My great great grandparents, bootmaker Daniel Roe and Mary Ann Blanch, had five children who survived them: Kezia Eliza, born in 1850; Daniel Ellis, 1854; Mary Ann Blanch, 1857; John Richard, 1859; and my great grandfather Joseph Priestley, 1862. After their parents’ early deaths (Mary Ann died in 1870 and Daniel seems to have died at around the same time), the orphaned Roe siblings were looked after initially by their relatives. As I noted in the last post, the 1871 census finds Kezia, Daniel, Mary Ann and John living with their maternal grandmother Keziah Blanch in Broad Street, Soho, while Joseph was with his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Eliza Parker, in Camberwell.


Nineteenth-century deathbed scene. Illustration for Dickens’s ‘Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings’ by E. A. Abbey, American Household Edition (1876) of Dickens’s ‘Christmas Stories’, p. 206.  (via

John Richard Roe, who was eleven when his parents died, only survived them by five years, dying in 1875, at the age of sixteen, from unknown causes. John died in Westminster, so I assume that he was still living with his grandmother in Broad Street at the time. We know that by 1881, when the next census was taken, Keziah Blanch would be at 9 Cumberland Terrace in Ealing, and that none of her Roe grandchildren would any longer be living with her.

Kezia Eliza Roe, who was nineteen when her parents died, married Edward Temple in 1873, when she was twenty-two. I’ll discuss what we know of Kezia’s married life in the next post.

Mary Ann Blanch Roe, who was fourteen when her parents died, seems to have married Leonard Kew in 1875 or thereabouts, when she would have been about eighteen. I’ll write about Mary Ann’s intriguing life in another post.

The life of my great grandfather Joseph Priestley Roe, the youngest of the Roe orphans, who was only eight years old when his parents died, will also be the subject of a later post.


Soldiers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, late nineteenth century (via

That leaves Daniel Ellis Roe, who was seventeen when his parents died and, according to the 1871 census, already working as an engineer. At some point in the next ten years Daniel joined the army, and the 1881 census record finds him, now aged twenty-eight, stationed with the Royal Engineers at Aldershot. Daniel was back in civilian life, working as an engineer in an electric works, by 1890 at the latest. He died on 25th January that year, at the age of thirty-six, after falling from a ladder at 93 Manor Street, Chelsea. It seems that the circumstances of his death were such as to warrant a coroner’s inquest, held four days later. In the 1891 census, No 93 was listed as a residential property, occupied by a single inhabitant, one Samuel Jeffrey, a twenty-six-year-old engine driver. This suggests that Daniel’s fatal accident took place at home, rather than at work. However, he may have lived close to his place of work: the New Cadogan and Belgrave Electric Supply Company had their premises in Manor Street.