She shouldn’t be, but this family-tree member is proving elusive to pin down. At some stage she married great uncle Charles Jasmine Kahn, but the story is a little convoluted and although it’s largely been covered under Charles’ heading, perhaps she deserves a page of her own.
She doesn’t appear to have been born – that’s the first mystery. In fact, she’s 5 years old by time she emerges on the 1881 census. Then she lived at 39 St Nicholas Road, Brighton, Sussex with her father George and mother Annie. They can’t be too badly off because they have a servant (or possibly aspirations) and by the 1891 census her mother is recorded as a widow “living on her own means.” Our Blanche is 15 at this time and the family has moved along the street to No. 34.
Why do we think this is our Blanche? For a start, we can’t find another Blanche Rachel Gordon, especially not one born in Brighton. And the 1901 census clearly shows Charles’ wife as being B.R.G born in Brighton, although she had unexpectedly grown older by 9 years. We’re accustomed to family lying about age but usually to appear younger than they really are. On the 1901 census she should be 25; in fact her age is cited as 34.
The census of 1901 implies that sometime prior to then Charles and Blanche married, yet we could find no trace of a record of the nuptials. However, on 27th December 1891, Blanche Rachel Gordon married a man named Charles Wigdor at the East London Synagogue in Mile End Town. Charles Wigdor was described as a “travelling optician,” another coincidence because Charles Kahn was by this time an optician himself. Research has revealed that Wigdor is a very rare name. We saw a tiny cluster of them in Lancashire, but nobody further south and not one linked in any way to our family. The fact that Wigdor, when pronounced with a mock German accent, sounds remarkably like “Victor” is not necessarily coincidental. On the wedding certificate, Blanche is declaring her age as 26, giving us yet another potential birth date.
The next record uncovered was the birth of a son to Charles and Blanche, now living in 421 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London. The infant died a few months later, having been named Harold Wigdor Kahn. Harold is a familiar enough name, but Wigdor was (and is) quite a rarity. Another coincidence is unlikely, especially when taking into account that Charles’ father was Victor and naming a child after the grandfather was not unusual in those days. Thus we are confident that Charles Wigdor was in fact Charles Kahn. For some reason, the couple jumped through hoops of subterfuge to hide their marriage.
We’ll probably never know why. One possibility is that Blanche was only 15 or 16 when she married Charles (then aged 35). Another is that Blanche was probably not Jewish and although we can find no trace of orthodoxy or even traditionalism in this bunch of Kahns, possibly Charles wanted to keep their marriage a secret for the time being. Maybe Blanche had something to hide. Or perhaps we have the wrong Blanche entirely.
The couple produced more children, all named more or less correctly. In 1896 Leslie was born, although later in life he liked to be known as Leslie Kahn-Rein, and in 1899 Aubrey Vivian was followed by a 1901 Victor Gordon. Gordon is not a family name… except for Blanche’s maiden name, of course.
We’d like to hear from members of the Gordon family and, of course, from relatives of Annie, Blanche’s mother, maiden name unknown because again we can’t trace the records. Please don’t leave a comment here: email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.