The other day I wrote about the will of Samuel Blanch, cabinet-maker and upholsterer, who may or may not have been related to my 4 x great grandfather James Blanch (they both lived in Compton Street, Soho, in the later decades of the 18th century). Samuel died in 1773, leaving a widow, Caroline or Carolina, but (as far as we can tell) no children.

Eighteenth-century houses in Brompton Road

In the codicil to his will, Samuel mentions a property of his ‘in the Road leading from Brompton to Earls Court’. Presumably this is where his widow Carolina was living when she composed her own last will and testament in 1779, in which she describes herself as ‘of Brompton in the parish of Kensington.’ The will was proven in 1785, almost certainly the year of Carolina Blanch’s death. It’s interesting, but probably coincidental, that my ancestor James Blanch’s son David would make a similar move from Soho to Chelsea half a century or so later.

In her will Carolina Blanch leaves money ‘to my niece Elizabeth Le Tousey’, wife of Matthew Le Tousey. She also leaves money to the child of another niece, Ann Foyster. The residue is left to her sister, Elizabeth Graham, whom she appoints as her executrix. Since the addendum confirming the ‘proving’ of the will describes Elizabeth as a spinster, this would lead us to assume that Graham was her – and Carolina’s – maiden name (though see below).

Attached to the brief will is a note recording the personal appearance and deposition of Samuel Foyster Esquire of Tottenham Street in the parish of St Pancras and Thomas Dawes of Dean Street in the parish of St Anne Westminster, upholder, in order to verify the will.

We know from apprenticeship records that Thomas Dawes was a cabinet-maker and upholsterer, living first in the parish of St James and later in Dean Street (which intersected Compton Street) in the parish of St Anne, Soho. His wife’s name was Hannah and they had a son Bartholomew, who can be found in the 1841 census record living near Soho Square and also working an upholsterer. Bartholomew’s name appears in the electoral registers for St Anne’s up to 1852.

Samuel Foyster lived at 27 Tottenham Street, off Tottenham Court Road, in the parish of St Pancras, and was a builder. He was also one of the justices of the peace for the county of Middlesex. Born in about 1745, he may be the person who was apprenticed to carpenter Benoni Thacker of Covent Garden in 1760.

On 21 January 1773, Samuel Foyster married Ann Grimes, of the parish of St Martin-in -the-Fields, at St Pancras Parish Chapel. The witnesses were William Goodge and Samuel Blanch. Goodge is described in his will, published six years later, as a ‘gentleman’ of St Pancras. I assume Samuel Blanch was present (he would die later that year) because his wife Carolina was a relative of the bride: but at this stage I’m not sure if Ann Grimes was her niece or her sister (if the latter, then Carolina’s maiden name must have been Grimes, not Graham).

Samuel and Ann Foyster had at least ten children in the next twenty years or so: they included Anna Maria, Carolina, Eliza, Catherine, John Goodge, Emma Louisa, Harriet Pratt, Henry Samuel, Emily and Matilda. All were christened at St Pancras church or at St Pancras Percy Chapel, which was in Charlotte Street.

Whitefield's Church, Tottenham Court Road

Matilda died in infancy and was buried in 1798 at Whitefield’s Memorial Church in Tottenham Court Road, as was Eliza when she died in 1803 at the age 26. Samuel Foyster Esquire of St Pancras was also buried there, in the family vault, on 20 February 1805. Built by the famous evangelical preacher George Whitefield (1714 – 1770), the church opened for public worship in 1756. John Wesley preached a memorial sermon for its founder there in 1770. (My paternal great-great-grandmother, Fanny Robb, née Seager, would also be buried there in 1851.) The Foysters, then, were Dissenters: perhaps their Grimes and Blanch relations were too?

Finding records for Carolina’s other niece, Elizabeth Le Tousey, husband of Matthew, has been made difficult by the multiple spellings of her marital surname. A Matthew Letousey was christened at St Anne, Soho, on 14 July 1745. So far, I’ve been unable to find any record of his marriage to Elizabeth, so we can’t be sure of her maiden name. They must have married before 1774, when their daughter Elizabeth Caroline was baptised in the parish of St James, Westminster. They also had two sons, George and John, both christened in 1776 in St James, and therefore probably twins.

To date, I’ve been unable to find out anything more about Matthew Letousey. However, he may have been related to the John Tousey or Toosey of Wardour Street and later Bow Street, who was a carver and gilder (like John Blanch, whom I’ve discovered living in Macclesfield Street, Soho, in 1779-80).

The Westminster poolbook records the vote of John Toosey, carver of Wardour Street, in the 1749 election. The Touseys, or Le Touseys, seem to have been Huguenots. According to the website of the National Portrait Gallery:

Our understanding of this Huguenot family of carvers is incomplete and further research is required. John and Elizabeth Tousey had two sons by the name of John Tousey, the first christened at St Anne Soho in 1712, the second at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1723. John Tousey, or Touzey, was listed as a carver in the 1749 Westminster election poll book. He took out insurance with Sun Insurance at the Golden Head, opposite Broad St in Wardour St in November 1750, and at the Golden Head, Bow St, Bloomsbury in March 1764. He was listed in Bow St in Kent’s directory in 1780 as a cabinet maker, upholsterer and dealer in plate glass, and he was recorded as ‘Towsey’ in Bow St in a list of furniture makers compiled by the Duchess of Northumberland, c.1776 (Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, p.154). John Touzey advertised in 1781 that he was retiring from trade, offering his ‘Remaining Stock and Utensils in Trade, collection of valuable Pictures, Prints, Drawings, Professional Designs, &c’, describing himself as ‘Carver, Upholder, Cabinet-maker, and Dealer in Plate Glass’ (Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser 4 April 1781).

John Tousey’s brother, Jacob, took Gideon Saint (qv) as apprentice in September 1743 (DEFM). In his will, made 8 April and proved 11 July 1764, made from one of his majesty’s ships in Jamaica, Jacob Touzey described his brother, John Touzey as a carpenter and gilder, leaving everything to him, including his prize money. It should be noted that a further individual by the name of John Tousey was christened in 1740 at St Paul Covent Garden, the son of John and Catherine Tousey.

It seems that John Tousey, Little Titchfield St, St Marylebone, bankrupt in 1761 (London Gazette 22 September 1761), is to be identified with John Le Tousey, carver and gilder, late of the parish of St Marylebone, referred to as bankrupt two months later (London Gazette 21 November 1761). Jacob and John Le Touzey were mentioned in the will of their mother, Sarah Le Touzey, dated 18 September and proved 8 November 1762. Further, it should be noted that an individual by the name Francis John Le Fousey, of Jersey, perhaps a misreading for Le Tousey, was apprenticed to Jacob Gosset in 1726 (DEFM; Boyd); this is not necessarily the John Tousey mentioned above, son of John and Elizabeth Tousey, born in 1712 and christened at St Anne Soho, since Le Fousey was described as of Jersey. It is also worth noting that a ‘John Tousey’ became a member of the Royal Society of Musicians in 1740.

‘Touzey’ made frames and a pier glass for Edward Knight, Kidderminster, 1765-9 (Penny 1986 p.813). He worked on some 36 paintings for Lord Coventry, 1766-8, at a cost of £43. Descriptions such as ‘Touzets bubble’ appear in the ledgers of John Smith (qv) from 1812, if not referring to John Tousey, then leaving open the possibility that there was another craftsmen of this name at work in the early 19th century who was used by Smith for composition ornaments for his picture frames.

The reference to upholstery and cabinet-making is interesting, since it provides a link with the occupation of Samuel Blanch.

None of this new information provides any evidence connecting the family of Samuel and Carolina Blanch to my own Blanch ancestors. However, it certainly enriches our knowledge of the world of craftsmen and tradesmen in late-eighteenth-century Westminster, with its cross-cutting social and religious influences, in which my ancestor James Blanch lived and worked.