Arms - Argent, a fret, gules
The Blake family of Galway descend from Sir Richard Caddell, a swarthy and resourceful knight who came to prominence in the Anglo-Norman enclave of Galway during the late 12th century. Over the next 300 years the Blakes became one of Galway's most influential Catholic families, regularly filling the offices of Mayor and Alderman. Sir Valentine Blake, 3rd Bart, was stripped of his property and died in prison following his failed defence of Galway from Cromwell's army. The family seat at Menlo Castle (also Menlough) was saved by Sir Valentine's brother Walter, a merchant in Suffolk who had made a fortune through wine and wool.
Sir Walter Blake, 6th Bart, was elected to the Patriot Parliament of James II in 1689 but subsequently defected and was reputedly the first catholic gentleman to join William III. His granddaughter Anne married the eccentric scientist Richard Kirwan. The 9th Baronet returned from a life in Bordeaux to live at Menlo in 1766. The 15th Baronet was an enthusiastic sportsmen and fought off a Pretender to the title. His son, the 16th Baronet, was a racing tipster for television while the title is now held by Charles Blake, 19th Baronet.
The Greens of Ballyvolane descend from the 10th Baronet's second son, Dominick Joseph Blake of Meelick House by his marriage to Mary Yelverton. Their grandson Charles served in the New Zealand army and married the heiress of the Whitalnd Abbey estate in Wales. Charles's brother Surgeon-Major Walter Blake married one of the Moriartys of Kerry and left two sons, Luttrell and Cecil. The latter married into the cutlery dynasty of Howell and was father to Major Tony Blake, who was killed during the Korean War, and to Joyce Green, grandmother to the brothers Justin, Sebastian and Adam Green. Joyce Green passed away in August 2014 aged 103.
The Blakes are one of the fourteen Tribes of Galway. (1) A prominent Catholic family, they have been settled in Galway since the 12th century. There are several theories as to who the first Blake in Ireland might have been, the truth being somewhat confounded by the repetition and alteration of vital names. Romantic legend claims the family descend from Sir Aplake, one of the gallant knights of King Arthur's round table. 'Ap-lake' is Welsh for 'the family on or by the lake'. (2) A more likely theory is that they descend from Sir Walter Caddel, a warrior of Norman-Welsh extraction who came to Ireland on board the same ship as Strongbow during the first Anglo-Norman migration in 1169. He is said to have married Marebella, eldest daughter of Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, and, 'after many exploits, built himself a castle at Menlo'. (3)
Sir Walter and Marebella had two sons. Their eldest son and heir, Walter de Caddle, married Arabella, daughter of Lord Vesey, Lord Justice of Ireland, and seated himself at the Nauls. The younger son Sir Richard Caddel was knighted in Cork Castle, by order of King John, circa 1185 and is deemed to be the patriarch of the Blake family. In 1185, in return for his military service, Sir Richard received a grant of the Castle and Lands of Kiltorroge, the Castle and four quarters of Ballimacroe, and the Town of Galway. A portrait of this Sir Richard is said to have hung over the mantelpiece of Menlo (Menlough) House as late as 1691. (4)
The most popular ancestor for the Blakes of Galway was Richard Caddell, presumably Sir Richard Caddel's descendent, better known as 'Richard Niger', or 'Richard the Dark' (aka Blake) on account of his complexion. Richard Niger married the heiress of Walter Caddell, a Welshman who had arrived in Galway in the 12th century. Richard apparently had no qualms about adopting his wife's name in order to acquire her fathers' fortune but it was his nickname that ultimately survived when the word 'Niger' was anglicised to 'Black' and thence to 'Blake'. The eldest son of the main branch of the Blake's - or 'The Blake's of Renvyle', as they were called by Martin Joseph Blake - would use the name 'Caddell', before or after 'Blake', for the next three hundred years. Richard Niger was knighted by Edward I in 1277 and became the first member of the family to bear arms.
In 1278, Richard Niger was granted the castle at Kiltorroge and the lands of Ballim'croe (now Carnmore) near Dunkellin in Co. Galway. In 1290, Richard was appointed Portreeve, or 'port warden', of the town of Galway by Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster in 1290. The town had been enclosed within a wall from 1270, becoming a lone outpost of English influence in the West. The origin of the place named 'Galway' ('Gaillimh' in Irish) is almost as uncertain as that of Blake. Among the ancient Irish, foreigners were called 'na Gall', hence the suggestion that Gaillimh was 'the place of the foreigners'. This makes sense in terms of Galway's origin as an Anglo-Norman settlement founded by the de Burgos in the 13th Century beside a ford on the River Corrib. (5)
Richard Niger was again appointed Portreeve in 1312. In both instances, his role would have been that of fiscal supervisor, much like a modern customs officer. In the latter tenure of office, he may have also acted as a representative of the people, ensuring their duties to the Mayor and community were fulfilled. This was an age in which Galway was rapidly evolving into an independent city-state with a merchant oligarchy that controlled and promoted trade contacts all over Europe. It traded in wine, spices, salt, animal products and fish. The wealth of its citizens was expressed in the many fine stone-faced buildings, most notably the Church of St. Nicholas of Myra (aka Santa Claus), started in 1320. From 1303 to 1306, Richard was also Sheriff of Connaught. (6) The resurgence of native Irish power obliged the Galway merchants to construct extra walls around the settlements in 1312. In 1315, the year of Edward the Bruce's ill-fated invasion of Ireland, Richard obtained a grant from Thomas de Hobrigge for the manor and lands of Kiltullagh, a former O'Kelly stronghold near Loughrea. Lady Eveline Blake (nee Lynch), his wife, was the mother of four sons, Walter, John, Nicholas, and Valentine.
Richard's son and heir, Walter Blake, was granted the Customs of Galway in December 1346, firmly establishing the Blakes as one of the most prominent families in Galway. In 1383, Walter's son, Henry Blake, Burgess of Galway, secured a lease for 20 years on the tithes of Doflyche, near Galway, from Dermot O'Connor, Abbot of Knockmoy. In 1388 he was indicted for treason for joining the rebellion of Sir William de Burgh, but he was pardoned following his return to the King's allegiance in 1395, just months before Galway became a Royal Borough, Henry's brother John Oge Blake secured a large grant of lands at Athenry from Philip Bermingham in 1391 and was appointed Provost of Athenry in 1395. John Oge's grandson, John Blake, was a burgess of Galway and married Juliana ffrench. In 1477, Galway recieved a visitation from a then unknown Christopher Columbus. He is said to have attended mass in St.Nicholas' Church, before making his way to Clonfert where Saint Brendan had been Abbot hundreds of years earlier. This was where St.Brendan's description of his voyage to North America was kept and Columbus wished to study it. Fifteen years later, Columbus would 'sail the ocean blue' and 'discover' America, although, of course, plenty of Vikings and Celts and Basque fishermen and lost tribes of Israel had already discovered it long before. (7) In December 1484 Richard III gave Galway mayoral status, transferring power from the de Burgo to the leading fourteen tribes or merchant families. John and Juliana's son, Valentine (or Vadyn) Blake, died in 1499 and was ancestor of the Blakes of Menlough Castle.
Above: Menlough Castle on Lough Corrib was built in 1569.
The second wife of Valentine Blake (d. 1499) was Eveline, daughter of Geoffrey Lynch. She gave him three sons and a daughter. The second son Sir Thomas Blake was Mayor of Galway in 1545. At the time, the city's layout was compact and well designed, with fourteen ramparts, including Shoemakers and Penrices Towers (recently excavated in the Eyre Square Centre), and a corresponding number of gates. There were also fourteen principal streets. Galway traded extensively with the continent, especially Spain, exporting local produce such as fish, wool and leather, and importing fruit, oil and most importantly wine. Under the rule of the 14 families, the city became extremely wealthy and prospered, as a city hospital (St. Brigid's) was built. Menlo Castle was built on the shore of Lough Corrib in 1569. In 1578, Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter for a town gaol in 1578, and a garrison was set to defend the town. Sir Thomas was again elected Mayor of Galway in 1562. He died on 20th January 1574, seised of the lands and castle of Ballimacroe (now Carnmore) near Galway, the property granted to his ancestor Richard Niger by Edward I. Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son Walter who married Juliana Browne, daughter of James FitzStephen Browne. Walter left three sons - Sir Valentine (from whom the Greens descend), Captain James (ancestor of Blake of Drum) (8) and Robert (sometime Mayor of Galway). (9)
Walter and Juliana Blake's eldest son Sir Valentine Blake (1560-1634) was a prominent player in Galway politics during the reigns of both James I and Charles I. He served as Mayor of Galway in both 1611 and 1630. (10) He also represented Galway as its Member of Parliament from 1613 to 1615. On 10th July 1622, he was created a Baronet of Ireland. His first wife Margaret was a daughter of Robocke ffrench, Mayor of Galway from 1582 to 1583. The ffrench family descended from Sir Hubert de Freyne who came to Ireland with Strongbow's Anglo-Norman force during the late 11th century and acquired large landholdings in Leinster. Robocke fFrench's father, John, known as 'Shane ne Sallin', made a fortune importing salt into Ireland and was a 'notable patron' of the Protestant church, serving as a Mayor of Galway from 1538 - 1539.
In 1628, Sir Valentine secured the mortgage on Kinlough Castle from Walter Burke, son of John of Shrule. On his death, Valentine's interest passed to his son Sir Thomas Blake. It seems that the Blakes never lived in Kinlough and Sir Thomas leased Kinlough to John Darcy in 1668. Sir Valentine also had the lease on Ballyally Castle which he sub-let to the widow of Maurice Cuffe, kinsman of the Earls of Desart. Margaret bore Sir Valentine several children, including his heir, Sir Thomas Blake, 2nd Bart. After Margaret's death, Sir Valentine married secondly Annabel, daughter of James Lynch; they had no surviving children.
Sir Thomas Blake, 2nd Bart, styled 'Blake of Menlo', was the eldest son of Sir Valentine Blake by his first wife Margaret ffrench. He succeeded his father at Menlo Castle in 1634 and, that same year, was elected MP for County Galway in the Irish Parliament. He retained the seat until 1635 and was returned again in 1637. His wife Julliane was a daughter of Geoffrey Browne, ancestor of the Barons Oranmore & Browne. (11) Sir Thomas died in 1642 leaving several sons and four daughters.
The eldest son Sir Valentine, 3rd Bat, of Menlough Castle, was MP for Co. Galway, alongside his father, in the Parliament of 1634-5. He was re-elected for the Parliament of 1639 - 1642, and served as Mayor of Galway in 1643. He was knighted in his grandfather's lifetime. His portrait can be found in the Journal of the Co. Galway Archaeological & Historical Society 1903-1904 Vol. III. In the summer of 1632 he married his cousin, Ellinor Lynch, third daughter of Sir Henry Lynch, 1st Bart. (12) He fought for the Royalists against Cromwell during the Siege of Galway in July 1651. The city was not the ideal place to be in such times. 'Blockaded from the sea by units of the strongest navy in the world, blocked from the land, swollen by refugees fleeing from the advancing English forces, with famine threatening and dissent forming among the merchant families and clerical ranks, Galway surrendered to Sir Charles Cootes' garrison in April 1652. Although the terms of the surrender granted by Coote were quite liberal, it soon became apparent that the people had been duped and the conquerors had other plans for the fate of the city. The intolerable burden of a monthly contribution of £400, the large scale seizure of women and young girls for dispatch to the Barbados, the seizure of goods and confiscation of houses in lieu of the monthly payment and the ceaseless onslaught on all the property and personnel of the church all combined to oppress the people of the conquered city. Churches and abbeys were destroyed, and the beautiful mansions of the merchant princes were sacked by soldiers.' (13) All Catholics were expelled from the town, and the great townhouses of the fourteen Tribes were confiscated and given to soldiers of the occupying forces in lieu of pay. After the fall of Galway, Sir Valentine was taken hostage, with his son John (and another son Dominick?). Sir Valentine died that same year, leaving four sons, Sir Thomas (4th Bart), Henry, Francis and John. (14) This last son is not to be confused with John Blake, Mayor of Galway in 1646, from whom the West Indies branch of the Blake family descend. (14b) Galway continued to suffer under the Cromwellians, despite an attempt to replant the town with a Protestant English population from 1656.
The property at Menlo was in some trouble at this point. Fortunately, Sir Valentine's brother, Walter Blake (c.1610-1674) came to the rescue. He was a bachelor merchant of some description based at Exning, a beautifully placed village in Suffolk, on the Icknield Way between London and King's Lynn. Whether through wool or wine, Walter made a sufficient fortune to reclaim the Menlo estate and others for his four nephews. (15) Sir Valentine's widow, Lady Ellinor, survived him until 1692.
Sir Valentine and Lady Ellinor's second son Henry Blake is of importance because he was grandfather of the 9th and 10th Barts. (16) Henry's son Thomas (d. 1764) of Brendrum, Co. Galway, was married to Mary, daughter of Peter Lynch and Bibyan O'Flaherty. Her father, Peter was the second son of Sir Robert Lynch, 2nd Bart, sometime Mayor of Galway, who commanded 200 musketeers in defence of the Aran Islands against the Cromwellians during the Confederate Wars. After the war, Sir Robert was declared a traitor and stripped of his lands. Peter's brother, Sir Henry Lynch of Castlecarra, was a prominent lawyer, sometime Baron of the Exchequer and ancestor of the Lynch-Blosse clan. After the defeat of the Jacobites at the Boyne, Sir Henry accompanied James II to France and died at Brest in 1691. Peter's younger brother Arthur was ancestor of the Lynches of Partry, Co. Mayo.
Sir Valentine's eldest son and heir, Thomas Blake, was married first in 1649 to Mary, daughter of Richard Martin. She died without issue and he married secondly Ellinor Lynch who also died without issue. In 1652, Thomas succeeded his father at Menlough. It was at about this time that the Menlough Blakes prudently decalred for the Protestant faith, thereby maintaining ownership of their lands, as well as those of their cousins, the Meelick branch of the Blakes. In subsequent centuries, the Meelick branch were quick to boast that 'we always kept the old faith'. In 1656, Sir Thomas was married a third time (1656) to Mary, daughter of Marcus ffrench, ancestor of French of Rahassane and cousin of Robert ffrench of Monivea Castle, Co. Galway. Lady Mary bore Sir Thomas several daughters and two sons. He died in September 1676; his widow survived him until 1694. (17) Their eldest son Valentine succeeded as 5th baron but was himself dead by 1686, aged 22. Their second son Walter duly succeeded.
Walter Blake was a young man when he succeeded his elder brother as 6th Bart in 1686. His father had died in 1676, upon which Valentine succeeded as 5th Bart. However, Sir Valentine died unmarried in October 1686 at the age of 22. On 10th August the following year, Sir Walter married Anne daughter of Sir John Kirwan of Castlehacket, Co. Galway. She was mother to Sir Thomas, the 7th Bart, and two daughters. In the Patriot Parliament of 1689, Sir Walter was elected Member for Co. Galway. He held a commission as a Captain in Colonel Henry Dillon's Regiment of Foot in the Irish Army of James II. He 'obtained the benefit of the Articles of Capitulation of Galway in 1691' and was 'allegedly the first Catholic gentleman of distinction' to join William III, 'maintaining and clothing a regiment at his own expense'. (18) A visitor to Menlough Castle in 1691 noted a portrait of Sir Walter's ancestor, Sir Richard Blake, hanging over the mantle-piece. (19) Lady Anne died in August 1705 and Sir Walter was married again the following year to Agnes, daughter of John Blake. Sir Walter died in Dublin's Marlborough Street in 1748. Apparently Lady Agnes survived him until 1775 but that sure seems like a long time. (20)
Sir Walter died in May 1748 and was succeeded by son Thomas who duly moved to Menlough from Summerville, Co. Galway. In 1716, Thomas married the celebrated poetess Elizabeth Burke, daughter of Ulick Burke of Tyaquin. If anyone knows more of Elizabeth, please let me know!
In 1757, Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth's daughter Anne married the eccentric scientist Richard Kirwan of Creg Castle, Co. Galway. Kirwan had returned from france three years earlier to take up Cregg after his brother was killed in a duel.His marriage to Anne was supposed to be a step towards respectability but when, he discovered she had run up pre-nuptial debts that vast exceeded the original dowry of £4,000. No sooner were they married but he was dragged away to jail, as he was now legally responsible for his wife's affairs, where he remained until the debts were paid. Anne died eight years later, leaving him two daughters. Kirwan spent 10 years in London from 1777 to 1787, where he soon established a reputation as a scientist. He was known as a laborious experimenter, and a strenuous supporter to the last of the Phlogiston Theory. He returned to Ireland in 1787 and his "Essay on Phlogiston", Kirwan's best-known work, was published that year. He became President of the Royal Irish Academy , in 1799, a post he held until his death. In 1801, he was elected President of the Dublin Library Society.
Sir Thomas died in March 1749 and was succeeded at Menlough by his only son, Ulick. Sir Ulick was married to Mary, daughter of Robert Blake of Ardfry (ancestor of the now extinct Barons Wallcourt) and by her had a single child, Anstace. (21) In the 1760's there was a very involved court case, appealed to the House of Lords in London, between Robert French and Sir Ulick Blake. The case first came to the House in December 1763 and seems to have involved just about every family in Galway, but most especially Sir Ulick and his wife, Dame Mary. The case was postponed until February 18th 1767 but was then postponed again because Robert French had died. A new date was set for November 19th 1766 by which time Sir Ulick had died. The case was finally withdrawn on 18th March 1767. My source who has looked at the case confesses she is quite unable to discover what it was all about! After Sir Ulick's death, Mary married secondly Peter Smith.
Sir Ulick died without male issue in 1766 and was succeeded by his kinsman, Sir Thomas, 9th Bart, grandson of Henry Blake. The 9th Bart had previously lived at Bordeaux but relocated to Menlough. In 1730 he had married Eleanor Lynch (d. July 1791), suggesting a connection to the Lynch vineyards in France. They had one child, a daughter, Mary, who married Edward Lynch.
On 3rd March 1787, Sir Thomas Blake passed away at Menlo and was succeeded by his brother Walter. In 1751 Walter married Barbara, daughter of Myles Burke a descendent of Viscount Mayo whose family were banished to Ower, Co. Galway, for supporting the Confederacy during the wars of the 1640s. Both Sir Walter and Lady Barbara died on 14th April 1802 suggesting an accident of some sort although The Times is silent on the subject.
Born in 1753, Sir John was the eldest son of Walter and Barbara Blake. He had two brothers - Dominick (of whom we treat anon) and Walter (the Brigadier). (22) In 1779 John married his cousin Eleanor Lynch (d. 1795), mother to Sir Valentine Blake (12th Bart) and Barbara, who was married in 1804 to Thomas Turner of Hales Hall, Cheadle, Staffordshire. (Footnote A).
On 20th October 1800, five years after Lady Eleanor's death, Sir John was married secondly to Rose Brice, a daughter of Edward Brice of Kilroot, Co. Antrim, and a descendent of the first Presbyterian minister in Ireland. Rose's mother Theodora was a daughter of Thomas Mullins, 1st Lord Ventry (1736-1824). By Rose, Sir John had four known children, namely:
1. Eliza Theodora BLAKE, who was born at Eyling, Hampshire, England, c. 1802, and married on 18 August 1821 to her cousin, Thomas Townsend Aremberg de MOLEYNS (MULLINS) (1786-1868).
2. Arabella BLAKE (1807-1884)who was married firstly on 7 December 1827 to ir Hugh James Moore O'DONNELL (1806-1828) of Newport House, Count Mayo. The wedding was held at the home of Lord Ventry, Arabella's brother. Sir Hugh died in a hunting accident. Their daughter Arabella was born posthumously on 20 November 1828. Arabella was married secondly circa 1830 to John O'HARA with whom she had three children: Robert, Frances Anne and Rose.
3. John Brice BLAKE (1811-1858) served as a Captain in the 47th Regiment before taking up some of his father's lands at Drumsnauv. Lived at Doon House (or Castlekirk), Oughterard, County Galway. He was married on 1 July 1840, in George's Church, Dublin, to Frances McILLREE (c. 1810-1871), eldest daughter of John Drope McIlree of Belturbet, Co. Cavan, and older sister of Henry McILLREE (1824-1882) who emigrated to Australia. Frances was the widow of Captain William Kennedy of Dublin whom she married at Belturbet on 20 July 1825. He died not long after their marriage in 1825 leaving her supposedly well off. John and Frances had no known issue, but family papers suggest that he had another family in the local village and broke Frances's heart. [Information courtesy of Jane Morrison]
4. Jane Margaret BLAKE, who died in 1842, was married in Dingle Church, County Kerry, in September 1829 to the Rev Denis MAHONEY (c. 1797-1851). Seven children: Denis, Edward, Henry, Henry, John, Rose, Margaret.
Footnote A: Thomas and Barbara Turner's daughter, Barbara enjoyed a long marriage to William Greaves of Staffordshire. After Barbara's death, Greaves was married secondly to Rosamond Moreton. This second marriage caused some ripples as Rosamond was fifty years his junior, and came from a very different social class, being a stone mason's daughter. They had two children, one of whom died in infancy. After William's death, three years into the marriage, Rosamond went back to her home village of Duffield, Derbyshire, and married again a few years later. George Greaves, the surviving son, went on to be a railway clerk. Thanks to Tina Hook for this information.
Also note, an as yet unidientifed Blake is Thomas Blake of Madra, viz. The Gentleman's Magazine 1840 refers to a marriage on 21 April 1840, "at St. Pancras [London], Peter Brunton, son of Col. P. Whannell Deputy Military Auditor-Gen. Madras Army, to Maria-Jane, youngest dau. of the late Thomas Blake, esq. grand niece to Sir Edmund Stanley, formerly Lord Chief Justice at Madras, and cousin to Sir Valentine Blake, Bart." This was brought to my attention in March 2008 by Maria-Jane's great, great, great, great granddaughter Angela Smith.
The 11th Baron died in 1834 and was succeeded by his son Sir (John) Valentine Blake (1780-1847). The 12th Bart was MP for Galway from 1812 to 1820, and again from 1841 until his death in 1847. He married his first wife, Eliza, in 1803. She was the eldest daughter of Joseph Donelan of Killagh, Co. Galway, and mother to Sir Thomas, 13th Bart. (23) Eliza died on 8th May 1836.
On 8th April 1843, Sir Valentine married his second wife, Julia MacDonnell. She was a daughter of Dr. Robert MacDonnell, MD, and niece of the Rev. Richard MacDonnell, Provost of Trinity College Dublin from 1852 to 1867. There are references to Richard McDonnell, known as 'the Doctor' in the 1853 diary of his nephew, Edmund Meredith. 'The Doctor spoke much of the splendid apples and cider William had sent him'. In return, he insisted on opening bottle after bottle of claret for Edmund, 'to prove to William that it is now possible to find good claret in Ireland!'
Julia was mother to Sir Valentine's third son, Valentine Charles. (24)
During Sir Valentine's ownership, Menlo Castle was enhanced by an extension and the addition of various decorative featues. An interesting aside about Menlo's connections to Menlo Park, California, headquarters of Facebook and other companies can be found here.
After Sir Valentine's death in Paris in January 1847, Lady Julia was married secondly in October 1850 to John Cuxson, youngest son of John Cuxson of Shifnal, Salop. She died on 11th March 1883. Sir Valentine is forbear of the present family head, Sir Richard Blake, 17th Bart.
Sir Thomas Blake succeeded his father as 13th Bartt in 1847. Born on 25th May 1805, he was 25 when he was married on 29th May 1830 to Letitia Maria (d 18 Jan 1879), only daughter and heiress of Ulick O'Brien, of Waterview, Co Galway. Their only son, Valentine, succeeded as 14th Bart. They also had two daughters, Louisa (who married first, Thomas Ulick Burke (d 1867), of Smythesdale, Victoria, and secondly (1872) John King) and Eliza Maria (who m 4 June 1879, Thomas von Donop-Hardinge, Madras CS). It was during his stewardship of Menlough that the leading British ophthalmologist Sir William Wilde (1815 - 1876) - Oscar Wilde's father - visited Menlough, describing his visit in his book, 'Lough Corrib'. Sir Thomas died on 2nd January 1875. Sir Thomas had been a Catholic since his youth and frequently attended mass at St. Nicholas's Church in Galway. However, his son, Sir Valentine, had him buried a Protestant, later insisting his father had a 'softening of the brain' that impaired his judgment . The Menlo tenantry were greatly angered by this and a riot broke out at the funeral which was quelled by the parish priest. Some of those who stopped the cortège were brought before the Assizes court in Galway and four were given prison sentences of one month; others fled the scene and didn't stop until they reached Australia. When Sir Valetine was buried in 1912, a large police presence ensured the event passed peacefully. However, when the headstone was erected over the grave some time afterwards, it was erected over his feet. So runs the story by Tomas Laighleis in 'Seanchas Thomas Laighleis'. And he should know because his father, Patrick Lawless, was one of the four men sentenced to prison.
Sir Valentine Blake, 14th Bt, of Menlo Castle, was born on 2nd December 1836. On 25th June 1864, he married Camilla Eugenia, youngest daughter of Harvey Combe of Cobham Park, Surrey, a member of the brewing and hunting dynasty who worked closely with the Madras Civil Service. Sir Valentine's sister Eliza later married another member of the Madras Civil Service. Sir Valentine was a JP for Co. Galway and, in 1872, served as High Sheriff for the county.
His firstborn son and heir, Sir Thomas, whom we treat anon, was born in 1870. A second son, Valentine Joseph, was born in March 1871 but died aged 18 on 6th September 1889. A third son, James Herbert, was born on 9th May 1874 and died unmarried aged 30 on 1st August 1904.
Sir Valentine's first child, Eleanor Blake, was born in 1865 but was crippled by rheumatism and confined to bed. It was in that same bed that she would meet her end when a fire broke out in her bedroom in July 1910. Menlo Castle was destroyed by the fire, in which two servants also died, and no trace of Miss Blake's body was found.
Sir Valentine's second daughter, Florence Anne (1866 - 15th July 1899) was married in 1896 to Captain Norton Clowes Castle (died 1930) of the Royal Irish Regiment, eldest son of Charles Castle, DL, of Hawford, Worcs, but she died just three years later.
The youngest daughter, Maude Julia Blake (1868-1939) was married on 6th June 1901 to Major Frederick Sheward Cartwright, JP, 4th Battalion Connaught Rangers (d. 12 Dec 1942). Frederick was the eldest surviving son of racehorse owner William George Cartwright, JP, of Springfield, Newport, Monmouthshire, and the Fairwater Stables in Glamorgan. They had twins, John and Oona Eileen, on 10th November 1902, followed by further children. In the summer of 2013, Camilla Seely, daughter of the Sheward Cartwright's eldest son John, was kind enough to forward me some newspaper cuttings about the burning of Menlo Castle.
On 24th July 1912, nearly two years after the fire destroyed Menlo Castle and killed Eleanor, Sir Valentine Blake died. Following the controversial burial of his father thirty years earlier, his funeral was notable for the large police presence and the story runs that his headstone was deliberately erected over his feet. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas. His widow, Dame Camilla, survived him until 4th March 1929.
Menlough Castle as etched in Sir William Wilde's 'Lough Corrib'
On 26th July 1910, the Blake family residence of Menlo Castle was burnt down. Sir Valentine's eldest daughter Eleanor was one of three women killed in the tragedy. The Cartwrights had only left the castle that same morning, while Sir Valentine and Lady Blake had left for Dublin some days earlier to have an eye operation in Dublin. A sensational account of the event was reported in the July 27th edition of The Standard:
'The fire which broke out at Menlough Castle, the seat of Sir Valentine
Blake, this morning, was the most terrific that has been witnessed in this
part of Ireland for half a century. At about five o'clock, the groom, a
man named James Kirwan, who slept in a wing of the castle, was aroused by
the shouting of two female servants. On getting out of bed and opening the
room door, he was almost suffocated with smoke. He threw his clothes out
of the window, and clambered down by the ivy which grew on the castle walls
to the ground. Hearing the women still shouting, he went around to the other
side of the castle, and found them on the roof 45 ft from the ground. He
begged them to keep still while he went for help and, two men having come
to his assistance, they brought bundles of hay, which they placed on the
ground beneath where the girls were screaming on the roof. But the slates
by this time having become too hot, the women said they could hold on no
longer. A rope was thrown to them but they could not catch it. A ladder
was procured but it was too short to reach and, as a last resort, they jumped
to the ground, one of them, Bridget Earley, being killed on the spot. The
other girl, Annie Browne, received such injuries that she had to be removed
at once to the hospital, where she died subsequently.*
At the time Kirwan heard the cries of the women, the whole back portion, including where Miss Blake slept, was enveloped in flames, and there was no chance of getting near her apartment. The fury of the fire and the destruction it caused may be judged when it is known that at seven o'clock, the entire castle was gutted, the roof had fallen in, and the furniture, silver plate and other valuables were beyond the power of man to save.
The only persons in the castle were the two women servants, the groom and Miss Blake, as Sir Valentine and Lady Blake had left on Saturday for Dublin, where the baronet had arranged with a specialist to go under an operation for the eyes. On the same day, Mrs. Cartwright, another daughter of Sir Valentine, who had been visiting at Menlough with her children, also left for England.
The fire is believed to have broken out in the bedroom of Miss. Blake, who was an invalid, suffering from rheumatism. The charred body of Miss. Blake was recovered late today.
In the castle there was a valuable gallery of paintings and some rich Belgian tapestry, said to be three hundred years old. Many valuable old paintings and pieces of armour were destroyed, as well as other treasured heirlooms'.
See also: 'By the Corribside' by Maurice Semple.
* NB: According to the Evening Standard of 26th July 1910, 'Bridget Early' was called 'Delia Early'. Annie Browne did not in fact perish in the fire of 1910 although the Evening Standard described her as 'in a dying condition'. Annie's grandson Kevin Root of New Jersey tells me that Annie was born in 1893 to parents Michael and Agnes (Geraghty Browne) who passed away young, leaving eight children. Annie attended the Convent of Mercy School until 6th Grade and worked for Philip O'Gorman's Stationary Store for a while. She started working for the Blakes in 1909, when she was 16. She moved to America in 1913, three years after the fire. She was married, had five children and passed away in 1981. If anyone has any further information on Annie's family, please let me know.
Sir Thomas Patrick Ulick John Harvey Blake, 15th Bart, was born on 18th March 1870. He was a Captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery. On 8th July 1903, he married (Evelyn) Winifred, youngest daughter of Lewes Gower Stewart, Royal Engineers. Her only brother Lieutenant Lewes G Stewart had died of fever while serving with the York and Lancaster Regiment at Tamashantwa in Matabeleland in 1895. Sir Thomas was a JP for Co Galway, a popular landowner, a keen sportsman and a follower of the Hurworth Hounds.
He succeeded as 15th Bart in 1912 but was almost immediately plunged into a succession crisis when an old man calling himself Valentine Blake launched a claim on the baronetage as a son of the 12th Bart. The case came before the courts in 1916-17, but the man was deemed an impostor.
MURDER AT MENLO: On the evening of Friday 7th February 1920, James Ward, caretaker of Menlo Castle, was shot dead while returning from work to the gate lodge where he lived. He was walking alongside his 10-year-old son Malachy and a neighbouring farmer called Denis McGrath when the fatal gunshot rang out from behind a nearby wall. Some of the pellets hit the boy in the face. Ward was struck in the face, forehead and head; his pipe was blown out of his mouth and days later, his hat remained where it had fallen amongst the briars at the gate pilar. The 46-year-old father of two had been shot at three or four times previously and while some spoke of 'a private spleen', his widow declared: 'They thought if they got him out of the way that they would get the demesne.' A jury decreed that he had been 'wilfully murdered by some person or persons unknown'. Five farmers' sons from Menlo village were later arrested - John Moloney, Patrick Moloney, Luke Fahy, James Fahy and Denis Duggan - but I do not know if any were charged.
Sir Thomas died at his Yorkshire residence of Saltersgill, Yarm-on-Tees on Tuesday 15th December 1925. He was 55 years old. His widow Winifred survived him until 15th November 1959. He was succeeded by his only son, Ulick.
Sir Ulick Temple Blake, 16th Bt, was born on 6th August 1904 and educated at Wellington College, Berkshire. In 1925, the 21 year old succeeded his father as 16th Bart. He later served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards and a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. For some years he acted as racing tipster to Tyne-Tees Television. On 23rd October 1940, he married Betty Gordon, second daughter of Arthur Gordon, of Blundellsands in Lancashire. The war-time marriage did not last and they were divorced in 1950. On Saturday October 5th 1963, 59-year-old Sir Ulick was found dead in his car in Darlington Lane on the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees. He was succeeded by his only son, Richard.
The thrice married Sir (Thomas) Richard (Valentine) Blake, 17th Bt, of Menlough, Co Galway was born on 7th January 1942 and educated at Bradfield. He became a Royal Navy Reserve in 1963, the same year he succeeded his father as 17th Baronet. From 1967 to 1975 he was director of Sir Richard Blake and Associates. He was with City Chase Ltd from 1980-84.
In 1976, he married Jacqueline Daroux, daughter of Desmond E Daroux and formerly wife of Peter Alers Hankey.
In 1982, the motoring enthusiast was married secondly to the Pennsylvania-born black R&B singer and Westend star Bertice Reading (1933 - 1991). She had previously been married to Eddie Meyer. They were divorced in 1986 and in 1990 Bertrice married Phillip George-Tutton, a psycho-therapist thirty one years her junior. She died the following year.
Sir Richard was married thirdly in 1991 to Wendy Gough, daughter of Edward William Gough, of Richmond, Surrey, and widow of Anthony Ronald Roberts.
Sir Richard and Wendy later lived in France. He died on 29th May 2008. As he left no heirs, male of female, Tony Blake's son Anthony became 18th Bart. Following Anthony's tragic death in a skiing acccident in January 2014, his son Charles is now heir apparent to the title.
Dominick and Mary Blake's eldest son Walter was born in 1799. In 1840, he married Mary, daughter of Charles Blake of Bridge House, Tuam. Walter succeeded his father at in 1843 and died on 23 February 1860 leaving three sons and three daughters. The two eldest boys, Charles Anthony and Walter, are examined below. The third son, John Bruce Blake, was born in 1852 and died unmarried aged 28 in 1880. When Walter died the following year, his three orphaned children were raised at Meelick by his elder sisters, Mary Selina ('Aunt May') and Elizabeth Campbell ('Aunt Lizzie'). Neither of these girls married; they died in 1922 and 1921 respectively. The youngest sister, Rose Georgina Blake was married in 1880 to her cousin Charles Blake of Tuam and had issue. (26)
Walter and Mary Blake's eldest son was Major Charles Anthony Blake of Meelick, Whitegate, Co. Galway, JP. Born in 1848, he served with the New Zealand Military and Civil Service.
In 1896 he married Harriet Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. William Pender Roberts, Rector of Trevalga and Bocastle in Cornwall before his conversion to Catholicism shortly before his death. (27) See The Yelverton Family.
Harriet's mother, Mary Elizabeth ('Lizzie') Roberts, was a daughter of the Hon. William and Lucy Yelverton of Whitland Abbey, Carmarthenshire. Thus we have another major link between the Blakes and the Yelvertons.
Harriet's umarried sister Mary Ellen Laura Roberts died in August 1942 and is buried in St Mary's (Anglican) churchyard in Whitland with her spinster aunt Henrietta Maria Yelverton and her grandfather, the Hon W. H. Yelverton, MP.
Major Blake died on 12th August 1911, reputedly 'of grief while attending Eisteddfad of Wales at Carmarthen because the agent had the woods cut before he and Mrs. Blake came into the estate'. This same agent appears to have orchestrated the funeral of Lizzie Pender Roberts when she died in 1893. Charles apparently died without legitimate issue although his great-niece Joyce Green recalls how, as a young girl, she would visit the home of Annie Lynch, the housemaid at Menlough Castle. Annie's father was butler at Meelick during Cecil Blake's childhood and was reputedly 'an illegitimate son of the house' [of Menlo Castle]. 'It shows what life was like. The fact that they accepted him and employed him was, I thought, rather in their favour. Of course that made me related to the coach people!' As such, Whitland Abbey was left to Charles' nephew, Luttrell Bruce Blake, who, with his wife Lucy Moore, had an only son Walter, aged 6 at the time.
Harriet Blake survived her husband for over three decades, passing away in September 1945. She was buried at St. Mary's Church, Whitland Abbey.
Charles Anthony Blake's younger brother Walter was born at Meelick House on Lough Derg in 1850. He became a Surgeon-Major in the army and was predominantly stationed in India.
Although Walter was Catholic, his wife, Ellen Gertrude Moriarty, was a Protestant from Ballyneanig on the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry. She was the youngest daughter of Commander William Moriarty, Port Captain at Hobart (1833 - 1846), and Aphra Crump. Her grandfather was the naval hero, Vice Admiral Sylverius Moriarty (1735 - 1809), believed to be the only Irish-speaking Admiral in the Royal Navy. It seems likely Ellen was born in Tasmania but returned to Ireland with her father in 1871.
Walter and Ellen married in 1875 and had two sons - Luttrell and Cecil - and a daughter, Gwendolyn. In 1880, Dr. Blake was sent to Queenstown (Cobh) in County Cork to oversee the medical treatment of the British troops stationed in the harbour.
On 26th March 1881, Ellen died suddenly leaving her husband with three small children. Inconsolable with grief, Dr. Blake refused to leave her graveside in Queenstown. On 7th May 1881, just six weeks after Ellen's burial, the popular 31-year-old surgeon caught pneumonia and died, leaving three orphaned children. His remains were borne on a gun carriage carried by four sergeants from the Army Hospital Corps and interred with military honours, alongside Ellen. A large number of officers, naval and military, attended his funeral. Most shops closed out of respect to the deceased and the thoroughfare was crammed with sympathetic mourners. Dr. Blake was buried as a Roman Catholic, with a final 100-gun salute from the Royal Marines. The Blakes three children were subsequently raised at Meelick as strict Catholics by Walter's spinster sisters Lizzie and May.
When Charles Blake died in 1911, his property at Whitland Abbey (including several coal mines and all the Yelverton portraits) passed to Luttrell Blake, eldest son of his late brother Walter. After the premature death of his parents in 1881, Luttrell and his siblings had actually spent much of their childhood with 'Uncle Charles' and 'Aunt Harriet' at Whitland Abbey. I believe Luttrell also lived at Meelick, while he later had an address at Pwllywhead, Whitland. (28) He was a JP for Carmarthern. On 30th June 1904 he married Lucy (Charlotte Ellen), only daughter of John Newall Moore, JP, of Co. Glamorgan. A son, Walter William Yelverton Bruce Blake-Yelverton, was born in September of the following year. Tragedy struck when Lucy died on 5th July 1907, possibly in childbirth. Her widowed husband Luttrell, an invalid, lived on to inherit Whitland and witness the Great War but passed away in 1919.
Born on 28th September 1905, William Walter Yelverton Bruce Blake-Yelverton was an only child. His mother died in July 1907 and his father in 1919, leaving him an orphan by the age of 14. Walter's uncle Cecil, father of Joyce Green, was initially made his guardian. However, Cecil was still recovering from his experiences at Gallipoli and, with a strong taste for the liquor, he was deemed unsuitable for the task. Walter was made a ward of the chancery court; the Whitland Abbey estates were sold in trust for him by the court. It seems that Walter's great aunt Harriet Blake then purchased the house at Whitland Abbey back from the Chancery Court and subsequently left it to her nephew, Tony Blake. On 19th May 1927, the King granted permission to Walter William Yelverton Bruce Blake of Whitland Abbey to take and use the surname and arms of Yelverton in addition to those of Blake. He was married on 23rd November 1949 to Ellen Ida, elder daughter of David Holland of The Genners, Northfield, Birmingham. By 1956, they were living at Rhyd, Croesford, Conway, North Wales. See: The Yelverton Family.
Major Cecil Bruce Blake, RFA, was the second son of Surgeon Walter Blake and his wife Ellen. Born on 4th January 1880, he was educated at Beaumont and Trinity College Dublin. He was just old enough to serve in the South African War from 1901 to 1902, winning a medal and three clasps. On 19th November 1909, he married Effie, daughter of master cutler Samuel Earnshaw Howell, FSA, JO, of Beltwood in Sheffield. The Howells became one of the great Sheffield cutlery dynasties when Samuel's father Joseph, a contemporary of David Linvingstone, founded the company of Howell & Co Ltd in Sheffield. Two sons (Tony and Valentine) and two daughters (Joyce and Patricia, known as Patsy) followed. Before the Great War, Cecil was stationed at Killaloe on Lough Derg, close to Meelick House (on the Galway shore), the lakeside house where he was brought up. Like so many thousands, Major Blake endured a horrific time in the trenches of the Western Front. He may have won a star and two medals but he lost a chunk of his head to shrapnel at Gallipoli and was obliged to wear a steel plate on his scalp ever after. A fondness for strong liquor was an almost inevitable consequence and would cause considerable trouble for latter generations. Cecil passed away at Mount Shannon on 22nd June 1937. His widow, Effie, was living at Ballyvolane in 1956.
Rummaging through an old chest at Ballyvolane some years ago, Adam Green found a story written in pencil by his great-uncle Tony Blake when he was a small boy, probably at prep school. The story, now with Tony's son Anthony, was entitled 'The Wonderful story of Captain Hogwart and his Quest for the Famous Diamond Finding Recipe'. Tony Blake was Cecil and Effie's eldest son, born on 1st December 1911 and christened Charles Anthony Howell Bruce Blake. He followed his father into the army, rising through the ranks to become Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Ulster Rifles. He was fluent in several languages, including Polish, Russian and Czech. He was Military Attaché to Poland during World War Two, in which capacity he helped arrange for the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade in an attempt to capture the bridge at Arnhem. In September 1944, Tony parachuted into Arnhem with the HQ and Defence Platoon of the 1st Airborne Division Brigade. They ran into German Panzer divisions every way they went and the operation was an almost unmitigated disaster. Tony was one of just three officers from the parachute regiment to survive. The battle formed the basis of the 1977 movie, 'A Bridge Too Far'. He subsequently refused the DSO on account of the huge losses incurred by the allies. His medal collection included the Polish decoration of the Military Cross, the Czech decoration of the Military Cross and the US Decoration of the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). In 1945, Tony inherited Whitland Abbey from his great aunt Harriet Blake. He settled down after the war and was married on 2nd April 1948 to Elspeth (Lilian), MBE, MA, elder daughter of Allan Maxwell Amott, 4th Gurkha Rifles, of Holly Lodge, Carcolston, Notts, and Earlsburn, Denny, Stirlingshire.
Tony Blake's last campaign was in command of a regiment of the Royal Ulster Rifles during the Korean War. On 4th January 1951, two divisions of the Chinese army conducted a lightning assault in the dead of night. Aware that something was up, the Rifles sent a patrol out to investigate. The men were never seen again. The Chinese meanwhile infiltrated the allied positions and began killing and capturing any soldiers they found. The US 35th infantry division had been protecting the Ulsters left flank but they now retreated into the night. An entire troop of Irish Hussar tanks placed to protect them from close attack was also wiped out. The Rifles were surrounded. US General Ridgeway's calls to rescue them were rejected by the British commander who maintained, probably rightly, that any rescue parties would almost certainly meet the same fate. Some 300 men of the Ulster Rifles were captured or killed during this blitzkrieg attack. 'The Colonel [Carson] had been taken seriously ill and was carted off to hospital', explained his sister Joyce. 'That's why Tony, who was a Major, was in command. If the Colonel hadn't been taken ill, perhaps Tony would still be alive! That's what's so odd about life. When Tony got there with the Royal Ulster Rifles, he realised they had to retreat, that they couldn't cope. So the troops all got out and he stayed behind with his brother officers, I suppose, or some of them anyway. So when they were arrested my brother stepped forward when the Chinese officer asked who the commanding officer was and, as he did, his batman stepped up behind him. He drew his pistol and shot them both dead." Major Tony Blake was 39 years old. 2/Lt. George Prescott-Westcar also died that day. Those who survived faced a mid-winter death march, through bitter Mongolian winds and temperatures as cold as -38 degrees, to prison camps where torture and brain-washing awaited. After the war, Tony's sister Joyce met the survivors. They asked her to come simply because they wanted to meet her and tell her how much Tony had done to encourage them. (29)
Tony and Elspeth had a daughter Caroline and a posthumous son, Anthony.
Devastated by her husband's death, Elspeth put the Whitland estate up for
sale. The Blakes failed to raise the necessary £7000 to keep either
the estate or the Abbey & Home Farm and it was sold for that same sum
to a Mr. Legge. In 1958, the Abbey was owned by Dr. M. Thomas
of Parke, while the farmland had been divided amongst surrounding farmers.
Elsepth later married Major Patrick Michael Gardner, MBS, MA, only son of Capt George Henry Gardner, 21st Lancers, of Sulby House, Sunninghill, Berks. She was living at Angel Row, Colston Basset, Notts in 1956.
Tony and Elspeth's daughter Caroline Bruce Blake was born on 16th February 1949. She lives in Cambridge with her partner Robert.
Tony Blake's only son Anthony Teilo Bruce Blake was born posthumously on 5 May 1951. Educated at Wellington, he was married in 1988 to Geraldine, daughter of Cecil Shnaps, of Cape Town, by whom he has a son Charles Valentine Bruce (b 1994) and two daughters, Sarah Elizabeth Bruce (b 1990) and Rachel Louise Bruce (b 1991). He is apparently heir to Sir Richard Blake, 17th Bart.
Cecil and Effie's second son, Valentine (John Bruce) Blake, served as a lieutenant in the Indian Army but was taken prisoner by the Japanese in World War Two. He was born on 25th November 1914 and educated at St Columba's College, Rathfanham. On 2nd December 1950, just a month before his brother's death in Korea, he was married to Carla Maria Aida, daughter of Dr Helmut Wrinch-Schultz of Gardens, Capetown. By 1956 they were living in the Duke of Devonshire's fishing lodge at Careysville, Fermoy. Val died on 10th August 1993. His widow, Carla Green, is a well known food correspondent and writes for the Irish Examiner. She lives at Carnival, Spikle, Conna, Co Cork, near Ballyvolane and close to the Rectory where Angela Lansbury used to live. Val and Carla had two sons, Jonathan and Kerry, and two daughters, Rosialie and Noelle Claire.
Val and Carla's eldest son Jonathan Luttrell Blake was born on 5th February 1953 and married in 1977 to Eleanora Elizabeth Mostert of Holland. The marriage did not survive but they had three daughters, Suzanne Mary (b. 1978), Tonya Carla (b 1982) and Rachel Marie (b. 1984). By her 1996 marriage to Christopher Maxwell Crocket, Suzanne is mother to Elijah Valentine Crocket, born 20th August 1997.
On 13th January 1990 Jonathan married secondly Valerie Anne, daughter of Graeme James Boasman, of Geelong, Victoria. She gave him two further daughters, Jessica Maisie (b 27 April 1993) and Lucinda Anne (b. 14 Feb 1997). By 2002, Jonathan, known as Jon, was living in Victoria, Australia.
Val and Carla's second son, Kerry Valentine Blake, was born on 21st August 1963. On 20th August 1988 he married Ursula Susanne, daughter of Hermann Josef Zieger, of Tubmgen, Germany. They live at Shannon, Co. Clare. They have two sons, Jonathan Valentine Bruce (b. 1 Nov 1996) and Alaxander Christopher Bruce (b. 20 Sept 1998) and a daughter, Catriona Elizabeth Bruce (b. 1 Nov 1996).
Jonathan and Kerry's older sister Noelle Claire Louise was born on 23rd December 1959. On New Years Eve 1991 she replicated her brother Kerry's taste for all things German when she married Karlheinz Bohm, son of Bernhard Bohm of Bad Aibling, Rosenheim, Germany. Noelle and Karl settled at Scan House in Castlegrove on the Ring of Kerry with their son, Torsten Valentine Tobias (b. 17 June 1992) and daughter, Andrea Uisce (b. 19 Nov 1993).
Jonathan and Kerry's elder sister Rosalie Julianne was born on 8th November 1951. In June 1977 she married Kevin Byrne, son of Professor Patrick S Byrne, CBE, MRCGP, of Milnthorpe, Cumbria. They settled in Norfolk where, by 2002, Rosialie had an address in Barford. They have two daughters, Anna Louise (b 1981) and Philippa Elizabeth (b 1984).
Born in 1910, Elinor Joyce Blake, aka Granny Green, was the eldest daughter of Cecil and Effie Blake. Her names Joyce Blake unites two Galway tribes in the one name. Along with her brothers Tony and Val and sister Patsy, she grew up on the shore of Lough Derg the west of Ireland. The three homes of most importance to her were Mountshannon House, Meelick House and Whitegate House on way to Portumna. "We were on the left, the County Galway side', recalls Joyce. 'But when I was a child they 'moved' us into County Clare. My father was livid. He said 'I'm not a Clare man!' It made such an impression on me at that age'. The young Blakes also spent some of their childhood at Whitland Abbey which Tony duly inherited. 'We had wonderful childhoods', says Joyce, 'before we got married and dispersed'. Joyce was a great dancer and horseback rider. One of her outstanding memories was visiting the home of the housemaid, Annie Lynch, whose father had not only been butler at Menlough Castle but was also reputed to have been an illegitimate son of the Blakes. 'I used to go and visit their cottage quite often as a small girl. One of the brothers Lynch was nearly always there, along with other old ladies and sisters and brothers. He used to play the melodeon. They'd say 'Come on Miss Joycey! Give us a dance!" They always called me "Miss. Joycey". I'd be called 'Miss' now perhaps but I was just a small girl! I used to do a jig or a wheel not really knowing how to do it, but the music made me'.
23-year-old Joyce went to Malaya in 1933 and, on 4th October that year,
married to Cyril Hall Green of the Tuan Mee estate. They had
their honeymoon in the Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire where, by extraordinary
coincidence, their grandson Justin Green married Jenny Marshall in 2002.
Cyril, known as Squirrel, was a son of George Hall Green of Wigmore
Grange, Leintwardine, Salop. The rubber plantation had been with
the Greens for sometimes. 'Malaya wasn't a colony', explains Joyce.
'The Sultans had asked the British to run the country because "if
you don't, the Chinese will". And so we ran it and looked after it.
Then the Japanese arrived. My husband was in the Federated State of Malay
Volunteer Force, Lance Corporal Green. He and his few underlings - soldiers
- were called up as soon as the Japanese arrived. They went up with the
General Officer Commanding the troops to meet the Japs. Squirrel went off
separately, not with them quite, but to cut off the Japs from another direction
or something. But obviously they had to retreat. He was frightfully lucky
because he got blackwater fever and was in hospital at Johorebaru (sic).
Anyway, the Japanese came down and he woke up in hospital to find he was
all alone. Everybody had gone. So he got out of bed and managed to get across
to Singapore Island and somehow he knew where his people were. They wanted
to put him into hospital but he said 'nothing doing, I'm staying put'. Then
his name came out of a hat to take the General Officer Commanding on retreat
out of Malaya and put him in a destroyer so he could go up to their headquarters
in Colombo (Ceylon, Sri Lanka) and explain what had happened. So Squirrel
went down to the dock, found the boat, found the General with his staff
on board and several other people, local planters and different people like
that. Somebody came out of the cabin and said: 'We want to get onto a destroyer
off the coast of Sumatra - can anybody get us there?" There was dead
silence. Squirrel, being Squirrel, didn't do anything for a bit and then
he put his hand up. We used to do a lot of cruising in the Malacca Straits
because well, I'm a sailor, have been since the beginning, and Squirrel
took to it like a duck to water. He got them to the destroyer off the Sumatra
coast and they all went on board. They had hardly gone any distance when
they were torpedoed and the whole lot were drowned. Squirrel and the others
went ashore. There were a lot of refugees there. Squirrel heard there were
a lot of boats the other side of Sumatra with airplanes in crates on board,
which they couldn't get out on time because the Japs were too close. So
he decided he would walk across Sumatra and get on one of these boats. Nobody
else had tried to do such a thing. He got there just in time. By himself.
He couldn't persuade anybody else to do it. He got down to Perth and was
immediately arrested for desertion. (Joyce roars with laughter). He
was put into a barbed wire arrangement but he soon got out and went off
and eventually sent cables all around to ask where I was.
I was in Capetown by that time. I was evacuated with the children. I drove down to Singapore with them. The chief police officer in Singapore was a chap called he said 'I've booked you a place on this liner and you're leaving tomorrow'. I said 'I can't possibly do that. I must find Squirrel and tell him what's happened. It's extraordinary. I'm quite sure I've got a guardian angel because I've had so many narrow escapes. It couldn't be any other way! Something must be looking after me. Even the other day, my clutch burnt out and I was left sitting by the side of the road just at the turn off to Middleton. The number of people who stopped their cars and came to my rescue and told me what was wrong, including three girls who were going to Ballinoe and brought me back. They said 'oh that's your bad driving!'
Joyce left Malaysia for good in 1948 and, in 1953, the Greens relocated to Ballyvolane, Castlelyons, Co. Cork. Their son Jeremy Dominic Blake Green, born 28 Aug 1934 and educated at Harrow, was also raised at Whitland Abbey and is the present patriarch of Ballyvolane. He married Gabriel Meredith (Merrie) Benson (b. 24th April 1946), only daughter of Ian James Whishaw Benson and his wife, Wendy. (See: The Benson Family).
Jeremy and Merrie Green were the parents of three sons - Justin, Sebastian and Adam.
Justin Green married Jenny Marshall and they are the parents of Toby, Jamie andFleur.
Sebastian Green is married to Pippa and has four daughters - Sasha, Isla, Evie and Mimi.
Adam Green designed this entire www.turtlebunbury.com website and was married in 2008 to Lucie Wright of Gilford Castle, Co. Down. They are the parents of Maia and Oscar.
Joyce was a keen theosophist and supporter of the Lucis Trust, founded by Alice and Foster Bailey 'to promote the education of the human mind towards recognition and practice of the spiritual principles and values upon which a stable and interdependent world society may be based'. Through this work she met Krishnamurti who many theosophists believe to be Christ reborn. Krishnamurti himself emphatically refuted this allegation, causing a rift in the organization.
Joyce and Squirrel's daughter Celia Elinor Vadyn Blake was born on 7th February 1936. On 2nd June 1958, she married (Edward) John (Mansell Hugh Frampton) Child-Villiers, a grandson of the 8th Earl of Jersey.
John was born in April 1935 and educated at Harrow. His father, Flight Lieutenant Edward Mansel Child-Villiers, served with the Royal Air Force in World War Two and married twice. His first wife, John's mother, was Mary Barbara, only daughter of Capt Wm JG Shipdem Frampton of Newton Hall, Clithero. John's parents were divorced in 1940.
In 1946, Edward Child-Villiers was married secondly to Princess Maria Gloria Pignatelli Aragona Cortez, only daughter of Prince Antonio Pignatelli Aragona Cortez of Rome. Edward and Princess Maria had issue a son George Anthony Robert (b. 1947) and two surviving daughters, Mary Ann (b. 1 Dec 1951) and Maria Consuelo (b. 21 Aug 1953).
Edward's uncle George succeeded as 9th Earl of Jersey in 1923; his three wives included Virginia Cherrill (former wife to Cary Grant). By the time Celia and John were married in 1958, George was onto his third wife, Bianca Maria Luciana Adriana, eldest daughter of Enrico Mottironi of Via Goffredo Casalis, Turin, Italy.
John and Celia's older son Alex Child-Villiers lives in London. Their younger son Roddy Child-Villiers was as a keen photographer / photojournalist and documented the mujahideen / Soviet war in Afghanistan back in the 80's. He later became head of investor relations at Nestle in Switzerland but sadly passed away in 2014 at the age of 51.
Cecil and Effie Blake's second daughter Patricia Honora, known as Patsy, was born on 2nd June 1919, proving that her father was still perfectly fit despite the ravages of five years at war. She was married twice, firstly in 1942 to Samuel Francis Hewitt-Haughton, MB, B.Ch. They were divorced in 1951 and Patricia was married secondly, on 8th June 1957, to Joseph Gerald Caulfield Kirby-Turner of Innisnag House, Stoneyford, Co. Kilkenny. Joseph's father was Lloyd Caulfield Kirby-Turner. Patricia and Joseph had two daughters. The eldest, Belinda Shiralee Anne, was born on 29th January 1959 and married in 1990 to Jehanbaz Ali Khan. The younger sister, Sharon Briar Rose, was born on 29th December 1960 and married in 1987 to David Andrew Wallace, second son of Bruce Wallace, of Fruitlawn, Abbevleix, Co Laois. David and Sharon have a son, Timothy Caulfeild Daniel (b 1991) and daughter, Victoria Kirby (b 1989). Patsy passed away in 2013.
Walter and Ellen Blake's only daughter Gwendoline Bruce married her kinsman Robert Campbell Grey (see Burke's LG). She died on 31st December 1934.
With thanks to Adam Green, Justin Green, Sebastian Green, Helen Blake,Charlotte Benson, Nicola Jenning, Dayan Goodsir Cullen, Angela Smith, Ray Blake (Ontario), Valerie Blake, Wendy E. Dixon, James Durney, Catherine Corless, Bob Brown,Tina Hook, Blake Maguire, Richard Blake, Barrie Blake, Judith Morris, Camilla Seely, Kerry Blake, Jane Morrison and the late Mrs Joyce Green.
1. Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition; Burke's Landed Gentry 19th Edition.
2. Other Gaelic Welsh spellings were Mcplake, MacPlake, and A'Plake. The
Celtic spelling was O'Plake.
3. James Hardiman's "History of Galway" (1820). The patent rolls of Ireland has Roger Bigod going to Wales in 1282 and nominating as his attorney in Ireland, William Cadel. Then in 1296 there is a request by Richard de Bourgh (presumably a descendant of Walter's father-in-law,) for William Cadel to be faithful to John Wogan. In the same year a pardon is issued to William Cadel of Cloyneynan, Richard Cadel and William, son of Robert Cadel.
4. "The Irish Chieftains", Charles ffrench Blake-Forster
(1872). Blake-Forster (connected closely to the Blakes of Menlo) was only
21 years old when the book was published. In 1874 he served as High Sheriff
of Galway, but died during his year of office aged 23.
5. Another story holds that that Gaillimh was the name of the daughter
of an Iron-age chieftain who drowned in the river. There were native Irish
settlements in the Galway area for a long time before the Normans and English
came. The O' Connors and O'Flahertys occupied an important fortification
at the mouth of the Corrib and there are many references to that structure
in various annals. It was later occupied by a Norman Castle and a hall of
stone. A History Lovers Guide to Galway, Mark R. Whittington (August
6. In 1306, 'a great war broke out between Hugh (son of Owen) O'Conor,
King of Connaught, assisted by the chiefs of the Sil-Murray, and Hugh (the
son of Cathal) O'Conor, who was assisted by the sons of the chieftains of
Connaught, and the tribes of Breifny. The armies remained four months encamped
at both sides of the Shannon, and some of Hugh's people made an incursion
into the Tuaths and committed great depredations there. Flann, the son of
Fiachra O'Flynn, heir apparent of Sil-Maoilruain, and Brian, the son of
Donogh Reagh O'Conor, together with many others, were slain on this occasion
by Munter-Anly, who pursued them for their spoils. These chiefs, however,
marched off the preys and as many of their people as had survived until
they arrived at O'Conor's fortress, and set fire to the palace of the King
of Connaught, overtook them after they had burned the royal town, and despoiled
them of their booty.'" &c.
7. The office of Mayor of Galway was created by a charter issued by King
Richard III in December 1484 at the solicitation of merchants from the city's
leading families, known as the Tribes of Galway.
8. Captain James Blake (d. 1635) m, Margery, daughter of Alderman Dominick
Browne (Mayor of Galway 1575, scored large lands off Sir John Perrot in
1585) of Oranmore Browne family and was ancestor of Blake of Drum
9. Robert was Mayor of Galway in 1624, m. Juliana Lynch (anything to Lynched
father - son?) and was great-grandfather to Sir Francis Blake of Twisel
in Durham (cr. Baronet May 1714, extinct 1860).
10. Galway's famous Free School had been established in 1580, and had prospered
to such a degree (despite being temporarily suppressed by James I (1566-1625))
that the enrolment is said to have reached 10,000, and the numbers of scholars
attending became a nuisance to the town, so that in 1627 it was ordered
that all foreigners and beggars were to be whipped out of the town. Sadly,
this great educational establishment closed in 1652 as part of the general
11. Geoffrey Browne (d. 1608) was the eldest surviving son of Dominick Browne
of Barna and Carrabrowne, one of the principal masterminds of sir John Perrot's
Composition of Galway and Mayor of the city in 1585. Geoffrey was an alderman.
He purchased the dissolved abbey of Mayo in the Barony of Clanmorries from
the provost and burgesses of Athenry. His wife, Julliane's mother, was Mary
Prendergast, heiress of Edmund McMorrishe of Castle MacGarrett in Co. Mayo.
His brother Oliver Browne was Mayor of Galway in 1609 and ancestor of the
Browne family of Coolarne, Co. Galway. Another brother Edward Browne became
Dean of Tuam in 1697.
12. Sir Henry was the fourth son of Nicholas FitzStephen Lynch (Mayor of
Galway in 1584) and grandson of Stephen FitzArthur Lynch (Mayor of Galway
in 1546 and 1560). He was created a Baronet on 8 June 1622, four weeks before
Sir Valentine Browne. He died in 1634 and was succeeded by his eldest son
- Ellinor's brother - Sir Robert, ancestor of the Lynch-Blosse Baronets
and Resident Counsel of Galway during the Confederate Rebellion of 1641.
13. A History Lovers Guide to Galway, Mark R. Whittington (August
14. Sir Valentine and Lady Ellinor also had four daughters; Juliane (m.
Alexander Kirwan of Dalgan, Co. Mayo), Elizabeth (m. Alexander Blake of
Fartigar, or Castlegrove, Co. Galway) and Annabel (m. Thomas Fleming and
14b. John Blake, Mayor of Galway in 1646, was the son of Nicholas Blake,
a Galway merchant. John Blake's second son Henry Blake and third son John
Blake left for the West Indies. Henry ran a plantation in Montserrat and
John traded in Barbados. When Henry had made his fortune he sold the plantation
to John and returned to Galway where he purchased the Lehinch, Co.Mayo,
and Renvyle, Co.Galway estates. John Blake, the Mayor, was the head of the
Blake's of Renvyle in his time.
15. The Exning Story - A History of Exning and A Guide to St Martin's
Church, by Roy Tricker, Robert Wix, Peter May, Parochial Church Council
of Exning, W. Landwade (1986).
16. Sir Valentine's third son Francis is believed to have been a patentee
of lands in Carolina. His son Joseph Blake was one of the "Lord Proprietors"
of Carolina, surrendering these patent rights to the Crown in 1727.
He should not be confused with Joseph Blake, the nephew of Admiral Robert
Blake, who was Governor of South Carolina in 1694 (chosen by the council),
and from 1696 to 1700. Sir Valentine's fourth and youngest son was John
Blake of Cloneen, Co. Mayo and Muckinish, Co. Clare. His wife Mary was a
daughter of Isidore Lynch. John was forbear to a large family that became
prominent at Towerhill around Cloneen. By the 19th century they were prominent
members of the Connaught Rangers. The Blakes of Ross Lodge in Galway also
descend from him.
17. In 1683 the Blakes leased Moyne from Lord Clanricarde; George ffrench
was occupant there in 1678 and may have built the old mansion north of the
castle. In 1694 the widow of John Blake married Marcus ffrench, but as there
was no children of that marriage the property remained in the Blake family.
18. Burke's Peerage.
19. The Irish Chieftains, Charles ffrench Blake-Forster (1872).
20. Sir Walter and Lady Agnes had one child, Catherine who m. 1 (1722) Denis
Daly of Carrownakilly (see B. Dunsandle) and 2. Sir John Browne, 5th Bart,
of the Neale, ancestor of the Barons Kilmaine, Sheriff of Mayo in 1731 and
MP for Castlebar 1740-60.
21. The Blakes came to Ardfry in 1612. Anstance was married in 1769 to Francis
Foster of Ashfield, Co. Galway. Robert Blake's descendent, Joseph Henry
Blake (1797 - 1849), 3rd Baron Wallscourt, was one of the first Irishmen
to adapt the political notions of socialism.
22. Walter was a Brigadier in Army. He was married twice, first in 1794
to Letitia, daughter of Denis Daly of Radford and widow of Henry Bingham
(see Clanmorris B), and secondly to Martha, daughter of John Kirwan.
23. Sir Valentine and Eliza also had three daughters (who died unmarried)
and a son, John Francis (b 14 April 1809; m. 21 Dec 1835 Frances (d. 30
Sept 1868), 2nd dau of Bernard Mullins, of Ballyeigan, King's County (now
Co Offaly), and died in Brighton on 9 July 1888, leaving a son, Bernard
Valentine (b 24 Sept 1841; m. 1868 Harriett, widow of Major Paul, and d
1875, leaving a son, Bernard, b 1872, and daughter, Elizabeth, died unmarried
24. Valentine Charles Blake was born on 6 July 1844 and m 1871 Isabella
(d Aug 1882), daughter of Rev. John Dill, of Clonmel, Co Tipperary. They
had a son (Valentine, b 6 Feb 1874, d unm) and daughter (Elizabeth).
25. The land of Drumsnauv in the parish of Cong is listed as belonging to
' Captain John Bruce Blake, Esq., 47 Regt. of foot'.
26. 'At the Blackrock College Sports on Tuesday, a Tuam boy, H St. J.
Blake, youngest son of Mrs Charles Blake, of the Bridge House, won several
first class distinctions. He competed successfully in the high jump, the
handball tournament, and got the silver medal in the lawn tennis competition.'
The Tuam Herald, Saturday July 3rd 1909.
27. The only reference I have found to the Rector so far is in a Cornish
newspaper relating to the Trial of Philip Manuel in March 1836. Manuel was
"committed February 22, by William Pender Roberts, Esq., for having
discharged a gun at his daughter, Caroline Manuel, from which she received
a mortal wound".
28. Meelick House was later sold by the Tuam Blakes and owned by Commander
and Mrs GJ Tottenham.
29. A monument was erected at Lixnaw in Kerry in 2006 to commemorate 35 Irish men and women killed in the Korean War while serving in US armed forces or as priests and nuns in the Catholic church. The monument does not acknowledge the fact that many more were killed serving in Irish regiments of the British forces.
"Blake Family Records", Vols. I & II, Martin Jospeh Blake, 1902. MJ Blake ollected up a great number of papers, documents etc. which he intended to use for Volume 3. This never got done, and all the papers went to the archives dept. of the National Library in Kildare Street after his death where they remain today.
'By the Corribside' by Maurice Semple.
A useful Blake family tree can be found at: http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/bb4fz/blake02.htm
See also the Blake Family Website compiled by Richard Blake and the late Greg Forstyth.
Barrie Blake runs a useful site called Blake Heritage.
'The Blake Family History - Ireland to Australia' - Helen Blake (copies with Ballinrobe Family History Society and the Family Research Centre at St Joseph’s Community Centre, Shantalla, Galway).
· Sir Richard Blake was Speaker of the Assembly of Confederate Catholics at Kilkenny in 1647.
· The American actor William Rufus Blake (1805-1863) was of Galway parentage.
· The man who killed Red Hugh O'Donnell by poison is said to have been one James Blake.
· William Hume Blake (1809-1870), an emigrant from Ireland, became the head of the Canadian judiciary and his son, Edward Blake (1833-1912), was a leading statesman in Canada.
· The Blakes were among the most extensive landowners in Connacht in the sixteenth century and this was equally true in the nineteenth: their principal estates were at Ardfry, Balglunin, Kiltullagh, Menlo and Renvyle, all in Co. Galway.
· A branch of the Galway Blakes settled in Co. Kildare where they gave their name to Blakestown.
· The O Blathmhaic clan are a 'Blake' family of Gaelic origin.
· William Blake (1757-1827), the English poet and mystic, was the son of an Irish hosier.
· Renvyle House was once home to the Blake Family and then to poet, statesman and surgeon Oliver St. John Gogarty. It was a favourite retreat of poet W.B. Yeats.
· In 1752 an amateur horse rider called Edward Blake challenged a neighbour to race him from Buttevant in north Co. Cork to Doneraile, four miles away, all the time keeping Doneraile steeple in sight. Thus was born the word Steeplechase.
· The West Indies branch of the Blake family descend from John Blake, Mayor of Galway in 1646. His 2nd son, Henry, emigrated to Montserrat in 1670. Henry later sold his share of the estates to his brother John who died in 1692 leaving a daughter Catherine, who married Nicholas Lynch of Antigua.
· Major Napoleon Joseph Blake, DSO, was second in command
of the Middlesex Regiment in the South African War.