Sir Henry Arthur Blake was born in Limerick, Ireland, the 2nd of seven children and grew up through the worst of the famine. His mother, Jane Lane, was from Tipperary, and his father Peter Blake, who was born in Galway, was an inspector of the Irish Constabulary. Both parents came from families of the aristocratic class, but Arthur Blake's grandfather, Peter Blake, had been pressed by financial shortfalls to sell the family castle at Corbally. By the time young Arthur was born, the family had toppled a few rungs down on the social and economic scales. He started as a draper's assistant at a haberdashery, and then followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Irish Constabulary in 1859. He then worked as an inspector as well as the Magistrate of Duff in Co. Wicklow. All this was a good apprenticeship for his future governorship.
He was appointed governor of the Bahamas in 1886, and was transferred to Newfoundland in 1887. He was knighted that year. Blake's term in Newfoundland coincided with the start of serious fishery-related disputes with the United States and France. Both countries had a treaty right to use parts of the coast. The colonial government wanted to control the export of bait fishes in order to bargain with the United States for a separate trade agreement (which Canada opposed), and to reduce the subsidized French offshore fishery, which competed in Newfoundland's traditional markets. As the local representative of the British government, Blake handled these issues sensibly. At the end of his term in 1889, he moved on to Jamaica, Hong Kong and Ceylon Picture Courtesy of Heritage Newfoundland
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