William Blanchette

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
William Lish Blanchette
(b1875 m1904 d1923
His Father Thomas  Blanchett2
married 1862
His Mother Ethel Maud Gardner
His Grand Father Thomas Blanchett 1
married 1832
His Grand Mother Hannah Boughton
Photo of William's widow Clemence (Baptiste) Blanchette and her seven children ca 1925
1878-1881--2nd Afghan war was provoked by Viceroy Litton--India debt increased -- Lytton recalled.  Lytton was probably certifiably crazy
1883--Viceroy Ripon, a Gladstonian liberal proposes the Ibbert Bill--allows Europeans to be tried by Indian judges.  Massive protests by local British--Bill removed.  Indians begin to realize value of protest --100,000 local British can overturn Viceroy  
1895--Indians incensed by local British actions on Ibbert Bill.  First meeting of group which eventually becomes Congress--vehicle for Gandhi and Nehru to attain Independence -- Founder of group was a retired ICS Englishman-- Octavio Hume -- friend of GG Ripon, also a birdwatcher.


My Grandfather William Lish Blanchette

My grandfather William Lish Blanchette (b1875 m 1904  d 1923) was the son of Thomas Blanchett 2. (b 1838 m 1862 d 1884)  and Ethel Maud Gardner.  The addition of the last 'e' to Blanchett was done sometime in this generation, presumably by one of William's uncles. 

William died ten years before I was born and, like my maternal grandfather Clarence Roberts, I have no personal knowledge of him.   William was an engine driver on the East India Railway.  He married Clemence Baptiste with whom he had eight children, seven of whom survived.  He was the grandson of woolcomber Thomas.  Like his son my father Eugene, William was born in Asansole.  He died in Ajmer leaving a widow and seven children.  William managed to rupture himself wrestling with the regulator of the engine he was driving.  He went into the Ajmer Railway Hospital for a hernia operation and died under the knife at age 48.  My Mother says there was only one way one came out of that hospital -- feet first.  I was in the same hospital about twenty years later for a minor stitching job on a cut thumb.  That thumb is still partially numb.

I would guess William would have joined the railway around the age of twenty in about 1895, as the massive railway building boom in the Empire was accelerating.

By the time William was born, the Suez canal had been open for 5 years, steamships were plying the oceans, the "fishing fleet" of British women was in full sail, and machinery was being shipped from Britain to India for massive infrastructure building.  .

Lower level and middle level skilled, and first line management jobs were rapidly opening up.  1895 was more than three decades after the Mutiny.  The separation of British born covenanted civilians from local British residents of India, and those in, turn from native Indians, was complete. 

"Cantonments" for the British military, and "civil lines" for covenanted employees had sprung up outside most major Indian cities as had "railway quarters" for Anglo Indians.

William was the second generation of his family to be born in India and could not automatically "return" to England.  As a "Domiciled European" he would have been ineligible to join the army or to be hired into the higher ranks of the Indian Civil Service.  He would not have had any opportunity to study for any of the professions.  His sole competitive advantage was a high school diploma (assuming he had one) and, more importantly, that he was "British", albeit not fully so.  The combination of these two assets together with the jobs opening up in the transportation and communication sectors was  enough to have given William almost certain employment at some modest level.

By the time William was joining the work force, the first rumblings of Indian  Independence were being heard from English educated Indians.  The group which were the seeds of the later Congress Party had their first meeting in 1895.  The Indian National Congress consisted of a group of English trained lawyers whose primary goal was to get more responsible jobs for Indians in  the Indian Government.  Their ambition was to remain part of the British Empire and to be treated as equal citizens of the Empire.  They were indeed for the most part "Brown Englishmen"; they were not (yet) rabble rousing revolutionaries

As the sidebars show, William's life spanned the period in India when Indian's first started becoming conscious of being a united group, through to the period after WW I when Gandhi started his non-violent resistance campaign against British occupation.  It was during William's adult years from about 1890 through to 1919 that the seeds of Indian independence were sown.  Indian politicians like Gandhi and Nehru and Jinnah, the leaders of the Indian Independence movement, changed from law respecting lawyers to law breaking civil rights activists.  This change in their attitude and tactics was in large part due to the attack on the Ibbert bill by the 100,000 or so local British in India, and  to the support of  Gen Dyer of Jallianwallahbagh infamy by the same group.  William and his friends and relatives would have been a part of this group.  On to Thomas BlanchetteII.

1885--1886  3rd Anglo Burmese war--annexation of Upper Burma
1893--Annie Besant, a Theosophist and Swami Vivekanenda begin to encourage pride in Indian philosophy and Hinduism.  Gokhale and others begin to lead Hindu Self Government (Swaraj) movement  
1896-1900 -- Famine -- ~10 million die (The Lancet ~20 million)
1912--A few acts of terrorism.  Viceroy Hardinge wounded by bomb in Delhi 
1913 -- Muslim leaders call for Independence
1914 -- Kotamaru incident in Vanvouver Canada.
1914-1918 WW I --Indian politicians enthusiastically support Britain.  India contributes and pays for an army of 1 million.   Indians believe Britain will rapidly grant self government to India
1919--Rowlatt Bill reinforces WW I restrictions--removal of habeas corpus etc.  Jinnah and Gandhi now on scene.  Strongly protest Rowlatt Bill, still using legal channels.
1919--Massacre at Jallianwallahbagh.  Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah on same side.  Indian Militants now more popular.  Beginning of Gandhi's Satyagrahah movement .  Non legal strikes, boycotts begun.



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]