Thomas Blanchett II
|My Great Grandfather Thomas BlanchettII
This Thomas Blanchett ( b 1838 m 1862 d 1884) is the son of the Thomas Blanchett from Middlesex who came to Bengal in 1817. I know almost nothing about him apart from a few facts. He was born in 1838, the third of four children born after his father had retired from the army and moved to Agra. His father (Thomas Blanchett1) lived for 25 years after young Thomas was born, presumably giving him a stable childhood. He was the first of the Blanchetts to work for the railway. He married Ethel Maud Gardner in 1862 and sired eight children, and died at the age of 46, when his son my grandfather William was 9. Yet another young local British child fatherless in India at a very young age. Knowing the history of the time, we can guess at Thomas' and Ethel Gardner's probable history with some certainty. Accordingly to Sue Kalkhoven, Ms Gardner was the daughter of Lord/General Gardner.
Thomas was married just four years after the Mutiny ended. The outrages perpetrated on both side would still be very vivid. British and Indian society, particularly in Bengal were now very suspicious of each other; social intercourse and in particular intermarriage would have been out of the question. The likelihood that a British soldier's son would marry a full blooded Indian woman in those times is very small.
On the other hand, with the class structure in the British Army in India in the 1850's and
1860's, and the shortage of females, it is almost inconceivable that an
officer's or nobleman's daughter by a European born woman would be raised in
India, stay in India and marry a soldier or a soldier's son. It is
true that by 1862 the "fishing fleet" from Britain was in full sail
providing more British females.
The "fishing fleet" referred to relatively large numbers of English women who came from England to
India to acquire husbands from the ranks of British officers and wealthy British traders.
These women emphatically did not come to India to marry the unemployed sons of British
soldiers who were banned from returning to Britain.
We can assume with some confidence that Thomas2 married an Anglo Indian woman
and that she was part of the world of the Indian army.
They were caught between the "covenanted British" on the one hand and the
higher caste Indians on the other, neither of which groups wished to mix
with them. They would also have had to have had some way to distance
themselves from the undoubted presence of poor illegitimate children
of British soldiers whose fathers had abandoned them and gone back to
England. This community of illegitimate fatherless children was always an
embarrassment to the British Raj who did their best to ignore the problem in
the hope it would go away.
The fact that Thomas' was able to join the railway, that he raised eight children, and that his son William also was able to join the railway says to me that Thomas was a conforming, middle class, God fearing man who was accepted as a loyal and trustworthy worker. The fact that the elder Thomas was a "clerk to St George's church, Agra," adds to this belief. If Ellen Gardner, his wife, was indeed the daughter of Lord Gardner (whoever he is) Thomas path in life would probably have been smoothed considerably, and may account for the fact that Ellen's grandchildren (my father and his siblings) were taken care of after their father William's death.
The genealogy below is from Sue Kalkhoven, the wife of a grandson of Ellen Mercy Gardner, one of my father's many cousins.
|From Sue Kalkhoven
The son Thomas Blanchett married Ethel Maud Gardner 3 Mar 1862 in Lucknow.
William Lish b. 19 Aug 1875
Eva Matilda b. 8 Nov 1869
Frederick Charles b. 13 Nov 1870
Alexander Burgh b. ca 1875 (Who changed the spelling to Blanchette)
Alexander Lish b 8 Sept 1872
Thomas Henry b. 19 Aug 1866
Allan George b. 19 Aug 1865
Nora b. ca Sep 1868 d. 17 Mar 1834"
EAB comment: William Lish Blanchette was my grandfather. He married Clemence Baptiste. He was the man who died of a rupture in Ajmer Railway hospital.
"The son Allan George married Ellen Josephine Pratt 17 Dec 1887. They had:
Arnold Barnes b. 9 Oct 1890
Joyce Gladys Myrtle b. 13 Oct 1913
Neville Allan b. 29 Nov 1888
Herbert William b. 13 May 1895 d. 30 Sep 1900
Raymond Clogstone b. 10 Mar 1897
Jane Ellen Mercy b. 19 Oct 1898
Marguerite Alice Patience b. 1 Feb 1906
Marjorie Annie b. 22 Dec 1908 d. 16 Nov 1909
Minna Ethel Grace b. 10 Aug 1907
Jane Ellen Mercy (known as Mercy) married Oscar Gardner."
EAB comment: Mercy Gardner is Sue Kalkhoven's grandmother-in-law and the lady who taught me at the railway school in Ajmer in 1937 -- 40
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