BLACKBURN, John (d.1426/7), of York.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

prob. 1st s. of Nicholas Blackburn (d. 1432) of York, merchant, by Margaret (d.1435), sis. of William Ormshead*. m. (1) Katherine, at least 2s. d.v.p.; (2) by 1424, Joan (d.1446), da. of William Bowes*.1

Offices Held

Member of the council of 12, York by 21 Sept. 1419-c. Dec. 1420.2


One of the richest and most influential merchants in early 15th century York, Nicholas Blackburn the elder, our Member’s father, is now chiefly remembered for his great generosity towards the city, where he had a hand in the foundation of no less than five chantries, besides leaving £260 to the local poor. He came originally from Richmond in Yorkshire, and was already well established as a leading figure in the civic hierarchy when two of his sons, John and Nicholas, were admitted to the freedom in 1403. John, who was probably the eldest and did business as a mercer, was received into the Corpus Christi guild of York about ten years later, almost certainly while his father was in office as mayor. He witnessed a few deeds in the chamber of the city on Ouse Bridge, but did not otherwise play much part in the life of the community until his election to Parliament in 1417. He was, however, subsequently appointed to the council of 12; and it was, no doubt, in his official capacity as an alderman that he witnessed the parliamentary returns of 1419 and 1420.3

Blackburn’s promising early career, which must have benefited also from his kinship with the three prominent merchants William Ormshead (his uncle) John Bolton† (his brother-in-law) and William Bowes (the father of his second wife), appears to have been cut short by illness or other unfortunate circumstances. At all events, no more is heard of him until November 1426, when he drew up a brief will in which he asked to be buried next to his first wife, Katherine, and their sons in the church of St. Mary, Castlegate. As his executors, he named his second wife, Joan, his brother, Nicholas, and John Bolton, the husband of his sister, Alice. He died at some point over the next four months, being survived by his parents and his widow, who was herself admitted to the Corpus Christi guild shortly afterwards. She lived on until 1446, in possession of certain Blackburn family property in Haymangergate called ‘Flesshamels’, and was buried in the choir of the church of All Saints, Peasholm Green. A pious woman, she left behind her an image of the Holy Trinity, a rosary, a primer and a ‘head of St. John’.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


John Blackburn is not to be confused with a local shipman of the same name, who, between 1415 and 1423, was involved in transporting stone for building work on York Minster (Surtees Soc. xxxv. 34, 37, 40, 43, 47).

  • 1. Test. Ebor. ii. 17-21, 46-51, 70; Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, ii. f. 141.
  • 2. Surtees Soc. cxxv. 86, 91; C219/12/3, 4.
  • 3. Surtees Soc. lvii. 15, 26; xclvi. 107; cxxv. 38, 46, 62; C219/12/3, 4.
  • 4. F. Drake, Ebor. 286; Test Ebor. ii. 17-19, 46-51, 70; Surtees Soc. clxxxvi. 113-14; York registry wills, ii. f. 141.