In this post I’m continuing to explore the lives of the children of my 4 x great grandfather James Blanch. Previous posts have discussed, in chronological order, the marriages of Maria (1811), James junior (1813), Thomas (1820) and William Henry (1825). The next of the Blanch siblings to marry was my 3 x great grandfather, John Blanch, whose marriage in 1827 to Keziah Holdsworth I’ve covered elsewhere. That brings us to the marriage of John’s sister Mary Ann in 1828.

Mary Ann Blanch was the firstborn child of James Blanch and his second wife Sophia Atkins, but one of the last of their children to marry. Born in 1794, Mary Ann was already thirty-four years old when she married Thomas Harrison in 1828. I suspect that, as Sophia’s eldest daughter, she had been needed at home to help her mother, and that she was only really free to marry after the latter’s death in 1821. The fact that Thomas appeared as a witness to the marriages of two of Mary Ann’s siblings, in the years before their own marriage, suggests that the couple may have known each other for some time, but for some reason were unable to marry. Interestingly, Mary’s wedding took place at the church where she had been christened: St George the Martyr, Southwark.

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St George the Martyr, Southwark in 2016 (author’s photograph)

Thomas Harrison’s background is something of a mystery, and we have no records for him after his marriage to Mary Ann. It would appear that the couple had no children, and that Thomas died some time between 1828 and 1841, when Mary Ann, now aged forty-five, would be living in the house of her younger brother David in King Street, Soho. Like her older half-sister Maria, the widow of John Rodbard, who was at the same address, Mary Harrison was described in the census record as being of ‘independent’ means, so presumably Thomas had been able to provide for her in his will.

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At the time of the 1851 census Mary Ann Harrison, described as a widow aged fifty-six, would be a visitor in the home of Richard and Marianne Ellis in Richmond Street, which was very close to King Street. Richard Ellis was a carpenter and builder, and a close friend of the Blanch family. Two of his daughters would marry two of David Blanch’s sons (see the next post). By 1851 David Blanch and his family had moved from Soho to Chelsea. The Ellis family would also move to the same part of London, and in 1861  they would be living in Clifton Street, off Fulham Road, and ‘Mary Ann Widow’, sixty-six, who is obviously Mary Ann Harrison, was still living with them, and now earning her keep as a laundress. By 1871, when she was seventy-seven years old, Mary Ann Harrison would be living in Fulham Road, in the home of her niece Maria (the daughter of David Blanch), who was married to Joseph Cheshire, a draper. She died there two years later, at the age of seventy-nine.

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