Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 18 No. 2 June 2003


Not on the Titanic!

A letter from Frank Blincow of Hailsham in Surrey should have been mentioned in the last issue. Frank, one of our large group of descendants of John Blencowe, parish clerk of Whilton, sent some fascinating details of his family.

Henry Blincow (1856-1937 – my grandfather)  served his apprenticeship at Rugby with the London & North Western Railway. A fireman/driver, he was posted to Willesden Junction in NW London, where he spent his working life.

His eldest son Harry (1887-1912) was a valet to Lord Astor and went to America on the ship before the Titanic to prepare the house for their Lordships’ visit. Lord Astor was lost, but Lady Astor survived. Harry died in America but was returned to Willesden and buried there.

My Aunt Lilian was a court dressmaker employed by the Bowes Lyons (the family of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) and latterly by Lord and Lady Bevan whom she visited in Kenya at the time of the Mau Mau rebellion.

My Uncle Stanley returned from service in WWI and opened a grocer’s shop in NW London that eventually expanded to a chain of six stores. My father William Frank served in the Royal Field artillery in WWI, was wounded and shipped home in 1917. He became a lithographic printer for Phillips, the well-known map publishers.

My late sister Lilian emigrated and her family is flourishing in western Australia.

Blincoes of Harpers Ferry

Teri Kelley has written again about her ancestor Mary Blincoe who was born 29 August 1827 near Harpers Ferry WV and married Abner Thomas there 12 March 1845. She is now pretty sure that Mary was indeed the daughter of John Blincoe and Nancy Dillow, making her an addition to the six children shown in the tree (Fig. 15.4) in our book. She has also found that ‘Jalut’ recorded as a boy was in fact ‘Julia’, a girl. This, of course, allows her to trace her ancestry dirctly back to ‘The Immigrant James’.

Marilyn M. Astle, wrote from the Persian Gulf whilst the war was still in progress; things are still by no means stable in the area and her letter gives some idea of ‘life at the sharp end’:

‘We have had a few e-mails from family & friends wondering if we are okay here at this time; a general update might be in order. In brief we still feel safe and are optimistic we can remain until vacation time at the end of June.

The Canadian consulate is providing periodic updates and we have the updates from the consulates of other countries available as well. The most strongly worded messages are from Australia (they have troops in Iraq and previously were caught off guard by the Bali nightclub attacks) and the US. The college system has set up a daily conference call among the vice chancellor and the directors of all 11 colleges to share information on the situation. So far the only reports are of a couple of antiwar posters at one college and some graphic war photos e-mailed to staff by a student at another college. Two of the universities in this country have had fairly low-key antiwar protests. There have been no street demonstrations by the general public in the UAE over the Iraqi situation whereas people were allowed to demonstrate in support of Palestine during previous flare-ups there. As you likely gather from media coverage there is a lot of anger in the Arab world over the war on Iraq. However, the UAE has troops in Kuwait (including brothers and husbands of our students) so the UAE leadership is playing this out carefully. The official word from the leadership of the UAE and the college system is that the UAE is a safe place and it is business as usual.

Of course it is up to each person and each family to make their own assessment and people vary in their responses to such matters. We are trying to keep a low profile by avoiding public gatherings, hotels, etc. and I no longer walk to work. The local hotels have been full of American service personnel for some time and there have been more planes than usual taking off from Fujairah airport in recent weeks. We have made some preparations in case it should it be necessary to leave suddenly. Otherwise we just carry on one day at a time. Sometimes it is stressful. One of our staff has relatives in Baghdad and she talked with them last Wednesday. She said during the 1991 Gulf War she was unable to contact them for 9 months as all communications were disrupted. We get a TV channel from Iraq along with one from every other Arabic country. CNN disappeared a few weeks ago though BBC World is still there.

To illustrate normal daily life, as of Friday we had four plumbing/water problems in our villa that are gradually being addressed this week. The septic tank needed pumping out, the air conditioner in the living room was leaking and had soaked one corner of the sofa, one water heater was leaking, and water was leaking out from under the stove that turned out to be from a pipe joint that had given way. The solution to the last problem was to bash off several of the new ceramic tiles on the kitchen walls to reach the leaking pipe. This morning water coming through the repaired pipes had a strong chemical smell apparently due to the glue used on the pipes. This is consistent with what we learned in our early days in Al Ain. When someone comes to repair something in your house count on them creating two more problems!

Meanwhile spring has arrived here. After a couple of windstorms this month (the shimaal wind is reminiscent of the Chinook of southern Alberta and heralds warmer weather) that made our bougainvilleas look like sticks, they and some of our other shrubs are sprouting new leaves and flowers. It has rained a fair amount the past week. Late this afternoon dark cloud and thunder gave way to a torrential downpour and I drove home through flooded streets, as Fujairah has no storm sewers. We had best enjoy the rain, as the hot weather is not far away. ’

Warmest wishes,

Gerald Leslie Blencowe of Lynchburg VA wrote: “Where's my family?”

‘My name is Gerald Leslie Blencowe. My fathers name was Alan Geddins Blencowe, his sister's name was Helen. My grandfather's name was Frank Blencowe, a druggist in Lynchburg Virginia. My grandmother's maiden name was Ada Geddins. I have a picture of my grandfather holding my father and his sister, photographed by Blencowe photographers in Lynchburg VA. The address for my grandmother was High Street in Staunton VA.

I know of two first cousins of my father Harry Dawson and Leonard Dawson, Leonard can be found in Who's Who of 1941 as Ambassador to Portugal.

My father was born in 1900 and died in 1975. My mothers name was Ruby E. Carr, she was born in 1907 and died in 1998.’

Gerald was, of course, one of the family of Thomas Henry Blencowe who had settled in Lynchburg VA in the 1870s and another direct descendant of Adam de Blencow. It was good to be able to put him in touch with his relatives there and elsewhere in the State.

Shirley Pollard wrote from Melbourne seeking information on Lawrence Cave Blencowe who had married Dorothy Cooper in 1914 and died on the Western Front in June 1917 as an Infantry Lieutenant. Lawrence was the son of the Rev Charles Edward Blencowe of Marston St Lawrence, did I know of any family contacts? Of course, this was an easy one and I passed it along to Peter Blencowe in Hampshire whose father was Lawrence’s cousin.

Messages went back and forth on the Internet and the story turned out like this:

Edward Augustus Cooper was born in London and studied at Cambridge before coming to Australia to further his studies at Melbourne University; Laura Griffith married him in Launceston Tasmania in 1888. Edward and Laura returned to England and their daughter Dorothy Priestley Cooper was born at Tunbridge Wells in 1890.

The Coopers moved to Yorkshire where they ran Orleton School, a boarding school at Scarborough; Lawrennce Blencowe was appointed an assistant master there. Edward died in 1914 and Dorothy married Lawrence soon afterwards.

Dorothy’s sons Lawrence and Oswald were the last two of the Marston St Lawrence branch of the family.

updated: 6 February 2009