BLACKETT, William (c.1620-80), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb.
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Family and Education
b. c.1620, 3rd s. of William Blackett, yeoman (d.1648), of Jarrow, co. Dur. by Isabella, da. of William Crook of Wolsingham, co. Dur. m. (1) 10 July 1645, Elizabeth (d. 7 Apr. 1674), da. of Michael Kirkley, merchant, of Newcastle, 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 3da.; (2) Mary, da. and coh. of Ralph Cock, merchant, of Newcastle, wid. of John Rogers, merchant, of Denton, Northumb., s.p. cr. Bt. 12 Dec. 1673.1
Member of merchant adventurers, Newcastle 1645, freeman 1646, common councilman 1648, member of eastland co. 1652, hostmen’s co. 1652 (gov. 1662-4, 1667-9), commr. for militia Mar. 1660, capt. of militia ft. Apr. 1660; commr. for assessment, Newcastle Aug. 1660-1, 1667-d., co. Dur. and Northumb., 1677-d.; sheriff, Newcastle Oct. 1660-1, alderman 1661-d., mayor 1666-7, dep. lt. 1670-d.; j.p. Northumb. 1673-d.; commr. for carriage of coals, port of Newcastle 1679.2
Sub-farmer of coal duties 1668-d.3
Blackett, who was apprenticed to a Newcastle merchant in 1636, apparently took no part in the Civil War. An active merchant adventurer, he traded with Denmark, and when he was elected sheriff after the Restoration he was described as ‘a loyal man, much beloved and fit for the office’. During his mayoralty in 1666-7 he appeased a riot over taxes with an assurance that payment was voluntary. He invested heavily in the local coalfield, on one occasion spending £20,000 in a fruitless effort to drain a flooded pit, and acted as business adviser to the 1st Earl of Carlisle (Charles Howard). As one of the syndicate leasing the coal export duties from Lord Townshend (Sir Horatio Townshend) for £3,200 p.a., he was involved in a dispute with the local customs officials in 1672. He was returned at a by-election in 1673, and created a baronet nine days later, the fee being remitted ‘in consideration of his good services’.4
A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, Blackett was appointed to 32 committees, including those for the extension of the Border Act in three sessions. In the autumn session of 1675 he was named to the committees to inquire into the coal export duty, to prevent illegal imprisonment, and to hear complaints against the East India Company. After the session he was assured by Roger Whitley that the Post Office would accept his franks so long as he claimed the privilege, ‘though there be very few Members demand it above twenty days’. His long absence, he complained, had put him so behindhand with his business that it would take him a month or six weeks to bring his books up to date. His name was entered on the working lists, though without a manager; but in 1677 Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’, and he encouraged John Rushworth to stand at Berwick in the country interest. In this session he was among those appointed to hear a complaint from four merchants against the Bermuda Company. In his only recorded speech he opposed the proposal of Thomas Neale for establishing a ballas