Following on from the last few posts, I want now to trace the lives of the daughters of John Blanch (1802 – 1869) and Keziah Holdsworth (1804 – 1881). I’ve already written extensively about their oldest daughter, Mary Ann (1829 – 1870), my great great grandmother. Here, I want to reconstruct the inter-related stories of her three younger sisters – Kezia Sarah, Eliza Maria and Emma Louisa – which highlight some of the challenges and constraints facing working-class women in London in the 19th century.

I believe that Kezia Sarah Blanch was born in 1834, even though she was baptized at the same time as her younger sister Eliza Maria in 1837. As mentioned in an earlier post, the 1851 census finds 17 year old Kezia working as a housemaid, alongside her aunt Eliza (her mother’s sister), in the home of Mary Fletcher, 63, in Regent’s Terrace in the parish of St. Pancras.

I haven’t found Kezia Sarah in the 1861 census but in 1871, when she was 37 and still unmarried, she was working as a housemaid in the large household of landowner George Pollock in Grosvenor Street, Hanover Square. In 1881 46 year old Kezia was a cook and domestic servant in the home of annuitant Mary Combe in Ealing. Kezia is said to be a widow, but I’ve found no record of a marriage, and she has clearly reverted to her maiden name. Her aunt Eliza, now 83, is listed as a visitor at the time of the census. Ten years later, in 1891, Kezia, now 56,  is still working for Mary Combe in Ealing, and interestingly Eliza is again (still?) there as a visitor.

Ealing Broadway in about 1910

1901 brings a change of status for Kezia. Still in Ealing (Brentford), and aged 66, she is now described as a boarding house keeper. Living with Kezia are her sisters Eliza Maria, 64 and the widowed Emma Trader nee Blanch, 55, as well as their niece Flora Blanch, 32, who is working as a barmaid. Flora was the daughter of John Holdsworth Blanch, younger brother of Kezia Sarah and Eliza Maria. I haven’t been able to find out when Kezia Sarah Blanch died.

It would appear that Eliza Maria Blanch, born in 1837, remained unmarried. In 1861, at the age of 23, she was still living at her parents’ shoemaker’s shop in Great Crown Court, Soho, and working as a shoe binder. I haven’t found a record for Eliza in the 1871 census, but in 1881 she (like her sister Kezia) was in Ealing. She was living with her widowed mother Keziah (a laundress), 12 year old Flora, and two of Keziah’s great grandchildren, Ruth and Leonard. These children’s surname seems to be Kerr, or something similar, but I haven’t been able to identify whose children or grandchildren they were. Keziah Holdsworth Blanch would die in that same year in Brentford, aged 77.

The 1891 census finds Eliza (perhaps made homeless by her mother’s death) in West Ham, as a lodger in the house of William Joss, his wife Mary and stepdaughter Eliza. Also lodging at the same address are her widowed sister Emma (see below) – both are working as corset makers – together with 22 year old Flora, now a waitress. Visiting them at the time of the census are Flora’s younger sisters Edith,14, and Mary, 6.

As mentioned above, by 1901 the three sisters were reunited at Kezia’s boarding house in Ealing. Eliza Maria Blanch died in Brentford in 1909, aged 68.

Brentford in 1910

Emma Louisa Blanch, born in 1842, was also living with her parents in Soho, and working as a needlewoman, at the time of the 1861 census, when she was 19. Eight years later, at the age of 27, Emma married carpenter Walter Trader, the son of another shoemaker, at St Anne’s church, Limehouse. The couple gave their address as William Street. Interestingly, given the Biggleswade connection of her sister Mary Ann’s husband Daniel Roe, Walter seems to have been born in Bedfordshire.

Two years later, when the 1871 census was taken, Walter looks 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 Walter was still working as a butcher. They had no children of their own, but lodging with them, and working as an assistant to Walter, was Emma’s 19 year old nephew (and my great grandfather) Joseph Roe, the orphaned son of her sister Mary Ann.

Emma suffered a loss of her own seven years later in 1888, when her husband Walter died at the age of 47. In 1891, as already noted, she was still in West Ham and living with her sister Eliza and niece Flora in the house of William Joss. In 1901, again as already mentioned, 58 year old Emma, still with Eliza and Flora, was living at Kezia Sarah’s boarding house in Ealing. Emma Louisa Trader would die in Brentford in 1921, at the age of 79.