William Blake

1774 - 1852

Claimant or beneficiary


Brother-in-law and devisee-in-trust of John Robley (q.v.) under his will (dated 1807 but proved with codicils 1824). Caroline Robley (q.v.), John Robley's widow, was the daughter of William and Alicia Blake: this is her brother (born in 1774). A letter in the West Yorkshire Archives Service from James Cunningham in Bristol to William Blake of Portland Place concerning the estate of John Robley confirmed the link.   

  1. William Blake the son of William and Alicia Blake was baptised at St Bartholomew 27/02/1774 (born 31/01/1774) while Caroline Blake was baptised at St Botolphs in 1777 and on her marriage to John Robley in 1799 at St Botolph's Aldersgate, at which William Blake was a witness, she was described as 'of this parish'.  

  2. The will of William Blake of Bedford Row whose will was proved 26/11/1810 specifies legacies to his daughters including Frances, Alicia, wife of Thomas Strickland, and Caroline wife of John Robley, and makes his only son William sole executor. A William Blake aged 77 was buried in the North Aisle of St Bartholomew 05/06/1810, as Alicia Blake had been on 08/04/1809. The profession of William Blake of Bedford Row has not been identified: his will refers to property at Chiswick [?] and in Aldersgate, the latter on a long let, but carries no further clues. A William Blake left an insurance partnership in Bristol with John Gresley, James Rogers and others in 1785, but the baptisms of William Blake of Bedford Row's children point to a firm City base in the 1770s. It is conceivable but not demonstrated that William Blake of Bedford Row (d. 1810) was the partner in Sansom, Blake and Postlethwaite, bankers of 65 Lombard Street: if so, William Blake of Bedford Row was partners with the abolitionist Philip Sansom at the same time that his daughter Caroline Blake was marrying into a slave-owning family.

  3. William Blake the son, brother of Caroline Robley, is shown in the 1851 census at 62 Portland Place a widower aged 77 'Landed proprietor, fundholder, barr[ister] not in practice', born St Bartholomew, living with his son William John, also 'barr[ister] not in practice' aged 45, and unmarried daughter Frances aged 47. Will of William Blake of Portland Place proved 22/12/1852.

  4. William Blake the son, brother of Caroline Robley, is the William Blake of Danesbury [Welwyn, Hertfordshire], whose papers are at the Hertfordshire Local Records Office. The papers contain no reference to Caroline Robley but they link William Blake by Portland Place, by the heir William John Blake and the unmarried daughter Frances (Fanny). The introduction to the papers detail William and Mary Blake's inheritance of the Darker estates in England. The sons of William Blake (d. 1852) were: William John Blake, MP for Newport 1837-41 who left £140,000 on his death in 1875; and his brother Henry Wollaston Blake was an eminent engineer [and a Director of the Bank of England]. The daughters of William Blake (d. 1852), Ellen, Caroline and Emily married respectively John Alexander Hankey (q.v.), Henry Davidson (q.v.) and Christopher William Puller, suggesting from the first two at least a West Indian mercantile nexus.  

  5. William Blake of Portland Place Middlesex and Danesbury Place [near Welwyn] Hertfordshire (31/01/1774-24//11/1852) 'Occupation: Apparently derived from multiple sources. His father was a banker in the City of London. He was a barrister, and received £30,000 in compensation for the emancipation of slaves in the West Indies in 1834. His connection with the West Indies is unclear, but he was the brother-in-law of John Robley (1775- 1822), a slave owner of Tobago, and was the father-in-law of John Alexander Hankey (1804-81), of a West Indies mercantile family. He was also a landowner. In 1883 his grandson Arthur Maurice Blake (1852- 1917, left £28,134) of Danesbury, Hertfordshire owned 4343 acres worth £7331 p.a. in Hertfordshire (1414 acres worth £2282 p.a.), Leicestershire (1266 acres worth £2213 p.a.), etc. "Landed proprietor and fundholder- barrister not in practice" (1851 Census). (Occupational categories IV.16, I, and VI.29; Venues 1 and 29). He was also a prominent economic theorist.' Address "Of [62] Portland Place, Middlesex and Danesbury [near Welwyn,] Hertfordshire" (PROB8) Father William Blake (1733- 29 May 1810- GM 1810 I, p. 595)) of Bedford Row, Middlesex (will) and Wimbledon, Surrey, banker (Sansom, Blake & Pottlethwaite) of 65 Lombard Street, City of London


Ancestry.com, London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online]; West Yorkshire Archives Service WYL250/3/4/2/83 [now no longer accessible].

  1. London Gazette, Issue 12714, 03/01/1786, p. 6.

  2. PROB 11/1516/406; Ancestry.com, London, England, Births, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online].

  3. 1851 census online; PROB 11/2162.

  4. Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Estate and family papers of the Blake family of Danesbury, Welwyn 1777-1924, DE/X69 http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=046-dex69&cid=-1#-1 [accessed 16/05/2011]; National Probate Calendar 1875; Obituary of Henry Wollaston Blake http://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/content/issue/imotp/138/1899 (which gives Henry Wollaston Blake's birthplace as 25 Portland Place: it is possible the street as renumbered between his birth in 1815 and the 1851 census).

  5. William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? A biographical dictionary of British wealth-holders Volume Two 1840-1859 (MS) reference 1852/25.

Further Information

Mary Nash
William John, Henry Wollaston, Frederic, Mary, Ellen, Caroline, Emily, Fanny
Wealth at death
Cambridge (Trinity) [1788-1793 ]
Legal Education
Lincoln's Inn [Called 1799 ]
Lawyer and landowner
Church of England
Rubinstein 1852/25

Associated Claims (10)

£5,110 6s 7d
Awardee (Trustee)
£3,120 1s 7d
Awardee (Trustee)
£1,260 11s 10d
Awardee (Trustee)
£1,074 1s 7d
Awardee (Trustee)
£7,016 8s 8d
Awardee (Trustee)
£5,213 10s 5d
Awardee (Trustee)
£3,832 8s 2d
Awardee (Trustee)
£4,475 19s 2d
Awardee (Trustee)
£624 5s 4d
Awardee (Trustee)
£2,574 4s 5d
Awardee (Trustee)

Legacies Summary

Political (2)

Local Government
office →
Justice of the Peace
1826 -
office →
High Sheriff
1836 -

Relationships (5)

Father → Son
Father-in-law → Son-in-law
Father-in-law → Son-in-law
Brother → Sister

Addresses (2)

62 Portland Place, London, Middlesex, London, England
Danesbury, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, South-east England, England