Continuing with this series:

The years between 1861 and 1871 were a time of great change and tragic loss for the family of John Blanch.

On 23 July 1862 John’s oldest daughter Mary Ann (Blanch) Roe gave birth to my great grandfather Joseph Priestley Roe, at 23 Great Windmill Street, Soho, a few minutes’ walk from their 1861 address (and the home of Mary Ann’s parents) in Great Crown Court. Perhaps this, like other moves was prompted by the needs of an expanding family for more space? The birth certificate describes Joseph’s father Daniel Roe as a bootmaker master, suggesting either that he had set up in business on his own or that he had taken over the running of his father-in-law’s shop in Great Crown Court.

In 1866 John and Keziah’s youngest son John Holdsworth Blanch married Elizabeth Brooks in Limehouse (see this post). Their first two children John Richard (1867) and Flora Sophia (1869?) were born in Oxfordshire and Bow respectively, but their third child, James Robert, was born in the parish of St. James, Westminster, in 1869. This suggests that by then the family might already have been living at the address in Great Pultney Street, Soho, where they can be found in the 1871 census.

John and Keziah’s daughter Emma Louisa Blanch married Walter Trader in Limehouse in July 1869. The witnesses were her father John and sister Mary Ann Roe: both of whom would be dead within a year or so of this event.

John Blanch died in December 1869. He was about 67 years old. In the following September, Mary Ann (Blanch) Roe died from phthisis at the age of 43, at 10 Dufours Place, Soho, suggesting another change of address in the intervening years. Although Mary Ann is described on the death certificate as the wife of Daniel Roe (mis-spelt as ‘Rowe’), the fact that the informant was her daughter Kezia Roe, 19, suggests that Daniel himself might have passed away before her. Further evidence is provided by the fact that most of the Roe children would be living with their grandmother by the following year. However, despite repeated efforts, I have yet to find any record of Daniel’s death or alternatively any evidence of his whereabouts after 1870.

By the time of the 1871 census, and perhaps before that date, John Blanch’s widow Keziah, 67, had moved to 52 Broad Street, Soho, with her daughter Eliza Maria, 37. Four of the Roe orphans lived with her: Kezia Eliza, 19, Mary Ann, 15, Daniel Ellis, 17, and John Richard, 12. Also at the same address was another grandchild, Flora Sophia, 2, the daughter of Keziah’s son John Holdsworth Blanch and his wife Elizabeth. Why Flora was living with her grandmother at this time, rather than with her parents, remains a mystery. One imagines that times were tough for Keziah and her dependants after the loss of John’s – and perhaps Daniel’s – income. Eliza Maria and Mary Ann were working as laundresses and Kezia Eliza as an ironer, but they must also have been grateful for Daniel junior’s income from his job as an engineer.

Broad Street, Soho

Meanwhile, a few miles away in Chelsea, these years also saw great changes for the family of John’s brother David Blanch. David’s son James George, whom we noticed lodging with the Ellis family in 1861, married Frances Marianne Ellis the following year, when he was 34 and she was 29, at the church of St. Mary the Boltons, West Brompton. One of the witnesses at the wedding was James’ younger brother David John, who would marry Frances’ younger sister, Sophia Sarah Ellis (still legally a minor), two years later, on Christmas Day, 1863, at the same church. (In March of that year David John’s mother Sarah, wife of David Blanch senior, had died at the age of 47.) David and Sophia must have moved to the parish of St. James, Westminster, shortly after their marriage, since that’s where their first child, Walter David, was born in the spring of 1865.

St. Mary the Boltons, West Brompton

In 1864 another son of David Blanch, Thomas Richard, 21, married Ellen Flack, 19,  at St. Luke’s, Chelsea. Their fathers, and Thomas’ sister Maria Jane, were witnesses.

In April 1865 David Blanch’s son William Henry, 26, married 18 year old Catherine Mary Ann Cheshire, daughter of plumber Joseph Cheshire, at St. Luke’s, Chelsea. In almost an exact copy of the dual Blanch-Ellis marriages, William’s sister Maria Jane, a witness at his wedding, would marry Catherine’s brother Joseph in the same church a little more than a year later (To complete the parallel, William acted as a witness at his sister’s wedding).

St. Luke's Chelsea

Richard Ellis died in December 1865, at the age of 51, while David Blanch senior passed away in February 1866, when he was 56.

David John and Sophia Sarah Blanch emigrated to Australia, probably in January 1866 (i.e. the month before David senior’s death), which is when one-year-old Walter’s name features on the passenger list of a ship sailing to Melbourne. They would have a daughter Sophia Marion in Victoria, Australia, that year, but sadly she would die in infancy. Another son, named David John after his father, was born in 1868, but the latter died in the same year, at the age of 28.

At the time of the 1871 census, coachsmith James Blanch and his wife Frances were living at 237 Kings Road, Chelsea. They had no children of their own but living with them were Frances’ widowed mother Marianne, 56, a needlewoman, sister Mary Ann, 21, and brother Henry, 20, a coach painter.

James’ brother William Henry was living in Shawfield Road, Chelsea, and described as a coach builder employing 9 men and 3 boys. He lived with his wife Catherine and three children, Sarah, William and Ada. Catherine’s father Joseph was living with them; they also had a lodger and could afford two servants, one of them a nurse maid.

Thomas Blanch and his wife Ellen were living in Church Street, where Thomas, another coachsmith, employed 8 men and 3 boys. They had four children: Sarah and Thomas, born in Westminster, and John and Edith, born in Chelsea. Also living with them was Ellen’s sister Georgianna Flack, a chambermaid.

Maria Jane Cheshire (nee Blanch) and her husband Joseph, a draper, were living in Fulham Road, Kensington with their children David, Sophia and Jane. Maria’s aunt, Mary Ann Harrison, 77, was now living with them, and they could also afford a servant.