Mum and Dad

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]

Blanchette_Roberts Family Tree

Mum and Dad~1933

September 1933 -- Eugene (me) born in Ajmer
September 1938 -- Russell born in Ajmer
September 1939 -- Britain declares war, WW II begins
1940 -- Family moves to Mhow
March 1942 -- Eugene goes to boarding school in Mount Abu
February 1944 -- Marcia born in Indore
1945 -- Family moves back to Ajmer
March 1945 -- Eugene and Russell, St George's boarding school
June 1945 -- D-Day war in Europe over
April 1946 -- Clive born in Ajmer
1945 --Atlee elected PM in England.  Churchill out
 1946 -- A-Bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki --end of WWII in Pacific
August 1947 Indian Independence --Partition, massacres of Hindus and Moslems
Jan 1948 Gandhi assassinated by Hindu fanatic
September 1949 --  Family leaves for England

Clive ca 1948


Mum and Dad--Eugene and Diamond Blanchette

Dad’s name is also Eugene—Eugene Adolphus Blanchette (b1905 m 1932 d 1985) to give him his full name.  The names Eugene and Adolphus come from Dad’s mother’s side --from a Spaniard and a Frenchman.  His Dad’s side has straightforward WASP names like William and Thomas and Alexander.  Dad's mother's  name was Clemence Adeline Baptiste.   Her heritage was Spanish, Irish, French, Portuguese and Indian.

Dad was the eldest of seven children of a  large Catholic family.  His  father died when the youngest child was four years old, long before I was born.  All the family except Dad's father who was then dead, are shown in the picture below.

Dad's Family -- Dad's Mother and all Dad's Siblings -- The Blanchette's ca 1928
Seated "Girlie", "Babs", Clemence Adeline (Mother), "Millie"
Standing "Chappy", "Ted", "Jack", Eugene (Dad)


Mum was the youngest child of four children of a Protestant Baptist family.  Her father died shortly after I was born.  The picture below is Pearl's wedding (Mum's twin).  All of Mum's family are shown except her older brother Alex.  The woman on the right is Vera nee Roberts, Mum's older sister.  We stayed with Vera when we went to England.  The man on the left is Vera's husband Henry DuBois.

Mum's Family -- the Roberts Family at Pearl's Wedding to Cyril Dady ca 1935

Standg: Henry DuBois, Henry's sister, Eugene Blanchette, Pearl nee Roberts, Cyril Dady, Diamond Blanchette, Vera DuBois

Seated: Clarence Roberts, child(?), Brenda Dubois, me(!), Lillian (nee Nierces) Roberts

Mum and Dad had four children--Eugene b 1933, Russell b 1938, Marcia b 1944, and Clive b 1946.  I do not have a picture of all of us together in India.  On the right is a photograph of Dad, Marcia, Russell and me in about 1943.  A photo of Clive taken in about 1947 is on the right. 

  Like many other Anglo Indian's, both Mum and Dad came from several generations of railway employees and Mum's siblings married employees of, and were employed by the railway.   Curiously enough not one of Dad's siblings joined the railway or married someone who was employed by the railway.  The women became teachers and nurses.  The men joined the Police and Customs and Government departments.

Dad’s last job in India in 1949, was as a foreman working for the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway.  His father William Lish Blanchette and grandfather Thomas Blanchett also worked for the railway.  Dad's great grandfather was the woolcomber Thomas Blanchett from Middlesex, England.  I have no idea where the name “Lish” comes from—sounds Scottish.  In fact Dad had an uncle named Alexander Lish Blanchette, so I assume that the Lish family has an important place somewhere in the Blanchette family history.

My mother’s name is Diamond Mary (Roberts) Blanchette (b 1912 m 1932).  Diamond and Pearl Roberts are twin daughters of an Armenian/Irish mother named Lillian Nierces, and Clarence Roberts.  Paddy’s Armenian friend Ani tells me that the name Diamond is not uncommon in Armenian families, and that the practice of naming twin girls as two gems would be normal.

My mother’s father Clarence Herbert Edward Roberts also worked for the railway (from ~1905 to ~1935), as did her brother Alexander Roberts (from ~1920 to ~1950), and her grandfather Alexander Massey Edward Roberts (from ~1880 to ~1915).  Her great grandfather Edward Roberts was a teacher.  He was killed in the "Indian Mutiny" in 1857.  Her GG grandfather was the Welsh soldier Robert Roberts who died in Trichinopoly in 1817.      

Working for the railway was a complete way of life-- something like being in the military.  The Railways, the Post and Telegraph, the Police, and various taxing organizations like Customs and Excise, were part of the “control and command” system the British used to govern India in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Until the early 20th century the middle management and "skill" levels of these organizations were reserved, de facto, for Anglo Indians.  It was only in about the 1920's that a very few Indians began to be admitted to these middle management ranks and to the apprenticeship programs which led to the skilled jobs like engine drivers, guards, boiler makers and so on. 

One of my Uncles (Ralph/Jack) worked for the police department of Calcutta (sergeant), another (Vivian/Chappy) worked in the Customs department, and the third brother (Edward/Ted) did something in the clerical department of the Governor General’s office in Delhi.  The upper levels were reserved, again de facto, for expatriate Englishmen hired in England  “on covenant”--known as covenanted employees.  Indians held the lower levels of clerical and manual labor in these quasi government activities.

After Independence Jack went to Australia and became a policeman in Sydney.  Chappy went to Canada and became a real estate agent in Vancouver and Ted went to England and did a clerical job of some kind in London.  On to Dad

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]