Blake, Martha Louisa née Attersoll, 1790—1853
by Benjamin Colbert
Martha Louisa Attersoll Blake was the eldest daughter of Joseph Attersoll (d. 1812), malthouse proprietor and corn merchant, of Dorset Cottage, Crab Tree, Fulham and later 66 Portland Place, and his second wife (m. 1783), Martha Attersoll, née Webb (d. 1821), of All Hallows, London. The success of her father’s business ventures ensured a comfortable upbringing and there is record of her, aged 16, subscribing to the 1806 lectures of the Royal Institution on Albemarle Street (her younger sister, Charlotte, also attended, and her older brother, John Attersoll, was an annual subscriber).
In 1810, she married Henry Blake (1789-1856), an Irish peer, and travelled with him to his estates in Lehinch, County Mayo, Ireland. In 1812, the year in which both her father and her first-born infant Charlotte Anne Blake died, the Blakes returned to England. They were soon occupied in negotiating an agreement with the depleted Attersoll estate over £10,000 in shares that Joseph Attersoll had promised to transfer as part of the jointure for his daughter, but which he never did (Henry Blake accepted a reduced package, which triggered a case in the Court of the King’s Bench over its legal registration that wasn’t concluded until 1824).
In 1816, Martha Blake and her husband settled permanently in Ireland, taking up residence by 1819-20 on Blake’s Galway estates near Renvyle, ending a long-standing family tradition of governing the estate as absentee landlords. After her mother’s death in 1821, at least one of her three younger unmarried sisters, Anne Attersoll, came to live with them at Renvyle and contributed to the collaborative Letters from the Irish Highlands (1825), published by John Murray whose offices on Albemarle Street Martha Blake must have known from her attendance at the nearby Royal Institution in her younger days.
There is no evidence that Martha Blake wrote or contributed to further literary projects. With her husband, she raised a large family of seven sons named after Anglo-Saxon heroes (Edgar, Harold, Ethelbert, Egbert, Ethelred, Ethelstane, and Herbert). Her husband was emotionally and financially devastated by the 1845-49 potato blight and their final years were spent attempting to recover from these losses. Martha Blake died in 1853.
‘Attersoll, John (c. 1784-1822), of 11 Devonshire Street, Portland Place and Hendon, Mdx.’ The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820. Ed. R. Thorne. 1986. The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History. 1964-2017. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.
The Charter and Bye-Laws of the Royal Institution of Great Britain; together with a List of the Proprietors and Subscribers. London: Savage and Easingwood, 1806. Print.
Dowling, James, and Archer Ryland. Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench, during Hilary, Easter, and Trinity Terms, in the Fourth and Fifth Geo. IV. Vol. 4. London: S. Sweet et al., 1825. 549-56. Print.
Hunt, Jude C., contrib. ‘Cemetery: MAYO, Crossboyne Church and Churchyard Memorials’. Ireland Genealogical Projects Archives. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.
Robinson, Tim. Connemara: The Last Pool of Darkness. Dublin: Penguin, 2009. Print.
|Letters from the Irish Highlands||1825|