Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 19 No. 4 December 2004

Lady Ann Blencowe had a brother and her father and her son were involved with the Secret Service!

Paul Jackson wrote that he had noticed mention of the cookbook on the website and wanted a copy.

Paul is a descendant of Ann's brother John Wallis. I didn't know of any other child of the Rev Dr John Wallis and asked for details, he replied that in 1988 he had found a partial family tree compiled by an ‘unknown’ member of his family after his Grandfather died.

Lady Ann had two siblings, a brother John born in 1650 and a sister Elizabeth. Their father, John Wallis was born in 1616 and was an important mathematician. He had obtained his M.A. at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and been appointed Savilian Professor of Geometry in the University of Oxford, Keeper of the archives, Member of the Royal Society and Chaplain to King Charles II.

Paul had not known that Wallis had been Decipherer to the Secretary of State. Meanwhile, Roger Blinko had spotted some more information about Wallis in that role in <> :-

Decipherers 1701-1844

‘Although cryptography and translation were amongst the general responsibilities of the Secretaries of State from the Tudor period, it was only in the early eighteenth century that settled arrangements were made for the decipherment of letters and dispatches. After the Restoration [of Charles II]much of the work was entrusted to Wallis, who, until 1701, had no established position, being paid by the Secretaries of State for each commission that he executed. In that year, however, the Decipherers' office was placed on a permanent basis, Wallis and his grandson, [William] Blencowe, being granted a regular salary by privy seal. Blencowe was succeeded in 1713 by Keill who was himself succeeded in 1716 by the elder E. Willes.

[The article then lists the Decipherers up to 1844 and goes on to discuss their salaries.]

‘Until 1722 the salaries of the Decipherers were paid at the Exchequer. From that year until 1782 they were disbursed by the Secretary of the Post Office from secret service money in the same manner as those of the officials of the secret department of that office with whom the Decipherers came to be closely associated. ...

The salaries of the Decipherers varied considerably in amount. Wallis and Blencowe were granted £100 in 1701, Blencowe's salary being raised to £200 in 1709.’

At the beginning of the 17thC these were substantial sums of money indicating the importance the Government attached to the work involved.

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Blencowe Families' Association   Vol. 19 No. 4 December 2004
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updated: 30 July 2005