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Saturday, December 13, 2014

42.2.1 Andrew Durnford m Barbara Blake - Her Father Sir Patrick Blake West Indian Family


After Sir Patrick Blake obtained his divorce from Annabel Bunbury, he was free to marry.
But he doesn't appear to do so.

St Maryelbone
However, when he returned from the West Indies around 1776, he must have brought his new partner with him.

Her name was Margaret Shea.  She was known as Peggy.

With her he had four daughters.


Barbara Ann Blake was born 20th Marcy 1778 and was baptised on 8th April 1778 at St Mary's                                                                   Church Marylebone Road St Marylebone.

Mary Ann Maria Blake was born 30th May 179 and was baptised on 2nd July 1779 at St Mary's

Mysilla Elizabeth Blake was born 23 June 1780 registered at St Mary's

Margaret Blake was born 1st September 1781 and baptised 6 October 1781 at St Mary's

St Mary's Church St Maryelbone London

Herein lies a bit of a mystery.  In his will he mentions three daughters of Peggy Shae, now living with him, and provided for in his very long will with long lasting legacies.

But none of the girls were registered as Henrietta.

From his son Christopher's will, he leaves a legacy to the two girls of the mulatto.  As he died in 1780, he would not have been aware of the birth of Mysilla and Margaret.  The girl's were his sisters, and he left funds possibly as his father had an arrangement to pay off a debt to the mother of his son George.

At the time of his death, Sir Patrick acknowledges Barbara Ann, Margaret Blake and Henrietta Blake.

So which of Mary Ann and Mysilla Elizabeth have died, and who is now named Henrietta?

There is an Elizabeth Blake who is buried 27 April 1782 at St Marylebone. So that seems the most likely daughter to have died.  No parents names are recorded on the records.



In Sir Patrick's will he also acknowledges and provides for, the sons of Christopher.

Christopher Mark Anthony (not called Christopher), was alive at the time of his death. He was the son of Ann Parry, and he died in 1793 aged 21.  He was at the time living with a guardian, but his mother was the beneficiary of his will.

Linen market on the islands
George Blake, was also his son.  George was born 4th June 1770 and baptised at St Luke Old Street Finsbury.  In 1780 he was at a boarding school in the country, but at the time of his grandfather's death he was apprenticed on a ship named "Annabella" under Capt Tim Oliver.  This ship carried goods to West Indies.

At the time that would have been very dangerous as there was a huge battle for control of the Islands.



Battle of the Saintes, (April 12, 1782), in the American Revolution, major British naval victory in the West Indies, ending the French threat to British possessions in that area. Setting out from Martinique on April 8, a French fleet of 35 warships and 150 merchantmen under the comte de Grasse intended to descend upon Jamaica with Spanish help. They were intercepted at the Saintes Passage, between the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe, by a British fleet of 36 ships commanded by Admiral Sir George Rodney. After preliminary skirmishing, the main action took place on April 12, when a shift in the wind altered the course of two French ships, causing gaps in their line of battle that were quickly entered by the British. The French fleet was thus scattered and the ensuing British victory at the Saintes helped restore Britain’s naval prestige. As a result, in the Treaty of Paris (September 3, 1783) Britain regained most of its islands in the West Indies.



Now remember that will, and the disclosure which was sure to come as a surprise to the family?


While Annabella was pursuing her extramarital affair with Boscowan, her husband her husband was having one of his one, back at Sandy Point.


This time his partner was a negro lady called Ritta.  She was a slave and worked on his plantation.

She had two children with him.

Charlotte Blake                     She was born about 1775 and she died 1821. She was listed in the Slave                                                       registers as mulatto. (ie from mixed race)

James Brown Blake              He was born 1776, and according to the will, Sir Patrick wished that his                                                  trustees would bring the children to England, and in particular wished to                                                see James undertake a trade such as plumbing.

On 12th May 1785, James was baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church, Perivale, London.

According to the baptism records, he was admitted on 12th May he boy of the age of nine years.  The godfathers were Sir Patrick Black represented by Mr Moses Price of Great Ealing and Arhur Blake Esq represented by Mr  William Thierry of Great Ealing  The godmother was Miss Blake represented by Mrs Richard Thierry of the same place.

And Ritta?  She was recorded as still working on the property in the 1817 Slave returns for St Christopher, as a slave for St Patrick Blake.   Aged about 70.





A story about a certain cup




Bow porcelain bowl, painted by Thomas Craft
Bow factory, London, England, around AD 1760

This soft-paste porcelain bowl is enamelled and gilt, and has a metal mount.

The Bow factory in Stratford, East London, set out to emulate Chinese porcelain to such an extent that the factory was built according to a Chinese prototype and called itself 'New Canton'. A formula containing calcined bone ash was perfected by 1749, which increased the strength and whiteness of the products. The firm succeeded in satisfying the heavy demand for wares in the Chinese manner, although this decreased after 1756, when items decorated with transfer prints or painted in the European style became more popular. 

This bowl reflects the later decorative style, and bears the floral monogram of Thomas Craft, the painter. Inside the lid of the cardboard box is stuck a piece of paper with a long inscription:
'This Bowl, Was made at Bow China Manuffatory (sic), at Stratford le-Bow in the County of Essex, about the year 1760, - 

and Painted there by Thomas Craft, my Cypher is in the Bottom; - it is painted in what we used to call the old Japan Taste, a taste at that time much esteemed by the then Duke of Argyle; there is near 2 peny-weight of Gold, about,: 15s.; I had it in hand at different times about three Months, about 2 weeks twice was bestowed on it, it could not have been Manufactured, &c, for less than £4, there is not its Similitude; I took it in a Box to Kentish town, and had it burned there in Mr. Gyles's Kiln, cost me 3s, it was cracked the first time of using it; 

Miss Nancy Sha, a Daughter of the late Sr. Patrick Blake was christened with it, I never use it but in particular respect to my Company, and I desire my Legatee, (as mentioned in my Will) may do the same;

 Perhaps it may [be] thought I have said too much about this trifling Toy; - A reflection steals in upon my Mind, that this said Bowl may meet with the same fate that the Manufactory where it was made has done; and like the famous Cities of Troy, Carthage, &c, and Similar to Shakspeares Cloud-cap't Towers, &c.

 The above Manufactory was carried on many years, under the firm of Messrs. Crowther and Weatherby, whose names were Known almost over the World; - they employed about 300 Persons; about 90 Painters (of whom I was one), and about 200 turners, throwers &c were employed under one Roof: the Model of the Building was taken from that at Canton in China;  the whole was heated by 2 Stoves, on the outside of the Building, and conveyed through Flews or Pipes, and warmed the whole, sometimes to an intense heat, unbarable (sic) in Winter; it now wears a miserable Aspect, being a Manufactory for Turpentine, and small Tenements,  and like Shakspheres Baseless Fabric of a Vision &c.- Mr Weatherby has been dead many years,  Mr. Crowther is in Morden College, Blackheath, and I am the only Person, of all those employed there, who Annually visit him, T. Craft, 1790.



Now that is interesting.  The cup is at the British Museum.  We trudged along on a wet and cold Easter Sunday, to take a look at this very special piece of porcelain.

But when we got there, the line to the museum was about 700 metres long!  Everyone standing out in the rain, they had a dinosaur exhibition on.  So we gave that day a miss.




On the next day, school was back, and the rain had gone, and we walked straight in.  What an absolutely incredible building.

Upstairs to the Fine China exhibition they told us, so we went, and looked at every piece on display, then we just happened to have a Jamacian guard, who was absolutely stunned that to learn about the significance of the cup.   Try downstairs in the Special Collections.   So we did.  That is housed in a very long Library room.  Again no luck.  They told us that sometimes exhibits are just far to rare to bring out of storage!





From the British Museum:


The 'Nancy Sha' mentioned by Craft was Nancy (Barbara Ann) Shea, illegitimate daughter of Sir Patrick Blake (died 1784) by Peggy Shea, a mulatto woman on Blake's plantation on St Kitts, West Indies. She was baptized in London in 1778.

Her two sisters, Margaret and Henrietta, and her mother, were left money by Sir Patrick.

 In 1796 Barbara Anne Shea married Andrew Durnford, an army officer by whom she had a son and twin daughters, later known as the 'Alphington Ponies', who were famous in Torquay and beyond for their eccentric dress.

 Their mother died in January 1851 at Torquay. (These biographical details have been kindly supplied by Bevis Hillier.)

The box is only rarely shown in The British Museum's galleries, as light will damage the ink inscription, whose significance for the study of porcelain manufacture in the mid-eighteenth century should ensure its preservation.

B. Hillier, 'Bow and the West Indian connection', English Ceramic Circle Transac, 17: 2 (2000), pp. 187-215, figs. 1-3

E. Adams and D. Redstone, Bow porcelain (London, Faber and Faber, 1981)


Now while not being able to read a copy of this piece, Bow and the West Indian connection, it can only be imagined that the author had reasons as to a possible connection.

In reality it probably all has to do with the china shop of Charles Durnford, who was in financial trouble at the time, and selling his stock, including the Bow collection of china.

The families all lived in the same area, and one can imagine the disappointment of this fine cup being cracked in its first use.  The cup was most probably returned to the Bow factory and the money refunded!

A little more puzzling, is that if the cup was made in 1760, where was it before Barbara was baptised in 1778?  










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