Discover the Legacy of the Blankenship Family

Brandon L. Blankenship: Puzzling Family Pieces Together

Explore the rich history and heritage of the Blankenship family, tracing our roots through generations of stories, achievements, and milestones.

This research is limited to the Blankenship paternal line. Three question marks “???” indicates that information is missing. The tilde “~” indicates an approximation. 

At the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, 12,000 years ago, the sea levels around northern Europe were low enough for Stone Age hunter-gatherers to cross, on foot, into what are now the islands of Great Britain. Farming spread to the islands by about 4,000 B.C., and the Neolithic inhabitants erected their remarkable and puzzling stone monuments, including the famed Stonehenge.

Beginning in about 2,500 B.C., successive waves of tribes settled in the region. These tribes are often termed ‘Celts’, however that term is an 18th century invention. The Celts were not a nation in any sense, but a widespread group of tribes that shared a common cultural and linguistic background.

Originating in central Europe, they spread to dominate most of western Europe, the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula. Their dominance could not withstand the rise of the Roman Empire, however.

After defeating the Celts of Gaul (modern-day France, Luxembourg, Belgium and western areas of Germany and Switzerland), the Romans invaded the British Isles in 43 A.D. Most of southern Britain was conquered and occupied over the course of a few decades and became the Roman province of Britannia. Hadrian’s Wall, in the north of England, marked the approximate extent of Roman control. Those clans who were not assimilated into the Roman Empire were forced to retreat to other areas that remained Celtic, such as Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Brittany. The Roman presence largely wiped out most traces of pre-existing culture in England—even replacing the language with Latin.

Early History

Members of the ancient “Blen clan” are said to have inhabited the land which is now on the border of Scotland and England prior to the Norman conquest.

After the invasion, when land was shared out amongst the Normans no one wanted this particular area so the sitting tenant, Blencan, was allowed to keep it. The land is thought to have once been known as ‘Blencan’s Hope’, meaning valley.

Blencan and Blenkin are sometimes used interchangeably.

1000s

Much of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Northumberland had been put to ruin by the invading armies of William the Conqueror shortly after 1066 A.D. Many of the villiages in these northern English counties were plundere and burned to the ground to quell any and all insurrections against the rule of William the Conqueror.

Sir Ranulph de Blenkinsopp I b1180 Northumberland, England.

1200s

Sir Randolph De Blenkinsopp, II b1200 New Britain, Ireland

Sometime before 1240 AD those with the Blencan or Blenkin suranme appended the suffix “SOP” which referred to their livelihood. This suffix or terminal syllable meant “wheat sheaves” in Gaelic and Old Norse. “SOP,” when used as a suffix, would indicate that these people were primarily engaged in wheat farming, the principal economic commodity in northern England.

A Ranulph Blenkinsopp was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Northumberland as owning land in the Haltwhistle area in 1240, and it is thought that he lived in a fortified manor house.

Randolph de Blenkinsopp III b1240 Blenkinsop Castle, Greenhead/Haltwhistle, Northumberland, England.

Randolph de Blenkinsopp III d??? Tindale, Northumberland, England, United Kingdom

1240-1249
Blenkens-hope, Northumberland Co., England

Ranulph Blenkenishope

It was reckoned within the Nicholas de Boltby’s barony of Tindale in the time of Henry the third, and then holden of him by Ranulph de Blenkenishope by the socage tenure of the annual payment of half a mark. (f) Afterwards, the heiress of the Boltbys married Thomas de Multon, lord of Egermont, of whom, and his successors the Lucys, it was holden by the same tenure, and under the description of the monor or fee of Blenkensop.

Rev. Hodgson’s History of Northumberland, Page #128

Blenkens-hope, Northumberland Co., England

Ranulph Blenkonshope

Elizabeth Kardoile, wife of Thomas Blenkinshope

Ranulph de Blenkonshope held the ville of Blenkens-hope of the garony of Nicholas de Bolteby, of Tindale, about the year 1240, and very frequently occurs as a witness of charters respecting Softly, Fetherstanhaugh, Lambley, Wyden Eals, and other Neighbouring places about that period. (j) Alice, Wife of Thomas de Carleton, and Elizabeth Blenkansopp, Daughter of Mary, wife of John Kardoile, and the daughter of Thomas del Recke, are mentioned in a deed without date, and now in the possession of Lord Wallace.

Rev. Hodgson’s History of Northumberland, Page #129

Blenkens-hope Manor, Northumberland Co., England

Ranulph Blenkenshope

Ranulph De Blenkenshope held the of Blenkenshope of the Barooy of Nicholas De Bolteby of Tindale, in 1240 Wife shown as Eva with son Thomas.

Taken from the Blenkensop Castle Tree

Compiled by James W. Blankenship jkblank1(at)sbcglobal.net From: Don Blankenship db452(at)earthlink.net

1300s

Castle painting

Thomas de Blankenship I b1300 Yorkshire, England.
(“I” is added for clarity but not supported by any paper records.)

The castle is thought to have been built in 1339, and historical documents show that Thomas de Blecansopp was given a licence by King Edward III to crenellate, or fortify, the property in 1340.

Thomas de Blenkinsopp II b1356 Blenkinsopp Castle, Green-Haltwhistle, Northumberland Co, England.
(“II” is added for clarity but not supported by any paper records.)

Thomas de Blenkinsopp I d1388 Greenhead, Northumberland, England.

Robert de Blenkinsopp b1398 Blenkinsopp Castle, Green-Haltwhistle, Northumberland Co, England.

1400s

William de Blenkinsop b1429 Blenkinsopp Castle, Green-Haltwhistle, Northumberland Co, England.

Sir Thomas Blankenship b1460 in Greenhead, Northumberland, England, United Kingdom.

Elizabeth Kardoile b1463.

Sir Thomas Blankenship married Elizabeth Kardoile about 1487, in Northumberland, England.
(They were the parents of at least 1 son.)

Isabella Lee Stanley b1486.

John Blenkinsopp b1488, in Greenhead, Northumberland, England.

Sir Thomas Blankenship (29) d1488.

Medieval patriot Bryan de Blenkinsopp was said to have a lust for wealth, and married a French woman who was plain, but possessed a chest of gold so heavy it took 12 men to carry it.

She would not tell Sir Bryan where she and her servants had hidden it, eventually causing him to quit the castle, leaving her behind. Legend has it that, tortured by her actions, she was doomed to haunt the castle, and is known as the White Lady.

1500s

Members of the Blenkinsopp family lived in the castle (a L-plan tower house) for several centuries, but when it began to decay in the 1500s they left for their other properties at nearby Bellister Castle, near Haltwhistle, and Dryburnhaugh, near Greenhead. Mentioned in 1541 as “At Blenkinsoppe ys a toure of thinherytaunce of John Blenkinsoppe & is decayee in the roofe & not in good rep’ac’ons.”

Elizabeth Kardoile d1545.

John Blenkinsopp marries Isabella Lee Stanley about 1558, in England.
(They were the parents of at least 1 son England.)

Sir William Blankenship b1/1560, in Greenhead, Northumberland, England.

John Blenkinsopp (80) d12/26/1568 in his hometown of Greenhead, Northumberland, England.

Isabella Lee Stanley d12/1/1570 buried Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, England.

Rose Stanley b1580 in Northumberland, England.

Sir William Blankenship married Rose Stanley.
(They had at least 1 son and 2 daughters.)

During the 1500’s, there is evidence of a variation in the spelling of the surname to Blenkinship. The “SHIP” suffix, meaning “sheep” in the Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon languages, would denote those of the “Blenkin” clan who engaged in raising sheep for a living.

Growing wheat and raising sheep were the two primary livelihoods of people living in northern England and southern Scotland since the time of the Roman conquest of this area.

Map of Blencarn

Records of Blankinship appear largely to the west in Cumberland County around Penrith.

1600s

Ralph Blankenship I b1600 in Northumberland, England.

Mary M. Musgrave b1600.

Rose Stanley d1601 in Northumberland, England.

Sir Wiliiam Blankenship (60) d1620 in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, England.

Ralph Blankenship I married Mary M. Musgrave in 1631, in Northumberland, England.
(They were the parents of at least 1 son.)

Ralph Blankenship, II b7/22/1632 in Whickham, Durham, England.

Ralph Blankenship, II married Martha Hudson Stanley in 1656, in Chesterfield, Chesterfield, Virginia, United States.
(They were the parents of at least 3 sons.)

Ralph Blenkinsopp, IV b~1660-1662 in Cumberland, England.

Martha Clay b1662 in Henrico, Virginia, British Colonial America.

Ralph Blankenship I (68) d1668, in Henrico, Virginia, British Colonial America.

Mary M. Musgrave d1670.

Ralph (Blenkinsopp) Blankenship arrived in the colony of Virginia as an indentured servant in 1686 or 1687 (he was about 24 years old) and settled in Henrico County, VA.

Ralph’s sea passage was paid for by Richard Kennon, an English aristocrat and representative to the Virgina House of Burgesses.

During that era these sea passages across the Atlantic typically cost about 30 English pounds. Kennon was a wealthy merchant then living at Bermuda Hundred located about 15 miles south of Richmond.

Ralph presumable became an indentured servant to Kennon for five years. Viginia law dictated that if such servants were under nineteen years of age, they must be brought into Court, to have their Age adjudged; and from the age they are judged to be of, they had to work in servitude until they reached twenty-four. If they were adjudged upwards of nineteen, they were then only to be servants for a term of five years.

Ralph Blankenship, IV married Martha Clay in 1690, in Henrico, Virginia, British Colonial America.
(They were the parents of at least 8 sons and 4 daughters.)

Mr. Richard Kennon application for patent of 8,000 acres for importing 90 people and 70 Negroes. April 1, 1690.
Henrico Co. Record Book 2

Ralph Blankenship deposed on April 2, 1695 that he was about 33 years of age.

John Buckley “Buck” Blankenship b4/9/1695, in Chesterfield, Virginia, British Colonial America.

The Virginia Company founded the first permanent English colony at Jamestown in 1607.

A series of conflicts regarding England’s governance during the years 1642 to 1651 is now known as The English Civil War. Charles I summoned supporters to join him against his enemies in Parliament. In October 1642, nearly 10,000 men fought for Charles I and chased Parliament across the River Tamar. Fighting continued for years and was finally ended at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651, with a Parliamentarian victory.

The Glorious Revolution (1688–1689) brought the downfall of Catholic King James II and the reign of his Protestant daughter Mary and her Dutch husband, William III of Orange.

1700s

First and only evidence of the surnames Blankenship and Blankinship in documented English history.

Elizabeth Hudson b7/16/1704.

In America, Martha and Ralph Blankenship, IV lived one mile south (SSE) of present-day town of Chesterfield, VA. The children of Ralph became farmers in southern Virginia. (Source: Henrico Co., VA Order Book)

The Henrico County court at Varina, Virginia was located 10 miles northeast of Ralph Blankinship’s homestead near Chesterfield. The Blankinship homestead was just east of Swift Creek near Coldwater Run located one mile SSE of Chesterfield along the old Indian road which today is known as Route 10.

Children of Ralph and Martha:

  • Richard
  • William
  • James
  • Ralph

Ralph Blankenship, IV (54) dies April, 15 1714 in Henrico, Virginia, British Colonial America. (No will discovered.)

There is a Henrico County court ordered death inventory of Ralph Blankinship’s personal effects published in Col. Leslie Blankinship’s book “The Blankenship Family.”

Ralph Blankenship, II (88) died in 1720, in James City, Virginia, British Colonial America and was buried in Virginia, British Colonial America.

Martha gets 250 acres on the south side of the James River beginning Henry Marshall’s lines to east side of the main road. July 9, 1724

Martha remarries Edward Stanley October 5, 1725. She is widowed again June 5, 1727

Martha Clay Blankenship Stanley dies 1734 in Henrico, Virginia, British Colonial America.

Ralph Blankenship, John Blankenship, and James Blankenship named as heirs in Edward Stanley will (Page 26) and granted three plantations at Coldwater Run 230 acres.  July 5, 1726

By 1727 the castle was in ruins, and at around this time the Coulson family from Jesmond took ownership of the estate through marriage.

John Buckley “Buck” Blankenship married Elizabeth Hudson ~1729.
(They had at least 14 sons and 4 daughters.)

Sarah Elizabeth Wilkinson b1739

Isham Blankenship, Sr b1740, in Chesterfield, Virginia, British Colonial America

John Buckley “Buck” Blankenship (59) d4/9/1754
(Died in his hometown in Chesterfield, Virginia, British Colonial America.)

Isham Blankenship, Sr. married Sarah Elizabeth Wilkinson in 1756, in Chesterfield, Virginia, British Colonial America.
(They were the parents of at least 10 sons and 3 daughters.)

William Blankenship, Sr. b1761
Born in Chesterfield, Virginia, British Colonial America.

William Blankenship, Sr. married Molly Trent about 1780, in Virginia, United States.
(They were the parents of at least 9 sons and 1 daughter.)

Isham Blankenship, Sr. lived in Franklin, Virginia, United States in 1786.

In June 1781, Lord Cornwallis’ British army was near the Blankinship homestead in Goochland County, Virginia. During the Revolutionary War, British troops destroyed many official records at the Henrico County Court House, which had moved to Richmond in 1752. Benedict Arnold’s army occupied Richmond in January 1781, prompting the Henrico County militia to defend against the invasion. The destruction of these records makes the few surviving documents validating Ralph Blankinship’s immigration to colonial Virginia particularly valuable. Remaining documents confirm Ralph and Martha Blankinship’s residence in Henrico County from about 1686 until Ralph’s death around April 1714.

Elizabeth Hudson 4/29/1789

Hezekiah Blankenship b1792

In Colonial Virgina men were obligated to serve in the local militia which acted as a defense force protecting settlers from Indian attacks, which were quite common then. These Indian attacks persisted until the early 1760’s when a Viriginia militia force was assembled by the Virginia Governor to fight the Indians that were becoming a serious threat. There is an historical record of Blankenship being called to service in that rather lengthy engagement which preceded the War of Revolution by about 15 years.

In June 1781, Lord Cornwallis‘ British army was near the Blankinship homestead in Goochland County, Virginia. During the Revolutionary War, British troops destroyed many official records at the Henrico County Court House, which had moved to Richmond in 1752. Benedict Arnold‘s army occupied Richmond in January 1781, prompting the Henrico County militia to defend against the invasion. The destruction of these records makes the few surviving documents validating Ralph Blankinship’s immigration to colonial Virginia particularly valuable. Remaining documents confirm Martha and Ralph Blankinship’s residence in Henrico County from about 1686 until Ralph’s death around April 1714.

1800s

Nancy Bowling b1800

William Blankenship, Sr. lived in Floyd, Kentucky, United States in 1810 and Chesterfield, Chesterfield, Virginia, United States in 1810.

Isham Blankenship, Sr. (70) died in 1810, in Cane Creek, Rutherford, North Carolina, United States.
(Buried in Blankenship Family Cemetery, Rutherfordton, Rutherford, North Carolina, United States.)

Hezekiah Blankenship married Nancy Bowling 9/14/1815
(Tazewell, Virginia, United States.)
(They were the parents of at least 5 sons and 10 daughters.)

James Alfred Blankenship, Sr. b1822
(Born in Tazewell, Virginia, United States.)
(“Sr.” designation for clarity only. It is not found in the paper records.)

Sarah Elizabeth Wilkinson d1826

Hezekiah Blankenship lived in Halifax, Virginia, United States in 1830.

William Blankenship, Sr. (74) d7/6/1835
(Died in Morgan, Kentucky, United States, buried in Pike, Kentucky, United States.)

Hezekiah Blankenship lived in North District, Halifax, Virginia, United States in 1840.

Nancy Bowling d1842

James Alfred Blankenship married Mary Mullins about 1843, in Tazewell, Virginia, United States.
(They were the parents of at least 3 sons and 4 daughters.)

James Alfred Blankenship, Jr.  b12/1855
(“Jr.” designation for clarity only. It is not found in the paper records.)

James Alfred Blankenship, Sr. lived in Wyoming, Virginia, United States in 1860.

Hezekiah Blankenship (71) d1863

James Alfred Blankenship, Sr. lived in West Virginia, United States in 1870.

The Blenkensopp “castle” was enlarged and partly rebuilt in Tudor style between 1877-80.

Floyd Walter Blankenship married Linda Bert Brown, married 1877.
(They had at least 7 sons and 2 daughters.)

Floyd Walter Blankenship b5/20/1880
(Born in Cullman, Alabama, United States to father James Alfred Blankenship, Jr. (24) and mother Sarah Ann Barnes (23)).
Alabama Blankenship Records

James Alfred Blankenship, Sr. (58) d6/1/1880
(Died in Raleigh, West Virginia, United States.)

A new house was built on the “Castle” site in the 1830s and the castle was rebuilt between 1877 and 1880 as a mansion, before it became a hotel.

1900s

Leroy Bennett Blankenship b7/31/1901
(Born in New Castle, Alabama.)

Dontis Morgan and Leroy B. Blankenship married 4/22/1921
(“L.B.” is on Leroy Jr.’s birth certificate, “Leroy B.” is on Leroy Jr.’s marriage certificate.)

Leroy Singleton Blankenship b11/30/1924

The “castle” building burned down in 1954 and although it was rebuilt, some of the ruins attached to the house had to be demolished as they were unsafe.

James Alfred Blankenship (76) d7/12/1932
(Vinemont, Cullman County, Alabama, USA)

Floyd Walter Blankenship (57) d9/14/1937
(Buried in Cullman, Alabama, United States.)

Brandon Lee Blankenship b1966

Leroy Bennett Blankenship d8/20/1990
(buried in Walnut Cove Cemetery in 2421 Hamburg Pike, Jeffersonville, IN 47130)

Leroy Singleton Blankenship dMay 20, 2003

The Blankenship Name

The original spelling of Blankenship was Blenkinsopp which seems to originate in the early medieval Cumbric language, probably as blaen ‘top’ + kein ‘back, ridge’ (thus ‘top of the ridge’). To this was later added the Old English element hop ‘valley’.

Blenkinsopp Castle

The ancient manor of Blenkinsopp was held by the eponymous Blenkinsopp family from the 13th century, and they created a substantial tower house. A licence to crenellate the house was granted on 6 May 1340 by King Edward III.

Family Milestones

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