As I suggested in my last post, my theory that my 4 x great grandfather James Blanch was the son of Thomas and Mary Blanch of Tewkesbury, still leaves a number of unanswered questions. One of them is why James moved from Soho to Holborn, after his second marriage to Sophia Atkins, and what connection if any did he have with the various Blanch families living in that area?

One possibility is that other members of the Gloucestershire Blanch family had also moved to London, and that some of them were living in the Holborn area. Some time ago, I came across records for the family of Thomas and Sarah Blanch, who lived in Holborn at around the same as James and Sophia, but I was unable to establish a link between the two families.

Now my eagle-eyed distant relation Jan Addison has reminded me that this Thomas Blanch is described in one record as a heel maker, the same occupation as that followed by James Blanch, as well as by the person I now believe to have been his father, Thomas Blanch of Tewkesbury.

In November 1791, heel maker Thomas Blanch and his wife Sarah had a daughter, Louisa, christened at the church of St Giles, Cripplegate. However, by the time their daughter Harriet was baptised in October 1795, they were living in Fetter Lane, Holborn (assuming that this is the same Thomas and Sarah Blanch, of course). Below is a complete list of the addresses we have for Thomas and Sarah, marked in bold, with the known addresses for James and Sophia Blanch marked in italics:

Nov 1791       St Giles Cripplegate            Baptism of daughter Louisa        

Mar 1792        St Anne, Westminster             Marriage of James and Sophia

Aug 1794         St George, Southwark            Baptism of daughter Mary Ann        

Oct 1795        Fetter Lane, Holborn         Baptism of daughter Harriet

Dec 1797         Saffron Hill, Holborn              Baptism of son Thomas                    

1799                St Anne, Soho                            Baptism of daughter Sophia Sarah      

May 1807     Saffron Hill, Holborn        Baptism of son Thomas

Aug 1800         St Andrew, Holborn               Death of  daughter Sophia Sarah                       

Aug 1802         Saffron Hill, Holborn            Baptism of son John                          

Apr 1804         York Street, Holborn             Baptism of son William Henry         

Dec 1807         York Street, Holborn             Baptism of son Joseph                       

May 1810        York Street, Holborn            Baptism of son David

May 1812      Saffron Hill, Holborn      Baptism of daughter Sarah Ann   Catherine

This means that Thomas and Sarah Blanch were in Holborn before James and Sophia. In 1791, they were in the neighbouring parish of St Giles, when James Blanch was still living in Soho. Thomas and Sarah had moved to Holborn by 1795 at the latest, whereas James and Sophia Blanch were in Saffron Hill, Holborn by 1797 at the latest, and remained there until about 1804, when they moved to nearby York Street. Thomas and Sarah were definitely in Saffron Hill between 1807 and 1812.

Section of Horwood's 1792 map of London, with Saffron Hill and York Street visible at lower right

If we regard York Street as part of the Saffron Hill area, then the two Blanch families were close neighbours, certainly between 1807 and 1810, and probably for longer. It’s even possible that they lived in the same house for some of this time.

So who was this Thomas Blanch? The most obvious answer would be that he was the brother of James Blanch, the same person who worked as a heel maker in Bristol and married Sarah Millard in 1770. However, Matthews’ Directory places him in Bristol between 1785 and 1799: that is, if I’m right in thinking that the person listed in the directory was James’ brother. What’s more, we know that Sarah, wife of Thomas Blanch of Bristol, heel maker, died in that city in 1779.

Alternatively, perhaps Thomas Blanch of Bristol married again, and his second wife was also named Sarah? Or it could be that he was related to James Blanch in some other way. As always, more research is needed: but the fact that James and Thomas shared an occupation and lived in the same streets in Holborn at around the same time suggests some kind of family connection between the two men.

The records for Thomas and Sarah Blanch of Holborn come to a halt after the christening of their daughter Sarah Ann Catherine in 1812 (she was actually born in 1803). However, we know that Thomas Blanch was still alive in 1825, when he witnessed Sarah’s marriage to Scottish-born tailor James Thomas Matthews at the church of St Luke, Finsbury. James and Sarah Matthews disappear from the records until 1871, when they re-surface in Deptford with three grandchildren: Fanny and James Hamilton, born in Sydney and San Francisco respectively, and Henry Munford, born in Deptford.