There are still some frustrating gaps in my knowledge about Daniel Roe (born 1829), my 2 x great grandfather. We know that Daniel, a boot and shoemaker who was born in Biggleswade, married Mary Ann Blanch at St. Anne’s, Limehouse on 3rd July 1848. We also know that their first child, Kezia Eliza, was born in December 1850. However, despite repeated searches, I have unable to find any trace of the young couple and their daughter in the census record for 1851. 

The brief information about Kezia’s birth at Ancestry – which says she was born in Hackney – had led me to believe that Daniel and Eliza moved around somewhat during their early married life. However, I noticed on Ron Roe’s family tree that the address given for Kezia’s birth – presumably on the birth certificate – was ‘Green Street Globe Lane Hackney’. Looking at London maps for the period revealed that, though strictly within the boundaries of Hackney, this address was just north of Mile End Road, not far from Stepney where Mary Ann had grown up. And where do we find Mary Ann’s parents, John and Kezia Blanch, living in 1851? At 2 Green Street (this is the date at which they were looking after young Mary Ann Ellis – see earlier posts).

The trouble is, there are a number of Green Streets in the area, and there is some indication that the Blanches were living at the one closer to Stepney Green, as the 1841 census finds them in nearby Wellington Street. At any rate, there is no trace of Daniel, Mary Ann and young Kezia either in the same house or the same street as Mary Ann’s parents. It’s possible that they were living with them, or at another address nearby, at the time, but for some reason were not at home on 30th March 1851 when the census was taken (though Kezia Eliza would only have been three months old at the time). I’ve sent for Kezia’s birth certificate, which might reveal more.

We know that, by June 1853, the Roes were living in the parish of St. James, Westminster, at the time of the birth of their first son, Daniel Ellis Roe. Again, I’ve sent for the birth certificate which should give their precise address. However, their next child, Mary, appears to have been born, four years later, in the parish of St. Clement Danes, Westminster (the parish of St. James covers the Regent Street/Haymarket area, while St Clement Danes is at the eastern end of the Strand). They are back in St. James two years later, in 1859, for the birth of their son John.

As mentioned in previous posts, the 1861 census finds the Roes and the Blanches living close to each other in the parish of St. James. Daniel and Mary Ann, with their two sons and two daughters, are at 2 Great Crown Court, while John and Kezia Blanch, and their adult children Kezia, Eliza and Emma, together with a number of lodgers, are nearby at No.8.

It’s likely that Daniel and his father-in-law, both boot and shoe makers, were working together at this time. Daniel is described in the 1861 census as a bootmaker and on Joseph’s birth certificate as a bootmaker master, while the whole Blanch household appears to be involved in the family business: 23 year old daughter Eliza as a shoe binder, 20 year old Emma as a needlewoman, 16 year old John as a shop lad, and 39 year old lodger William Thoroughgood also a bootmaker. Their neighbours in the street also seem to have been in the same line of work, which gives a clue as to why the Roe and Blanch families might have moved to the area.

Great Crown Court was in the Golden Square area, not far from Great Windmill Street, where my great grandfather, Daniel and Mary Ann’s youngest child, Joseph Priestley Roe, was born in July of the following year. 

After 1862, Daniel and Mary Ann Roe disappear from view. By 1871, their children (as I’ve noted elsewhere) are being looked after by various relatives, so we assume that they both died some time before this date. There’s a possible record for Mary Ann’s death in 1870 (when she would have been about 43), which I’ve sent for, so that we can see how she died, and perhaps whether Daniel predeceased her. Of Daniel’s death, or his whereabouts after 1862, there’s no trace – so far. ‘Roe’ is often misspelt in the records – as Wroe, Roy, even Rae – so this may be the explanation. Or something else might have happened to Daniel that I don’t yet know about.

We know that John Blanch died in 1869 and that in 1871 the widowed Kezia, age 67, was living at 52 Broad Street, not far from Great Windmill Street and Great Crown Court. She was supported by her unmarried daughter, Eliza, who was working as a laundress, and by her granddaughters (Mary Ann’s daughters), Kezia (19) and Mary (15), working as an ironer and laundress respectively. 17 year old Daniel Ellis Roe was working as an engineer, and 12 year old John Roe and 2 year old Flora Blanch were also living with them.

The other mystery about Daniel Roe is his religious/political affiliations. I have a hunch that the naming of his son Joseph Priestley Roe after the great 18th century radical indicates either political radicalism or theological liberalism on Daniel’s part. Ron Roe has discovered that the Roes of Biggleswade were Baptists, though Priestley is most closely associated with Unitarianism, and as I’ve mentioned before, there was a close association between shoemakers and the radical political movements of the time.


I’ve now received copies of the birth certificates for Keziah Eliza and Daniel Ellis Roe. Keziah was born in October 1850 (not December as I wrote above) and while I was right about the place of birth being Hackney, I was wrong about the precise address. It wasn’t Green Street, home to Mary Ann’s parents John and Keziah Blanch, but St. Thomas Square – off Mare Street, close to London Fields, and north of Victoria Park – i.e. still not far from Bethnal Green, but further than I had thought.

Knowing this address may help to find the missing 1851 census record for Daniel and Mary Ann. However, it’s clear that they moved around quite a bit, since their second child, Daniel Ellis Roe, was born on 7th March 1853 at 8, Great Crown Court, St. James, Westminster. This is the address given in the 1861 census for Mary Ann’s parents, by which time Daniel and Mary Ann had moved a few doors along to No. 2. Could it be that the whole extended family moved to No. 8 from Bethnal Green/Hackney some time between 1851 and 1853, and that the junior (Roe) branch moved out when their family grew too large for one house to accommodate them?