Cecil Arthur Maurice Blake

Portrait in 1913 and 2 portraits in 1915

1885 Feb 20 born at Holdenhurst, Bournemouth Hants

1891 census living at 3, Branksome, Holdenhurst, Bournemouth. His father is a vet.

Cecil was educated at The Blue Coat School, London. The school was founded in 1552 by Edward VI. The school occupied the Greyfriars Monastery site in Newgate Street, London, until 1902 when it moved to West Horsham. The school retained its distinctive medieval dress of blue coats and yellow stockings. It was a very exclusive school and difficult, to get into. Cecil would have gone to the school at Newgate Street.

His mother Gertrude Louisa Blake died on 3 March 1898 at the early age of 36 years from TB. Cecil would have been aged just 13 years at the time.

55 Hestercombe Avenue, Fulham

1901 census living at 55, Hestercombe Avenue, Fulham with his uncle

Hampshire Yeomanry and then in 1902 ....

1902 Aug 29. Royal Horse Guards (Blues) as a trooper. His service record exists

1904 Aug 28 Leaves Royal Horse Guards. He is described as a Veterinary Surgeon living at Ashley Rd, Upper Parkstone, Dorset. He was discharged as being "medically unfit". He suffered from a duodenal ulcer most of his life and this was the cause of his being discharged medically unfit from the Royal Horse Guards.

1905 Sep 6. Appointed Probationer Inspector in RSPCA. Service no 52. He is given as 6ft 1" tall. He remains an RSPCA Inspector from now until he enlists in 1914.

1905 Dec 11. Promoted to 4th Class RSPCA Inspector

1906 Mar 22. Marries in London to Clytie Irene Hunt (an Australian who re-married in 1918 to a Rupert Young and returned to Australia). He is now an RSPCA Inspector living at 77 Warwick St, Pimlico. One wonders whether she really married for love or just so that she would not have to return to Australia. In later years she said several times that she married so that she did not have to return home. Her parents marriage had broken up and perhaps there was not much to return to.

1906 Apr 17 8 RSPCA Inspector at Kings Lynn, (Norfolk)  

1906 Jun 28. Leaves Kings Lynn and moves to RSPCA position in London. Forest Hill.

1906 Jul 16. Promoted to 3rd Class C Division RSPCA Inspector

1907 May 1. Moved by RSPCA to Bury St Edmonds (Suffolk) 

1907 Jun 10. Promoted to 3rd Class B Division RSPCA Inspector

1909 Jul 25. According to Clytie Hunt's divorce petition, this is when Blake left her and that they lived apart since this date.

1910 May 21. Moved to London with RSPCA, but he is only there for 2 months .London

1910 Clytie Blake was living at 13 Grenville Place, London. (South Kensington) from a letter to Australia. This appears to be a boarding house from 1911 census, but she herself is not there in 1911 census.

1910 Jul 30. Moved to Liverpool with RSPCA.

1911 Apr 3. Promoted to 3rd Class A Division Inspector in RSPCA.

Claremont Terrace, Great Crosby, Lancs

1911 Census Cecil Blake living as a boarder at 7 Claremont Terrace, Great Crosby, Lancashire. He is an inspector in the RSPCA. He is given as "single".

And Clytie is living as a "boarder" at 15 Hunter St, St Pancras, London. She states she is single and a shorthand typist. and is using her middle name Irene

1912 Jul 22. Moved to Birkenhead with RSPCA and still there when he resigned in 1915

1912 His army records mention that he had an operation for a duodenal ulcer in 1912

1912 Oct/Dec. His father dies aged 56

1914 Aug 27. Enlists in Denbighshire Hussars, service number 5284, serving as a sergeant and riding instructor. He then gets discharged 5 months later to take up a commission in the RFA.

His application form gives his permanent address as 5 Parkhill Rd, Prenton, Birkenhead.

1915 Jan 16 RFA. The undermentioned to be temporary Second Lieutenants. Cecil Arthur Maurice Blake.

1915 Jan 26. Resigns officially as RSPCA Inspector

1915 Mar 26. Lands in France with 6th Hampshire Battery, Royal Horse Artillery.

1915 Apr 10. Joined 2nd Indian Cavalry Division Ammunition Column in France

1915 Sep 20 In hospital for 10 days with a dental problem

1915 Nov 1, Granted 7 days leave

1916 Jan 20 Granted leave for 7 days

1916 Jan. He then "turned up" at Dinedor Court in "mid January", the home of Roger Williams and his wife Eliza Williams. Blake appears to have arrived at the Williams house as he knew a Mrs Little who appeared to have been living there (from the wording of newspaper articles, I suspect she was a paying guest, as that is what Cecil Blake was said to be) Mrs Little introduced Blake as "her adopted son". Williams said that he turned their home "upside down. There were all kinds of extravagance going on. Things became very uncomfortable". Blake then left for France. I suspect that he must have known Mrs Williams before this date, as she changed her will in his favour in March 1916. It is difficult to see where they first met.

1916 Feb 5. In hospital with Gastritis. Injured at Ramburelles. When his horse fell with him, it caused considerable abdominal pain and appeared to restart attacks of gastritis. He was hospitalised before being invalided back to the United Kingdom. He was then granted light duties.

1916 Feb 16, Blake returned invalided back from France on SS Brighton. He turned up soon after this at the Williams house. Williams stated in court that Blake's stay was not arranged by him. Blake had wired Mrs Williams for an invite, as he did not have anywhere to stay. The implication being that he could not go and stay with his wife. He is granted leave until Apr 2nd.

1916 Mar 3. Mrs Williams told her husband that she was going to leave him and take the two younger children. He agreed in court that he had actually signed a piece of paper saying "Mrs Williams can do anything she likes"

1916 Mar 11. Cecil Blake says in the abduction hearings that this was the date he left Dinedor Court.

1916 Mar 24. Eliza Williams made a new will, bequeathing her money to Cecil Blake in the event of her death.

1916 Apr 3. Mrs Williams sent the children away the day before, and she herself now left Mr Williams and Dinedor Court, refusing to tell him where she was going.

1916 Apr 8. Joined 2 'A' Reserve Brigade, Royal Field Artillery at Preston, and attached to 9th Reserve Battery

1916 Apr 21. Divorce papers say that Blake and Mrs Williams committed adultery at the house of Mrs Bull , The Cross, Tarvin, Chester

1916 Apr. Mr Williams found out later that they were at Milton Brook Lodge, Barrow, Cheshire. It is 3 miles east of Chester. And took the children back to Dinedor Court. Blake had rented this house for Mrs Williams and the 2 children. Blake said that he got there when he could at weekends, implying that he was back in the army doing the light duties that he had been recommended for. Evidence from the children's nurse in court said that there was an "improper relationship" between Mrs Williams and Mr Blake, as the nurse had to bring Mrs Williams a cup of tea in bed each morning.

1916 May 4. Cecil Blake and a Robert Russell (a chemist) both of Cheshire turn up at Dinedor Court in a car that also contains Mrs Williams and another unnamed woman. They attempt to remove the Williams two children, Dorothy Williams, aged 9 and Humphrey Williams aged 7 (the third child Roger Henry aged 11 was not involved).

1916 Jun 26. Medical Board in Preston

1916 Jun 28. There is a court case in Hereford Assizes over the removal of the Williams children from the former marital home. There was a charge of forcible abduction and malicious wounding against Blake and Russell. The assize case was eventually withdrawn by Williams on the understanding that the children should be returned to their father. The court record shows Mrs Williams to be a wealthy woman in her own right.

The information below was given by a relative of Eliza Akerman in Jun 1921 in Galway, and is probably when they came for a compensation case.

1917 Mar 18. Captain Blake made a will, by which he bequeathed all his real and personal estate to the lady referred to as Mrs. Blake and appointed her his sole executrix. She had previously made her will dated March 24, 1916, in reciprocal terms. They were both killed at the same time.

1917 Jul 1. Promoted temp Lt

1917 Oct 31. Writes to Army from Southlands, Sandon, Chelmsford, describes it as his home and asks where he goes from here as he has been certified as permanently unfit for service

1917 Nov 2. Relinquishes his commission in RFA on grounds of ill health and is granted hon rank of 2nd Lt

1917 Dec 6. The divorce cases took place in court. About November 1917 Clytie Irene had read in a newspaper that her husband Cecil was being cited as co-respondent. She contacted the solicitor who was acting for the husband of the other party and arranged for him to act for her as well in a separate divorce action against her own husband. Her divorce case followed immediately after the Williams divorce and lasted only a few minutes. At the end of the case Clytie says that Cecil came over to her and wished her well for the future. This was the last time she saw him, though she did claim later that she saw him walk by in the street when she was in Williton with her son Peter who had been born there in 1918.

1918 Apr 3. A child Peter Williton Blake born in Watts Cottage, No.8 Long Street,Williton, Somerset. Peter was born at Williton, Somerset, England. This was a 400 year old thatched roof cottage. She had left London where she had been working as a secretary, to get away from the German air raids on London during World War I. It should be noted that there were very few Zeppelin raids on London at this time, the last two raids being 1 Oct 1916 and 20 Oct 1917.

There is a general nurse and midwife, Eliza Rich, noted in 1911 census living in a house in Long St, which one assumes is the reason why the birth was there, rather than in Clytie's home in North Street. Eliza Rich is the only inhabitant of her house in Long St, and that is unusual as most have 3 to 8 people in them. My assumption would be that she ran her business from there.

1918 Jun 3. Rejoins the British Army

1918 Jun 17. Decree Absolute. They were divorced following Cecil having had an affair with his future 2nd wife Eliza. Eliza had been married as well at the time of the affair. Cecil had been cited as co-respondent in a divorce case some months previously. Clytie Blake then marries Rupert Young in Jul/Sep 1918. Rupert George Young, an Australian Army Officer in the A.I.F., and on 3 January 1920 she left London with her second husband and son Peter aboard the P & O "Mantua" for Australia.

He is believed to have then married Eliza Akerman who was the reason for his divorce case but I have found it impossible to find such a marriage.

1918 Jun 3. Hon., Lt. Cecil Arthur Maurice Blake, late R.F.A., to be temp. Lt. with seniority from 1st July 1917. Rejoined from demobilization as Temporary Lieutenant into the Royal Field Artillery, and posted to 67th Division Artillery at Colchester

1919 Feb 11 Relinquished his commission. Relinquished Commission on account of ill-health and retained the rank of Lieutenant. The address that he gave on his discharge was Mill Hill Farm, Sandon, Chelmsford, Essex

1920 He runs a stud farm in Essex with his second wife at Sandon, Chelmsford, Essex. A newspaper report says that they left a "half partner with half profits" to run the stud.

1920 Sep 10 Joined ADRIC. RIC no 73512, ADRIC no 521

1920 Nov 10. He became a permanent cadet, so he was promoted to the job, rather than going straight in to it.

1921 Jan 12. 3rd class District Inspector.

1921 May 15. Murdered at Gort, Galway. District Inspector Cecil Arthur Maurice Blake, his pregnant wife, Lily, two army officers (Capt Cornwallis and Lt McCreery). The sole survivor was Margaret Gregory, Lady Gregory's daughter-in-law, had been visiting the Baggott, where they enjoyed a tennis match, played on the lawns at Ballyturn House.

The 4 witness statements available from the men who actually took part in the ambush say that local IRA were too badly equipped to attack the strong Crown Forces patrols. But one day a local person saw a "military looking man on horseback" come out of Ballyturn House, and from the description they believed him to be D I Blake. "The man had built up a very bad reputation for himself in the district. Threatening women with his revolver in the homes of wanted men. And going into the shops in the town and throwing his revolver on the counter with a demand to be served at once. His wife also carried a revolver and when shopping threatened those serving her at the counter that if anything happened to her husband she would shoot and burn the town." This was the first Saturday in May 1921. The next day the weekly Sunday intelligence report said that Blake drove a Mrs de Blaquire home from Gort to Tubber on Saturday evenings. So the next Saturday they did a reconnaissance and the car duly passed along the road, and they were able to get a good look at Blake to get a precise identification. They then heard that the Baggotts at Ballyturn House were having a party the following Sunday, the IRA put the clues together and believed that Blake would attend that party at Ballyturn and laid plans to ambush them.

They were ambushed at the gate of Ballyturn House. When they left Ballyturn House in the early evening after playing tennis, they stopped their car at the gate, to open it. It was at this point that they were ambushed by a group of 8 IRA men. Of the 5 people in Blake's car Blake, his wife Eliza, Cpt Cornwallis and Lt McCreery were killed, only Mrs Gregory survived

Cecil Blake and his wife were both buried in The New Cemetery, in Bohermore, Co Galway.

Cecil and Eliza's grave in Galway

There was a compensation case after Cecil Blake's death, and his son (by now living in Australia with Cecil Blake's first wife) received 400 pounds upon reaching 21 years of age from a trust fund formed after a legal suit in Ireland.

About July 1921 Clytie now Clytie Young, saw in the "Illustrated London News" 28 May 1921 issue that her ex-husband Cecil Arthur Maurice Blake, his second wife and two British Army officers had been murdered by the IRA on 15 May 1921 in Ireland. She contacted Sydney Solicitors Minter, Simpson & Co to see if her son Peter was entitled to any money from his father's estate. The Court action took a long time in Dublin due to the burning of the law courts building by the IRA. One legal question the Judge had to decide was who died first, Cecil or his second wife Eliza, as this would determine how their separate estates would be divided. Mrs Blake was said to be quite wealthy in her own right. The Judge said that it was impossible to know the answer and ruled that Cecil had died first. This meant that his estate would go to her and her family. Peter did get about 400 pounds. He also received a few personal items such as Cecil's gold signet ring. William Findlater & Co. of 53 Dame St, Dublin, were the solicitors in Dublin acting on behalf of Minter Simpson & Co. solicitors, Sydney in the legal claim in Dublin on the death of Cecil Blake. It is likely that the 400 pounds came from a Criminal Compensation grant given to widows and children of those killed while in the RIC Auxiliary force. The 400 pounds was placed in a trust fund in the Bank of NSW and controlled jointly by Clytie Irene Young and the Sydney Solicitors of Minter Simpson & Co.

There were by this date very few close next of kin. Eliza Blake (Williams, Akerman) parents were already dead. Cecil Blake's parents were dead. So the children of each by previous marriages were the closest relatives.

There appear to have been representations by both Blake's son Peter, and Jessie Winifred Blake and Arthur Blake (described as next of kin, Jessie is a sister, Arthur is a half brother from Cecil Blake's father's second marriage to a much younger woman.)

1922 Mar 18. The Galway Observer reports that Gort R.I.C. Barracks have been occupied by I.R.A.. The Barracks is one of the largest in the county, and had a garrison of over 100 police and 50 soldiers. The furniture of D.I. Blake, shot in the Ballyturn ambush, as well as the bullet—riddled clothes of his wife and himself, are lying unclaimed at the barracks.

1923 Jan 24. The will of Cecil Blake was probated at the Principal Registry, Dublin on 24 January 1923. The Papers filed with the said deceased’s Will include a copy of a High Court order, dated 1 December 1922 , which permitted Adam Lloyd Blood , the Attorney appointed by Clytie Irene Young to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed in the Personal Estate of the deceased.