Blakman, John (DNB01)

BLAKMAN, BLAKEMAN, or BLACKMAN, JOHN (fl. 1436–1448), biographer, was admitted a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1436. Nothing is known of his parentage, but a family of the name flourished at Eynsham in Oxfordshire in the sixteenth century (Harl. Soc. v. 193). In 1439 he was one of the two guardians of the 'old university chest,' receiving an acquittance in respect of his office on 3 July of that year. Although not one of the original fellows of Eton, he was fifth on the list at the date (1447) of the promotion of William of Waynflete [q. v.] to the see of Winchester. He probably vacated his fellowship at Merton upon his election at Eton, for in the accounts (20 May 1448 to 9 May 1450) of contributions received towards, the building of the bell-tower at Merton, to which he gave 6s. 8d., he is not styled a fellow of the college. His position at Eton brought him into contact with Henry VI, of whom he wrote in Latin an interesting memoir. It was printed in 1732 by Thomas Hearne [q. v.] in his 'Duo Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores' (i.e. Otterbourne and Whethamstede). The work is a collection of anecdotes illustrating the various virtues of the king. Blakman expressly states that he writes as well from personal knowledge as from the information of Henry's attendants. Among these he names 'masters Bedon and Mannynge,' and Sir Richard Tunstall, the king's chamberlain. Thomas Mannynge was dean of Windsor (1452-62), a preferment he vacated after his attainder by the Yorkist parliament in 1461 (Le Neve, Fasti, iii. 372 ; Rot. Parl. v. 477 b, 480 b). Sir Richard Tunstall was attainted by the same act (ib. pp. 477 a, 479 a) [see Tunstall, Cuthbeet]. Bedon was perhaps John Bedon (B.D. 1455 ; Boase, Reg. Univ. Oxf. p. 6). A biography drawn from such sources naturally became a panegyric, but it was not improbably composed for a purpose. It was written after Henry VI's death and, to judge by the language used by the author about the Yorkists, after the accession of Henry VII. The canonisation of Henry VI was long a favourite project of Henry VII, who petitioned it of three popes in succession—Innocent VIII (1484-1492), Alexander VI (1492-1503), and Julius II (1508-1513) (see Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 640; Busch, England unter den Tudors, i. 238, 386). Blakman's apotheosis was doubtless intended to prepare the public mind for this step.

Blakman is stated in the title of the printed copy of his book to have been a 'bachelor of divinity and afterwards a monk of the Charterhouse of London.' The correctness of the latter part of this statement is rendered probable by the existence of a copy of Higden's 'Polychronicon' in the Ashburnham collection inscribed at the foot of the first page, 'Liber domus beate Marie de Witham ordinis Carthusiensis ex dono m. Johannis Blakman.' The volume is bound in crimson morocco with the royal arms, each book having an illuminated initial with the arms of Eton College and a marginal ornament in gold and colours. Nothing is known as to the date of Blakman's death. An inscription in the west wall of the Grey Friars Church, London, 'fr. Johannes Blackeman ob. 31 Jul: 1511' must, as the dates show, refer to another person. A third contemporary of the same name was a benefactor of St. John's Hospital, Coventry.

[Oxford City Documents, ed. J. E. T. Rogers, 1891, p. 314; Epistolæ Academicæ, ed. H. Anstey, 1898, i. 175; Hearne's Duo Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores, 1732, i. 285–307; Harwood's Alumni Etonenses, 1797; Lyte's Hist. of Eton College, 1877; Harl. Soc. v. 193; Collect. Topogr. ii. 156, v. 398; Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. App. 1881, 105 a; Brodrick's Memorials of Merton College, 1885, p. 233.]

I. S. L.