My distant relation and fellow researcher Robin Blanch has concluded that our common ancestor, James Blanch, is not the person we had assumed he was. Here is Robin’s note from his tree at Ancestry:

After many years of believing I was secure in the data I had on the birth date, parents and grandparents of James Blanch (my 3 x great grandfather), I now find that the person I thought he was died aged 1 year in 1756. A St Sepulchre burial record for a ‘James Blanch of Seacole Lane’ dated 13th May 1756 was recently discovered by one of my distant relations in Australia, Jan Addison whose genealogical knowledge and expertise are impeccable. The immediate result of this is that William & Ann (nee Yalden) can no longer be regarded as the parents of ‘our’ James Blanch. Similarly, William & Ann (nee Cushee) cannot be the grandparents of James. 

In the light of this new information, I’ve begun to review my own assumptions about the Blanch branch of my family tree. To recap: my great-great-grandfather Daniel Roe (born in 1829), who was the son of another Daniel Roe and Eliza Holdsworth, married Mary Ann Blanch on 3 July 1848 at St. Anne, Limehouse. Their youngest son, Joseph Priestley Roe (1862 -1947), was the father of my maternal grandmother, Minnie Louisa Roe.

Mary Ann Blanch was the daughter of shoemaker John Blanch and Kezia Holdsworth (cousin to Daniel Roe’s mother Eliza), who were married on 5 July 1827, also at St. Anne, Limehouse. So Mary Ann was my great-great-grandmother and her father John was my great-great-great grandfather.

St. Anne, Limehouse (

The three census records that we have for John Blanch (from 1841, 1851 and 1861) state that he was born in about 1800 or 1801 in Clerkenwell. All the evidence points to him being the John Blanch who was born to James and Sophia Blanch and baptised at St. Andrew, Holborn on 2 August 1802. Their address is given as Saffron Hill, a street which skirts the borders of Holborn and Clerkenwell. There is also circumstantial evidence connecting John to this particular Blanch family, including a shared connection with the Ellis family, which I’ve written about before.

Sophia was James Blanch’s second wife. He had four children – James (1780, who died in infancy), Maria (1781), Elizabeth Ann (1783) and James (1784) – by his first wife, Jane Barlow, who died in 1786. On 21 March 1792 James married Sophia Atkins at St. Anne, Soho. They had seven children: Mary Ann (1794), Thomas (1797), Sophia Sarah (1799), John (1802), William Henry (1804), Joseph (1807) and David (1810). Of these, Mary Ann was born in Southwark, Sophia in Soho, and all of the sons in Holborn.

Until recently, it was assumed that Sophia Atkins had been born in the parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, in 1772, to Thomas and Hannah Atkins. However, Robin Blanch and I have both independently come to the conclusion that she is more likely to be the person who was born in St. Mary’s, Bromley St. Leonard, in 1778, the daughter of Joseph and Ann Atkins. Certainly Sophia’s burial record, from 1821, which gives her age as 44, suggests that she was born around 1777-78.  Sophia was buried at St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, and Robin has found a burial record for an Anne Atkins, who might be Sophia’s mother, at the same church on 19 October 1783. He has also found evidence of a marriage between Joseph Atkins and Anne Cartwright in Bromley St. Leonard on 25 September 1763.

Bromley St. Leonard

Sophia’s husband James Blanch was also buried at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney – on 27 December 1840 – despite the fact that he died in the parish of St. Anne, Soho, in the King Street home of his youngest son, David. However, Sophia’s burial record gives her address at the time of her death as Mile End Old Town, suggesting that in addition to Soho, Southwark and Holborn, the Blanch family also lived in that district at some point. Proximity to the London Docks would fit with James’ final occupation (given on his death certificate) as a customs house officer. It would also help to explain how their son John, though born in Holborn, came to be living in the Stepney / Mile End area.

More new information on the Blanch family will follow in future posts.