Alfred Denny BLOTT (1817–1868)
St Giles’s section: Row 22a, Grave F34
The inscription on the headstone
is obscured by the footstone,
but because the former is leaning
to the left, the name ALFRED
can easily be seen.
Initials on the footstone:
A. D. B.
This grave is in the St Giles’s section
of the cemetery, and the distinctive
initials make it easy to identify as
being that of Alfred Denny Blott
Alfred Denny Blott was born at Little Stanmore, Harrow in 1817 and baptised there on 26 June. He was the son of the farmer William James Blott and his wife Eliza Denny.
In September 1838, when he was 21, the London & North Western Railway appointed Blott as Clerk-in-Charge at its new station in Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, earning £80 a year. The 1841 census shows him living in lodgings in Wolverton.
On 21 August 1843 at St Mary’s Church, Willesden, Alfred Denny Blott (22) married Cornelie Lucie Julie Verginie Vantini, who was born in Geneva in c.1825 but was living at Willesden at the time of her marriage. Her father was Zenon Lucas Ruffin Vantini, and both he and Alfred were described as gentlemen, even though the latter was still working for the railway and would continue to do so thereafter.
They had five children:
- Zenoni William Blott (born at Wolverton on 17 October 1845 and baptised there on 8 January 1846)
- Alfred Vantini Blott (born at Wolverton on 25 July 1847 and baptised there on 15 December); died aged three and buried there on 19 May 1851
- Arthur Angelo Fleetwood Blott (born at Wolverton on 29 March 1849 and baptised the next day)
- Melbourne Denny Blott (born at Wolverton near the end of 1850 and baptised at St George’s Church there on 11 April 1851)
- Agnes Cornelie Jeanette Blott (born in Oxford in 1854 and baptised at St Thomas's Church on 31 August);
died in St Thomas's parish aged four months, and buried at St Sepulchre's Cemetery on 26 November 1854.
By the time of the 1851 census Alfred Blott (33) was described as the stationmaster at Wolverton and was living in the stationmaster’s house with his wife Cornelie (25) and their four sons Zenoni (5), Alfred (3), Arthur (2), and Melbourne (two months), plus a house servant and a nurserymaid.
Later that year there was a sudden change: “Wolverton” was scratched off Blott’s railway records and changed to “Oxford”, and he moved there to manage the old Rewley Road station. Bryan Dunleavy explains on his blog about Wolverton that this was not a sudden promotion: Alfred Blott had been involved in a scandal and left his wife and children to elope with a young woman. Although he returned to his family in Wolverton, the London & North Western Railway’s Road & Traffic Committee initially resolved that Mr. Blott had been guilty of improper conduct and recommended that “he be removed from Wolverton and be sent to Oxford as Station Master and further that he be reprimanded by the Manager.” Then he was reprieved and reinstated at Wolverton, but soon afterwards the station master at Oxford, Mr Bevan, was found to have appropriated money belonging to the company, and Blott, who had already expressed a willingness to move to Oxford, was sent to replace him.
Gardner’s Directory for 1852 describes Blott’s station (which was built on the site of Rewley Abbey and was also known as Rewley Road station thus:
The London and North Western Railway Station, also in the Botley-road, is another neat structure, of wood and iron with a glazed roof, in the style of the palace of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. The length of this station is 110 feet, and its breadth is about 50. This line was opened to Oxford from Bletchley, where it joins the main line, on the 16th of May 1851; but it was opened to Islip in October 1850. The distance from Oxford to Bletchley is 31½ miles. From Winslow, there is a branch to Buckingham, Brackley, and Banbury. Mr. Alfred Blott is the present station master.
This railway ran the Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge. All services would have used the Rewley Road Swing Bridge which took the line across the navigable Sheepwash Channel.
Above: The old Rewley Road station that Alfred Blott managed was latterly known as the LMS (London, Midland & Scottish Railway) station. In 1999 the buildings were removed to make way for the Saïd Business School and re-erected at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton (above). All that now remains in Oxford is a metal plaque in the pavement at Frideswide Square. More information about the plaque and the history of the station building can be seen here
The family was living in St Thomas's parish in 1854, but when their daughter Agnes died that year it is recorded that she was buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery, and her burial was recorded in the St Giles's parish register. She may have been the first family member to be buried in this grave, but it is hard to see why she was buried here rather than in Osney Cemetery.
Blott’s salary was increased to £250 a year in January 1857, but by 1861 he had resigned from working for the railway. The 1861 census shows Blott (43) working as the Deputy Treasurer (or Steward) of Christ Church, living at 8 St Aldate’s Street with his wife Cornelie (34) and their two younger sons Arthur (12) and Melbourne (10). Two other boys were boarding with them, and they had one servant.
Blott’s mother died in 1866, and the following announcement of her death appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal: “Dec. 11, Mrs. Eliza Gray, the beloved mother of Mr. Alfred Denny Blott, of St. Aldate’s in this city, and only surviving daughter of the late R. Denny, Esq, Surgeon, of St. Ives, in the county of Huntingdon.”
Alfred Denny Blott died in 1868, less than two years after his mother:
† Alfred Denny Blott died at 4 St Aldate’s Street at the age of 51 on 20 October 1868 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 24 October (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church, with the age wrong).
The St Giles’s parish register notes that he died in St Aldate’s parish, so again an exception was evidently made for his burial here. His death was announced in the Pall Mall Gazette thus: “BLOTT – On the 20th inst. at 8, St. Aldate’s-stret, Alfred Denny Blott, Deputy-Treasurer of Ch. Ch., Oxford, aged 48.” A notice was also placed in The Era. His effects came to under £1,000.
Widow of Alfred Blott
- Mrs Cornelie Blott (55), described as a shareholder, was living at 7 Brownhill Road, Lewisham in 1881 with her widowed sister-in-law Mrs Ellen Rawnsley (also 55) and her two servants. She was the head of the household at that address in 1891, with a boarder and a servant.
Children of Alfred Blott
- Zenoni William Blott (born 1845) is hard to trace after the 1851 census.
- Arthur Angelo Fleetwood Blott (born 1849) married Sarah Elizabeth Smith of New Cross on 23 September 1876 at All Saints’ Church, Hatcham Park. At the time of the 1881 census Arthur (32) was a banker’s clerk living at 3 Horley Road, Lewisham with his wife Sarah (28) and their son Arthur (seven months), plus their nursemaid. By 1901 he was an accountant and was living at 31 Davenport Road, Lewisham with his wife and their servant.
- Melbourne Denny Blott (born 1850) joined the Merchant Navy, and was promoted to Second Mate in September 1873. On 6 March 1880 he was the second officer on the steamship Travancore, which was grounded on its journey from Alexandria to Brindisi: he was held partly to blame, and his certificate was suspended for three months. His home address was 4 Brownhill Road, Catford when he died at Chinde, East Africa at the age of 48 on 21 June 1899, and his brother Arthur was his executor.