Blewitt Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Blewitt Surname Meaning

The Blewitt name has Norman French origins.  The surname would describe a person with blue eyes or who often wore blue clothing. It stemmed from the Old French bleuet meaning “blue.” An early family claimed Briqueville-la-Blouette in Normandy as their point of origin.

The surname spelling started out as Bleuet or Bluett.  Blewitt and Blewett are the main spellings today, Blewitt slightly the more numerous.

Blewitt Surname Resources on The Internet

Blewitt Surname Ancestry

  • from Ireland (Munster) and from England
  • to America, Australia and New Zealand

England.  The Bluets were a Norman family that came to England, possibly accompanying William the Conqueror in 1066.  They were clearly a well-connected family as Robert Bloet became Bishop of Lincoln in 1093.   They later appeared at Raglan castle on the Welsh border and at Lackham manor near Silchester in Wiltshire.  There were six Ralph Bluets at Lackham before the last Bluet there, Eleanor, died in the late 1300’s.

Related Bluetts came to prominence in Somerset during the 1300’s and took possession through marriage of the manor of Holcombe Rogus in Devon in the 1450’s.  These Bluetts, sometimes Blewetts, were to remain there until the sale of the house in 1858.

Cornwall.  The Blewett name later established itself in Cornwall.  Indeed, in the 1891 census, Cornwall accounted for over half of the Blewetts in England.

The Blewetts at Colan near Newquay in the early 1500’s were an offshoot of the Holcombe Blewetts.  Francis and Elizabeth Blewett had thirteen children there and the name soon spread in the Colan-Bodmin-Camelford triangle.  Major Colan Blewett fought on the Royalist side during the Civil War.

Many Blewetts later became active in Cornish mining.  George Blewett was a mining engineer who built shipping quays for copper on the northern coastline in the 1750’s.  However, the collapse in Cornish mining in the mid-1800’s saw Blewetts emigrating.  This was true for Henry Blewett whose family line in Camborne went back to Tristram Blewett in the 1650’s.  He departed for Butte, Montana in the 1870’s.

The small fishing village of Mousehole near Penzance produced two Blewett sea captains.  The first was Henry Blewett who went to sea in 1864.  He died in 1891 after his ship sunk off the coast of India.  The second was Stephen Blewett, often away for long sea voyages at this time.  His son Frank, born in 1867, emigrated in 1903 to work in the steel mills in Pennsylvania.  But he was not suited to this type of work and died six years later.

Elsewhere.  There are as many Blewitts as Blewetts in England today.  The Blewitt numbers are more widely spread, with an emphasis on the West Midlands.

Staffordshire accounted for 20 percent of the Blewitts in the 1891 census.  The spelling here tended, like SW England, to be originally Bluett but then became Blewitt.  Thus Thomas Bluett was the father of William Blewitt who was born in Kingswinford near Dudley in 1733.  Samuel Blewitt was a butcher in the town in the 1880’s.

Ireland.  Bluett was an Anglo-Norman surname brought to Ireland probably at the time of Strongbow.  The name was mainly to be found, as Bluett or sometimes later as Blewitt, in the counties of Cork and Limerick in SW Ireland.  Bluetts at Kilmallock in Limerick date from the late 13th century.  James Bluett was recorded there in 1655 and the spelling has remained Bluett.

Edward Blewitt, born in 1795 in Mayo, was a surveyor who, during the distress of the Great Famine, worked as the general overseer at the Ballina workhouse before he departed for America in 1851.  Other Blewitts left for NW England (Tynemouth) around this time.  However, a descendant trail was left in county Mayo – including Laurita Blewitt, born in 1983, who is a local radio presenter and producer.

America.  Edward Blewitt who left Ireland with his family for America at the time of the Great Famine settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  He is the three times great grandfather of US President Joe Biden.

William Blewett, a Cornish miner, also departed for America in the 1850’s.  He did not last long in the new country, dying while copper mining near Lake Superior.  But his son Edward, settling in Nebraska, prospered in his various commercial ventures which included mining, livestock trading and banking.  In 1892 he formed the Blewett Gold Mining Company in the now-abandoned mining town of Blewett, Washington state.

Australia.  Samuel Blewett left Cornwall in the 1860’s to work at the Wallaroo copper mine in South Australia.  He and his wife Jane raised eight children there.  Interestingly, Ruby Blewett who was born in Adelaide in 1899 was descended from two separate branches of the Blewett family.

New Zealand.  Thomas and Adam Bluett from London but of possible Irish ancestry were early arrivals in New Zealand, bringing their prized lithographic printing press with them.  They reached Wellington on the Olympus in April 1841 and became the first New Zealand printers.  However, they ran into trouble with the authorities and had to leave, first to Tasmania and then back to London.  Both died young and impoverished, Thomas in 1846 and Adam in 1858.

Joe Biden’s Family Ancestry

US President Joe Biden identifies with his Blewitt Irish ancestors who arrived at his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania back in the 1860’s.  Just click below if you want to read more about this Blewitt and Biden history:

Blewitt Surname Miscellany

Robert Bloet, Bishop of Lincoln.  Robert Bloet was an early English prelate, holding the office of Bishop of Lincoln from 1093 until his death in 1123.  He claimed descent from a noble Norman family that held Ivry in Normandy and was brother to Hugh, Bishop of Bayeux.

The story about Robert Bloet goes as follows:

“When William the Conqueror lay on his death-bed at Rouen in 1087, he sent Bloet to England with a letter praying Archbishop Lanfranc to crown William Rufus. Bloet crossed the Channel in company with Rufus himself and became the new King’s Chancellor.

After the death of Remigius in 1092, the see of Lincoln was kept vacant for a year. Rufus, however, repented of his evil ways while he lay sick at Gloucester in the spring of 1093 and at the same time that he made Anselm archbishop he gave the bishopric of Lincoln to Robert Bloet.”

The Last of the Lackham Bluets.  In Silchester church in Wiltshire there is an effigy that is thought to be of this last of the Lackham Bluets, Eleanor Baynard.

The effigy, later 14th-century and probably that of Eleanor Baynard, wears kirtle, open-sided cote-hardie with deep V-neck once painted vermilion, and mantle.  Her head is covered by a substantial kerchief, and her neck and chin by a wimple-like barbe, in al, widow‘s weeds. Her feet peep out to rest against a dog (damaged), and two winged angels support her head.

Henry Blewett – A Life at Sea.  Henry Blewett was born in 1836 in the Cornish fishing village of Mousehole.  His father was a fisherman, but he died when Henry was only fourteen.  Henry joined the fishing fleet as a fisherboy.

In 1864, by the age of twenty-seven, he had been able to pass his Master Mariner examinations and could serve and indeed take command of merchant vessels.  His early ships were sailing ships.  In 1881 he signed onto his first steamship.

Ten years later, Henry signed on as the third mate in Durban to a large steamer, the Umtata, going to Madras.  Henry was now 55 and while he was below decks with a cold, the steamer ran aground near Madras.

The ship was abandoned on Christmas Day 1891 and the crew including Henry made their way some 50 miles to Madras in open boats.  Henry was taken immediately to Madras hospital, but he died of pneumonia on New Year’s Eve 1891.  His gold watch and sextant were the only personal possessions recovered from the wreck and delivered to his widow.

His ending is sad.  But his life has been commemorated in J.F. Parsons’ 1993 book Cornish Fisherboy to Master Mariner: The Life of Henry Blewett.

Blewitt and Blewett Numbers Today

.                 Blewitt+Blewett=Total (000’s)

  • UK             1.7      1.0     2.7
  • America      0.7     0.3     1.0
  • Australia     1.1     0.5     1.6
  • Elsewhere   0.1     0.3     0.4
  • Total           3.6     2.1     5.7

Blewitt Names

  • Robert Bloet was the Bishop of Lincoln from 1093 to 1123.
  • Jonas Blewitt was one of the most distinguished organists in England in the latter half of the 18th century.
  • Edward Blewitt who departed Ireland for America in 1851 is the Irish ancestor of US President Joe Biden.
  • Neal Blewett was a prominent Australian Labor party politician and diplomat and one of the early politicians, in 2000, to say that he was gay.

Blewitt Numbers Today

  • 2,700 in the UK (most numerous in Cornwall)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Click here for return to front page

Written by Colin Shelley

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *