Mini Reunion at Walderton, England 24 June 2018

mini reunion

Backdrop: the portraits of Sir John Blencowe and Lady Anne Blencowe c.1675
Standing from left: Julie Stuart Thompson, John and Tina Blencowe, Alberto Trindade, Shirley and Ron Currell, Val Blencowe, Fran Howcutt, Jacky Woods. John Townson.
Seated: Anna Blencowe, Tricia Wales, Joan Martin, Peter Blencowe

The doors of 'Tribes Hill', Walderton, were thrown open on 24 June to welcome a lively group of relatives to Peter and Anna Blencowe's lovely home. It was a balmy midsummer day and the tiered garden, with its water features and shady areas was the perfect place for introductions and re-acquaintances to be made and for catching up and toasting distant cousins with a glass of bubbly. The chat continued throughout a delicious leisurely lunch and coffee on the terrace.

Once indoors, there was plenty of Blencowe literature and memorabilia on display and group photos were taken in the hall under the watchful gaze of our ancestors.

Peter gathered us in the sitting room and recounted our connections to the Walcot family of Shropshire through the marriages of two Blencowe brothers (descendants of Samuel Jackson Blencowe and his first wife Anna Bree): Charles Edward Blencowe (1847-1929) to Katherine Elizabeth Walcot (1848-1926) and Alfred James Blencowe (1848-1928) to Katherines sister, Louisa Sarah Sophia Walcot (1851-1952). Alfred and Louisa were Peter's grandparents, so it makes sense that he has quite an archive of Walcot material.

It was wonderful for us to see the original of a letter, dated 23 September 1642, from King Charles I to Humphrey Walcot asking for a loan of 5,000; and the receipt for a war horse and case of pistols supplied by Humphrey Walcot for the use of Prince Rupert, signed by Humphreys cousin George Lord Digby, 9 October in 1644. (WOW!)

Back to the Blencowes; we had the chance to admire oval-framed water-colour portraits, complete with locks of plaited hair and initials, one of Anna Bree, the other of her infant sons, John Jackson Blencowe b. 1780 and Thomas b. 1782. Another curious item was a 'Map of Matrimony', hand-drawn by Cecilia Prowett, second wife of John Jackson Blencowe b. 1810. At first glance, the map seems rather cynical, but bearing in mind that marriage was a popular subject matter for spoof cartography in the 19th century and that the satirical verse surrounding the map came from a well-known book of collective wit and humour, I like to believe that Cecilia enjoyed creating her map and that she had a very happy marriage especially as she was my great, great grandmother!

John Townson entertained the group with various snippets of information. He had a copy of his family tree showing the connection between the Blencowes and the Shuckburghs of Bourton Hall, Warwickshire, through Rev Charles Blencowe (1793-1875), first son of Samuel Jackson Blencowe and his second wife Elizabeth Biker. Charles was respectively Curate of Northleach, Vicar of Marston St Lawrence and Curate of Bourton on Dunsmore. In compliance with the last will and testament of the late John Shuckburgh, Charles "may henceforth take and use the surname of Shuckburgh, in addition to and after that of Blencowe, and that he may bear the arms of Shuckburgh, and that the said surname and arms may in like manner be taken, used, and borne by his issue..." Charles died childless, but the estate passed to his nephew Richard, son of Charles sister Elizabeth Wood, nee Blencowe, who was authorised to take and bear the surname of Shuckburgh, instead of his present surname, thus Wood was dropped and he became Richard Henry Shuckburgh.

John brought along an early photograph of Bourton Hall, a lithograph of Blencowe Hall, Penrith, two seals and a silver fruit dish showing the Blencowe and Shuckburgh crests. The fruit dish was presented to Rev Charles on his move to Bourton and inscribed by the parishioners of Marston St Lawrence " a tribute of affectionate esteem for the faithful and zealous manner in which he has watched over their eternal and temporal interests during a ten years residence among them as Vicar of the parish. 11th May 1850."

Francis Howcutt explained his link to the family via the Blincos of Hedgerley: My 2x great grandmother was Elizabeth Blinco (1815-1869). She was born at Hedgerley and was the second of the eleven children of John Blinco and his wife Elizabeth Dennis. John was one of the offspring of Moses Blinco and his second wife Hester Buckland. Elizabeth married Thomas Weightman and one of their daughters Sarah Elizabeth (1844-1891) married Mark Howcutt. They were my great grandparents. There is a photo and further information about Sarah Elizabeth on the Howcutt & Howcott family website: This should be meaningful to anyone aware of their own connection with the Hedgerley clan and Francis would be pleased to clarify any further details or questions. Jan Martin & Jacky Woods are also Hedgerley Blinco descendants.

The reunion wound down with homemade cake and tea on the terrace, served in the biggest teapot I have ever seen, and I am sure that everyone present would like to join me in thanking Anna and Peter for all their hard work and generous hospitality. With our heads spinning with family history and looking forward to meeting each other again, we took our leave just as the evening sun was turning the Sussex landscape to gold. It was a perfect day which we will all remember for a long time to come.

Val Blencowe,
London SW1