Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan

Inscriptions at
the Church of St.Mary the Virgin,
Iwerne Minster, Co.Dorset
Church of England, Diocese of Salisbury
NOTE: Iwerne is pronounced "Uwerne" 

Rev. William Blennerhassett (b.10-Jul-1800 Elm Grove, Ballyseedy, Co.Kerryd.27-Apr-1860 Dorset) was Vicar of Iwerne Minster from 1833 to 1860.
On 21-Oct-1834 William married Emma Sophia Houssemayne du Boulay (b.1814 France, d.1896).
William's younger brother Rev. John Blennerhassett (b.3-Mar-1803 Elm Grove, Ballyseedy, Co.Kerry, d.5-Sep-1890 Dorset) in 1826 was also an anglican priest. He served the village of Ryme Intrinseca, Dorset first as Curate (1830-1832) then for 58 years as Rector (1832-1890).  He was also as Vicar of Hermitage, Dorset 1834-1885.
On 21-Apr-1835 John married Emma Sophia's twin sister, Elizabeth Houssemayne du Boulay(b.1814 France, d.1904). 
to the memory of
The Revd. William Blennerhassett
Second Son of
Arthur Blennerhassett Esq.
of Ballyseedy, Co. Kerry, Ireland
[and Vicar of this Parish 27 Years]
who departed this life April 27th 1860
Aged 59 Years.
Headstone for Rev William Blennerhassett in the church-yard of Iwerne Minster, adjacent to a thriving evergreen tree of an age suggesting it may have been planted in his memory soon after the funeral.
The inscription in 2010 was barely legible, readable in full only by making a pencil "rubbing" as below:
photo: BJ
click on image to enlarge
click on image to enlarge
  Henry Morgan Say, M.A. on the death
          of Topping, instituted 15 December. 1823.
  William Blennerhassett, M.A. Trinity Coll:
          Dublin, on the death of Say, instituted 1833
  John Acton, M.A. of Exeter Coll: Oxford, on
          the death of Blennerhassett, instituted
          16 August 1860.   died 12 April 1899.
List of "Iwerne Minster - Vicars from A.D. 1320" inside the church 
Old Vicarage, Iwerne Minster - now Devine House, a boys boarding house for Claysmore School at Iwerne 

Iwerne Minster, a beautiful Dorset village, was the destination for one of my earliest expeditions in search of Blennerhassett family history, on 20-Jan-1969. The vicar at the time was Rev. Rex Wells, the last incumbant (1951-1977) to reside with his family in the old vicarage. He showed me the church interior and kindly permitted me to view original parish registers for the period 1830-1860 (the period of Blennerhassett connection with the parish) then kept in the church safe. The parish registers up to 1885 are now archived at the Dorset History Centre (formerly the Dorset Record Office) in Dorchester, where they may also be viewed on microfilm.
The last vicar of Iwerne, Rev. Rex Wells, told me the vicarage had been built c1833 by the Rev. William Blennerhassett and that the ghost of Rev. William is said by local people to haunt the vicarage. He had personal experience of this, telling me that at the rear of the house was an old greenhouse or conservatory "...where the family will not go". Inside this structure was a stone tank, well or water reservoir fed by a natural spring that had been the water supply for the house. Water ran from the tank to form a pond in the garden, before flowing away as a stream. While drawing water from this well Rev. Wells had distinctly felt other hands touching his own hands, when no-one else was present. He also recalled that his wife, on hearing any unfamiliar noise, or creaking floorboards at night, would smile and say "...there goes old Blennerhassett". 
The tank, also described as a "cellar" so presumably sunk into the ground, was open to view until c1977 when it was sealed, following sale of the vicarage with its large garden to become "Devine House", a boys' boarding house for nearby Clayesmore School. The present vicar of Iwerne Minster, Canon Simon Everett, resides in a new vicarage built in the grounds of the old vicarage c1977.
Searching the parish registers with Rev. Wells we found seven baptism entries, between 1836 and 1853, for children of Rev. William Blennerhassett and his wife Emma, the baptisms performed by their father. We also found this record of Rev. William's burial in 1860:
Church of St.Mary the Virgin, Iwerne Minster, Dorsetshire
Register of Burials 1813-1885

Entry No. 
Date of burial 
Place of residence 
May 2nd 1860 
William Blennerhassett 
verdict "temporary Insanity"
Iwerne Minster 
C.J. Nicholl,
of Hinton St.Mary 

All interments immediately prior to his own were performed by Rev. William Blennerhassett.
Hinton St. Mary is a nearby Dorset village.
Rev. Wells was very interested to see this entry, he having not previously been aware of the circumstances of Rev. William's death. Having since discovered the very strange circumstances in which the Rev. William died, I do wonder if perhaps did not kill himself, but was murdered? 


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