painting of William Blaxton on Shawmut Penninsula
Surname Name Origin
This surname is local meaning “of Blaxton”, a township in the parish of Finningley, West Riding, Yorkshire. However, numerous other locations in southern England also are so named and contributed to the numerous Blackstones found in modern directories. The book “British Family Names” by Henry Barber, published in 1894, notes that the surname Blackstone is a location in Worecester. Mark Antony Lower, in his book Patronymica Britannica, published in 1860, states that Blackstone is the name of a ridge of hills in Lancashire. Research indicates the name was first found in Durham in northern England where the estates of the Barons of Blackstone were located.
Surname Meaning and Etymology
Photo of an old boundary stone
According to the Dictionary of American Family names, the name is of English origin and is a topographic name for someone who lived by a dark (boundary) stone, from Middle English word blake or blak (black or dark), the Old English word being blæc, and stan (stone), or a habitational name from a place named with these words, for example Blaxton in South Yorkshire.
The original spelling was Blackstone or Blackstone, with other common variants including Blackiston and Blaxton. Other variants include Blakiston, Blaxestone, Blaxton, and Blackistone, among others. The name was even recorded as Blacstan in the Yorkshire Inquisitions written in 1293 AD and Blackstan in the Domesday Book of Essex written in 1086 AD.
Early Bearers of the Surname
Plaque honoring Rev. William Blaxston, Boston
There are numerous early people bearing this surname: 1) Agnes Blackwell of Cambridge recorded in the Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, 2) William Blackstone recorded in county Bucks in the Placita de Quo Warranto during the reign of Edward I, and 3) Bartram Blackstone in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1539 AD. The first recorded spelling was that of William Blacston in the Liber Feodrum in 1235 AD in Buckinghamshire. Early marriage involving this last name include James Blakestone to Mary Peacocke in 1625, Thomas Blaxestone to Ann Fan at St. James Clerkenwell in 1668, and Dame Annabella Blakiston to Hugh Cane at St. George’s Hanover Square in London in 1776. An early baptism was Katherine, daughter of Richard Blackstone, in London at St. Mary Aldchurch in 1590.
Early American Settlers
William Blaxton was recorded in Boston in 1625 AD. He went to Puritan College and earned his degree in 1617 AD, and was likely ordained in 1617. He moved to Providence in Rhode Island, but returned to Boston. He married Sarah Stephenson (widow of John) in 1659 and had one son named John. He died in 1675 before his planation was destroyed in the Great Indian War. Others include William Blackstone (Massachusetts 1620), Thomas Blackstone (Virginia 1635), and John Blackstone (Maryland 1661).
Genealogy and Ancestry
William Blaxton (1596-1675)
In an essay written in 1974, Nathaniel Brewster Blackstone writes that Baron Hugh (1510-1590) and his only known brother Richard (1517-?), were the Lords and Masters over the ancient seat and great estates of the family. Their parents, at this writing, are unknown. The family reached its peak in prosperity and honor during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I who ruled England from 1558-1603. The representative of the family at this time was John Blackstone (1532-?) who had a child named William in 1553, as well as 14 other children, one of which was named Marmaduke (b. 1554). The son William married Alice Claxton and they had nine children, two of which were James (b. 1594) and John (b. 1597). The former translated works from Spanish to English, while the later became an Apothecary on Newgate Street, London.
Marmaduke was a deacon at the Church of Durham in 1583. Richard, the brother of Hugh, was the Rector of Cuxwold in 1554. He had a son named Richard (b. 1542) who married one Muriel Clark, or Ustel in Yorkshire n 1566. They had two children: John (b. 1567) and Susan (b. 1568).
The Blaxston of Horncastle, were a cadet branch of the Yorkshire family of Blaxton and Blaxton. Richard (b. 1517) had three children: Richard (b. 1542), William (1543), and Thomas (1544). William married Helen Blesby Leaks and had a son named Richard (b. 1569). John married Agnes Hawley of Timberland and had eleven children, including: Ralph (1589), Nathaniel (1591), Frances (1592), John (1594), William (1595), Ann (1597), Muriel (1599), and George (1600).
Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780)
One of the first to emigrate to the New Country was Nathaniel (b. 1591), who settled in Maryland in 1623, and was the owner of a large island in the Potomac River, known as “Blackstone’s Island”.
Nathaniel Brewser Blackstone writes “It is not known whether any of the Blackstones in early times ever had to actually bear arms. Somehow it would appear rather doubtful, considering the fact that their seal contains nothing of feudal indications. Also, the fact that many held positions in religious work, as well as legal and educational fields. Nonetheless, they did have a coat-of-arms, as it was the thing to do in those days.”
Famous people who bore the last name Blackstone include: 1) William Eugene Blackstone (1841-1435) who was a great American evangelist and Christian Zionist, 2) Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) who was an English who wrote the book “Commentaries on the Laws of England”, and 3) John Blackstone (1712-1754), an English botanist and apothecary of whom little is known.