Blanchard Family History Society


Blanchard Origins


It has been postulated that the name 'Blanchard' could have had a spontaneous origin in this country, as it did on mainland Europe, purely as a personal name, meaning one who had a white beard, or wore white clothes, or one who rode a white horse.
One of the foundations on which this hypothesis was founded, was the fact that in no published lists of the companions of William the Conqueror does the name appear, and it was theorised that perhaps the personal name 'Blanchard', for that is what it is, was bestowed on, or taken by, a vassal of a Norman Lord.
However, since then, further medieval research has shown that the name was almost certainly introduced into England during and subsequent to the Norman invasion. So what have we found?


The Chronicle of Battel Abbey

The earliest contemporary source to the name 'Blanchard' in England is in the Domesday Book of 1086, but this is not the earliest reference . The earliest reference we have found so far is in the "Chronicle of Battel Abbey" ( sic ). This chronicle was written by an unnamed monk of Battle Abbey, who related the history of the Abbey from the time of the invasion by William in 1066, up to the time of writing, in approximately 1189.
Briefly, we are told in the chronicle that prior to William engaging Harold on the field of battle at Hastings in 1066, William made a solemn vow:
"Wherefore, now, secure of His aid, and in order to strengthen the hands and courage of you, who for my sake are about to engage in this conflict, I make a Vow, that upon this place of battle I will found a suitable free Monastery, for the salvation of you all, and especially of those who fall; and this I will do in honour of God and his saints, to the end that the servants of God may be succoured; that even as I shall be enabled to acquire for myself a propitious asylum, so it may be freely offered to all my followers."
Of course, William won the day, but didn't keep his promise immediately due to other pressing tasks. Eventually, after much reminding by William Faber, a monk present at the making of the Vow, William agreed that work should commence on the building of the Abbey, and entrusted the foundation of the Abbey to Faber. Faber then went immediately to his own monastery at Marmoutier, and brought back to England four monks of great piety: Theobald Vetulus; William Coche; Robert of Bolonia, and Robert Blancard. Work then commenced on the building of the Abbey.
At length, it was suggested to the King that one of the four brethren should be appointed as the first Abbot, to which the King agreed, and Robert Blancard was elected to this office. Robert immediately went to his home monastery of Marmoutier, for devotion, and on his return, within sight of the English shore, he was engulfed by a tempest and drowned. Another monk, Gausbert, was then brought over from Marmoutier to undertake the government of the Abbey, and Gausbert was elected 2 nd Abbot, in 1076. This would place Robert's death probably around 1074-1076.
The above story of Robert Blancard is the earliest recorded instance of a Blanchard setting foot on English soil. We might be forgiven for thinking that this may have been a one-off event, if it were not for some very intriguing entries in the Domesday Book, just 10 years later.


In the Domesday Book, for Lincolnshire, we are told that Blancard (forename not given), who is described as 'Roger of Poitou's man', was granted land in Laughton, Audleby, and Nettleton.
It is possible that Robert Blancard, the monk, and the Blancard who was granted lands in Lincolnshire, were related. We may never know the truth of this, as all available records in English repositories for this period have been published, and no further references are available. However, it is possible that records may exist in France which may shed light on Robert Blancard, monk of Marmoutier, and Blancard, Roger of Poitou's man. So who was Roger of Poitou? The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Volume 4, page 402, provides notes on the Domesday Tenants of Yorkshire, and provides a biographical sketch of Roger of Poitou, nicknamed Rogerius Pictavensis.
He was the younger son of Roger de Montgomery, the powerful Earl of Shrewsbury, by the notorious countess Mabel, heiress of Alençon (is this the same as Allazun below?). Robert, count of Mortain and Earl of Cornwall, the Conqueror's half-brother, was the husband of his sister Matilda. Roger was indeed powerful himself. He owned very large territories in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Essex and Suffolk, and almost all of what is now Lancashire.


After the Chronicle of Battel Abbey and the Domesday Book, the next reference we have is a Sixle Priory Charter of 1177, in which Richard Blaunchard of Nettleton and his wife, Agnes, give land to the Priory. From this point forward there are many Blanchard/Blaunchard references in the Laughton and Nettleton areas of Lincolnshire. The Blanchard family of Laughton, Audleby, Nettleton, and Clixby were very prosperous, judging by the amount of land they were able to donate to various new Abbeys, Monasteries, Convents and Priories in Lincolnshire.
However, before 1280, William Blaunchard of Laughton died, the last in the male line of the owners of the main estates in Lincolnshire. His sister and heir, Matilda (sometimes referred to as Maud) widow of John de Allazun, was then wife of Ralph de Carrum. " John de Allazun, or Dallison, her son, succeeded to Laughton, Nettleton and Clixby, and was the ancestor of that family greatly advanced by this match ", ('Notes on the Visitation of Lincolnshire'). In these notes, the author speculates that the arms of the Dallinsons were originally those of the Blanchards, Gules 3 crescents azure. These arms can still be seen in Laughton church on the sarcophagus of William Dallinson, and on a funeral hatchment there. This is interesting, as several Blanchard families in France used the 3 crescents on their Coats of Arms (see the Heraldry section of this site). If any document signed and sealed by a Blanchard, prior to 1280, bears 3 crescents on the seal, then this hypothesis could well be proven.


Although the main land-owning branch of the Blanchard family had died out, other branches continued to flourish in this part of Lincolnshire, and had enough land to be still seen in various deeds and charters for more than 200 years afterwards.
The author of the supplementary notes to the Visitation of Yorkshire goes on to say that, " A vigorous branch of this family seems to have crossed the Humber and settled along the Derwent, all probably descended from Adam Blanchard of North Duffield, 1379 ."


Early Blanchards are noticed in other counties as follows:
1197 Norfolk: Reginald Blanchart
1198 Norfolk + Suffolk: Hugo Blanchard
1219 Cambridge + Hunts: Nicholas Blanchard
1202 Hampshire: Adam Blaunchard
1227 Wiltshire: John Blaunchard
Whether any of these branches are from the Lincolnshire stock, or new arrivals from France or elsewhere, is yet to be determined, but I would be inclined to think that Blanchards that appear around the southern coastal port of Southampton are more likely to have come directly across the channel from France, than to have migrated down from Lincolnshire, (but I've been shot down in flames more than once on this subject!). The Blanchards of Norfolk and Suffolk are a real puzzle, and more research needs to undertaken to attempt to find their origins. They were certainly not as vigorous a branch as those of Lincolnshire / Yorkshire, and Hampshire / Wiltshire / Dorset.


The 'Chronicle of Battel Abbey', and the Domesday Book have shown that Blancards came to England, from France, during the time of William the Conqueror, and one at least settled in North Lincolnshire. Subsequent deeds and charters confirm the continued presence of the family there in 1177, and by then using the name of Blaunchard and Blanchard. Blanchards have continued to populate Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, right up to the present day.

From an original article in AdversariA
by Colin Blanshard Withers

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