Calverley-Blackett, Sir Walter
Landowner and Politician
Walter Calverley-Blackett was a Northumberland landowner and politician who served as MP for Newcastle for 7 terms between 1734 and 1777. He was born in Otley, the only son of the first Baronet and his namesake (1670 – 1749). He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. He had his name changed from Calverley to Calverley-Blackett after his marriage to Elizabeth Orde in 1729, which led to the inheritance of the estates of his uncle, Sir William Blackett, 2nd Baronet. Elizabeth was his cousin.
He was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1731–32 and was Alderman of the City of Newcastle and Mayor five times, in 1735, 1748, 1756, 1764 and 1771.
Walter was known as a generous man. Amongst his many gifts was £200 towards the construction of Newcastle Infirmary in 1751. He endowed the Infirmary with an income of £50 a year towards its running costs. In 1754, he donated £1,200 to establish the Holy Jesus Alms-houses. These Alms-house still exist today, providing support services and social care home to older persons with limited financial means. The current charity, the St. Mary Magdalene and Holy Jesus Trust, owns 117 bungalows, 16 flats and many other properties in Newcastle. It recently attracted a multimillion pound investment to ensure its services for the poor continue in perpetuity. The current chairman of the trust is Sir Leonard Fenwick.
Walter also funded the first public library in Newcastle, The Thomlinson Library, which opened in 1741 following his endowment of £25 per annum to fund the librarian’s salary. He contributed £50 to help the rebuilding of St. John’s Chapel in Weardale near Bishop Auckland. He financed the building of the market hall, in the market square in Hexham, in 1766.
The Blackett’s are one of the region’s largest and most historically significant landowners. The current baronet (the 12th) is Sir Hugh Francis Blackett (b. 1955). Today, the family owns and runs Matfen Estates as an agricultural business. The family also run Matfen Hall Hotel and Leisure Club, the largest privately owned hotel in the North East of England. The family’s philanthropic heritage is continued to this day. Sir Hugh and Lady Anna have a fund at the Community Foundation for Tyne, Wear and Northumberland (the Blackett Family Community First Fund), where Anna is a trustee.
Kirtley, A., Longbottom, P, & Blackett, M. (2013). A History of the Blacketts, Newcastle: The Blacket Family.
The Blacketts of North East England. Available here (Accessed: 07/08/2018).