Sunday, 6 March 2016

Binns Family, The Blackamoors Head, The Blackboy, and the Burnaby Family

I've committed what I consider to be a cardinal sin: I've lost a couple of books, and I've lost a reference! Those of you who know will know that this has caused me considerable grief! How can I write a blog post with vague references to something I remembered reading a long while ago, without being able to tell you exactly where and exactly what was said?! Ah well, here goes, an ill-conceived, ill-prepared, ill-researched blog post on something I read somewhere and on a name that triggered a reminder of a blog post I was going to write, but hadn't quite got round to!

Last week I went on the Luddite walk that was arranged on facebook, and I had a really great time. I translated that walk into a virtual walk, so if you didn't manage to come along, you can experience a flavour of the walk over on my virtual Loughborough, Luddites and Lace Trail.

I think it was on this walk that someone mentioned the Burnaby family - or maybe I just dreamed that! But, it reminded me of some research I'd done in March last year, but never got round to posting! So, despite some very careful cataloguing and shelving of my books, I've lost most of the ones on local pubs and inns, apart from Billy Wells' one which is always close to hand! Eric Swift has gone missing, as has that lovely book on East Midlands pubs with lavender on the cover (although what that's got to do with the contents, I'm not sure).

Anyway, Burnaby's reminded me that I'd read somewhere that local pubs called The Blackboy were possibly named after something in the crest of the Burnaby family, and probably those Burnabys who lived at Baggrave Hall. You may already know that The Blacksmiths Arms in Ward's End, was previously called The Blackboy, being renamed around 1875. Well, I've done a bit of hunting around, and established that there are a number of theories associated with the name The Blackboy, and that there are still quite a few pubs around that still bear that name, for example in Shinfield Reading, in Knowle near Solihull, in Hungarton etc..
The Blacksniths Arms as Baroque
The theories around the origins of the name include the idea that they were:

  • named for people who worked in the coal mining industry
  • named after chimney sweeps
  • named after servants who worked for well-to-do families
  • named after Charles II, who was apparently quite dark skinned

Generally, I suppose these could all contain an element of truth, but it's also important to put the pub and its name into the local context: if your locality is not a mining area, then the first option listed above is probably not the likely source for the name of your pub!

If I could find my books, I'd be able to tell you where I read the idea that The Blackboy in Loughborough was named after the crest of the Burnaby family. Now that suggestion has sent me on a quest to find out about that particular family, but that research is in its infancy, and the link between the Robert Burnaby who is buried in Emmanuel churchyard, and after whom the city in British Columbia, Canada, is named, and the Burnaby family of Baggrave Hall, Leics., is yet to be proved (in my research, at least).
The memorial to Robert Burnaby
I've had a good hunt around, and I can find no information to support the idea that our Blackboy is in any way related to the Burnaby family, but, what I have found is that the crest of the Binns family in Yorkshire (and as soon as I heard that name I remembered from my late teenage years that there was a Binns House of Fraser in Harrogate, North Yorks.) does indeed include an image of a black person, although quite what the connection between a small market town in Leicestershire and a gentrified family in Yorkshire is, I don't know. 

Anyway, further investigation also reveals that the likely pub name associated with part of the Binns family crest is the Blackamoors Head, which was in the Market Place, next to the current Lloyds Bank. So perhaps this is more likely? If this is the case then what was the background to the naming of The Blackboy?

Answers on a postcard please!!

There are some similarities between our Blackamoors Head, and The Blackboy as both buildings were demolished in the 1930s and rebuilt. The Blackamoors Head is, of course, no longer there, but the Blacksmith's Arms is. 

Well, that's it for today!!

See you next week!  

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