Major The Honourable LE Bligh
Lodovick Edward Bligh lived in Englefield for a short while, residing at the Rectory for a few years in the early 1890s.
L E Bligh was born in Dover on 24 November 1854, the son of the Honourable and Reverend Edward Vesey Bligh, son of the 5th Earl of Darnley and Lady Isabel Bligh. E V Bligh was originally a diplomat but Lady Isabel’s father, the Earl of Abergavenny, wished her to marry a clergyman so he left the Diplomatic Service and took Holy Orders. In 1861 E V Bligh was Rector at Rotherwick in Sussex and in 1871 was Vicar of Birling - the birthplace of Lady Isabel.
He was educated at Eton and went up to Jesus College, Cambridge in 1873. By 1881 he had become a Magistrate and Captain of Militia (subsequently a Major in the 3rd Buffs) in Ryarsh, West Malling where his father was now also a Magistrate and “Clergyman without cure of souls”. Bligh married Marion Louisa Stewart-Savile on 1 June 1886 and in 1891 they lived at Northmore House in Dulverton with 2 sons and 11 servants. Their first son was named Harroweton but he survived for less than a year.
Meanwhile, in Englefield the Rector moved from the Rectory to “The Parsonage” (Nos 8 and 9 The Street, only newly-built) some time in late 1889 or early 1890. By May 1891 the Rectory had been made ready for the Blighs to move in and the assistant schoolmistresses moved from Rectory Cottage to make way for Mr Bligh’s coachman.
In 1892 L E Bligh was captain of the cricket club and achieved the best batting average (22) for that season. He did not captain the side the following year but was again top of the batting with an improved average of 38, although on this occasion he declined the bat awarded for the achievement and it was instead presented to T Harris, the next in the order on 16.
His success in the cricket team is no surprise for he came from a family with a cricketing pedigree. His father played for Oxford against Cambridge, for Middlesex, and for Kent from 1849 to 1864. His cousin was the Hon Ivo Bligh (later 8th Earl of Darnley) who also played for Kent and captained England in the first ever Test series for the Ashes in 1882/83. Like his father and cousin, L E Bligh also played for Kent between 1878 and 1884 scoring 107 runs in 18 innings at an average of 7.64 (best score 20) and taking 5 wickets for 157 runs off 363 balls with a best of 2 for 36 and an average of 31.4.
His second son Algernon also played first class cricket for Somerset and the family thus became the first to supply three generations of first class cricketers. A third son Ronald Edward survived for less than a year and his fourth son, Capt Jack Frederick Bligh MC, baptised in Englefield church on 21 February 1893, was killed in action with the Royal Field Artillery on 1 July 1917. He also had a daughter, Rose Marion Bligh.
Apart from cricket his other major interest was hunting and he was successively Master of Foxhounds at East Kent, Dulverton and the South Berks, and Master of the Minehead Harriers. In 1893 it is noted that the hounds met at Englefield House on Monday 20 Feb and the day before Mr Bligh asked that the children should be let out of school at 11 o’clock. However as no holiday had been given the previous year, and a warning against playing truant given only that morning, the managers did not grant his request.
He appears to have left the village before the next cricket season, at any rate there is no further mention of him, and by 1901 he had settled at Cambria House in Minehead where he died on 16 May 1924.
© 2021 Richard J Smith