Thomas Blanchett II

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
Thomas Blanchette
b1838 m1862 d 1884
His Father Thomas Blanchette
married 1832
His Mother Hannah Boughton
1848-1856 Dalhousie GG accelerated infrastrructure building
1851 British India Association formed to press for political reforms in upcoming HEIC Charter renewal.  Debendrenath Tagore leader.  This Tagore is the grandfather of Rabindranath Tagore the Nobel Prize winner for Poetry.
1852 --2nd Anglo-Burmese War
1853 1st Railway line
1854 1st  Telegraph line Calcutta-Agra
1853 HEIC charter renewed
1856 Annexation of Awadh (Oudh) under "Doctrine of Lapse".  Causes great anger among Oudh sepoys.  Doctrine disavowed by Victoria after Mutiny
1856-1862 Canning GG
1857-1858 "Mutiny" Embitters relationship between Britain and India for next 90 years.   Few hundred English die.      Moghul children murdered by British officer.  End of Moghul dynasty. Tens of thousands of Indians killed by rampaging British soldiers.  Entire village populations left hanging from gibbets.   Delhi sacked and looted by British forces which include Punjabi Indians and Sikhs. 
1858 -- Government of India  transferred directly to Crown.  GG gets additional title--Viceroy.  End of HEIC.
1858 - onwards --  End of "Reform Era". Missionary activities curbed.   Indian life style left "unreformed" as much as possible.  Acceleration of movement of India from producers of manufactured goods to suppliers of raw material for British manufacturers.  British Parliament now more responsive to British manufacturers.  Primary role for India is as a colony of Britain -- supplier of raw material and consumer of excess manufacturing.     
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. 

It is highly likely that Thomas' choice of bride was limited to "Domiciled European" women.  The fact that Ms Gardner chose to marry a soldier's son in India would argue that she was Anglo Indian.   It follows from all this that it is highly likely that Ms Gardner's mother's family had spent at least two, and probably more than two, generations in India.  If so Ms Gardner's mother was probably Indian or Indo European.  Here   is  my reconstruction of Thomas:

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.

We already know that Thomas2 could not return to England and that he could not join the army.  We don't know whether young Thomas finished his high school education, but it is highly likely he did not.  Missionary schools were in short supply in the 1840s, and the HEIC was not generally in the habit of helping soldiers sons.  Macaulay had just published his "Minute on Education" and money for schools was not yet forthcoming.

The first experimental railway in India ran in 1852 and by 1860 when Thomas was 18 there cannot have been a lot of railway jobs.  The fact that Thomas got a job on the railway -- presumably the East India railway --  probably says a lot for his father's connections.  The British portion of the "Domiciled European" community has to have been a very small, close knit community who had to look out for each other and build their own society in a land in which they were not particularly welcome by victor or vanquished.

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. 

By 1850 the reforming zeal of the Evangeleical missionaries was at full flood.  The HEIC had managed to hold them in check until the early part of the 19th century, but with the new 1833 charter from Parliament and the reform movements in Britain they were in full cry in India. Missionary activities would undoubtedly be affecting every aspect of British society including, particularly, the locally born British who would take every opportunity to ally themselves with "Christian" British and distance themselves from the "pagan" Indians. 

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.

  • Taxes severely increased to pay for costs of "Mutiny" suppression.
  • Army reorganized--recruitment primarily from Punjab and Nepal
  • Infrastructure building accelerated, Railways, Telegraph to all major cities
  • Administration restructured
New Codes
  • Civil--1859
  • Penal--1860
  • Criminal--1861
  • Courts-1862
  • Railways to all major cities by--1875
  • Telegraph service to Europe--1865
  • Suez Canal--1869
Surveys and Programs
  • Agriculture and Sanitation--1864
  • Famine Relief--1861
  • Forestry--1861


1866--Collapse of cotton boom due to resupply of American cotton to UK--massive  dislocation in Deccan
1868--1880 Various Hindu and Muslim reform movements among English speaking Indian middle class.  
  • 1st railways across India.  Purpose extractive not distributive--no famine relief. 
  • Rapid increase in print media--newspapers, pamphlets
1876-1878 Massive famine in Deccan more than 10 million deaths (Digby).  Aid for famine refused by Viceroy Lytton
1870 --Industrialization limited by Britain--no protective tariffs, labor laws similar to new British laws.
1877--Victoria proclaimed Empress of India.
1878-1881--2nd Afghan war provoked by Viceroy Litton--India debt increased, Lytton recalled
From Sue Kalkhoven

The son Thomas Blanchett married Ethel Maud Gardner 3 Mar 1862 in Lucknow.

They had:

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

On to Thomas_Blanchett_1

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]