Sorry, Maureen that I didn't reply sooner to your extremely helpful posting.
Yes, you're right about Samuel Blade being a grocer& draper. He was also a collector of Taxes which made me think there might be some connection between the two families. Do you think your Thomas is related to John Blade of Holt?
I too am looking back to the 18th century but am not as far on as you are with your research.
I am also going forward from the mid 19th century!
I think your surmises detailed in your reply are likely to be correct. I plan to go to Norfolk Record Office & look further next spring. I will be in touch before I go & will let you know how I get on.
Thank you for all the information. Kind regards, Elizabeth