Having the surname Blennerhassett can sometimes be useful in that people always remember your name if not your face, but, more often than not, it can be a total pain. Especially, when you’ve spelt the 14 letters out over the telephone 30 times that day.
However, the history of the name makes it all worthwhile. The name derived from a combination of the Welsh Blaen-dre, ‘hill farm’, and the Norse ‘hay-shieling’. Members of the family represented Carlisle in the north of England in Parliament continuously from the reign of Richard II to that of James I. Indeed, there is still a village in the county of Cumbria near Carlisle called Blennerhasset. It was from this Cumberland family in about the year 1588, a Thomas Blennerhassett was granted land in Co. Kerry in Ireland. His son Robert Blennerhassett also settled there. It was from Robert that all the many living bearers of the name Blennerhassett descend.
The family also spread to other locations. One section of the family moved to Frenze in Norfolk where they were lords of the manor. In the local 14th century church, a brass shows Sir Ralph de Blenerhayset, who died in 1475, as a knight in the armour of Agincourt. In the same church, before the Communion table is the brass effigy of a bareheaded knight in armour, John Blennerhassett. It’s encouraging to know that baldness runs in the family!
Today, there are Blennerhassetts all over the world and, luckily, for those with an interest in the matter, a guy called Bill Jehan has for years been collecting notes on the Blennerhassett family tree with the aim of connecting various published pedigrees and filling the gaps. His interest in this family originated with his grandmother, Julia Blennerhassett, from Co. Kerry.
If you have a genuine interest or knowledge of even just a portion of the Blennerhassett family tree, I’m sure Bill would be delighted to hear from you. Bill has developed a website at www.blennerhassettfamilytree.com where you can see the results of his sterling efforts and from where you can also contact him.