Blanch had three sons who were all apprenticed to him, again within the
second son, Henry Mortimer (named after his grandfather) was born in 1817,
apprenticed to his father in 1831 and became a freeman of the Farriers
Company and also married in 1839. He supposedly emigrated to Australia
in 1843 but a Henry Mortimer Blanch was recorded in business in Southampton
in 1843 so perhaps the business failed and he then left for Australia.
He is known to have fathered 13 children whose descendants form a large
family clan in Australia and New Zealand.
third son, William, born 1822 remained to work with his father. He was
apprenticed to his father in 1936 and became a freeman of the Farriers
Company in 1843.
Soon after this the orphaned William Harnett Blanch, born 1836, grandson of the founder and son of the eldest son John, returned from Australia to be apprenticed to his uncle William in 1851. After completing his apprenticeship and becoming a freeman of the Farriers Company in 1859, he founded W H Blanch of Liverpool in 1861 and became a prolific writer and inventor, especially of rifle sights and accessories.
1841 John Blanch snr was living at 25 Hanover Street, Camberwell. It is
not known when he died but if he was still alive in 1860 he would have
been 76 years old.
In 1904 the firm took additional premises at 15 Broad Street Place but closed them again in 1907.
1909 saw the publication of 'A Century of Guns' by H J Blanch. If for no other reason, this book is interesting in that it may be the first historical book on firearms that used photographic illustrations rather than engravings. He also held the post of Chairman of The Gunmakers Association for the years 1902, 1904 and 1917.
In 1915, while Europe was in the grip of the 1st World War, John Blanch & Son moved to 20 Cullum Street after financial difficulties. Problems of this kind were not at all uncommon in the gun trade during these turbulent times. Many gamekeepers and patrons of the country's gun trade were wounded or killed in the trenches and to a large extent the hostilities brought an end to the heyday of the sporting gun trade.
the war inspired several of the very few Blanch patents. As we have said
elsewhere, Blanch were not a particularly innovative gun maker, tending
to use tried and tested mechanisms patented by their colleagues in the
gun trade. However, H J Blanch broke the mould somewhat by obtaining at
least two patents himself plus one with G J Stevens and one with A L Chevallier
. These were no. 8967 of 1899, a single trigger design; 12426 of 1906,
a Lee Enfield rifle modification; 25538 of 1909 with G J Stevens, a sighting
accessory, and finally 101018 of 1916 with A L Chevallier, a muzzle grenade
saw a move to 96 York Road, Lambeth, SE1 which may possibly have been
the home address of H J Blanch. In 1931 Blanch moved to 40 Pall Mall and
in 1933 they bought the business of J Barrett (& Son) and moved to
6 Mitre Street, Aldgate, EC3.
In the book The House of Churchill by Don Masters, Frederick Wood is described as a 'provincial gun dealer who also dabbled in antiques'. The book relates that:
'Frederick Wood, the gun dealer, had been a friend of the Blanch gunmaking family and had taken over the management of the business from Herbert John Blanch before World War II. Fred confided that one of the reasons for the firms prosperity in the 1930's was its location in the city of London. He told endless stories of punters who had made money on the stock exchange and then spent their winnings on pairs of Blanch guns. He always boasted that in the 1930's Blanch sold more guns in pairs than most other London gunmakers. I was negotiating to buy the name of Blanch from Fred at the time of his sudden death in the mid 1970's.'
(It should be noted that no pairs of guns made later than 1905 have so far been entered in the database. In fact guns from the 1930's seem to conspicuous only by their rarity. TB)
Not withstanding the above tale, the name was not sold and the baton was taken up in 1976 by a relation, Derek Arnold, who for a time operated from a retail outlet near Grantham, Lincolnshire.
In 2010 Mr Mark Eeley aquired the company name from Mr Arnold and is offering repair and refurbishment for Blanch guns. He can be contacted on http://www.jblanchandson.co.uk.
I would like to thank Mr Bill Blanch (great great grandson of the first John Blanch) for additional family history details; Mr Derek Arnold, ex-owner of John Blanch and Son (Gun & Rifle Makers) Ltd; David Baker, author and gun historian; Bill Harriman, BASC Head of Firearms and the late Geoffrey Boothroyd who have in the recent and distant past all selflessly provided me with much of the background information and encouragement in my researches.
Last but not least I would like to thank the Internet Gun Club for permission to use their John Blanch and Son entry and furthermore supplied several of the trade label images shown above.
Gunmakers, Nigel Brown, 1998.
The House of Churchill, Don Masters.