Blanchard Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Blanchard Surname Meaning

Blanchard is French in origin, derived from the old French word blanchart meaning “whitish” or “bordering on white.”  The name may have started out as a nickname before emerging as a surname.

Blanchard is a French surname.  It is also an English surname as the name had been brought from France to England following the Norman Conquest.  Later it was a Frenchman who brought the name to North America as one of the founders of New France in Canada.

Blanchard is the main spelling.  The Blanshard variant is found in England.

Blanchard Surname Resources on The Internet

Blanchard Surname Ancestry

  • from France and from England (East Coast)
  • to Canada, America (Louisiana), and New Zealand

The Blanchard numbers in France are in the order of 40,000 today. It has been primarily a name found in the west and the north of the country.

Some have its origins in Normandy.  Ralph and William Blanchart were recorded “of Normandy” in the late 12th century.  Alain Blanchard was a commander of the French crossbowmen at Rouen who was subsequently executed by the English in 1419.  He became a heroic figure in French literature as a symbol of resistance to English power in France.

There is some evidence for Blanchard in Poitou province.  In the English Domesday Book of 1086, Blancard was described as “Roger of Poitou’s man.”  And Jean Blanchard was a native of Poitou who arrived with his family in New France, Canada sometime around 1640.

England.   The early spelling in England was Blancard.  This applied to the Norman monk who drowned off the Sussex coastline around 1075 and to another Norman who was granted lands, according to the Domesday Book, in Laughton, Audleby and Nettleton.  Blanchards held these estates in north Lincolnshire until around 1280.

Yorkshire.  Some Blanchards settled further north in Yorkshire.  In the Visitations of Yorkshire it was stated:  “A vigorous branch of this family seems to have crossed the Humber and settled along the Derwent, all probably descended from the Adam Blanchard recorded in North Duffield in 1379.”  

Blanchards appeared in the early 1500’s at Bubwith in the East Riding of Yorkshire and were later at Howden nearby.  Robert Blanchard came into possession of Dinnington Hall in 1772 under the provision that he changed his name to Athorpe. The spelling here was often Blanshard.  George Blanshard was recorded as a gentleman of Preston in Holderness in 1570.  John Blanshard farmed at Aughton Hall in the early 1800’s.

William Blanchard started publication of the York Chronicle in 1772 and continued publishing it until his death in 1836.  Many of his descendants made their home in London, including his nephew William who achieved some success as a comic actor.

Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have remained the main areas for Blanchards in England.

Elsewhere.  There were Blanchard pockets further south, in London and in Hampshire.  This may have been due in part to later French arrivals.

Pierre Blanchard, a Huguenot, had fled Normandy for Hull in Yorkshire in 1610 with his four sons.  One of these sons was said to have been Thomas who settled near Andover in Hampshire.  He later departed with his family for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

John Blanchard, “an old Frenchman” and possibly a Huguenot as well, was buried in Fordingbridge, Hampshire in 1686.  His descendants, based in the New Forest and in Southampton, had a long connection with the sea – as mariners and as shipbuilders.  Henry Blanchard took over the lease of the Lord Nelson pub in Southampton in 1835 and it remained with his family for the next seventy years.

William Isaac Blanchard was the grandson of a French refugee, also possibly a Huguenot, who arrived in London around the year 1700.  He became a professional shorthand writer and practiced his art in Westminster Hall from 1767 until his death in 1796.  During that time he invented two separate and distinct systems of stenography.

Canada.  The first of the Blanchards in French Canada were Jean Blanchard, a laborer, and his wife Radegonde. Jean arrived around 1640 and was among the five who received the first land grants at Port Royal.  He died on his homestead there in the early 1690’s, aged over eighty years old.  His son Guillaume was an early settler along the Petitcodiac river.

There were two other later unrelated Blanchards in Acadia:

  • François Blanchard dit Gentilhomme from Brittany who arrived around 1712
  • and Toussaint Blanchard from St. Malo who was first recorded in the colony in 1727.  

The Blanchard numbers consequently expanded.   But they – like other Acadians – were subjected to the British Expulsions in 1755.  Some 3,000 Acadians were rounded up into ships and deported – a number to Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia, many to France, and many eventually to what was then French Louisiana.  

Post-1755.  Hardly any Blanchards returned to what became Nova Scotia.  Indeed the most prominent family there was an American Loyalist one and Presbyterian in religion not Catholic.   Colonel Jotham Blanchard – a descendant of Boston immigrant Joseph Blanchard – moved with his family from New Hampshire to Nova Scotia in 1801, first to Truro and then to Pictou where he was editor of the Colonial Patriot.  His son Hiram became the first Premier of the province post-confederation in 1867.

Some Acadians did manage to return.

First to New Brunswick.  Olivier and Catherine Blanchard had escaped by boat, were captured, eventually released in 1772, and then settled in Caraquet.  Their son Tranquille became a prominent merchant there; and Tranquille’s grandson Théotime sat in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. 

And second to Quebec and in particular to the village of L’Assomption near Montreal where a number of the exiled Acadians had been allowed to return.  They included Jean-Baptiste Blanchard whose son Louis Reynaud dit Blanchard took part in the French rebellion against British rule in 1837.

America.  Early arrivals were English, and into New England.  

New England.  Joseph Blanchard came to Boston in 1637 and his supposed brother Thomas in 1639 – although DNA testing has shown that they were not brothers.

The line from Joseph Blanchard extended through Deacon John Blanchard to Chelmsford, Massachusetts and then to Dunstable in what became New Hampshire.  Joseph Blanchard, born in Dunstable in 1729, was a major in the Continental army during the Revolutionary War.

“He was a prisoner of war in New York City during its occupation by the British.  Being a skilled performer on the violin, he was in great demand among the English officers for entertainment during his captivity.”  

Thomas arrived on the Jonathan but lost his wife during the passage. The main descendant line was through his son Samuel who had moved to Andover, Massachusetts in 1686.  Among Samuel’s descendants were:

  • Benjamin Blanchard who departed Andover for West Dunstable, New Hampshire in 1742 because of a sequence of family tragedies.
  • the inventor Thomas Blanchard who pioneered the idea of assembly-line manufacture and of the horseless carriage in Springfield as early as the 1820’s.
  • and Albert G. Blanchard, born in Charlestown in 1810, who surprisingly was a Confederate general during the Civil War.

Louisiana.  The largest number of Blanchards, however, have been in Louisiana.  Blanchards in Louisiana comprised:

  • some of English origin in the north of the state 
  • but more of French Acadian origin in the south.

The first contingent of French refugees came from Halifax, Nova Scotia on a long voyage via Haiti in 1765.  They were followed by three Blanchard families from Maryland in 1767 and a further four Blanchard families from France in 1785. From these Acadians stem a large part of the Blanchards who today live in the Assumption, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes of Louisiana. 

New Zealand.  Henry Blanchard from Southampton had immigrated on the Randolph in 1852, making his home in Christchurch.  His son Henry was a sea captain, first with the New Zealand Shipping Company and then with the Union Steamship Company.

Dorothy, the daughter of this Henry, left home to pursue an acting career in America.  She ended up as the second wife of the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein.  And daughter Susan became the second wife of the actor Henry Fonda.

Blanchard Surname Miscellany

Blanchard Origins in Normandy.  Family tradition holds that the clan originated in Galilee, eventually moved to Constantinople where they were driven out by the Turks, thence to Normandy in France and the Peninsula of Cotentin. In the 16th century the family befriended John Calvin and became converted to Protestantism. Subjected to persecution, these Huguenots led by Pierre Blanchard fled to England in the early 17th century.

Another branch of the family remained Catholic and produced the likes of the great artist Jacques Blanchard called “Titian,” whose painting titled The Descent of the Holy Ghost hangs in the Church of Notre Dame in Paris today.

It was rumored that Pierre was a descendant of Alain Blanchard, a commander of the crossbowmen of Rouen during the Hundred Years’ War. 

Robert Blancard the Norman Monk who Drowned.  An early Blanchard reference in England was in the document Chronicle of Battle Abbey that was written around the year 1190.

This chronicle related the history of the Abbey from the time of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066.  After his victory William decided that work should commence on the building of the Abbey at Battle and four pious monks were brought across the Channel from France.  One of these monks was named Robert Blancard and he was appointed as the first Abbot.

Robert immediately returned to his home monastery in France for devotion.  On his return, within sight of the English shore, he was engulfed by a tempest and drowned.  The date here was probably around 1075.

The Blanchards of North Lincolnshire.  The Blanchards held lands in north Lincolnshire for about two hundred years – from the time the Domesday Book in 1086 to around 1280.  During that time they appeared a very prosperous family, judging by the amount of land they were able to donate to various new abbeys, monasteries, convents and priories.

In the Domesday Book Blanchards held half a carucate of land each in Laughton, Audley and Nettleham in 1086.  In Laughton they had one plough, three villeins who ploughed with three oxen, half a mill of 12 pence, half a fishery of 2/- and fifteen acres of meadow.

William Blanchard was in arms for Earl subsequently King John when King Richard was in the Holy Land and forfeited his lands.  He died in 1194 and his wife Matilda then was fined by King Richard to retain her domain for these lands.  William Blanchard, son of William and Matilda, regained the lands for three Knight’s fees and a half in Laughton and half in Nettleton and Clixby.

Before 1280 William Blanchard of Laughton died, the last of the male line.  His sister and heir Matilda married John d’Alyson who succeeded to the Blanchard estates and arms.

Benjamin Blanchard’s Woes in 1739.  Benjamin Blanchard was born in 1792 in Andover, Massachusetts, the son of Jonathan and Anne Blanchard.  He married Mary Abbott in 1718 and they were to have twelve children.

On October 13th, 1739 their nine-year old daughter Dorcas died.  Their baby Abiel died two days later on the 15th.  The next day eleven-year old Jonathan died and finally on the 19th seven-year old David passed away.  Four children dead in six days!

The children all died of scarlatina, a form of scarlet fever, which had been ravaging New England.  There was no known cure then.

Mary was pregnant at the time of the epidemic and gave birth to a son David in February 1740.  David died two months later.  They would have one last child, Abiel, born in 1741.

In 1742, after these multiple tragedies, Benjamin decided to move his family in search of a new life.  They made their home in West Dunstable, then part of Massachusetts but soon to be part of New Hampshire.

Olivier and Catherine Blanchard, Baraquet Pioneers.  Olivier Blanchard was a descendant of Guillaume Blanchard who had settled along the Petitcodiac river in Acadia, French Canada.  He married Catherine Amirault in 1752 and their first two children were born there.

In 1756 when their village was destroyed by the British, they fled by boat to the banks of the Restigouche river.  But in 1760 they again had to flee from the British soldiers.  In 1761 and living in Nepisiguit, they were unable to elude Captain MacKenzie’s raid. Their boat was taken away from them and they were imprisoned at Fort Cumberland.

Finally, after eleven long years, they were released and settled in Nepisiguit.  After a few years they moved to Caraquet where their ninth and last child was born. 

Blanchards in Louisiana.  Robert Cooper West in his 1986 book An Atlas of Louisiana Surnames of French and Spanish Origin had the following to say about the Blanchards in Louisiana.

“As a patronym Blanchard occurs among people of either Anglo or French descent, thus accounting, in part, for its widespread distribution today in Louisiana. Most of the Blanchard families of the northern and central parts of the state are probably of English origin, whereas those of the southern section have French roots.

An example of an Anglo Blanchard family is that descendant from Thomas Blanchard of New England and his wife Amy Newton of Virginia.  After the death of her husband in 1824, Mrs. Blanchard and her five surviving children migrated from Virginia to Louisiana, settling in the northern part of Rapides Parish on Bayou Jean de Jean.

There the family founded the Roselawn plantation.  Through two of the sons, Edward and Cary, and their descendants, the Blanchard name was well established along the Red River from Alexandria to Shreveport.  Newton C. Blanchard, the son of Carey, was Louisiana’s Governor from 1904 to 1908 and the product of this particular Anglo family.

Most of the Blanchards of southern Louisiana, however, descend from French ancestors.  It was Acadian refugees who entered the colony during the last half of the 18th century to establish the Blanchard name in southern Louisiana.

The 1766 census of Louisiana listed five Acadian Blanchards living along the Mississippi in St. James parish.  In 1767 three Blanchard families arrived from Maryland, all of them settling with the rest of the Maryland contingent at St. Gabriel d’Iberville on the Mississippi.  In 1785 five Blanchard families arrived in Louisiana with the large group of Acadian refugees from France.  All of these Blanchards were sent to the upper Lafourche.

From these refugees stem a large part of the Blanchards who today live in Assumption, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes.”

Thomas Blanchard above, born in Boston in 1761, was a descendant of the 1639 immigrant Thomas Blanchard.  He had married Amy Newton in Virginia in 1792 and they moved to Natchez in Mississippi territory where he died in 1824.

Blanchard Names

  • Blancard who appeared in the 1086 Domesday Book was the forebear of the Blanchards who held estates in north Lincolnshire for the next two hundred years.        
  • Jean Blanchard arrived in French Canada around 1640, the first of the Acadian Blanchards.          
  • Thomas Blanchard was the Massachusetts inventor who pioneered the idea of assembly-line manufacture and of the horseless carriage in the 1820’s.      
  • Newton Blanchard was the Governor of Louisiana from 1904 to 1908.

Blanchard Numbers Today

  • 5,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in Louisiana)
  • 23,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Blanchard and Like Surnames

These are French-originated names, French Canadian surnames that were brought by French settlers to what was then New France.  Many are found in Louisiana after the Acadian exodus from the Canadian maritime provinces in the 18th century.  Here are some of the French surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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