William Henry Blagdon was born to John Blagdon and Elizabeth Thomas (Hall) Blagdon, and christened on 28 October 1827 in Heavitree, Devon, England. He appears on the 1841 census, aged 15, living with his parents and siblings in Bath Place, Plymouth St Andrew.
In 1848, William (a brickmaker like his father) married young widow Elizabeth (Harris) Pine in Plymouth. Elizabeth already had a three-year-old girl (Mary) from her first marriage, and together she and William had Alfred James 1849 (the same year as little Mary died), and Mary Elizabeth 1851. However, tragedy struck in 1852, as reported in the local newspaper:
"FATAL FIRE. - Yesterday (Thursday) morning about half-past two o'Clock a fire broke out in a house in Vauxhall Place, Vauxhall-street, whereby three lives were lost. It appears that Mr.Blagdon, who is a brick maker, was at work at some distance, and his wife went to bed leaving the candle burning It is supposed that the candle by some accident caught the clothes of the bed and soon spread over the room. Mrs Blagdon and her two children (a boy and a girl) were in bed together, and when the policeman went into the room, the woman was lying partly out of the bed, as if she had made an effort to get out of the room, and the smoke overcoming her strength, she fell back suffocated. The woman is 33 years of age, the boy three years old, and the infant twelve months. The West of England engine was soon on the spot to render the necessary assistance in extinguishing the flames, but it was more than half an hour after it arrived, before any water could be procured. The Mayor, A. Rooker, Esq., was present, rendering his valuable aid. The sufferers were not much burnt, so that it would appear that suffocation was the cause of their death." 
The following year, William married Caroline Frances Commings. Together, the couple had Caroline Elizabeth 1854 (died age 2), Louisa Jane 1855, William Henry 1858, Amelia Matilda 1860, Kate Elizabeth 1862, Alfred John 1863, and Edward Albert James 1867.
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