James Henry Blake

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James Henry Blake (October 7, 1808 – August 1, 1874)[1] was the City Marshal of Boston from 1840–1845.[2] He was the son of Edward Blake and Sarah (Parkman) Blake and nephew of Dr. George Parkman.[3] The Parkmans and Blakes were two prominent families of the Boston Brahmins who were well respected merchants. Blake established himself as a merchant and real estate broker[4] and also served in the Massachusetts Artillery as Major of Independents Cadets beginning in 1830.[5] In 1831, while conducting business aboard the ship Mentos, two pirates boarded the boat where Blake witnessed their arrest.[6] He testified against the pirates in the first of his many court appearances.

On May 12, 1835, he married Marianne Wildes of Boston[3] and ran his brokerage on State Street. He was appointed City Marshal of Boston on May 1, 1840 at an annual salary of $1,000.00.[7] Blake's term as Marshal was a quiet one and most of his activities involved overseeing July 4 celebrations on the Common,[8] taking a census of buildings,[9] banning illegal hay scales along the wharf,[10] and clearing the streets of snow.[11] He also passed a leash law forbidding large dogs to roam the streets.[12] The most violence he saw was snowball fights, against which he swiftly levied hefty fines.[13] For his due diligence, he received a salary increase of $100 in 1844.[14]

Blake was replaced as Marshal by Ira Gibbons in 1845,[15] and he returned to the more lucrative business of real estate.[16] He opened an office on State Street[17] and later, as his business grew, moved to Congress Street.[18] In 1847, Blake, along with police officer Samuel D. Fuller, helped recover articles stolen from Ebenezer Mann, another merchant.[19] Blake and Officer Fuller would meet again under more serious circumstances.

In May 1849, the City of Boston was growing weary of their City Marshal, Francis Tukey, and 17 citizens petitioned to have Blake return to fill the post,[20] but Tukey held on. Later that year, Tukey was in the unenviable position of coordinating the investigation into the disappearance of Blake's uncle, Dr. George Parkman.

The Disappearance of Dr. George Parkman[edit]

On November 23, 1849, Blake's uncle, Dr. George Parkman, never returned home for lunch. The Parkman family asked the doctor's business manager, Charles M. Kinglsey, to search for him, and James and his brother Edward joined the effort. While Edward went to City Marshal Tukey[21] to appeal for police help, James combed the streets of Boston.[22] Tukey sent police officers to drag the river and search the areas the doctor frequented.[21] On November 25, James was standing outside the Harvard Medical College, speaking to police officer Trenholm,[23] when he was approached by one of the professors from the College, John White Webster.[24]John Webster hurriedly approached him, hand outstretched. He was not wearing a coat, even though the weather required it, and it seemed as if he had just come from the College.[25] James was confused as he only had a passing acquaintance with the Professor and yet here was Webster holding his hand while explaining he had a meeting with his uncle on the day he went missing.[22] He never suspected that he was conversing with the man who would later be hanged for Parkman's murder.[26]

After this strange encounter, while still searching, James met William V. Thompson, the City Clerk.[27] Thompson told James that he had seen his uncle the afternoon of November 23, just after 2:00 p.m.[27] He also told him he had spoken to Dr. Webster about George Parkman and Webster told him that Parkman was angry and excited regarding Webster's failure to pay on the outstanding debt to him.[28] On November 30, 1849, Parkman's remains were found by the College janitor in Dr. Webster's privy. James requested his own Medical Examiner, Dr. Charles T. Jackson, be present to examine the remains.[29] There was little doubt they had found his uncle.

James recounted his meeting with Webster in the court trial.[30] At the end of the twelve-day trial, Webster was found guilty.[31] Amid the furor of the verdict, Blake returned to his business.

Blake was involved in other court cases, either as a juror or a plaintiff.[32] Two of his appearances as plaintiff involved the burglary of his clothes.[33] James Henry Blake died on August 1, 1874 in a boating accident in the Boston Harbor.[34]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Vital Records 267:172
  2. ^ Lane 46
  3. ^ a b Blake 73
  4. ^ Boston Directory 28
  5. ^ Artillery 437
  6. ^ Salem Gazette 04-26-1831; Volume: IX; Issue: 33; Page: [3]
  7. ^ Police Museum, Lane 46
  8. ^ The Daily Atlas; Date: 07-02-1844; Volume: XIII; Issue: 2; Page: 1
  9. ^ The Daily Atlas; Date: 11-11-1843; Volume: XII; Issue:114; Page 2
  10. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 12-02-1843; Volume: XIV; Issue: 4098; Page: 3
  11. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 12-11-1843; Volume: XIV; Issue: 4105; Page: 3; Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 12-19-1844; Volume: XV; Issue: 4418; Page: 4
  12. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 02-07-1844; Volume: XV; Issue: 4154; Page: 3
  13. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 12-23-1843; Volume: XIV; Issue: 4116; Page: 3
  14. ^ Daily Atlas, published as The Daily Atlas; Date: 06-18-1844; Volume: XII; Issue: 300; Page: 2
  15. ^ Police Museum
  16. ^ Daily Atlas, published as The Boston Daily Atlas; Date: 06-24-1845; Volume: XIII; Issue: 252; Page: 2
  17. ^ Daily Atlas, published as The Boston Daily Atlas; Date: 07-26-1845; Volume: XIV; Issue: 22; Page: 3 Daily Atlas, published as The Boston Daily Atlas; Date: 08-04-1845; Volume: XIV; Issue: 29; Page: 1
  18. ^ Daily Atlas, published as The Boston Daily Atlas; Date: 12-14-1846; Volume: XV; Issue: 142; Page: 4
  19. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 04-23-1847; Volume: XVIII; Issue: 5135; Page: 2
  20. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 05-08-1849; Volume: XX; Issue: 5765; Page: 2
  21. ^ a b Bemis 46-7
  22. ^ a b Bemis 167
  23. ^ Journal 35; Globe 40
  24. ^ Bemis 146; Stone 94;
  25. ^ Bemis 167; Stone 94-5
  26. ^ Bemis 167; Stone 94; Journal 28; Globe 40
  27. ^ a b Bemis 265; Journal 43
  28. ^ Bemis 265; Journal 42-3; Globe 57
  29. ^ Bemis 73; Stone 47
  30. ^ Stone 94-5; Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 03-26-1850; Volume: XXI; Issue: 6037; Page: 1
  31. ^ Bemis 497; Stone 302; Journal 554; Globe 73
  32. ^ Daily Atlas, published as The Boston Daily Atlas; Date: 05-31-1855; Volume: XXIII; Issue: 283; Page: 2; Farmer's Cabinet, published as The Farmers' Cabinet.; Date: 11-15-1855; Volume: 54; Issue: 15; Page: 2
  33. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, published as Daily Evening Transcript; Date: 07-25-1849; Volume: XX; Issue: 5831; Page: 2; Farmer's Cabinet, published as The Farmers' Cabinet.; Date: 05-09-1860; Volume: 58; Issue: 41; Page: 2
  34. ^ Boston Journal, published as Boston Morning Journal; Date: 08-03-1874; Volume: XLI; Issue: 13737; Page: 4;

References[edit]

  • Bemis, George. Report of the Case of John W. Webster. Boston: Little, Brown, 1850
  • Blake, Samuel. Blake Family Boston: E. Clapp & Sons, 1857
  • Boston Police Museum
  • Lane, Roger. Policing in the City: Boston 1822-1885. Cambridge, MA:Harvard University Press, 1967
  • Massachusetts State Archives, Vital Records
  • Roberts, Oliver Ayer. History of History of the Military Company of the Massachusetts, Vol. III Boston: Mudge & Son, 1898
  • Stone, James W. Report of the Trial of John W. Webster. Boston: Holden, 1850
  • Sullivan, Robert. The Disappearance of Dr. Parkman. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971.
  • Webster, John W. and The Boston Journal. The Trial of Prof. John W. Webster Indicted for the Murder of Dr. George Parkman. Boston: Redding & Company, 1850
  • Webster, John W. and The New York Globe. Trial of Professor John W. Webster for the Murder of Doctor George Parkman. New York: Stringer & Townsend, 1850.
  • Whitman, Zachariah. The History of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. Boston: Eastburn, 1842.