Sunday, May 8, 2016

Samuel Blackden, from England to Boston

Samuel Blackden is an ancestor seemed to have led an interesting life. Born circa 1690, probably in England, and possibly married to a woman named Ann, Samuel possibly had at least 8 children:

1. Mary Blackden;

2. Unnamed Blackden;

3. Lydia Blackden, born about 1736 in England and married Joseph Fairbanks, 21 Aug 1756 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

4.  Ann Blackden, born 21 Mar 1741/42 in England and married Dr. Jonathan Prescott, 11 Oct 1759 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

5. William Blackden, born about 1746 in England and married Sarah Oaks, about 1771;

6. Joseph Blackden, born about 1750 and died 9 Apr 1750 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

7. Elizabeth Blackden, born about 1751 and died 5 June 1831 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

8. Samuel Blackden;

As you can see, we have many children without dates and places of birth, and very few primary sources have been discovered about this family.

Samuel Blackden: England to Boston

"A List of the Families of English, Swiss, &c, Which Have Been Settled in Nova Scotia since the Year 1749, and Who Now (1752) Are Settlers in the Places Hereafter Mentioned (Halifax, et al.)" places him in Nova Scotia as of 1749. He is found in the 1752 census of Halifax. Samuel Blackden was a brewer and tavern-keeper by trade, a profession that got him into some trouble.

In the "General Index to the Annual Register" for 1758-1780 (edited by Edmund Burke, printed in London, England) is this entry:

Blackden, mr Samuel, of Halifax, Nova Scotia; remarkable verdict he obtained against captain Gambier, iv. (106, 107)

The text of the case and decision is found in "The Annual Register or a View of the History of Politics and Literature for the Year 1761" (7th edition printed in London, 1800, and available from Google books). The case is basically this:

Samuel Blackden filed suit against Captain Gambier of the ship the Burford. As the case states, "The action was brought for damages the plaintiff sustained in Nova Scotia by the defendant's taking him by violence from his freehold there, burning his house and detaining the plaintiff unjustly on board the Burford 125 days: when after a hearing of 3 hours, a special jury of merchants gave the plaintiff (number?) damages and costs of suit."

There is more specific information in "The Repository or Treasury of Politics & Literature for MDCCLXX" (June 1770), volume 2, pages 373-374, also available via Google books. It specifies that Captain Gambier took Samuel Blackden captive in 1755 and confined him for 125 days. Samuel became ill with a fever over that time and nearly died. Meanwhile, the captain's sailors also burned down Samuel's home, leaving his wife and young children with nothing.

The whole reason for this capture is that Samuel was accused of providing rum to the British sailors. Samuel was apparently innocent of this, and the captain sailed him to England and ditched him at Plymouth. Samuel somehow got to London and sought recourse until he got a decision in his favor.

Captain Gambier was punished to the tune of 800 pounds, payable to Samuel Blackden. Whether he paid it or not, I don't know. But Samuel ultimately returned to his family, because he later became a resident of Boston, Massachusetts by September of 1756, when he granted a deed for a lot at Halifax.

Samuel died 18 June 1768 in Boston. It appears his wife, Ann Blackden, died September 1788 in Halifax and is buried at St. Paul's there.

Samuel's story is over 260 years old and the facts are as tattered as his and his family's life probably was when he was taken prisoner in 1755. Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm so interested in putting it all together.

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

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