This is by way of a footnote to the last post, in which I noted that in 1881, Keziah Blanch, widow of John Blanch, was living at 11 Cumberland Terrace, Ealing, with her daughter Eliza Maria Blanch, 12 year old grand-daughter Flora Sophia Blanch, and great grand-children Ruth, 5, and Leonard, 6 months. I knew that Flora was the daughter of Keziah’s son John Holdsworth Blanch. But I hadn’t been able to identify the parents of Ruth and Leonard. Their surname was transcribed as Kerr, but following up this name didn’t yield any positive results.

Then I remembered what I’d written in an earlier post, back in July last year, about Mary Ann Blanch Roe, daughter of Keziah’s oldest daughter Mary Ann and her husband Daniel Roe (my great great grandparents). According to my contact (and distant relative) Sara Calvert, who is descended from the younger Mary Ann, she married actor and comedian Leonard Kew, and Ruth and Leonard were their children. So the name in the 1881 census should be Kew, not Kerr.

After the death of her mother in 1870, 15 year old Mary Ann Blanch Roe lived with her grandmother Keziah Blanch in Broad Street, Soho, as did her sister Kezia Eliza and brothers Daniel Ellis and John Richard – and 2 year old Flora Sophia Blanch, who appears to have been living with her grandmother from a very young age.

If the 1881 census record is to be believed, then Ruth Kew was born in 1876 (she was 5 at the time of the census). This means that Mary Ann and Leonard must have married some time between 1871 (when Mary Ann was still living with her grandmother) and about 1875. I haven’t yet found a definitive record of their marriage, though there are a number of possibilities.

We know from various sources (including census records and other family trees) that Leonard Kew was born in Islington in about 1855, the son of stockbroker’s clerk Leonard Alfred Kew and his wife Caroline. He spent part of his childhood in Clapham, but at the age of 16 appears to have been boarding at St. John’s College, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex. He and Mary Ann would both have been about 20 when they married.

Hurstpierpoint College, formerly St. John's College

Ruth’s birthplace is given as St. James, Westminster, indicating that the young couple stayed close to Mary Ann’s family in the early days of their marriage. However, the fact that Leonard junior was born in Ealing in 1880 suggests that Mary Ann and her husband might have  followed her grandmother Keziah there. In fact, Mary Ann might have continued to live with her grandmother (or vice versa) after her marriage, and the house in Ealing could have been shared between them (as well as with Eliza Maria and Flora Blanch). How or why any of them came to make the move from Soho to Ealing is not known.

The only other record I’ve been able to find for Leonard and Mary Ann is also in the 1881 census. While their great grandmother was looking after Ruth and Leonard in Ealing, their parents seem to have been touring the country as actors. According to Sara Calvert, the Leonard and Blanch Vincent to be found as boarders at 8 Scarbro Street, Stranton (now West Hartlepool), County Durham at this date, are in fact Leonard Vincent Kew and Mary Ann Blanch Roe, and these were their stage or professional names. The ages match, as does the reference to Islington as the place of birth, though this is mistakenly applied to both of them.

Hartlepool's Victorian Town Hall Theatre: was this where Leonard and Mary Ann were performing in 1881?

I can find no trace of the couple in later census records: obviously, their use of alternative names, even in official records, makes them particularly difficult to trace. It’s unclear whether the family moved from the house in Ealing after Keziah died, later in 1881. I’ve also discovered no further reference to Ruth Kew. As for their younger son Leonard (from whom Sara is descended), he was boarding in the home of gardener Charles Shallis and family, in Glenfield Road, Ealing, in 1901, when he was said to be 18 (in fact, he would have been 20 by this date). He’s said to be working as a ‘House Boy. Boots, etc.’ His place of birth is listed as ‘N.K.’ = not known.

In August 1906 Leonard Vincent Kew, now supposedly aged 24 (again, this seems to be an error, whether deliberate or accidental: he was actually 26), married Emily Jane Harris, 18, in Hayes, Middlesex, where they were both said to be living.  Leonard’s father’s name is given as ‘Vincent Kew’ and his occupation simply as ‘professional’. No members of Leonard’s family appear to have acted as witnesses.

Leonard and Emily had a number of children, all of whom bore the double-barrelled surname Vincent-Kew, including Leonard James (born in 1907), Keziah (1908, her name probably a tribute to the fondly-remembered great grandmother who looked after Leonard as a child), Hilda (1910) and William (1912).

According to Sara Calvert’s family tree at Genes Reunited, the 1911 census finds young Leonard James living with his mother in Hayes and his sister Hilda with her grandparents, as their father was in prison. Young Keziah seems to have died in infancy. Leonard served in the First World War, enlisting in the Army Service Corps in 1915. He was living in Bakers Lane, Ealing at the time and gave his occupation as motor fitter. Leonard died in 1919, at the age of 39, and Emily in 1944.

Leonard James Vincent-Kew enlisted in the army in 1925, when he was 18 and living in Kentish Town. In 1929 he married Kate Stone. He remained in the army until 1955, when we was 48. Leonard and Kate had 6 children: Daphne, Sheila, Patricia, Leonard, Richard and Maureen. Daphne married Charles Calvert in Tunbridge Wells in 1949 and Sara, born in 1953, is their daughter.