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Monday, August 8, 2016

The Family of Stephen Bland, Gardener in Hammersmith

I'm trying to sort out what I know about the Bland family, specifically Stephen Bland, gardener in Hammersmith, who was the father of Ann (Bland) Elliot. I feel like I have lots of bits of information, but it's not necessarily tying together.  In an earlier post I went over the will of Stephen's brother, John Highlord Bland, sword-cutler, and posited that a Thomas Bland who married Gwyn unknown was also a brother.  Here are some clues about Stephen's life and about other potential relatives.

According to his death record, Stephen was born circa 1733.  His brother John Highlord Bland was born around a year earlier, according to the dates on his  tombstone in St. Paul's churchyard, Hammersmith.  John Highlord Bland, who died in 1791, left a very useful will which establishes Stephen as his brother and Stephen's children as his nieces and nephews, and Mrs Gwyn Bland as his sister-in-law and her children as nieces and nephews also.

Stephen Bland, who died in 1810, also left a will.  In it, he made provisions for his daughters Anne Elliot (and her children, John and Robert Elliot, his grandsons) and Harriot Pontifex (wife of Daniel Pontifex, silversmith).  He also left money to his son John Thomas Bland, whom he had with his first wife, and he left income property to two other sons, James Bland and Edward Bland.   Finally, he instructs his son James, to whom he has left "two houses known by the name of (Bawdon?) place in the hamlet aforesaid [i.e. Hammersmith] & now in the occupation of the Rev. Raffles  & Mme. Ann de St. Hippolite" that "the said James Bland will let unto Mrs. Ann & Elizabeth Watts two rooms...during their natural lives out of the house now occupied by Mme. Anne de St. Hippolite".   (Fun fact:  Stephen's tenant, the Rev. Raffles, has his own wikipedia page!)

Although Stephen does not specify why he is leaving instructions for James to house Ann and Elizabeth Watts, it turns out that there is a Bland family connection.  They are the daughters of a Sarah Bland, who married  Peers Watts, a gardener in Fulham, in 1720.  We have a marriage agreement between Sarah and Peers which indicates that Sarah is the daughter of Edward Bland, also a gardener in Fullham.  (Hammersmith is a parish in Fulham, so this is consistent with our Bland family living in Hammersmith).  I don't have a birth record for Sarah, but if she is marrying in 1720 she is not likely to be Stephen's sister, given his later birth date, although it is not impossible.  She might be an aunt, which would make her children Stephen's cousins.

London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1538-1812.  London, All Hallows London Wall Parish Register.  Marriage of Peers Watts and Sarah Bland, September 11, 1720.  Marriage of  William Bland and Sarah Watts, May 10, 1719. 

Sarah married Peers Watts in All-Hallows-on-the-Wall Church in London.  Interestingly, the year before, a William Bland married a Sarah Watts at the same church.  Do these two also fit into our family tree?

London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921.  Marriage Bond for William Bland of St. Giles in the Field, Middlesex, a bachelor age 30, and Sarah Watts of St. Andrew Holborn parish, a spinster, also age 30.  Dated 3 May 1720.  Marriage to be performed at All Hallows on the Wall, London. Why was the bond taken out after the ceremony? 

Peers was a widower when he married Sarah Bland.  His first wife was Elizabeth Keep, whom he married in 1713.

London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1538-1812.  City of London, St. Benet's Wharf Church, 1619-1732.  Marriage of Peers Watts to Elizabeth Keep, 17 September 1713.  
Peers Watts' will, which was written in 1764 and probated 14 July 1772, leaves everything to his "dear wife Sarah Watts", (including "my whole stock of Rabbitts") except for ten pounds which he leaves his son Peers Watts Jr. for mourning.  After his wife's death his property is to be divided equally amongst his three daughters, Sarah Brooks, Ann Watts, and Elizabeth Watts. His wife's death date is unknown, but I imagine it is before 1810 when Stephen wrote his will, otherwise they would still be living with their mother.

Getting back to Stephen's children, we know that his son James apprenticed to become a cutler like his uncle.  Sword-making seems to be a major theme in the Bland family history.  But if we have the correct will, he seems to have changed his occupation later to become a sexton. 

London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1820-1840. James Bland, son of Stephen Bland of Hammersmith, gardener, apprentices himself to John Foster of Fetter's Lane, London, Sword Cutler.  October 7, 1789. 
Stephen's son James Bland was married and living in Hammersmith by 1806, when the St. Paul Hammersmith church begins recording his children's baptisms.  James and his wife Mary Ann baptize Mary Ann Bland on April 6, 1806, George Bland on April 1, 1808, Eleanor Bland on June 25, 1809, Robert Bland on November 9, 1810,  and Ann Bland on August 14, 1812.  Some of the children who are named in Mary Ann Bland's will are not represented here.   It is around this time that Robert Elliot and his wife Ann Bland are having children in the same parish:  in fact, their names appear only one month apart in one case.  

James Bland wrote a will on October 14, 1825 which was probated on July 2, 1836, in which he basically left all his possessions, including the property he inherited in ShortLands from his father, to his wife Mary Ann  Bland.  His wife, in turn, left a rather poignant will stating that her late husband James was "a sexton in the hamlet of Hammersmith in the Parish of Fulham in the County of Middlesex".  She leaves her house, situated in "the Broadway King Street Hammersmith" to her youngest daughter, Frances Ann Bland, to be managed by Mr. Edward Bland "during the time of her insanity she being at this time in Saint [?] Asylum but if it should please God to restore her to her rational ? so as to be enabled to provide for herself" Mary Ann instructs that her property be divided equally amongst her surviving children.  Her sons, Henry Nicholas (Lionel?) Bland and George Bland are named executors, and the will is proved  July 30, 1836.

The London Metropolitan Archives houses the records of the St. Paul Hammersmith church (St. Paul Hammersmith:  Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith and Fulham, DD/0071).  The description suggests that being sexton for St. Paul's was a Bland family occupation:

The second group consists of books kept by the sextons of the church, an office held by members of the Bland family. These also are not primarily registers, and frequently contain details of tolling the bell, the allocation of grave spaces and dealings with undertakers. They also provide evidence of the way in which the overseers and churchwardens settled their accounts with the sexton. In the early 19th century the then sexton, James Bland, provided many of the older books with covers, and gave them numbers and titles. He, or his children, also seem to have used them on occasion as scribbling pads and may be responsible for the large number of missing pages. 

Was Susanna Watts also a child of Peers Watts and Sarah Bland?  Probably not, since she was not mentioned in Stephen's will.  However, she was buried at St. Paul Hammersmith, which has strong associations with the Bland family.

Burial record for Susanna Watts, Jan 17, 1812, age 77, St. Paul's Hammersmith Church.  London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1538-1812.

Here are a few records which probably relate to family members, but I'm unsure exactly how.

London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921.  Marriage of Stephen Edward Bland to Mary Dennis, Feb 15, 1852, in St. George Bloomsbury Church (Camden).  Stephen Edward Bland is a cutler, and son of Stephen John Highlord Bland, also a cutler.  Stephen John Highlord Bland was himself the son of Edward Bland, cutler.   
London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1820-1840.  Apprenticeship of Stephen John Highlord Bland, son of Edward Bland of Cow Cross Street, West Smithfield, Sword Cutler. Apprenticing to Charles Matthews of Kings Head Court, Shoe Lane, London, Cutler.   1817. 
London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1925.  March 17, 1758.  Thomas Bland, son of Edward Bland of Hammersmith, Clerk, apprenticed to Sanders Davenport, Cutler. 

Getting back to our Stephen, who was a gardener, not a cutler or sexton, and who named one of his sons Edward (granted, Edward was a very popular name at the time):  could he be related to this Edward Bland, also a gardener in Hammersmith?

London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptismal Registers, 1667-1754.  Marriage of Edward Bland, Widower and Gardener of Hammersmith, and Hannah Every, Spinster, Hammersmith.  January 1719.

London, England, Crisp's Marriage Licence Index, 1713-1892.  Marriage License for John Bland, in the parish of St. James, Westminster, widower, and Frances Messenger, of St. Martin in the Fields, Spinster, Feb. 1, 1779.  This could perhaps be Stephen's son John Thomas? 

Hampshire Chronicle, Monday May 1. 1786. John Highlord Bland was a sword-cutler to the King at this time. 

I think putting all these pieces together may be slow work, and some of the above records are probably dead ends.  Hopefully the more I find out, the more the family will come together.