Research

The Society has a Bliss Genealogical Data Base (BGDB) and other genealogical material which is available from our Records Secretary. The BGDB includes all Blisses found in the complete Census Series of Blisses in England and Wales 1841 to 1911. We also hold thousands of extracts of Bliss family events from parish registers in many English counties, entries from Trade and Post Office Directories and many other sources. In addition to the BGDB we hold a complete index to Bliss birth registrations in England and Wales 1837-2005 marriage registrations 1837-2005 and deaths 1837-2005.

We also possess the three volume Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America, which the chairman or our North American Secretary will consult for lookups requested by members.

You can find some interesting information on the Bliss name by clicking on “BLISS NAME” at the top of this page and in “LISTINGS” there are: 

1. A Calendar of Bliss Marriages in Great Britain to 1575
2. A list of Passengers, Arrivals Overseas and Court Cases.

You will find a list of Eminent Blisses by scrolling a little further down this page and following them are details of Pioneers, Settlers and Colonists.

Tom Bliss, our previous Chairman, has published a book “Homelands of Bliss: the British Origins of American Bliss Families” is now available on Amazon $32.05 (£24.81).

Alan Bliss, our Records Secretary writes:

This book is intended to help people in North America with Bliss family ancestry trace their English origins – especially those whose lineage can be traced to the early New England Bliss pioneers.  The author examines anomalies in previous information about American Bliss family heritage and successfully resolves the conflicting claims published on the internet and elsewhere about the British origins of American Bliss families.

Homelands of Bliss is comprised of three parts.  Part I is an introduction to the origins of the Bliss name and the Bliss coat of arms, followed by an easy-reading, potted history of the development of England and its people up to the time of the New England migrations. Part II examines the circumstances in which English folk emigrated to the early English colonies in America and sets out in detail all the known and proved facts about the English origins of the early Bliss settlers.  Part III examines and sets out the British origins of some Blisses who emigrated to America in later times.

Above all this is an excellent source of knowledge for all Americans searching for information about their Bliss ancestors in the UK

EMINENT BLISSES INCLUDE:-

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Aaron Thomas Bliss – Governor of Michigan 1837-1906

(extract from American DNB with further information from Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America by A.T. Bliss)
Born 22 May 1837 at Peterboro, Madison Co. NY, seventh child of Lyman Bliss and Ann (nee Chaffie)
Married: 7 March 1868 Allaseba Phelps.
Died: 16 September 1906 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. No issue.

Enlisted in the Union Army October 1st 1861. Promoted to captain and involved in several Civil War battles, he was wounded and captured on General Wilson’s raid near Richmond. He eventually escaped and succeeded in reaching Sherman’s army at Savannah. He moved to Saginaw, Mich. in 1865.
Starting as a logger driver, he became head of one of one of the most successful lumber firms in the area.

Later he became prominent as a banker, being a director of the Citizen’s National Bank and president of the Saginaw County Savings Bank. After serving as a member of the governor’s staff he was sent as a Republican congressman to Washington. In 1900 he was elected Governor of Michigan. He served two terms, during which the Michigan

Employment Institute for the Adult Blind was established on a site facing the beautiful Bliss Park in his home city of Saginaw.
After suffering a stroke in 1905, Bliss died the following year and was laid to rest with State and military honours in Forest Lawn cemetery Saginaw.

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Sir Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss CH KCVO – Master of The Queen’s Musik

02.08.1891- 27.03.1975 Knighted 1950. Master of the Queen’s Musik 1954. KCVO 1967. CH 1971.
President of the Performing Rights Society 1954. President of the London Symphony Orchestra 1958. President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers 1960. Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal 1963. President of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music1965.
Born 2nd August 1891 Queen’s Ride, Barnes, London. Eldest son of Francis Edward and Agnes Kennard Bliss nee Davies. (F.E. Bliss was a well to do American who worked for the Anglo-American Oil Company. )
Educated at: Bilton Grange School; Rugby School 1905-10; Pembroke College, Cambridge, 1910-13. First class honours degree in History. He also read for the Bachelor of Music degree, achieving a First in part I but, strangely, there is no record of his completing the course.

Royal College of Music 1913. Early musical influences included Elgar from an early age and now Stravinsky, after seeing Diaghilev’s production of Petrushka.
Served in war 1914-18. Subaltern with 13th Royal Fusiliers on the Western Front August to December 1915. July 1916 at the Somme, wounded during attack on La Boiselle. Soon afterwards, his much admired brother, Kennard Bliss, was killed at the battle of the Somme. The brothers had always been close and Kennard’s death was a grievous and lifelong loss to Arthur. Promoted to Captain, transferred to the Grenadier Guards. September 1918 Active service again in France, where he was gassed. At the armistice, he was one of the few gifted young men who had survived the full term of those agonising years. Elgar’s ‘Cello Concerto’, first performed in 1919, was heard as an elegy for those departed souls. Bliss might have been expected to make his own sombre musical contribution to the memory of his vanished brother and friends. However, his chamber work, Rout, performed in December 1920, although well received by the audience, was judged by some critics to be a clever but rather empty piece of music, with no evidence of the anguished spirit of a survivor of the terrible war.

Henry Wood invited Bliss to conduct his Melee Fantasque at a Promenade concert in the Queen’s Hall and Elgar gave him an opportunity to shine with a performance of his Colour Symphony at the Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester in 1922. Bliss dedicated his symphony to his friend Adrian Boult.

Soon afterwards Bliss moved to America in company with his father. The family eventually settled at Santa Barbara, California. Charlie Chaplin disappointed the young composer by advising that his plans to write music for the movies were unlikely to be successful. Bliss was more successful in another enterprise: in the course of a full Californian social life, he met, wooed and won Gertrude Hoffmann, whom he married in 1925. Shortly afterwards the young couple made their home in England.

From this time, Bliss’s reputation as a composer steadily climbed. His Pastoral, written for a small choir and orchestra and dedicated to Elgar, was well received in 1928. The next year Bliss confronted his long-buried experiences of war. Morning Heroes is a long symphony for orator, chorus and orchestra in five movements. It incorporates texts from Homer, an ancient Chinese poem and Walt Whitman; The final movement of agony and distress is illustrated by the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Robert Nichols. It is a difficult work, making demands on the stamina and fortitude of the performers and the listener, but it is undoubtedly a grand work and it is a fitting memorial to the composer’s brother and ‘all other comrades killed in battle’, to whom Bliss dedicated the symphony. Its premiere was at the Norwich Festival in 1930.

Many of the world’s best known soloists began to commission new music from Bliss. His ability to write pieces to order or for a special occasion became renowned; in 1942 his Fanfare For Heroes was used in an important Russian propaganda film about the Battle of Stalingrad. He now achieved his earlier ambition to compose music for films, including The shape of Things to Come by H. G. Wells and an aborted film version of Anthony and Cleopatra by G. Bernard Shaw. In these years he also wrote the music for Checkmate, a ballet choreographed by Ninette de Valois. The ballet was well received at a performance in Paris by the Sadlers Wells company which included Frederick Ashton, Robert Helpmann, Michael Somes and the young Margot Fonteyn.. At the outbreak of war in 1939, Bliss was in America.

Returning to Britain in June 1941, he became Director of Music at the BBC. He wrote the score for Robert Helpmann’s ballet Miracle in the Gorbals, performed at Sadlers Wells 1944. He and J. B. Priestley wrote the opera The Olympians, first performed at Covent Garden in 1949. Bliss’s Processional announced the arrival of the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Also in that year he composed the music for the film A Beggar’s Opera, produced by Laurence Olivier and directed by Peter Brook. He considered Meditations 1955 one of his best compositions. In 1960 he wrote the music for the 2 act opera, Tobias and the Angel, broadcast on BBC TV in 1960. His Golden Cantata celebrated the quincentenary of the Degree of Music at Cambridge university in 1964. His autobiography, “As I Remember” was published by Faber in 1970.

In his final years Arthur Bliss was, musically, still working at full stretch: producing a cello concerto and the Piano Tryptych, as well as the music for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernavon Castle in 1969, which greatly added to the splendour of the occasion. He was made a Companion of Honour by the Queen, just before his eightieth birthday in 1971, surely a worthy and sufficient end to such a long and distinguished career. However, he was still composing some significant work. After turning eighty, he produced the large, and complex Metamorphic Variations, first performed in 1973, and Shield of Faith for the Windsor Festival Committee, which was performed exactly one month after his death in April 1975.

Sir Arthur’s widow, Lady Bliss, was an honorary life member of the Bliss FHS.

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Cornelius Newton Bliss – Merchant & Politician

Born 26 January 1833 at Fall River, Massachusetts, son of Asahel Newton Bliss and Irene (nee Luther).
Married 30 March 1859 Elizabeth Mary Plummer.
Died 9 October 1911 in New York city.

From relatively humble beginnings, Bliss became a leading textile manufacturer in the United States, being the head of Bliss, Fabyan & Co for many years until his death. His experience brought him onto the board of many large financial and industrial organisations; for a short period he served as President of the Fourth National Bank.
He took an avid interest in political matters and became treasurer of the Republican party’s National Committee in 1892, serving in that office through every presidential campaign until 1904.

He turned down the chance to become Secretary of the US Treasury under President McKinley but he served as Secretary for the Interior 1896-8.
In 1900 he was invited to stand as President McKinley’s vice-president. He refused the offer and Teddy Roosevelt was appointed in his stead. The following year McKinley was assasinated and Roosevelt became President.
Perhaps the only chance any Bliss will have of becoming President of the United States!

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Douglas Percy Bliss 1900-84 – Fine Artist, Conservationist and Director of Glasgow School of Art 1946-64

Douglas Percy Bliss’s family was originally from Northamptonshire but his grandfather removed to Morayshire in Scotland, where he raised a family of sixteen children. The future artist was born in Karachi, India (now Pakistan). Douglas always regarded himself as Scottish, as he was raised in Edinburgh and was educated at George Watson’s College 1906-17. On leaving school, he joined the Highland Light Infantry until the end of the Great War in 1918. He went on to gain an M.A. honours degree in English Lit. at Edinburgh University 1922. The study of Art History in his first year encouraged his lifelong interest in art and architecture.

From an early age he produced accomplished drawings; an uncle used to send him pocket money in return for his copies of Punch cartoons. Perhaps this early familiarity with the work of some of the best draughtsman of the time accounts for his characteristic use of Line and Design in his Art.
After obtaining his degree, D.P. Bliss studied painting at the Royal College of Art in London. He became student editor of the R.C.A. magazine. Impressed by the imaginative quality of his third magazine, in which he introduced the innovation of hand- colouring by stencil, the British Museum bought several copies and which sent one to the Louvre Print Room in Paris.

He discovered an ideal medium for his artistic and design talents when he studied wood engraving in his post-graduate year. The high quality of Bliss’s engravings was quickly admired beyond the walls of the R.C.A. In 1925, the august and supremely conservative Oxford University Press published a book of engravings by the young art student illustrating ‘Border Ballads’. Commissions quickly followed on the success of ‘Border Ballads’, including illustrations for ‘The History of Rasselas’ by Dr. Johnson, published by J.M. Dent in 1926. The same publishers paid a great compliment to Bliss when they commissioned him to write ‘A History Of Wood Engraving’. Even today this is regarded as one of the best expositions ever written about this specialised field of Art. Good copies of the 1928 edition are eagerly sought by dealers and students in Europe and America. The book was so greatly admired that Bliss’s primary excellence as an artist became somewhat obscured by his reknown as a teacher and critic.

In 1928 Bliss married Phyllis Dodd, who was a very talented painter. (Some of her portraits are so fine that she deserves a webpage of her own)  Douglas and Phyllis had 2 children – Prudence and Rosalind, who are both still, (in 2020,) active in the Art world. Prudence has been a member of the Bliss Family History Society since shortly after it’s inception, in 1983.  She has now ceased painting but as well as gardening she works as Programme Secretary for the Romney Society, searching  for lecturers on 18th century art.   Rosalind is also a keen gardener, a painter in oil as well as water colour and a wood engraver. She is a practising member of the Society of Wood Engravers, as is shown by her website – http://www.rosalindbliss.co.uk/rosalind-bliss-contact-us.html   Both were initially qualified at Art school and made their living as Art Teachers.  Their cousins, Ian and Roger Bliss, (grandsons of Joseph Bliss,) were similarly qualified Art Teachers – their Father was Roger Percy Bliss.

Douglas Bliss, encouraged by his wife, took up his brushes again. During the remainder of a long life, using oils and watercolour, he recorded landscapes in England and Scotland in his own authentic style. Bliss’s pictures record the end of an era of small-scale farming, when man’s intervention in Nature was milder and less draconian than it is now. Occasionally, he also recorded the urban scene just before insensitive town planning and modern materials destroyed the human scale of so many homely and elegant areas in British towns and cities.

In the thirties, aware that some of England’s excellent town architecture was coming under threat from developers and uncaring Town Halls, D.P. Bliss founded the Blackheath Society, which still strives to protect the amenities of the S.E. London area, where he lived before the last war. At this time he was teaching at two London art schools and was the London art critic of The Scotsman. In 1941 Bliss volunteered for the RAF and his duties as a Decoy Officer took him back to Scotland. When he returned to civilian life in 1946, he was delighted to be appointed Director of the Glasgow School of Art in his home country of Scotland. He loved what he called “the greatest industrial city in the Empire”. His artist’s eye appreciated the legacy of the city’s architecture, which was permanently hidden by smoke and soot in those early post-war years.

In Glasgow, Bliss became the champion of the city’s then undervalued master of Art Nouveau- the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Bliss was horrified to discover plans were afoot to alter and ‘modernise’ features of Mackintosh’s chef d’oeuvre- the Glasgow School of Art. He was equally appalled to discover piles of Mackintosh’s original furniture tipped out at the back of the Tea Rooms. This was recovered and Bliss ensured that pieces were restored and distributed to Museums across the world. The main nucleus of Mackintosh’s furniture is to be found in several different collections in Glasgow itself, principally in the Furniture Collection displayed at the Glasgow School of Art. Thus the School, the city of Glasgow and Art Historians around the world have much for which to thank the charming, witty and dedicated man who was Director at the School from 1946-64. His work of saving many masterpieces of Art Nouveau is one of Douglas Percy Bliss’s greatest achievements.
However, students and friends of the GSA will always remember his wider contribution, as Director of the institution. At the end of his period of office, Glasgow School of Art was listed by Whittaker’s Almanac among the six top Art Schools in Britain. Under his guidance and insistence, Design and Craft became equals of the long-established Fine Arts and were raised to the status of Degree subjects.

His own artistic achievement has been recognised in several Exhibitions around the country. The latest exhibition of his paintings and engravings was held in his beloved Mackintosh Building, Glasgow School of Art, in the summer of 1998.
Early in his career, Bliss stated he wanted to ‘draw trees really well’. In a variety of media, he used his characteristic muted colours and the clean lines of an engraver to celebrate the English and Scottish Landscapes. Untempted by the fancies and fashions of the turbulent late twentieth century art world, he continued to record the changing scene with truth and clarity into his last years.

Sadly, much of the work of his talented youth was lost. When war broke out in 1939, his collection of engraved blocks was still mostly unpublished. During the Blitz, the entire collection was stolen from his London home. However, almost forty years after the theft, sixteen of the missing blocks were identified at an auction in Somerset. They had not been properly cared for and the bigger ones split when printing was attempted. Thus good prints of his wood engravings, perhaps the most characteristic expression of his Art, are rare.

Nevertheless, his substantial body of paintings should also be highly regarded. It records, with clarity and impressive technique the ending of the old rural way of life in Britain. One can imagine that some of his paintings will, in the future, illustrate many history books dealing with mid twentieth century rural life. Those who collect Douglas Percy Bliss’s work have a present joy to treasure and perhaps a future treasure to cherish!

Douglas and Phyllis had 2 children – Prudence and Rosalind, who are both still, (in 2020,) active in the Art world. Prudence has been a member of the Bliss Family History Society since shortly after it’s inception, in 1983.  She has now ceased painting but as well as gardening she works as Programme Secretary for the Romney Society, searching  for lecturers on 18th century art.   Rosalind is also a keen gardener, a painter in oil as well as water colour and a wood engraver. She is a practising member of the Society of Wood Engravers, as is shown by her website – http://www.rosalindbliss.co.uk/rosalind-bliss-contact-us.html   Both were initially qualified at Art school and made their living as Art Teachers.  Their cousins, Ian and Roger Bliss, (grandsons of Joseph Bliss,) were similarly qualified Art Teachers – their Father was Roger Percy Bliss.

WORK IN PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Cardiff: National Museum of Wales
Edinburgh: Gallery of Modern Art
Glasgow: City Art Gallery
Leamington Art Gallery
London: The British Museum
Victoria & Albert Museum
The Tate Gallery
Manchester Education Authority
National Arts Collection Fund
Perth City Art Gallery
The Contemporary Art Society

PUBLICATIONS

1925 Border Ballads (illustrations) OUP
1926 The History Of Rasselas by Dr. S. Johnson (illustrations) JM Dent London
1928 The Spanish Lady & 2 other stories by Cervantes (illustrations) OUP
1928 A History of Wood Engraving JM Dent
1929 The Palace of Pleasure by William Painter (illustrations) Cresset Press London
1934 The Devil In Scotland (introductory text& illustrations) Maclehose London
1938 Some Tales of Mystery & Imagination by A.E. Poe Penguin Books
1952 Memoirs of Prince Alexei Haimatoff by T.J. Hogg (illustrations) Folio Society London
1979 Edward Bowden (a biography) The Pendomer Press Godalming

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Gilbert Ames Bliss – Mathematician and Educator

b. May 9, 1876, Chicago
d. May 8, 1951, Harvey, Ill.
U.S. mathematician and educator known for his work on the calculus of variations. He received his B.S. degree in 1897 from the University of Chicago and remained to study mathematical astronomy under F.R. Moulton. He received his M.S. degree in 1898 and two years later his doctorate. Bliss immediately went into teaching as an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Minnesota from 1900 to 1902, followed by a two-year assistantship at the University of Chicago, a year at the University of Missouri, and three years (1905-1908) as preceptor at Princeton University–a period in which he also served as an editor of the Annals of Mathematics. In 1908 Bliss returned to the faculty at the University of Chicago as an associate professor; he was named professor five years later. He became department chairman in 1927 and served until his retirement in 1941. Bliss applied his knowledge of calculus to the field of ballistics during the latter days of World War I, when he designed an improved set of firing tables for artillery. His book Mathematics for Exterior Ballistics (1944) was based on this work. His research in algebraic functions led to his paper “Algebraic Functions and Their Divisors,” and Bliss expanded on this work in his book Algebraic Functions (1933). Bliss’s extensive study of the calculations of extreme values of an integral or function culminated in 1946 in his major work, Lectures on the Calculus of Variations. Bliss served as president of the American Mathematical Society from 1921 to 1922.

© Encyclopaedia Britannica www.britannica.com

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Nathaniel Bliss – Astronomer Royal

b. Nov. 28, 1700, Bisley, Gloucestershire, Eng.
d. Sept. 2, 1764, Oxford, Oxfordshire
Britain’s fourth Astronomer Royal. Bliss graduated from Pembroke College, Oxford (B.A., 1720; M.A., 1723), and became rector of St. Ebbe’s, Oxford, in 1736. He succeeded Edmond Halley as Savilian professor of geometry at the University of Oxford in 1742 and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society the same year. A correspondent and occasional assistant of James Bradley, third Astronomer Royal, Bliss acted for him in observing the transit of Venus in 1761 and succeeded him as Astronomer Royal in 1762.

© Encyclopaedia Britannica www.britannica.com

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Perry Bliss

b. Nov. 25, 1860, Williamstown, Mass., U.S.
d. Feb. 13, 1954, Exeter, N.H.
U.S. scholar and editor, especially noted for his work in American literature. Perry was educated at Williams College, Williamstown, and the universities of Berlin and Strassburg (then in Germany). He taught at Williams (1886-93), Princeton University (1893-1900), and Harvard University (1907-30) and was Harvard lecturer at the University of Paris (1909-10). From 1899 to 1909 he edited The Atlantic Monthly. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honour. He edited many volumes, including the works of Edmund Burke, Sir Walter Scott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and was general editor (1905-09) of the Cambridge edition of the major American poets. He wrote a number of books, including works on Walt Whitman, John Greenleaf Whittier, Thomas Carlyle, Emerson, and others, as well as novels, short fiction, essays, an autobiography, studies of poetry, and collections of fiction and essays.

© Encyclopaedia Britannica www.britannica.com

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Tasker Howard Bliss

b. Dec. 31, 1853, Lewisburg, Pa., U.S.
d. Nov. 9, 1930, Washington, D.C.
U.S. military commander and statesman who directed the mobilization effort upon the United States’ entry into World War I. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1875, Bliss served in various military assignments, including that of instructor at West Point and military attaché at the U.S. legation in Madrid. During the Spanish-American War (1898), Bliss was chief of staff under General James H. Wilson in Puerto Rico and later served in Cuba. Promoted to the rank of brigadier general, he negotiated the U.S.-Cuban reciprocity treaty (1902). After service as commandant of the Army War College (1903-05) and in the Philippines (1905-09), he drew various staff assignments and in 1915 was promoted to major general. With the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917, Bliss was made general and chief of staff. In that position he promptly expanded and upgraded the Army to battle-readiness and resisted attempts to divide the U.S. force among the various Allied commands. At the appointment of President Woodrow Wilson, he sat on the Allied Supreme War Council and was a delegate to the peace conference at Versailles. An ardent supporter of Wilson’s worldview, Bliss promoted the Fourteen Points, American participation in the League of Nations, and international arms control.

© Encyclopaedia Britannica www.britannica.com

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William D(wight) P(orter) Bliss

b. Aug. 20, 1856, Constantinople [now Istanbul]
d. Oct. 8, 1926, New York City
Social reformer and organizer of Christian Socialist societies in the United States. The son of American missionaries in Turkey, Bliss was educated at the Hartford Theological Seminary (Hartford, Conn.). First as a Congregationalist and later as an Episcopalian, he held several pastorates following his graduation from Hartford in 1882. In the late 1880s Bliss became deeply interested in Christian Socialism, a movement intent upon applying the teachings of Jesus to the social dislocations caused by industrialization and urbanization. Bliss organized the first U.S. Christian Socialist Society in 1889 and edited its publication, The Dawn. Bliss traveled extensively, lecturing on the problems of labour and social reform. He compiled and edited many books, the best known being the Encyclopedia of Social Reform (1897). He unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1887 on the Labor Party ticket, and he also served as an investigator for the Bureau of Labor. He did educational work among French and Belgian soldiers interned in Switzerland during World War I. He returned to the United States after the war and preached in New York City until his death.

© Encyclopaedia Britannica www.britannica.com

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William Henry Bliss BCL DD

26 April 1835-8th March 1911 Scholar
Born 26 April 1835 Newton St Loe, Somerset, son of Rev. William Bliss and Jane Monck (nee Bridges).
Educated at Winchester 1847-1852; Magdalen College, Oxford, BA 1859 MA 1863 BCL 1868 Married 4 May 1859 Mary Jane Wray, daughter of rev. Cyril Wray of St Martin’s, Liverpool.

 

Ordained priest 1865 by Bishop of Oxford. Curate of Honington 1858-62, St James Plymouth 1862-5, presented to Vicarage of North Hincksey 1866.

W.H. Bliss was a great Victorian scholar, who represented the Public Records Office for many years in the Vatican Archives, Rome. The son of a Church of England clergymen, Bliss seemed destined to achieve comfort and success within the bosom of the established church. His education at Winchester and Oxford brought him into the company of eminent men whose lives had been touched by the great religious debate, known as the Oxford Movement, led by Cardinal Newman. He became curate to a leading Anglo-Catholic clergymen: his uncle James at Plymouth and he knew and greatly admired the great Oxford divine, Keble.

In 1854, As a very young man he edited The Parson with his Fellow Workers. In 1867 his first major work, The Canons of the First Four General Councils, in Greek & English, was published; it was well-received and a second edition was printed in 1869. With the achievement of his BCL in the intervening year, Bliss was apparently destined for high office in the Church or the University.

However, he was having increasing problems concerning the theological and historical legitimacy of the Church of England. In 1869 he followed Newman into the Roman faith. Following his conversion, Bliss secured the position of Keeper of Periodicals at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. After 1871 he superintended the preparation of the printed catalogue. Perhaps he had hopes of succeeding Coxe, the kindly and highly esteemed librarian at the Bodleian; but the religious bitterness still rife in Oxford would certainly have excluded him from consideration.

In 1877, Bliss took up an offer from the Public Records Office to go to Rome with the purpose of doing research in the Vatican Archives on behalf of the PRO. Principally, he was employed in searching the medieval Papal Registers in order to extract references to all dealings between the Papacy and Great Britain and Ireland. From 1877 until his death in 1911 at the Via Delphini, he lived in Rome for nine months every year.
At first the bureaucrats within the Vatican were suspicious of this representative of the chief Protestant power. However, his very pleasant manner, unassuming personality and his religious beliefs eventually won him the Vatican’s full cooperation. He became a leading light in the English community in Rome and, by 1886, he was English Tutor to the young Victor Emmanuel, heir to the Italian throne. He was treated as a welcome guest at the Quirinal and other palaces by the King and Queen.

The fruits of his work at the Vatican is to be found in a series of published books known as Calendar of The Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to British Isles. Volumes I and II (1894/5) were edited solely by Bliss, he edited Volume III (1897) in collaboration with C. Johnson and Volumes IV and V (1902, 1904) with J.A. Twemlow. He also edited Calendars of Petitions to the Pope Volume I, 1342-1419 (1896 ). All these volumes were reprinted by Kraus Reprint in 1971.

Bliss also worked in the Milan Archives: transcripts of manuscripts extracted by him may be found in the record series PRO 31/2 at the Public Record Office. This work was continued after his death and culminated in another calendar, Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts Existing in the Archives Collections in Milan, Volume I 1385-1618 (1913).
From 1881-1883 he spent some time researching the Swedish Archives in Stockholm. His transcripts are in record series PRO 31/13 which includes reports and notes by Bliss on papers relating to the history of England in the state archives of Sweden, reference PRO 31/13/8.

William Henry Bliss’s work is an important resource for British medieval historians. He brought new information, insight and understanding to the international problems and internal struggles of the Middle Ages.

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Brevet Lieutenant colonel W.W.S. Bliss

was son of Captain John Bliss and his wife Olive Hall Simonds of NY and Alabama. He was born 17th August 1815 and graduated from West Point in 1833.

During the Mexican War 1846-8, he became Adjutant and Military Secretary to Major General Zachary Taylor.

He married the general’s youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, in 1848 at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The following year General Taylor became President of the United States of America and he appointed his son in law, Col. Bliss, as his private secretary. Bliss’s ability and pesonality won the esteem of men of all parties.
His wife, affectionately known as ‘Miss Betty’, was, in effect, the First Lady at the White House at the age of 22. The popular young couple seemed destined to become powerful figures in Washington when tragedies overwhelmed them.

The President died suddenly in 1850. Col. Bliss accompanied the widow to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where she too died in 1852. Colonel Bliss took up the post of Inspector in the army. Following a visit to plague-ridden New Orleans on behalf of the University of Louisiana, Colonel Bliss died of Yellow Fever at Pascagoula Aug. 5th 1853. Thus ‘Miss Betty’ lost her father, mother and husband in a little over 3 years.

A 20 foot memorial of Italian marble was raised to the memory of Colonel Bliss, ‘a finished scholar, an accomplished gentleman and a gallant soldier’, in Girod Street Cemetery, New Orleans. In 1955, the cemetery being condemned, Colonel Bliss’s remains and monument were removed to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The Fort had been named in honour of Colonel Bliss in 1854. It remains a vital part of the US Defence Training and Development Programme to this day.
(courtesy of The Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America by Aaron Tyler Bliss)

Index

PIONEERS, SETTLERS & COLONISTS INCLUDE:-

Over a period of nearly four centuries the Bliss name has spread out of England and around the globe.

It all began with the Portuguese and Spanish discoveries in the New World at the end of the 15th C. The horizons of the people of Western Europe were greatly increased but, for many years, Englishmen could only entertain dim hopes of colonising the new lands across the Atlantic. The power of Spain, backed by a Papal interdict, prevented other nations from attempting to explore and settle in the Americas.

Colonies

 

Virginia

English scholars, scientists, explorers and courtiers formed a lobby to plant a new colony in North America, to be called Virginia, in honour of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.

The Queen’s favourite, Sir Walter Raleigh, led the campaign to colonise Virginia. In 1585 an attempt was made to settle colonists at Roanoke Island, off Virginia. Their nerve was broken by a hurricane and they eagerly accepted the offer of a passage back to England from Sir Francis Drake, who was returning from a raiding expedition on Spanish strongholds in the West Indies. Raleigh sent out a second expedition to Roanoke in 1587.

The colonists were abandoned to their doom, when the Queen refused permission for a relieving expedition the following year. This was the year of the Spanish Armada and all ships were commandeered to repel the invasion. The lost colonists were never seen again.

In 1593 RICHARD BLISSE of Hingham, Norfolk, made his will, wistfully declaring his eldest son William his heir- ‘should he return again to this country’. It is tempting to think that WILLIAM BLISSE was one of the lost colonists, particularly as one of the colonists, Ananias Dare, whose daughter Virginia was the first English child to be born in the New World, was also from Norfolk in England.

The English naval triumph over the Armada ensured that, eventually, Englishmen would return to the Americas and they would settle pemanently and prosper. In 1607 the Virginia company sent out 120 colonists to settle at Jamestown. Some sketchy records remain in the Public Records of early Bliss colonists who went to this new land on the Chesapeake Bay.

  • 12 Aug 1620 MOYSES BLISSE was sentenced to transportation to Virginia.
  • 7 Apr 1623 John Blisse, smith, of Newport Mews mentioned in dispatch from Sir Frances Wyatt. First proven Bliss in America.
  • Mar 1655 WILLIAM BLISSE was reprieved from sentence of death at Surrey Assizes and sentenced to transportation.
  • 7 Nov 1655 letters were granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury for the estate of MARY BLISSE of Virginia to be administered by her sister Martha, the wife of John Ward.
  • 12 Nov 1657 SUSANNAH BLISSE of Bristol was bound apprentice to John Charles for four years service in Virginia.
  • 16 Jun 1661 JOHN BLISSE yeoman was bound apprentice in Bristol to Richard Greene, mariner, for five years service in Virginia. Perhaps this John Bliss (and a brother?) survived the fevers and dangers of Virginia for:-
  • 20 Sep 1667 Mary Shepheard was bound apprentice in Bristol to JOHN BLISSE for 7 years service in Virginia. And:-
  • 18 Nov 1667 Richard Towsey was bound apprentice in Bristol to THOMAS BLYS for 4 years service in Virginia.
  • 10 May 1667 Captain Thos Busby was granted 1170 acres in Surrey Co. & Charles City Co. …… 650 acres for the transportation of 13 persons including THOMAS BLISS. – Virginia Land Grants Patent Book 6 page 17
  • 3 Apr 1667 Thos Page, Wm. Hodgson & Sam. Weilding granted 3075 acres in Rappa. Co. for transportation of 62 persons including THOMAS LISS. – Virginia Land Grants Patent Book 6 page 47
  • 10 Oct 1672 Robert Moss granted 944 & 1/2 acres in Sittingbourne parish, Rappa Co. ……613 acres for transportation of 16 persons including JOHN BLISS.
  • 26 Oct 1694 Captain John Battaile & Mr. Francis Merriwether 1091 acres deserted and now granted by order. Importation of 22 persons including JOHN BLISS – Cavaliers & Pioneers page 120.

We would welcome any evidence that any of these Virginian Blisses survived and had descendants.

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West Indies

England took possession of the uninhabited island of Barbados, in 1627. Much prized for its sugar production, Barbados became a favourite destination for BLISS colonists.

  • 03.04.1635 Passengers embarked on the ‘Falcon’ of London, commander Mr Thomas Irish, bound from London to Barbados, included OWEN BLISS aged 30. He is the earliest recorded Bliss colonist with a known pedigree. He was baptised at Morley St Botolph, Norfolk, 4th Nov 1604, the son of Owen and Mary Bliss, yeoman.
  • 13.01.1661 Apprenticed in Bristol to Henry Bankes mariner to serve 4 years in Barbados JOHN BLISSE yeoman.
  • Christened at St Peters All Saints, Barbados 25.03.1678-29.09.1679 MARY BLISSE & DOROTHY BLISSE.
  • From list of soldiers under command of Lt/col Sam Tidcomb 11.11.1679 Barbados GEORGE BLISSE SNR, GEORGE BLISSE JNR
  • From list of soldiers under command of maj. Wm Foster Barbados Jan 1679/80 WILLIAM BLISE
  • From list of soldiers taken this 31.12.? belonging to capt. Giles Hall (presumably taken about the same time as the other two lists) WILLIAM BLISS.
  • List of Barbados Inhabitants 1715 Smith MSS vol I
  • MARGRIT BLISS aged 17 St Andrews parish
  • JOHN BLISS family of 1 man 1 woman St Lucys parish.
  • JOHN BLISS aged 35 St Peter All Saints, wife aged 37, 3 sons aged 12,11,2 & daughter aged 16 -12 Oct 1715.
  • Barbados Wills 1681-1720
  • Proved 06.05.1690 Will of JOHN BLISS of St Peter’s All Saints parish signed (x) wife PHYLLIS children THOMAS, JOHN & SARAH BLISS.
  • Proved 28.11.1694 Will of John Kenn of St Lucy’s parish. Named in Will: brothers GEORGE & JOHN BLISS also SARAH BLISS.
  • Proved 20.03.1700/1 Will of Maudlin Hall widow of St Peter’s All Saints parish. THOMAS BLISS (witness)
  • Proved 17.02.1703/4 Will of Sarah Wells widow of St Peter’s All Saints parish. Named in will: SARAH BLISS spinster (goddaughter)
  • Proved 22.01.1712/13 Will of Ann Thomas widow of St Peter’s parish. JAMES BLISS (witness)
  • Proved 08.06.1716 Will of Phyllis Richardson widow of St Peter’s parish. Named in will: THOMAS BLISS (son).
  • Proved 19.10.1719 Will of William Murphy, Planter, of St Lucy’s parish, Barbados. Named in will KATHERINE BLISS (Murphy’s sister) & GEORGE BLISS (brother in law).

Blisses can be found in the records of Barbados throughout the 18thC but we have no knowledge of Bliss inhabitants thereafter.

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New England

The settlement of New England, as everybody knows, began with the voyage of the Mayflower and the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts Nov 11th 1620. The future of New England was not however fully secured until Governor John Winthrop led his fleet of well provisioned pioneers into Boston Bay in 1630.

England was riven by political and religious dissention in those years. There was also widespread economic hardship and thousands began to cross the seas in search of a new and better life. About the year 1638 three Bliss families emigrated to Boston. The story of these three pioneer families and their many American descendants is told in the ‘Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America’ published privately by Aaron Tyler Bliss in 1982. The Bliss FHS recommends all American Bliss family history researchers to consult the above publication if possible. We are willing to do look ups for anyone unable to locate ‘The Genealogy’.

One widespread and completely erroneous idea about the English roots of Thomas Bliss of Hartford, Connecticut should be laid to rest. The false genealogy is becoming ever more widely spread by the power of the internet and the trust still placed in the veracity of a hired researcher in Victorian times.

BELSTONE IN CO. DEVON WAS NEVER THE HOMETOWN OF THOMAS BLISS OR ANY OTHER BLISS. ALL GENEALOGIES BASED ON BLISSES AT BELSTONE ARE MISTAKEN.

These are the first generations of the three Bliss pioneers in New England.

  • THOMAS BLISS of Hartford Connecticut was probably a native of Co. Gloucester, England and we now think he lived his adult life prior to emigrating in the City of Gloucester. First wife? Margaret wife of Thomas Blisse was buried 4 Jun 1621 at St Nicholas church in Gloucester. Thomas had children by his first marriage to Margaret (maidenname unknown) THOMAS born c 1618 ANN born c 1620. Sarah christened 23 Ap 1620 at St Nicholas.Thomas then married Margaret Hulins of Rodborough at Gloucester St Nicholas 18th Oct 1621. Their son Nathaniel was baptised at Rodborough 28th Dec 1622. Other children by Margaret Hulins were MARY born c 1625 LAWRENCE born c 1628 HANNAH born c 1633 JOHN born c 1635 Samuel christened 4 Feb 1637/8 St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester, HESTER & ELIZABETH twins born c 1640 (Hartford?).
  • THOMAS BLISS blacksmith of Rehoboth, Mass., son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants. Married 22 Nov 1614 at Daventry, Co. Northants. DOROTHY WHEATLEY. Children: ELIZABETH bap Daventry 19 Sep 1615 MARY bap Daventry 16 Mar 1617 JANE bap Daventry 14 Jan 1618 (buried 16 Sep 1621) JOHN bap Daventry 21 Nov 1620 (died?) MARTHA bap Daventry 8 Dec 1622 (Note Martha not Nathaniel!) THOMAS bap Daventry 19 Sep 1624 (buried 14 Aug 1628) JONATHAN bap Daventry 2 Apl 1626. Dorothy died and was buried 10th May 1631. Thomas remarried Abigail Southam Feb 1632/3. They had two children but both died and were buried at Daventry. It is not known if Thomas Bliss was accompanied by his second wife when he left for Boston MA c1638 but an Abigail Bliss, blind, was buried at Holy Cross, Daventry 6th Oct 1681.
  • GEORGE BLISS blacksmith of Newport, Rhode Island, son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants and brother of Thomas of Rehoboth. Married 30 May 1635 at Daventry ANN SHAW. One son JOHN born c 1645 (Sandwich Mass.)

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United States

  • Circa 1822 JOHN BLISS, carpenter & sons JOHN EDWARD & WILLIAM SAMUEL emigrated to New York City. John was the son of John & Sarah (nee Pluckwell) of Rochester, Co. Kent.
  • Circa 1835 ROBERT BLISS & wife MARY ANN, nee Dallett who was born in Pennsylvania, emigrated to Westchester and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Robert was born 16 May 1802, the son of William Bliss of Chipping Norton, Co. Oxford. For a time he managed the Bliss Woollen Mills which afterwards became famous for the production of Bliss tweed.
  • 1836/7 JOSEPH BLISS & wife LUCY, nee Warwick, emigrated to unknown State. Joseph was son of Richard & Elizabeth (nee Chambers) of Farthingstone, Northants.
  • Late 1853 THOMAS BLISS with wife ELIZABETH, nee Chapman, & son GEORGE EPHRAIM emigrated to Ballston, NY state with brother:
  • Late 1853 PETER BLISS & wife ANN, nee Townley. Thomas and Peter were sons of Thomas and Ann (nee Aspland) Bliss of Upwell, Co. Cambs and their earlier genealogy may be found in Blissful Times.

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Canada

Little is known about early Bliss settlers in Canada. Several Loyalist Blisses crossed over from the new USA after the Revolutionary war (or the war of American Independence as we know it in Britain). We welcome information about other Bliss arrivals in Canada.

  • WILLIAM BLISS arrived 1748/9 at unknown place.
  • DANIEL BLISS ex Harvard and Concord Mass. was a Loyalist and attained the rank of colonel in the British army. He became a member of the New Brunswick Council 1784
  • JONATHAN BLISS ex Harvard Mass. was a Loyalist who became the first Attorney General of New Brunswick 1784.
  • JOHN BLISS was a Loyalist trooper disbanded after receiving rations at Port Hampton 1802.
  • WILLIAM BLISS aged 2 died at Grosse Isle Immigrant Hospital, Quebec 1834.
  • JOHN BLISS tailor of Bugbrooke, Co. Northants & wife RHODA, nee Billings, emigrated to Pennsylvania circa 1841/2 , thence to New York and eventually resided at Queensville, Ontario.
  • JAMES BLISS arrived Quebec 17 May 1856 from Hull, England. He was the only son of James & Mary (Vicars) Bliss of Upwell, Cambridgeshire, England. He finally settled at Buttonville, Ontario. His earlier pedigree maybe found in Blissful Times.

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Australia

  • JOHN BLISS a victualler of Stoke Goldington Co. Bucks convicted for forging banknotes was transported from Portsmouth to Colus, NSW on board the ‘Admiral Gambier’ 2nd Jul 1808. John was pardoned and was buried at sea 23 Nov 1817 off the Cape of Good Hope on his homeward voyage.
  • ELIZABETH BLISS 19 convicted Aug 1809 at Gloucester Assizes was sentenced to 7 years transportation and arrived in NSW on board the ‘Canada’ 23 Mar 1810.
  • GEORGE BLISS farm labourer of Co. Kent , convicted for theft of meat at Maidstone Sessions, was transported on board the ‘Parkfield’ to NSW 1839. He married Sarah Ann Furrill 1850 at Yass NSW where they had numerous children.
  • JOHN BLISS son of Moses and Sarah of Rochester Kent arrived at Armidale, NSW 1852.
  • GEORGE BLISS 29 & wife LOUISA 32 with daughter LOUISA 2 on board the ‘Earl of Charlemont’ from Liverpool bound for Sidney. Shipwrecked off Barwon Heads Victoria 18 Jun 1853. John was baptised at Balscott, Co. Oxford, the son of John & Elizabeth Bliss. The family probably settled at Balmain NSW.
  • Arrivals in Victoria:
    • JOHN BLISS & wife SARAH ANN, nee Christmas, arrived 6 Apl 1853 at Port Philip Bay on board the ‘Confiance’ with daughter CONFIANCE who was born on voyage. John was the son of Robert & Elizabeth (White) Bliss of Tydd St Mary, Co. Lincoln. His earlier pedigee may be found in Blissful Times.
    • JOHN BLISS 31 arrived in Victoria on board the ‘Lady McNaghten’ May 1853.
    • THEODORE BLISS 20 arrived Victoria on board the ‘Royal George’ Nov 1855.
    • ALFRED BLISS 17 arrived Victoria aboard the ‘Mermaid’ Aug 1857.
    • JOHN BLISS 34 arrived Victoria on board the ‘Kent’ Oct 1857
  • Arrivals in New South Wales:
    • On board the Fairlie 1848:
      • JOHN BLISS 28 brick & tilemaker born Potterspury Co. Northants & wife SARAH 28 dressmaker, nee Horner, born Dudley Co. Warwicks with children JOHN 2 born Yardley Gobion, Northants and GEORGE born Potterspury.
      • THOMAS BLISS 26 brick & tilemaker born Potterspury & wife LOUISA 30 lacemaker, nee Sharon, born Yardley Gobion.
    • On board the Hydasfies 1852:
      • HENRY BLISS 27 stonemason born Hoxton? Co. Middlesex & wife MARY ANN 27 with daughter HYDASFIES ELIZA BLISS born on voyage.
    • On board the ‘New Britain’ 1857:
      • JOB BLISS 20.
    • On board the Pericles 1877:
      • ISAAC BLISS 24 born Middlesex Arrival at Moreton Bay, Brisbane
    • On board the Erato 1878:
      • GEORGE BLISS 29 clothier born Northampton & wife SOPHIA born Lincolnshire.

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New Zealand

  • JESSIE REBECCA BLISS 21 left Plymouth on board the ‘Piako’ for New Zealand 1877.

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