BLAKE, Francis (1638-1718), of Ford Castle, Northumb.
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Family and Education
bap. 17 Oct. 1638, 2nd s. of Francis Blake (d.1693) of Highgate, Mdx. and Cogges, Oxon., registrar of fines in the c.p. by 1646-d., by 1st w. Catherine, da. of Sir Valentine Browne of Croft, Lincs. m. 13 Feb. 1662, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Thomas Carr of Ford Castle, 1s. d.v.p. 7 da. Kntd. 27 Aug. 1689; suc. bro. in Oxon. estate 1695.1
J.p. Northumb. 1675-87, ?1689-d., Oxon. 1697-?d.; commr. for assessment, Northumb. 1677-80, Northumb. and Berwick 1689-90; dep. lt. Northumb. and Oxon. by 1701-?d.
Blake came from a minor Hampshire gentry family. His father inherited an office in the common pleas and served on the Middlesex militia commission from 1647 to March 1660, besides acting as a sequestrator in 1650. Through his mother, Blake had some connexion with Northumberland; her grandfather had served as treasurer and victualler of Berwick, and had represented the borough in 1571 and 1586. This presumably gave Blake the opportunity to conclude an exceptionally advantageous marriage. The Ford estate, which included several valuable collieries, had been the subject of much litigation, but with the aid of loans from his father and elder brother by 1673 he had been able to buy out the other coheirs. He was added to the Northumberland commission of the peace in 1675, though the 2nd Duke of Newcastle (Henry Cavendish) reported that he encouraged the disaffected and connived with the Scottish Covenanters. On the bench he was regarded as one of the faction led by (Sir) Ralph Delaval, but he was not removed until 1687.2
Blake was returned for Berwick, ten miles from Ford, at the general election of 1689. He became a moderately active Member of the Convention, with 31 committees and three recorded speeches. He was appointed to most of the anti-Papist committees, including that to prepare an address for stricter security on 18 June. On the same day he described Francis Wythens as steeped in the blood of Sir Thomas Armstrong. When the House showed little excitement over the arrest of Peregrine Osborne he declared: ‘I should be loath to go into Northumberland without this being decided; there would be no safety for me when I am at home’. He was added to the committees to consider the Lords’ proviso to the bill of rights and succession and to inquire into the delay in relieving Londonderry. On 13 July he was among those ordered to prepare reasons for a conference on Titus Oates. He was knighted during the recess, after which he was appointed to the committees to bring in a bill for tendering the new oaths of allegiance and supremacy, to inquire into the miscarriages of the war, and to consider a complaint from three informers. On 27 Nov. he reminded the House: ‘A Privy Councillor told us that what the King said in his closet was sent to King James in brandy bottles. You ought to examine those who manage affairs and are near business.’ Although Blake named William Blathwayte as the suspect, however, he failed to find a seconder and the debate passed off. He was listed as a supporter of the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, and after the Christmas recess he was added to the committee of inquiry into Armstrong’s murder.3
Blake was re-elected in 1690 and subsequently sat as knight of the shire as a court Whig. He died on 8 Jan. 1718, and was buried at Cogges, the only member of his family to enter Parliament. His heir was his grandson, Francis Delaval, who sat for Northumberland as a Whig from 1716 to 1722.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Gillian Hampson
- 1. Kensington Par. Reg. (Harl. Soc. Reg. xvi), 25, 31; Hist. Northumb. xi. 402; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. l), 181; Paroch. Colls. (Oxf. Rec. Soc. ii), 100.
- 2. VCH Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 210, CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 226; 1678, pp. 411-12, 434; Jan.-July 1683, p. 264; HMC 6th Rep. 180; Cal. Comm. Comp. 171, 576; Hist. Northumb. xi. 403-8; HMC Lords, i. 82.
- 3. Grey, ix. 343, 369, 459.
- 4. Paroch. Colls. 100.