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BLACKWELL Family History

This was originally an English locational surname in that it would have related to places of the same name in parts of England, such as a parish called Blackwell, near Alfreton in Derbyshire, a township in the parish of Darlington in Co. Durham, and other similar places in other counties, including Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Cumberland.

The place name itself means 'black well' and derives from Old English or Anglo-Saxon elements – 'blaec' meaning 'dark coloured', and 'waella', a stream or branch of a river. The surname would therefore refer back to an ancestor who lived near to such a stream or in one of the communities which bore the name Blackwell.

Early bearers of the surname include a Margery de Blacwelle who appears on the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire, Thomas Blakewell who was recorded on the 1379 Poll Tax of Yorkshire, and Margareta de Blakwell who was recorded on the 1379 Poll Tax of Howdenshire.

A member of this family, Benjamin Henry Blackwell, founded the world famous Blackwell's Bookshop in Oxford in 1879. The first shop was opened in the city's Broad Street, and the firm now has 45 shops in total.

Although primarily a surname found in England, there are nevertheless some significant Blackwell surname clusters in Wales, most notably in the wider Holywell district of Flintshire, as well as in parts of Cardiganshire, Glamorganshire, Monmouthshire and Denbighshire.

Henry Blackwell (1851–1928) was a member of the Flintshire-based Blackwell family, and similar to the Oxford Blackwells, he was a bookseller. He was also a bookbinder, bibliographer and biographer.

Another member of the Blackwell family, was John Blackwell (1797–1840) who was born in Mold, Flintshire. At the age of 11 he was apprenticed to William Kirkham, a shoemaker who was interested in Welsh poetry. Thanks to his employer's influence, John began to educate himself in Welsh and English literature, to write poetry and to compete in eisteddfodau. He later entered Jesus College, Oxford from where he graduated in 1828.



1841 & 1851 censuses

A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (1896) by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley

Dictionary of Welsh Biography, National Library of Wales,

Patronymica Britannica (1860) by Mark Antony Lower

Surnames of the United Kingdom (1912) by Henry Harrison

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Rachael Blackwell

I am a Blackwell. I know my grandfather was from Virginia.

Rae Barlow

My Grandmother was May Blackwell 13-10-1884 her parents were Elizabeth McGregor and Thomas Blackwell who was born in 1854.


Seeking information on my Blackwell family members living or once living, born or once born, in Ireland. Thank you.


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