General-at-Sea Robert Blake 1598-1657

Robert Blake is the most impactful individual ever to come from Bridgwater. This relatively lowly merchant’s son led a quiet life until his 40s, when he took up arms against the king in the first civil war. He distinguished himself in energetic and sometimes desperate defences of the towns of Lyme and Taunton, famously declaring in the latter that he had three pairs of boots and would eat two of them before surrendering. After Parliament was triumphant, Blake was appointed a ‘General at Sea’ to lead the Commonwealth navy against the royalist hold-outs. He was central in efforts to reform the navy, and oversaw victory against the Dutch and Spanish. He was no stranger to fighting, defeating or negotiating on equal terms with kings and princes.

On this page we will be post resources relating to Blake’s life and career, as well as his commemoration, especially in Bridgwater.

Robert Blake
A contemporary illustration of Blake from a Dutch print of the Battle of Portland 1653. The artist will never have met Blake, but this may have been copied from a portrait. The corresponding depictions of Tromp and Penn are ok (although Penn is made somewhat thinner and given a beard).


1643: Blake attempts to bribe Bridgwater to surrender, resulting in a skirmish at the South Gate. Extract from the Mercurius Aulicus 4 February 1643, published in the Bridgwater Alfred 19 September 1831.


An incident on Mull: Robert Blake and Maclean of Duart, 1580.


Full Biography by Hepworth Dixon, Robert Blake, Admiral and General at Sea, 1852. Also see the revised 1858 edition [External]

Short Biography in Jarman’s History of Bridgwater, 1889

Short Biography in Powell’s Ancient Borough of Bridgwater by William Parr Greswell, 1907

Robert Blake, Admiral and General-at-Sea: A Sketch, probably by William Parr Greswell, circa 1908

Celebrations and Memorials

Crested China Model of the Blake Statue, circa 1901-1918

In Commemoration of Admiral Robert Blake 1598-1657, testimonials from June 1956