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Theodorus Blethyn

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jack martin's picture
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Theodorus Blethyn

Does anyone have information about this 17th century telescope maker based in London. Blethyn is a Welsh name.

Jack

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150 inch telescope

No new information I'm afraid.

But his 150 inch (fl) telescope pictured in the online catalogue of the British Optical Association Museum is truly the stangest thing I've come across in a long time.

Good luck in your hunt.

Roy

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Roy,

Roy,

I discovered this telescope on a visit to Knebworth House in July 2019.

This is no 3 of only 2 other known Blethyn telescopes in the World.

Its been on display for decades unnoticed!

I am writing a short article about it for the Antique Telescope Society.

Regards,

Jack

Essex UK

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Thanks for the great

Thanks for the great photograph.

It appears to be in super condition. Maybe one careful owner from new :)

Given the difficulty of using it when fully extended, I doubt it was ever used in earnest. At least not without some kind of pole and cradle arrangement.

Roy.

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Theodorus Blethyn

There is a birth record for Theodore Blethin, born 12 May 1701, Holborn, London. Parents Thomas and Anne Blethin. Could this be your man?

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Alan,

Alan,

Doubtful, Blethyn's telescopes date from around 1650.

Where did you get this information from ?

Its possible he was a relative of John Bleyghton a mathematical instrument maker in London around 1624-54. He was succeeded by his son John II. They also signed with the names Blaton - Blyton - Blighton.  

Thanks for your efforts.

Jack

Essex UK

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Theodorus Blethyn

Jack

The data are from England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, which you can access via Ancestry.com.

It's an unusual name so they could be related - and it is the only close match in the database, although records are, of course, incomplete. On the plus side, the location seems good and Holborn was in an area where opticians businesses gathered. Possibly a grandson? Or possibly the date from which Blethyn is believed to have been active is awry?

All worth further work. I'll have a root around and see what I can find if it will help - though I've no wish to get in your way.

Alan.

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Alan,

Alan,

You are not getting in my way.

This information was previously unknown.

Thanks for your efforts.

Jack

Essex UK 

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Theodorus Blethyn

Here's a better match: Theodore Blethin, b. 14 Mar 1616, bap. 23 Mar 1616, Mathern, Monmouthshire, Wales. Father: Phileman.

Source: Monmouthshire, Wales, Anglican Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1551-1994.

And this looks very likely to be his daughter: Anne Blethen, d. 1657, buried 22 Feb 1657, St Andrew's, Holborn, London. Father: Theorder Blethen.

Source: London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1538-1812 (London Metropolitan Archive).

Alan

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Alan,

Alan,

Looks like a good match.

I suspect he was buried in London.

Regards,

Jack

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Glad to be of help. I'll see

Glad to be of help. I'll see if I can find a burial record next week. I'll probably have to go through the appropriate parish register if I can find it, as many of the entries have not been digitised. But it's worth a try. 

Alan

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Alan,

Alan,

We'll see if the digitized records reveal anything ?

Thanks for your efforts,

Jack

Essex UK

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Theodorus Blethyn

Jack.

Do you have a date for the last known telescope he produced? That would narrow down the search for his year of death.

Alan

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Alan,

Alan,

I will give you an answer by the end of this week.

Regards,

Jack

Essex UK

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Theodore Blethin

A Theodore Blethin appears in Boyds Inhabitants of London (44802).  Citizen and Fishmonger.  Fishmonger after 1633.  Free 1641. Bookbinder 1641 poll tax.

Further, entry #9 above mentions a Phileman as having a son Theodore who was baptized at Mathern.  According to Alumni Oxonienses a William Blethin BCL (who was Bishop of Llandaff), is buried in the chancel of the church at Matherne Co Monmouth and he is noted as the father of Philemon. Philemon is noted as being of age 19 on 16 March 1601-02 (does not mean he was born on 16 March). William died 15 Oct 1590. This Philemon was last noted as vicar of Dorstone. Hereford in 1619. A note states "see Foster's Index Ecclesiasticus.

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Thanks for the information,

Thanks for the information, very interesting.

If you find out anything more, please post. 

Regards,

Jack

Essex UK

 

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I have searched for the name

I have searched for the name Philemon in the index, can't see an entry, perhaps I've missed something !

Jack

Essex UK

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Philemon Blethin

Jack

There is a marriage record showing Philemon Blethin married Susana Godwin on 21 April 1610 at Mathern, Monmouthshire. Source: Monmouthshire, Wales, Anglican Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1551-1994 accessible via Ancestry.co.uk.

Alan

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Theodore Blethin

Which index did you search?

Further info:  Philemon Blethin MA, is listed on the Clergy of the Church of England Database (1619 – 1642). Admission as vicar to Dorstone, Hereford is 12/10/1621. He married Susana Godwin on 21 April 1610, she being the daughter of Dr Godwin, possibly Franciscus Godwyne (1562-1633).  Francis Godwin was later the Bishop of Hereford and he had associations with Matherne, Monmouthshire. Francis apparently wrote the first story about space travel in English literature:  The man in the Moone: or A Discourse of a Voyage Thither by Domingo Gonsales, the Speedy Messenger, which was published posthumously in 1638 (source: Encyclopaedia Britannica).  He was the great uncle of Jonathan Swift (Wikipedia).

Children of Philemon and Susana are:

1.       Susana b. 21 July 1613;  bpt. 26 July 1613

2.       Ann   b. 1614

3.       Godwin b. 3 January 1615;  bpt. 7 January 1615

4.       Theodore b. 14 March 1616;  bpt. 23 March 1616

5.       Francis  b. 22 February 1620?;  bpt 3 March 1620

 

All Monmouthshire.  Please treat these dates with a little caution as the entries do not appear to be in sequence with at least one date heading missing.

(source: Ancestry)

Further, there are papers listed on the National Archives index as being held at Lambeth Palace dated 16 October 1655. Title: Dorstone Vicarage Hereford.  Description: James Whiting. The death of Philemon Blethin.  Thomas Dainty, stationer, of St Michael Quern, London.

Dainty was also a bookseller - maybe a business connection with Theodore the bookbinder?

Of course, none of the above may relate to your telescope maker, but at first sight it does look rather promising and, without any other candidates, is worthy of further research.

 

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Ann Blethin

What is the source document for the record for Ann Blethin 1614? It does not appear to be in the Ancestry database.

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Australia,

Australia,

Definitely worthy of further research.

If Theodore was born in 1616, what was the life expectancy, when did he die, where is he buried, in a Church in Holborn possibly.   

The links to Francis Godwin and Jonathan Swift are intriguing.

Thanks for your efforts,

Jack

Essex UK 

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reply to #20

I first found Ann Blethin in the register on Ancestry when I was looking for another person. I made a note of 1614.  When I went back to examine the entry more closely I could not find her, which is why I only entered 1614 above.  She does not come up on the Ancestry index so if she is in the index she must be under a name other than Blethin or a close variant.  That said I later found Ann Blethin on the IGI as being baptised on 30 May 1614, which confirms what I saw. As the other children were baptized within a few days of their birth, Ann is likely to have been born after May 20 during the same year as her baptism. 

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Australia,

Australia,

Seems there was a 5th (first) child born 3 years after they were married, unusual as children are usually born soon after marriage.

Blethyn's telescope is signed 'Theodorus Blethyn fecit', so that's how he spelt his surname.  

What is IGI ?

Thank you for all the information you have provided.

Jack

Essex UK

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Nature does not always play

Nature does not always play ball.  However, there may be another child pre 1613 which I haven't found.

IGI = International Genealogical Index.  Back in the day this was a personal name index to mainly dates of baptism and marriage. It was on microfiche.  In the UK it was arranged in sets by county and showed the parish where each event took place.  The updated digital version can be accessed on familysearch.org.  It is a very useful tool, but with the best will in the world errors do occur, so it is always best to check the original document where possible.

It would appear William (father of Philemon) was the first to only use the Blethyn surname instead of the previously used Bleddyn.

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Theodorus

You say the telescope is signed with the name "Theodorus". Interestingly, and at the risk of confusing matters, Wikipedia has "Theodorus" as the Dutch equivalent of the English and French "Theodore". Welsh is "Tewdwr".  Is there a Dutch connection?

Did Theodorus actually make the telescope or does his name simply refer to the artwork?  Does the type of art work give any clues to the telescope's origin?

Blethyn mentioned above was baptized as Theodore, not Theodorus. However, "Theodorus" may have been used as a marketing ploy due to the popularity of telescopes in the Netherlands at the time. 

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Tewdwr aka Tudor

As you might suspect Tewdwr comes into english as Tudor. There was a good welsh/english name thanslation table available on the Find My Past website. Proved very useful understanding my own family history. Wonder if the ..us ending might just be a latinisation, cf. Kopernik/Copernicus.

Roy.

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Latinisation

Yes, you may well be right, especially as a Latin term is used after the name.  I wonder what inscription is on the other two telescopes.

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Australia,

Australia,

To the best of my knowledge Theodorus made the telescope.

I don't know about the artwork.

Notice the coat of arms above his signature what does that tell us ?

Jack

Essex UK

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Coat of Arms

Thanks for posting the picture - very interesting. I downloaded the image from the website and put it through Photoshop but unfortunately I am unable to make out any details on the shield.  My first thoughts are it relates to Blethyn or, as I think more likely, it relates to the person who commissioned the making of the telescope. Either way, it’s a new angle to research.    Is there a motto below the shield and if so what does it read? No need to translate. Having actually seen the item would you describe the dark red in the picture as purple?  Do you know if the other two telescopes show a shield/crest etc, and is the colouring the same?  

I think it may be worthwhile you contacting Jill Campbell, the archivist at Knebworth House.  If you tell her you are writing an article about the telescope she may be able to tell you when and by what means Knebworth House obtained it. Often such places will itemise such objects in stock checks or keep a record of items given to them. To know the date it was first recorded as being at the house could prove useful, as would be the name of the donor, if there was one. I expect it would take her sometime to find that information, if she can.  Her e-mail address is on the Knebworth House website.  Go to, About Us/Archive. You could also ask her about the motto, which should be a quick and easy question to answer, if you do not already have that information. 

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Australia,

Australia,

I would describe it as purple.

 I don't know if the other 2 telescopes show a shield/crest.

I have already corresponded with Jill Campbell, unfortunately she does not know anything about the origin of the telescope, how or when it got into the families possession.

Jack

Essex UK