite a king in his own country, is independent of party and much respected'."

They went via Harrogate and Ripon to Scarborough, where the ladies remained for the bathing, while Mr. Bigg and Mr. Blachford continued their journey north to Carlisle and Edinburgh where they stayed for some time. Writing on the eve of the return home from Scarborough, October 20th, 1767, Lovelace says "the Duke of Yorks death (George III's eldest brother) has occasioned some delay to our return. Wishing to join in the general mourning as soon as we can, we sent to town for a trunk we had packed up lest such an accident should happen, which meets us at York, when all our coloured things go to London by wagon, and we, properly arrayed in sables, proceed southward, making Worksop, Nottingham, Burleight House, (which he later describes as a superb pile) Cambridge, Lord Byron's at Newstead Abbey, and Belvoir Castle on our way."

The tour ended where it began, namely at Boswell Court, Lovelace Biggs' house in Middlesex. Lovelace Biggs' wife Margaret Blachford died at Chilton Folliat on the 27th of December, 1784, leaving two sons and seven daughters. Many glimpses of life with the Biggs family at Manydown between 1796 and 1799 are to be found in the letters of Jane Austen, whose father was Rector of Steventon, two and a half miles distant. The authoress was evidently very much at home with the party at Manydown where she frequently stayed, and was especially intimate with Catherine and Alethea who were about her own age.

Dances and social gatherings were often held at the house where many eligible young men were entertained. The young ladies of the set consisted of the Biggs sisters, the Lefroy girls, Jane Austen, and Jane Blachford the daughter of Robert Pope Blachford of Osborne in the Isle of Wight and cousin of the Biggs girls. One of Jane Austen's often quoted and amusing comments is on the subject of a wedding. She wrote to Anna Lefroy in 1814 "the latter (Alethea Bigg) writes to me word that Miss Blachford is married, but I have never seen it in the papers, and one may as well be single if the wedding is not to be in print."

Jane Blachford married Philip Williams (1780-1843), eldest son of the Reverend Philip Williams (1742-1830), Rector of Compton, and a Fellow of Winchester College for fifty years. Jane's father, Robert Pope Blachford and Winifred, his wife, both died at Aix in France, and are both buried at Marseilles 1790. One wonders what ailment proved fatal to these two who were seeking health at Aix. When reading the novels of Jane Austen one is inclined to suspect her places and characters are based on the lives and homes and lifestyles of her friends and acquaintances; namely the Biggs family, the Lefroys, and the Blachfords of Osborne.

BARRINGTON POPE BLACHFORD the eldest son of Robert Pope Blachford and Winifred was born December 3rd, 1783. The Blachfords held Osborne, Barton, Bowcombe, Merstone, and the great tithes of Carisbrooke,besides several farms in the east of the Island. It was rumoured that Barrington's father left him Osborne free, and £40,000; but when he (Barrington) died, the property was much encumbered. He was a member of parliament for Newtown, Isle of Wight (a `rotten borough'). Barrington farmed at Barton, and a story is told, and it is a true one, that a 40-acre field at Barton produced 40 loads of wheat which were sold for £40 a load, which was paid for in sovereigns at the east medina mill on delivery. He was Lord of the Admiralty, and a FOUNDER MEMBER of the Royal Yacht Squadron.

In 1813 the Sub-Commissioners of Trinity House, with a view no doubt to encourage the professional seamen of the island, arranged to have a review of all Pilot vessels. The visitors and inhabitants of Cowes were highly gratified at the spectacle. This was followed by a Ball at "Aldred's Hotel" in east Cowes, and a dinner at which a select party of gentlemen dined together at the Marine hotel in west Cowes. It was at one of these convivial meetings following the procession of the Pilot boats, that the idea of a Yachting Club began to take shape. On the first of June, 1815, a body of gentlemen met at the Thatched House Tavern in St. James street in London, under the presidency of Lord Grantham, and decided to form a club. The following resolutions were entered into:

FIRST, That the club be called `THE YACHT CLUB'.
SECOND, That the following persons are the original members of the club. Then followed the names of the FOUNDER MEMBERS........ Viscount Ashbrook, Charles Aylmer esq., William Baring esq., the Earl of Belmore, captain Frederick Berkeley, BARRINGTON POPE BLACHFORD esq., the Marquis of Buckingham, Lord Cawdor, S. Challen esq., the Earl of Craven, Sir William Curtiss Bart. Viscount Deerhurst, F.N. Fazackerley, Viscount Fitz Harris, John Fitz Gerald esq., Lord Grantham, Charles Grant esq., Thomas Hallifax esq., the Hon. William Hare, Henry Herbert esq., Sir J. Cox Hippesley Bart, Viscount Kirkwall, Thomas Lewin esq., John Lindegren esq., Lloyd of Marie esq., Reverend Charles North, Rt. Hon. Charles Nugent, the Hon. Charles Pelham, Lord Ponsonby, Sir Richard Puleston Bart, Harry Scott esq., Colonel Shedden, Thomas Asheton Smith esq., Sir Geo. Thomas Bart, Marquess Thomond, Earl of Uxbridge, Bayles Wardle esq., Sir Godrey Webster Bart, Joseph Weld esq., James Weld esq., Colonel Whatley, Owen Williams esq.

and that here after the qualifications to entitle a Gentleman to become a member be......the ownership of a vessel not under ten tons.

Each member upon payment of three guineas to the secretary and treasurer was entitled to two copies of the signal book, and was expected to provide himself with a set of flags according to the regulations contained there-in.

They paid Mr. Findlaison forty five pounds to print the first copies which were found to be based on a wrong system...... A committee was formed... and appointed to consider the matter... .They called on Sir Home Popham K.C.B. to assist in devising a new set. In practice they were also found wanting, clumsy, and inconvenient due to the number of flags employed. Eventually it was agreed that TWO FLAGS, TWO PENNANTS, and an ENSIGN was all that was necessary. All members were required to register the name, rig, tonnage and port of registry of his vessel with the secretary. BARRINGTON owned and sailed a Cutter of fifty two Tons named "SYBIL" and registered at Cowes. Unfortunately he got little pleasure from his new club as he died May 4th, 1816, the year following its inaugural meeting. His son Fitzroy Blachford died unmarried April 10th, 1840.

The Lady Isabella Blachford, widowed and with an unmarried daughter, her estates deep in debt, was in no position to oppose the Queen (Victoria) when she decided to buy the estates as a home and a retreat from the glare of public life for her and her growing family. According to the record, Lady Isabella asked for £30,000 for the house and the estate of one thousand acres. A price of £28,000 was tentatively agreed, with Lady Isabella still insisting she thought £30,000 was a fairer price. The Queen the dropped her offer to £26,000, less furniture and fittings, this was grudgingly accepted. It would appear that the furniture and fittings remained with the house, so one wonders `do the Royal family still owe the Blachfords £2,000 (plus interest accrued )?' Lady Isabella Blachford and her unmarried daughter Isabella Elizabeth both died at Hampton Court in `Grace and Favour' apartments granted by the Queen. One wonders, did the Queen have a guilty conscience through her harsh and demanding haggling with the stricken widow and assuaged her remorse by providing shelter for the remainder of the poor woman's life?

Lady Isabella Blachford was the sixth daughter of the third Duke of Grafton by his second wife Elizabeth, daughter of the Reverend Sir Richard Wrottesley Bart. The Grafton were the illegitimate offspring of King Charles and Barbara Villiers (Lady Castlemaine). Lady Isabella Blachford was born on 17th November, 1786, married Barrington Pope Blachford on
the 14th of August, 1812, and died in December 1866. From 1866 until after 1882, (and before 1890) the occupier of her house at 33 Berkeley Square, was a Miss Blachford, probably her daughter. But at all events, in 1905 no surviving posterity is recorded for Lady Isabella in the PLANTAGENET ROLL of the Blood Royal.


Robert, the eldest son of Robert and Anne (nee Brydges) of Osborne, was born in 1699 and died May 30th, 1729. There have been many rumours and much common talk of his early demise. Several letters that have not yet been deciphered, suggest that he was embroiled in some shady dealings, and fell foul of the authorities. Whether this has anything to do with his early death, we shall no doubt discover at some future date. Robert owned or controlled a shipping business, trading with Europe, West Africa, the West Indies, and America. In many letters from his Agent (T. Griffin) we have records of three of his ships, namely, the `Berwick', the `Port Mahoon' captain Arnold, and the `Diamond' captain Harry Anesley.

The ships did a round trip from England to West Africa, where they embarked slaves for Jamaica in the West Indies, then made the return voyage to England and Europe laden with sugar, casks of indigo, bags of ginger, and tons of mahogany log wood.

On the 1st of October, 1725 Mr. Griffin wrote to Robert:-
    "Sir, This waits on you to acquaint you that we are this evening arrived at Lowestoft roads on our way south to Harwich to repair a small damage that befell us in our most tempestuous passage. On Tuesday night it blowing a hurricane and we driving under bare poles, had like to have drove athwart a Dutch fishing Dogger Hause; but with much difficulty we got clear by just touching his quarter with our Lyon which went away and our bowsprit swept away his mizzen mast which thank God is all the damage, But had not this accident obliged me to put in to get a ferrule for a head, and to secure our bobstays (part of the cut water being gone) I must have put in to get her caulked, for both the desk and sides are very leaky, so that when the sea broke over us our pumps were continually at work, but with this ill fortune, one piece of good attended us, and that, we have but one place in the hold that is dry and that the bale goods were stowed there, so that they have took no damage, and the rest can hardly take any. I likewise send you for your information, that the charge of the English cargo amounts to £908.15.0. and the amount of our Dutch £1392.0.7. and if I can get time to copy the invoices, I will send them to you. I have got you half a dozen handkerchiefs which I shall send with a letter by the first opportunity. I think it will be by the Pilot (Johnson) when we get to the Downs. I have had time enough to dirty them this bad weather in order to make the pass the better. (customs)"

    By the end of the year the ship had completed a refit and repairs, was victualled and sailed for the Gambia (West Africa).
In a letter dated 23rd January, 1726. Griffin writes:-
    "You will see that we are now at Gilleyfree, about twelve leagues up the river Gambia (36 miles) and tomorrow in the mom I intend to weigh and go up twelve more to a place called Anchor wall. I have got aboard 25 slaves, and expect about 3 more down by our longboat from Geregia. I have obliged ye gentlemen so much who belong to `James Island' (the factory and fort for the Royal African Company) that they have assured me of the first refusal of the negroes they have to spare since their unfortunate blast (explosion) which I suppose is no news in England, this misfortune happening on ye second of November last. I have a prospect of some slaves teeth and wax at Anchor Wall which occasions my going up but I shall make no long stay there, but come down here and agree if possible with my good friends for the rest of my cargo, and the proceed to Sierra Leone.
    I have bought more slaves at Gilleyfree than ye other four sales put together, and thank God still bear the character of the fairest Trader."
Sierra Leone, March 27th, 1726 :-
    "Dear Sir, This waits on you to acquaint you that I am still in the land of the living, though I have been much disordered with an inflammation in my throat. I am passed all danger of death, and get strength and flesh every day. I likewise have growing hopes of getting money, though it is got slow. for I have picked up between 90 and 100 good slaves at Gambia and here, and no other ship has gone down the coast this six weeks. I shall heel, scrub, and tallow her boot-tops, which will take with other business, about three or four days. and then proceed down the coast. I find African voyages are not made so soon, as talked on. I long for an evenings chat with you, but must be content. In the days of sail, with the difficulties of provisioning ships for long voyages, to say nothing of the perils of storms and hurricanes, or clams that could last for weeks, disease and scurvy, every moment of the day and night fraught with danger of one sort or another, made a deep sea traders life hostile and unpredictably nerve wracking to say the least."
Carlisle Bay, November 7th, 1726.
    "My dear friend, I have just time with an uneasy mind and full of care to tell you that I have had great mortality aboard amongst both blacks and whites. for I have buried both Mates early in the voyage, and to my greater grief 58 slaves. I purchased 109 and sold one, so I have aboard but 150 which I doubt will make but a losing voyage unless our slaves bring a better price that I am informed they do at Jamaica. Necessity obliged me to put in here for provisions which I have got sufficiently, and am under sail for Jamaica, and am with great concern, and much truth."
Kingston, Jamaica, December 13th, 1726.
    "Dear Sir, After a most troublesome voyage, and a passage of fifteen weeks from the coast (west Africa) we arrived at Port Royale with 140 slaves on November 19th. Since our arrival 4 are dead, 110 sold and 34 more to be sold. I shall defer acquainting you with prices until our market is finished. We have buried out of the 200 (which was all we could purchase) 64, so I shall leave you to judge the rest and find our what I am afraid of and dare not name. I shall put off telling you the particulars of my voyage until we meet, which may be about April next, for I shall not get from hence this two months, cargo not being ready, and the ships leak to be stopped. As to news, the most agreeable I can tell is that `Harry Anseley' drinks to your health (captain of the DIAMOND). The melancholy is that the FLEET have buried 1,000 men at BASTIMENTOS, and have 1,000 more sick, so that here is a strong PRESS (press gangs looking for crews). Two, the DUNKIRK and NOTTINGHAM, are moored at Blewfields and cannot move for want of hands. The rest are here to get provisions and will sail as soon as possible. The DIAMOND will heave down first. I have got you some excellent Rum, and shall have some Mahogany. My best services waits on your good uncle and friends in HOLBOURN and the Isle of Wight."
Kingston, Jamaica, February 7th. 1727
    "...this comes to acquaint you that we have hove down, stopped our leak, and have begun to take in stores. Sugars are scarce, so that we cannot get them neer so fast as I could wish, and the market for the BLACK JACKS very bad so that we still have some refused slaves to dispose of We have ventured to WINDWARD, and to Hispaniola and the sloop is returned with about thirty per cent profit which helps a broken voyage a little. The papers advise that my uncle is dead and his will lost. I hope most heartily that it is not true, but if it is so, I should be glad of your services and early advice how it is when I arrive in England....."
After more delays and setbacks, Griffin eventually set sail for home at the end of March. On his arrival in England he went straight to Merstone to make his report, only to find that Robert and his uncle were travelling abroad.

July 25th 1727
    Dear Sir,
    I have just time to tell you that this afternoon we arrived in the Pool. I hope you enjoy good health, and that all our friends in the Island do the same. I beg that you'll forgive my humble service to them and accept the same from
    Dear Sir, Your most obedient,
    humble servant,
    T. Griffin
    London 3rd August 1727
    Dear Sir,I am favoured with yours and heartily glad to hear you do not find fault with my conduct in my voyage but am sorry I have so just reason to complain of our Factor at Jamaica and BookeKeeper at ..... but as its not proper for me to say more that they had like (from a mistake) made us lose ship and cargo but with a good deal of trouble and care thank God it is timely prevented I shall defer the rest until I see you.
    As to the affair of my Uncle I hope to get done what you seem to mention (the Bond) and that with good management will put me in a better way of life than I ever was, and it is better he has died when he did than keep me depending eighteen years more. When I went out you bespoke a puncheon of rum which I do not forget, though I did other things and I heartily beg pardon. I hope Nick Cooper brought you the laced head and handkerchiffs (sic.). If you want more rum le me know if you would have any more per next post. My best service to your sister and all friends in the Island and be assured I am
    Dear Sir
    Your most faithful obliged
    T. Griffin.
    York Buildings. August 29 1727
    Dear Sir,
    I had your favour wherein you mention a Hoy was to come from your neighbourhood but as I have never heard anything of him I imagine he laid aside his voyage or your letter, so should be glad of your further and speedy advice, whether you would have it remain in the hands of Mr. Richardson of Bear Key, or sent to your Uncles and ...... The reason I wish for speedy advice is our falling down the beginning of next week to Galeoons, and after a short stay there to the ..... and soon afterwards to proceed according to orders either for Siphead or directly for Giberalter though its talked we shall certainly come to Spitthead and I shall then do myself the pleasure of waiting on you.
    If I find I am not like to have the pleasure of seeing you I shall write a little to you about the affairs of the Mary Ann. At present every thing that regards her stands still our Ships Husband is sick and his bookskeeper lazy.
    Mr. Gray sends his hearty service and I beg you'll will make mine acceptable to your guests and believe me to be as I truly am
    Dear Sir
    Your faithful obliged
    T. Griffin.
    An Account of Goods brought home
    Tradeing Guns ..................................................... 234
    Musquetts............................................................ 11
    Knives12'/2 doz ....................................................12'/2 doz.
    Brass Kettles ........................................................ 31
    Old Sheets ............................................................208
    Zelotts, or Ps: of Silver ..........................................26

    Sold at Jamaica
    Red Pjains P.25.................................................... 25
    Ordinary Felt Hats .................................................60
    Cotton Romal l ......................................................20
    Silk Handkerchiffs ................................................ 5
    Tap seals.............................................................. 5
    Guinea Stuffs ....................................................... 7

    Brought Home but Seized
    Nickineas................................. . ...........................90
    Tap seals...............................................................38
    Guinea Stuffs ........................................................28
    Papper Braules ....................................................... 7
(The above invoice shows some of the items normally carried by Robert's fleet of merchant ships)
I wonder why some of the goods were seized ? Could it be there was an attempt to evade Customs Duty?

London, Sept 9th, 1727
    Dear Sir,
    I had the favour of your just now being this minute arrived from the Gib in Galeoons. I sent you by the Hoy the Puncheon of rum and cask of old Madeara, it should have been half a hogshead if no fraud but I'm afraid since Mr. Gray, your Uncle, and I fear dear Bridges have been cheated in theirs, as to quantity, I had agreed for a plank for you but Harry made me lose it not being able to go in time for it as to my part I brought none home the fault was our Jamaica factors. As to the affairs of the ship I can give you but satisfaction, only they begin to sell, but have not got off the Brad Arrow by reason Mr. Smallwood is sick so that the ship cannot be sold until that be adjusted. One piece of good news is that 15 hogshead more are arrived in the Neptune Capt. Winter upon account of Mary Ann. As to the old story setting our in Holland I observed the goods dear upon which the bookkeeper to Mr. Vane by name Lebemode told me that he supposed I knew that ten per cent was charged upon the cargo besides the costs and would not seem to be a stranger to that though I knew nothing of the matter. ...... hopes to have heard further but in my opinion they have charged 20 as I shall endeavour to prove tomorrow when we meet and compare my Invoice with theirs you shall then hear further. I am heartyly concerned that I have imbaresst you with people I like so little but shall show my great uneasiness by saying no more. My service to all friends with you Bob Holms and I have drank to your health twice. I am
    Dear Sir
    Your most faithful obliged Humble Servant
    T. Griffin
    Dear Sir,
    I could not amiss this opportunity of sending this to kiss your hands and enquire after your good health I should have sent with it something to encourage your drinking towards mine, but Mr. Grame, the bearer hereof will tell you sufficient reason why I could not. If sending anything to London would do I should be glad of your orders, but opportunities happen so seldom to the Island (and then perhaps I am not provided), that I am uneasy least you should think I forget. I assure you that I do not and in good time I shall certainly send your velvet which I am told you may want in a little time, whether true or not you nest know, but I could not hear who is to be that happy lady. ------ I should esteem it a very great favour if you would let me know how you proceed with Mr. Mainwarring and what is become of that cursed MaryAnn, a curse that you owe to me, and if you know anything of my other affairs for I have not one word from Mr. Gray, which makes me doubt that things go bad I must hear one time or other so sooner the better.
    I thank God I have no chickens spirit, but am able to meet adversity as becomes a man and a letter per post to Lisbon will scarce fail.
    We are in expectations of our new ship the Louisa were I am to follow my Captain. I beg you'll make my most humble service acceptable to Colon: the Holmeres, Sir William and Mr. Pophams family, likewise to honest Clem!, and John Urry Bedredickt and all other friend and believe that I am most sincerely,
    Dear Sir
    Your most obedient servant
    T. Griffin.
    Lisbon, October 2nd 1728 Abd. Gibralter.
Smuggling was rife in the eighteenth century. Many and varied were the ways to out wit the authorities. A successful operation paid far greater dividends than honest trading. We already have observed small time evasion of excise duty appertaining to the soiled lace handkerchiefs, and the odd keg of Rum and bottles of Madeira wine. In 1726 Smuggling shattered the lives of Robert of Merstone and some of his accomplices. R------ the captain of a Lugger was ordered to cruise off the south coast of the Isle of Wight and await the arrival of a fleet of heavily laden East Indiamen. At a pre-arranged signal he was to board and receive cargo from each of them. (seven in number)
Due to rough seas and strong winds he was only able to intercept two ships commanded by Captain Williamson and Captain Thwaites from whom he received a large quantity of Indian merchandise. He then sailed across the channel to the Isle of Guernsey where he delivered his cargo to D-----who re-packed the portion belonging to Robert Blachford of Merstone, and sent it to the Port of London. On arrival the cargo was transferred to another vessel. All goods were Customable but no duty was paid. On the 12th of June, 1726, the goods were surreptitiously landed at Radcliffe in the county of Middlesex.

The cargo consisted of 600 pieces of Indian silk, 200 pieces of chintz, 1,000 pieces of Indian muslin, 200 pieces of Indian calico, 3,600 lbs of coffee, 860 lbs of tea, all to the value of £8,000. Customs duty payable should have been £3,000 in all. A certain Mr. Bainbridge (warden of the fleet?) and apparently a very corrupt official, attempted to extort money from Robert in respect to the suspect cargo. Bainbridge was taken into custody of the Sgt. of Arms of the House of Commons, and eventually charged with "Iniquitous Practices"; and turning King's Evidence he implicated Robert and many others in an attempt to lessen his own involvement. Under normal circumstances, or, by what was then accepted as the "Gents issue", Robert could have paid the duty with a possible fine. But with Bainbridge in custody the whole affair became considerably more sinister, and Robert found himself on a very serious charge of `Importing from parts beyond the seas into this Kingdom of England, and to defraud the said Kingdom of excise duty and Taxes accordingly." Bainbridge based his accusations on evidence he received from one 'Boyse' who claimed he was present and overheard Robert and others discussing the venture.

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