The story of our family...for my sons

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tripping with Ralph Blankenship

The first mention of Ralph Blankinship was in 1690 Henrico Court when Richard Kennon
petitioned for 8,000 acres of land. Ralph's name was listed along with 90
white persons and 70 negroes imported in 1686 and 1687. (Henrico OB
1678-1793:362) A Ralph Blankship was named as headright of Capt. Henry
Harrison & Philip Ludwell for land in Surry and Isle of Wright on June 16,
1714. (Pat. 10:165). Both Surry and the Isle of Wright are villages to the
southeast of where Ralph Blankinship homesteaded on Swift Creek just south
of the James River northwestern extension. Both Surry and Isle of Wright are
near Jamestown, VA

There also is a slightly different history regarding Ralph Blankinship, the
immigrant ancestor, who in about 1686/87 arrived in Virginia. He also has
been mentioned among 160 persons as headrights for a Mr Richard Kennon's
land patent application in 1690. There is an excellent discussion of this by
Lloyd Bockstruck in "The Blankenship Family of Virginia," The American
Genealogist, XXXII (1976) p.240 and by Gayle King Blankenship in her book,
Blankenship Ancestors, p.45. Both Mr. Bockstruck and Mrs. Blankenship
provide thorough reference to the court records of Virginia.

In the article below, "The Blankenship Family of Virginia," The American
Genealogist, XXXII (1976) pg. 240, Lloyd Bockstruck comments as follows on
his primary source of information:

Ralph Blankenship came to the colony of Virginia as an indentured servant in
1686 or 1687 and settled in Henrico County. On 1 April 1690 Mr. Richard
Kennon of Henrico County came into court and made application for a patent
of 8000 acres for importing 90 people and 70 Negroes. Kennon named as
headrights the following individuals . . . Ralph Blankinship . . et al.

It should be noted that Ralph Blankinship was "imported" to Virginia. This
is a legal term of that era which meant someone else paid his passage from
Europe to America. In Quarter Court 18 November 1618, The Virginia Company
passed laws to encourage immigration commonly called "The Great Charter of
privileges, orders and laws".' One of them, called a headright, was provided
the right to receive 50 acres of land for anyone settling (or paying for
someone who settled) in Virginia. The Privy council ordered on 22 July 1634
that patents for headrights be issued after the Virginia Company dissolved,
and the May 1779 session set a limit to claim or forfeit headrights to
twelve months.The patent didn't always name the same person who immigrated
or paid for the immigration of a settler, because a headright could be
bought or sold. Sometimes a long period of time lapsed between claiming the
headright and the patent. There was downright fraud to obtain patents, two
claimants for the same immigrant, others would claim a headright every time
they returned from abroad. It was easy to get more than you were entitled
to, and large tracts could be accumulated.

Documentation for Ralph Blankinship in existence in Virginia in 1690 may
also be found in Henrico Co. VA Order Book 1678-1793 page 362, by Gayle

There was a legal deposition made to the Henrico Court on 2 Apr. 1695 which
stated that Ralph Blankinship was about 33 years of age; Henrico Wills &
Deeds 1688-97, p. 577 (prev. sub. by Karen. King Turner). Wills & Deeds,
1710-14 ; inventory of Ralph Blankenship by court order of 5 Apr. 1714;
value L26/00/6; by James Aiken, Robert Hudson, and William Ligon [Also see
Henrico co Order Book, April 15, 1714 p 277, cited by BLANKINSHIP ROOTS,
HISTORY, c1978. So, if Ralph BLANKINSHIP was 33 years old in 1695, then he
was probably born in 1662.

We often observe in BLANKENSHIP genealogy publications that the year of
Ralph Blankinship's arrival in America was 1686/7. Sometimes this date is
ambiguously noted, as in Lloyd Bockstruct's reference where he cites Ralph's
arrival date as 1686 "or" 1687. The date written as 1686/7 indicates he
arrived between 1 January and 25 March 1686. I've always found this a bit
strange because these winter months are dangerous times for Atlantic sea
passage. I therefore do not believe he made his Atlantic transit between 1
January and 25 March. However, because of his arrival in Virginia between 1
January and 25 March I assume that the ship which Ralph came on actually
departed from Barbados in the Caribbean, which was the most common transit
point from England and was the customary route for English ships. People
often spent time resting on Barbados island before continuing their travel
onward to the English colonies in America. In fact some who spent too much
time on Barbados got tagged with an indecent nickname because of the wicked
temptations that existed there. Before 1752 (in Britain) the new year began
on March 25th (Lady Day). Dates between January 1st and March 24th were
therefore at the end of the year rather than the beginning. To avoid
confusion, dates in this range are marked with an asterisk e.g. 12 Feb
1686*. Such dates are sometimes seen in the form 12 Feb 1686/7. So it is my
assumption that Ralph BLANKENSHIP, if he did actually arrive in Virginia in
1686/7, probably departed England during the summer or early fall of 1685
such that he would arrive in Barbados in late 1685. These suppositions for
places and dates are assumptions based on my knowledge of history but cannot
be confirmed. Furthermore, if he departed from England, it is most likely
that the port of departure was one of the southern English ports. This is
based upon identified sailing routes for that particular period in time.

There is no mention whatever from any source to suggest that Ralph
Blankinship was married when he arrived in Virginia. His age upon arrival in
1687 was 24 so, if he was like many others from England and Ireland at that
time, he had not yet established himself financially and probably was not
ready to make himself available as a suitor. In fact, we know that someone
else paid for Ralph's ship passage so we can assume, as does Lloyd
Bockstruck, that Ralph was a poor boy, an indentured servant as it were.
However, he didn't wait too long after his arrival to wed Martha. His first
son Richard is believed to have been born in 1692, some six years after his
arrival in Virginia when Ralph was then 30.

In 1619 a law was passed in Jamestown, Virginia Colony, which required farmers to grow hemp. Marijuana also became a major trade item between Central and South Asia during this time.


  1. My name is Eddie Blankenship. I came across this trying to find More about Ralph. Very interesting.

  2. Ralph is my 7th great grand-father and this is fascinating.

  3. NOw *this* is genealogy! Thank you for sharing.