Sunday, 1 September 2013

William Blomfield White

There are two Victorian gentlemen of about the same age with the same ‘odd’ name; William Blomfield White ('Ours' is not the Major but the sea Captain!

William Blomfield White was born to Samuel Ethelbert and Catherine Veri White on the last day of 1864 in Winchester and baptised on 19/02/1865 at St. Bartholomew-Hyde's Church Winchester Hampshire.
The White family have moved to Waterside, Jew's Row, Wandsworth London by the time of the 1871 census.   Some time between then and son Ethelbert’s enrolment at Kings School in 1876 the family returned to Samuel’s birthplace, Canterbury. 

In the Will of Samuel Ethelbert White in 1886 he leaves 4 children including William Blomfield, each, a house in “Ryde Street in the Parish of Saint Dunstans in the City and Borough of Canterbury”.

At the time of the 1891 census Catherine was a widow of 57, living at 26 Waldemar Ave Fulham ‘on her own means’ and two of her children are home that night. 
One,William Blomfield is shown as a captain in the merchant service.

the South Africa magazine of December 12, 1896 under "Domestic Announcements" reports a marriage, on December 1, at St. Peter’s Church, Brockley, Deptford, London by the Reverend. C. H. Grundy of William Blomfield White, Chief Officer of the S. S. Inyoni, a very modern (1890) vessel from the Port of Aberdeen, to Jessie, second daughter of the late James Tench White, of Canterbury (who had died, age sixty five years earlier leaving over thirteen hundred pounds).  One of the witnesses is her Mother Sara.

Jessie had been born in 1874 to another professor of Music born in Canterbury; living at 42, St Georges Street.  Indeed, both Tench and Adolphus Charles were choristers at Canterbury Cathedral, being born within a year of each other.  both were taught by Dr Longhurst and would have known each other well.  Tench was also organist of St Mildred’s Canterbury for many years and would no doubt have known Samuel White (the father of Samuel Ethelbert White and Parish Clerk of St Mildred's) well also.  All were 'cousins'.  

Jessie's grandfather was John White carpenter.  Both he and his brother Samuel White (the father of Samuel Ethelbert White) were apprenticed to their father Daniel White, freeman carpenter of Canterbury before themselves becoming freemen of Canterbury.  The great grandfather of both bride and groom, therefore was Daniel White.

Sailing mostly square riggers, and becoming First Mate in September 1888, William Blomfield White gained his Masters Certificate in July 1890.  In both cases he failed the exam the first time round on the Chronometer test.  At the age of over fifty he plays his part in the Great War as his Medal Card (originally held by the Registry of Shipping and Seamen and now in the National Archives) testifies.  He is listed as ‘Master’ (ref: DI7689) of 59 Alexander Mansions, Hastings Street WC1 (now called Queen Alexander Mansions; an impressive brick six storey block by Kings Cross station).  

The issue of the Mercantile Marine Medal and the British Medal, then the corresponding ribbons, is noted – with ‘clasps’ (the writing is obscure as to which clasps).   The Mercantile Marine War Medal was awarded by the Board of Trade to members of the Merchant Navy for one or more voyages through a war or danger zone during the course of World War 1.  The obverse has a bareheaded effigy of King George V, facing left and the reverse shows a merchant ship ploughing her way through stormy seas, an enemy submarine sinking and a sailing vessel in the background. 

William Blomfield White dies in 1927.  He is now living in another seven storey block (with shops and, now, a well known restaurant on the ground floor) just around the corner from Alexander Mansions.  The Probate Office records show that “William Blomfield White of 33 Jessel House Judd Street Bloomsbury Middlesex died 6 July 1927 at the Seaman’s Hospital Greenwich Kent”.  Probate was granted in London fairly quickly on 29 July to Jessie White, his widow – an actress.  His effects totalled £708 18 5d.  

By the time he died his great nephew (who shared his middle name) Ethelbert Blomfield Dunn (who also shares the names of brothers Charles Ethelbert and William Blomfield) was already serving on HMS Ganges.

Father's Name: Samuel Ethelbert White
Mother's Name: Catherine Veri White

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