BLACKETT, Sir William, 1st Bt. (c.1657-1705), of Greyfriars House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Wallington, Northumb.
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Family and Education
b. c.1657, 5th but 3rd surv. s. of William Blackett, and bro. of Sir Edward Blackett. m. 27 Jan. 1685 (with £6,000), Julia, da. of Sir Christopher Conyers, 2nd Bt., of Horden, co. Dur., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da. cr. Bt. 1685.1
Freeman, Newcastle 1678, member of merchant adventurers 1679; commr. for assessment, Newcastle 1679-80, 1689, co. Dur. and Northumb. 1689-90; member of hostmen’s co., Newcastle 1681, gov. 1684-5, 1691-3, alderman by 1683-7, Oct. 1688-d., mayor 1683-4, 1698-9; sheriff, Northumb. Nov. 1688-9, j.p. by 1700-d.2
Sub-farmer of coal duties 1680-Nov. 1688.3
Blackett succeeded in 1680 to his father’s business and to the magnificent town house which he had purchased from Sir Francis Anderson. Although he did not support the surrender of the Newcastle charter in 1684, he was one of the two aldermen sent to London to secure a replacement. They were described by the Duke of Newcastle (Henry Cavendish) as ‘very rich and of great reputation for understanding and honesty’. He defeated Henry Brabant, one of the court candidates, at the general election of 1685, and became a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament. He was appointed to the committees on the bills for the encouragement of woollen manufactures, the rebuilding of St. Paul’s, the prohibition of imported tallow candles, and the relief of London widows and orphans. He successfully resisted Brabant’s attempt to nominate the entire common council in November, but was himself removed from the corporation in 1687. To the lord lieutenant’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws he replied provocatively on 9 Feb. 1688
I humbly beg a liberty of conscience so far that my weak opinion in so weighty a concern may be suspended till I be well informed by the learned debates of the House of Commons, if I ever happen to come there, which in all probability my business will not allow me; however, to the utmost of my conscience I shall ever be studious to facilitate his Majesty’s intentions in any station I shall be thought worthy of, and never fail in my duty.
But in October the Duke of Newcastle considered that it would be for the King’s service to restore him to the bench of aldermen.4
Blackett was returned unopposed to the Convention, in which, according to Ailesbury’s list, he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. During April 1689 he was appointed to the committees to consider the bills for the naturalization of Schomberg and the export of beer, ale and mum, to hear complaints against customs officials, and to draft an address of thanks to the King for his care of the church. But he was not an active Member, his only other committee being on the bill for a ‘court of conscience’ for small claims in Newcastle (20 May), which he probably introduced. In September he bought Wallington from Sir John Fenwick, but failed to secure re-election in 1690. A court Whig in later Parliaments, he voted for Fenwick’s attainder and signed the Association in 1696. He died in London on 2 Dec. 1705, ‘one of our richest commoners’, and was buried at St. Nicholas, Newcastle. His son sat for Newcastle as a Tory from 1710 to his death in 1728.5