Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We Sail Tonight with our Famous Cousin, Admiral Robert Blake

Admiral Robert Blake
Our 1st Cousin, 11 Times Removed

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

Hello Clan,
Ready for a sea adventure tonight? Prepare yourselves for we board one of His Majesty’s Ships and sail under the banner of our 1st Cousin, 11 times removed, the famous Admiral Robert Blake (1599 to August 17, 1657).
Genealogy Tie:
Admiral Blake's Uncle was Giles Blake, our 11th Great Grandfather. His Grandfather, John Blake, is our 12th Great Grandfather.
Cousin Robert was one of the most famous English Admirals of the 17th Century. He was one of 13 children born to our 11th Great Uncle Humphrey Blake. He attended the Bridgwater Grammar School for Boys as a youngster. In 1638 he decided to run for the British Parliament. In 1640 he was elected to Parliament fro Bridgwater.

The English Civil War broke out. Robert failed to win reelection and entered the military career on the side of the Parliamentarians - standing against the Monarchy. He fought on land during the Siege of Bristol in 1643, the Siege of Lyme in 1644, and the Siege of Taunton (1645). At Taunton he famously declared that he would eat three of his own four pairs of boots before he would surrender.

Robert Blake was appointed General at Sea (Admiral) in 1649, and is often referred to as the “Father of the Royal Navy”. As well as being largely responsible for building the largest navy the country had then ever known. In 1652 he produced the Royal Navy’s first ever set of rules and regulations, listing 39 offences and their punishments - mostly death. He was also the first to repeatedly successfully attack despite fire from shore forts.

Blake led his navy to important sea victories during the English Civil War, working hard to protect Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England and preventing the Monarchy from reestablishing itself in Great Britain. For this service he was honored by Parliament and made a member of the Council of State.

Blake’s next adventures were during the first Anglo-Dutch War. During this war Blake demanded that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty enact major reforms. They complied by enacting Articles of War to reinforce the authority of an Admiral over his captains. Eventually Blake helped in bring peace with the Dutch.

In 1655 Blake was sent to the Mediterranean to obtain compensation from the pirate states that had been attacking English shipping. The Bey of Tunis refused to offer compensation, and with 15 ships, Blake destroyed the 2 shore batteries and 9 Algerian ships in Porto Farina, the first time shore batteries had been taken out without landing men ashore.

In 1656 war broke out with Spain. In 1657 Blake won against the Spanish West Indian Fleet over the seizure of Jamaica in the West Indies. Cromwell have Blake an expensive diamond ring for his command of the battle at Tenerife. Blake destroyed 16 Spanish ships despite being under fire from shore batteries and attacking and withdrawing on the tide. Lord Nielson ranked Blake as one of the greatest naval Generals ever known, even when compaired with his own reputation.

Admiral Robert Blake 1599 - 1657
Bridgwater Town Centre

Blake died from old wounds while sailing home. He laid in state in the Queen’s House, Greenwich and was buried in Westminster Abbey. After the Monarchy was restored his body was exhumed and dumped in a common grave on the orders of the new king, Charles II.


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