William Blake
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William Blake (1757 - 1827)

William Blake
Born in Westminster, London, Englandmap
Brother of
Husband of — married 18 Aug 1782 in Battersea, Surrey, Englandmap
Died in Westminster, London, Englandmap
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Profile last modified | Created 2 Dec 2017
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Contents

Biography

Notables Project
William Blake is Notable.

William Blake was born on 28 November 1757 at at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in Soho, London[1] and was baptized on 11 December 1757 at St. James, Westminster, Middlesex, England, the son of James Blake and Catherine .[2][3]

His mother is reported to have been Catherine (Wright) the widow of Thomas Armitage [4][1]

Early Years

From about the age of 10, William studied at the drawing academy of Henry Pars where engraving was preferred to drawing. According to Essick, this appears to have been his first contact with any formal education.,[5] At age 12 he began to write original verse, some, later printed in the 'Poetical Sketches' (DNB, Vol.1-22, p.642). At age 14 he was apprenticed to the commercial engraver, James Basire, in the Strand,[6] who said his mind was simple not cunning like 2 otherapprentices[7], before entering the Royal Academy Schools as an engraver at the age of twenty-two.[8]

Marriage

William married after 18 Aug 1782 (banns) at St Mary's Church, Battersea, Wandsworth, England to Catherine Butcher/Bucher, an impoverished grocer's daughter who could neither read nor write.[8][9][10]

Another source reports her name as Catherine Sophia Butcher.[11]

Blake taught Catherine, who was 5 years younger, to read and write and to use the printing press. Despite having no children, their marriage was successful. She was "one of the best wives that ever fell to the lot of a man of genius" (DNB, Vol.1-22, p.643), and they started married life at 23 Green Street, Leicester Fields, London, later to become Leicester Square.

In 1784 he opened he opened a printseller's shop in Broad Street in a partnership with a fellow engraver, Parker, while his youngest brother Robert lived with him and Catherine, but died in 1787, when they gave up the shop and moved to 28 Poland street.

Heightened Awareness

Taylor, 2017, p.58 devotes half a paragraph to William Blake's state of consciousness as a poet, who "writes of being able to see "heaven in a wild flower" and "eternity in an hour"". Taylor terms it 'Natural Wakefulness', implying an absence of conscious spirituality in it's determination. William Blake called his own state of consciousness "Imaginative Vision". According to Richard Maurice Burke's Chapter 11 of his 1901 "Cosmic Consiousness"[12], which has an extensive discussion on Blake's personality, this points in so many ways to his having attained Cosmic Consciousness.

Death and Burial

On the day of his death, he composed and uttered songs to his Maker so sweetly to the ear of his Catherine that when she stood to hear him he, looking upon her most affectionately, said: "My beloved, they are not mine—no, they are not mine!" He told her they would not be parted; he should always be about her to take care of her.

On his deathbed, Blake drew a picture of Catherine as his last work, stating "you have ever been an angel to me."[10].

Robert N. Essick, his biographer in the Oxford National Dictionary of National Biography states that William Blake died at 3 Fountain Court on the 12th August 1827. He quotes a contemporary reference, written 3 days after his death, stating that he died
died on Sunday Night at 6 O'clock in a most glorious manner[...]
[13].

The burial register entry for the dissenter's burial.grounds at Bunhill fields records his burial National Archives on 17 August 1827. [14][15][16]

Originally, he was buried in an unmarked grave. On the century of his death a stone was placed over his grave. This commemorated both William and his wife Catherine Sophia whose grave was 70 metres away so was rather ambiguously worded. The stone reads

NEAR BY LIE THE REMAINS OF THE POET PAINTER

WILLIAM BLAKE 1757-1827 AND OF HIS WIFE

CATHERINE SOPHIA 1762-1831

The stone was moved in 1965 so is in fact now not over his original grave.[17]

Legacy

Research Notes

Two other christening records are of note. A christening record was for a William Blake, son of James Blake and Catherine (Unknown), on 21 November 1802 at St. Just in Roseland, Cornwall, England.[18] Also a christening for a William Blake, son of James Blake, christened on 5 May 1758 at Crosscanoby, Cumberland, England.[19]

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia contributors. Wikipedia Citing Raine, Kathleen. World of Art: William Blake. (Thames & Hudson, 1970) Retrieved 9 Mar 2018.
  2. England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. FamilySearch, William Blake, 28 Nov 1757; citing St. James, Westminster, Middlesex, England, Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,042,308.
  3. Westminster Archives Centre, Parish Register, St Jame's Piccadilly, Image viewed on findmypast.co.uk
  4. Essick, Robert N. Blake, William (1757–1827), engraver, artist, and poet. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 16 Jun. 2018. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-2585. Subs. free UK library cards
  5. Essick. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  6. London Roll, data base
    Date: 04/08/1772
    Apprenticeship
    Bond Length:(not stated) Bond Value: £52.10s. - paid by Father
    Note: to James Basire [LBT/21828 (master, Stationer's company) [Londonroll.org]
  7. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Father%27s_Memoirs_of_his_Child#xxxv
  8. 8.0 8.1 Barker, Elizabeth E. “William Blake (1757–1827).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. William Blake (1757–1827) (October 2004) Retrieved 9 Mar 2018.
  9. England Marriages, 1538–1973. FamilySearch, William Blake and Catherine Butcher, 18 Aug 1782; citing St. Mary, Battersea, Surrey, England, reference p. 1782 No. 281, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,041,673.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wikipedia contributors. Catherine Blake Retrieved 9 Mar 2018.
  11. London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1931; Reference Number: p70/mry2/036
  12. https://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/cc/cc20.htm
  13. Essick R.N. ODNB biography William Blake 1757–1827 https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/2585
  14. William Blake 69 years, Fountain Court Strand
    The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; General Register Office: Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non-parochial Registers Commissions of 1837 and 1857; Class Number: RG 4 Piece 3997: Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, City Road, 1825-1828 viewed on ancestry.co.uk
  15. England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8), 1588-1977. FamilySearch, William Blake, 17 Aug 1827, Burial; citing p. 200, Bunhill Fields, London, record group RG4, Public Record Office, London.
  16. According to Charles Reed, William Blake, "...celebrated Engraver and Poet... He was a person of eccentric character, and his etchings were remarkable for their peculiar and original manner. He died August 12, 1828
    Reed, Charles. History of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground. (London: C. Skipper and East, 1893) HathiTrust.org Page 34. This appears to be an error since The 12th August 1827 was a Sunday which conforms with the information in the ODNB, and the burial record for 1827
  17. The Blake Society, Visiting Blake's Grave accessed 16th June 2018
  18. England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. FamilySearch, William Blake in entry for James Blake, 21 Nov 1802; citing ST JUST IN ROSELAND, CORNWALL, ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 246,801.
  19. England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 FamilySearch, William Blake, 05 May 1758; citing Crosscanoby, Cumberland, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 90,600.

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Just completed a long list of profiles linking William to the global tree.
posted by Jeff Bronks

William is 36 degrees from Jaki Erdoes, 38 degrees from Wallis Windsor and 36 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.