BLACKWELL, Richard (by 1517-68), of the Inner Temple, London and Calke, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1517, ?s. of Thomas Blackwell of Wirksworth, Derbys. by Anne. educ. Clement’s Inn; I. Temple, adm. 3 May 1531. m. 12 Jan. 1547, Alice, wid. of John Priest of London, prob. s.p.1

Offices Held

J.p. Derbys. 1543-7, q. 1558/59-?d.; churchwarden, Temple church 1544; commr. musters, Derbys. 1546, relief, Derbys. 1550; other commissions 1548-64; escheator, Notts. and Derbys. 1547-8.2


Although Richard Blackwell evidently came of the long-established Derbyshire family, being described as ‘of great kin’ in that shire, his parentage has not been established beyond question. He was clearly not the Richard, son of Ralph and Dorothy Blackwell of Blackwell, who died in 1562, and probably not the son of Richard Blackwell who left lands at Fairfield to his son Richard in 1515. The reference in Blackwell’s will to his father’s ‘chief mansion house’ at Wirksworth, and his own charitable bequests to Wirksworth church and parish, point to his being a son of Thomas Blackwell of Wirksworth who died in 1524, although the latter’s monument in Wirksworth church mentions only a wife Maud whereas Blackwell’s mother was named Anne. In the pardon roll of 1559 he is described as ‘of the Calke, Derbyshire, alias late of London, alias of the Inner Temple, London’.3

It was through his marriage with Alice Priest that Richard Blackwell acquired the bulk of his property in Derbyshire, including the manor of Calke where he established his household, but as he was already sitting as senior knight of the shire he must have owed this first election less to his property than to his connexions. In 1544 a legal opponent described him as ‘greatly friended and allied’ within the shire and accused him of exploiting this advantage to pervert justice at the assizes. His similar use of the influence of Sir William Paget was alleged by a group of Wirksworth husbandmen, who in 1548 accused Blackwell of concealing his income from two chantries and of harassing them for not conniving at this deceit: the plaintiffs had already appealed to the Protector Somerset, and the speed with which three commissioners concluded an inquiry, after having taken depositions on Blackwell’s behalf, suggests that there was some truth in the charge of partiality.4

In the Parliament of October 1553, to which Blackwell was returned as junior knight with (Sir) John Porte, a fellow-lawyer, he was to be marked as one of those who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism. This is not surprising in the light of the will which he was to draw up on 25 July 1567: convinced that ‘no good thing dwelleth in my flesh and nature depraved’ and that he was ‘a slave to the devil and damnation’, he avowed his belief that ‘by grace we are made safe without the deeds of the law through faith of the gospel in Christ, and that not of ourselves but solely in the exceeding right kindness and benignity of God and His Grace’. His removal from the commission of the peace for some years under Mary, and his absence from her remaining Parliaments, probably reflect his Protestantism, but he presumably complied with his ex-colleague Porte’s demand in July 1556 for a loan of £100 to the Queen on a privy seal. Although reappointed to the bench on Elizabeth’s accession, Blackwell was described in the return of 1564 of the religious persuasions of the Derbyshire justices as ‘meet to be omitted’; whether it was his extremism which led the compilers of the report to make this recommendation is not known, but Blackwell’s bishop, himself an ardent reformer, commended him as a ‘man of good learning with whom I have divers times talked and so do like of him and think him meet to continue in office’. In the event Blackwell probably remained a justice, and of the quorum, until his death.5

Blackwell died on 18 Mar. 1568. The many bequests in his will include £5 to ten poor maidens in the parishes of Bonsall, Calke, Kirk Ireton and Wirksworth, and half a year’s wages to each of his household servants. Gilbert Thacker, with whom Blackwell had earlier been engaged in two Star Chamber cases over the possession of land called Southwood in Repton, Derbyshire, was also a legatee. The four executors were each to have £5, five of the six overseers £2 13s.4d., and the sixth overseer, Blackwell’s ‘good lord’ (Sir) James Dyer £10. The heir, Blackwell’s nephew William, was to inherit all his goods which were not bequeathed, provided that he satisfied Dyer that he was ‘like to serve God and his country and not like to be of lewd condition and inclination’.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. PCC 6 Babington, 25 Loftes; St.Ch.3/1/86, 4/42; CPR, 1558-60, p. 189.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 82, 416; 1553, pp. 315, 352; 1553-4, p. 29; 1560-3, p. 435; 1563-6, p. 38; 1563-6, p. 42.
  • 3. Req.2/3/60; J. C. Cox, Derbys. Churches, ii. 557; Harl. 5809, f. 81; PCC 14 Holder, 24 Streat; CPR, 1558-60, p. 189.
  • 4. St.Ch.3/4/42; C1/1067/56; Req. 2/3/60, 15/14.
  • 5. Bodl. e Museo 17; PCC 6 Babington; CPR, 1553-4, p. 18; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 47; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 43-44.
  • 6. Wards 7/12/88; St.Ch. 3/1/86, 4/42.