William Henry Blanch, the fifth child of James Blanch’s marriage to Sophia Atkins, was the next to marry. Born in 1804, William was twenty-one years old when he married Martha Sarah Stokes on 31st October 1825 at St Anne’s, Limehouse – the church where his brother, my 3 x great grandfather John Blanch, would marry Keziah Holdsworth two years later. Martha Stokes had been born in Tooley Street, Bermondsey, also in 1804, the daughter of William Stokes, a lighterman, and his wife Jane.


St Anne’s church, Limehouse, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (via Wikimedia.org)

The marriage of William and Martha was witnessed by Thomas Harrison, who would also be a witness at John Blanch’s marriage in 1827, and Mary Harrison. One is tempted to conclude that Mary Harrison must be William’s sister Mary Ann, who married a Thomas Harrison. However, the couple would not marry for another three years, so either she was using her married name prematurely, or this is another Mary Harrison: Thomas’ sister perhaps?

When William and Martha’s son James William Blanch was born in 1826, they were living at Ivy Terrace in Shoreditch: the child was christened on 27th December at the parish church of St Leonard’s. The register gives William’s occupation as coach smith, and from later records we can deduce that he worked with his brothers Thomas and David at their business in Ham Yard, Soho (see the previous post). Later census records suggest that William and Martha’s second child, David Henry Blanch, was born in 1829 in ‘St Luke’s, Middlesex’, the area around Old Street, just to the north of the City of London, though I’ve yet to find a christening record for him. By the time their third child, Eleanor, was born in 1835, William and Martha were living in Soho: she was christened on 26th July that year at the church of St James, Westminster.


Ham Yard, Archer Street and Great Windmill Street can be seen clearly in Horwood’s 1792 map of London (via motto.com)

As was the case with his brother Thomas, it’s likely that William Blanch’s census record for 1841 is missing, though we can assume that he and his family were still in Soho, where they would certainly be living ten years later. The 1851 census finds William and Martha, both aged forty-seven, at 12 Windmill Street with their children David, twenty-two, and Eleanor, fifteen, as well as their niece Ellen Bridges, aged five (I’m not sure whose child she was). David was now employed as a coach smith, like his father, and almost certainly in the family business. His older brother James William, now twenty-four, had married Susan Chapman two years previously and they were living in Anglesea Yard in the same parish, where James was working as a smith:later records confirm that he, too, was a coachsmith.

12 Great Windmill Street was conveniently just along the road from Ham Yard, where the Blanch brothers’ coachbuilding business was based. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, as we shall see in a later post, my great grandfather Joseph Priestley Roe, grandson of William Blanch’s brother John, would be born in the same street – at No 23 – eleven years later. Those with an interest in political history will be aware that in 1848 Marx and Engels had drafted the Communist Manifesto at the Red Lion pub in Windmill Street (‘Bar1’ in the photograph below), just opposite the entrance to Ham Yard.


Archer Street, Soho, from Ham Yard, in 2008 (author’s photograph)

William and Martha Blanch had moved to 3 Archer Street, off Great Windmill Street and even closer to Ham Yard, by 1857, when their son David married Deborah Croker from Bloomsbury at St James’, Westminster, and their son James William married his second wife, Cork-born Frances Donovan, his first wife Susan having died two years earlier, probably in childbirth (their second child, William Richard, was born that year).

At some point the Blanch coachbuilding business moved from Soho to Chelsea, and a number of family members moved with it. William Henry Blanch was certainly living in Chelsea at the time of his death in 1857, at the age of fifty-three. I’m not sure what became of his wife Martha after this date. At the time of the 1861 census their son James, his wife Frances and their two-year-old daughter Frances Martha were living at 13 Richmond Buildings in Soho. There is no mention of James’ son William from his first marriage so perhaps, like his mother, he didn’t survive. At the same date James’ brother David and his wife Deborah were living in Knightsbridge with their two infant sons. Both James and David were still working as coachsmiths. David Henry Blanch, described in the 1871 census, when he and his family were living in East Street, Marylebone, as a coach spring maker, would die in 1874 at the age of forty-six. As for James William Blanch, he continued to work as a coachsmith, living with his family in Staines and then in Battersea until his death in 1893 at the age sixty-six.