Table of Contents | Preface | An Indian Childhood | Genealogy | Colonialism and The Raj


[Genealogy] [IndoEuropeans] [Separate and Unequal] [Mum and Dad] [Dad] [Mum] [William  Blanchette] [Thomas Blanchette II] [Thomas Blanchett 1] [Mum Paternal] [Robert Roberts] [Dad Maternal] [Mum Maternal]

Thomas Blanchett 1
born England~1800 soldier, went to India 1817,  retired in India, died 1863 who was father to
Thomas Blanchett 2
born India 1838, Railway employee, died 1885 who was father to
William Blanchette
born India 1875, railway engine driver, died 1923 who was father to
Eugene Blanchette 1
born India 1905 railway boilermaker died in England 1985 who was father to
Eugene Blanchette 2
born India 1933, went to England 1949, went to Canada 1960, went to US 1962


Robert Roberts
born Wales~1780 soldier died in battle South India (Trichinopoly)  1817 who was father to
Edward Roberts
born India xxx headmaster died India "Mutiny" 1857 who was father to
Alexander Roberts
born India 1852 railway station master died India 1872 who was father to
Clarence Roberts
born India 1875 railway PWI died India ~1935 who was father to
Diamond Roberts
born India 1912 to England 1949 who was mother to
Eugene Blanchette
born India 1933 to England 1949 to Canada 1960 to US 1962

The Blanchettes and the Roberts

The family genealogy I write about here covers the period from about 1780 to 1949.  One of the many family tree summaries I use is shown on the left. 

There are all kinds of gaps on the female side.  The direct male line is clear because we are descended from two British soldiers, Thomas Blanchett and Robert Roberts, who went to India, never returned to Britain and whose relatives maintained their British culture in India.  Blanchett joined the HEIC Army and Roberts joined the British Army.  Both the HEIC and the British Army maintained records of their enlistees, and the "Raj" maintained records of  British descendants in India.  In addition there are copies of civil and religious birth, marriage and baptism records, some of which are in my possession.

 I have no records of the genealogy of the women these two soldiers married.  If these women's antecedents had been in India for more than a couple of generations, as they probably had been, it is unlikely that clear written records of their parentage now exist or ever existed.  Blanchette and Roberts were low level cannon fodder.  There is no particular reason for records of the antecedents of their wives to survive from the early 19th century.    Even if there once were records of their wives antecedents, they would be difficult to locate.  The women who their descendants married in the late 19th century probably do have a traceable lineage, but I have spent no time on the search.  These later wives seem to have been drawn from the "Indo-European",  then also known as the "Domiciled European", community in India.  By the later 19th century there were enough female descendants of European "settlers", and enough societal reasons to form a self sustaining "Domiciled European" (Anglo-Indian) community.

Our family tree contains names which reflect the heritage of most of the European and other nationalities involved in India.  Judging by the names I have been able to find, our Indian ancestors' names have disappeared from history.  This conforms with everything that was happening in India at that time.   In the mid 19th century Britons began expunging their Indian origins.  Little is now known, for instance, of the Indian relatives of prominent Englishmen like Lord Liverpool, Prime Minister of England between 1812 and 1827.  Nor is much known of the many descendants of, for instance, Sir David Ochterlony, an American turned Canadian who was the Resident in Ajmer for many years.  Ochterlony had several concurrent consorts and many children.  Although Ochterlony himself is buried in India, and although there is a monument to Ochterlony in Calcutta, there is a complete blank about his marital relationships and his children in India.  In fact it is particularly amusing to look up Ochterlony in various encyclopedia.  A typical encyclopedia entry from 1911 is shown here.  The facts dug up by William Dalrymple for his book "White Moghuls" are summarized here.  Comparing the two sets of data is particularly instructive. In 2003 there was a play in London about Ochterlony -- a description is here.

We will not be able to find much on the actual lives led by our ancestors early in the 19th century.  There will be no letters home, stored in damp Scottish castles, documenting their life in India.  It is highly likely that Blanchett and Roberts were barely literate.  At least one of them (Blanchett) shook the dust of England off his feet as he chose to make his life in India.  The other (Roberts) lies somewhere in Southern India -- a humble Welshman sacrificed to the ambition of an egomaniacal, sex-crazed, faux Irishman  -- the eldest Wellesley brother known in later life as Lord Mornington. 

The Blanchettes and the Roberts are the descendants of two of the British soldiers who flooded into India early in the 19th century.  Very, very few of these soldiers survived and even fewer (about one in ten) married and raised families in India.  Our ancestors did, and they did it at a time when the deck was heavily stacked against them.  As I dug into their history and reconstructed their times I developed a lot of respect for these survivors.

Thomas Blanchett in particular was a remarkable survivor as you will see from his life which I have attempted to reconstruct   Robert Roberts died a little over a decade after arriving in India -- he died on the campaign trail.  I will have something more to say on his soldier life the next time I add to the site.

Here is a simple family tree of Roberts and Blanchette going back to the 17th century.  The next few paragraphs gives a brief summary of the tree and our genetic stew:  My GG Grandfather Thomas Blanchett1 was an Englishman descended from Huguenots who had fled persecution in France and arrived in England in the 17th century.  Thomas married a widow named Hannah Boughton nee de Castor in India in 1829.  Hannah was probably the widow of an Irish soldier, and almost certainly the product of the union of a Portuguese man and an Indian woman somewhere in her family tree.  I grew up with families with last names of DíSouza, DaCosta, DeMello, Andrade, Pereira and so on, testifying to the impact of the Portuguese on India 400 years before I was born.  The best math teacher I ever had was a man named Dick DaSilva at St. Anselm's High School in Ajmer. 

Thomas Blanchett's son  (also named Thomas)-- I call him Thomas Blanchett2 -- married  Ethel Gardner, reputedly the daughter of Lord Gardner. If she was indeed the daughter of a Lord, it is almost certain her maternal parentage was non-British -- the daughters of British nobility just did not marry British soldiers.  They went back to England as children, were educated there and married into their own class-- to British officers or HEIC administrators.  If Ethel Gardner is indeed the daughter of Lord Gardner, it is likely that her mother was an Indian "princess" or someone very high in the Indian social class.  During the late eighteenth and early 19th century such a union was quite common.  The wills of the period show that in the 1780ís over one third of the British men in India were leaving all their possessions to one or more Indian wives.

One of my (Blanchette) grandmotherís grandfathers was the Frenchman Anthony Baptiste (b ~1815) -- undoubtedly one of, or the offspring of one of, the French entrepreneurs in India.  Another of her grandfathers -- a Spaniard, was reputedly a Pleader (lawyer) in a Moghul court.  Wotinell is a Spaniard doing in a Moghul court!?

My GGG grandfather, the Welsh soldier Robert Roberts, married Elizabeth Ruek in 1807.  She was almost certainly a descendant of a Dutch trader and an Indian or Portuguese woman.   My motherís brother Alex, himself the offspring of a part Armenian mother, married Joan Reifer, the daughter of a Dutchman, a product of the Dutch East India incursion into the East.  My mother's mother, Grandma Roberts, was part Irish and part Armenian--a member of one of the earliest trading societies in the world.  You will find a long (183k) article on Armenians in India here.

As you begin to get into the meat of the Genealogy section you will see that there are many more genealogy pages on my father's side than on my mother's side.  This is because there are two family relatives on my father's side who have provided me with family data.  I have not yet been able to get the same kind of information from any  relatives from my mother's side.     

Navigating through this section

Genealogies are eye glazing and confusing.  I hope I have provided enough background and biographical data to relieve some of the tedium, and enough navigation aids to reduce the confusion.

In order to make sense of the history of our expatriate tribe, I wanted to understand the community which nourished them.  Bear with me while I describe the genesis of our community in the section called Indo Europeans

I grew up in an interesting colonial sub culture -- a Railway Colony.  The next section called "Separation of Societies" describes the background of why and how the British removed themselves from everyday Indian life and the consequent formation of voluntary ghettoes called Cantonments, Civil Lines and Railway Colonies.

If on the other hand you want to skip the background of the community from which I spring, you can click directly to the beginning of the genealogies and follow the links.  I start these with a page on Mum and Dad and then I work backwards through the generations to Thomas Blanchette and Robert Roberts.

If on the other hand you want to follow a family tree and click on particular individuals to take you to their bios, use the family tree below.  For those readers who want a paper copy of this family tree on one page, you will find it here   You will find a link to this family tree at the top left corner of each web page in this Genealogy section.

Rodrick Baptist b1796 (India)m 1820

Rosina de Frontera b1788

son John Baptist

"General Bolton" b~1780 m~1820?

"Indian Rajah's Daughter"

daughter Georgina Bolton (India)

  Robert Havelock Roberts b ~1780  (Wales) d1817 m 1806

Elizabeth Ruek b~1780?

son Edward Roberts(India)

John Baptist b~1812 m~1852("Spanish")

Alice Marklew b~1822 ("Irish")

daughter Adeline Eugenie Baptist b1862

Georgina Bolton b~1830? m1845?

Anthony Baptiste ("French")

son Cecil Adolphus Baptiste b1855

Thomas Blanchett  b ~1803 (England) married~1835  

Hannah Boughton     b~1815                  

son Thomas Blanchett

Edward Roberts  b1809 d 1857  married 1833

Isabella Massey b~1815

son Alexander Massey Roberts

  Cecil Adolphus Baptiste b 1855 d?  m 1880

Adeline Eugenie Baptist b 1862 d?

daughter Clemence Adeline Baptiste b1881

Thomas Blanchett    b1838  d1885 Married 1862

Ethel Maud Gardner b~1840

son William Lish Blanchette

Alexander Massey Roberts b1852 d1920 m 1872

Sarah Blower b~1850

son Clarence Herbert Roberts

Vahd Nierces b~1850 m~1880

"One arm Irish woman"

daughter Lillian Nierces b1885

    William Lish Blanchette b 1875 d~1923 m 1904

Clemence Adeline Baptiste b 1881 d~1960

son Eugene Adolphus Blanchette

Clarence Herbert Roberts b 1875 d~1935 m 1901

Lillian Nierces b~1885 d~1960

daughter Diamond Roberts b1912

    Eugene Adolphus Blanchette b1906 d1985 m1932

Diamond Roberts b1912

son Eugene Aubrey Blanchette b1933


On to Indo Europeans.htm.

Table of Contents | Preface | An Indian Childhood | Genealogy | Colonialism and The Raj

[Genealogy] [IndoEuropeans] [Separate and Unequal] [Mum and Dad] [Dad] [Mum] [William  Blanchette] [Thomas Blanchette II] [Thomas Blanchett 1] [Mum Paternal] [Robert Roberts] [Dad Maternal] [Mum Maternal]