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William Blacknall came to Abingdon in the mid-sixteenth century and made a fortune in local industries, operating corn and fulling mills, fisheries, and sailcloth manufacture, and buying up local properties including the site of the old abbey. By the time of his grandson John the industries had been disposed of and John was a significant landowner with properties in various parts of Berkshire and elsewhere. He and his wife both died in the plague of 1625, leaving two young daughters, one of whom died a year after her parents.

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