Introducing the Blacketts

Martin Blackett, Pat Longbottom, Al Kirtley
Martin Blackett, Pat Longbottom, Al Kirtley

This website, compiled by three Blackett researchers, has been produced after many years of research into Blackett family history and its roots in the north-east of England.

Although the Blackett family name is now to be found around the world, many records seem to identify one place in particular, namely Woodcroft Hall near the town of Stanhope in Upper Weardale, County Durham in England, as the earliest known Blackett ancestral home. Here they lived for at least four hundred years.

Our story and family tree begins here, with Richard Blackheved, forester of Weardale, who lived at Woodcroft until his death in 1349 when, in that year, the worst recorded case of the Black Death in Britain reached the area.

Richard lived here in a time of violent border skirmishes between the Scots, under Robert The Bruce, and the English, under Edward III, and at a time when the Prince Bishops of Durham ruled supreme. Second only to the king, their favourite hunting grounds occupied this part of Weardale.

From Woodcroft, no doubt Richard witnessed, or perhaps took part in, one of these skirmishes, the Battle Of Stanhope Park in 1327, when these warring factions met somewhere in the valley floor below.

The original Woodcroft, now a ruin, is located in the ancient parish of Stanhope, close to the parishes of Hamsterley and Witton-le-Wear. In these parishes centuries of Blacketts have been born, baptised, married, and buried, amongst them royal descendants, baronets, yeomans, scoundrels and villains. It is in this area at different times that the Blackett/Blackheved family lived, owned and farmed large areas at Hoppyland, the Shipleys, at Bedburn Hall, at Shull, Hole House and at Kayslea, Hill House and Mayfield, as well as Woodcoft.

It is also an area where Richard’s wealthy descendants, the Blacketts baronetsof Newcastle, held vast lands and coal and lead mining interests.

To this day, whether it be the ancestral homes and farms (or their ruins) or the bubbling Blackett’s Gill, or simply the many tombstones that are to be found in the local graveyards, this area is steeped in Blackett history. If ever there were a spiritual home for the Blacketts then this is the likely place.

Eric Blackett
Eric Blackett

The research undertaken to compile this site has been drawn from many sources (some are detailed elsewhere). However the compilers, Al Kirtley, Pat Longbottom and Martin Blackett would particularly like to acknowledge the late Nick Vine Hall of Australia, the late Eric Blackett of England and the late John Burnell of England for their invaluable contribution to the research work presented here. We are constantly striving to expand the site and present further lines of descent and welcome anyone contacting us with information to help us in our objective. (NB. When you contact us please double-check your email address you’ve entered on the contact form. We aim to answer all non-spam messages promptly and if you don’t get a reply from us it probably means that you’ve included an incorrect email address.)

We hope that this site is of interest to Blacketts everywhere…