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 through the port 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.
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).
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
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
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”
- “West lands and Tenements in West Stoke in Surrey”.
Henry also owned Broile Farm near the City of
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 doth 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, Vic. 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
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
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
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
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
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.
The Blachford Family of Dorchester is mentioned
in the book Fire from Heaven: Life in an English
Town in the Seventeenth Century (Paperback) by David Underdown
Synopsis of the book:Two hundred years before
Hardy disguised it as Casterbridge, Dorchester was a typical English
county town, of middling size and unremarkable achievements. But
on 6 August 1613 much of it was destroyed in a great conflagration,
which its inhabitants regarded as a 'fire from heaven', the catalyst
for the events described in this book. Over the next twenty years,
a time of increasing political and religious turmoil all over Europe,
Dorchester became the most religiously radical town in the kingdom.
The tolerant, paternalist Elizabethan town oligarchy was quickly
replaced by a group of men who had a vision of a godly community
in which power was to be exercised according to religious commitment
rather than wealth or rank. One of this book's most remarkable achievements
is the re-creation, with an intimacy unique for an English community
so distant from our own, of the lives of those who do not make it
into history books. We glimpse the ordinary men and women of the
town drinking and swearing, fornicating and repenting, triumphing
over their neighbours or languishing in prison, striving to live
up to the new ideals of their community or rejecting them with bitter
anger and mocking laughter. In it subtle exploration of human motives
and aspirations, in its brilliant and detailed reconstruction, this
book shows how much of the past we can recover when in the hands
of a master historian.