My great-great-great-great-grandfather James Blanch was born on 5th June, 1755 in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, the son of Thomas and Mary Blanch. A number of factors have led me to conclude that his father was Thomas Blanch, heel and patten maker in Bristol, rather than Thomas Blanch, heel maker of Tewkesbury, whose wife was also (confusingly) called Mary. I believe that the latter (Thomas senior) was James’ grandfather.
What do we know about James’ parents, the Thomas and Mary Blanch who lived in the parish of St James, Bristol? We know that James’ father Thomas was the son of Thomas Blanch of Tewkesbury. In an earlier post, I wrote about the other children of Thomas senior – William, Joseph and John – all of whom were born in Tewkesbury. At the time, I believed these to be James’ brothers, but I’m now fairly sure they were his uncles. James’ father, Thomas Blanch junior, is probably the person who was christened, not in Tewksbury, but in the church of St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester, on 22nd September 1732. This would certainly fit with his age (71) at the time of his death in 1803.
As for Thomas’ parents, I’ve discovered that a Thomas Blanch married Mary Proberd or Probert at Hempsted, just outside Gloucester, on 9th December 1731 –nine months or so before Thomas junior’s birth. This means that Thomas Blanch senior was probably born some time in the early decades of the 18th century. There are two possible candidates in the IGI: Thomas, son of Johis (Johannis = John) and Hester Blanch was christened on 21 January 1702 in Newland, and Thomas, son of yet another Thomas, was baptised at Bisley on 19th October 1706. As for Mary Probert, someone of that name was born in Newent, the daughter of Thomas and Anne, in 1711, though another possible candidate was born in the following year in Westbury-on-Severn, the daughter of Francis and Mary.
If you’ve been following my attempts to trace the Blanch family, you may recall that John and Hester Blanch of Newland were prime candidates to be the parents of another Thomas Blanch, who worked as a joiner in the parish of St James, Piccadilly, and died in 1726. Does this rule Newland out as the birthplace of my 6 x great grandfather Thomas Blanch of Tewkesbury, or does it provide another possibly intriguing connection between the Blanch families in Gloucestershire and London?
My distant relation and fellow Blanch family researcher Jan Addison has spotted that, when James Blanch’s younger sister Mary was born in Bristol in 1762, one of the witnesses was Martha Bacon. On 9th April 1753, a Mary Bacon married Thomas Blanch at St Peter’s church, Gloucester – the cathedral church. Mary and Martha were the daughters of Thomas and Mary Bacon. Both were born in Tewkesbury, in 1727 and 1729 respectively, as were their older sisters Elizabeth (1718) and Sarah (1719-1723). Thomas Bacon had married Mary Hains in Tewkesbury on 4th December 1716.
To sum up: I can tentatively confirm that my 5 x great grandparents were Thomas Blanch and Mary Bacon, and that my 6 x great grandparents were Thomas Blanch and Mary Probert, and Thomas Bacon and Mary Hains.