I’ve written before about the Ellis family of Richmond Street, Soho, and the mystery of their connection to my Blanch and Roe ancestors (follow the links under their surname to the right of this page). I’m still trying to discover exactly why my great-great-grandparents Daniel Roe and Mary Ann Blanch named their son Daniel Ellis Roe, and why their son Joseph (my great grandfather) named one of his sons Walter Ellis Roe. We know that the Blanch and Ellis families would eventually be linked by marriage: Richard and Marianne Ellis’ daughter Frances would marry David Blanch’s son James George in 1862, and another daughter Sophia Sarah would marry James’ brother David John a year later. But these marriages didn’t directly involve Daniel and Mary Ann Roe, and some of the links between the family (as we shall see) pre-date these events by some years.

In this post, I want to set down some new information that I’ve discovered about the Ellis family. It doesn’t solve the mystery, but it provides some more context that might, in time, contribute to a solution. We know that Richard Ellis’ father was named Thomas, and we now know that the latter was born in about 1780, whereabouts unknown, though (as we shall see) it’s possible he came from Shropshire. He appears to have married Sarah Lush, born in about 1781, on 23 November 1803 at St James, Piccadilly. I’ve found two people with her name born around 1780: one in Dorset, the other in Wiltshire.

St James Piccadilly

Thomas and Sarah might have had children we don’t know about in the early years of their marriage, but the first child we have definite information for is Sarah, who was born on 7 July 1808 and baptised on 16 August at St. James’. The next child for whom we have records is Richard Francis, born on 3 July 1814 in Richmond Street, Soho, and christened on 17 July, also at St James’. The record of Richard’s baptism provides our first evidence of Thomas’ occupation: he is described as a builder, though in other records he would also be described as a carpenter. A daughter, Mary Ann, was born at the same address in 1817 and christened on 11 May, and another daughter Susanna was born on 13 May 1819 and christened exactly one month later.

On 12 June 1826, 17-year-old Sarah Ellis married shoemaker Thomas Metcalf at St Martin in the Fields.  They would have three children that we know of. John William Metcalf was baptised on Christmas Day 1826 at St Anne, Soho: his parents’ address is given simply as St James. Mary Ann was born in 1834 and baptised at the same church on 12 August. And Richard William was born in the last quarter of 1839, whereabouts unknown.

Sarah Ellis the elder died in 1826, the year of her daughter’s marriage, at the age of 45. Her husband Thomas Ellis died twelve years later, on 21 February 1838, at the age of 58. Both died at Richmond Street.

Richmond Street and King Street, Soho, from Horwood's 1792 map

Richard Francis Ellis married Marianne Burbidge on 25 March 1841 at St James, Piccadilly. We know from their marriage certificate that Marianne was the daughter of victualler Robert Burbidge, and according to later census records she was born in St Clement Danes, but so far no other definite records relating to her origins or her family have come to light. The witnesses at the wedding were Richard’s sister Mary and John Blacklock, whom she would marry two months later, on 6 May, at St George in the East. John was born in about 1812 in the parish of St George in the East and worked as a stationer.

The 1841 census was taken on 7 June of that year but, as I’ve mentioned before, the records for the area which includes Richmond Street in the parish of St James are missing from the archives. This means we do not have records for this year for Richard and Marianne Ellis, who we know would be living there later that same year. Nor can I find records for the Metcalfs, possibly because they were living in the same district, perhaps even in the same house.

However, we know that at this time John and Mary Blacklock were living in Whitechapel High Street, which seems to be where John’s stationer’s shop was located. The Blacklocks’ next door neighbours included Alfred Clark and Daniel Hancock, also stationers. The 1848 Post Office Directory would include an entry for Blacklock and Hancock, stationers, at 118 Whitechapel High Street.

The birth of Frances Marianne Ellis, the first child of Richard and Marianne Ellis, was registered some time between July and September 1841. John Ellis Blacklock, the first child of John and Mary Blacklock, was born in Whitechapel in the following year.

A son, David Richard Ellis, was born to Richard and Marianne Ellis in 1844. Two years later, in July 1846, their daughter Sophia Sarah was born and, for reasons that are still unclear, was christened (on 20 August) not in her home parish of St James’ but at the church of St John, Bethnal Green. It’s worth noting, however, that this parish was home to John and Keziah Blanch and that this record is our earliest hint (so far) of a connection between the Ellis and Blanch families. The parish register clearly gives Richard and Marianne’s address as Richmond Street, and provides our first indication that Richard was, like his father, a builder.

In 1848, John and Mary Blacklock’s second son, Walter, was born in Whitechapel. However, by the time their third child, Alfred, was born in 1850, they were living in Woodford Bridge in Essex, which is where they can be found in the following year’s census. They are able to afford a servant, 14 year old Mary Ann Chumley from Chigwell.

Richard and Marianne’s daughter Mary Ann Ellis was also born in 1849 or 1850, though I’ve yet to find a record of her birth. Their son Alfred Henry Blanch Ellis was born early in 1851, though once again a record of his birth has yet to turn up. His second middle name is our first definite evidence of a close link between the Ellis and Blanch families. The second piece of evidence comes in the census taken later that year, which finds Mary Ann Ellis, then aged 2 and described as a ‘nurse child’, in the home of John and Keziah Blanch at 2 Green Street, Bethnal Green. This almost certainly indicates a pre-existing family tie between either the Blanch or Holdsworth family, and either the Ellis or Burbidge family.

A further Blanch connection is evident in the 1851 census record for Richard and Marianne’s home. Richard, 37, is now described as a builder master employing two men. With him at 3 Richmond Street are Marianne and their children Frances, 9, David, 6, and Alfred, 2 months.  Sophia Sarah, who would have been 5 years old, is not mentioned, and I haven’t yet found out where she was at the time. Richard Metcalf, 12, son of Richard Ellis’ sister Sarah, is also living at the house in Richmond Street, but I’m not sure if this means that his parents had died by this point. I haven’t discovered death or burial records for either Thomas or Sarah, nor any definite evidence of them or their two older children in the 1851 census.

The other person we find at 3 Richmond Street at this time is Maryanne Harrison, a visitor and a widow of 56. We know from other records that this is in fact Mary Ann Blanch, widow of Thomas Harrison, and elder sister of both John Blanch and David Blanch. Ten years before, in 1841, she had been living with David and his family in nearby King Street, and it seems likely that this was still her permanent address.

John and Mary Ann Blacklock had apparently moved back to Whitechapel from Woodford by the time their daughter Hannah was born in 1853 and they were still there when Elizabeth was born in 1855 and their last child, Emily, in 1858. When the 1861 census was taken, the Blacklocks were at 117 Whitechapel High Street, where they employed a young general servant, Elizabeth Adams. All of the Blacklock children were still living at home, and their eldest, 18 year old John, was working as an assistant in his father’s stationer’s shop.

The Blacklocks also had a visitor: 71-year-old Mary Ellis, an unmarried lady born in Wellington, Shropshire. Given her name and age, it seems most likely that she was Mary Ann Blacklock’s aunt, the sister of her late father Thomas.  As I noted earlier, this suggests that Thomas might also have been born in Shropshire, and indeed one family tree at Ancestry includes Thomas and Sarah Ellis among the children of John and Catharine Ellis of that county.

Whitechapel High Street in 1884

Mary Ann Blacklock nee Ellis must have died at some point in the next ten years (though I can’t find a record of her death or burial), as the 1871 census finds John, a widower of 58 living, with daughters Hannah, Elizabeth and Emily, as well as a domestic servant, at 117 Whitechapel High Street. Ten years later, he and his daughters would still be there, as they would in 1891, when 78-year-old John was assisted in his stationer’s business by his three unmarried daughters, all now in their thirties. At some point the business moved to New Road, Gravesend, which is where John Blacklock died in 1896, at the age of 84. According to the 1901 census, his eldest daughter Hannah took over as head of the business, assisted by her two younger sisters.

I won’t write here about later events in the lives of Richard and Marianne Ellis and their family, which I’ve covered exhaustively in earlier posts: again, they can be found by clicking on the ‘Ellis’ category on the right-hand side of this page.