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Joseph Blackburn

In 1917, councillors in Thornton made Joseph Blackburn exempt from military service. They said he was a market gardener, and that because what he grew helped feed local people, his job was essential to the war effort.

In May, though, Joseph’s exemption was taken away. That was after a hearing in the Central Tribunal, which sat in Westminster and was the final authority in cases of this kind. As a result, Joseph was soon sent off to fight, and he would be killed on the Western Front in the last weeks of the war.  

The councillors were outraged by the decision made in Westminster, and in June 1917 – in protest at the way they, Joseph and the people of Thornton had been treated – they went on strike.

Biographical information

His full name was Joseph Septimus Blackburn and he was born in 1886, probably in the month of January.

Joseph Blackburn died in northern France, killed in action on 24 August 1918.


Joseph Blackburn married Jessie, née Bennett, on 29 June 1908.

Joseph came from Thornton and Jessie from Fleetwood, and they lived together at Rose Cottage on Raikes Road in Little Thornton.

Jessie Blackburn died on 9 April 1948, at the County Hospital in Rossall. She had lately been living at 31, Stanah Gardens in Thornton.


Joseph and Jessie had two children: Elizabeth (born 6 April 1913) and Joseph junior (born 5 February 1915).

Elizabeth Blackburn was married on 23 June 1934, to Benjamin George Roberts; while Joseph junior died in December 1951, when he will have been around 36 years-of-age.


Joseph’s parents were Thomas Blackburn and Elizabeth Blackburn (née Bailey), who married on 1 March 1862. Thomas was born on 21 June 1841 and died on 16 January 1916; Elizabeth, meanwhile, was born in 1843 and died on 18 November 1915.

Jessie’s parents were William Bennett (born 1862) and Mary Bennett (née Breckell) (1865-1896).


Joseph’s siblings included six brothers: John (born 1862, died 1904); William (1) (born 1864, died 1870); Robert (born 1866, died after 1911); Edward (born 1869, died 1949); William (2) (born 1871, died after 1911); and Thomas (born 1882, died after 1911). He also had two sisters: Mary Anne (born 1874, died after 1891); and Jane (born 1877, died after 1911). All the Blackburn children were born in Thornton, and though Robert and William went to live in Seaforth, near Liverpool, at the end of the Victoria era, the rest remained on the Fylde coast throughout their lives.

There were nine siblings of Joseph’s wife, Jessie: William Bennett (1889-1959); Hilda Bennett (1891-1957); Alfred Bennett (1896-1914); Gaulter Bennett (dates unknown); Emily Bennett (born 1898); Septimus Bennett (1900-1973); John Bennett (born 1904); Dora Bennett (born 1908); and Robert Bennett (born 1909).

Aunts and Uncles

The siblings of Thomas Blackburn – who were, therefore, Joseph’s uncles and aunts – were: William (born 1839); Anne (born 1844?); Rosemary (or Rosamund) (born 1846); Edward (born 1849); John (born 1851); James (born 1854); and Joseph Septimus (born 1857).

Joseph’s other uncles and aunts – the siblings of his mother, Elizabeth – were: Robert Hull Bailey (1834-1864); John Bailey (1) (born and died in 1841); and John Bailey (2) (born 1846).

Jessie’s uncles and aunts were: (through her father) Mary Jane Bennett (born 1855), Elizabeth Bennett (born 1856), Miller Bennett (born 1859), Robert Bennett (born 1867), Rosanna Leavitt (?) Bennett (born 1869), Septimus Bennett (born 1871), James Bennett (born 1874) and Charles Richard Bennett (born 1879); and (through her mother) James Gaulter Breckell (1865-1896), Ellen Breckell (1861-1935), Betsy Breckell (born 1867), Robert Breckell (born 1871), John Edward Breckell (1875-1938) and Rachel Breckell (1878-1895).


As for grandparents, Joseph’s were John Blackburn (1810-1893) and Mary Anne Walmsley (1817-1894); and John Bailey (1819-1898) and Mary Hull (1807-1893), who were married on 23 June 1840. Jessie’s grandparents were Septimus Bennett (1833-1907) and Alice Elizabeth Miller (1833-1900), who were married in 1853; and Robert Breckell (1838-1911) and Elizabeth Gaulter (1840-1908), who were married in 1861.

Also of note

  • Joseph – and his father, Thomas – were the proprietors of a market garden that was also based at Rose Cottage.
  • Jessie’s father, William Bennett, was a butcher in Fleetwood at least as early as 1881, and by 1901, he shared that trade with his own brother (Jessie’s uncle) Robert Bennett. Their father (Jessie’s grandfather) Septimus Bennett was a butcher as early as 1861.
  • Jessie’s uncle, John Edward Breckell, was a wheelwright at least as early as 1911, and his father and grandfather, both of whom were named Robert, were following that trade as early as 1861. The earlier Robert Breckell, who was Jessie Bennett’s great-grandfather, was, in fact, a wheelwright at least as early as 1851. It is likely that the Breckells’ wheelwright business was conducted from the yard outside Marsh Mill.
  • Joseph’s grandfather, John Blackburn, was a blacksmith, and he has followed that trade, in Skippool, since at least 1841.

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