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Home: Surnames: Blenkhorn Family Genealogy Forum

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Posted by: N McCarthy Date: February 17, 2002 at 12:51:18
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To those interested in the source of the Blenkhorn name….and more!

I am a descendant of the Blenkarns of Terrington, North Yorkshire. Attempts to start a Blenkarn forum have been unsuccessful, presumably because Blenkarn is considered by those in command as synonymous with Blenkhorn.

Along with several other distant cousins, I have researched the Terrington family on and off for many years. One of our number, Dorothy Taylor, of Douglas, Wyoming, published a book "Blenkarn Tapestry" in 1989, in which she too addressed the source of the name. Much scholarship and contact with eminent organizations / people on the matter concluded as you have suggested: that the Blenkarn name began when locals migrated from the Cumbrian hamlet of Blencarn. (ref pp 5-7 in Dorothy’s book).

Reference to 17th century parish records (the IGI alone gives good indication) shows a good distribution of Blenk(h)arn(e)s with very few Blenkhorns on a south easterly “trail” (from Cumbria) across the North Riding of Yorkshire, whereas on a southerly trail (down through Lancashire), “Blenkarn” hardly appears, but “Blenkhorn” is to be found in relatively great abundance.

The earliest occurrence of Blenkarn in Yorkshire with which I am familiar is to William Blenkarn, Draper, Freeman of York (city) in 1429. In Terrington itself, the first reference my research so far shows is to an Edward Blenke in 1541; this appears to be the same as Edward Blencow / Blenker mentioned in a 1547 will and subsequently the name is invariably Edward Blenkerne or Blenkarne. A few miles away at Farlington, I have found the name Blenkerne (Richard and John) from 1538.

With our family, therefore, some of us surmise that the name (if indeed attached to a person from the hamlet of Blencarn) “traveled” initially south-easterly to York, whence, as suggested by 16th century references, the Blenkarns spread-out to nearby villages such as Terrington, or on to the east coast. There are of course other possibilities! The name is also to be found, at least as early as the late 16th century, in “outposts” in the far north of the North Riding of Yorkshire, in the remote hamlet of Ingleby Greenhow, and on the coast at Whitby, and I have a just one clue which might connect the former with the Terrington family. I should also add that, although I have read a number of pre-1530 wills relating to Terrington and its environs to suggest that Blenk**** had not arrived here much before 1540, I have not tested other areas (such as Settrington) pre-1560.

Interestingly, if the Blenkarns did arrive in Terrington and Farlington in the 1530s this would have coincided with the religious upheaval of that decade. However, there is nothing to suggest that either village was a particular haven for those not prepared to endorse the new Church of England, or that Blenkarns of this area were subsequently recusant.

All subsequent Blenkarns from Terrington appear to be descendants of one Nicholas Blenkarne, who died in 1608, and Nicholas had featured significantly in the 1575 will of the (assumed above) Edward, although without their relationship being stated. In later generations of the Terrington Blenkarns, the name variously appears also as Blencarn(e), Blenkharn(e); only around the 1780s, which seems to be a decade of great freedom in the written interpretation of names, does Blenkhorn appear, but this quickly reverts to Blenk(h)arn in the 1790s. However in the 19th century the names Blenkin and Blenkhorn are regularly in use with families who have migrated from their eighteenth century roots, as they are to this day.

A Blenkarn family at Coulton, near both Terrington and Hovingham, is first identified in 1627. Subsequently this family appears frequently in Hovingham registers, but amazingly we have found as yet neither a link to our Terrington family (except by later inter-marriage) nor its representation in Terrington registers. A descendant of this family migrated to Nova Scotia in the 1770s, where he took the name Blenkhorn, and is the “source” of hundreds of Canadian “Blenkhorns” researched by Dr E F Carey. (Canada and USA also have their share of Blenkarns from the Terrington family of course!).

I’d be interested to hear of any comment or expansion on the above, and any pre-1560 research into variations on the Blencarn name elsewhere in Yorkshire.

N McCarthy

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