My Genealogy Home Page:Information about Edith BERNAL-OSBORNE
Home Page |Surname List |Index of Individuals | |Sources
Edith BERNAL-OSBORNE (b. Abt. 1845, d. 1928)Edith BERNAL-OSBORNE (daughter of Ralph BERNAL-OSBORNE and Catherine Isabella OSBORNE)1 was born Abt. 1845 in Newton Anner, Kilsheelan, Tipperary, Ireland, and died 1928 in Myrtle Grove, Youghal, Cork, Ireland.She married Henry Arthur BLAKE on February 07, 1874 in Upton Cum Chalvey, Berks, England, son of Peter BLAKE and Jane LANE.
Notes for Edith BERNAL-OSBORNE:
Lady Edith Blake (1845-1928)
Edith Osborne was born at Newtown, Anner, Ireland in 1845, into a family of moderately wealthy land owners. She developed an interest in painting at an early age and was much encouraged by her family and also by artists such as the Swiss landscape artist Alexandre Calame and the Thomas Shotter Boys who visited the family home.
Although Edith's parents had been negotiating an arranged marriage for her, in 1874 she eloped with Captain Henry Blake of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Appalled at Blake's lower social status the family immediately disinherited Edith from a considerable fortune. At first the newly married couple had a difficult life, having to use Blake's low income to also support his widowed mother and 12 brothers and sisters.
During the 1870s Ireland was in political turmoil and unrest was widespread. As part of an attempt to restore law and order, Henry Blake was appointed as a Special Magistrate. Although this post was to place him under the threat of assassination from extremists, Edith's response was characteristically brave, as she would accompany her husband on his duties many a time with a concealed revolver.
A few years later, Blake entered the Colonial Service of the British Empire, and was promoted to the post of Governor of the Bahamas in 1884. It proved to be the beginning of a spectacular career that would take the couple to many exciting parts of the British Empire including Jamaica, where Blake served as Governor between 1889-1897.
Throughout their travels Edith Blake took an avid interest in the fauna and flora. It was during her time in Jamaica that she was able to combine her artistic abilities and her interest in butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) to produce a collection of nearly 200 watercolours.
In retirement the Blakes returned to their native Ireland to a much-loved house in Youghal, County Cork. Following Henry's death in 1918, Edith became a sad recluse wearing only mourning black for the rest of her life. She died at home in 1926.
The Edith Blake Drawings Collection
The Edith Blake Collection consists of 196 watercolours of Jamaican butterflies and moths and their food-plants, drawn between 1889-1898.
The collection was presented to the Natural History Museum in 1926. It was not until 1984 however, when the drawings were conserved, that their true scientific value was realised. Although Edith had intended for her drawings to be a personal record of the many moths and butterflies she had reared in captivity, the drawings were to provide modern day entomologists with unique scientific information about the biology of many Jamaican Lepidoptera.
A complete scientific survey of this collection has since been carried out by Museum scientists and the scientific data about the food-plants eaten by these insects is included on the Natural History Museum HOSTS - a database of the hostplants of the world's lepidoptera.
It is interesting to speculate how Edith Blake would have reacted to the fact that, 100 years after she finished her drawings her work is now regarded as having such a high scientific value.
Edith Blake (1845-1928)
Giant sphinx moth (Cocytius antaeus antaeus Drury), 1892.
Watercolour on paper, 300 x 235 mm.
Edith Blake's life story is a fascinating tale of romance, the British Empire and above all her love of butterflies and moths. Her life was filled with travel and excitement, and little did she realise that her artwork would provide an important and lasting scientific legacy.
The most extensive record of Jamaica's butterflies and moths contains over 196 illustrations and was compiled by Lady Edith Blake, the wife of Governor Blake.Lady Blake's collection is now in the British Museum of Natural History.
Ellwood CV & Harvey JMV, 1990
The Lady Blake collection: catalogue of Lady Edith Blake's
collection of drawings of Jamaican Lepidoptera and plants.
Keywords: Neotropic; Greater Antilles; Blake E; biography
= bulletin of the british museum (natural history),
historical series 18(2) pp 145-202; paperback
The Highlands of Jamaica, by Lady Blake: pp. 343-353
Title: The North American review. / Volume 154, Issue 424
Publisher: University of Northern Iowa Publication Date: March 1892
The Maroons of Jamaica, by Lady Blake: pp. 558-569
Title: The North American review. / Volume 167, Issue 504
Publisher: University of Northern Iowa Publication Date: November 1898
More About Edith BERNAL-OSBORNE and Henry Arthur BLAKE:
Marriage: February 07, 1874, Upton Cum Chalvey, Berks, England.
Children of Edith BERNAL-OSBORNE and Henry Arthur BLAKE are:
- Arthur BLAKE [LIEUTENANT], b. January 15, 1877, d. Aft. 1904.
- Maurice Bernal BLAKE, b. June 06, 1878.
- Olive BLAKE, b. Abt. 1881, Belfast, Antrim, Ireland.