Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 16 No. 4 Winter 2001
Cover picture: Elizabeth Blencowe Mills photographed with her pillow lace, outside her cottage in Gawcott in 1926

"Goings on" in Great Brington

George Washington's ancestors were connected by marriage to the Blencowes of Marston St Lawrence and the archives of Sulgrave Manor, their family home, include a number of Blencowe references. One paper was especially interesting; it appears that the Lady of the Manor at Althorp (Princess Diana's ancestral home) took her social responsibilities seriously for this was 'a list of all the familys in Brington showing age, employment and character for the use of the Viscountess Althorp'. The list dates from 1780/1 and whoever compiled it didn't pull his punches!

There were five Blincow families:

John Blincow 50, labourer at Althorp, sober & honest, constant Church.
Mary his wife 52, spins & washes, industrious, very often at Church, very poor.
Children: Ann, 29 marryd to Dr Hale [sp?] at Walton [Whilton?], Mary 25, washes & spins, Sarah 21, marryd, Dorothy 17, washes & spins, Joseph 14, William 11, Lydia 9.

William Blincow 46, labourer, sober & industrious, constant at Church
Elizabeth 49, spins, drunken & nasty, seldom a methodist[?]
Children: Abigail 22, Rebecca 20, David 18, an apprentice, John 14, Susannah 12, Mary 10, William 4.

Jonathan Blincow 38, Shoe Maker, sober, at Church now & then.
Ann 27, spins, drunken & a scold.
Children by 1st wife: Martha 18, at service, a good girl, Mary 17, spins, a good girl
by 2nd wife: John 4, Charles 2, Ann 1.

James Blincow 36, 'gone for a Soldier'.
Dorothy 38, spins, drunken, gets better, lately poor.
Children: Anna Maria 7, Diana 6.
Dorothy may have had cause to hit the bottle for she had been left alone to raise the family. James had been in the 1771 Militia List for Brington and had become a marine on H.M.S. Hero, a ship of the line with 74 guns. In action against the French in the Indian Ocean he was mortally wounded and died at Madras in July 1782.

Martha Blincow 31, a Widow of Cato, spins a little, has been naughty, begins to repent.
Children: Thomas 9, Fanny 7, Jane 5.
by the Duke of Devonshire's Groom: Elizabeth 3.
Martha also deserves our sympathy; her husband Cato Burnhill Blencowe, had been an innkeeper and victualler. He died owing money to John Wye, a wine merchant of Northampton and Martha had to sign over her rights to her husband's estate to Wye, leaving her presumably destitute and with three young children.
Son Thomas could not have been much help to her either. At the Census of 1851 he was living in Brington with his sister-in-law Elizabeth Worley. The poor fellow was described as 'from birth half-idiot'.

However, although the tone of the 'list of familys' may seem censorious to us today, we must give credit to the Viscountess Althorp who no doubt wished to know who were the most 'deserving poor' in her parish.

Daphne Austin, Chalfont St Giles
July 2001

Our Adventurous Forebears

When some of our Victorian forebears ventured to move from the limitations of life as farm workers in rural England some of them opened up undreamed-of opportunities for their children and grandchildren. Some revealed their own hidden talents; William Blincow, a farmer who emigrated to Nebraska could not have had more education than that provided by the village "dame school", but in later life he served as Clerk and subsequently as Judge to a County Court. Bridget Fisher's tribute to her ancestor Hezekiah Blincoe which follows made me think about what made them make the move.

My Thanks to Hezekiah!

I am on a voyage of discovery, one might say one of self-discovery, but it is one known to family historians everywhere, one that is never ending, and one where the side roads leading off the main highway, multiply and divide with regular monotony.

I do not pretend to know everything that is to be known about Hezekiah Blincoe, but I do know it was his courage and vision (or was it self-preservation, or greed?) that helped our family get to its modern standing in the world.

Two years ago, I did not even know the name of my paternal grandmother. She had always been "Gran" and quite honestly was a bit hazy in my memory, I hadn't had an awful lot to do with her in my childhood, and my last memories of her were of being in bed where I had been taken to see her. Now I know it was because she was very poorly and it was a last visit. Gran was born Fanny Maud Blincoe. Her youngest daughter, my aunt, is still living, and although not in the least interested in family history, was able to give me enough information to start my journey. Fanny's birth certificate gave her father as Hezekiah, not a common name these days, and a delve into the IGI soon showed a Hezekiah born in Barrow, Suffolk, and gave his parents as well. Contact with Jack Blencowe and Jill Cobb filled in a lot of gaps for me, and I have picked up the baton and am running on, finding out what I can.

But, back to Hezekiah. He was born in 1851, the son of a farm worker, and grandson and great-grandson of shepherds. He was one of seven children born to William and Susan. Their eldest daughter Mary died after two weeks, which must have been a blow to them, as they had married, under the age of consent, just a couple of months before her birth. Another child, Charles, died aged 14, but the other children survived to adulthood. I can only surmise as to what sent Hezekiah northwards to Co. Durham, but the iron and steel factories were springing up in that part of the world, and the money must have looked good, and the job prospects better than the district round Barrow where he was growing up.

Whether he went to relatives or went with other members of his family I do not know, but soon after he arrived in Co. Durham he met and married Mary Ann Scriven in Escomb in 1874. He was then described as an ironworker, but when his first daughter, Emily Ann was born in 1875 he was a boiler minder at the local colliery in Tudhoe. By the time Fanny Maud was born in 1877 the family had moved to Witton Park and Edith Eveline was born there in 1879, although Hezekiah was back at the iron works. By the time his only son, William Scriven was born in 1884, he was an engine man at the ironworks, presumably in charge of one of the steam engines.

The fourth daughter, Elsie May, was born in 1890 at Port Clarence near Middlesbrough, and by then Hezekiah had become a foreman at the soda works. My aunt's original story was that he was the manager of a salt factory and thus able to buy the big house they all lived in in Middlesbrough. This may have been an exaggeration but it was an 'onwards and upwards' for the family!

I hope the release of the 1901 Census will help me fill in some more gaps. Emily and Edith remained unmarried in Middlesbrough, Emily becoming a headmistress. William married and became an analytical chemist, Elsie married and went to live in Canada. My aunt tells a story of Fanny and her husband going to visit them on the Lusitania, I wonder is that fact or fiction?

Isabella, the fifth daughter, married three times. Her first husband, Geoffrey Malcolm whom she married in 1913, was in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War and was killed 1917. She next married Stanley Hinton, of the big northeastern grocery company of Hintons. Things did not go well and she divorced Stanley, something rare in those days. Unfortunately for her Stanley died shortly after, and the fortune which could have been hers eluded her. Her third husband, Taylor, whose first name I have yet to discover, lived in the Yarm area of Yorkshire.

My grandmother Fanny was also a schoolmistress, but she met and married William Campion Stubbs, a chemist and druggist in Chester-le-Street where he had a little shop. Soon afterwards they moved back to Middlesbrough where Fanny Maud was a mother to two boys and two girls. One of the sons, William, followed his father and become a chemist, the other, my father Raymond, became a Doctor of Medicine. The two girls married well into business families.

Hezekiah died in 1934 aged 83, described as a retired watchman. I still have to find out where he is buried. If Hezekiah hadn't moved north who knows what would have happened? That brave move allowed his children to benefit from a better education system and generally better living conditions. Their lives were very different from that of the shepherds from whom they descended.

Bridget Fisher, Ingol, October 2001

The Lacemakers of Gawcott

My great-grandmother Elizabeth Blencowe, who married Reuben Mills, was well known as a lace-maker in Gawcott. An article in the Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press dated 19 June 1926 tells of 'A Wonderful Art that is Dying -- Handiwork of the Housewives of Yesteryear -- Buckingham Lace Making'.

'Attention is drawn this week to the subject of lacemaking, an ancient cottage industry especially identified with Buckingham and District. Public notice is drawn to an exhibition of pillow lace at Rugby By Mrs Elizabeth Walker of Barby. Although a very old lacemaker, who has produced some extremely fine work, including specimens for the late Queen Victoria, Mrs Walker is eclipsed by Mrs Reuben Mills of Gawcott.

The latter is 85 years of age and she still works on Buckingham "Old Point", a lace which very few present makers can produce. Interviewed this week, Mrs Mills stated that she had just finished a border in "Old Point". Another experienced lacemaker in Gawcott stated that she could not do work of such a fine character, whereupon Mrs Mills said, "No! And there aren't many who can." She went on to say that she cannot now make lace to equal some that she had done in past years. A few pieces she sent to the late Queen Victoria brought forth a letter of appreciation of which she is still in possession.

Buckinghamshire is the natural home of pillow lace-making. A generation ago it was quite a common cottage industry. Humble women plied the tinkling bobbins on the pillow with a bewildering dexterity, fashioning out, stitch by stitch, lace of most beautiful patterns.

The photograph on the cover page features Elizabeth Blencowe Mills with her pillow lace outside her cottage door in Gawcott in 1926.

Joy Prudden, Bedford
October 2001

We're not quite sure how Elizabeth Mills links to the Blenco(w)es who emigrated from Gawcott to New York and Wisconsin, but we're working on it! Watch this space! Is it too much to hope that some treasured piece of lace found its way across the Atlantic and survives as a family heirloom, and does anyone have a collection of lace bobbins? [Ed.]


Lynne Blinco Earle wrote telling of the death of her father Maurice in Mesa AZ on 1 November, at the age of ninety-seven. Many of will remember him as the most senior citizen attending the Reunion at Estes Park CO in 1995.

Maurice's father had worked for the Great Northern Railroad and Maurice continued the family tradition, in the Burlington Northern Railroad, which he served in various positions for 47 years.

On a happier note, Ron and Pam Blincoe have recently travelled from Hamilton, New Zealand to Nelson in the South Island to celebrate the 92nd birthday of Ronšs father Victor on 12th November.

As Pam recounted in our book, Victor is one of the most dedicated of Blincoe gardeners; he has exhibited in the Nelson Horticultural Show for 69 consecutive years. He is not as mobile as he used to be so this year's exhibits were pot-grown daffodils -- he took 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes!

Victor has nearly a score of great-grandchildren, the latest one arrived in September, a son born to Shane & Sarah Blincoe-Deval, who are currently living in Sheffield, England. Their son is named Francis after his ancestor who sailed from London to Nelson in 1841.

Congratulations! to Natalie and Craig Hemington on the safe arrival of their first child, William, born on 6 October in Perth, Australia. Natalie (née Blinco) descends from Henry Blinco who emigrated from Hedgerley and became Chief Warden at the prison in Fremantle.

A number of persons have contacted me by e-mail about the book without giving me a mailing address. I replied by e-mail at the time but now find that their e-mail address has lapsed or been changed. Some others have moved house.

Can anyone point me towards: Yvonne Blincoe, Patricia Blinko, Elizabeth Blincow Casco, Yvonne Blincoe Kenneth, Ray & Sandra Langton, Mary Ellen Shafer.

Or, if you are nearby, tell them to e-mail me again!

The next issue of our Newsletter will have an Australian flavour and sill be mailed in late March, until then!

Jack Blencowe, Oxford, U.K.

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updated: 18 January 2003