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Blanning

The Blanning family is has one of the longest links to the area. A Johanne Blanndone was paying a lay subsidy tax in Litton 1327. Many variations of the name appear in the records of several villages in the area so although the name is unusual nationally, it was relatively common locally. This makes tracking people difficulty because a two names or more names could apply to
 A William Blanning  bought what was then the ‘new’ vicarage on the 30th August 1859 from the Rev David Drakeford. It is known that William was born in 1797 and died in 1880. It is also known that his father was  a farmer called Samuel because there is a plethora of documentary evidence and two fine gravestones in Chewton Mendip churchyard that all confirm these basic facts.
 Willian Blanning SignatureThis is a copy of William Blanning’s signature copied from the original parchment deeds of  the old vicarage he bought from the Rev David Drakeford and probably renamed Pleasant House.
The signature says many things. Graphology may not b recognise as a scientific way of assessing personality but the signature show a certain confidence and wealth. Education was not universal and had to be paid for so it was very common for people to be iliterate.
One of the sources for information about William Blanning is provided by a local historian called Geoffrey Loxton who has family links to William Blanning. The memoirs of Joseph Loxton (1889-1978) include
stories told to him about his grandfather, Peter Loxton, who remembers William Blanning as “… a retired farmer,… who was of independent means….(and) was a great support to the family”.  Peter
Loxton married William Blanning’s sister, Susannah. all of this is consistent with William growing up in as a prosperous yeoman farmer. The problem is that all the earlier records show that Samuel was either poor or very poor.
 Geoffrey Loxton has published a number of local history books. One is called Emborough Perambulation. This records that a James Blanning was a tenant in Emborough in 1764 (but does not specify where)  and Samuel Blanning was a tenant in Weaver Farm in 1840. He does not make the link but it is reasonable to assume James was the father or some other relative of Samuel.
 This may appear to confirm the ‘yeoman farmer’ theory but agriculture went into a decline in the early 19th century.  Weaver Farm was one of the smallest in Emborough parish so where did Samuel get the money to pay for his son to go to school and how did William get enough money to buy the Vicarage, apparently for cash? No records of any mortgage have been found. The late 18th century was a time of financial growth but the early 19th century was a time of retraction as explained by George Mogg when he was writing to his sister, Dorothy Kingsmill.
 The most probable scenario is that  Samuel married George Robert’s daughter Mary  which improved his financial and social standing. He ensured that William was educated  and William got involved with John Reynolds Keen, another farmer, who also dealt in agricultural products and went on to become one of the first aldermen of Somerset County Council. This was during a local recession when agricultural prices fell due to cheap imports and the population of the village fell dramatically.
 However, there are other prospects for the Samuel who was the father of William.
 The Chewton Mendip vestree comittee show that an Arabella Blanning was pai poor releif from 1740 to 1779. It is possible that there were two of them, mother an daughter, becasue of the length of time involved and it is possible that an Arabella Blanning died of some unspecified fever in 1741. It is also possible that she, or one of them,  was married to a Samuel Blanning who was being examined to see if he qualified for poor relief in 1741. It was common for parents to name children after themselves or their parents. William and Samuel were very common names but Arabella was virtually unknown as a name for poor people. The name may have been inspired by Arabella Churchill who married the 1st Earl Waldegrave.
 A Samuel Blanning was assigned as an apprentice by the Chewton Mendip Oversees in 1779. This would have made Samuel, the father of William about nine was about the right age for an ‘apprentice’. The records are not precise but he could have been assigned to the estate of William Hippisley which could have put him into Emborough. The other people listed as his potential employers were a Mr Dudden and Hart who were based in Chewton Mendip.
 This means that Samuel was starting from an even lower point than Weavers Farm. The Chewton Mendip vestry committee records list another Blanning family who were paying poor rates but they were only paying half an ol penny of 1/480th of a pound whilst other farmers were paying several pounds in poor rates.
 Samuel Blanning must have one something to have improved his financial position. This has led to all sorts of speculation but nothing has yet been proven, or disproven.
 There is at least on other prospect for the parents of Samuel Blanning an the grandparents of William Blanning.
 Samuel Blandon was born or baptised  on 27th May 1770 in Chewton Mendip. His parents were Samuel an Dorothy.
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