RETIREMENT OF THE FORUM. The Society is developing a new website, and with regret will not include this Forum. An offline copy will be archived, but if you have personal contributions or correspondence that you wish to retain, please make a personal copy before the end of November.  The Forum will be frozen to new postings very shortly

Merchant Mariners out of Whitehaven in the 1700's
Read 789 times
* June 06, 2022, 06:16:27 AM
Hello, I am a new member to the forum and the society.  I live in California, USA and am planning a genealogy trip to Whitehaven and Distington next month (July 2022).  I am trying to plan the various places I might do research.  Can anyone please advise me of the libraries or societies I might visit?  I know that my third great grandfather was Captain John Blakeney born about 1750.  He captained merchant ships sailing out of Whitehaven.  In 1788 he became a U.S. citizen.  I am trying to prove his father was George Augustus Blakeney of Distington (buried in Distington cemetery in the same tomb as his wife, Mary Dixon and his uncle, Capt. John Blakeney).  Thus far the records I have found claim that George Augustus' son John died in 1784 (because there is a will of that date).  I have no record of the will ever being probated.  I have found a record of another of George Augustus' sons, Theophilus, sailing with my Capt. John Blakeney.  Can anyone please direct me to the library that might have ship/mariner records that might trace Capt. John Blakeney's travels, or a place with more information on the sons of George Augustus Blakeney? I appreciate any help.  Ellen


* June 06, 2022, 05:54:03 PM
I don't know if you have seen the item below from   Whitehaven Herald  Nov, 20, 1872.  and whether it is of help. All I can suggest for records is The Beacon Museum and the Whitehaven Record Office  you can search their on line catalogue at  bear in mind if visiting the archives and wanting to see original records you need to book in advance.

An extract from the will of Catherine Dixon, of Distington,
dated i6th September, 1743, gives us a pleasant insight into
the doings of two households in that village ; and in it we
have the first glimpse of a love story which, like most others,
ended satisfactorily. Catherine Dixon, after leaving ;^3o to her
son, John Dixon, who was no doubt amply provided for by his
father, bequeaths to her daughter, Mary Dixon, all that house,
with the appurtenances, known as the ** Black Cock," appointing
her residuary legatee and sole executrix, and then goes on to
say : — ** I make it my earnest request to my much esteemed friend.
Captain John Blakeney, that he will be pleased to assist my children
with his advice, and see this my last will and testament put into


execution according to the true intent and meaning thereof."
The will is witnessed by John Blakeney, his house-keeper,
Abigail Griggs, and his man-servant (?) Bryan Kenney.
Whether an engagement existed between Mary and the gallant
Lieutenant during his long and toilsome absence, which may
account for her being so pathetically placed under the guardian-
ship of his uncle, or the intercouse was so encouraged as speedily
to ripen into an attachment on his return, it is certain that they
were married at the parish church of Dean on the 29th January,
1744-5, the very day on which he attained his 28th year.
But a few months of union were allowed the happy pair ; for
the Pretender disembarked on the coast of Scotland on the 22 nd
July, and there was seen throughout the land the '* mustering in
hot haste *' for the great Jacobite and Hanoverian duel. We
learn that on the 4th November, 1745, George Augustus Blakeney,
Lieutenant in Major- General Blakeney's Regiment of Foot,
"now encamped on the Town Moor without the walls, but
within the liberties, of Newcastle- on-Tyne," makes his will,
wherein he leaves all his estate and effects ** unto his loveing
wife,*' Mary Blakeney, appointing her sole executrix. His
regiment formed part of the army of sixteen thousand men
mustered at Newcastle to watch the Border and prevent the
Scotch from entering England ; but a rapid and skilful movement
on the part of Charles deceived the English Commander, and
before Wade could throw himself in the way, Charles had seized
Carlisle, and was in full march for London. On his countermarch
to the Highlands the Prince was deeply annoyed at the stubborn
and successful resistance offered by Stirling Castle, held by
Major-General Blakeney. It is pleasanter to believe, and indeed
it is more probable, that our Lieutenant was with his relative,
rather than under the command of General Hawley, who had
superseded Wade, and who was so disgracefully beaten by the
Pretender at Falkirk on the 13th January, 1745-6. No trace
exists of young Blakeney in the march northwards, nor at the
battle of CuUoden, where General Blakeney's brigade formed part
of the rearguard, and of which not a single man was wounded.
It is most likely that he was with his regiment under the


command of his aforesaid relative, who was rewarded with an Irish
Barony for his gallant defence of Minorca, unsuccessful though it
was, the surrender of which was compulsory on the 27th June,
1756, in consequence of the unfortunate Byng having failed to
relieve the garrison. On the ist February, 1757, Captain
Blakeney received orders to hasten to Cork, there to embark with
the 27th, or Enniskillen Regiment of Foot, for foreign service ;
and on the 9th he signs a power of attorney, dated at Whitehaven,
authorizing his wife to deal with his affairs entirely according
to her own judgment during his absence. Troops were at this
time being sent out to North America for the conquest of the
French possessions there ; but the Earl of Loudon was a feeble
commander, and little was done until Wolfe was selected by Pitt
to control the military operations. Wolfe, who had, with all the
ardour of his nature, for several years unsuccessfully wooed
Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Wilfred Lawson of Isell, was now
engaged to Miss Catherine Lowther, sister of Sir James, the first
Earl, with whose family the Blakeneys had always had social inter-
course. Bearing these facts in mind, it is therefore highly
probable that the relationship of the two would be more intimate
than the simple connection between commander and officer.
The capture of Quebec was probably the last, as it was
certainly the most striking, event in his military career; and
beyond that, indistinctly seen it is true, no more can be discerned.
A portrait of the Duke of Cumberland was hung up beside
those we have already named, and a later hand suspended on
the wall a painting of the " Death of Wolfe.*' He died February
25th, 1779, and his beloved wife survived him until the 17th of
September, 1800. Both were buried in the same tomb as Captain
John Blakeney.

A numerous family was born to this attached pair, of whom
Robert was the principal. His birth took place in 1758, and he
was appointed to an Ensigncy in the Durham Militia, August i6th,
1779, by the Lord Lieutenant of that county, Henry, second Earl
of Darlington, who had married Margaret, the sister of Wolfe's
inamorata, and of James, first Earl of Lonsdale. His marriage
license with Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Burrows, Esquire,


Collector of Customs at Whitehaven, bears date loth March, 1780,
when both bride and bridegroom were of the mature age of
2 1 years. Their wedded life was not prolonged to old age, for
his second marriage with Margaret, daughter of the Rev.
Samuel D'Elboeuf £dwards, of Pentre Hall, Montgomeryshire,
took place several years before his death. By neither marriage
had he any children. He was appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant
for the county of Cumberland by Williain, first Earl of Lonsdale
of the second creation, on the 6th August, 181 1. His will bears
date 3rd June, 18 18, to which a codicil was attached 22nd
October, 1822. He died at his house on the east side of Cross
Street, at the corner of Irish Street, Whitehaven, on November
6th, 1822, and was buried at Distington in the family vault. His
wife Margaretta survived till February 14th, 1828. His furniture,
paintings, books, etc., were sold in the following month; and
judging from the two latter, he seems to have been a man of %
considerable literary taste and aquirements. At the time of his
decease he held the ofl&ce of Collectorship of Customs, previously
filled by his father-in-law. He had long survived his two brothers
— ^John, whose will bears date i6th April, 1784; and Theophilus,
who was bound apprentice as a seaman to Daniel Brocklebank for
two years, November sth, 1785.

Thus died out in this branch the name of Blakeney. These
three brothers had three sisters — Catharine who was never married,
and who died circa 1827 ; Sarah, married to the Rev. — Henderson,
whose descendants now live in an obscure position j and Margaret,
married to the Rev. William Atkinson, whose only son, Thomas,
deserted from his ship at Quebec in 1821, and was heard of no

Forum Administrator

* June 07, 2022, 04:11:12 AM
Thank you very much, John.  I so have the "Blakeney's of Distinction" but I did not have the Will of Catherine Dixon.  Thank you.  And I really appreciate the Beacon Museum and the Whitehaven Record Office.  I will look at the catalog and then try to get an appointment!  Do you happen to know if the Church of the Holy Spirit (built in 1800's) is still in the same location before that build?  The article you copied for me says that the tomb of the older Capt. John Blakeney is in the Distinction cemetery.  I would like to go see it.  George Augustus and Mary Dixon Blakeney are buried there also.  Thank you for all of your help!


* June 07, 2022, 09:50:16 AM
The Holy Spirit Church Distington is in the same place, it was built 1886 but it replaced an earlier medieval church on the same site. As far as I am aware the Memorial Inscriptions of Distington have not been transcribed nor have the burial records,  many tombstones prior to the 19th century in churchyards are either missing or illegible though if it is a family tomb there is more of a chance it is still there
You can check   and

Good luck

Forum Administrator

June 07, 2022, 09:54:17 PM
The website The Churches of Britain and Ireland The Churches of Britain and Ireland ( has photographs and information relating to the Church of the Holy Spirit, Dissington, the Primitive Methodist Chapel and the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

The present Church of the Holy Spirit, map ref NY 0042 2360, is to the south-east of the original Medieval Church at map ref NY 0041 2363.


* June 08, 2022, 05:48:18 AM
Thank you both for your help!