On 8 October 1726, in the thirteenth and final year of the reign of George I, Thomas Blanch, a joiner in the parish of St James, Westminster, composed his last will and testament. Despite his place of residence, he asks to be buried in the churchyard of St Mary-le-Bow, suggesting some kind of link with the City of London.
As to his property, Thomas bequeaths ‘my silver watch, six pewter plates and two pewter dishes’ to his brother-in-law John Lorran, and to ‘my sister his wife a gold ring value one guinea’. To his sister Esther Blanch, Thomas leaves the sum of five pounds and another gold ring worth one guinea. Also receiving a gold ring of the same value are his brothers William and John Blanch, as well as ‘my good friend John Carne Gent’, who Thomas asks to act as his executor. The residue and remainder of his possessions Thomas leaves to his mother Esther Blanch, ‘praying my said Mother to be kind to my Sister Esther before mentioned’.
John Carne may be the gentleman of Little Ealing whose will was proven on 7 December 1731. Perhaps, like William Barlow of Compton Street, Soho, whose daughter Jane married my great-great-great-great-grandfather James Blanch, he had property there as well as in Westminster? The precise connection between John Carne and Thomas Blanch, and the reason for appointing him as his executor, is unclear.
Thomas’ brother-in-law John Lorran may be the person of that name who was born to Alexander and Ann Lorran on 25 July 1700 and christened on 5 August at St James, Westminster. On 25 May 1721 John Loran (sic), a bachelor of that parish ‘aged about 22 years’, appeared and alleged that he ‘intended to marry with Elizabeth Bland of the parish of St Martin in the Fields’. I believe that ‘Bland’ is probably an error and that John Loran’s intended was in fact Elizabeth Blanch, sister of Thomas.
John and Elizabeth Loran had six children, all born and baptised in the parish of St James, Westminster. They were: Ann (1722), Elizabeth (1726), another Elizabeth (1730), presumably because the first one died, Mary (1732), John (1733) and Amelia (1735).
Thomas’ brother William might be the person of that name who married Eleanor Tute at St James, Westminster, in 1725. I’ve yet to find any definite records for his other brother John.
If we look for the birth of a Thomas Blanch, whose mother was named Esther and who had siblings named Esther, Elizabeth, John and William, we won’t find any matching records in London or Middlesex for this period. In fact, the closest match in the international Genealogical Index is the family of John (or ‘Johis’ – for Johannis?) and Hester Blanch of Gloucestershire. They had the following children: John (1691), Hester (1692), Elizabeth (1692), Richard (1694), Elizabeth (1696), John (1699), Thomas (1702) and Stephen (1706). The first six of these were born at Eastington and Alkerton, near Stroud, the last two at Newland, across the Severn near Coleford. The only sibling missing from this list is William, though someone of that name was born to Daniel and Hester Blanch in Gloucester in 1690: perhaps Daniel Blanch died and his widow Hester married his brother John?
If Thomas Blanch, joiner of Westminster, is the same person who was born in Gloucestershire in 1702, then he would only have been about twenty-four years old when he died. This would explain why there is no mention of a wife or children in his will.