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Blackburne's complicated family

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This is the beginning of a new series of pages, not yet fully constructed, presenting what is so far known about Joseph Henry Blackburne's complicated family relationships.

It may be several weeks before it is completed so we shall begin with his spouses and children, and add his siblings, children, step-children, in-laws and more distant connections gradually. Some research into Blackburne's parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents was done for our book but we believe that more is to be discovered about them, so we shall start with only minimal information concerning them.

Joseph Henry and Mary BlackburneUnfortunately we have found no photographs of Blackburne's family members, except this one of him with his third wife Mary late in life which appeared with his obituary in British Chess Magazine (October 1924).

This picture was evidently taken in the garden of their home at Sandrock Road, Lewisham, probably shortly after the First World War. Mary had died in 1921.

We intend to post images of relevant birth marriage and death certificates for the record.

Our Blackburne family tree on remains private for the time being as we have many hints to check.

Blackburne had another brother

Page 7 of the biography revealed that the chess master had an elder brother, Frederic, who lived from 1839 to 1847. Subsequently, thanks to a tip from John Townsend, we discovered that Blackburne also had another, younger brother, John Edward, who died in infancy.

We ordered copies of his birth and death certificates. These showed that J. E. Blackburn [sic] was born on 4 May 1844 at 51 Edge Street, Hulme, Manchester (a new address for the family). He died of "convulsions 16 hours" on 15 June 1846 at 13 Robinson Street, Hulme (an address already known).

As Mr. Townsend points out, this information casts further doubt on Blackburne's claim (made in 1900) that he had learned chess during "his boyhood in Belfast." The window of time when the family could have lived in Belfast instead of Manchester is now virtually non-existent. Blackburne probably referred (with some exaggeration for the benefit of his Irish audience) that he obtained "his first notions" of chess when accompanying his father on business visits to Ireland in the early or mid-1850s.