In the next few posts I’ll be exploring the lives of the children of my 3 x great grandparents, John and Keziah Blanch, leaving aside for now their eldest child Mary Ann, my great great grandmother, to whom we’ll return in due course. John and Keziah’s next child after Mary Ann was their eldest son, Joseph James Blanch, and he is the subject of this post.

Born some time in 1831, Joseph James was not actually christened, at the parish church of St Dunstan’s, Stepney, until April 1833. By the time the 1851 census was taken, when he was twenty years old, Joseph was working as a carpenter. On 9th May 1852, Joseph married Eliza Philpot at St Matthew’s church in Bethnal Green. Born in Shoreditch in 1829, Eliza was the youngest of the eight children of John and Sarah Philpot, who formerly lived in East Street, just off Green Street, but by the time of Eliza’s marriage were at No. 4 Green Street, either next door or very close to the Blanch family at No.2.  In fact, as we shall see from later posts, the Blanches and the Philpots were part of a network of interrelated families living in close proximity in the Green Street area at this time. John Philpot, who was originally from Spitalfields, worked as a silk weaver, a trade that, deriving originally from Huguenot immigrants, was common in nineteenth-century Bethnal Green.

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Silk weavers in Bethnal Green, nineteenth century

I’ve been unable to find infant baptism records for any of Joseph and Eliza Blanch’s children, which makes me wonder if they belonged to a Nonconformist denomination whose records aren’t available online. However, we can deduce the dates of the children’s births from census and other records. Joseph’s and Eliza’s eldest daughter, Eliza Kezia, was born in the first quarter of 1853 in Bethnal Green. A second daughter, Marian Sarah, was born in 1856. A son, John James, was born in 1858 and another son, Walter Joseph, in 1861, though the latter seems to have died in infancy. When the 1861 census was taken, Joseph and Eliza Blanch and their young family were lodgers in the home of carpenter’s labourer Ingram (?) Davis and his wife Mary Ann in Bow. Joseph Blanch is described in the census record as a joiner.

Eliza Blanch died at the age of thirty-nine, in the second quarter of 1870, in the parish of St James, Westminster, perhaps in the home of her in-laws, John and Keziah Blanch, who (as we shall see in a later post) were living there at the time. In October of the same year, Joseph James Blanch remarried, his second wife being Ann Maria Boreham, who at the age of twenty-five was fourteen years younger than him. Ann was the daughter of butcher Joseph Boreham and his wife Maria Boswell, who were also originally from Spitalfields. The wedding took place at the Blanch family’s favourite church – St Anne’s, Limehouse.

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West Ham Town Hall in 1869 (via newhamphotos.com)

The parish register describes Joseph Blanch as a builder and gives the couple’s address as Gill Street in Limehouse. However, Joseph and Ann must have moved almost immediately from Limehouse to West Ham, which is where they can be found at the time of the 1871 census, living in a house in Surrey Street, together with two of Joseph’s children from his first marriage: Marian, fifteen, and John, twelve, the latter now working as a plasterer’s boy. Meanwhile, Joseph’s eldest daughter, Eliza Kezia, eighteen, was in lodgings in Bromley St Leonard and working as a paper sorter.

Joseph and Ann Blanch went on to have a number of children of their own, in fairly quick succession. Emma Maria was born in 1873, William Joseph in 1874, Alice Maude in 1876, Frederick Walter (also known as Walter Frederick) in 1877, Rose Ann in 1878, and Andrew Edward in 1880. All were born in West Ham, which is where the family was still living in 1881, at 15 Grange Road.

Either Joseph Blanch was constantly on the move in search of work, or he was by nature a restless soul. By the time his and Ann’s next and last child, Albert James, was born, in 1882, they would be living in Sussex. Albert’s birthplace was given as Westhampnett, near Chichester,  though at the time of the 1891 census the family was in Lyon Street, South Bersted, Bognor. Fourteen-year-old Walter Blanch was working alongside his father as a carpenter’s apprentice, and the household included four lodgers who were probably also employees or colleagues: Ernest Jackson and George Wright, carpenters and joiners, and house decorators Thomas Paddons and Jonathan Black.

Ten years later, in 1901, when Joseph was seventy and Ann fifty-six, they were still living in South Bersted. Their daughter Rose, twenty-two, and son Albert, thirteen,a carpenter like his father, were still living at home. Ann Blanch née Boreham died in Sussex in 1913, at the age of sixty-eight, and Joseph followed her three years later, dying in 1916 at the age of eighty-eight.

http://www.victorian-era.co.uk

As for what became of their children, this is what I have been able to discover:

At the time of the 1881 census, Eliza Kezia Blanch, Joseph’s eldest daughter from his first marriage, who was then aged twenty-eight, was employed as a cook and domestic servant in the home of master builder Andrew Robinson in Wanstead. In 1891 she was working as a charwoman in the household of woollen warehouseman Edmund Cocke in Hammersmith, and ten years later, in 1901, she was employed as a domestic caretaker to his widow Mrs Mary Cocke at her flat in Lyncroft Gardens, Hampstead.

In 1905, at the age of fifty-two, Eliza married sixty-seven-year-old widower and boilermaker Charles James Leverett of West Ealing. Her employer, Mary Cocke, was one of the witnesses. It would appear that the marriage was short-lived: there’s a record of a sixty-six-year old Charles James Leverett dying in West Ham in 1906, suggesting that the couple had moved there after their marriage. Eliza is probably the Eliza K. Leverett who died in Kensington in 1925, at the age of seventy-one.

The other witness at Eliza’s wedding was her sister Marian Sarah Blanch who had married Bethnal Green butcher and widower Quintus Kingston in 1875. They would have one daughter, Minnie, before Quintus’ death in 1887. Curiously, in 1898, when she was forty-two years old, Marian was baptised in the Church of England, under her maiden name, while she was living at 132 Alison Road in Stroud Green. In 1901 she and her twenty-four-year-old daughter Minnie, a Post Office clerk, were living in Wightman Road, Hornsey. In 1909 Marian married Hornsey widower Charles Pickering: the couple may have met through their daughters, both of whom were Post Office clerks. Charles’ (somewhat odd) occupation is given in the 1911 census record as ‘Human Hair, Dept. Manager’. At the time Charles, sixty-two, Marian, fifty-five, and the latter’s daughter Minnie Blanch Kingston, thirty-four, who was unmarried and still working as a clerk, were living at 35 Byron Road in Ealing. Marian would die there in 1919, at the age of sixty-four. Charles died in 1934 and Minnie in 1937: the three of them are buried together in Ealing Cemetery.

John James Blanch, Joseph Blanch’s son from his first marriage to Eliza, married Elizabeth Ann Moxon, a contractor’s daughter, at St John’s church, Hackney, in July 1877. John’s father Joseph and his sister Eliza Kezia were witnesses. In 1881 John and Ann Blanch were living at Buckingham Terrace in West Ham, where John was working as a carpenter, and they had two young children: (Elizabeth) Maud, three, and James, one, both born in West Ham. Ten years later, still in West Ham, they had a number of additional children: Joseph, nine, Frederick, six, Albert, five, Eunice, four, Andrew, three, and William, seven months. Some of these children were born in East London, but Eunice was born in Finchley and Andrew in Kent, suggesting that John (rather like his father Joseph) moved house frequently. One child – Joseph – was actually born in Bognor, where Joseph Blanch senior now lived, suggesting that John Blanch lived with or near his father at some point. By 1901, the family was back in West Ham, at Credon Road, and another daughter, Florence, had been added to the family.

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Leigh-on-Sea, early 1900s

By the time of the 1911 census, John and Elizabeth Blanch, together with their three unmarried children Joseph, William and Florence, had moved again: to an address simply given as ‘Glen Mount’ in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where they could afford to employ a domestic servant: thirty-five-year-old Hannah Wells, who had followed them from West Ham. John was now describing himself as a builder, while his sons Joseph and William were working as carpenters, probably with their father. Joseph and William Blanch both served in the Royal Engineers during the First World War. It would appear that their mother Elizabeth died in 1924, while their father John James Blanch survived until 1939.

Emma Maria Blanch, the eldest child of Joseph Blanch’s marriage to Ann Boreham, married salesman William John Underwood in Battersea in 1898, when she was twenty-five. They were still living in the area, with their two young children Ethel and Frederick, three years later, at the time of the 1901 census. In 1911 census, when they were still in Battersea, Emma and William, now described as a timber merchant, had three more children: John, Joan and Richard. I’m not sure when William Underwood died, but Emma lived to the grand old age of one hundred and one, dying in Hastings in 1974.

William Joseph Blanch worked as a basket maker. He married Elizabeth Ann Day in Bermondsey in 1904, when he was thirty and she was twenty-six. In 1911 they would be living in Southwark Park Road with their two young sons, Alexander and Wilfred.  William died in 1958 and Elizabeth in 1961, both in Croydon, and both at the age of eighty-three.

At the time of the 1891 census, when she was fifteen, Alice Maud Blanch was staying in Bermondsey with her widowed maternal grandmother, Maria Boreham, a ‘provisions dealer (shop)’. I can’t find her in the 1901 census, but in 1905, when she was twenty-nine, Alice Maud Blanch married Jesse Foakes, a clerk, in Bermondsey. Her brother William Joseph was a witness, and in fact she was living at the same address – 6 Southwark Park Road – that he gave at the time of his marriage the previous year. The other witness was Alice’s niece, Minnie Blanch Kingston, the daughter of her half-sister Marian (see above). Jesse and Alice appear to have had no children and the 1911 census finds the couple living in Battersea, where Jesse is described as an audit clerk to chartered accountants. I don’t know when Jesse Foakes died, but Alice Maud Blanch Foakes died in Islington in 1955.

Frederick Walter Blanch joined the army in 1895 at the age of eighteen, serving in the Royal Artillery. He married Rebecca Florence Coe in 1905, while serving in India, and their son, Leslie Conroy Blanch, was born there two years later. Frederick served as a staff sergeant in the First World War. Frederick and Rebecca both died in 1966 in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The only record I can find for Rose Ann Blanch, another of the daughters of Joseph and Ann Blanch, is from the 1911 census, when she was a single woman of thirty-two, living alone at Strathmore Villa, Longford Road, Bognor, and working as a ‘domestic’.

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British soldiers at the Battle of Ypres (via greatwarproject.org)

Like his brother Frederick, Andrew Edward Blanch joined the army as a young man, serving with 5th Field Company of the Royal Engineers. He married his wife, Ann Elizabeth Gary, at Droxford, Hampshire in 1904. When the 1911 census was taken, they were living in the army camp at Aldershot, where Andrew, thirty-two, was now a corporal, together with their young children Arthur, Robert and Ann. Andrew Edward Blanch was promoted to sergeant and served with the British Expeditionary Force in France. He was killed in action at Polygon Wood, Ypres, on 6th November 1914. Andrew’s widow Ann died at Portsmouth in 1949. Their son Arthur Edward Blanch spent many years searching for his father’s grave in Belgium, finally locating it in 1964. He died in Winchester in 2007 at the age of one hundred.

Albert James Blanch, the youngest son of Joseph and Ann Blanch, married Mary Jane Ayling in 1906. In 1911 they were living in Felpham, Sussex. Albert continued the family tradition by working as a carpenter, and they had a one-year-old daughter, Betty Barbara. Their son Donald James would be born in 1912, and another son, Richard Frederick James, in 1913.

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