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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS NINETEEN: John and Ann Bland

Eric Trudgill    -    29 November 2014

John Bland (sometimes recorded as a Blan) was baptised in Chicheley, Bucks in 1740 son of John and Ann. He and Ann Davis christened a Catherine Bland, not far from Chicheley, in Aylesbury, Bucks in 1767, travellers, and they married in Aylesbury in 1769 (not 1771, as claimed by Family Search). They subsequently christened a Helen in Chicheley in 1775; they christened an Ann in Witney, Oxf in 1785 (they weren’t identified ethnically this time, but were the only Blands in the register, which suggests they were vagrants); and they christened a Harriet in Sutton Courtenay, Berks in 1789, the mother formerly Davis and the father a chimney sweep. To these four children I believe we can add a Joseph, between Helen and Ann, and a John junior after Harriet.

Helen Bland married John Orchard in Chicheley in 1802; I’m not sure yet whether John was the widowed husband of Ann Perry or one of their early sons (see my article on that family last August). Ann Bland married Joseph Orchard in Appleton, Berks in 1809, Joseph being, I’m sure, a son of John Orchard and Ann Perry. Harriet Bland was possibly the Harriet who married James Orchard, another likely son of John and Ann. This is conjecture. What is fact is that Joseph Orchard and Ann Bland had a sizeable family 1808-28: a short-lived Joseph, a Jonathan, James and Penella, another Joseph, a George, Caroline, Thomas, John and a short-lived Ann, the parents in church records regularly described as travellers

Ann Bland in fact at her wedding was described, not just as a traveller, but as a travelling woman of Chitterley, Bucks (ie Chicheley), which is why, when I came across a Joseph Bland marrying a Mary Jeffs in Noke, Oxf in 1803, and describing himself as of Chitchel, Bucks, I felt immediately he was Ann Bland’s older brother. Joseph and Mary Bland’s children are hard to find. I’m pretty sure they had the Ann Bland christened in Headington, Oxf in 1807, and a Joseph junior who married Susanna Smith and christened a Leanda Bland in Tingewick, Bucks in 1835, travelling gypsies. And there’s no question Joseph and Mary christened a Matthew Bland in Chiselhampton, Oxf in 1813, travellers, and an Elizabeth Bland in Marcham, Berks in 1815, travelling basket maker of Chitchel, Bucks.

Matthew and Elizabeth, these children of a Bland and a Jeffs, made very interesting marriages. In the early 1840s, in the Berks/Oxf area, Matthew Bland started a family with a Naomi Jeffs, and a Matthew Jeffs started a family with Elizabeth Bland, each couple seemingly beginning with a Phoebe (Phoebe Jeffs, daughter of Matthew and Elizabeth, was christened in Bix, Oxf in November 1841, Phoebe Bland, daughter of Matthew and Naomi, was born in Wallingford, Berks about1844).

Elizabeth Bland followed her Phoebe with a Matthew and then a Shadrach Jeffs, christened in Bedfont, Middlesex in 1847 (tinman of Noke, Oxf), before joining Matthew and Naomi in Hants, where she had a Mary Ann and William Jeffs and from where she moved into Wilts and had an Elizabeth junior. Matthew Bland followed his Phoebe with a Walter Bland christened in Boldre, Hants in 1846, a Ruth born in Hants about 1849, and then a short-lived Caroline, plus a Silas and Ann Selina Bland, baptised or born in Dorset 1851-55. Matthew Bland’s daughters, Phoebe and Ann Selina, married Elizabeth Bland’s sons, Matthew and William Jeffs, and I find it hard to see these as anything but unusually intricate Gypsy cousin marriages (Naomi and Matthew Jeffs were probably siblings like Matthew and Elizabeth Bland, and, given the latters’ Jeffs mother, probably cousins themselves of Matthew and Elizabeth Bland).

If Joseph Bland senior implicitly identified himself at his wedding as a brother of Ann and thereby as a son of John and Ann, the fact that his wedding took place in Noke, Oxf and was to a Jeffs implicitly identified the John Bland who married Rose (Rosanna) Jeffs in Noke in 1819 as another son of John and Ann. John and Rose christened a Harriet (named after John’s sister), in Ewelme, Oxf in 1824 (matmaker of no fixed abode), and yet another John, in Bisham, Berks in 1830, travelling basketmaker (jointly with John Pateman son of John and Jane), who married Eliza Waite. John and Rosethen had a Mary Ann about 1832 (who married a Gypsy, Moses Mooring), a James about 1834 (who married a cousin called Cinderella) and yet another Joseph about 1840 (born he claimed in Kingswood, his ancestral home, a few miles from Aylesbury, just as Chicheley had been his uncle’s and aunt’s), who married Patience Austen. John, Mary Ann and Joseph all christened children in Rotherfield Peppard, Berks, Mary Ann nine of them.

I’ll be discussing the Jeffs who married into the Blands in this series in January 2015.

Copyright © 2014 Eric Trudgill