The family of Thomas and Sarah Blanch

In my last post, I produced evidence that my great-great-great-great-grandfather James Blanch, who spent most of his life in London, was born in Bristol, the son of Quaker heel and patten maker Thomas Blanch. Not only that, I demonstrated that James’ younger brothers, Thomas and William (who, like James, followed their father’s occupation) also moved to London. William seems to have returned to Bristol at some point, but I’m now convinced that the Thomas Blanch, heelmaker, who can be found living with his wife Sarah in Holborn in the early 1800s was James’ brother. In this post, I want to set down what we now know about Thomas Blanch junior and his family.

As I reported last week, Thomas Blanch was born in Merchant Street, Bristol on 1st August 1766, the middle son of Quaker heel maker Thomas Blanch senior and his wife Mary. He is almost certainly the person who married Sarah Clark in the parish of St Philip and St Jacob, Bristol on 17 October 1785; he would have been 19 years old. It’s also likely that he is the same Thomas Blanch who was listed in a local directory, as a heel and patten maker in St Thomas’ Street, Bristol, in the same year.

In 1789, Thomas became a ‘freeman’ of the city of Gloucester, probably by patrimony. His older brother James and younger brother William gained their ‘freedom’ in the same year. By this date, they were both living in London, but the records suggest that Thomas was still in Bristol. However, Thomas and Sarah Blanch must have left Bristol some time before 1791, when they can be found in London. It’s possible that their son Alfred was born before they moved, though I’ve yet to find a record of his birth.

On 25th October 1791, Thomas Blanch, heel maker, and his wife Sarah had a daughter, Louisa. She was christened on 16 November at the church of St Giles, Cripplegate (which was..). By the time their daughter Harriet was baptised, at St Andrew’s, Holborn, on 12th October 1795, Thomas and Sarah had moved to Fetter Lane, which ran between Fleet Street and Holborn. A third daughter, Sarah Ann Catherine, was born on 27th July 1803, apparently in the parish of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury,  but not christened (at St Andrew’s, Holborn) until 19th May 1812, by which time the family had moved to Saffron Hill. Thomas and Sarah Blanch were still living at Saffron Hill when their youngest son, Thomas, was christened at St Andrew’s on 25 July 1807.

Saffron Hill area, from Horwood's London map of 1792

Alfred Blanch seems to have followed his father’s occupation and worked as a patten maker. In 1816, he (along with two of his cousins) was granted the freedom of the city of Gloucester. The record states that his father, Thomas, was still working as a heel maker at Great Saffron Hill, Holborn. The fact that a separate address is not given for Alfred suggests that he was living and working in the same area as his father.

In the previous year, Alfred’s sister Harriet was married, to cutler Alfred Augustus Barnes. The marriage took place on 7 May 1815 at the church of St Bride, Fleet Street. Alfred, born in Richmond, Surrey, in 1792, was the son of City of London goldsmith Christopher Joel Barnes. He received the Freedom of the City of London and admission into the Goldsmiths’ Company by patrimony in February 1830.

Victorian cutler

Although there were no witnesses to the marriage from the Blanch family, I’m reasonably certain that the Harriet Matilda Blanch who married Alfred Barnes was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Blanch of Holborn. She would certainly have been the right age: almost 20.  And it’s probably no coincidence that their first child was born at Great Saffron Hill and christened (on 29th April, 1816, at St Andrew’s church) Louisa – the same name as Harriet’s older sister. Alfred and Harriet’s son Christopher was born in 1818 but died a year later at Vine Street (see map above) and was buried at St Andrew’s, as was three-year-old Louisa when she died in the same year.

Later records suggest that Alfred and Harriet Barnes were still in Holborn when their daughter Harriet Sarah was born on 7th January 1820. However, by the time she was christened, at St Bride’s, Fleet Street on 12th June 1822, they were living in Great New Street, to the north of Fleet Street and off Fetter Lane (see map below). It was a double christening: another daughter, Juliana, born on 29th March 1822, was baptised at the same time.

Great New Street and East Harding Street, from Horwood's London map of 1792

William James Joel Barnes was born at No.2 East Harding Street, which led off Great New Street, on 26th February 1824, and christened at St Bride’s on 13th April 1825. Another double christening took place at the same church on 2nd August 1829: Alfred Christopher was born on 25th June 1826 and Theophilus James on 23rd November 1828, both at East Harding Street.

Great New Street was given as the family’s address when their youngest child, Ann Diana, was christened on 26th April 1831: she had been born on 19th April. Both mother and baby died soon afterwards: Harriet died of consumption and was buried on 1st May (her burial record confirming her year of birth as 1795), while Ann Diana was buried on 27th, both at St Bride’s. Less than a year later, on 8th February 1832, another child, Theophilus James Barnes was buried. He had also died of consumption, aged 3 years 2 months, at East Harding Street.

At the time of the 1841 census, Alfred Barnes, now a widower of 48, and his son Alfred junior, 15, were still living at East Harding Street. They shared a house with two other cutlers, Robert Collins and William Crowthers, and their families. Two of the younger Barnes children, Julia or Juliana and (William) James, were staying with their aunt Ann Barnes, a pork butcher, and her sister Dinah, at their home in High Street, New Brentford. I’m not sure where Harriet was at this time.

Certainly by 1851, Harriet (a dressmaker) and Juliana (or Julia), now aged 31 and 29 respectively and both unmarried, were back with their journeyman cutler father (now 58, and still working as a journeyman cutler) who was living in Shoe Lane, which runs almost parallel to Fetter Lane. Also at the same address were Alfred’s unmarried sisters, Ann and Diana Barnes.

I don’t know where Alfred Barnes junior was in 1851. Three years later, he married his wife Clara and by 1861 they were living, with their seven-month old-daughter Kate Clarissa, in Brighton. There is a suggestion that Clara’s maiden name was also Barnes and that she was a relation of Alfred’s, perhaps a cousin. Alfred was working as a foreman contractor; he died in Brighton in 1870 at the age of 44.

In 1871 Harriet and Julia Barnes (the latter working as a school mistress) were lodgers, along with their aunt Diana, in the home of butcher Henry Guy in Worthing. In 1881, Alfred’s widow Clara, a ‘plain needlewoman’, was living in the home of her Clerkenwell-born sister, dressmaker Esther Phoebe Barnes, in Mary Magdalene Street, Brighton. Her unmarried daughter Kate Clarissa was also there and working as a dressmaker, as was her late husband’s sister Julia, said to be a former governess, who is also described as Clara’s cousin. In 1891, Julia was still at the same address, with Esther, Clara and another of their sisters, Eliza. I suspect that Kate Clarissa had married by this date (see below). In 1901 Julia was lodging in another house in Worthing.  In 1911, she was living in Willesden with Kate Clarissa, now married to dental anaesthetist Arthur James Seal. She died in 1912.

I’ve found no further records for Harriet Barnes, nor have I been able to find any further records for her brother William James Joel Barnes. Alfred Augustus Barnes died in west London in 1865, at the age of 72.

Sarah Ann Catherine Blanch married James Thomas Matthews at St Luke’s, Finsbury, on 28 November 1825: she would have been about 22 years old. Thomas Blanch, presumably her father, was one of the witnesses: confirmation that he was still alive at this date. Born in Crieff, Perthshire, in 1803, James Matthews worked as a tailor. When their first child, Thomas Gibbin, was christened at St Marylebone on 5 December 1826, James and Sarah were living in Paddington Street. By the time their second child, Frederick, was born in 1829, they were in Dundee. Their son James John Andrew was also born in Dundee, in 1831, as were Adelaide (1835), Adolphus Augustus (1838), Constantine (1840) and Virginia (1841). I understand that Virginia died in 1842, but I’ve found no further records for Constantine.

The 1841 census finds James and Sarah, with their seven children between the ages of one month and 14 years, living in Overgate, Dundee. However, two years later they were back in London, for the christening of their daughter Julia Ann Isabella, at St Clement Danes. The Matthews family was now living at 4 Beaufort Buildings off the Strand: an address I mentioned in an earlier post, as it was where Marianne Ellis, two of whose daughters would marry sons of David Blanch, grew up (her father Robert managed the Plough tavern there) and also very close to where my great-great-grandparents Daniel Roe and Mary Ann Blanch were living in the mid-1850s).

By the time of the 1851 census, the family had moved across the Strand to Drury Lane, where they lived at No 66. Still at home with James and Sarah, now aged 48 and 44, were Adolphus, 13, Adelaide, 16, and Julia, 8, as well as James’ widowed father Thomas, 73, also a tailor. The family was could afford to employ a male servant.

At some stage, Thomas Gibbin Matthews emigrated to Melbourne, Australia and married Mary Jane Cowley from Berkshire. They had five children: William James (1861), James Frederick (1862), Julianna Isabella (1864), Sara Jane (1866) and Albert Henry (1869). Mary Jane died in 1905 and Thomas in 1915.

James John Andrew Matthews also emigrated to Australia, ending up in Townsville, Queensland. He married Fanny Stephens and they also had five children: Adelaide (1867), James Adolphus (1869), John Andrew (1870), Fanny (1874) and Frederick George (1878). James Matthews died in 1910 and Fanny in 1918.

Adolphus Augustus Matthews also found his way to Queensland. He married Dora Barbara Edgar and they had two children: Adolphus Edgar (1880) and Alan Lindsay (1884). Adolphus senior died in Queenland in 1921.

Adelaide Matthews married Dundee-born James Hamilton, and it seems that they too travelled far from home. Their daughter Alice Fanny was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1860, while their son James was born in San Francisco three years later. In 1871, Alice and James Hamilton can be found staying with their grandparents, James and Sarah Matthews, at Douglas Street, Deptford. Alice married Thomas Cavanagh and in 1881 they and their family were living in Riversdale Road, Highbury, Islington: Alice’s mother Adelaide was living with them. By 1891, they had moved to St Johns Road, Highbury, and in 1901 they were in St Pauls Road, and Adelaide was still with them.

Julia Ann Isabella Matthews (via Cowley family tree at Ancestry)

James and Sarah Matthews’ youngest daughter, Julia Ann Isabella, was as well-travelled as her siblings. Apparently she married William Henry Munford in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1864. They had three children: James (1865), Adelaide Victoria and Henry (both 1866), all born in New Zealand. Like his cousins, Henry Munford was also staying with his grandparents, James and Sarah Matthews, at the time of the 1871 census. Julia’s last address in England was 380 City Road, Middlesex, but she actually died in St Louis, Missouri, on 19 May 1876. She left effects valued at under £1,000.

James Thomas Matthews died in either 1874 or 1875, and his wife Sarah Ann Catherine Matthews, née Blanch, in 1876, in Islington.

My search for records for Alfred Blanch, patten maker and son of Thomas and Sarah, has so far drawn a blank. There’s a death record for an Alfred Blanch in Holborn in 1854, and another in 1855: could one be Alfred, son of Thomas, and the other his son? But I’ve failed to locate Alfred in either the census records for Holborn, or in the marriage records. Perhaps he married outside London and his marriage is hidden in some obscure parish register. But if he lived and died in Holborn, he must be in the census for 1841 and 1851, unless hidden by a transcription error. Nor have I come across any records, after his baptism, for Alfred’s youngest brother Thomas.

As for Thomas and Sarah Blanch, there is no further trace of them after Thomas’ appearance at his daughter Sarah’s wedding in 1825, when he would have been 69 years old. It’s unlikely that they survived long enough to be included in the 1841 census (though Thomas’ older brother lived until 1840, when he was 85), and as with their son Alfred, I’ve failed to find them in the census records. More surprisingly, I’ve yet to find any evidence of their deaths. Did Thomas and Sarah remain in Holborn, close to their children and grandchildren, or did they move back to Bristol?

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