The Blissenden Blockage

One of the main blockages in my family tree that I would like to resolve is that of my Blissenden ancestors (my mother’s family). I can trace them from North Yorkshire to Deal in Kent in the 1800s and 1700s and then possibly to Sanderstead in Surrey for a generation but no further back.  

Wilf Blissenden on one of his motorbikes

It has always struck me as odd that I can’t trace the family back further in Surrey because Blissenden isn’t a common name (although it can suffer a multitude of spelling variations and is “Besenden” or “Bisenden” whilst the family are in Surrey) and together with the fact that there is a much older family with deep roots in Kent, not too far from Deal, makes me wonder if the Sanderstead connection is the right one.  Or whether the move to Sanderstead was a temporary one for personal or social reasons perhaps for work or marriage before moving back to Kent.  If they did move back to live with or close to family then they certainly did not benefit financially – the family wasn’t wealthy and a number ended up in the workhouse and sadly ended their days there.  

The Croydon Bissendens?

There is a Bissenden family in Croydon, also in the 1700s, just 3.5 miles north of Sanderstead but I have not been able to establish any connection with the Sanderstead Bisendens.  The Croydon family have property and some quite extensive wills and probate records regarding that property but there is no reference in those wills or other records to the Sanderstead family, i.e. to cousins or brothers, sisters etc, that I can see.  

Because I have tried to work back through my ancestors to trace the Blissenden’s beyond the 1700s in Surrey without success I am instead starting further back and working forward and sideways to see if that gives me any clues. I have started by looking at the “ancient family” of Blechenden’s in Kent and will devote a number of posts to that family.  

My husband often asks me why I am researching the Blechenden’s if I don’t know whether or not they are my family.  And the answer is, well they may be, but if not I have learnt something about them, the often turbulent times they lived in and the closet historian in me finds all of that fascinating. 

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