Carrick Blacker

The Home of the Blackers of Carrick Blacker.

The Blackers of Carrickblacker.


by Major Latham C.M.Blacker, Dublin, 1901


THE history of this family is interwoven with Norse, English, and Irish records to a remarkable extent. Its origin dates with considerable certainty as far back as the ninth century, when the Northmen were spreading down over the countries of Ireland, Scotland, England, France, and other regions.

The name is derived from Blacaire, [1] son of Godfred, [2] son of Ivor (or Imhar), son of Regnar Lodbrog, [3] King of Denmark, who was descended from Odin, [4] King of Asgardia, circa 76 BC. descendant of Eric, [5] King of Scandinavia, circa 2000 BC

Ivar [6] invaded Ireland in the year 872 , at the head of a large fleet, and landed where Dublin now stands, where he and his companions speedily subjugated the surrounding country, acquiring also the ports of Waterford and Limerick. This Ivar is known in the annals as Ivar Beinlaus or the Boneless.

It is curious that there is still in Norway a town called Blakier, and an ancient family Blackar of Blackargaard, connected with the Blacaire of those days.

Blacaire achieved a great reputation by slaying the champion of Ireland, Muircheartach (of the Leather Cloaks), both at Ardee, County Louth, and on the banks of the Bann, where Carrickblacker now stands. He was at the time King of Dublin (then known as Dyflin or Bally Ath Claith Dyflin) during the absence of his eldest brother Anlaff [7] (Amlave or Amlaibh) on an expedition to Northumbria, and who met with a disastrous defeat at Brunanburgh, [8] near Beverley, at the hands of Athelstane, first King of England.

On Anlaff's return to Dublin, Blacaire was on forays, in one of which he was killed AD 946, with 1,600 men, by Congaloch, titular King of Ireland, at the battle of Ath Claith. His son, Sitric MacBlacar, succeeded him; but the name now disappears from the Irish Annals, and reappears in Yorkshire in Wigstun Hundred (Domesday book) as landholders before the conquest. From thence it is traced to the parish of Grete Sandal, Yorks, in the Testamenta Eboraciensa, and finally reoccurs in Valentine Blacker, one of the officers of the "49," who returned to Ireland about the commencement of the Seventeenth century, as commandant of Horse and Foot, and who acquired the lands of Carrowbrack, [9] County Armagh, which are now held by the head of the family the Rev. Canon R. S. C. Blacker, MA, also of Woodbrook, Enniscorthy, County Wexford.

The family origins started in Norway ("Black " is a pure Swedish word, meaning a "fetter" or a "gyve"), coupled with the fact that parts of Yorkshire in those days, about the time
of the Conquest, were largely colonized by Danes and Norsemen, who were duly noted in the Domesday Book, leads one to the irresistible conclusion that it is the same stock.

Sitric MacBlacar (or son of Blacar) disappeared from the Annals of the Four Masters, and the inference is that he migrated to Yorkshire - where his uncle Anlaff had possessions of old standing - and settled as a landholder. The Blacre occurs three times in the Domesday Book ; and the total land held by them was about ten hides, or from 800 to 1,200 acres. Anlaff, and his first cousin Aulaffe Cuaran made great efforts to conquer the whole of England, having already practical possession of that part of north of Humber. They allied themselves with Constantine, [10] King of Scotland (whose daughter Aulaffe Cuaran had married), and with the Welsh princes and the Irish, and sailed up the River Humber with a fleet of 625 ships (AD 937).

Athelstane hired the aid of Thorolf and Egils, two Vikings, and with his brother Edmund gave battle at Brunanburgh (supposed to be near Beverley), where the Scottish part of the invaders' line was broken by Thorolf and Thorkill, Chancellor of London, and Anlaff's array taken in rear, and his army vanquished. He retreated to the Humber after a desperate conflict, in which 30,000 are said to have fallen, and regained Dublin. Five Danish Kings and seven earls fell in this battle, [11] and Athelstane began his reign as the first king (at any rate nominally) of all England.

It is extremely likely that the crushing defeat at Brunanburgh shook the power of the Norse dynasty of Dublin to such an extent that it was unable to cope successfully with Brian Boroimhe's intrigues and his ultimate attack at Clontarf [12]. Brian has been considered as a usurper compared with the older pure Irish dynasties of O'Nial and others; and it is clear that it was only by combining with the Danes and the Norse that he succeeded in
overcoming his native rivals. He married his daughter to Sitric III, King of Dublin, a cousin of Blacaire, and thus ensured his neutrality, the more so as there were feuds of old standing between the Danes and the Norse. After Brian's death, at the hands of Brodir, on the eve of the battle, anarchy set in, and the Norsemen, under Sitric, retained Dublin and also the other ports they had founded at Waterford and Limerick, until Strongbow's advent in Ireland.

Sitric III, towards the end of his reign, granted the revenues of certain lands in North Dublin, peopled by Norwegians, at ealduick [Baldoyle], Rochen [Raheny], and Portahern [Portrane], to Bishop Donatus, in 1038, towards the foundation of the Cathedral of Christ Church . And in the Public Record Office there is a fragment of an old charter by Strongbow to Hamund, granting the latter, who was the son of Asculph MacTorkill, the last of the Norse invaders, and who was beheaded by the Normans, certain
lands near Dublin.

All this tends to show that the Northmen maintained themselves to a comparatively late date in Ireland.

In Yorkshire they survived even longer, and it was the Danes who rose and massacred William the Conqueror's garrison in York. In revenge, he marched a large force north and devastated the whole country between York and the Tees, leaving hardly a soul alive. The Norse settlements in which the Blackers were included seem to have escaped this destruction, owing to their location in a corner of the county.[13]

Near Barnsley, in the parishes of Darton and Darfield, there are two hamlets called Blacker, where the name has been affixed to many parts of the neighbourhood in the Ordnance Survey, annexed to known Blacker estates.

Again in the TESTAMENTA EBORACIENSA, or Yorkshire Wills, compiled by the Surtees Society, the name occurs frequently as far back as 1330. These wills do not date before 1300; but the records are carried forward nearly up to 1597, the date of birth of Valentine Blacker.

These records constitute a most valuable link with the past, and their authenticity is undoubted.

During the Wars of the Roses, Sandal Castle, near Wakefield, was a noted stronghold, and among the outworks which surround it we find, among other manor houses, Blacker Hall----another landmark in our chronology."