A family in early nineteenth-century Bethnal Green

Recent posts have explored the lives of a number of my ancestors who lived in Bethnal Green in the first half of the nineteenth century. Having traced these individual lives, I thought it might be interesting to plot their movements as a family around Bethnal Green over the course of half a century, as the area was transformed from a village surrounded by open fields to an overcrowded London suburb.


Part of Wallis’ Plan Of The Cities of London and Westminster, published in 1804, showing Wilmot Street and St Matthew’s church, Bethnal Green (via mapco.com)

The first reference to Bethnal Green in the records for the Holdsworth family dates from 13th August 1803, when Sarah Holdsworth, one of the five Holdsworth siblings who had migrated from Essex to London in the late eighteenth century, married her second husband William Parker at St Matthew’s church, which was on the south side of Bethnal Green Road. The second reference is from 1806, when the members’ register of Little Alie Street Baptist Chapel in Whitechapel records that Sarah’s brother, my 4 x great grandfather William Holdsworth, was living in Wilmot Street, Bethnal Green. Wilmot Street was also on the south side of Bethnal Green Road, to the west of what is now Cambridge Heath Road (see map above).

William and his wife Lydia and their children must have moved to Bethnal Green after January 1803, when the parish register of St Dunstan’s church, Stepney, records that they were living in Mile End New Town, at the time that their son, Edward Porter Holdsworth was christened. The child was named either after Sarah Holdsworth’s first husband, Edward Porter, who had died in 1799, or (more likely) after her son, Edward Parker Porter, who had died in January 1802, at the age of eight. William and Lydia Holdsworth’s next child, their daughter Sarah, born in Bethnal Green in 1806, was obviously named after William’s sister.


The parish register of St Matthew’s church, Bethnal Green, records the marriage of William Parker and Sarah Porter née Holdsworth, witnessed by her brother William Holdsworth, in August 1803

When I consider these records together, and add the fact that William Holdsworth was one of the witnesses to his sister Sarah’s marriage to William Parker in 1803 (see above), it points to a close relationship existing between brother and sister. I wonder, in fact, whether the widowed Sarah Porter née Holdsworth might actually have been living with her brother William and his family in Wilmot Street, at the time of her second marriage. That might explain why Sarah, who had previously lived on Mile End Road, and William Parker, who was from Whitechapel, chose to marry at a church in Bethnal Green.

As I noted in an earlier post, William and Lydia Holdsworth appear to have moved to the Essex village of Woodford at some point, from where William, having retired from his occupation as a shoemaker, ran a carrier business to and from London. I’ve also been unable to find any further records for William and Sarah Parker in Bethnal Green.


Bethnal Green, from Greenwood’s 1827 map of London (via users.bathspa.ac.uk)

We have to wait another twenty years or so for the next reference to Bethnal Green in the family records, when William and Lydia Holdsworth’s daughters Phoebe and Sarah were living in the area, following their respective marriages. In 1822, two years after their marriage, Phoebe Holdsworth and her husband, bricklayer Thomas Chamberlin, could be found living in Sugar Loaf Alley, which ran between the green at Bethnal Green and Back Lane. In 1825, four years after their marriage, Sarah Holdsworth and her husband, silk weaver Thomas Parker, were living in nearby Park Street, on the other side of Back Lane. By 1828 the Parkers had moved to West Street, one of the road leading off Green Street, the main road running out of Bethnal Green to the east. They would remain in West Street for the next twenty years or so.

Some time in the 1830s Thomas and Phoebe Chamberlin moved from Sugar Loaf Alley to Providence Place, which apparently was just to the north of the green (though I can’t find it on any contemporary maps). After Thomas Chamberlin’s death in 1837 and at the time of her second marriage, to baker James Young, later in the same year, Phoebe could be found living in Charles Street, on the southern side of the village.


Bethnal Green in 1844, from Cross’ London Guide (via mapco.com)

The 1841 census finds Thomas and Sarah Parker still living in West Street, though by now James and Phoebe Young had moved again, to Coventry Street, which was close to her childhood home in Wilmot Street. At some point before the next census was taken in 1851, Phoebe had moved again, nearer to her sister Sarah. She and James were now at 3 Green Street, where they were neighbours of Phoebe’s and Sarah’s aunt Keziah Blanch, her husband John, a shoemaker, and their family, who were at No.2, having moved there from Mile End Old Town some time after 1841.


The 1851 census finds the families of John and Keziah Blanch, and James and Phoebe Young, living next-door to each other in Green Street, Bethnal Green (via ancestry.co.uk)

In 1851 Thomas and Sarah Parker were still around the corner from their relatives in West Street – at No 28 – where, as I’ve noted before, they had two visitors on the day the census was taken. One of them was eighteen-year-old Eliza Philpot, a silk weaveress, who would marry John and Keziah Blanch’s son Joseph James Blanch, a carpenter, in the following year. Eliza’s parents, John and Sarah Philpot, also silk weavers, lived nearby at 51 East Street. At the time of her marriage in 1852, Eliza Philpot gave her address as 4 Green Street, which was the home of her sister Ann, who was married to William Brereton, yet another silk weaver.


Bethnal Green in 1868, from Weller’s map of London (via london1868.com)

By 1861, John and Keziah Blanch had moved from Bethnal Green to Soho. As I noted in the last post, I haven’t been able to find Thomas and Sarah Parker in the census for this year. Phoebe Holdsworth’s second husband James Young died in 1854 and in 1861 she was living with her adult son Edward in Globe Street, which ran southwards from Green Street. The last record we have for any of the Holdsworth family in Bethnal Green is from 1871, when Sarah Parker née Holdsworth died at James Street.

I’ve deliberately omitted one branch of the Holdsworth family from this account of my ancestors’ lives in Bethnal Green. William and Lydia Holdsworth’s other daughter, my 3 x great grandmother Eliza Holdsworth, left Bethnal Green as a young woman to seek work elsewhere, but returned as a widow in the 1840s, with three of her adult children. I’ll tell their story in the next post.

Sarah Holdsworth and Thomas Parker, silk weavers

A man came yesterday from Bethnal Green with an account of that district. They are all weavers, forming a sort of separate community; there they are born, there they live and labour, and there they die. They neither migrate nor change their occupation; they can do nothing else. They have increased in a ratio at variance with any principles of population, having nearly tripled in twenty years, from 22,000 to 62,000. 

Charles Greville, Diary, 17th February 1832

BETHNAL GREEN. A low-lying district, separated from Stepney in the year 1743, and made a parish by the name of St. Matthew, Bethnal Green. It is chiefly inhabited by poor weavers of silk, connected with the great French settlement in Spitalfields.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

(via victorianlondon.org)

In this post I’m continuing to explore the lives of the three daughters of my 4 x great grandfather, Stepney shoemaker William Holdsworth and his wife Lydia. Their youngest child was Sarah, who was born in 1806. Her three eldest siblings, Isaac, Samuel and Phoebe, had been born in Marmaduke Street in the parish of St George-in-the-East. The next two children, Eliza (my 3 x great grandmother) and Edward Porter, were born in Mile End Old Town, in 1801 and 1803 respectively, and the latter was christened at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney.

However, in 1806, the year of Sarah’s birth, the records of Little Alie Street Baptist Meeting in Whitechapel note that her parents’ address was now Wilmot Street, which was in Bethnal Green, just south of what would later be known as Bethnal Green Road. Nevertheless, when Sarah got married in October 1821, when she was just fifteen, she chose to do so at the Holdsworth family’s original parish church of St George-in-the-East. Both parties signed their names and the witnesses to the marriage were John Preston and Ann Ayres, the latter imprinting her mark.

Sarah’s husband was Thomas Parker, a twenty-one-year-old Bethnal Green-born silk weaver, but coming to any definite conclusions about his family background has proved difficult. It’s possible that he was related to the William Parker who was the second husband of another Sarah Holdsworth – the aunt of the Sarah being discussed here. In an earlier post, I suggested that the connection between the Holdsworth and Parker families might go be even further: the first Sarah Holdsworth gave the middle name ‘Parker’ to her son Edward, even when she was married her first husband Edward Porter.


St Matthew’s church, Bethnal Green (via geograph.org.uk)

The next record we have for Thomas and Sarah Parker after their marriage in 1821 is for the joint christening of their first two children, Sarah and Eliza, at St Matthew’s church, Bethnal Green, on 21st August 1825. Sarah had been born in March 1823 and Eliza in February 1825. According to the parish register, the family was living at Park Street, Bethnal Green, which ran off Back Lane, to the east of the green, and just to the north of Green Street, where Sarah’s sister Phoebe and her aunt Keziah would later be living. Eliza Parker would died in 1827, at the age of two.

By the time their son Thomas was christened at the same church, on 10th August 1828 (he had been born on 4th February), Thomas and Sarah Parker were living in West Street, Bethnal Green, which ran south from Green Street. (However, at least one census record notes that Thomas was born in Woodford, Essex, to which his grandparents William and Lydia Holdsworth had retired.) It was from this address that Sarah was christened as an adult, at St Matthew’s, on 20th July 1829. In 1830, the Parkers were at the same address when their son William was baptised, and the same was true for the christening of their son Joseph in 1833.


Silk weavers’ cottages, Bethnal Green (via victorianlondon.org)

The 1841 census finds the Parkers still living in West Street. Thomas is said to be a silk weaver, an occupation he shares with a number of his close neighbours, suggesting that this was a street of mostly weavers’ cottages. Thomas, forty, and Sarah, thirty-five, were living with their children Sarah, fifteen, Thomas, fourteen, William, eleven, and Joseph, eight.

On 11th September 1845, Thomas and Sarah Parker were witnesses to the second marriage of Sarah’s sister Eliza, my 3 x great grandmother, at St George-in-the-East. As I’ll explain in a later post, Eliza Holdsworth had married Bedfordshire shoemaker Daniel Roe in 1825 but had been widowed in 1836. Now she was marrying carpenter John Sharp and would soon return with him to his home in Barkway, Hertfordshire.

In 1846, the Parkers’ eldest daughter Sarah, then aged twenty-three, married George Garner, also at St George-in-the-East. Like his father of the same name, and like Sarah’s father Thomas, George was described rather grandly in the parish register as a ‘silk manufacturer’. At the time he was said to be living at 6 Lower Chapman Street, while Sarah was at 18 Lower John Street. Both streets were in the area between Commercial Road and Cable Street where Sarah’s Holdsworth grandparents had lived before moving north to Mile End Old Town and Bethnal Green. The marriage was witnessed by my 3 x great grandparents John Blanch and Kezia Holdsworth, the latter being the cousin of the bride’s mother.

In February 1850 Thomas and Sarah Parker were witnesses to the marriage of Sarah’s nephew Richard Roe, one of the sons of her sister Eliza, to Fanny Elizabeth Debney, at St George’s church, Hanover Square.


Bethnal Green, in Cross’ London map of 1851

The 1851 census finds Thomas and Sarah Parker still living and working in West Street, Bethnal Green. Their home is at No. 28, where Thomas is said to be a silk weaver and Sarah is described as a silk weaveress. The adjacent and neighbouring houses in West Street are also occupied by silk weavers. The Parkers had two young visitors at the time of the census: Harriet Payton, eighteen, and Eliza Philpot, twenty-one, both of whom are described as silk weaveresses. Both were the daughters of silk weavers who lived in neighbouring streets. In the following year, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Eliza Philpot would marry Joseph James Blanch, son of the Parkers’ relatives and neighbours, John and Keziah Blanch.

Thomas junior, William and Joseph had all left the Parker family home by 1851. Thomas, twenty-five, was now living and working – as a journeyman baker – with his brother-in-law George Garner in Southwark. I haven’t managed to find out what became of William or Joseph.

Two years after the census, on 17th April 1853, Thomas Parker junior married his cousin Eliza Roe the younger at St George in the East. Eliza, born in Biggleswade in 1833, was the daughter of Eliza Holdsworth and her first husband Daniel Roe. At the time of their marriage, both were said to be living in Chapel Street, another of the streets to the north of Cable Street: Thomas, still working as a baker, was at No. 2 and Eliza at No. 9.  Eight years earlier, at the time of her second marriage to John Sharp, Eliza Roe’s mother had given her address as 16 Chapel Street.


Victorian pub scene: ‘Behind the Bar’ by John Henry Henshall

The witnesses to the marriage were Thomas Parker junior’s sister Sarah Garner, and a certain Martin Landragin. He, like Thomas, was a weaver’s son from Bethnal Green, who would later become a licensed victualler and landlord of the Fox in Deptford. This is interesting, in light of the fact that Thomas Parker senior is described in the register as a licensed victualler, though it’s unclear when or why he ceased working as silk weaver, nor where his licensed premises were: perhaps Parker and Landragin were in business together? Born in Shoreditch in 1828, Martin Landragin was the son of weaver Martin Garrey Landragin and his wife Sarah Ogle. Martin Landragin senior was the son of John Nicholas Étienne Landragin and Johanna Felicité Guerriot, who were married at St Andrews, Holborn, in 1795. There is a suggestion that the Landragins may have fled from France at the time of the Revolution: if so, they would have joined countless other weaving families of French ancestry in this part of London, many of them descended from an earlier wave of Huguenot refugees.

The record of Thomas junior’s wedding in 1853 is the last definite mention of Thomas Parker senior that I’ve managed to find. I’ve yet to find either Thomas or Sarah in the 1861 census, though the records for Bethnal Green appear to be incomplete. Sarah Parker née Holdsworth died in January 1871 at the age of sixty-five at 4 James Street, which was off Green Street in Bethnal Green, and was buried in the Nonconformist Cemetery at Victoria Park, Hackney. The date of Thomas Parker’s death is not known.

Phoebe Holdsworth in Hackney and Bethnal Green

I began this blog by describing the arrival in Stepney, in the closing years of the eighteenth century, of the Holdsworth siblings: John, Sarah, Joseph, William and Godfrey. John and William Holdsworth were both my 4 x great grandfathers, since two of their grandchildren – Mary Ann Blanch and Daniel Roe – would marry each other. Mary Ann was the daughter of John Blanch and Keziah Holdsworth – the daughter of John Holdsworth. Daniel was the son of Daniel Roe senior and Eliza Holdsworth – the daughter of William Holdsworth. Daniel and Mary Ann Roe were my great great grandparents.

Recent posts have followed the story of Keziah Holdsworth, her marriage to John Blanch and the lives of their children, as well as providing some historical background on the Blanch family. Now it’s time to return to the other branch of the Holdsworth family, and to the children of my other 4 x great grandfather, William Holdsworth. We’ll come in due course to the story of William’s daughter Eliza, my 3 x great grandmother, who married Daniel Roe senior and was the mother of the Daniel Roe who married Mary Ann Blanch. But before we do so, I want to explore the lives of Eliza’s brothers and sisters, which are of interest in their own right, throwing light as they do on life in Stepney and Bethnal Green in the first half of the nineteenth century.


Phoebe Holdsworth’s birth recorded in the Nonconformist Register

My 4 x great grandparents, Baptist shoemaker William Holdsworth and his wife Lydia Evans, had six children: Isaac, born in 1794; Samuel, 1795; Phoebe, 1796; Eliza, 1801; Edward Porter, 1803; and Sarah, 1806. I’ve found no records for Isaac or Edward after this christenings, so I assume that they must have died in infancy. Samuel Holdsworth married Lucy Roberts at the church of St George the Martyr in 1817 and they are to be found living in Jane Street, in the parish of St George-in-the-East, at the time of the 1841 census. It’s unclear whether they had any children. Samuel is described in the census record simply as a labourer. Lucy Holdsworth died at Jane Street in 1846, at the age of fifty-eight, and was buried at St George’s church. There is a record of a Samuel Holdsworth dying in Stepney in 1851.

We have much better information for Willliam and Lydia’s three daughters – Phoebe, Sarah and Eliza – and over the course of the next few posts I’ll share what I’ve been able to discover about their lives. In this post I’ll focus on Phoebe, the eldest of the three.

Born on 19th December 1796 in Marmaduke Street, to the north of Cable Street and to the west of Cannon Street, Phoebe wasn’t actually christened until she was eight years old: on 25th September, 1805, at the parish church of St. George-in-the-East. On the same day, her birth was recorded in the Nonconformist register kept at Dr Williams’ Library. At some point, probably in her teenage years, Phoebe seems to have gone to live in Hackney, perhaps to work, and possibly living with her uncle and aunt, Godfrey and Diana Holdsworth, or with one of her cousins, Joseph or John Henry Holdsworth. When she got married on 11th September, 1820, at the age of twenty-four, at St John’s church in Hackney, Phoebe was said to be a resident of the parish. As we shall see, Phoebe and her family appear to have had a sentimental attachment to this part of Hackney, and to St John’s church in particular, where a number of family weddings would take place – despite the fact that they lived for the most part in Bethnal Green. This attachment may simply have been because their relatives lived in the area, or there might have been religious or other reasons that I’m unaware of.


The church of St John at Hackney

The man Phoebe married was Thomas Chamberlin (the spelling of Thomas’ surname varies between records, but I’m using the form he himself used for his signature). The absence of family witnesses at the wedding make it difficult to say anything definitive about Thomas’ background, except that (like Phoebe) he was said to be ‘of this parish’ and, despite the fact that he worked as a bricklayer, there is circumstantial evidence that he came from a family of silk weavers, possibly of Huguenot origin.

The two witnesses named in the parish register seem to have been friends of Thomas or Phoebe. Esther Ann Nevill was born in Shoreditch in 1799 and at the time of the 1841 census would still be living with her parents Samuel and Eleanor in Mile End Old Town. George Harding was probably born in 1803 and in 1841 was living in West Street, Bethnal Green, where he worked as a weaver. He married his wife Sarah Denker in 1825, also at St. John’s, Hackney.

Thomas and Phoebe Chamberlin would have five children, all of them christened at St. Matthew’s church in Bethnal Green, where they would make their home (Phoebe’s parents had also moved to Bethnal Green by this time). They were: Thomas, born in 1821; Phoebe, 1824; William Holdsworth, 1826; Frances, also known as Fanny, 1827; George, 1830; and Ann, also known as Hannah, 1832. All of these, apart from Thomas, were baptised together on 6th March 1836. At the time of Thomas Chamberlin junior’s christening in 1822, the family was living in Sugar Loaf Alley, which connected the green at Bethnal Green with Back Lane. By 1836, the Chamberlins were living in Providence Place, to the north of the green. Thomas Chamberlin died in 1837. I wonder if the prospect of his impending death helps to explain the mass baptism of the Chamberlin children in the previous year?


Bethnal Green in Greenwood’s London map of 1827

Phoebe was married for a second time on 16th November 1837, to baker James Young, in her home parish of St. George-in-the East. James was a widower, though I’ve yet to find any record of his first marriage. He was the son of another James Young, a coachman. The witnesses to the marriage were Elizabeth Curtis and Mary Ann Young, the latter probably James’ sister or mother. The bride and groom were said to be living at 24 Charles Street, just to the north of Devonshire Street on the southern edge of Bethnal Green.

James and Phoebe Young’s son Edward was born in 1839. The 1841 census finds James and Phoebe living in Coventry Street, to the south-west of the green at Bethnal Green, with Edward and with Phoebe’s six children from her first marriage. James is still working as a baker, while Phoebe’s occupation is described as ‘Stock M.’ I’m not sure if this means stock manager, or stock maker. Thomas Chamberlin junior, now twenty, was working as a silk weaver, while his sister Phoebe, fifteen, was a charwoman, and brother William, fourteen, a labourer. Fanny was now twelve, George, eleven, and Hannah, seven. Also living at the same address was shoemaker George Thompson.

Three years later, on Christmas Day 1844, Phoebe Chamberlin the younger married James Stewart Jones at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch. At the time James was living in Paradise Row and Phoebe in New Inn Yard, working as a dressmaker. Phoebe’s sister Frances (Fanny) was one of the witnesses.

In 1846, Thomas Chamberlin junior married Elizabeth Sarah Clark at St. John’s church in Hackney.  The witnesses were Elizabeth’s sister Clara Clark and George Imbert, who seems to have belonged to another Huguenot weaving family from Bethnal Green. Elizabeth Clark was the daughter of optician and sometime goldsmith Frederick John Clark and his wife Susannah, and was born in Clerkenwell in 1828.


Part of Weller’s 1868 map of London, showing Jerusalem Square, off Mare Street, to the north of Paragon Road and south of Morning Lane, Hackney

At the time of their marriage, Thomas and Elizabeth Chamberlin were said to be living in Jerusalem Square, Hackney, where Thomas was working as a weaver (and where his uncle John Henry Holdsworth and his family were also living). Their first son, Thomas William was born on 15th July 1850 and baptised on 6th June 1851 at St. John’s church, Bethnal Green. Unusually, the record lists the godparents, who were Thomas Kirby, James Stewart Jones and Mary Clarke. Thomas Kirby might be the weaver who married Sarah Provost at St. Leonard’s in 1822 and who was living in Sclater Street, Bethnal Green, in 1841. Mary Clarke is almost certainly Elizabeth’s sister. And James Stewart Jones was, as we know, the husband of Thomas’ sister Phoebe.

On the same day and at the same church, Phoebe Holdsworth and her second husband James Young had their daughter, Emily Caroline Young, baptised. Emily was actually nine years old at the time, having been born in 1842. The godparents were James Stewart Jones and his wife Phoebe. This means that Phoebe Jones acted as godmother to her own half-sister.

The baptismal record also reveals that Thomas and Elizabeth Chamberlin were now living at 3 Green Street, Bethnal Green, the same address as Thomas’ mother Phoebe and her husband James Young. This is borne out by the census of that year (1851), which finds Thomas and Elizabeth, the latter now working as a map colourer, with their infant son Thomas, living with James Young, fifty-eight, now described as a cook and confectioner, Phoebe Young, fifty-five, and their children Edward, twelve, and Emily, nine, together with James Young, thirty-four, who appears to be James’ son from an earlier marriage. Occupying another room in the house are dustman Robert Clunes and his wife.

The Chamberlins’ and Youngs’ next door neighbours, at No. 2 Green Street, were none other than my 3 x great grandparents John and Keziah Blanch. Keziah was, of course, a Holdsworth by birth, and Phoebe’s first cousin.


Green Street, Bethnal Green, in the twentieth century, before the demolition of nineteenth-century houses

At the same date, Phoebe’s daughter Phoebe Jones and her husband John Stewart Jones were living at 2 Temple Street, Bethnal Green (between Hackney Road and Old Bethnal Green Road), where John was working as a salesman. They were sharing a house with Phoebe’s sister Frances, who had married porter Joseph Richard Hilditch at St. John’d church, Hackney in 1848.  Like Thomas and Elizabeth Chamberlin, Frances and Joseph gave their address at the time as Jerusalem Square. The two witnesses at the wedding were Frances’ sister Phoebe Jones, and Thomas Parker. Thomas was a first cousin to Frances, since his mother was the older Phoebe’s sister Sarah, who (as we shall see from the next post) had married Thomas Parker senior in 1821.

I haven’t yet discovered, for certain, what became of Thomas and Phoebe Chamberlin‘s son William Holdsworth Chamberlin. There are a number of candidates in the census and marriage records, but for now I can’t be sure which is the right one.

As for their youngest daughter Ann or Hannah, she married butcher John Whiff on 4th March 1855, at the church of St. John of Jerusalem in South Hackney. Their address was given simply as South Hackney and Ann’s brother Thomas was one of the witnesses. In 1861 they would be living at 33 Green Street, Bethnal Green, and John would be working as a tripe dresser. John and Ann had seven children: Ann Chamberlin, 1855;  Maria Frances, 1857; Clara Rebecca, 1860; James Stewart, 1867; Harriet Eleanor, 1869; Thomas, 1871; and Charles, 1875.

Phoebe Holdsworth’s son George Francis Chamberlin emigrated to Australia. There he married Emma Ball and they had six children, all born in the Melbourne area. Apparently George died in 1910, in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra. It may not be coincidental that Phoebe’s cousin Joseph Holdsworth, the son of her uncle John Holdsworth, also lived there, having emigrated with his wife Elizabeth in 1854: Joseph died in South Yarra four years after George Chamberlin.

Phoebe Holdsworth’s son Thomas Chamberlin junior and his wife Elizabeth had six other children after their son Thomas William: Elizabeth, born in 1853; George Arthur, 1854; Frederick, 1856; William, 1859; Caleb, 1861; and Jessie, 1867. By the time of George’s christening at the church of St. Simon Zelotes in January 1855, the Chamberlins had moved to 28 West Street, on the western side of what is now Cambridge Heath Road. When William Edward was christened, along with his older sister Elizabeth Kate, at the same church in March 1860, the Chamberlins were living at 33 West Street, presumably with Thomas’ sister Ann and her husband John Whiff who were at the same address. In both of these records Thomas is described as a labourer. In the census of the following year (1861), the Chamberlins can be found next door, at 32 West Street, where Thomas now kept a beer house. Their neighbours appear to be mostly weavers. The baptismal record for their son Caleb records another move in the same street, to No. 23,  where Thomas is now working as a dock man; presumably the beer house venture was not a success.

James Young died some time between 1851 and 1861. At the time of the 1861 census, his widow Phoebe can be found living with her son Edward, now twenty-two, a labourer, at 4 Globe Street, which ran south from Green Street. Phoebe’s age is said to be seventy-eight, but this must be an error: she was in fact about sixty-five years old. The census record states that she was working as a nurse. Her daughter Emily Caroline had married Abraham Samuels, a porter, the year before: both were living in Temple Street at the time.

In 1871 seventy-five-year-old Phoebe Young, a widow with no occupation, was living at 3 Collins Place, Bethnal Green, with labourer William Herring and his family: I’m not sure what, if any, relation she was to them. Phoebe died four years later, in the first quarter of 1875: she was seventy-nine years old.

The family of John Holdsworth Blanch (1844 – 1923)

In the two preceding posts I’ve written about the children of my 3 x great grandparents, Bethnal Green shoemaker John Blanch and his wife Keziah Holdsworth: firstly about their eldest son, Joseph James, and then in the last post about three of his sisters – Keziah Sarah, Eliza Maria and Emma Louisa. As I’ve mentioned before, the story of the eldest Blanch sister – my great great grandmother Mary Ann Blanch – will be the subject of a later post. In this post, I want to focus on the youngest of the Blanch siblings: John Holdsworth Blanch. 

John was born in Bethnal Green in 1844 and at the time of the 1851 census, when he was six or seven years old, was living with his parents at No. 2 Green Street. Ten years later, when he was sixteen, John was working as a ‘shop lad’ in his parents’ shoemakers’ shop in Soho.

Five years later, on 30th December 1866, John Holdsworth Blanch married Elizabeth Brooks at St Anne’s church, Limehouse, where so many other members of the family had been married. At the time they were living in Salmon Lane, Limehouse and John was working as a carpenter and builder, like his older brother Joseph James. The two witnesses at the wedding were both from John’s side of the family: his father John and his sister Emma Louisa.


Old photograph of Kelmscott (via kelmscott.org.uk)

Elizabeth Brooks had been born in 1844 in Kelmscott, Oxfordshire, a village that would later become famous for its associations with the writer, artist and social reformer William Morris. She was the daughter of farm labourer Richard Brooks, from nearby Clanfield, and his wife Jane. When the 1861 census was taken, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth was a ‘house servant’ in nearby Bampton. At some point in the next five years, she must have moved to London, perhaps to take up another post in domestic service, though her family seems to have remained in Clanfield.

John and Elizabeth Blanch’s first son, John Richard, was born Clanfield in 1867 and christened on 31st March in the village church. The parish register gives his parents’ address as St James, Westminster. This suggests both that Elizabeth had returned to her parents’ home to give birth, and that she and John had already moved to the address in Great Pulteney Street, Soho, where they would be found at the time of the 1871 census. Curiously, census records claim that their daughter Flora Sophia, born two years later, was born in Priory Road, Bromley-by-Bow, though in the same year John and Elizabeth had a second son, James Robert, who was born in the parish of St James, Westminster. This part of London was familiar territory for the Blanch family: John Holdsworth Blanch’s grandfather James had lived in Compton Street as a young man, and his uncles Thomas and David Blanch had owned a coachbuilding business in Great Windmill Street. In addition, as we shall see from later posts, his parents John and Keziah Blanch had moved, with his sister Mary Ann and her family, to nearby Great Crown Court, at some point in the 1850s.


Part of Soho, from Weller’s 1868 map of London (via london1868.com)

Another daughter, Elizabeth Kezia Jane Blanch, often known simply as Kezia Jane, or just Jane, was born to John and Elizabeth Blanch in Clanfield in 1872. This suggests another visit home by Elizabeth, since their next four children, Emma Sarah (1875), Edith Eliza (1876), Sophia Alice (1878) and Walter Thomas (1880) would all be born in Westminster. These five children were all christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1881: Sophia and Edith in February, and Walter, Emma and Kezia Jane in March. By this time, the family was living at 4 Sherwood Place (which I think was off Sherwood Street), where they could be found when the 1881 census was taken.


The family of John and Elizabeth Blanch in the 1881 census (via ancestry.co.uk)

This census record includes the mysterious description of Elizabeth, under ‘rank, profession or occupation’, as ‘British Slave’ (see image above). Some of my fellow family historians think this might be a joke on the part of the enumerator, while others believe it could be a transcription error. Either way, it’s distinctly odd, and I’d be interested to know what readers of this blog make of it. On the night of the census the household included, besides John and Elizabeth and their seven children, a visitor by the name of Mary Brooks, who was born in Kelmscott and must have been a relative of Elizabeth’s.

John and Elizabeth Blanch would have three more children in the next ten years. Mary Holdsworth Blanch was born in 1883, Flora Helen Blanch in 1888 and David Holdsworth Blanch in 1889, all at Sherwood Place. In the case of Mary and Flora, the Blanches again opted for a joint baptism at St Martin-in-the-Fields, in 1888; I’ve yet to find a christening record for David.

In 1889 John and Elizabeth’s eldest son John Richard Blanch married Louisa Lloyd; they had a daughter Elisabeth Louisa two years later. It’s very likely that they were living with John’s parents throughout this time, since the 1891 census finds them all together in Sherwood Place, where their neighbours on either side are tailors: from Germany, Hungary and Poland. John senior and Elizabeth are now forty-seven. Their sons John, twenty-four, and James, twenty-one, are both carpenters and joiners like their father (they were probably working with him), while  sixteen-year-old Emma is working as a general domestic servant and eighteen-year-old (Kezia) Jane is a tailoress.

The 1891 census enumerator seems to have been prone to errors. He gives the birthplace of Elizabeth Blanch, her son John Richard and daughter Jane, as Bedfordshire, when in fact it was Oxfordshire. He also records the birthplace of John Richard’s wife Louisa as Preston, Lancashire, when in fact it was Stafford. Then there is the following curiosity. A male visitor, whose age looks to be eighty-four (though it could just as easily be read as ninety-four), and whose name has been transcribed at Ancestry as Richard Norman, though it looks more like Archibald Holman, is staying with the Blanch family. He is described as a street inspector ‘par’ (parish?), and his birthplace is given as ‘New York, USA’. I have no clue as to the identity of this person or his connection to the Blanch family. However, it’s possible that he was simply a visitor at the time that the census official called, and had no family relationship with the Blanches. I understand that street inspectors or street-keepers were a kind of constable or watchman employed by the parish vestry.


By the time the next census was taken, in 1901, John and Elizabeth, now fifty-seven, had moved out of  central London and were living at 163 Bollo Lane, Acton, not far from where John’s mother and sisters had been living in Ealing. With them are their son David, twelve, and granddaughter Edith, two, though I’m not entirely sure who the latter’s parents were. The 1911 census finds the couple back in London and living, by themselves, at 42 Essex Street, off the Strand. They are now both aged sixty-six, and John is still working as a house carpenter and Elizabeth as a housekeeper for ‘offices’. Since she is said to be working from home, I assume that she and John had a flat in the office building.

John Holdsworth Blanch died in Uxbridge in 1923, at the age of seventy-eight. Elizabeth Blanch née Brooks died in Ealing in 1937, at the age of ninety-two.

This is what became of the children of John Holdsworth Blanch and Elizabeth Brooks, to the best of my knowledge:

Walter Thomas died in infancy, in 1881, while Sophia Alice died in 1882, at the age of four. I’ve found no definite records for Flora Helen Blanch after her birth in 1888.

As already mentioned, John Richard Blanch married Louisa Lloyd in 1889 and they had a daughter Elizabeth Louisa in 1891. By 1901 the young family had moved, like John’s parents, to Acton, and in fact were living in the same street as them, at 135 Bollo Lane, where John was working, almost certainly with his father, as a carpenter. By 1911 John and Louisa, now in their early forties, were living in Southall, where John was working as a carpenter and joiner for a hotel company. In 1913 their only daughter, Elizabeth Louisa, married seaman George Trotman, who would serve in the Royal Navy during the First World War. John Richard Blanch died in 1935 and his widow Louisa in 1942, both of them in Islington.

I mentioned Flora Sophia Blanch in the previous post. For some reason, she seems to have lived with her grandmother Keziah Blanch from an early age, and then with her aunts. In 1881, at the age of twenty-two Flora was living with her aunts Emma and Eliza in West Ham, working as a waitress, and ten years later she was with Emma, Eliza and Kezia at the latter’s boarding house at 7 Oxford Road, Ealing, working as a barmaid. The 1911 census finds Flora, now forty-two, at 40 Oxford Road and employed as a housekeeper to sixty-three-year-old Walter Chater, a monumental letter cutter and clearly also a boarding house owner, since there are six boarders at the same address. The census record described Walter Chater as married, but if that’s so then he must have been widowed or divorced by 1917, when he and Flora would marry. She was forty-eight and he would have been sixty-nine. The electoral register for 1930 finds the couple living in Harrow. Walter Chater died in 1937 at the age of eighty-eight and Flora in 1951 at the age of eighty-two. Walter and Flora are buried together in Ealing and Old Brentford Cemetery.

James Robert Blanch, who worked as a carpenter and joiner like his father,  married Fanny Eliza Diamond in June 1895. In 1901 they were living in Rothschild Road, Ealing, and in 1911 in Montgomery Road, Acton Green. They had five children: James Albert, Frederick Sidney, Winifred Ethel, John Oliver and Robert James. James Robert Blanch enlisted in the Royal Engineers at the outbreak of the First World War, when he was thirty-nine years old. His wife Fanny died in 1945, at the age of seventy-five, and James died in 1951, at the age of eighty-one. They are both buried with James’ mother Elizabeth Blanch in Acton Cemetery.


Burial record for Elizabeth Blanch née Brooks, her son James and daughter-in-law Fanny (via ancestry.co.uk)

Elizabeth Kezia Jane Blanch married William Hoffman, a ‘traveller’ in Acton, in 1902, when she was twenty-nine and he was thirty-four. The couple gave their address as 163 Bollo Lane, which was the home of Kezia Jane’s parents. William Hoffmann may be the German national of that name who is listed in a catalogue of civilian deaths during the Second World War; he was injured at a hospital in the Fulham Road and died as a result of his injuries at a hospital in Windsor, in February 1941, at the age of seventy-three. This William Hoffman had a wife named Elizabeth Jane and they lived at Essex Street, off the Strand, which is where Elizabeth Kezia Jane Blanch’s parents had been living in 1911 (see above). I’m fairly certain that she is the ‘Elizabeth K. J. Hoffman’ who died in the same year, at the age of sixty-seven, in Lambeth.

Emma Sarah Blanch married fruiterer Percy Rainier Arter at Ealing in August 1902, when they were both twenty-eight years old. In 1911 they were living with their daughter Emily Blanch Arter in Talbot Road, West Ealing. I’m not sure when Percy died, but Emma died in 1933 at the age of fifty-eight and was buried in Ealing and Old Brentford Cemetery.


Edith Eliza Blanch (photograph via BrendaMaeMcD’s family tree at ancestry.com)

In 1891, as I noted in the last post, two of John Holdsworth Blanch’s daughters – Edith Eliza Blanch, fifteen, and Mary Holdsworth Blanch, six, could be found visiting their sister Flora, at the address in West Ham that she shared with their aunts Emma Louisa and Eliza Maria Blanch. In 1898 Edith married Herbert Roger Holder, and they had three children, Edith Blanch Elizabeth (also known as Blanche), Alice Florence and Alfred Roger, before emigrating to Montreal, Canada, in 1905. Edith died there in 1969.

Mary Holdsworth Blanch married William George Hoerr, a cabinet maker and the son of German immigrants, at St Pancras in 1906. William and Mary would have three children: Wilhemina (Minnie) May in 1907, Blanche Elizabeth in 1910, and George Holdsworth in 1919. When the 1911 census was taken, they were living in Stanhope Street, Regents Park. Wilhemina and Blanche seem to have lived in Canada at some point, perhaps with their aunt Edith (see above); neither seems to have married. George emigrated to New Zealand, where he died in 2001. William Hoerr died in Edmonton, London, in 1951, and his wife Mary in Hendon in 1975.


William Hoerr with his daughters Minnie and Blanche (via BrendaMaeMcD’s family tree at ancestry.com)

John Holdsworth Blanch’s youngest son, David Holdsworth Blanch, married Ellen Elizabeth Pleasants in Acton in 1910. Both were aged twenty-one and living at 38 Colville Road, not far from David’s parents’ home in Bollo Lane. They were still there in the following year, when the 1911 census was taken: David was working as a carpenter, like his father, and Ellen as a laundress. There is some evidence that David and Ellen also lived in Canada for a while, though I have no information about any children born to the couple. They may be the David and Ellen Blanch buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto: David having died in 1972 and Ellen in 1973, at the ages of eighty-two and eighty-three respectively.

Three Blanch sisters

My 3 x great grandparents John and Keziah Blanch had four daughters. Their eldest daughter, Mary Ann, was my great great grandmother, and she and her family will be the subject of later posts. In this post, I’m continuing to explore the lives of Mary Ann’s siblings by focusing on her three younger sisters – Kezia Sarah, Eliza Maria and Emma Louisa. I’ll be discussing them together because their stories overlap and intertwine in a number of ways, and because their shared experience highlights some of the challenges and constraints faced by working-class women in nineteenth-century London.

Kezia Sarah Blanch was the eldest of the three: born in Stepney in 1834, she was christened at St Dunstan’s church with her younger sister Eliza Maria in 1837. The 1841 census finds the two girls, aged seven and five, living with their parents and their older siblings, James Joseph and Mary Ann, at the family home in Wellington Street in Mile End Old Town. Their sister Emma Louisa would be born in the following year, but wouldn’t be christened until she was sixteen years old.


Victorian housemaids at work

By 1851 the Blanch family had moved to Green Street, Bethnal Green, and nine-year-old Emma Louisa was still at home with her parents. However, as I’ve noted in earlier posts, her seventeen-year-old sister Kezia Sarah was already working as a housemaid, alongside her aunt Eliza Holdsworth, in the home of Mary Fletcher in Regent’s Terrace.

Fourteen-year-old Eliza Maria was also absent from home, but I haven’t been able to find her anywhere in the census records. However, by 1861, when she was twenty-three years old, Eliza was back with her parents, who had moved to Soho in the meantime, supporting the family shoemaking business by working as a shoe binder. Her sister Emma, now twenty, was also making a contribution to the family income as a needlewoman.

I haven’t managed to find Keziah Sarah in the 1861 census, though I assume she was still working somewhere as a domestic servant. Ten years later, in 1871, Kezia, now thirty-seven and still unmarried, was working as a housemaid in the extensive household of George Pollock, a pioneering surgeon and landowner, in Grosvenor Street, Hanover Square.

By 1881, forty-six-year-old Kezia had moved to another post, as a cook and domestic servant in the home of annuitant Mary Combe in Ealing. Kezia is described in the census record as a widow, but I’ve found no record of a marriage; if she had been married, she has now reverted to her maiden name. Kezia’s aunt Eliza Holdsworth, eighty-three, is listed as a visitor at the time of the census. Ten years later, in 1891, Kezia, now fifty-six, is still working for Mary Combe in Ealing, and her aunt is again (or still) there as a visitor.

As for Kezia’s sister Emma Louisa, in July 1869 she had married carpenter Walter Trader, the son of another shoemaker, at St Anne’s church in Limehouse. The witnesses were Emma’s father John Blanch and her older sister, my great great grandmother Mary Ann Roe née Blanch. At the time of their marriage the couple were living in William Street, in the parish of St George-in-the-East, an address with family associations going back to the early years of the century (Emma’s mother Keziah had lived there for a while as a child, when the family first arrived in Stepney from Oxford).


Victorian family butcher’s shop (via bertramfiddle.tumblr.com)

Two years later, when the 1871 census was taken, Walter Trader appears to have switched trades and become a butcher, and the couple have moved to Shoreditch. By 1881 they were in Grange Road, West Ham, where they were neighbours of Emma’s brother Joseph James Blanch and his family. Walter and Emma had no children of their own, but lodging with them in 1881, and working as an assistant to Walter, was Emma’s nineteen-year-old nephew – and my great grandfather – Joseph Priestley Roe, the orphaned son of her sister Mary Ann, who had died in 1870. Emma suffered a loss of her own seven years later, in 1888, when her husband Walter died at the age of forty-seven.

Emma’s sister Eliza Maria has proven difficult to trace in the 1871 census record, but by 1881 she had moved to Ealing, where she was living with her widowed mother Keziah, a laundress, and Keziah’s granddaughter Flora (son of John Holdsworth Blanch, the subject of the next post) and great grandchildren Ruth and Leonard Kew (children of Mary Ann Roe’s daughter, Mary Ann Kew). Keziah Blanch née Holdsworth would die later that year, at the age of seventy-seven.

The 1891 census finds Eliza Maria Blanch living in Raymond Road, West Ham, as a lodger in the home of engineer’s labourer William Joss. Also lodging at the same address is her widowed sister Emma Trader – both are earning a living as corset makers – and their twenty-two-year-old niece Flora, now working as a waitress. Visiting the house at the time of the census are Flora’s younger sisters Edith, fourteen, and Mary, six.


Ealing in about 1910

The 1901 census finds the three Blanch sisters reunited. Kezia Sarah Blanch, now sixty-six, has finally graduated from domestic service to become a boarding-house keeper in Oxford Road, Ealing. Living with Kezia are her sisters Eliza Maria, sixty-four, and Emma Trader, fifty-five, as well as their niece Flora, now thirty-two and working as a barmaid. (Interestingly, the Blanch sisters’ grandfather, patten maker James Blanch, had owned property in Ealing at the time of his first marriage in the 1780s.)

I’m not sure when Kezia Sarah Blanch died. Eliza Maria Blanch died in 1909 at the age of seventy-two. Emma Louisa Trader died in 1921 at age of seventy-eight. One was a widow, the other two never married, and none of them left any children.

The family of Joseph James Blanch (1831 – 1916)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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’.


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.

John and Keziah Blanch in Mile End and Bethnal Green

Two weeks ago I wrote about the early life of my 3 x great grandmother Keziah Holdsworth, up to the time of her marriage to John Blanch. We then took a long detour to explore John’s family background, including the two marriages of his father James Blanch and the lives of his children – John’s brothers and sisters. Now it’s time to return to John and Keziah, whom we left standing at the altar of St Anne’s church, Limehouse, on 5th July 1827. John was a twenty-five-year-old shoemaker from Saffron Hill, while Oxford-born Keziah, twenty-three, was the daughter of a Stepney carpenter.

When John and Keziah were married George IV was still on the throne, though he would die three years later, ushering in the brief reign of William IV. The opening of the first commercial railway line was also still three years away. As we can see from the map used in the header image to this blog, which was published in the year of their marriage, the area where John and Keziah would begin their married life together – Mile End Old Town – was still semi-rural, with open spaces visible between the haphazard network of streets, and separating Mile End from Bethnal Green.


The fact that there were only five months between John and Keziah Blanch’s wedding and the birth of their first child suggests that there might have been some urgency surrounding the event. Mary Ann Blanch was christened on 12th December 1827 at the parish church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, the location for countless baptisms, weddings and funerals in my maternal family tree, stretching back at least to the seventeenth century. The parish register gives John Blanch’s occupation as ‘cordwainer’ and the young family’s address simply as ‘MEOT’ – Mile End Old Town.

John and Keziah’s second child, Joseph James, would not be christened until 1833, but later records suggest that he was actually born in 1831. The family’s address was still Mile End Old Town, and they were still there when their daughters Keziah Sarah and Eliza Maria were christened in 1837, though the former may have been born in 1834. Another daughter, Sophia Holdsworth Blanch, obviously named after John’s late mother, was christened at St Dunstan’s in 1839 but seems to have died in infancy.

The 1841 census finds John and Keziah Blanch living in Wellington Street in Mile End Old Town, which may well have been their address since they were married. I can’t find Wellington Street on contemporary maps, but it seems to have been close to Wellington Place, and not far from St Dunstan’s church and Stepney Green. With them are their children Mary Ann, (Joseph) James, Keziah and Eliza, as well as John’s eighteen-year-old apprentice James Woodwell. In the same street, in the household of one Sarah Eliot, we find a seventy-five-year-old carpenter named John Holdsworth. The details match those of Keziah’s father, who presumably was now a widower. It’s unclear why he wasn’t at the same address as his daughter and son-in-law: it’s possibly that he was merely visiting (or working for?) a neighbour when the census was taken.


Bethnal Green in 1851: from Cross’ London Guide (via london1851.com)

Keziah and John Blanch would have two more children in the next few years. Emma Louisa was born in 1842, but not christened until 1858, when she was sixteen, and John Holdsworth Blanch was born in 1844. Emma was born in Stepney, but by the time John was born the Blanch family was living in Bethnal Green. It’s likely that they were at 2 Green Street, which would be their  address when the 1851 census was taken. When Greenwood’s map was published in 1827, Green Street, which ran from west to east through Bethnal Green, was still surrounded by fields, but by 1851, when Cross’ map appeared (see above), the area was becoming thick with new side streets and blocks of housing, and the new Eastern Counties Railway line cut across the area.

The 1851 census record describes John Blanch as a boot and shoe maker, and his wife Keziah as a boot binder: this was a family business, and the workshop would have been in the family home in Green Streeet. With John and Keziah were their son (James) Joseph, now twenty and working as a carpenter; their daughter Emma, nine; and their son, John, seven. Also present, as mentioned in previous posts, was two-year-old ‘nurse child’ Mary Ann Ellis, the daughter of Richard and Marianne Ellis of Richmond Street, Soho.


A shoemaker’s shop in 1849 (via https://janeaustensworld.files.wordpress.com)

Three of John and Keziah’s children were away from home at the time of the census. As discussed in an earlier post, their seventeen-year-old daughter Keziah was now employed as a housemaid, working alongside her mother’s sister Eliza Holdsworth in the Regents Park home of Mary Fletcher, widow of the former minister of the Congregational church in Stepney. I haven’t been able to find fourteen-year-old Eliza Blanch in the census records: it’s possible that she was also working as a domestic servant, though she would be back with her parents by 1861.

The other Blanch child not at 2 Green Street in 1851 was their eldest daughter, Mary Ann. That’s because she had been married for three years and was now living with her husband, Daniel Roe, and their six-month-old daughter Keziah, just a few streets away in Patriot Row, Bethnal Green. Daniel and Mary Ann Roe were my great-great-grandparents, and we’ll return to their story in due course. But before we do, I want to share what we know about the lives of John and Keziah’s other children – Mary Ann’s brothers and sisters. They will be the subject of the next few posts.

The Blanch-Ellis connection

In recent posts about my Blanch ancestors, I’ve often mentioned their close association with the Ellis family. In the 1840s Richard and Marianne Ellis were neighbours, in Soho, of David Blanch, who was the younger brother of my 3 x great grandfather John Blanch. In the 1850s they followed the Blanch family to Kensington and Chelsea. In the 1860s two of Richard and Marianne’s daughters – Frances Marianne and Sophia Sarah – would marry two of David and Sarah Blanch’s sons – James George and David John.

But the close relationship between the Ellis and Blanch families predated these marriages. For example, at the time of the 1851 census, Richard and Marianne’s two-year-old daughter Mary Ann Ellis wasn’t with her family at their home in Richmond Street, Soho, but staying with my 3 x great grandparents John and Keziah Blanch in Green Street, Bethnal Green. Mary Ann is described in the census record as a ‘nurse child’ and the implication is that she was being looked after by Keziah. The connection with John and Keziah may go back even further: another Ellis daughter, Sophia Sarah, was christened in Bethnal Green six years earlier, though her family was living in Soho at the time. Is this because she, too, was being nursed by Keziah Blanch?


Parish church of St John on Bethnal Green

In 1851, while young Mary Ann Ellis was with John and Keziah Blanch in Bethnal Green, back in Soho her parents Richard and Marianne were welcoming another Mary Ann as a visitor: this was Mary Ann Harrison née Blanch, John Blanch’s widowed sister. In the same year, Richard and Marianne Ellis christened their new-born son at St James’ church, Piccadilly, giving him the name Alfred Henry Blanch Ellis. In the following year, Richard Ellis would be in Bethnal Green to act as a witness to the wedding of Joseph James Blanch, the son of John and Keziah. Since Joseph worked as a carpenter, it’s possible that he was worked for or was apprenticed to Richard.

The connection with the Ellises was also important for other branches of the Blanch family. For example, in 1854 my great great grandparents Daniel and Mary Ann Roe née Blanch (the latter being the daughter of John and Keziah Blanch) named one of their sons Daniel Ellis Roe, suggesting that they too had close ties with the Ellis family. And the connection extended to the next generation. Daniel and Mary Ann’s son, my great grandfather Joseph Priestley Roe, would give his son the name Walter Ellis Roe when he was born in East Ham in 1887. (I’ll be writing about Daniel, Mary Ann and Joseph in later posts.)

What might account for this close and longstanding relationship between the Blanch and Ellis families? It’s possible that the connection came about initially as a result of a business association between Richard Ellis and David Blanch. As we saw in the previous post, David was a coachbuilder in Soho and later in Chelsea, while Richard was a carpenter and builder, first in Soho and then in Kensington. I suspect that the two men worked together, and that Richard Ellis was connected in some way with the Blanch brothers’ coach business. Perhaps as a consequence of that, and of being neighbours, the two families came to be close friends. But I’ve often wondered if there was also a blood tie between the Blanch and Ellis families, perhaps going back to the early years of the nineteenth century. If so, I’ve yet to discover it. However, in the remainder of this post, I’ll summarise what we know about the Ellis family and their origins, in the hope that it might throw some light on this mystery.


Richmond Street and King Street are clearly visible on this section of Horwood’s London map of 1792/1799

Richard Francis Ellis had been born on 3rd July 1814 in Richmond Street, Soho, and christened two weeks later at St James’ church, Piccadilly. He was the fifth of the nine children on Thomas Ellis, a carpenter and builder, and his wife Sarah Lush, who had been married at St James’ church in Piccadilly in 1803. The evidence points to the Ellis family having originally moved to London from Shropshire, and to Thomas Ellis being a prosperous tradesman.

Richard Ellis’ seventeen-year-old sister Sarah married shoemaker Thomas Metcalf at the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in June 1826. They would have three children that we know of. John William Metcalf was christened at St Anne’s, Soho, on Christmas Day, 1826; Mary Ann was christened at the same church in August 1834; and Richard William was born in September 1839.

Richard’s mother Sarah Ellis née Lush died in 1826, at the age of forty-five. His father Thomas Ellis died twelve years later, on 21st February 1838, at the age of fifty-eight. Both died at their home in Richmond Street.

Richard Francis Ellis married Marianne Burbidge on 25th March 1841 at St James’, Piccadilly. The marriage was witnessed by Richard’s sister Mary Ellis, and by John Blacklock, whom she would marry in May of that year. John was a stationer with a shop in Whitechapel High Street, where he and Mary would make their home.


Beaufort Buildings and Herberts Passage can be seen, to the south of the Strand, in this section of Horwood’s 1792/1799 map of London

Richard’s bride Marianne Burbidge was the daughter of victualler and publican Robert Burbidge. She had been born in 1813 at the Plough, a tavern in Beaufort Buildings in the Strand, and christened on 14th November that year at the nearby church of St Clement Danes. Beaufort Buildings was on the southern side of the Strand, roughly where the Savoy Theatre and Hotel stand today. One of its famous former occupants – in the 1780s – was the novelist Henry Fielding. The National Archives have records from the Sun Fire Office for 27 February 1822, noting the insurance policy of ‘Robert Burbidge Beaufort Buildings victualler’. There’s also a note of ‘other property or occupiers: the Turks Head in Charlotte Street Portland Place (victualler)’ which suggest that Robert owned or leased more than one establishment.

The London Lives website includes records from the Westminster Ratebooks, giving details of the property values of Westminster Electors. There are two entries for Robert Burbidge of Herberts Passage, St Clement Danes and St Mary-le-Strand, for 1818. This suggests either that the Plough stretched across two buildings, or that the Burbidges occupied two properties in the same street. Herberts Passage was the narrow street that intersected Beaufort Buildings, running parallel to the Strand. It may or may not be coincidental that my great great grandparents, Daniel and Mary Ann Roe née Blanch would be living at 4 Herberts Passage in 1856 and in 1859, when their children Mary Ann Blanch Roe and John Richard Roe were born. I believe that Robert Burbidge had died by this date and that the Plough was under new ownership, but perhaps the Burbidge connection helps to explain why the Roes moved to this address from Great Crown Court, Soho, where they had been living in 1853, and where they would be found again, together with Mary Ann’s parents John and Keziah Blanch, in the 1861 census. We know they were in Great Crown Court in 1853, as this was where another son, Daniel junior, was born: as already noted, he was given the middle name Ellis.


Beaufort Buildings, view towards the Strand

Richard and Marianne Ellis lived in the family home in Richmond Street, Soho, after their marriage. Their first child, Frances Marianne, was born there on 29th June 1841, just three months after her parents’ wedding, and christened at St James’, Piccadilly, in the following January. As mentioned in previous posts, the 1841 census records for Richmond Street have been lost, but these and other parish records confirm that Richard and Marianne were living there at the time. Their second child, David Richard, was born in Richmond Street in October 1843 and christened at St James’ in the following January.

As I’ve already mentioned, the Ellises next child, Sophia Sarah, was born at Richmond Street, on 29th July 1846, but christened on 6th August at St John’s church, Bethnal Green. Her younger sister Mary Ann would be born on 29th April 1849 and christened at St James’, Piccadilly, on 14th May.

Richard and Marianne’s youngest child, Alfred Henry Blanch Ellis, was born on 21st January 1851 and christened at St James’ on 3rd March. The 1851 census was taken in the same month, and the fact that there was a new baby in the house may go some way towards explaining why two-year-old Mary Ann Ellis was being looked after by John and Keziah Blanch in Bethnal Green. When the census was taken, Richard Ellis, described as a thirty-nine-year-old master builder employing two men, was in Richmond Street with his wife Marianne, also thirty-nine, and their children Frances, nine, David, six, and Alfred, two months. There is no sign of Sophia, who would have been nearly five, so perhaps she too was being looked after elsewhere (though I’ve yet to find her in the census records). Also at the Ellis’ house in Richmond Street, as already mentioned, was a visitor, fifty-six-year-old Mary Ann Harrison née Blanch, as well as twelve-year-old Richard Metcalf, Richard Ellis’ nephew, the youngest son of his sister Sarah.

1851 must have been a difficult year for the Ellis family. Richard appears to have been declared bankrupt at some point, though the Illustrated London News reported that on 27th May, the bankruptcy of ‘R Ellis, Richmond st, Soho, carpenter’ was annulled.

David Blanch and his family had already moved from Soho to Chelsea by 1851, and by the time of the next census Richard and Marianne Ellis had followed their lead, moving to Brompton by 1861 at the latest. The census record finds Richard, Marianne, Frances, Mary Ann and (Alfred) Henry at 3 Clifton Terrace. Frances, nineteen, is now employed as an assistant dye worker, while her younger brother David, seventeen, is described simply as a dyer. The family has two lodgers: twenty-two-year-old Charlotte Haughtry, a ribbon blocker at a dye works (presumably the same one where Frances and David Ellis were working) and twenty-four-year-old coach builder James George Blanch, the eldest son of David and Sarah Blanch: he would marry Frances Ellis later that same year. Another Blanch relative, James’ sixty-six-year-old widowed aunt Mary Ann Harrison, is also at the same address. Missing from the Ellis home once again was young Sophia Sarah, now fifteen. She too was having to earn a living: working as a nurse maid in the home of prosperous tea dealer and grocer Jonathan Puckridge and his wife Sarah in Oxford Street, London. It’s likely that Sophia was employed to look after their nine-month-old son Arthur. The fact that two of the Ellis children were working in a factory and another as a domestic servant, and that the family was taking in lodgers, suggests that their financial troubles may not have been completely over.


St Mary the Boltons, West Brompton

Frances Marianne Ellis married James George Blanch in 1862 at the church of St. Mary the Boltons, West Brompton; the couple seem to have had no children. Two years, in 1863, Frances’ sister Sophia Sarah Ellis married James’ brother David John at the same church. In 1865 Frances’ and Sophia’s brother David Richard Ellis married his wife Susannah in Kensington; David would continue to work in the dyeing industry and he and Susannah would have eight children together.

Richard Ellis died in December 1865, at the age of fifty-one. His daughter Sophia Sarah and her husband David John Blanch emigrated to Australia a month later: they would have three children before David’s death in 1868 at the age of just twenty-eight. Sophia married again, to Arthur Buffon, but she died in 1870, shortly after giving birth to a son, also named Arthur, who also died.

At the time of the 1871 census, Frances Marianne and her husband James George Blanch were living in Kings Road, Chelsea. They had no children of their own but living with them were Frances’ widowed mother Marianne, fifty-six, who was working as a needlewoman, her younger daughter Mary Ann, now twenty-one, and the youngest Ellis sibling (Alfred) Henry, twenty, who was working as a coach painter, presumably alongside his brother-in-law James Blanch.

I’m not sure what became of Mary Ann Ellis after 1871, but her brother Alfred Henry Blanch Ellis would marry Mary Sarah Hunt in 1874 and they would have two sons. In 1881 Richard Ellis’ widow Marianne, now sixty-eight, would be lodging in a house in Battersea, next door to the family of Joseph and Maria Cheshire, the latter being the daughter of the late David Blanch. Marianne’s daughter Frances and her husband James Blanch were also living in Battersea at this time, though it’s unclear why Marianne was not living with them. However, in 1891, Frances and her mother, now seventy-six, would be living together in Boleyn Road, Stoke Newington, where Frances was now working as a charwoman. Frances is described as still married, and as the head of the household, but there is no sign of her husband James.

Marianne Ellis seems to have died some time in the next ten years. By 1901, her daughter Frances and husband James would be back together and living in Poplar, where James was now working as a sign writer. His sister Eleanor Blanch was living with them. There is some evidence that James and Frances would move again, to Coventry, and that they both died there in the first decade of the new century.

The last of the Ellis siblings to die was Alfred Henry Blanch Ellis, who was working as a builder in Fulham at the time of the 1891 and 1901 censuses. He died in Putney in 1909, probably in the home of his son Charles, also a builder, who acted as his executor.

I hope this post has given some sense of how the lives of the Blanches and Ellises overlapped and intertwined throughout the nineteenth century. I’m probably no nearer to solving the mystery of their close connection, but perhaps someone reading this will have information that can throw light on this continuing puzzle.

David Blanch and Sarah Dickson

The last-born of the children of my 4 x great grandparents, James and Sophia Blanch, was also the last to marry. David Blanch, who was born at York Street, Holborn, in 1810, married Sarah Dickson on 19th October 1835, when he was twenty-five years old and she was twenty-two. As mentioned in an earlier post, Sarah was the daughter of Holborn baker John Dickson and his wife Sarah Rodbard – the sister of John Rodbard, the late husband of David Blanch’s half-sister Maria, who was one of the witnesses to the marriage. Sarah Dickson had been born in Greville Street, Holborn, but at the time of her marriage was living in Edgware, the Rodbard family’s home town.

The church chosen for David and Sarah’s wedding – St Anne’s, Soho – had important associations for the Blanch family. David’s parents had been married there forty-three years earlier, and his father James had lived in the parish as a young man, having arrived in London from Bristol. But we also know that David Blanch was already living and working in Soho before his marriage. The coachbuilding business that he established with his brother Thomas in 1834, and which also employed their brother William Henry, was based in Ham Yard, off Great Windmill Street, just a few minutes’ walk from King Street, where David and Sarah would establish their home. King Street was close to St Anne’s church and also to Compton Street, where David’s father James Blanch had lived during his first marriage to Jane Barlow. The Blanch family’s close friends Richard and Marianne Ellis (see below) lived in nearby Richmond Street. (Both King Street and Richmond Street would be obliterated by the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue in the 1870s.)


Part of Richard Horwood’s 1792 map of London, showing the area around St Anne’s church, Soho

Their first child, James George, was born at King Street on 4th November 1836 and christened at St Anne’s on 19th February 1837. A second child, William Henry, was born on 9th September 1838 and christened on 5th October, and a third, David John, was born on 18th July 1840 and christened on 9th August.

The 1841 census record finds David, a coachsmith, and Sarah, with their three young sons, living in King Street. As I’ve noted before, two of David’s older sisters, Maria Rodbard and Mary Harrison, both of them widows living on independent means, were living with them at this time, together with Maria’s young servant, Elizabeth Higham. 

A fourth son, Thomas Richard, would be born to David and Sarah Blanch on 29th August in the following year, and christened at St Anne’s church on 9th October. Some time in the next two years, the Blanch family would move from Soho to Chelsea. David and Sarah’s only daughter, (Maria) Jane, would be born at Barossa Place on 23rd July 1844, and christened on 18th August at St Luke’s church, Chelsea. Barossa Place was on South Parade, close to Fulham Road, and just off Church Street, where David Blanch would relocate his coach making business, after dissolving the partnership with his brother Thomas in 1846.

The Blanch family seems to have been at the same address when the next census was taken in 1851. David, forty, and Sarah, thirty-seven, were there with their children James, fourteen, William, twelve, David, ten, Thomas, eight, and Jane, six, as well as James’ half-sister Maria Rodbard (wrongly described in the record as his aunt), sixty-nine, and her servant, Elizabeth Higham, thirty.


St Luke’s church, Chelsea

Ten years later, we find David Blanch, now fifty, and his family living at 35 Church Street, Chelsea, which was also his business address. He is described in the census record as a coach-maker and smith, employing seven men and two boys. With David are his wife Sarah; their sons William, twenty-two, a coach smith like his father, David, twenty, an engraver, and Thomas, eighteen; and their daughter (Maria) Jane, sixteen. Although David’s widowed half-sister Maria Rodbard had died two years earlier, he seems to have retained the services of her servant, Elizabeth Higham, who was now forty.

David and Sarah Blanch’s eldest son, James George, had also joined the family business by this time, as a coach painter. However, when the census was taken he was lodging with the Blanch family’s close friends, Richard and Marianne Ellis, in nearby Brompton. As noted in the previous post, another of the Ellis family’s lodgers in 1861 was David Blanch’s widowed sister Mary Ann Harrison.

In the following year James George Blanch married Frances Marianne Ellis, daughter of Richard and Marianne, at the church of St Mary the Boltons, West Brompton. One of the witnesses was James’ younger brother David John, who would marry Frances’ younger sister, Sophia Sarah Ellis, at the same church two years later, on Christmas Day, 1863. In March of that year Sarah, wife of David Blanch senior, had died at the age of forty-seven. David John and Sophia Sarah Blanch must have moved to the parish of St. James, Westminster, shortly after their marriage, since that’s where their first child, Walter David, was born in the spring of 1865.

In 1864 another son of David Blanch, Thomas Richard, twenty-one, married Ellen Flack, nineteen, at St. Luke’s church, Chelsea. Their fathers, and Thomas’ sister Maria Jane, were witnesses. In April 1865 David Blanch’s son William Henry, twenty-six, married eighteen-year -old Catherine Mary Ann Cheshire, daughter of plumber Joseph Cheshire, also at St. Luke’s, Chelsea. In almost an exact copy of the double Blanch-Ellis marriages, William’s sister Maria Jane, a witness at his wedding, would marry Catherine’s brother Joseph in the same church a little more than a year later, and to complete the parallel, William acted as a witness at his sister’s wedding.

David Blanch died in February 1866, at the age of fifty-six. His son David John and daughter-in-law Sophia Sarah Blanch had emigrated to Australia in the previous month, with their one-month-old son Walter. The couple would have a daughter Sophia Marion in Victoria, Australia, that year, but sadly she would die in infancy. Another son, named David John after his father, was born in 1868. However, David John senior died in the same year, at the age of just twenty-eight.


Premises in Old Church Street, Chelsea, formerly occupied by ‘T. Blanch & Sons’


Plaque on former Blanch premises in Old Church Street, using stone from the fortifications of Sebastopol (see here for information about the Siege of Sebastopol)

(Both images via londonremembers.com, with thanks to Deborah Hart Stock, and acknowledgements to Alan Patient of http://www.plaquesoflondon.co.uk)

At the time of the 1871 census, coachsmith James Blanch and his wife Frances were living at 237 Kings Road, Chelsea. They had no children of their own but living with them were Frances’ mother Marianne Ellis, fifty-six, a needlewoman and a widow (Richard Ellis had died in 1865), her sister Mary Ann, twenty-one, and brother Henry, twenty, a coach painter.

In the same year James’ brother William Henry Blanch was said to be living in Shawfield Road, Chelsea, and was described as a coach builder employing nine men and three boys. He lived with his wife Catherine and three children, Sarah, William and Ada. Catherine’s father Joseph Cheshire was living with them; they also had a lodger and could afford two servants, one of them a nurse maid. Meanwhile, William’s brother Thomas Blanch and his wife Ellen were living in Church Street, where Thomas, another coachsmith, employed eight men and three boys. They had four children: Sarah and Thomas, born in Westminster, and John and Edith, born in Chelsea. Also living with them was Ellen’s sister Georgianna Flack, a chambermaid. At this date Maria Jane Cheshire nee Blanch and her husband Joseph, a draper, were living in Fulham Road, Kensington with their children David, Sophia and Jane. Maria’s aunt, Mary Ann Harrison, 77, was now living with them, and they could also afford a servant.

The coachbuilding business originally established by David Blanch and his brothers continued to thrive in the hands of their children until the early years of the twentieth century, when advances in technology, and the advent of motorised transport, made the trade obsolete.

Mary Ann Blanch and Thomas Harrison

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.


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.


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.