The first of my 4 x great grandfather James Blanch’s children to marry was Maria, the eldest surviving child from his first marriage to Jane Barlow. Born in Soho in 1781, Maria Blanch was already twenty-nine years old when she married John Rodbard from the village of Little Stanmore, near Edgware, on 11th February 1811, at St Luke’s church, Chelsea.

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John Rodbard was the only son of Joseph and Mary Rodbard of Chipping Barnet, Hertfordshire. Joseph Rodbard was an armourer and brazier and seems to have had premises in London as well as at Barnet. John had three sisters: Alice, born in 1769; Sarah, 1774; and Frances, 1781. Sarah had married John Dickson, a baker in Greville Street, Holborn, in 1805. They had five children: Mary, born in 1806; Adam, 1808; John, 1810; Euphemia, 1812; and Sarah, 1813. In 1835 Sarah Dickson the younger would marry Maria Blanch’s half-brother, David Blanch, about whom I’ll write in a later post. The Dickson family seem to have owned a house in Edgware, as well as their bakery business in Holborn.

In 1827 John Rodbard acted as executor of the will of his niece, fifteen-year-old Euphemia Dickson, whose father John Dickson had died two years earlier. The documents describe Maria’s husband as ‘John Rodbard of Edgware in the County of Middlesex gentleman’, suggesting that he and Maria had made their home there, and also that John lived on income from property or perhaps from a legacy. If John Rodbard did have an occupation, it remains a mystery, though there is some evidence that he may have been a grocer. At any event, he seems to have been a man of some wealth, which makes him an odd match for Maria, whose family appear to have been living in reduced circumstances in Saffron Hill at the time the couple met and married. On a practical level, it’s likely that they met via John’s sister Sarah and her husband John Dickson, who lived, and kept their bakery business, very close to the Blanch family in Holborn.

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Part of William Darton’s 1817 Map of London, showing Greville Street (between Grays Inn Lane and Leather Lane) and Saffron Hill (via mapco.net)

John and Maria Rodbard appear not to have had any children in their eighteen years together. John died in 1829 and his will, proved in October that year, leaves all of his household goods to Maria and bequeaths ‘all those my freehold and copyhold messuages or tenements and premises with their apartments situate lying and being in Great and Little Stanmore in the County of Middlesex…and all other my freehold copyhold and leasehold estates whatsoever and wheresoever the same may be situate and all my money in the public stocks or funds and all other my personal estate and effects which I shall be possessed of or entitled unto at the time of my decease’ to his executors, with instructions that they should sell them in order to fund an annuity to be paid to his widow ‘for and during the term of her natural life’.

Maria would live for thirty years after the death of her husband, surviving on the annuity that he had left her, and living with her younger half-brother David and his family, first in Soho and then in Chelsea. She was accompanied by her Stanmore-born servant Elizabeth Higham, who would continue to work for other members of the Blanch family after Maria’s death. When she died in March 1859, Maria Rodbard née Blanch was buried, presumably alongside her late husband John, at St Margaret’s church, Edgware.

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