Martha Blandford (1843-1904)
Martha Dance (nee Blandford, mother of William Dance)
- photo courtesy Martin Dance & Philip Lovelace
Line of Descent to Peter Byrnes:
|Father||John Snelling BLANDFORD (1822- 1896)|
|Mother||Hannah JANES (1823- 1891)|
|Birth||Jul 30 1843 in Martin, Wiltshire[i] (now Hampshire)|
Jun 4 1904 in New Street, Andover, Hampshire (age 60)
of Morbus cordis; exhaustion (age 60)
|Marriage||George Dance, 1864, Andover, Hampshire|
George Blandford DANCE (1865- 1925)
Harriet Eliza DANCE (1882-_
Archibald Snelling DANCE (1886-)
is a small village near the western edge of the New Forest in Hampshire in
the south of England. There,
one Sunday in July 1843, Hannah Blandford, the wife of a local carpenter,
gave birth to a girl they called Martha Amelia.
By the time Martha was 20, she had moved to the
larger centre of Andover, just over 40 kilometres to the north.
In Andover, she married a 27-year-old government clerk, George
Dance. At that stage, George was living and working some distance away in
Devon. George’s family also came from farming stock in Hampshire near
Whitchurch but had moved to Andover. The wedding took place in the Independent Chapel, Paul
Street, Andover, with the ceremony conducted according to the Rites of the
Primitive Methodist congregation.
George took Martha back to Devon, and the couple soon reverted to a farming lifestyle. He left his white-collar work for the Government, and started out by contracting his labour to farms in the district of Plympton St. Mary, a town to the east of Plymouth.
family improved their lot over the years, firstly with a farm on the
outskirts of Plymouth at Tamerton Foliot, where their second son William
was born, before moving onto Brisworthy farm, a substantial
property of nearly 100 acres (41 hectares) outside the village of Meavy,
on the southern edge of Dartmoor.
Martha spent much of the first 15 years of her
married life pregnant – during that time, the couple had 10 children.
By 1891, at the time of a British census, George and Martha had
given up the Brisworthy farm, to take over a property, New Street
Farm, back in Andover, near where George’s mother Mary, a widow was still living.
(below): Workers on the New Street Farm in 1911, only seven years after Martha's death. Dance family members believe the couple standing together at the front are Martha's youngest son Archie and his new wife Ellen (nee Gue).
Photo courtesy Terry
A couple of Martha's letters from that time to her son Fred have survived. Fred also left England, but unlike his older brothers George and William, he settled in Canada.
These letters show Martha as a devoted mother, anxious about the wellbeing of all her children, and a keen observer of local happenings. In one, she says that if all her emigrant children were in Canada, (and not scattered also to Queensland), she would have "been there before this". In a letter to Fred's new wife, she says:
As to my coming out, that must be in the far future. Not to be thought of at present, although my thoughts often wander to Queensland, as well as Canada...
Fred was certainly one of his mother's favourites (although son William in Australia also declared that letters from his dear mother "used to bring a few tears" to his eyes). Martha had hoped that Frederick would one day visit home:
I certainly did want to see Fred home and sort of made up my mind he would come, was always looking for a letter saying he was on his way. I even anticipated going to Southhampton to meet him.
Martha stayed on at the New Street property until she herself succumbed to heart failure and exhaustion in 1904, aged only 60.
(left): This very simple grave, in the churchyard of St Mary's, Andover, is the final resting place of both Martha and George. The hard to read inscription along this side of the grave simply says: "
"Martha Amelia Dance, who died July 4 1904, aged 60"
 Martha’s UK birth certificate
 as per death certificate