BLANDFORD AND JAFFERSON

Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos


Note: As you will see, if you read on, much of this piece is something of a detective story which is missing vital items of proof. However, the story of the Jaffersons, who lived in Epsom for a time, is entirely factual, since it has been compiled by the use of records, newspaper obituaries and with the assistance of a family member. The hope is that someone out there can fill in the gaps for Morgan Blandford.

Morgan Blandford
Morgan Blandford
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Amongst the Cuthbert Hopkins studio portraits there is one labelled Morgan Blandford which, you would think, is a sufficiently unusual name to make identification easy. It is indeed a very unusual name, but everyone who bore it came from the same family originally, then called their children the same thing, and so on. In this instance there was more than one of them of the right kind of age floating around at the time in question and no obvious clue as to why this particular individual would be in the portfolio. Generally speaking, the portraits do not seem to be of people who just happened to be passing through town and nipped into the studio on a whim: they are mostly family or friends of residents. Having said that, some of the subjects were not in the studio at all and Cuthbert took photographs of portraits or other photographs that someone brought in and I believe that is so with Morgan but not with the next man below, who was definitely there, because in the raw version on the glass negative we can see the background and props. This one features a young, bearded man, cryptically labelled 'GGB'. A trawl through the census forms for the area produced a few people with the initials GB, but, since a second forename/initial was rarely shown, nothing promising turned up. However, one of the Morgan Blandfords had a brother with the initials GGB, although we still needed an Epsom/Ewell connection to make a case. There was one, eventually.

So, I believe that the man pictured above is Morgan Dove Blandford, born in 1835 at East Knoyle, Wiltshire and christened there on 27 August 1835 (unfortunately, no date of birth is given in the parish register, which is important in this case). East Knoyle is a village close to the border with Dorset and Morgan was the son of farmer Charles Blandford and his wife Marianne/Mary Anne (nee Matthews). In the 1851 census Charles was farming 400 acres at Sutton Mandeville, another Wiltshire village fairly near to East Knoyle.

Assuming that I'm right so far, then GGB would probably be Morgan's younger brother, George Gerrard, born 1840 Wincanton, Somerset. Several of the many Blandford children were born in Wincanton, which was Marianne's home town.

'GGB', believed to be George Gerrard Blandford
'GGB', believed to be George Gerrard Blandford
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Charles Blandford (c.1804-1873)
Charles Blandford (c.1804-1873), father of the Blandford children, pictured in 1870
Image courtesy of Gail Pike ©2018

It was hard to fathom the Epsom connection initially, as there was nobody in the 1861 census - for example, someone born in Wincanton or Wiltshire - who jumped out as a candidate (this census is the best starting point for identifications, since most of the Hopkins studio photos seem to have been taken roughly in the 1862-65 period). However, there was always the possibility that the connection wasn't in Epsom for the 1861 census, or even for 1871, and that turned out to be the situation here. The missing link is Mrs Henrietta Matilda Jafferson, who lived in Epsom with her husband Alexander from approximately 1862/3 to 1866 or thereabouts. Henrietta was an older sister of Morgan and George, having been born at East Knoyle on 31 December 1830. The Jaffersons didn't have a great time of it in Epsom, which may well be why they ultimately decided to make a fresh start in America, but I'm jumping the gun a little.

The Jaffersons


Alexander and Henrietta were married at Holy Trinity, Paddington on 11 April 1855 and the 1861 census saw them in Battersea with three young daughters - Marion Henrietta (born 1856 Peckham), Florence Louisa (1858/9 Peckham) and Ellen Annie (1859 Addlestone). Alexander was a clerk in the War Office. Two more children were born in Epsom, these being Morgan Alexander, born 15 August 1863, and Henrietta Matilda, who sadly died at the age of 2 weeks in 1865 and was buried at St Martin's. As well as the misfortune of losing a child, Alexander was made bankrupt. Another daughter, Mabel Margaret was born in 1870 in Brentford district, Middlesex (probably in Hounslow, where the Jaffersons were living in 1869, when Alexander's father died).The family embarked for America that same year.

Many emigrants to the United States in those days went into farming and Alexander was no exception in the long term. Having arrived in New York, the Jaffersons spent a short while in Philadelphia and then tried several places in South Carolina, finally settling in Walhalla, Oconee County, a town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

old map of South Carolina
Section of an old map of South Carolina showing Walhalla within Oconee

By all accounts the family led a quiet and normal life and became very well-respected in their community. They farmed for a long time and then moved into the town.

Henrietta and Alexander Jafferson with daughters Ellen, Mabel and Florence
Henrietta and Alexander Jafferson with daughters Ellen, Mabel and Florence
Image courtesy of Gail Pike © 2018

Henrietta became infirm, unable to leave the house eventually, and then she had a recurrence of an old complaint, enteritis, which resulted in her death on 2 September 1918: she wasn't fit enough to withstand it. The Keowee Courier of Walhalla said of her, 'Mrs. Jafferson was one of those rare old ladies whose very presence was inspiring, whose conversation never lacked in interest and whose every thought was for the welfare and comfort of those about her. A devoted wife, loving and indulgent mother and thoughtful neighbor, her passing will be felt with a peculiar degree of sorrow. To her aged husband, however, the sorrow comes as an irreparable loss - a loss that only one who feels the blow that severs the close ties of a companionship of 63 years can know and realize.'

Alexander was 88 years old at that point; he was infirm already and then suffered a fall in the yard, which broke his hip and, finally bedridden, he died on 30 September 1920, aged 90. He and his wife are buried in West View Memorial Cemetery, Walhalla.

Grave of Alexander and Henrietta Jafferson in West View Cemetery, Walhalla
Grave of Alexander and Henrietta Jafferson in West View Cemetery, Walhalla
Image courtesy of Mary Bess Johnson © 2018

I will tell you briefly about the Jafferson daughters before finishing this section with Morgan Alexander, the son born in Epsom.

         Name         Information
Marian HenriettaMarried James Thomas Compton (1851-1921) of South Carolina; died 11.6.1944 and buried West View Cemetery, Walhalla.
Florence LouisaMarried William Calhoun Pike (1858-1923) of Oconee County; died 30.7.1907 of consumption and buried Rock Springs Cemetery, Oconee County.
Ellen AnnieMarried Hollis Mabrey Whitten (1858-1927); died 27.5.1946 and buried Silver Brook Cemetery, Anderson, South Carolina.
Mabel MargaretMarried James Richard Tribble (1847-1920); died 24.11.1930 and buried in First Baptist Church Cemetery, Walhalla.

Morgan Alexander Jafferson, who was unmarried, died unexpectedly at his parents' home on Faculty Hill, Walhalla in January 1904: he had been ill but his condition was not thought to be serious. He was interred at Coneross Cemetery, Oconee County. His obituary in the Keowee Courier said, 'He had a great number of friends, in fact his entire acquaintance, for to know him was to be his friend. He was exceeding pleasant in both private and public affairs.'

Morgan Alexander Jafferson
Morgan Alexander Jafferson
Image courtesy of Gail Pike © 2018

Morgan Dove Blandford


I have been searching for months and I still don't know where he went in the end. As mentioned, there were quite a few people of the same name - at least three of them were around the same age and one in particular was only about a year younger, born in Fifield Bavant, also in Wiltshire, which muddies the waters considerably. All I really know about the one I'm after is that he disappeared from UK records after 1865. In 1861 our man was working as a live-in grocer's assistant at Wokingham, Berkshire. A girl called 'Ann Gaze' from Malmesbury, Wiltshire was a servant in Wokingham at the same time and they were married at Christ Church, St Marylebone on 12 December1865. On the marriage certificate the bride is listed as Annie Maria Gaze and the groom is a commercial traveller.

Internet genealogy chat, of several years' vintage now, has it that there was a daughter called Emily Charlotte, born 1865 (before the wedding), and that she and her mother moved to Philadelphia in 1869, which begs the question of Morgan's whereabouts at the time. The lady who posted this piece of information seemed confident about the mother and daughter, since she was a descendant, but she was also trying to find out which MDB the father might have been and what happened to him. Snap! Well, half-snap, as we know who he is but not where he went. It seems that Mrs B emigrated to Philadelphia, so does this have anything to do with the Jaffersons, who were also in Philadelphia for a while, although a little later than 1869? Did Morgan go with them, had he bolted or had he died somewhere other than the UK? I don't have an answer as yet, but if someone knows what happened to him please contact the webmaster.

George Gerrard Blandford


You won't be surprised to learn that there was more than one George Gerrard Blandford, but this man is less elusive and better documented than his brother. In 1861 he was a bookseller lodging in Paddington, along with another brother, Henry Silas (who might have emigrated to Ohio, but we won't get involved with him). George married Elizabeth Williams from Bristol on 4 January 1868 at St Anne, Limehouse and they settled in Knowle, Somerset. In the 1871 census he was a railway clerk. By some considerable miracle, given the wanderings of the others, this family was still in England ten years later, now in Bristol with seven children (including a Morgan Dove!), and George was a brewer's traveller. Then they disappeared, but it didn't take long to find them and we ended up in New Zealand - to be exact, a suburb of Auckland called Devonport, where George was the postmaster, telephonist and letter carrier for more than 18 years (it was a small place back then and they didn't open a new and bigger post office until after his retirement). He died in 1908, followed by Elizabeth in 1918.

Linda Jackson 2018
With thanks to Gail Pike and Mary Bess Johnson for their help