North Coast author Jesse Blackadder amid the ruins of Blackadder Castle where The Raven’s Heart begins.
North Coast author Jesse Blackadder amid the ruins of Blackadder Castle where The Raven’s Heart begins.

Family's link to murder mystery

THE idea their family name is linked to one of the great unsolved murders in political history is proving to be of great interest to the Clarence Valley family of Blackadders.

One of their number, author Jesse Blackadder, has been able to place a distant ancestor, William Blackadder, at the scene of the murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary Queen of Scots and the father of the future King James I of England, in her second novel The Raven’s Heart.

“The murder was a real ‘gunpowder plot’,” Ms Blackadder said.

“A huge explosion blew up the house where Lord Darnley was staying, but he was apparently uninjured in the explosion.

"His body was found in the orchard without a mark on it.

“It seems that he survived the explosion and was killed outside soon after.

“The identity of the murderers has never been confirmed, but my research has shown that a William Blackadder was discovered at the scene soon after.”

However, this is a subplot of the novel which traces the history of the Blackadder family and how they were disinherited of their castle and lands following the Battle of Flodden.

“My research revealed that Alison Blackadder’s husband was killed at the Battle of Flodden and that she was left at the castle when an army came to capture it,” Ms Blackadder said.

“She and her two daughters were forced into marriage and their family lands taken.”

The novel takes up the story of Alison and her involvement in the political intrigue that surrounded the court of Mary Queen of Scots.

The history of the Blackadder family has intrigued the author, who has hinted at a sequel involving the Blackadder family, which settled around Ulmarra.

“After I did an interview with Fiona Wylie on the ABC I had a call from a family member who told me about a massacre at Blackadder Creek,” she said.

“It seems there are all sorts of stories involving Blackadders.”

Ms Blackadder said people with more stories to tell her can get in contact by visiting her website

“Since the publication of the novel I have received many emails from people asking me where I fit into their Blackadder family tree,” Ms Blackadder said.

“I always fit in there somewhere.”

The Raven’s Heart has been published this month by Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins, at a recommended retail price of $32.99.

It is also one of the company’s early offerings as an e-book.

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