Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blake family at Andover

John Reid's blog (Anglo-Celtic Connections ) discussed Agricultural Labourers and this happens to be a subject that I find most interesting. My great grandfather is listed as an agricultural labourer on the census although my father had said he was a bailiff. My grandfather had said he was an agricultural labourer but was somewhat in charge of the group on the farm. All very confusing to someone raised in Canada where farmers farm their land and hire "threshing gangs" at harvest time although my grandfather who farmed here had a "hired hand" who worked for him permanently and did the sales and purchasing plus managing the workers hired at harvest time. Trying to relate the one system with the other (as one likely has a predilection to do since the known is much easier to work from than the unknown) was a challenge until meeting my cousin in England. He explained that our great grandfather was considered to be quite knowledgeable and highly respected by his employer. That is, of course, always nice to hear about one's ancestors!

What happened to the Blake family at Andover? I think it is a relative thing. They were not large land owners but rather were lease holders on large  (again relative) sections of land with some freeholds (which my 9x great grandfather sold through his adulthood as a source of income). Why did he do that? I find it somewhat mysterious but it begins with the will of his father which had insufficient funds to fulfill the legacies he had written up. When his mother wrote her will each of the children had to refuse the legacy in their father's will in favour of the legacy in their mother's will. Then a year later the eldest son of that family, Richard, died and his widow collected any and all monies owing including the monies owed by the Sedgewick family in far off Massachusetts. Either a very persistent person or a person who needed every penny in order to raise her children (which I suspect to be the case).

At what point did the Blake family cease being Drapers at Andover? I think that would be a really interesting discovery. I am trying to work through the Blake family there logically in the 1500s and 1600s into the 1700s. Extracting all the BMBs is my first step and then I will move to the Manor Books and any directories that exist that early. I am trying not to jump ahead although that is very tempting to start constructing family lines. The census of the 1800s and Free BMD will also answer a lot of questions but only on the Blake family that has already undergone enormous change from the 1500s. I think I need to separate myself (my own interest in my lineage) from the equation and simply look at the Blake lines that are there and whether or not they are related to each other and to the Wiltshire Blake family (as stated in the Pedigree Chart of the Blake family held at the Swindon and Wiltshire Record Office and discussed earlier in my blog). Seeing William Blake of Andover (gentleman) marry at Winterslow, Wiltshire in 1665 was most interesting in the extracted marriages sent to me by another researcher. Is this my William Blake who was buried at Andover (lived at Foxcott) in 1696? Why does William the older brother of my Thomas (b 1767) live at Andover in the 1790s (as mentioned in the will of John Blake malster of Abbotts Ann)? Did he return to Andover to live with his grandfather Thomas Blake perhaps when his mother remarried in 1781 (he would have been 17 years old then whereas my Thomas would have been 14)? Extracting one's line from the discussion is always very difficult!

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