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21 July 2015

Tuesday Genealogy Travels

Several years ago, Mary Mettler wrote a series of blogs, "Tuesday Tales on the Road." She is back on the road, this time in England with her niece, Bonnie. Below is her first blog.

A Genealogical Adventure in England
by Mary Mettler 

Admiral at Sea Robert Blake at Royal Naval College, Greenwich

My niece Bonnie and I are about to begin a trek to some of the towns of our Puritan ancestors in Southern England. First, we are visiting my grandniece Brett and her husband Alex in London. Along with sightseeing and lots of good eating, we are paying homage to our second cousin many times removed, Admiral-at-Sea Robert Blake (1599-1657). He is one of the most famous commanders in British Naval history. His plaque in St. Margaret's Church describes him as "Chief Founder of England Naval Supremacy." Blake was born in Bridgwater, Somerset, England in 1599, attended Oxford, and was elected to Parliament. At the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642, he volunteered his services to the Parliamentarians. With military successes and a dash or two of bravado, he became a hero to the Roundheads. My family loves his declaration at the Battle of Taunton in 1645 where he said he had four pairs of boots and would eat three of them before he would surrender Taunton! Fortunately for his digestive system, Taunton held.

His time in the Navy was his crowning glory. Made General-at-Sea in 1649, he played major roles in the Anglo-Dutch War of 1652-54 and the Anglo-Spanish War of 1656-57. His fleet totally destroyed the Spanish silver fleet in the Canary Islands in 1657 without the loss of a single English ship! Returning to England in failing health from old wounds, Blake died as his ship, George, neared the port of Plymouth. He was buried in Westminster Abbey but was not to be left in peace. With the Restoration, Charles II ordered Blake and other prominent Parliamentarians "ejected" from Westminster in 1661 and reburied in a common grave in the adjacent St. Margaret's Church graveyard. We visited the Church to see the stained glass window depicting scenes of his life and several plaques on the inside and outside of the Church. Combined with other sightseeing, we took a boat ride to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich to see his carved bust among the famous Naval heroes on the facade of the building. The history of St. Margaret's is fascinating, as are the many accomplishments of Admiral-at-Sea Robert Blake

We will revisit the Blake family when we visit Somerset toward the end of our trip. Now, it's time for another great eating experience!

Plaque at St. Margaret's Church

Blake Stained Glass Window

St. Margaret's Church

If you would like to share stories of your own genealogical adventure, please contact Linda Okazaki.

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