Following on from my recent posts on the Blanch family, I now want to track the movements of the Blanch, Roe and Ellis families through the decades of the nineteenth century. I’m intrigued by these families’ geographical movements across London – between the East End and West End, Soho and Chelsea – and by their connections with each other. I’m hoping that plotting their progress through time will help me to understand these movements and connections better.

In the next few posts, I plan to take the census years as my guide, and set out what I know of each family’s situation at each of these ten year intervals. In this post, I’ll be focusing on 1841, the year of the first national census in England.

The 1841 census finds my 3 x great grandparents, John Blanch, 39, and his wife Keziah, 37, living in Wellington Street, Mile End Old Town. By this time they had been married for 14 years and had four children: Mary Ann, 14, Joseph James, 10, Keziah Sarah, 7, and Eliza Maria, 4. John was working as a shoemaker and living with them was (John’s?) 18 year old apprentice James Woodwell.

At the same date, John’s younger brother David Blanch, 30, was living on the other side of London, in King Street, Soho (see map below), with his wife Sarah, 25, whom he had married six years earlier, and their children James, 4, William, 3, and David, 11 months. At the same address, though listed as separate households (there appear to have been eight or nine of these in the building), are 60 year old Maria Brodbard and 45 year old Mary Harrison, both described as ‘independent’. The first of these is almost certainly David’s half-sister Maria Blanch, who married John Rodbard in 1811 (the census enumerators seem to have had great difficulty with the name Rodbard, spelling it wrongly on almost every occasion). Mary Harrison is probably David’s older sister Mary Ann Blanch, who married Thomas Harrison in 1828. I assume that both were living with their brother because they were now widows. At the same address was 15 year old Elizabeth Higham, also said to be ‘independent’, though in later census records she would be described as a servant.

The area around St. Anne's church, Soho from Horwood's 1792 map

It’s likely that David and Sarah had been living in King Street since their marriage in 1835. They were married at nearby St. Anne’s church (Maria Rodbard was a witness, suggesting that she may have been living with them since that date) and their children were born at that address. In his children’s baptismal records, and in the census, David is described as a coachsmith. According to Robin Blanch, records in the London Directory (held in the Guildhall Library) show David and his older brother Thomas as coachsmiths at premises in Ham Yard, Great Windmill Street, between  1834 and 1840.  According to the London Gazette (17 July 1846), their partnership was dissolved in 1846.

I’ve been unable to find Thomas Blanch (born 1797) in the 1841 records. He married Ann Akerman Fletcher in Soho in 1820, but their three children – Thomas George, Mary Ann Sophia and William Henry – were all born in the Holborn / Clerkenwell area during that same decade. However, as I noted in an earlier post, the National Archives have admitted that the 1841 census records for the Berwick Street sub-district of St. James, Westminster, which included Great Windmill Street, are missing. It’s highly likely that Thomas and his family moved to Soho some time in the 1830s and were living close to the Ham Yard premises where Thomas and David worked.

Certainly, another Blanch brother – William Henry Blanch (born 1804), another coachsmith – would be living in Great Windmill Street at the time of the 1851 census. He had married Martha Sarah Stokes in 1825 and, although their first son David was born in the parish of St. Luke’s in 1829, their daughter Eleanor was born in St. James, Westminster in 1836, so it’s possible they were in Great Windmill Street by this date. It’s unclear whether William worked alongside his brothers Thomas and David in the family business, but given his proximity to Ham Yard, this seems likely. Given that he was still living and working in the area in 1851, it’s possible that he continued to work at Ham Yard after Thomas and David had dissolved their partnership and moved elsewhere.

Part of Soho from Horwood’s 1792 map, showing Gt. Windmill Street and Ham Yard

Great Windmill Street from Ham Yard

The loss of the 1841 records for part of St. James’ parish has also made it difficult to trace the movements of the Ellis family around this time. However, it’s possible to fill in some of the gaps from marriage and other records. Richard Ellis married Marianne Burbridge in March 1841 (the census was taken in June) in St James, Westminster, and their address is given as 3 Richmond Street: the same house where Richard had been born in 1814 and where his father Thomas had died in 1838. Richard and Marianne’s daughter Frances Marianne was born in September 1841. Richmond Street was very close to King Street – the two roads were either side of Princes Street (see first map above: comparing modern maps, the two roads appear to have been incorporated into the modern Shaftesbury Avenue)- so the Ellis and Blanch families might have come to know each other as neighbours, or perhaps Richard was acquainted with the Blanch brothers professionally through his work as a carpenter and builder.  The lives of the two families would certainly intertwine in a number of intriguing ways in later years.

As for the Roe family: at the time of the 1841 census my great great grandfather Daniel Roe, then aged 12, was still living with his widowed mother Eliza in Biggleswade, though they would have moved to London at the very latest by 1848, when Daniel would marry John Blanch’s daughter Mary Ann.