Daniel Blanch, leather dresser of Clerkenwell

The Fleet Registers are a collection of registers and notebooks recording clandestine marriages and baptisms that took place in locations such as the Fleet Prison, King’s Bench Prison and the Mint between about 1667 and 1777. Apparently in the 1740s, over half of all London weddings were performed at the Fleet (more than 6500 per year) with a further thousand conducted at the May Fair Chapel (see this post).

Fleet Prison

We can only speculate as to why Daniel Blanch, a leather dresser from St James Clerkenwell, and Rebecca Prichard, from the parish of St Sepulchre Without, decided to marry at the Fleet in April 1731. I haven’t been able to discover anything definitive about Daniel’s origins (there’s a possibility he was the son born to Charles and Mary Blanch at St Botolph Bishopsgate in 1701), though Rebecca was almost certainly the daughter of Robert Prichard and Rebecca Dale who were married at St Sepulchre on the last day of 1704. Rebecca, who was born in 1707, was the elder of two sisters – Mary Prichard was born in 1714. Both were born in Foxwell Court, which ran off Charterhouse Lane, visible in the top right hand corner of this map:

Part of the parish of St Sepulchre, Holborn, from Rocque's map of 1746

Daniel’s surname, his place of residence and his occupation all caught my interest. As I noted in my last post, despite some apparent evidence to the contrary, I still have a hunch that my own Blanch ancestors have their roots in the Holborn / Clerkenwell area. What’s more, William Blanch, who might still turn out to be my 6 x great grandfather, married Ann Cushee, the daughter of Clerkenwell leather seller Thomas Cushee. His second wife (and possibly William’s mother by her first marriage) was Hester Blanch. I haven’t been able to prove a connection yet, but there’s a chance both that Daniel Blanch worked with Thomas Cushee (or his son, also Thomas) and that he was related in some way to Hester and William.

Daniel and Rebecca Blanch’s first child Frances was born at Saffron Hill and baptised at St Andrew Holborn on 21 February 1731. Hannah was born at Cow Cross (see last post on the use of this street name to designate a wider area of the parish) and baptised at St Sepulchre on 10 July 1733.  John was baptised at the same church on 27 December 1734, but he is probably the child who died four years later and was buried on 28 April 1738.

The address given in John’s burial record is Benjamin Street, which was the next-turning- but-one off Turnmill Street from Plowmans Rents (see map in last post), where Thomas Cushee and his family lived, and where presumably he had his leather-selling business (though by this date, either his son Thomas junior or his stepson William Blanch would have been running it).  Daniel and Rebecca were still at the same address when their son, Charles (possibly named after Daniel’s father?), was christened on Boxing Day, 1737, and when another son, James, was baptised on 9 January 1739. It’s possible that James is the child from Cow Cross who was buried at St Sepulchre on 6 November 1741.

Leather dresser

I haven’t been able to find a burial record for Rebecca, but she must have died between 1739 and January 1742, when Daniel married for a second time, also at the Fleet. As before, he is described in the register as a leather dresser (and now widower) from St James Clerkenwell, while his wife Mary Skillimore, a widow, is said to be from the parish of St Andrew Holborn.

Mary must have died shortly after the marriage, since the following January finds Daniel back at the Fleet yet again, marrying for a third time, to another widow named Mary – her surname was Catherall – also from St Andrew Holborn. I can’t find a record of any children born to Daniel and either of these Marys, or of his, or their deaths.

Nor have I been able to find out much about what became of Daniel’s children, with the possible exception of Hannah. A Hannah Blanch married a weaver by the name of Richard Emis from the parish of St Luke , Middlesex , on 9 March 1754, at the Fleet. I can’t find a record of any children born to the couple. Hannah appears to have died at Blackfriars in 1786 and in the following year Richard married Alice Addy at St Luke, Middlesex.

In the next post, I’ll be writing about yet another Blanch family living in this part of London at around the same time – who may or may not be connected with Daniel Blanch, and who may also yet turn out to be ancestors of mine.

Update

Since writing the above, I’ve come across evidence that Daniel Blanch might have been married four times, rather than three. I’ve found baptismal records for a number of children born, in and around Clerkenwell, to Daniel and Hannah Blanch between 1716 and 1724. Of course, this might be a different Daniel Blanch, but the dates and locations fit with what we already know.

Sarah Blanch, daughter of Daniel and Hannah Blanch, was christened at St James Clerkenwell on 28 January in either 1716 or 1717. It’s possible that she is the person of that name who was buried at the same church in November 1720: at any rate, another child with that name was born to the same parents in 1724 (she was baptised on 22 March). James Blanch was christened at St Andrews Holborn on 27 May 1719, but I assume he died, as in 1739 Daniel would give the same name to his son by his second wife Rebecca. John Blanch was baptised on 20 July 1721  at St James Clerkenwell, but he might be the person of that named buried there in July 1725.

I haven’t found a record of the marriage of Daniel and Hannah, which must have taken place before these births – probably in about 1715. This places Daniel’s own birth a little earlier than I had imagined – perhaps in the late 1690s.

The only birth for which we have an address is James’: when he was baptised, his parents were living in Shoe Lane, which ran north to south through the parish of St Andrew Holborn. If the Sarah Blanch who died in 1720 was Daniel and Hannah’s daughter, then they were living in St Johns Lane, Clerkenwell at the time. Similarly, the address given for the death of John Blanch in 1725 is Clerkenwell Green.

If this is indeed the same Daniel Blanch, then his first wife Hannah must have died by 1731, when Daniel married Rebecca Prichard. I’ve yet to find any record of Hannah’s death.

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