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Irish Surname - Blake

Origin of the Irish surname Blake and its variations

The Irish surname Blake, also spelled Blaikie, Black, and Blakely, has its origins in County Galway in the west of Ireland. The name is derived from the Old English word "blac," which means "black" or "dark," and it is believed to have been brought to Ireland by English settlers during the 13th century. Many members of the family were also involved in politics and held positions of power and influence.

Richard Caddell 'The Black' came to Ireland from Wales with the Normans in the 12th century. He was known as Niger or Le Blaca (the black one) and his descendents assumed the name Blake from his nickname. A descendent of his was commanded in 1303 as Sheriff of Connaught. The Blakes were one of the original fourteen Tribes of Galway - the 'Tribes' were groupings of wealthy merchant families in the county. By the end of the 18th century, the Blakes had squandered their money and lost most of their estates.

The Blake surname has spread throughout the world due to emigration, particularly to North America and Australia. Today, the Blake name remains relatively common in Ireland and around the world.

Names of famous people with the surname Blake

  • William Blake: An English poet, painter, and printmaker who is known for his visionary poetry and artwork. He was a key figure in the Romantic movement in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
  • Eubie Blake: An American pianist and composer who was a major figure in the development of ragtime music. He composed hundreds of pieces of music and performed well into his 90s.
  • James Blake: An American retired professional tennis player who was ranked world No. 4 in singles and won 10 career singles titles. He is also known for his philanthropic work and activism on social issues.
  • Edmund Blake and Steeplechase

    In 1752 Edmund Blake challenged a neighbour to race him from Buttevant in north Cork to Doneraile, four miles away, while all the time keeping the Doneraile steeple in sight. Hence was born the racing word 'steeplechase'.

    Coat of arms and motto of the Irish surname Blake

    The coat of arms for the Blake family features a silver shield with a black chevron between three black bears, with a red chief that contains three gold crowns.

    As for the motto, take your pick:
    "Forti et fideli nihil difficile," which translates to "To the brave and faithful nothing is difficult."
    "Virtus sola Nobilitat" = "Virtue alone ennobles""

    Please Note

    There is often limited information available on a specific coat of arms and motto for an Irish surname. Sometimes there are many variations, sometimes none, we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection. Please visit our Coat of Arms and Motto page for more information.

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