John Black b 1647 and JANE ECCLES b 1652


John Black, born 1647, in Belfast, Ireland and married Jane Eccles b 1653. He became a prominent merchant of Belfast.  As a young man, he did his merchant apprentice, which took seven years. In his last year of apprenticeship he was required to be a “supercargo,” which meant he was to travel on  board a ship to the West Indies, obtain a cargo, and be responsible for getting it back in good condition to Belfast.  In the 1600’s a round trip to the West Indies could take anywhere from three to seven months. These were the days before sailors understood how to take advantage of  ocean currents to speed up their trips. By the end of the 1600’s, John was recognized as one of the most successful and prominent merchants in Belfast.

Records show that John and six other individuals owned ships that traveled between France, Holland, and the West Indies. On one occasion a ship that John was a part owner was taken by pirates. To get re-possession of the ship, they were forced to buy the cargo back. Five of the owners essentially had to buy the cargo twice. John and another owner had purchased insurance, which was fairly new in those days, and they were reimbursed for their costs.

John traveled to Bordeaux, France, to choose wines in 1679-80. His son John married a Margaret Gordon, daughter of prominent Bordeaux merchant and he became a prominent wine merchant in his own right. John and Margaret had son they named Joseph Black who became a world renowned chemist and taught at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He is known as the “Father of Chemistry.” He is buried in the Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh, Scotland.

During the Willamite War, a war between the Protestants and the Catholics, John and his family fled to Ayr, Scotland during the “Break of Dromore,” a name given to a battle fought on March 14, 1689. When the battle was over, he and his family went back to Belfast on John’s own ship.

John and Jane had seven children. All of their children became successful merchandisers, or married merchants. There was one exception, Charles did not choose to follow his father but had the honor of being King Georges Consul General at Cadiz, Spain.

Children of John II Black and Jane Eccles were as follows:

  1. William Black, born 1696 in Belfast, Antrim Ireland; died 25 Oct 1760 in Belfast, Antrim Ireland. He married Eleanor Thetford, born 1717 in Belfast, Antrim Ireland; died 15 Feb 1777 in Lisburn, Antrim, Ireland, daughter of Henry Thetford and Eleanor Garnet.
  2. Joseph Black, born abt 1686.
  3. Miss Black, born abt 1692.
  4. John Black, born 1682 in Belfast, Antrim Ireland.
  5. Thomas Black, born 1684 in Belfast, Antrim Ireland.
  6. Samuel Black, born 1686 in Belfast, Antrim Ireland.
  7. Charles Black, born 1688.
  8. David Black, born abt 1690; died 20 Sep 1724.
  9. Priscilla Black, born 1692 in Belfast, Antrim Ireland.
  10. Ester Black, born 1694.

Origin of the Black  Name

In 1723 John Black sent a letter to the Laird of Clan Lamont in Scotland to obtain information relevant to the origin of the Black Name and coat of arms.The Laird’s response, serves as evidence that the Black’s were originally part of the Clan Lamont which originated in the  highlands of Scotland. Following is a transcription of the letter in its original form:

To the Laird of Lamont,
In neither Coole [Cowhall] North britan.
Belf. August the 19th 1723.

honble sr

I being defcended from the Antient name of BLACK from Scotland for some ages; but my father, and many Relations beign removed by beath and to other countries, God is pleafed yet to continue me, a survivour, altho, very Infirm, and about 76 years of age. I have bein an Inhabitant in this place for about 60 years, except some Intervalls, when I went abroad for france, holand, and the west Indees, &c.
all which I have bein engaged in merchandizinge.

I comfortably marryd to one of the name ECCLES, by whom I have 5 sonns, and 2 Daughters, yet alive, all the former brought up in france, and merchandizing, one of them settled a factor, and maryd in bondx [Bordeaux] above 28 years, and hath a family of 6 children, another is honrd to be Kinge george Confull in Cadiz in Spain, where he enjoys both great honor and Riches, having a younger bro. a confiderabl factor with hinm for a companion. another was brought up at the Colledg of glafgow, and now abroad, and the 5th with me, and one daughter, all other well maryed here to a merchr. and wee all underftandinge that we have an Interft; by Alyance In ye honorble famely, is very defirous; of any opertuntity at hom ar abrod, to demonfrate our dutyfull Respects to any conferned.

My Sonn, who is his Majty Consoll intreats the favor of you, to Kno the origenall that the BLACK bath in the honorable family of the Antiant family of Lamont, and likewise ye coatt of arms, which pray aford me, by the Imprefsion of ye seall withina letter, for which I and mine shall Remain most thankfull.
In the Interm pray pardon his freedome, and upon any commande honorable sir, ye
oblidged most humble Servant,


(Addressed) to Mr. John BLACK, Merchant, Belfast, in reply to the letter he had written to the Laird of Lamont, Nether Cowhall, Nortrh Britain, 19 August, 1723:
Kilferran. 19th September 1723-

Sir — I received yours of the date August 19th, which afforded me a good of satisfaction to find that nether absence for a long time from the native country of your forefathers, nor the difference between your sirname and mine, which is only in sound, have been able to make you forget the family and stock of peole you aer truly descended from.

I am wery well pleased providence has been so kind to yourself and children as to spare you till you have seen the most of them well-provided, and the rest, I hope in a fair way of being so. You tell me your son, who has the honor of being his Majesty king George’s consul at Cadiz, wants to know when the BLACKs descended form the family I represent, and how they came to have their mane changed from lamont to that under which they now go; in compliance to which reasonable request, please take an account of both as follows:–Lamont had a son about 400 or 500 years ago, whose hair, as we have it handed down by tradition, was very black, on which account he was called a “Ghiolle dugh,” which in English the Black Lad; his son, again, was called “Mac a Ghiolle dugh,” in English the Black Lad’s Son, and so was his posterity ever since called with us, of whom there is a pretty good number in Cowhall, and in other parts of the Highlands; but such of them as went to the Lowlands, England, Ireland, or other kingdoms, called themselves BLACKs, being a literal translation of dugh into English. And this branch of the family of Lamont were so very zealous and careful to preserve its memory, that about 300 or 400 years ago, when it was represented by a man of vast porfuseness and extravagance, who had spent the whole interest to one rood of land, they cast him over-board of a boat when he was drinking, and just when he was gloruing in his former follies, and promising himself to make an end to the littel that remained; this they did there should be no memory left to the family they were descended from, and immediately when to the Isle of MAnn, where the heir was, carried him home, and with their help together with such others of his friends and well-wishers as were in the country, dispossessed a son of Argyle’s who had takes possession of his estate, so that I stand very much obliged to my friends the BLACKs.

It only remains, now, that I give you an account of my coat of arms, which is a white lion rampant in a green field. Our supporterd as two wild men; as for a crest, none with us is allowed that a piece of honor but nobility. The motto is “Ne Parcas nee Spernas.”

I want a seal for my arms at present, having, before I received your letter, complimented a friend at a distance with it; but the first time I go to Edinburgh shall cause to cut one and send it to you.

I shall not trouble you further now, but conclude with my best wishes to yourself and children, assuring you none can rejoice more at their property and preferment than,
Sir, your very obedient friend.
L. Lamont

Interested in more, click on one of the following:

The Black Family (Including letter from John Black to the Laird of Clan Lamont) Ulster Journal of Archeology (Volume 8, pages 176 of 188)

The Black Family (same as above, but clearer copy)

Historical Notices of Old Belfast and its Vicinity – Message Boards