Copyright, 1907, by






In 1845, my father, Mr. Thomas Balch, soon after his admission to the New York Bar, began to collect the information contained in this book. He never ceased in this aim until his death in 1877. After graduating at Harvard, I took up the work as he had left it and slowly added to the material in hand. In searching for facts, I often was misled into exploring a false trail. Gradually, the evidence sifted down to rock-bottom. I have taken the utmost care to verify all statements, and yet there are certainly errors in this work, for in a genealogy covering a period of more than four centuries, it is impossible to avoid them. In 1886 and 1897 I visited in Somersetshire, Bridgwater, and in 1897 Ilminster and Horton, collecting on both trips valuable information. The documents in the archives in England I have had copied by competent experts, but I could not compare them with the originals. They are here reprinted in extenso.

It is my hope sometime in the future to publish an addenda to this book, incorporating new information and corrections. And I begin at once by adding that one of the Robert Balches of Bridg


water bought about 1682 the house of Admiral Blake, the hero of that town, and that the Balch family lived in it about sixty years. In 1777 another Robert Balch was Mayor of Bridgwater. These items are gleaned from the Rev. Dr. Powell's recent book, The Ancient Borough of Bridgwater. I have forgotten to state that there is a handsome steel engraving of the Rev. Dr. Stephen Bloomer Balch by John Sartain, as well as a water color painting of him, probably also by Sartain, and a miniature on ivory belonging to the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia; and that my father was elected in 1875 an honorary member of Whig Hall at Princeton. As members of the family fought on different sides during our Civil War over the slavery question—two held commissions from the Union and two from the Confederacy-so during the Civil War in England between the King and the Parliament, some supported the former and some, according to family traditions, the latter in the struggle over the form of government. In this book there is much relating to Presbyterianism, because many of the personages spoken of in the book were Calvinists. I am proud of them, especially of the old gentleman, my bisaïeul, who planted and then for fifty-three years preached the Gospel in the District of Columbia; but I do not wish it thought that I think the sum of righteousness is to be found in any one church. Others of my ancestors were Episcopalians, Quakers, Huguenots, Catholics, Lutherans, and at least one, Major-General Thomas Harrison, an Independent. All these churches, and many others besides, it seems to me, have a raison d'être in the world.

The contents of this book can have an interest for only a small number of people, and that is my excuse for including in it all sorts and manner of information, and reprinting some articles that otherwise would be practically lost to that circle of readers: and I recommend this work to some future worker on the same subject, who, profiting by the discovery of new documents, especially in England, may explain points that at present are obscure. It would be of much interest to find exactly where the two emigrants were born. In all probability they were remote kinsmen. It has not been my aim to write a complete genealogy, but to publish all the information at present available of the family in England, and of the descendants of John Balch “of Maryland.” I have referred also in a few pages to John Balch “of Massachusetts" and some of his descendants. As valuable and interesting family papers have twice suffered from destruction by fire in the past-first in 1831, when the house of my bisaieul in Georgetown was burnt, and second in 1856, when some family letters that my father had left with the binder for mounting and binding were likewise destroyed—I have sought to place all


information in my hands, that has come either through my father, or that I have myself collected, beyond any such recurrence in the future. Finally, believing it is good to have some reverence for the experiences of the past as we prepare for the future, I have acted on the thought expressed by Charles Lamb in one of his sonnets:

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“'Tis man's worst deed
To let the things that have been' run to waste,
And in the unmeaning present sink the past:
In whose dim glass even now I faintly read
Old buried forms, and faces long ago."


In my work in our own country, I have received assistance from many kind friends, especially Charles Penrose Keith, Esq., the Rev. Louis F. Benson, D. D., John W. Jordan, Esq., and Miss May Atherton Leach, all of Philadelphia.

T. W. B.


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PHILADELPHIA, January 17th, 1907.


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