Part Two (and Three)
In 1978, after a visit to Exeter in Devon, I wrote an account of what I had discovered about my Millman ancestry there (see Part One). It was a short visit and I didn't pursue the matter very far. But I was pleased to have discovered, with the help of the Devon Record Office and the 1871 Census, the particular area of Exeter where Joseph Millman, my grandfather, was born - and the identity of his father and Millman grandfather, who also resided there. I had concluded, rather naively, that this area - of Coombe Street in Exeter - was probably where our Millmans originated - since 'people didn't move about much before the 1800s'. This conclusion, based then on limited genealogical experience, proved of course to be quite mistaken.
I had hoped however to examine earlier Census records of the Victorian era on some future occasion - to learn more about the early Exeter Millmans. I did this, eventually, and more besides. In the interim, I became more interested in genealogy generally and spent considerable time seeking to resolve a mystery in the background of my wife's family. (See account of the Jermy and Spurgeon families elsewhere on this website.) These searches took place in Norfolk and London and, in turn, aroused my interest in several gentry families in East Anglia, in the English Civil War and earlier history. It also led to doing considerable genealogical research for people in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere in England.
After some time, I returned to giving more thought to my own Devon forebears. Two further trips to Exeter and several to record offices in London produced considerable material, despite a few blind alleys. This present account (Part Two) attempts to convey the main findings without cluttering up the narrative with excess detail on the many sources and lines of reasoning on which it depends. But some of this in inevitable if one is to convey an idea of the challenge and sense of discovery involved. I began by seeking out the Exeter Census for 1861.
The Census in Britain is taken every 10 years, having commenced in 1801. However, details at the individual level were not shown until the Census of 1841. Census records can be examined at a repository in London after 100 years. Those for 1891, for instance, were released on January 1st 1992 and for 1901 on January 1st 2002. As mentioned, my initial interest had been directed to the Census of 1871 - for the Coombe Street area of Exeter. This revealed a number of Millman families whom I assumed at the time were all related. This now seems unlikely. There were several lines of Millmans in Devon, originating independently around the water-mills of Dartmoor before the 13th century, often miles apart; no doubt several unrelated families eventually moved to Exeter and more than one to the Coombe Street area. My main interest was in finding an entry for the household of one William Millman, my grandfather's grandfather. This is reported here (from Part One) to allow comparisons with the later findings of this Part:
Being 43+ in early 1871 implied that William was born about 1827 - somewhere in Exeter. As there were about 20 parishes in Exeter at the time, this wasn't particularly useful in establishing his origins or parents' names. Had the parish been specified, one may have consulted the relevant church register forthwith for details of his baptism, or his parents' marriage, to this end. (In fact, the parish in which Coombe Street fell, St Mary Major, was an obvious first choice to try in this regard, but wasn't appreciated at the time. However, as it turned out, he wasn't baptised there in any case, although would himself eventually marry and reside there.)
The above Census entry shows my great grandfather Joseph Millman (Snr), then aged 9, who was destined to perish in the tragic fire at the Theatre Royal, Exeter in 1887 (see Part 1) when aged 26. He would marry Jane Woodhouse in 1880 when just 19 and besides having a son Joseph Jnr (my grandfather to be and only 5 when his father died), had one daughter Harriet (and possibly a second - Jane - although this needs confirming). When I renewed the investigations into my Millman background, I first sought out the 1861 Census to see if, amongst other things, it might show specific parishes of birth (these being typically shown for many cities and smaller towns and villages). This Census was examined and revealed the following:
Unfortunately, specific parishes of birth were again not shown. William was already in his fish business while his wife Elizabeth was seemingly engaged in some kind of sewing, probably at home. Her age shown in the 1871 Census was apparently an error and the present one likely the more valid. It is now seen that their son William was not the eldest child. The two older ones, Thomas and Sarah, would seem to have left the family home before 1871, while young Joseph Jnr (bn 1862/63) was yet to appear. The two youngest, Susan and Frederick, had presumably died in the interim - to be replaced in a sense by the later-born twins Mary and Jane. The unusual second name given to eldest son Thomas was assumed to be Elizabeth's maiden name - this style of naming often being adopted locally when, as was often the case, a first child came along rather too early (yes; see below). [The son William (b 1854) joined the Navy in 1870 but seems to have been at home on Census night in 1871; he would be just 7 in 1861.]
One was now curious to see what the earlier 1851 Census might reveal. Was this family already there on Coombe Street, Exeter that year? Eldest son Thomas was born about 1849 and so this family unit was apparently already established by then. The Coombe Street area was therefore searched in this earlier Census and although house numbers were not now specified, William's household was again found - in a position relative to other familiar names to indicate that it represented the same family, living at or near the same location:
Again, we still have no information on William's parish of birth and thus on his parentage, our major concern. He was but a Labourer in these early years of his marriage, while Elizabeth was possibly 'taking in laundry' to help out. Wages in those days were literally pennies per week. One clue to the name of William's father may reside in the choice of name given his first son, Thomas, especially as he was to name his next boy after himself. Support for this idea arose almost at once when another entry in the 1851 Census for Coombe Street was noted. This revealed the following family living nearby:
This family had not been found on Coombe Street in either of the two later Censuses - of 1861 or 1871. Was this elder Thomas Millman the father of William therefore? Being a Mason's labourer, he quite likely worked on the nearby Cathedral, which required continual stone repair. This could account for why the family first came to the Coombe Street area of Exeter. But this man's children were all born in Crediton, a small market town about 10 miles north of Exeter - while William had been shown consistently as born in Exeter itself - albeit a fitting year or two before the above Harriet who, unlike William, was still living with her parents. Moreover, the birth of the father Thomas in Dartmouth - some 30 miles south of Exeter - required a quantum leap in our perception of the origin of our line of the Millmans. What to think?
It turned out that this Thomas was indeed our William's father, while his mother's actual name seems to have been Thomasine, although officials recording same turned it into such as 'Thomsin', Tamzen, 'Thomasin', 'Townsend', 'Tamazin', etc - as well as the above oddity. Having first established that none of the relevant Millmans were in the Coombe Street area according to the next earlier Census - that for 1841 - the latter Census was then checked for Crediton. The 1851 Census had indicatedthat Thomasine, at least, has been living there 10 years before - as Sarah and Richard were shown as born to her there, about that time. Indeed, the family may have resided there for some years before this. The following confirmation was in fact then found:
The presence of 14 year old William in this house provided further support that we had indeed found his father in this Thomas. Unfortunately, the 1841 Census does not give places of birth, other than as shown, nor occupations for the children. The ages of some of the latter do not prove fully consistent with those shown in 1851. However, the enumerators often relied on various informants for their data and names and ages may not always be accurately matched in later copies. Ages for adults in 1841 were only given to the nearest 5 years below actual age. Although he lived in the town (Bowden Hill is still in Crediton today, near the centre of this small market town), Thomas must have worked on one of the many farms abutting the town, as did about a dozen other heads of local households. Others living on this same street also included Bakers, Grocers, Painters, Gardeners, Carpenters, Thatchers and Shoemakers. One of the latter was a William Benellick, aged about 35+, with wife Sarah and 3 children. He will prove relevant later in our story.
Having confirmed with the Census that the family did live in Crediton at this time, we could then examine the appropriate church registers to determine that these children were indeed born and baptised there and also whether or not William in particular was. As expected, Harriet was born in Crediton, in 1829, as were all the younger children, including two sons - Thomas and James - baptised in 1837 and 1839, respectively, although both died in infancy before they could be recorded in any later Census. But, fittingly, William was not born in Crediton - thus supporting the likelihood that, as the William shown in later Censuses to be born in Exeter, in about 1827, he could with even less doubt be the son of Thomas and Thomasine, who only moved to Crediton in about 1828, it now appeared. Confirmation was also obtained of the birth of Thomasine herself in Crediton (as noted in later Census records), she being baptised there - as 'Thomazin' - on Feb 27th, 1803, the daughter of Richard Puddicombe and wife Mary. (This entry was in fact only found after the discovery of her maiden name when her marriage details were located, as discussed below.) Her parents' lines (and thus ours) can be traced back in Crediton to about 1625 ! Devonshire is indeed in our blood.
If William, their first-born, had been born in Crediton, one might reasonably have sought evidence of the marriage of Thomas and Thomasine in this same town - just a year or so earlier, say. This was checked in any case and it was confirmed that, fittingly, they had not married there. Also, we knew that Thomas wasn't born in the local area himself, but in relatively far-off Dartmouth - a port on the south coast. Before seeking to discover more about Thomas however, where he and Thomasine met and married and why their first child, William, was born in Exeter, it was thought useful to first complete our picture about William and his wife Elizabeth. When and where did they marry? And when did William leave Crediton - where he had lived for most of his early life - to return to his birth town to live and marry? We may recall that his wife-to-be was herself also born in Exeter.
As with the church registers for Crediton, the relevant registers for Exeter could be similarly examined to the extent they pertain to Millmans identified through Census records. Coombe Street was, as mentioned earlier, in the parish of St Mary Major. It bordered the Cathedral precincts but the church itself was either destroyed by German bombs in 1942 or just taken down subsequently. But copies of the original registers happily survived and these do record various Millman 'events' - of baptism, marriage and burial. Amongst these was that for the marriage of William Millman, labourer, age 23 to Elizabeth Fone, a servant, age 21 - on June 24th, 1850. Their fathers were named as Thomas Millman and Joseph Fone, respectively - both labourers - while witnesses were a William Benellick and Harriet Millman. The surname 'Benellick' was rather rare in Devon and this man was very probably Thomas's former (1841) neighbour in Crediton, the shoemaker; Harriet would seem to have been William's nearest sister.
We now had strong evidence that William Millman was indeed born to Thomas and Thomasine. The 1850 marriage date leaves William and Elizabeth's first son - Thomas - awkwardly 'pre-conceived'. A search of the baptism register showed that a Thomas Millman Fone was baptised - on Aug 10th, 1849 - born to an unwed Elizabeth Fone. This naming style was often insisted upon by the Vicar and William did respond, eventually, to this 'pressure'. After the marriage, young Thomas was hence-forth known and described only as 'Thomas Fone Millman and I note that at his marriage in 1874, in St Mary's, this was his accepted name and that later, his children were also all baptised as 'Millman'.
So, when did young William leave Crediton - to 'return' to his birthplace of Exeter? Checking St Mary registers for earlier years, a baptism was noted in 1844 for a Thomas Millman, the second of this name born to Thomas and Thomasine. As with the earlier one, he too died young. The family had thus returned to Exeter, as expected, and were then living on Preston Street, one street west of Coombe Street. And on this same street, possibly in the same house, lived William Benellick and family, who also had a child baptised there about this time. Seemingly, therefore, both Thomas and friend William Benellick, with families (including William, then 16) left Crediton around 1843 - to (re)settle in Exeter. The rural economy was in turmoil then with increasing use of mechanisation on the farms driving thousands into the cities. Thomas and family moved over to nearby Coombe Street before 1851 and his son William, recently married, continued residing there after his father Thomas's death - in 1855, aged just 55 (as noted in the burial register). This now explained the absence of any entry for Thomas and his household in the later (post-1851) Census returns we had examined earlier.
When the 1851 Census was re-checked, it was noticed that next door to Thomas and family on Coombe Street, possibly in the same building, were William Benellick, shoemaker, age 39, and family - all born in Crediton. They too had moved over from Preston Street. Many years later, around 1895, a Samuel Benellick was a contemporary of my grandfather Joseph at the orphanage school in London. Both fathers had perished in the Theatre fire in 1887. Amazingly, the present account will show later how the Millmans and the Benellicks in fact knew each other for almost a century before those later contacts and well before those in Crediton itself.
Thomasine lived on until 1879, aged 77. Her son William Millman (born 1827) was still alive in 1881 and his second son, also William (born 1854) had been in the Royal Navy and was later a House Painter. He was the one who identified his younger brother Joseph Millman Snr after the Theatre fire in 1887. My grandfather Joseph Millman Jnr spoke about this man - his 'uncle Bill' - who, strangely, was later to become a Doorman at the re-built Theatre Royal - when relating stories about the two of them travelling (very happily) around southern England together on an early motorbike, selling Encyclopaedias, in about 1916. This was after Joseph had returned with his young family from Canada where they'd settled for a time around 1909-14. This photo was taken in about 1909.
After the war, they would return permanently to Canada - in 1921. My father Robert Millman, having thus been briefly at a Canadian school around 1913, would tell his new classmates back in England that he used to ride to school on a horse, shooting Indians with a bow and arrow! He later won a scholarship to a Bristol Grammar school. Interestingly, Joseph would later sell Encyclopaedias throughout the west of Canada and America in the early 1920s, before helping to establish the first string of suburban cinemas in Vancouver, eventually sold to the Famous Players chain. He ended up happily managing one of these (the Kitsilano on West 4th Avenue) for many years, until his retirement in about 1955. As boys growing up there, my older brother Bob and I enjoyed free Saturday morning movies for some years. Joseph died in 1963, aged 81. God Bless him. [See eventually Part 3 for more on the early life of Joseph and family.]
But back to Thomas and Thomasine. Where did they meet and marry - before having William? Was it in Exeter - where this first son was born in 1827 - ie before they moved temporarily to Crediton (for several years) - later returning to Exeter in about 1843? Conveniently, it was at about this point in my searchings that I discovered something called the Mormon's 'International Genealogical Index' or IGI. This is an alphabetic index on microfiche of the baptism and marriage entries from a large proportion of the parish church registers in each English county. They cover from about 1550 to 1850, after which the civil registers begin to provide basically the same information. Copies are held at most county record offices.
The IGI for Devon shows over a thousand Mil(l)man entries - spelt about equally with one or two 'l's - up to 1850 or so. There are many fewer of this surname in other counties, where those first associated with mills were, from about 1300, more typically accorded the name 'Miller'. In Devon, the name Mil(l)man occurs by the 16th and 17th centuries in 5 or 6 major clusters around the periphery of Dartmoor, a highish granite and moor area about 20 miles across (now a national park) from which tumble a dozen or so major rivers or streams. In earlier times, each had several water-driven mills working on them and hence the original scattered distribution of the name. Over the centuries, many of these people migrated into the two major cities of the area - Exeter and Plymouth - and thence to such as Bristol, London and Overseas, including my grandfather - the younger Joseph. However, compared to many Devon names, such as Luscombe, Bowden, Churchward, etc there were in fact relatively few Millmans.
Devon is quite well covered by the IGI (about 70%) and Exeter itself even better. Thus, it was relatively easy to find that Thomas Millman married Townsend (!) Puddicombe on Sept 14th, 1826 in the small Exeter parish of St Pancras. Thus identified, one could then examine that actual parish register on which this brief extract was based and find that both these newly-weds were said therein to then be 'of that parish'. This was often not the case but it apparently saved paying a small fee to claim so. We may thus ask next - how it came about that Thomas and Thomasine met? Was either Exeter or Crediton a common denominator? Did the Millmans (or at least Thomas) know either the Puddicombes or the Benellicks of Crediton before 1826? A witness at the marriage was a William Millman, quite possibly Thomas's father. No other information was given - as the names of either set of parents. I did notice that there were just two other Millman marriages in this very small parish about this time. They seemed to concern Thomas's sisters and thus suggest that the family did reside for a time at least in St Pancras, Exeter in the early to mid-1820s. But no Millmans had been baptised there or in other nearby Exeter parishes in any previous generations. They seem to have come to reside there from elsewhere - just a few years earlier. But from where? Was it Dartmouth - Thomas's apparent birthplace ? Quite possibly. But how did he come to leave the south - to reside in Exeter and to meet and marry a Crediton girl ? However, before considering Thomas and Dartmouth further...
I next sought evidence in the IGI for confirmation of the birth or baptism in Exeter of Thomas's first son William Millman - from whom our family descends. He was indeed baptised there - on July 1st, 1827 - (the year estimated) - at the Exeter parish church of St Sidwell - born to 'Thomas Millman and wife Thomasine' - with Thomas now described as a Plasterer. For some reason, they soon left Exeter for the more rural life of Thomasine's hometown of Crediton where, as mentioned, their next child, Harriet, was born in 1829 and Thomas began working in agriculture - the most common employment in rural England at the time - especially for those with little or no education or apprentice-based skills. Several more children were then born to them there, as noted above - before their return to Exeter in 1843. Elder son William, after working for a time in Exeter as a labourer, was the first in the family to try his luck as a Fish Hawker there - a few years after he had married. [During searches made some years after these aspects were investigated, I came across an Index of members of H.M. Navy for the years 1815 to 1880 and noted a William Milman served on H.M.'s ships 'Sidon', 'Antelope' and 'Oberon' during 1847 to 1850. As his son William was apparently also in the Navy for a time, this man could well be our William (born 1827); this will be investigated further.]
Dartmouth was also covered by the IGI and so this area was next examined avidly for information on Thomas's parentage and family. He was born about 1800, according to the Census findings, but there was, surprisingly, no baptismal entry (as per the IGI) for a Thomas Mil(l)man in any of Dartmouth's three parish churches around that period. The actual parish registers were then checked our as well but again no entry was found. The same applied to all parishes in the surrounding area. This was most frustrating. Where was he baptised and who were his parents? That is, from where and from whom did our Millmans ultimately derive - seemingly in south Devon?
To this point, we may summarise our findings in an outline pedigree showing the Millmans of Exeter - as derived from Thomas Millman - settled there from at least 1825, say, until 1900 or so (showing the main line of descent only): [Note: The younger Joseph Millman's wife below should be Jane, not Elizabeth.]
The discovery in the 1851 Census that Thomas was apparently born in Dartmouth, a port town 30 miles south of Exeter, opened up new avenues to explore. Exeter and the Coombe Street area was not, after all, to be the original home of our Millmans. Who was Thomas's father and where was he, and thus the Millmans generally, from? If we recall the suggestion that the choice of name given by Thomas's son William to his first son - namely Thomas - implied the name of his father (which proved correct), we can apply this same logic to the Dartmouth-born Thomas. He named his first son William, in 1827. We may recall also that a witness at his marriage in 1826 had this same name - quite possibly his father. 'William Millman' thus seemed a most reasonable bet as the name of Thomas's father and hence of the person from whom our line of Millmans descend. But who was this particular William and where were his family settled ?
As mention, there was no evidence that Thomas was born where he said - in or near Dartmouth - around the turn of that century. The long search to establish his origins would be too tedious to relate here in detail, with the rationale of why one considered this area or approach, that blind alley, etc. As it turned out, Thomas may well have been born in Dartmouth, and around 1800 as stated - but he certainly wasn't baptised there. And in those days, there was no other record of one's birth (and often precious little of one's later existence). Eventually however, a baptism was located for Thomas - dated 1801 - but not in or near Dartmouth. It was, rather surprisingly, in relatively distant Cornwall - in the quaintly named parish of St Cuby - in the village of Tregony, not far from Truro on the south coast. But this is getting ahead of our story.
When examining in vain the IGI, and the local parish registers, for evidence of Thomas's birth or baptism in Dartmouth, it was noticed that there were at least other Millman events recorded there, as well as in surrounding villages. In particular, I was intrigued by the Dartmouth baptism on Sept 24th, 1802 of a son William born to one William Millman and his wife Susannah, recalling that this was the name considered most likely for Thomas's father (and brother). But, if this couple were his parents - at the baptism of a younger brother William - why was a record of Thomas's own baptism not also available here, his stated place of birth, about a year or two earlier, as expected ? Usefully, another event noticed on the IGI concerned the marriage between a William Millman and Susannah Granville on Mar 23rd, 1798 in nearby Brixham, another local port - just three miles from Dartmouth. Was this the same couple who had had the son William baptised in Dartmouth 4 years later? It seemed most likely. There were no other baptisms locally in the name of this couple in the interim. There was however a burial in Dartmouth in the name of a William Millman the following year - in Sept 1803. Sadly, the register did not indicate whether this was an infant or an adult. I later concluded he must be an infant and most probably the William born and baptised there in 1802 - the son of William and Susannah.
This latter decision came about after noting from the IGI that two other children were soon born to William and Susannah - in the nearby market town of Ashburton - in 1807 and 1809. And one of these was christened William - who could thus have replaced the deceased earlier-born son of this same name. [I seem to have given no further attention to locating any future for these two boys; If they survived, one or other may have married around 1830 and any son born to either may have done so himself by ca 1855, say, and have yet another of this common name shortly after. If so, might that man, or his father, still have any contact with his Crediton-Exeter relations ?] Ashburton is about 10 miles inland from Dartmouth, on the edge of Dartmoor. There were no other couples marrying or residing nearby then with these same names. Did they eventually move on to St Pancras, Exeter by 1820 or so, with their young family, seeking work after the Napoleonic Wars ? This now seemed the most likely scenario.
By this point in my searchings, I had become quite interested in the main family of Mil(l)mans living in the general area between Dartmouth/Brixham on the coast and Ashburton, some miles inland. The parish of Paignton in particular was clearly a centre for this family, at least during the 18th century, from which they slowly spread to nearby villages and towns - including Dartmouth and Brixham. Might not Thomas and in particular his father, a William Millman seemingly, be of this family? I pursued this line of enquiry for many months and in the process learned a lot about some very interesting Milmans (as their name was most generally spelt) - back to about 1600. My conclusion at this time is that William and thus Thomas may well be of this family - there being at least two Williams in it born at the right time for one of them to become Thomas's father. Moreover, the name Thomas in particular looms larger in that family (ie in regard to Millmans) than elsewhere. But before I could consolidate or confirm this conclusion, my investigations were enticed into another line of enquiry - which in any case should probably have taken precedence - that of first locating Thomas's own baptism details and confirming that his father was indeed this particular William (with wife Susannah). In the mean time, I left my extensive analysis of this Paignton family, with its fitting two or more Williams and several Thomases, in temporary abeyance - ready to resume as and when needed.
The search for Thomas's seeming father William and the former's baptism details (as touched on above) was resumed when, on a short holiday to Devon in 1990, I happened to check the actual parish register for the church in Brixham where William Millman married Susannah Granville. I had been toying with the idea for some time that this William may well have been a) Thomas's father and b) a William of the nearby Paignton family. I had previously noted only the brief extract of the Brixham marriage in the IGI. But the full entry in the actual register was more revealing:
The name of the witness proved crucial in establishing that this William was indeed our Thomas's father. Although he was many miles from Crediton, Richard Puddicombe's name was too unusual to have been a coincidence. Clearly, William and Richard were young friends whose as yet unborn offspring - Thomas and Thomasine - were destined one day (in 1826) to marry. It later transpired that Richard too was a member of this same Militia regiment - then stationed near Brixham. But, just as the presence of Richard's name established in an instant the first of my two hypotheses - that this William Millman was indeed the father of our Thomas and hence our earliest certain ancestor - so in that same instant did the fact that he was then in the Militia greatly weaken the second one - the perception that he was very likely one of the William Millmans of the Paignton family. For his marriage and presence in Brixham, and soon after in Dartmouth, both so near Paignton, may now have arisen without him necessarily being (most likely) of that local Millman/Milman family. Rather, it did allow him, not too unreasonably, to be in this area without such a connection. He could still be of Paignton initially but, conceivably, he may now have been from elsewhere in Devon or Cornwall. But was he, and how to resolve this uncertainty ?
William's regiment hadn't long been stationed in Brixham before his marriage and three weeks of this time was needed to post banns. He may well have known Susannah before arriving in Brixham therefore, or even before joining up. The small but regular new wages would allow many men to fulfil such delayed marriage plans. Most young men by far had very little money in those days. This could well imply that they were both fairly local. Secondly, as learned later, William had joined the Militia, in early 1796, in Plymouth - the relatively local major city in this southern part of Devon. This too could support the idea that he was from somewhere in the south of the county at least - and thus quite near Brixham or Dartmouth - namely, such as Paignton; especially if there were no other appropriately aged William Millmans born in that southern part of the county. In contrast, Richard Puddicombe and, as learned later, one of the Benellick family, had joined when that same Cornish regiment was recruiting for a time at Crediton, considerably more north in the county, some months earlier. William would strongly seem to have become friends with Richard Puddicombe and John Benellick only after joining up - and thus appears not to have come from their more northerly area. (This was later confirmed - as far as one could tell.) He was more likely of a southern Devon family - possibly the only one for whom the name Thomas was so common - ie that of Paignton.
More recent information suggests another possible basis for William and Susannah becoming engage or having 'an understanding' - ie around 1795/6, say. Brixham and Dartmouth were ports which served a large fishing and merchant shipping industry. Many local (south Devon) men found this the major source of employment in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It turns out that there was a William Millman serving on one such boat - the Unity - during 1789-92 (approximately) - aged about 18 to 22 over those years - and who was, significantly, shown as born in Paignton!! And, several other Mil(l)mans from Paignton were also noted in these same PRO records, including a Thomas Milman. This family, touched on above, will be discussed further below. It could thus be the case that there was also on such boats, serving with William or with one of his brothers or cousins, a brother or father of Susannah Granville - through whom William may well have met his future bride. This would of course require evidence that this Paignton-born William's marine career ended before our William joined the Militia in 1796 - thereby supporting the idea that they were in fact one and the same man (and, significantly, that our William was therefore of the Paignton family). Such evidence is presently being sought and will be detailed after his Militia career is first considered in more detail (ie see below).
Such a move - from sea to land - by 1796, would allow William to see a future wife much more regularly than would be the case with long trips at sea and this too could help account for their marriage in Brixham. Although it was the Cornish Militia that William and his future friends were to join, a bulk of its men were in fact traditionally drawn from south and mid-Devon, even though these regions also had Militia regiments of their own. But Cornish men (often tin miners in employment) were usually ready to offer payments to others (eg from Devon) to serve as 'Substitutes' for them. It was the time of the Napoleonic wars and most young men were Volunteers, Conscripts, or Substitutes - unless they paid for the latter, or were Officers from the gentry, merchant or professional classes. The bulk of young men by far at that time were however not in the latter classes - who represented a restricted elite of no more than 10 % of the population.
1. In the Cornish Militia: 1796 - 1802.
It now appeared most probable that William Millman (certainly he of the Militia) was indeed Thomas's father, although Thomas's baptism details were at this point still lacking. It seemed sensible to learn what we could about William and his origins. Possibly the name of his parents or his parish of birth or residence might be recorded in conjunction with his enlistment or subsequent career in the Militia? [We might also ask this same question of any prior career at sea; See later.]
Since Elizabethan times or earlier, every parish in England was expected to maintain a body of fit young men able to fight for their country - but only within the country - in the Militia. Those in regular Army regiments, on the other hand, could be required to fight overseas. In peacetime, the Militia would muster monthly to drill, practise archery or, later, rifle shooting, etc. During times of war, such groups were more formally organised by the county Lord Lieutenant who would select members of the local gentry to serve as officers - from Colonel of the Regiment down to Captains of the 10 or so Companies that comprised each Regiment. In Devon, there were about 40,000 young men who were eligible to serve in the Militia under such officers, although about 5,000 of these would be exempt due to having various professional or commercial responsibilities. From the remaining 25,000 or so, only 1500 would be called up during a given mobilization - to serve typically as Privates in one of Devon's 3 Militia regiments - at 500 men per regiment. Cornwall had fewer available men and would only mobilize one such regiment - in which served many Devon men also.
In 1793, with the fear of invasion by Napolean, this Militia organisation became more formalised. Every county raised between one and three such Militia regiments. They were often posted to areas away from their home territories where they could serve to control riots or disorder more impersonally than on their home grounds. This could entail marching about the country, as ordered from a headquarters in London, in a seemingly random manner. They also continued to recruit while on these marches so that a man in Dorset, say, might join a visiting regiment from Norfolk or Sussex or wherever. They were usually quartered in makeshift 'barracks' and tented camps although some of the married men were allowed to find their own accommodation locally for themselves and their families as they moved about the country. For this, they received a few shillings a week more.
From 1793 until 1815 (with brief gaps in 1802 and 1814), the movement of all county Militias were well recorded in various documents that survive in the Public Record Office at Kew. These were submitted to government departments in London at the time, on a monthly or quarterly basis, and provided details of which men had served all or part of each such period, where they had marched and been quartered and what pay they had received. By this means, it was possible to trace a man's career from enlistment until discharge.
The Cornish Militia were thus formally mobilised in March 1793 in their county town of Bodmin but almost immediately marched to Plymouth in south Devon and then to Exeter and east Devon, in order to recruit more Volunteers and Substitutes because of the poor response from their own Cornish men. [The Devon regiments would have been active at this same time as well and will enter our story further below.] By early 1795, the Cornish regiment had become quartered for a considerable time at Crediton in mid-north Devon, still recruiting. Thus, on Feb 19th that year, Richard Puddicombe and three others of that town joined up - there together - apparently as Substitutes. [Some of those who may eventually read this narrative, including myself, would not be here today, in quite our present form, if this man had not decided to join that particular regiment that day. The basis of this statement becomes clearer below. Of course, there are countless examples of such crucial and necessary factors in our respective backgrounds. I am reminded of one of my favourite dictums that 'everything has a cause and the cause of anything is...everything'. Well, one of those myriad 'things' that caused me (and others) was Richard Puddicombe's decision that day. Maybe Napoleon's over-weening ambition was another ?]
About August 1795, the bulk of the Cornish Militia marched back from Crediton to barracks in or near Plymouth, about 40 miles south. On Sept 2nd that year, John Benellick and two others then enlisted into this Militia regiment. It is not clear whether part of the regiment had remained behind at Crediton that summer, so that these three Crediton men had actually joined there but were only registered after the return to Plymouth, or whether they travelled purposely down to Plymouth to join and be with their friends. But, significantly, as with Richard Puddicombe and the three others who joined with him (in Crediton), John Benellick and the two who accompanied him to Plymouth in September, were also born in Crediton - in the 1770s. Some of these other men had relatively common names and had any of them joined up instead on their own, on some other day, it may have been quite difficult to conclude with any confidence just which of several men, sharing such common names in a general area, had actually enlisted; that is, how to determine their exact identities by virtue of where they were from. But when a small group enlist together, on the same day, the discovery that men of just these names were baptised in the same village or town, within a year or so of each other, provides very strong evidence of the origin and thus the identity of each of them.
Thus, although John Benellick did not have a particularly common name, the only other Benellicks then in Devon just happened, awkwardly, to live in Plymouth itself (ie as well as others in Crediton). If the Plymouth family included a John born about the right time, would it be he, or the one from Crediton, who enlisted on Sept 2nd - ie in Plymouth? The fact that the two others who joined with John that day had names identical with two people who were also baptised in Crediton in the mid-1770s, as was a John Benellicks, and the regiment had very recently been recruiting there, strongly supports the conclusion that it was indeed the Crediton John Benellick who joined wwith his colleagues that day. (This was later confirmed) This point is laboured here as it has important relevance below.
The Cornish Militia, now nearly fully up to strength, then remained in Plymouth for the next 9 months. During that winter of late 1795, a number of new men join up. Plymouth was one of the main headquarters for both the Cornish and the South Devon Militias. It was also a major port with both Naval and Marine contingents stationed there. So young men frequently made there way there to enlist in one service or the other of these services. More often than not, therefore, they wouldn't be from the immediate Plymouth area itself. In respect of the Militia regiments, such men may, in addition, have been sent there as 'ballotted' men from their home village; that is, their name had come up in a kind of local draft - there being on average just one in about 15 eligible men to be so selected. Or, they may have come more willing as a Volunteer or as an intended Substitute - when a bonus would be paid by the man being subsituted; unemployment was growing throughout the 1790s and such a bonus could be a significant inducement. When they joined, this status, their place of origin and parent's names were recorded in a Recruitment Book. Unfortunately, these records rarely survive. Nor do those for being ballotted in local parishes. And so it was that, on his own and not with a small group of colleagues of known origin and identity, one
into the Cornish Militia. No others joined that day. Hence, we have no clues whatsoever as to his place of origin, nor therefore as to his identity !
This was most frustrating. What I later did discover was that he had not been ballotted in some parish but had joined as a Substitute - for which he received the usual bonus of £5 after remaining in for a required 5 years. Whether the man he replaced had himself been recently ballotted in some Cornish village say and had soon sought out someone local to serve in his stead or had been in this Militia regiment for a short time and only negotiated with William once at the Plymouth barracks itself, we simply can't say. The latter option seems much more likely (there being few if any Millmans in Cornwall) and thus to be comparable to what transpired earlier at Crediton where such substitutes were all local Devon men. Presumably, fewer substitutes were then required in the South Devon regiment itself. I did check in both the IGI and in parish registers to see if there were any William Millmans born in the large population of Plymouth itself at the appropriate time; there were none; nor anywhere in Cornwall. [Interestingly, there was a Bookbinder named James Millman in Plymouth about this time, as well as an Arthur and Henry Granville in neighbouring Devonport in the same occupation. These coincidences may be followed up in time.]
In fact, in all of Devon, only 4 William Millmans were born at the relevant time (as per the IGI). Two were in the north of the county but both has married and had had their families there and were thus accounted for. The only other two were the cousins in the more southerly Paignton family referred to earlier - for neither of whom is there evidence of either early burials or of a marriage locally - only the marriage of our William in Brixham. Both these Paignton William Millmans were thus 'available' for one of them to equate to our William, the father of Thomas. There was also a third William Millman of Paignton, born to Thomas but, as with at least one other of his sons, not baptised there. Certainly one of these men had served in the Merchant marines in the 1790s. [I later checked in addition all but one of the relevant Devon parishes not covered by the IGI (over 40!) and found not a single William Mil(l)man born in the appropriate period throughout Devon. The one remaining parish was that of Marldon which I had originally understood was also covered by the IGI, but only later discovered that this was up to 1750 only. While statistically any such single parish would normally be very unlikely to reveal any meaningful missed information, it is the intriguing case that this particular parish was in fact immediately next to Paignton - being described as 'a chapelry' of that larger parish; as such, it is more likely to hold some such missing Milman data, if such exists, than almost any other. One was particularly interested to see if there may have been that third William Milman - born specifically to Thomas Milman of that family, since this was the name chosen by William for his apparent first-born son. Moreover, this older Thomas Milman of Paignton would also be expected to have had a namesake son Thomas - whose baptism was also oddly lacking from the number of his known issue in Paignton itself. I await(ed) a later request to the Devon Record Office to search this single missed parish register - with great anticipation.
[NB. The missing baptism record for the younger Thomas Milman at least was indeed later located in that Marldon register by the Record Office staff but sadly that for his expected brother William (admittedly of about 8 or 9 years later) was not. Nor was that for another son - Francis - who would be even more expected as a son of a man whose own father was Rev Francis Milman - significantly, a forename given to sons of all of the 6 brothers of that generation who had at least one son. Still, it indicates that the family did use more than just the main Paignton church at the time and so there may yet be a baptism located elsewhere for the William fully expected to have been born subsequently to this elder Thomas and his wife - around 1770-72. The Mormon index apparently did sometimes miss or mis-spell entries, claim the Record Office, while baptism details were sometimes not entered, even if performed. Otherwise, we still have the elder of the two other Williams of this local family to represent our William almost as well. But, as noted above, Marine records indicted that there was a third William Millman - born in Paignton - did indeed exist - one born nearer to 1770 than in late 1773 or 1775 (as applies to the other two Wiliams). It thus fully supports the contention that there certainly was a William Millman of Paignton whose baptism there - of ca 1770 - was oddly missing just as was that for the younger Thomas, his apparent brother, which was later established.]
There were even fewer Granvilles in south Devon than Millmans and we will also seek evidence as to Susannah's origins. She was not born in Brixham (of where she was said to be in 1798) - nor were there any Granvilles there before her marriage there to William that year. There were one or two families inland, nearer Ashburton, as well as in the Plymouth area, although the name Susannah was not noted amongst them. The above-mentioned marine connection still remains the best possible route to resolve her origin as well. [For example, a John Granville was noted as a Seaman in 1792, said to be born in Dittisham, immediately next to Brixham. This too should be followed up.]
But back to William's career in the Militia. Along with the rest of the regiment, he marched to distant Kent in the summer of 1796 (after 6 months in Plymouth) where they remained over a year. During that time, he was transferred with several others from his original Company to the same one as Richard Puddicombe. It would seem, therefore, that they first met at this point. (While there was a somewhat younger William Milman in the Crediton area in the 1790s (remarkably descended from an off-shoot of the relatively distant Paignton family), it was later discovered that he had married locally and was never in the Militia before 1800 (or later), being too young. Our William was not of that town. (However, it is just possible that he may have spent some time in that place as a youth (ie with an 'uncle') due to his connection with the Paignton family and thereby have had some earlier contact with the Benellicks and Puddicombes - before their shared Militia experiences; this may be pushing things a touch too far but one must leave no stone unturned! This is elaborated later.) The regiment then marched the 200 miles back to Devon in December 1797. By February 1798, their Company, under a Captain Hearle, was stationed at Berry Head on the edge of Brixham. Just one month later, after the posting of banns for three of those weeks, William married Susanna Granville there on March 23rd - with Richard Puddicombe as, in effect, 'best man'.
The question thus remains - when and where did William and Susannah first meet? It seems most unlikely to have been just days before beginning to post their banns. If it was before he left for Kent, one might appreciate that, with some wages now saved, he may well have asked her to marry him in Brixham - as soon as he returned. While she was described as being 'of that parish', this was often said to avoid paying a fee otherwise imposed. Equally, they may have arranged their new lodgings there and, as of the day they married at least (or a day or two before), she was in truth of that parish. In later postings, this was their usual living arrangement; William being one of those few who always had an allowance to obtain private lodgings for he and his family as they moved about the country. But where did she come from? Did they first meet in Plymouth? He was there for his first 6 months. And there were Granvilles in nearby Stoke Damerel. But there were also a few in Kingsbridge and, as mentioned, Dittisham, not far from Brixham and Dartmouth. Most others lived in Cornwall, although very few Millmans lived there. While apparently not baptised in any of these places herself, Susannah may have been visiting with relatives who resided there - especially in Brixham, Dittisham or Dartmouth - if, for example, her father or brother had indeed sailed out of that port. If they knew (our) William in the merchant marines, he may well have met Susannah through such an intermediate - either there or in Plymouth. This is also to be pursued and discussed later.
Over the next few months, William's Company remained in the Brixham and Dartmouth areas. In April 1798, a Thomas Millman was buried in Dartmouth. It was again not stated if he was an infant or adult. No one of this name was baptised locally in the previous decade. If he was an adult, as I suspect, could he have been William's father or, more equally, a brother or cousin? If he was, he may well have been from the nearby Paignton line with its frequent use of the name Thomas. Initially, I wasn't certain where this Thomas would fit in, but he now appears to be the Thomas Milman of the merchant marines described in 1795 as being 'of Paignton' and thus the one who had married there in 1785 and for whom a baptism there - around 1762 - appeared (at first) to be lacking. This too may be clarified when the Marldon register has been examined. The Paignton burial register should also show one such Thomas not accounted for. [This later proved to be the case; his baptism was located in Marldon (as explained now above) and there was no burial for him elsewhere locally. He appears a crucial linking factor. See below for further details.]
In June 1798, Captain Hearle's Company, including Private William Millman, were ordered to Plymouth where they remained for the next year - to October 1799. They were then sent to Somerset, a neighbouring county east of Devon, until the following April (1800). Significantly, they then returned to Dartmouth, a frequent posting, remaining there a year - to May 1801. It was, we may recall, during this period - in mid 1800 - that our Thomas was shown to have been born in Dartmouth (according to his later Census and burial records) although, as stated above, he was not baptised there. So church registers were now scrutinised in relevant areas of Plymouth and Somerset in case he had been baptised in either place - even if born in Dartmouth. But still no evidence was found. At least William's posting to Dartmouth around 1800 does prove consistent with our understanding of Thomas's reported place and year of birth - in that port town - and to a William Millman.
We might also consider the reasonable possibility that William and Susannah may have had an earlier child - born between December 1798 and April 1799, say (or even earlier, if not baptised for some months after its birth). If such a child was a first son named Edward (who could have died in childhood - possibly born and buried in Plymouth (or ?) - some years after the births and naming of Thomas and the second William (otherwise any second son would likely have been re-given this same name), we would have even less doubt about William's origins. For the father of one of the two Williams born in Paignton (in Sept 1773) was an Edward. If no evidence arises showing that Edward's elder brother Thomas also had a son William around that same time, as well as the previously missing Thomas and other sons (and, significantly, 4 of the other brothers in this family did name one son William), we may have to conclude that our William was indeed born to Edward (rather than to a Thomas) in Paignton. But, this still makes the naming of the 1800-born son as Thomas rather than William difficult to account for. I still prefer the idea that William's father was a Thomas - and specifically the Thomas of Paignton touched on earlier (with wife Mary - as discussed below). Any such first born may of course have been a daughter - as Mary Ann - which also fits certain facts, mentioned later, quite well. There was also the other William Milman born in Paignton - to a John but, as with Edward, this naming was not used by our William - at least as far as any records we've been able to find thus far. Also, the latter William was really born a bit too late to easily represent our William.
In May 1801, the Cornish Militia were actually sent to their own home county of Cornwall - initially to Falmouth in the far south-west. If Susannah and infant Thomas accompanied William, as seemed usual, Thomas would then be about a year old. Because they remained in Cornwall for some time, I wondered if they may have had a second (or third?) child while there. So I checked the IGI for Cornwall. I had vaguely perused this some months earlier, as I'd done in respect of various counties - simply to see how the Millmans were distributed over the country as a whole. There were, I recalled, very few there compared to Devon. But, on this occasion, I was amazed to find that one of these relatively few Cornish baptisms was for:
The muster rolls at the PRO show that after they left Falmouth, the Cornish Militia were indeed stationed at Tregony. I wrote to the Cornish Record Office seeking confirmation of this entry in the actual church register and asking if it happened to state that Thomas was over a year old at the time (as is sometimes reported). They confirmed the baptism and noted that it was described as a 'private' one - usually conducted at home - and was later repeated on December 27th at the church itself. This probably meant, they said, that the child had become seriously ill and, if not baptised previously - ie in Dartmouth - (due to his parents' mobile lifestyle, say, with little warning of sudden moves), was eventually baptised rather hurriedly in Tregony, in the event of him dying. Having survived, he was then re-baptised in the more usual public manner at the church later that year.
We visited this small church - St Cuby was one of many oddly-named Celtic saints of Cornwall - and were impressed with its ancient font - one of the oldest in the country (ca 1100) - where Thomas received this second baptism.
So, from having no baptism for our Thomas, we suddenly had two! He was clearly the son of William Millman, the Militiaman - with his apparent Brixham/Dartmouth/Paignton connections.
The regiment remained at Tregony until Easter of the following year (1802) when they moved to nearby Truro, still in Cornwall. But just a fortnight later orders came through from London, as they did for every Militia regiment in the country, to 'demobilise' forthwith - as a peace treaty (of sorts and not to last) had been signed with France - the Peace of Amiens. All men and officers were paid off, with an extra month's pay, and made their various ways home. But, where was 'home' for William and Susannah - with young Thomas in tow? It may now be recalled that it was a couple with these names - William and Susannah Millman - who had had a son William baptised in Dartmouth later that same year - in Sept 1802. In view of their experience with Thomas, one may assume that on this occasion, the baptism wasn't overly delayed and that young William was probably born and baptised there - that summer. The name-choice was fitting, especially if the first-born Thomas was named after William's father (or even after a favourite uncle). Was this area 'home' to William and/or Susannah therefore - because one or both of them actually derived from or had family there or nearby? It seemed very probable. Either or both may have had a brother and sister-in-law, for example, and thus a 'home-base', even if temporary, there in Dartmouth. One recalls that a 'Thomas Millman' of the Paignton family (baptised in Marldon) - who had been in the merchant navy - lived and, in 1798, died in Dartmouth - the home port for all the Paignton mariners.
In any case, it is interesting and important to note that they certainly didn't settle in such as Cornwall, Plymouth or north Devon, or other possibilities. Also, a year later, it was this son William it appears who also died in Dartmouth, suggesting their continued residence there through 1803 at least. [William may even have returned to sea for a time.] On this basis, it makes sense that the next clues we have about them was the baptism of a second William Millman - 'the son of William and Susannah' - in nearby Ashburton in 1807. Two years later, the same couple then had a daughter Susannah baptised there also. Possibly Susannah's parents resided in this area and she travelled home for these confinements, having had difficulty with earlier ones? If so, it may have been because William was often away, if not at sea, then in the second phase of his Militia career - this being the source of the next clues we appear (at present) to have about him This is addressed in the next section:
2. In the South Devon Militia: 1803 - 1814.
Hostilities with France broke out again early in 1803. All county Militias were ordered to re-mobilise immediately. Advertisements appeared to this effect in the major local newspapers in both Plymouth and Exeter and many Handbills distributed during March that year.. Men in Cornwall were required to report to the HQ of the Royal Cornish Militia in Bodmin. Those in east Devon were to present themselves at the East Devon Militia barracks in Exeter, while those in south Devon were to do so at their regiment's centre in Plymouth - on March 31st, 1803.
Those so required were apparently all men who had been recently balloted to attend monthly drill musters in their local villages and towns. There were also many Substitutes and Volunteers, as before. Did William Millman re-join his old Cornish regiment in any of these categories? No. As mentioned, he appears not to have been living in Cornwall at this time, nor in Plymouth to where the Cornish Militia were again soon sent to bolster their numbers. Nor did he travel there - at least not to enlist with them. Rather, as mentioned, he would seem to have been residing in or near Dartmouth in south Devon at this time (possibly having gone back to sea) and may thus have been balloted or even chose voluntarily to serve now with his own area's Militia - the South Devon regiment - also stationed in Plymouth. Others so joining would have been mainly from Paignton, Brixham, Ashburton, Totnes, etc. The first muster and pay period was, unusually, for 45 days - March 11th to April 24th - even though most men arrived only on or after March 31st. It was likely an inducement to enlist - each man getting the full 45 days pay regardless. The first muster period on April 24th thus showed the names of all newly recruited men without bothering to show their individual signing on dates during the previous 6 weeks (this being irrelevant), nor with whom they joined.
It was thus again not possible to determine from where came William Millman - who was shown as one of those now in the South Devon Militia - credited with 45 days service at the end of that first muster period - on April 24th, 1803. He had been placed into Captain Robert Palk's Company. Significantly, the Palk's were one of the gentry families living near both Paignton and Ashburton. (Robert Palk, Gent - possibly Capt Palk's father - having paid rates in Paignton itself a generation earlier.) It seems likely that his Company would have many men from his particular part of south Devon. Our William Millman was apparently one of them. While we can't be absolutely certain he was this same William, we may reasonably assume this identity until any evidence whatsoever obtrudes to the contrary. None has. Certainly, the other William(s) of the Paignton family would be getting on a bit to have joined the Militia for the first time in 1803. There were no other Williams of this surname in that area. Moreover, our William (and his wife) would know what this life entailed and, again, seems to have preferred it to being away at sea. As a younger son in a large family, he had no other skills or training to fall back on.
Oddly, the first posting of this Devonshire regiment after some months in Plymouth was to Falmouth and Truro in Cornwall (in August that year) - so near to where William and Susannah had Thomas baptised less than two years before. (All 3 Devon regiments had been ordered to the Plymouth Dock area on 21 May 1803 when the King ordered that a Supplementary Miltia be embodied by drawing names at the rate of one man out of every 34 who may be eligible in all parishes throughout the country.) The South Devon regiment, after being so augmented, returned from Cornwall to Plymouth in November where they remained until June 1804, before being transferred to Bristol. They appear to have remained in the south of the country throughout 1805 and most of 1806 - until marching to Liverpool in October that year. But a month later they returned south to Hampshire and by April 1807, were back at their barracks at Ottery St Mary in south Devon. Many men had left the regiment by this time - often by volunteering 'to the line' - ie to the regular Army - which was soon to engage Napoleon in Spain and France. Others transferred to the Royal Marines. However, William would remain with his Militia regiment throughout this unstable period and indeed until the end of the war in 1814.
It was during this period that he and Susannah had their two children baptised in Ashburton. Firstly, in January 1807, they had, as mentioned, what appeared to be their second William baptised there; he was described in the register as having been born in December 1806 - by which time William and his Regiment had returned from Liverpool - initially to Hampshire and then to south Devon by early 1807. Seemingly, Susannah at least went to Ashburton in January that year for the baptism; quite possibly her family resided nearby. It may be significant that at about this time - in fact through much of 1807-08 - William's Captain, Robert Palk, seems to have had permission to remain in the Paignton-Totnes-Ashburton area with a small recruiting party - to help make up the loss of so many men 'to the line' at that time. It is quite possible that William was in this party. The Regiment were required to attract volunteers to provide their quota of men to serve 'to the line' and/or make up their own numbers and did so typically by 'beat of drum' - that is, by a recruiting party marching through an area beating a drum to attract interest and seek volunteers. According to the official history of the Regiment, they were doing this especially over those two years - quite probably in their south Devon heartlands, including Ashburton, even if the bulk of the men were, around that time (1807-08), stationed mainly in Ottery, further to the east.
About a year later, they were ordered to march to Plymouth, on 31st March 1808, but after arriving en route at Ashburton, the order was countermanded and they were ordered to remain there and then return to Ottery which they appear to have done in April that year. They remained there (except for a short visit to Dorchester in August 1808 to be reviewed by H.R.H. Prince of Wales) until 1810 when they moved the few miles to Exeter. It would be during their long stop at Ottery through 1809 that William and Susannah's next child, a daughter Susannah, was apparently both conceived and born - again being baptised in Ashburton in September that year. As mentioned, no other William and Susannah Millman had married or had issue in this area over this period - only our William and Susannah - who'd married in Brixham 10 years earlier. It seems probable that they had had one other daughter before Susannah - in about 1803-05 - named Mary Ann, although her baptism (possibly in Bristol, Liverpool or Plymouth?) has yet to be located. She may even have been born as early as 1799. For she was the other Millman sister who married (firstly) - along with Thomas and Susannah - in St Pancras, Exeter in the 1820s. She may have been given the name of either William's or Susannah's mother - or possibly one name from each? (See also below on this matter.)
While officers were sometimes shown as being on leave, this did not seem to be recorded if it applied also to privates in the ranks. In May 1810, they left Exeter for Bristol but, again, the orders were altered and they were directed eventually for Chatham in Kent until Sept 1811 when many men volunteered for duty in Ireland. During 1812, they were posted to various cities in the north - as Leicester, Nottingham, Huddersfield and Sheffield. They left the latter place during the summer of 1813 to return to Ottery and thence to their Dartmoor barracks near Ashburton over August to Dec that year. By early 1814, they were at the Citadel in Plymouth and were disembodied there on August 9th 1814. William was shown as present throughout this period, while Captain Palk had resigned his commission in December 1810, thus missing several of those northerly postings. The men were paid off and, once more, made their respective ways 'home'. Where did William make for this time? We just don't know. While in the Militia, we could at least keep an eye on him but now he was like the vast majority of the common man of his times - virtually invisible and anonymous except when baptised, marrying, having their own issue baptised and at their own burials. Property and litigation records rarely touched them; nor higher education or even apprenticeships. Wills were also a rarity. Their military or maritime services were thus two of the few means of 'knowing' them and tracing their careers.
[Brief reference may be made at this point to a marriage noted in the IGI - in September 1813 - between a William Millman and Elizabeth Burt in a village across the harbour from Plymouth. The actual register entry may show if he was a widower or not. Might Susannah have died around 1812, say - in or near Ashburton - and our William re-marry? [It was later established that this William was in fact not a widower. He was the right age to have been the one other (if younger) William Millman noted in south Devon at that time - one born in nearby Holbeton (an early center for the Devon family) in 1789 - but much too late to have represented our William.]
According the the Regiment's offical history, the South Devon Militia were again re-embodied on 17 July 1815 - ie after being just a shell with a few officers - although the new complement had only 175 men - presumably volunteers - compared to their usual peacetime numbers of 500 or more. After a few months in Plymouth, they were again dis-embodied - on 17 July 1816. [We shall re-check in the event William had re-joined even for this brief period in 1815-16.] There were no further annual training periods (for the shell of men?) except briefly in 1820 and 1831. The Militias of the country were partially recalled in 1846 but not fully embodied again until 1852. By 1881, they were finally fully amalgamated into their own county's regular Army regiments. Thomas would be about 14 when his father was demobilised in Plymouth in 1814 and certainly out of any brief and probably disrupted schooling he may have had; it wasn't obligatory then. Did they all make for Dartmouth again - with William returning to a life at sea say - or did they move on to Exeter - around 1815-20? And if so, did William decide to look up his old friend Richard Puddicombe in nearby Crediton first - whereby young Thomas would meet Thomasine, before marrying her a few years hence in Exeter? This sequence of events seems the most likely. We had thus come full circle, back to Exeter. In 1824, two years before Thomas himself so married in St Pancras in Exeter, a Mary Ann Millman (seemingly his elder sister) married Thomas Rowe in this same small Exeter parish. Then, the year after Thomas married, his younger sister Susannah (it appears) married an Edward Rowe, again in that same small church. No other Millmans had any events register in that parish before or after. Some years later, Census records showed both a Thomas and an Edward Rowe (seemingly brothers) residing on Coombe Street with their children. Sadly, both were by then widowers so the names and places of birth of their deceased wives, very probably Thomas's sisters, could not be confirmed. [The baptisms of their daughters can however be checked one day - to see if their given names at all commemorated their two ?Millman mothers.]
If Thomas did go to Exeter with his father William and family by 1820 or so, with thousands of other unemployed men after the war, we might expect to find evidence of William's eventual death there. Conveniently, the national civil registration of births, deaths and marriages had begun in 1837. And, promisingly, there was an entry for the death in Exeter of William Millman, aged 69, for April 1841. If this age was correct (it was often an estimate by the informant who, in this case, was not a relative; he may in fact have been about 70), it means he was born around 1771, the most fitting year for our William. The two certain Williams of Paignton were in fact baptised in late 1773 and 1775 while the more likely one would be a William born to Thomas in about 1770/71. The 1841 Census was taken only weeks after this death. At his very recent abode, which was in the parish of Holy Trinity (immediately abutting St Mary Major), there were no other Millmans then living there; he was likely a widower. William's son Thomas would return from Crediton to settle in this very part of Exeter shortly after this - an area with which he was liklely already familiar.
We had thus traced William's career in the Militia in the hope of uncovering a clue as to his origins. He walked into the Plymouth recruiting centre for the Cornish Militia one day in January 1796, and again into that for the South Devon Militia there in March 1803 (seemingly the same man), without leaving any trace of his origins or next of kin. This information was apparently given and recorded at the time into something called a 'Recruitment or Enrolment Book' - normally kept by any military regiment - whether Militia or regular Army. However, in 1881, as mentioned, every county Militia regiment was amalgamated with their own county's regular Army regiment - as 'the Devons' , 'the Dorsets', 'the Gloucesters', etc. becoming their 3rd Battalions. Their records should have come with them - to be deposited in their new Orderly rooms. But sadly very few of these seem to have survived or been forwarded to any central War Office archives. I checked for those of the Cornish Militia at the Orderly room in Bodmin without success. There were a few records for this regiment held in the Rodd family archives of its former Colonel in Chief, for recruits in the year 1798 for one small district of Cornwall only, now in the Cornwall record office. Some records also remain in Exeter for the East Devon Militia but none were noted from the South Devon Militia - who were also amalgamated with the same Army regiment at Exeter. It is possible some may have remained in a museum depository or former Garrison in Plymouth, say, which one day hopefully will be checked.
[NB: A Class of records at the PRO - WO 68/ includes a range of Militia records for many but not all such Regiments. The only item in this Class that pertains to the South Devon Militia was a hand written account of the 'Services of the Regiment'. There were a number of such books for other Militias in this Class (maybe 7 or 8). The Guide said that there were also something called Enrolment Books but I could see only one for any early English Militia Regiment - that for Cambridgeshire - although there were about half a dozen for Scottish regiments, but for the post-1852 period only. The South Devon book began with an Introductory 'Memorandum' written by the author - a Captain N.H. Fisk, Adjutant - in about 1860. It reads: "After a careful enquiry for Records of the early Service of the South Devon Militia, the most remote authentic information is found in a book of General and Regimental Orders supplied by a Dr Butter, who was many years Surgeon of the Regiment. Sundry Chests containing old and useless Regimental and Company Books, Returns, States, etc were sent up to the War Office by authority in 1854. [Probably the source of the Muster Books in War Office (WO Classes) at the PRO Classes today.] But...The Paymaster's Chest was retained undisturbed. Also an Enrolment Book or Description of Men." How I would love to cast my eyes over that Enrolment Book! 'Retained'! Excellent. But WHERE and how 'undisturbed'??] Was it at the Garrison in Plymouth ? And then....?]
The parishes from which each Militiman came also kept records - being the responsibility of the Parish Constable. Some of these also survive - for example, for the town of Crediton - which shows that Richard Puddicombe and John Benellick, for example, did indeed come from there (to join the Cornish Militia as Substitutes) and, interestingly, that no William Millman from there did. But sadly the Constable's records for Brixham, Dartmouth, Paignton or Ashburton, for example, have not survived. Why not !? It seems ever thus!
Having identified Thomas's father as William Millman, we eventually extended our record of him back from his apparent death in Exeter in 1841, through the likely witnessing of son Thomas's marriage there in 1826 and his career in the Militia from 1814 back to 1796 - including crucially his own marriage at Brixham near the beginning of that period (in 1798). Prior to this, there is the strong possibility that he was the William Millman of Paignton who served as a mariner on the 'Unity' (and possibly on other ships) - sailing out of Dartmouth in the earlier 1790s. We hope shortly to extend our search further back - into this realm - to see if there is any additional evidence to help establish his identity and origins with more certainty. But firstly, it will be useful to provide further detail about the Milmans of Paignton as various findings from that same maritime sector pertain to men of that family, including this William of Paignton:
I had hoped that I could establish William's origins in Paignton or in neighbouring parishes like Marldon or Stoke Gabriel, where some of the same family settled. This was for two reasons: Firstly, much of that family's genealogy was already known, as it had produced some noteworthy characters, and I had added to this knowledge by learning even more about their origins. So, if we could tie our William to it more confidently, we would have our Millman line back from the present day (ca 2000) to about 1600 - ie 400 years or 16 generations! And, secondly, it would be rather nice to feel that one might share even a few genes with this remarkable line of Milmans (about which see below). All the information I have been able to muster about William's origins thus far is most compatible with this connection and nothing so far is incompatible with it. If I was a totally objective onlooker, I think I would have to conclude that one of the William Mil(l)mans of the Paignton family with its several Thomas Milmans looks by far the most probable source for our William. I would however hate to delude myself. I would much rather rely on even firmer, objective evidence. [Hopefully, some such evidence will arise through the marine records mentioned. Yes, see now below where more evidence falls within the category 'very supportive' and, still, nothing is found that opposes this view. On the contrary.]
Despite his limited status and achievements, it turns out that it would not be at all inappropriate for William to have derived from the Paignton family. For several others of this same line had also necessarily slipped down the socio-economic and educational ladder - from about 1770 - taking some 150 years or so for many of their descendants to 'recover'. Thus, for example, while William (who I assumed to most likely be a son of Thomas or, less likely, Edward Milman of Paignton) did not sign his name at his marriage in 1798, neither did that latter Thomas's (certain) son John - at his contemporary marriage in 1800 - in Stoke Gabriel (to his cousin Joney - daughter of Thomas's brother John Milman Snr - whose wife, interestingly, was born in Ashburton). Both these John Milmans were, I believe, Butchers in nearby Stoke Gabriel although they may have had experience as Mariners as well. See below. By the 1820s and '30s, many of the next generation of these lines also did not read or write and, like our William and his son Thomas, were restricted to semi-skilled and unskilled occupations also - throughout most of the Victorian era, at least. With this aspect so established, we may now described this family in more detail:
As mentioned, the name Mil(l)man is spelt with one or two 'l's about equally. As with the bulk of surnames, the final accepted spelling often depended on just how a particular official spelt the name in various documents, baptisms, marriages, etc at the time members of that family first became literate. They would often then adopt that current spelling, as would their children. Separated cousin lines could then end up with different surname spellings in perpetuity - despite being derived from the same basic progenitors. Settled spellings began around 1800 or so for the mass of the population but may have a century earlier for the relatively few who had sufficient education this early.
Some of the earlier members of the Paignton family were certainly sufficiently educated from that time to have settled upon a given spelling - typically 'Milman' - as a contemporary Vicar was probably then spelling it - if arbitrarily. This would then continue for most of their descendants until and if any failed to continue to receive such education. Some alternative version might then arise in various related lines. Some complex surnames - of one original family - may have up to 10 or more different spellings; 'Shakespeare' apparently being a case in point. While the spelling 'Millman' would seem more consistent with the apparent origin of the name, we shall often revert to the one 'l' version for this section of our account, as this was the typical spelling for most of that distinguished south Devon family.
When I first visited the Devon Record Office in 1978, an assistant suggested we might look up our surname in a special index of documents about and references to a large number of Devon families over the centuries. There wasn't a lot on Mil(l)mans but I did jot down a few early references - including one concerning an Agnes Milman of South Brent (a large village just below Ashburton) who seemed to own some property there around 1690. There was also reference to an early newspaper article concerning a former pupil at Totnes Grammar School (between Paignton and Ashburton) - namely one Francis Milman, who attended same about 1755 and had later earned considerable distinction. I later looked this name up in the Dictionary of National Biography, and in Alumni Oxoniensis, and soon discovered that a family named Milman (to which this Francis and the above Agnes belonged) - were settled in Paignton, Devon from about 1700 - producing a number of learned descendants. There were no other Mil(l)mans settled in that town before this.
Amongst these early Milmans, was the above Francis Milman who would become Sir Francis Milman, M.D., Baronet, in 1800, having been appointed a Physician to George III at about that time. His second son, the Rev Henry Milman, became even more famous - as Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London, having first been a Professor of History and Poetry at Oxford. At the Cathedral, he was the most respected orator of his day, apparently filling the church every Sunday during the 1860s. He wrote a number of respected ecclesiastic histories. Later descendants included such as the Bishop of Calcutta and the Registrar of the University of London. The senior line has continued the inheritable Baronetcy, there no doubt being today a 9th or 10th Sir (Somebody) Milman, Bt residing in a family seat somewhere, one suspects, in southern England. Other descendants have had successful careers in the services, the professions and the church. [Note: the current and 10th Baronet of the family is in fact 'Sir David Milman, M.A., Bt', now residing in Kent, the son of the 9th Baronet, the late Lt Col Sir Derek Milman, M.C. of Suffolk, Bt (d. 1999).]
The earliest of this family to receive higher education was an even earlier Francis Milman - whose entry in Foster's Alumni Oxoniensis describes him as gaining a Scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford (to where many Devon students then went) in 1684. He graduated in 1687 and then studied for the church. After a probationary period in a Devon country parish, he became the Vicar of Paignton in 1695, a fairly important church at the time, serving as an administrative centre for Exeter Bishops, I believe. Francis appears to have married Joane Prideaux about then. She was a member of a rather important family which had produced men of eminence in several fields including Chancellors of the Exchequer and Deans of Oxford Colleges. On the other hand, as pointed out by a present day member of that family, there are many examples also of Prideauxs who have had to slip down the social scale when not inheriting family property or obtaining higher educations - often reserved for the eldest sons in the past. This would happen also to several (even most) of the descendants of the Rev Francis Milman of Paignton - the first educated Milman of that town.
The entry in Foster showed this Francis Milman to be the son of one “Thomas Milman of South Brent, Devon, pauper”. Later members of this family would seem to have accepted that this, their earliest known ancestor, was indeed of this station in life. But such a description may have transpired simply because Francis was for a time before taking up his Scholarship, a 'Servitor'- which was a way of earning one's keep at Oxford before completing entrance exams - at about age 16. Otherwise, and possibly more likely, it may have arisen as a transcription error of some Latin phrase associated with his described early status. I concluded this after discovering from early property documents at the Devon record office that the largest mill complex in the South Brent area - called 'Brent Mills' - was in 1664 leased for over a 100 years (from the landed Petre family) by one 'Thomas Milman of South Brent, Miller' - a neatly appropriate occupation for this then early member of the family.
This lease was to revert to his wife Agnes and then to their children, if and when Thomas died. In a later lease, Agnes was again named, plus their two sons: 'Thomas Milman, a Mercer of Ashburton, and, significantly, Francis Milman, Vicar of Paignton, Clerk'. That latter reference clinched their origin. The premium paid for the lease was in today's terms worth some thousands of pounds and no way could a 'pauper' be in this important local position. Moreover, it appears that Agnes was herself a Prideaux and quite possibly a relative of the then Head of Exeter College, Oxford, who may have been responsible for young Francis going up to that college. He was very likely the first of the family to be so educated. This was greatly to improve the future of some at least of his descendants. Thomas Milman, the Miller, strongly appears to have derived from a family of Milman/Millmans settled for some time in the pleasant market town of Modbury (also a centre for the Prideaux family), a few miles south of South Brent. His line may have descended from one Henry Milman of Little Hempston, Devon, born in 1562 as noted in the IGI; parents unnamed at the baptism. Their later burial entries there may one day reveal their identities. Thomas of Modbury certainly had cousins named Henry Milman in the following generation.
This is a delightful rural parish appropriately situated mid-way between Paignton and Ashburton and not that far from Modbury. I am quite happy to accept that this was a likely origin of the Mil(l)man family of present interest - during the early 1300s - with someone who ran a nearby local mill being first accorded this surname (locally) about then.
Some insight into the life of an early Miller is provided in a notice shown in a still working mill on a large estate at Mapledurham, Berkshire. It reads: "The Miller held his tenure from the Lord of the Manor on much the same terms as others held land. Within the terms of his tenancy, he was his own master and was guaranteed the whole of the Milling business of all the tenants on the estate. He was entitled to one sixteenth of the corn (ie wheat, barley, oats, etc) brought to him for milling - that is, one peck out of each four bushel sack. His customers were always convinced that he might cheat them and were only too ready to catch him out. In 1437, one John Taylor was found guilty of this three times. However, Master millers were few and far between and the local community could not do without them so they remained in business in any case. By the end of the 17th century (eg when Thomas Milman held Brent Mills on the Petre estate) the Mill (at Mapledurham) was a big business and had been extended several times. The Miller had a good house in the village (Mill House on the left as one leaves the village) and a small farm on the slopes above. He would keep his livestock there and feed them on the surplus grain and sweeping from the Mill."
Thomas's son, the Rev Francis Milman, and wife Joane settled down at the Paignton Vicarage where, between 1696 and 1718, they had 11 children, including 5 sons. However, they lost 3 of these boys and several daughters up to and including 1718, a year in which, sadly, four of the children and both parents all succumbed - seemingly to some untreatable infection. The elder of the two remaining boys was Francis Jnr, born in 1703 and thus just 15. He was shortly to win a Scholarship to Oxford (like his father) and would thus be in a local Grammar School at the time, possibly boarding. This was likely at nearby Totnes where his illustrious namesake son - also Francis (the third of this name) - was certainly later enrolled, as described in the newspaper cutting referred to earlier. The younger of the two surviving sons was named Thomas,no doubt after his grandfather, the miller of South Brent, who died before 1696. But the younger Thomas was at a more vulnerable age than his elder brother when they lost both parents, being then about 10 and not yet in Grammar School. He was probably cared for initially by his elder sister Elizabeth, then aged 21, who would likely have received something from their parents' estate, administered by a trustee. This would probably be her father's elder brother Thomas, the Mercer of Ashburton, one of those named with their mother Agnes as future lessees of the Brent Mill complex on his father's death some years before. Sadly, however, there was a serious fire at the Mill around 1710 which had to be re-built. Thomas the Mercer later sold the lease to his sister's husband. It was probably uncle Thomas (described variously as a Mercer of Ashburton (a dealer in silks and fine cloths) or as a Merchant Tailor of neighbouring Denbury) who took over the responsibility for raising his younger nephew and namesake Thomas. It seems unlikely that the boy would have entered the Grammar School - typically at about age 12 then - which were all fee-paying at the time. However, this is speculation and he may have attended such a school - at least for a time. Possibly he then entered an apprenticeship - if not with his uncle then with someone arranged and recommended by that uncle. If he continued living with his sister, this may well have been in Paignton itself where the family, or what remained of it, had had their main connections. This would have been from about 1724 to 1730, say - during the reign of George II.
During this same period, the older brother Francis was away completing his B.A. courses at Oxford and then continuing his training towards becoming a Priest. He would have had his first position, as a Curate, around 1725-30 and shortly after, his first church about 1735. This was at East Ogwell, a small parish mid-way between Paignton and Ashburton, and next to Denbury, which his nearby uncle may well have helped arrange. Wisely, he seemed in no hurry to marry, preferring apparently to await the availability of someone with a property or small inheritance. His position and potential financial security in the local community would no doubt be expected to attract this, at least. He bided his time.
Meanwhile, by 1730 or so, younger brother Thomas was entering adulthood and still residing in Paignton. Some of his sons would later become Butchers and because many at the time trained in such trades with their fathers, it is possible that Thomas was himself of this occupation but as yet there appears to be no clear evidence. He may instead have supported himself on any inherited capital or property; it certainly was the case that he was referred to more than once in the Paignton parish register as 'Mr Thomas Milman' - this styling usually reserved for those who did not require a trade or occupation (eg as the eldest son of an Esq before inheritng property or marrying). In contrast to his brother, however, he didn't 'bide his time' in that latter regard but married as soon as he could or, more likely, as soon as he had to. A local family of middle status, the Brookings (also noted in Modbury and other nearby towns, usually in larger than average houses - as per Hearth Tax records), had a daughter Jane who seemed to take his eye. They married in November 1733 in Paignton and their first child, Thomas, arrived a touch early - in April 1734. Clearly a loving couple, by 1754 they had twelve children - 7 sons and 5 daughters! They would seem to have been a happy, close-knit family in moderate circumstances, headed by a respected son of the former Vicar. But what kind of education could he afford to give these many sons and what dowries and joyntures to help promote successful marriages of his several daughters - ie to young men with education, property and prospects? The answer in both cases, it appears, was probably 'very little', if any.
His older brother, on the other hand, married rather late - in 1740 - by which time Thomas, even though much younger, had already had 6 of his eventual dozen children. Francis married Sarah Dyer, from whose elder brother he seems to have purchased a small estate just two miles from his church (her parents having both died some 14 years earlier). She presented him with just 4 children in total - firstly three daughters (one dying young) and then just one son. Neither of the girls married. This only son, also named Francis (third of the name), was born in 1746 and would thus grow up with considerable parental and sisterly care and attention - quite possibly on that pleasant rural estate, with more than adequate financial and emotional security. Young Francis 'the third' certainly thrived in this environment; he won a Scholarship to Oxford when only 13, graduating with his B.A. at 17! His potential at least was certainly being fully realised.
Meanwhile, a few miles down the local country lanes in Paignton, brother Thomas and family seem to be having a more difficult time. His business or sources of income may have been insufficient to support his growing family for some domestic instability becomes apparent around 1740. His 5th child was baptised some miles away in Buckfastleigh that year (near Ashburton) rather than in Paignton, his 6th somewhere else (yet undiscovered) and numbers 7 to 12 in rather distant Throwleigh, 9 miles to the north-west and, like Ashburton, on the edge of Dartmoor. Possibly he had started a new business there. [Note: an earlier Thomasine Milman (uncle Thomas's daughter?) married there some years before.] In any case, several of these later children returned to Paignton to marry and live while Thomas Snr was himself buried there - where he had been a churchwarden.
By 1755, the family pedigree, showing the two brothers' respective young families, may be depicted as follows:
With a good intellect and favourable environmental factors behind him, young Francis number 3, son of the younger Rev Francis Milman, carried forward alone (an only son), a most promising future for his branch of the family at least. I try to visualise a scene at his comfortable home in Woodland about September 1760 when he was but 13 or 14, with a goodly command of grammar school latin and greek, and no doubt some 'arithmetick', ready to leave home for Oxford - fully two years younger than most, and being visited by his first cousins of similar ages, but much less academic backgrounds, trying to find something in common to chat about. One of these cousins, the second John (the first one dying an infant), was a near contemporary. ike his father, he too would become a Butcher - in nearby Stoke Gabriel - and must have had some schooling, for he would sign his name at his marriage (in 1769). But later generations in his and his younger brothers' branches of the family would show this capacity less and less - for many years.
But, the first of Thomas's sons to marry was his namesake Thomas Jnr, the eldest (and 4th of this name thus far), who married Mary Churchward in Paignton in 1756. He too may have become a Butcher there (though evidence is still sought) with his father apparently still in Throwleigh, for they subsequently had 7 of their 9 or more children baptised at Paignton church. Mary's extensive Churchward family were also centred in this town (and nearby Stoke Gabriel). Their first three children were all girls, born in 1756 (baptised the same month they'd married), 1757 and 1759 and named Mary, Jenny and Elizabeth - after Thomas's wife, mother and mother-in-law, respectively. Their next child for whom a Paignton baptism was located was a son, surprisingly named John, born in 1766. As Mary was clearly of normal fertility, this gap of almost 7 years seems rather surprising. He was then followed at more normal 2 to 3 year intervals (at Paignton) by Edward, Joane and Catherine up to 1777. It thus appeared quite probable that within that 7 year gap, one and possibly two others were likely born to them - but baptised elsewhere. In particular, it seemed odd that there was no son named Thomas - which would certainly have been expected before one named John, this being the name of Thomas's nearest local brother, also a Butcher), despite the name 'Thomas' being both his own and his father's name! Moreover, Thomas's several brothers would all name one son Thomas, and others Francis and William. Where were the baptisms for these other reasonably expected sons of Thomas?
One felt strongly therefore that a son Thomas in particular must have been born to him - around 1762. This idea, as alluded to earlier, seems to have been supported with the discovery later (in PRO records for the period 1795-97) of a Thomas Milman, Mariner - described as being born in Paignton and of an age indicating a birth in about 1762. All other Thomases in the family were the wrong age to fit this position. Of apparent relevance to this also was a marriage - in Paignton - between such a Thomas Milman and one Ann May in December 1785, when this man would be a fitting 23. As a Mariner, he may well have resided in Dartmouth when ashore - for we recall also that a Thomas Milman was later buried there - in 1798 - coinciding significantly with the end of this Thomas's documented marine career. He and/or his widow Ann could thus have provided a most convenient home-base in Dartmouth for any younger brother or cousin (ie our William - recently 'demobbed' from the Militia) that he may well have had - born about 1770-72. Moreover, the name given by William to his first daughter - Mary Ann - proves consistent with his mother having been Mary (nee Churchward) and, in effect, a motherly sister-in-law being Ann (nee May).
Thomas, the father of this previously 'missing' Thomas, named his next known son Edward (baptised 1769 (and possibly born 1768), this being the name of another of his brothers. But, as mentioned, we would certainly expect him to have had a son named 'Francis' as well, probably around 1765. His baptism too should be sought. This would leave only his youngest brother - William (born 1756) - not being so commemorated by Thomas. Significantly, there was also time, and around 1770-71 at that, for just such a son William to have been born - to Thomas and Mary (a fertile couple still in their mid-30s, with no contraception) but, again, no baptism has yet been located for him. The birth of such a William would of course prove most compatible with what information we have about 'our' William - the father of Thomas his seeming first born (1800) - who would thus have been named after his own father. It would seem quite significant that 4 of the remaining 5 brothers - Francis, John, Edward and William all named one son William (as well as Thomas) while the 5th, Philip, had only one confirmed child, a daughter, so even he may have had a son William as well, elsewhere). Could Thomas, the one we would most hope and expect to have done so, be the only one (with sons) not to have named one William?? And why would he also not have had his other probable sons Thomas and/or Francis baptised locally? The apparent absence of these latter events does at least allow the assumption of a similar absence pertaining to our William seem that much less unreasonable than if his was the only baptism apparently lacking. Two or even three such baptisms elsewhere does seem the most reasonable hypothesis at present. [Especially now that we have found one of these missing baptisms (see below) as well as a William Millman serving on Dartmouth ships shown born in Paignton and around 1770-71 at that (and hence unlikely to have been the son of Edward - born in late 1773 and even less so the only other William of that family - born to John in 1775 - in Stoke Gabriel. The hunt goes on with renewed confidence. Thus...
A partial answer to the above considerations was obtained when the result of a request to Devon Record Office referred to earlier was finally forthcoming. Marldon chaplery did provide the suspected confirming evidence: a Thomas Milman was indeed baptised there - on 22 June 1762 - born, the year predicted, to Thomas Milman and wife Mary (whom we must assume was nee Churchward, there being no other Mary having Milman issue localy then) - on 28 May that very year (as indicated by the evidence quoted about Thomas Milman, the mariner of Paignton and Dartmouth). But, sadly, missing baptisms for neither of the two other sons expected to have been born to them were found - in Marldon at least; ie Francis about 1764, say, nor William about 1771 - despite there being a William Milman in the ship - also shown as born in Paignton. (Might the registration have confused the names of the father - there being so many Milman brothers then active in Paignton? I have come across such mistaken entries elsewhere).
The name Thomas was more common in this family than any other, as they had all descended from the earlier Thomas Milman who had been a relatively important person in the Paignton area. Of all the clusters of Milman/Millmans in Devon, the name Thomas was relatively rare and there was only one other that had it and William in such association, namely in the Okehampton area (north of Dartmoor). I've been unable to trace any meaningful connections between that family and our line of Millmans. The Paignton line appears far and away the most promising. But if William was born to Edward, or even John, why did he (apparently) not name a son with one of those names? Maybe his mother died young and he was brought up with his uncle Thomas's family and so wanted to commemorate the latter name more? Edward's wife was a Susannah - the same as would be young William's bride himself and hence we can't rely on his use of this name - for a daughter (which he did use) - as support necessarily for such a mother. I still believe William could well have been born to Thomas - with Edward a not so close second.
[It may be mentioned here that the aforementioned Thomas (bn 1762 Paignton; bp Marldon) and wife Ann May married in Paignton in 1786 and had two sons there - John (bn 1788) and Daniel (1791). (Again, there was no other Thomas and Ann locally). It was this Thomas who, as far as we can ascertain, died and was buried in Dartmouth in 1798 - quite possibly a brother of William. Thomas's elder son John married Elizabeth Madge in Paignton in 1814 and after having a daughter Jane, they had a son christened Walter Madge Milman in 1821, also in Paignton. They then emigrated to Prince Edward Island, Canada later that same year. In 1823, he leased about 150 acres of land near Burlington, PEI which he farmed. He had other children there, including a son John ca 1832 and also a Thomas and a Frederick. I believe John Snr died in 1846 and his son Thomas before 1890. Their descendants remain on the Island to this day - one of whom - the Rev Thomas R. Millman (as they spelt the name) died recently (1996) aged 91 - having achieved considerable fame in Toronto as a most able churchman and renown historian of the Anglican church in Canada. (The two earlier Rev Francis Milmans would no doubt have been proud, and vice versa.) He left no issue. Back in Paignton, Thomas and Ann's younger son Daniel had married Elizabeth Daniel there in 1817 and became a Mason and Innkeeper. He died in 1871 and left two or three small properties in Paignton to his wife. Their only sons died in infancy and one daughter married William Goodridge and had three children. Thus, no Millmans descended from this line in Devon (unless we can show that a son William (leading to yours truly) was indeed of this line.).]
We may now revert to the earlier generation: After Thomas Snr and Jane had their aforementioned eldest son Thomas in 1734 (destined to marry Mary Churchward), they at least did have a son Francis - in 1735 (see Pedigree). This Francis Milman married in 1759 a girl from the relatively distant village of Sandford, where he settled and remained. This was next to Crediton, in a more central part of the county - but in fact not that far from Throwleigh where, like his older brother, he would likely have spent much of his youth. He too became a Butcher and may thus have sought a relatively close location not already served by his own family. Francis had a large family in Sandford - with all the expected names including Francis, Thomas, Jane, etc and, yes, finally a William, in 1781. This latter William married in Sandford, as a single man, in 1803 and was thus not our William - although his presence so near to neighbouring Crediton when Richard Puddicombe and John Bennellick from that town (and others from nearby Sandford itself) were joining the Cornish Militia (in 1796), provided a brief moment of optimism and not a little confusion. However, besides his marriage, he turned out to be too young as well. Those joining locally were typically born about 1770-72 which period agrees exactly with that for our William of Paignton. Still, as mentioned previously, the presence of a Paignton Milman (ie Francis) and family in the Crediton area at all may have been a factor in our William and Richard Puddicombe's eventual friendship. Francis would have been William's elder uncle and thus, if William's father or mother had died before he was fully independent, such an 'uncle Francis' (if not an 'uncle Thomas') may well have taken him in for a time. He may then have joined up after some of his local pals had done so - although in Plymouth (like one of the Benellicks of Crediton had in fact done). Living for a time in Dartmouth, probably later, with older brother Thomas, and/or the latter's widow Ann, seems another not unreasonable possibility - especially if he had been to sea, as had a number of the Paignton Milmans, including Thomas.
But, to return to the remaining children of Rev Francis' younger brother Thomas and wife Jane: While their elder sons Thomas Jnr and Francis were thus close contemporaries, if settled later in quite different places, the next surviving brother, John, was considerably younger than either. He appears to have trained with Thomas (or with ?) as a Butcher in Paignton, for he married a younger 'cousin' of Thomas's wife Mary, confusingly a girl of the identical name - Mary Churchward - in the neighbouring village of Stoke Gabriel. They settled there and had 5 children before Mary died. John re-married (one.........) and had 3 more children in another nearby village - nearer to Ashburton. His first son, John, named after himself, became a Carpenter in Torquay - then at the start of its substantial development. His 2nd son was named after his father Thomas, while his first daughter was named Joney, seemingly after his mother Jane - (who was described variously as Jane, Jone or Joane in the register). Joney would later marry her cousin John Milman, Thomas's 3rd son (born 1766) who, significantly, was not able to sign his name at his marriage. John's 3rd son, in turn, was one of the Williams originally thought to be born about the right time to represent our William - that is, in 1775 - in Stoke Gabriel. However, we again note that William named no son John and, in any case, 1770-72 still appears to be a more likely period of birth for him - especially to the Thomas born in 1734 - if not to Edward 2 or 3 years later (for whom birth evidence for a William is at least available). [But, we now have evidence (if indirectly) for the birth of a William in Paignton nearer 1770/71 in the Marine records. Surely he was born to Thomas as one of those whose baptism remains elusive.]
With both Thomas (apparently) and John settled as Butchers in neighbouring villages, and Francis similarly but in more distant Sandford, it was probably not surprising that the 3 youngest brothers - Edward, Philip and William - should also marry and settle in the former area, as did two of their sisters. But, with further scope as local Butchers seemingly limited, all three of these younger boys chose to become Mariners (as revealed firstly in their marriage entries). The first of these - Edward - had his son William in Sept 1773 who was thus about the right age to become our William. But as mentioned, our William named no son Edward (of whom we are aware - naming his seeming first son Thomas). Also, it now appears that our William could have been born nearer 1770/71 - as many who entered the Militia in 1795-'96 were, although some were a bit younger than this. Finally, the youngest brother William (bn 1756) of this first generation was too old himself to have become our William and while he too had a son William, the latter was, conversely, much too young to fill this role. We are thus left with the possibility that eldest brother Thomas did have a son William in about 1770/71 who would best fit the requirements of our William - with Edward's son William (bn late 1773) being a second best possibility. Certainly, the names Thomas and William are, with two or three other names, amply represented within this Paignton family of Milmans. In other families, one may find a frequency of certain other name-combinations over succeeding generations - such as Robert and George, say, or Edmond and James, etc, without a single William or Thomas, never mind their frequent association; equally, we note that none of those other names, alone or in combination (nor many others), ever appears in the contemporary Paignton lines.
With so many sons, grandsons and great grandsons with the same few names, the reader has been tested beyond endurance. If this aspect of the pedigree is therefore set out in some detail, the text may be related to this as required. Because of a lack of space, this will have to show mainly sons and even these just in lists:
The 6 sons of Thomas Snr had all signed their names at their marriages but, by the next generation, the younger children - especially of the 3 Mariners - showed this ability less and less. Equally, the skilled training and apprenticeships of the elder sons and of the earlier generations became less affordable in such large families and semi-skilled and unskilled occupations became increasingly apparent. Also, the daughters in the third generation and after, with little or no dowries, found it increasingly difficult to attract young husbands with any such skills, education or secure livelihoods. Girls finding themselves with child more often found that their young men were seeking work elsewhere - often permanently. Two generations earlier, such anticipated marriages were probably just as common but the marriage usually did transpire - with the first child simply arriving rather early. Now, illegitimacy and single motherhood became rather more common.
We may now proceed with an examination of the careers of the various Milmans of Paignton as they appear in relevant maritime records - as this may further consolidate the origin of William Millman. This has been written up separately and although it repeats some earlier material, it is placed here as a summary of this general topic and those careers. It can also be linked directly from the Millman Home Page if and when required:
As discussed earlier, my ancestor Thomas Millman was shown in the 1851 Census for Exeter to have been born in Dartmouth in about 1800. However, no baptism entry in the parish registers of that area was discovered for him - by which means one had hoped to learn the name of his father. It was known however that Thomas had named his first son William (in 1827) and that a witness at his marriage the year before was of this same name. These facts pointed strongly to his father being a William Millman. A marriage was later discovered in Brixham, near Dartmouth, of a William Millman - to Susannah Granville in March 1798 at which the groom was described as a 'Sojourner' in that parish with the Royal Cornish Militia, then stationed at nearby Berry Head. While no Thomas Millman was subsequently baptised there, nor in neighbouring Dartmouth, this couple did at least have a namesake son William baptised in Dartmouth - in 1802 (and later a Susannah in 1807).
Militia records at the PRO revealed that the Cornish Militia, after some months in Plymouth, Somerset and then, fittingly, Dartmouth in 1800, were then sent to their own county of Cornwall in 1801. An IGI entry showed a Thomas Millman, son of William and Susannah, was baptised in Tregony, Cornwall in August that year - when that regiment was stationed for some months in that very town. It thus appeared that while apparently born in Dartmouth some months earlier (as stated in his Census entry), Thomas's baptism was for some reason delayed until his parents were settled for a time at least in Tregony. By 1802, they'd returned to Dartmouth where their second son William was, as mentioned above, born and baptised. He soon died however, being buried in Dartmouth in 1803, after which William and Susannah had a second William, and a daughter Susannah, baptised in nearby Ashburton before 1810. It was thus apparent that Thomas's father was indeed a William Millman, after whom Thomas had named his first son, as suggested. After the war, the family moved to Exeter by about 1820, where Thomas would marry in 1826, later settling for a time in Crediton. A William Millman who died in Exeter in early 1841, aged 69 (and thus quite possibly approaching 70) would appear to have been his father who lived just two streets from where Thomas himself would shortly reside for many years. This placed William's birth around 1771. But, as asked above, to whom was he born that year, and where?
William had himself named his first son Thomas, and only his second one William, after himself. Until shown otherwise therefore, we may assume that William's father was very likely a Thomas Millman. Where did that elder Thomas Millman (or Milmasn) and his wife live - in the early 1770s, when William was seemingly born to them ? Only one possibility appears likely in this search and it is described below.
Tracing the Militia records back in time, we next found that William had joined the Cornish Militia in Plymouth - on the 6th January 1796. Sadly, the associated records gave no information or clues about his parentage, place of birth or usual abode (as did many contemporary maritime and naval records). During 1795, this regiment had been recruiting in the smaller centre of Crediton in mid Devon and many Devon men joined while they were stationed there. The baptismal records of most of these men, then in their early 20s, may be found in the local parish registers for the years around 1770-1775. During 1797, after William had joined, the regiment was sent for some months to Kent where William and one of the Crediton recruits, Richard Puddicombe, were transferred into the same Company. On their return to Devon in early 1798, Richard Puddicombe appeared as a witness at William's marriage to Susannah Granville in Brixham. Many years later, William's son Thomas would marry Richard's daughter Thomasine and, as mentioned, live for a time in Crediton. No William Millman of the relevant age (ie to be Thomas's father) was however born in the Crediton area ca 1765-75, nor did anyone of this name who later joined the Cornish Militia emanate from that area according to the relevant parish constable's records which do show, for example, Richard Puddicombe's name (and many others of Crediton and neighbouring Sandford) in this regard. In like manner, no William Millman was born/baptised in the Plymouth area to account for his later presence there when joining the Militia in early 1796. This he did as a Substitute - probably for a Cornish man who sought to be so released. Plymouth was a much larger centre - for recruitment into many services - and men were drawn there from a fairly wide area of south Devon and neighbouring Cornwall. By examining all relevant south Devon and Cornish parish register entries, it was found that there were in fact just two William Millmans born at about the right time for one of them to represent our William. Both were born near Dartmouth and Brixham - in Paignton and neighbouring Stoke Gabriel - in late 1773 and early 1775, respectively. They were cousins born to brothers Edward and John Milman of a large Paignton-based family of Milmans (as the name was often spelt). But oddly, our William named no son by either of these two names. But these brothers did have an elder brother - Thomas Milman who, with wife Mary (nee Churchward), also had a large family in Paignton. There were also 3 other married Milman brothers of this same generation - Francis, Philip and William - and all 6 brothers tended to name their own sons mainly with a selection of these same 6 names, including William. These six were the sons of an elder Thomas Milman (b 1708) and wife Jane (nee Brooking), both of Paignton.
However, their eldest and namesake son Thomas Jnr (b 1734), with wife Mary, while having several children in Paignton, including sons, appeared to have none there baptised as either William or even Thomas - despite the latter being both his own and his father's name. This was quite unexpected. There was however a gap in the otherwise fairly regular sequence of births to this couple for such sons to have been born - in the case of Thomas around 1762 and of William around 1771. A later discovery of a Thomas Milman as a Mariner - shown in associated records as born in Paignton and in about 1762, and then one of this name marrying in Paignton in 1786, for which no other local Thomas was available, strongly indicated that he must have been that expected but missing son of Thomas Snr.
Confirmation of this conclusion was eventually discovered when it was found that Marldon, a Chapelry next to Paignton, included just such a baptism for this Thomas - and for 1762 - born to Thomas and Mary Milman. And, crucially, a William Milman, Mariner, shown also as born in Paignton - around 1770/71 - was also discovered in these same maritime records. This placed his birth there about 3 to 5 years before the two other William Milmans born within this ame family in the Paignton area - to brothers Edward and John Milman, respectively. When we couple this with the fact that our William (later in the Militia by which time, significantly, he appears no longer in those maritime records) named his first born as Thomas, strongly points to his birth in Paignton around 1771- most probably to Thomas and Mary Milman. Fittingly as well, the William Milman who died in Exeter near our Thomas's abode in 1841, aged 69+, fits this interpretation perfectly. And no one else does.
Sadly, no baptism to this effect was later found in that same Chapelry neighbouring Paignton as revealed for the younger Thomas - just as one hasn't (as yet) for another expected brother 'Francis' - a family name typically commemorated by all other sons in this family for some years. Either these names were not entered into the relevant register when baptised in Paignton or, as for Thomas, they were baptised elsewhere - as yet undiscovered. Another member of the Paignton family, a Philip Milman (b 1752) of the previous generation, was shown in the same maritime records as also born in Paignton but, again, no record of his birth there either (ie by way of a baptismal entry) is found in the Paignton register. In his case (and that of two of his near brothers), the baptisms were in fact performed and registered - but in Throwleigh, some miles to the north-west, near Dartmoor. Their mother may have come back to Paignton for her confinements and the births, with the children baptised a week or so later back in the village church where they happened to be then residing. Possibly this happened also with William and Francis elsewhere ? Their mother (Mary Churchward) was herself a native of Paignton. But where was this possible other parish ?
If William was born about 1771, as appears most probable from this analysis, he would be about 25 when he joined the Militia - as a single man in January 1796. We may enquire what he had been doing over the preceding decade - ie from about 1786 or so (when his apparent elder brother Thomas was marrying in Dartmouth). As he had little formal education (like his probable brother John who would also only make 'his mark' at his marriage), he likely began working then - aged 16. As the major employer in Paignton and nearby parishes then was in the Merchant Marine and Fishing industries, centred on neighbouring Brixham and Dartmouth, it seems likely that he too would begin in this sphere - probably in coastal fishing boats as he learnt the various skills of seamanship. Later, from about the age of 18, such experienced young men in the area were typically employed in the deep-sea industry - on Dartmouth-registered vessels sailing to and from the Mediterranean or, more usually, Newfoundland. Or, they may have joined the Navy in nearby Plymouth who also sought young men with such skills - especially as the Napoleonic wars spread - if not as a Volunteer then as a Pressed seaman. Fortunately, there are records at the PRO in both these spheres and we already know - from details shown in some of the marriage entries for the Paignton Milmans of the previous generation - that some members of this family did indeed follow these routes, as did the Thomas Milman of the next. By getting a fuller perspective on their careers, it is hoped that we may obtain further support for our belief that it was our William, albeit later in the Militia, who was the above mentioned William noted in maritime records of that same age - being one of these several sea-going Milmans shown to be born in Paignton. We shall examine and describe firstly those of the Merchant Marine and later any of possible relevance from the Navy.
The only records for men in the Merchant Marine before 1820 are Ships Muster Rolls for a very few Ports including, usefully, Dartmouth and Plymouth - in class BT 98/. I checked these initially for Dartmouth only - for the years 1776 to 1803. The first 'box' (BT 98/5) covered 1776 to 1789, but with an inexplicable and unfortunate gap between 1778 and 1786. Each ship's Captain (a Master Mariner) was supposed to have completed a standard form listing the name of the ship (and rarely its owner), its home port and destination, dates of leaving and returning, the names of his crew from himself and his 1st (and rarely 2nd) Mate, through Boswain, about 5 to 10 'Seamen' and often 2 or 3 Apprenticing Boys. Their ages, places of birth and current abode should also be given, as well as the name of the ship on which they served immediately prior to the current trip. There appeared to be about a dozen or so such ships sailing regularly out of Dartmouth - making one or two trips a year generally lasting 5 to 10 months each. The Captains and crews of these rarely remained the same; over a 5 or 10 year period most men seem to have sailed on most ships although a given Master generally had a crew that included several men from his own or nearby villages. These were typically in south Devon and not necessarily ports. Paignton was well represented. But they also picked up men in distant lands if needed. Most trips entailed going to and from Newfoundland, probably returning with fish, but sometimes to the Mediterranean or Africa. [A later class of records was examined which gives the names of ships and their Masters (who were granted exemption for the Navy press gangs) and home ports. It appeard that there were many more of these from Dartmouth than those shown in the Muster Lists so our records of the Paignton men at sea may well be incomplete.]
Records of the Merchant and Fishing Ships Sailing Out of Dartmouth
While these records were initially examined in no particular order, they are now reported below chronologically - from 1770 (although some earlier ones, if relevant, may be added later). Masters were required, from 1747, to keep a record of the names of all men serving on their ships although there appears to have been many gaps in such records. Moreover, until 1800, such records survive for only 4 ports (as mentionede above): Liverpool, North Shields, Dartmouth and Plymouth. Fortunately, the latter two cover the areas we are interested in. The records are in Class BT 98/ and are arranged by port (eg Dartmouth) and the ships' registry numbers. After 1835, they also included more comprehensive Agreements (Contracts) made between each crew member and the master or owner, for each voyage, but these may be too late for our purposes.
In order to facilitate the identities and inter-relationships of these men, it may be useful to describe firstly those aspects of the family tree of the Paignton Milmans which are relevant. [This is an abstract of similar material given earlier.] The Paignton Milman family began around 1695 when the Rev Francis Milman became Vicar of the parish church there. He had a large family but many died young, as did Rev Francis himself and his wife - by 1718. Prior to their arrival, there were no other Milmans in that town, and all those settled there later during the 18th century descended only from Thomas Milman (b 1708), the younger of the Vicar's two surviving sons. The elder son, Francis Jnr (b 1703), also became a Vicar after going up to Oxford. His descendants, who did not remain in Devon, were generally very successful and mostly had university educations. But the younger boy, Thomas remained in or near Paignton (or Throwleigh) and, as mentioned, was the progenitor of the large number of local Milman/Millmans with whom we are chiefly concerned. His education was probably not beyond grammar school.
Thomas married a local girl Jane Brooking in Paignton in 1733. His occupation is unknown; he was generally referred to in records as 'Mr Thomas Milman' (eg when described as the Churchwarden) which usually signifies a young gentleman who was a son of an Esq (or in this case, the Vicar) who may have had just enough inherited income not to require training or employment. In Thomas's case, however, this was likely to be of borderline status, as he appears to have held no significant property and his 6 surviving sons had all to find occupations themselves. The year and place in which they appear to have been born (according to their baptisms or other data) were: Thomas (Jnr), Paignton, 1734; Francis, Paignton, 1735; John(1), Paignton, 1736 (buried Paignton, 1737); John(2), Throwleigh, ca 1745; Edward, Throwleigh, 1750; Philip, Throwleigh, 1752 and William, Throwleigh, 1754. There were also five daughters - four born between the two Johns (baptised in Paignton, Buckfastleigh, unknowm and Throwleigh, respectively) and one just before Edward (she baptised in Throwleigh). If not tied to an occupation, Thomas Snr with wife Jane and family may have been free to settle in a more rural atmosphere than busy Paignton - ie eventually in Throwleigh on the north-west edge of Dartmoor, seemingly after a brief sojourn at Buckfastleigh and possibly elsewhere nearby. Such a property may have had the advantage of being more reasonable as well. The elder three sons trained as Butchers (although the evidence with respect to eldest son Thomas Jnr is presently missing) - probably after apprenticeships - and settled in Paignton, Sandford (near Throwleigh) and Stoke Gabriel (next to Paignton), respectively. The younger three boys, Edward, Philip and William trained as Mariners (for which apprenticeships were also available at that time) - as each was so described at their respective marriages - all in or near Paignton where they too appear to have settled (rather than in Throwleigh). Two of the daughters married in Throwleigh in the 1760s but most of the family seem to have returned to Paignton by 1767 - after about 25 years in that delightful Dartmoor parish. The Mariners would likely have started going to sea from about that time (ca 1770) - something very common in Paignton and also nearby Ippleden, where several Captains (Masters) of Dartmouth-registered ships resided when on shore.
All 6 sons married and had issue. As many of the same few forenames were used in naming their sons of this next generation as were used by Thomas Snr, we shall try to distinguish them as best we can. If we think of Thomas Snr (the Vicar's younger son) as generation One, his 6 sons - Thomas Jnr, Francis, John, Edward, Philip and William - as generation Two and their issue in turn (often with these same names) as generation Three, we can use these descriptions where any confusion may otherwise appear. As Thomas Jnr was several years older than his 3 youngest brothers (the mariners), his own sons (including yet another Thomas) would be teenagers around the time their three young uncles were presumably often returning home with tales of their sea-going experiences (ca 1780s). These older nephews thus appear in the maritime records themselves not long after those of their young uncles and before those of their cousin, some of whom also followed later in these same occupations.
The first member of the Milman family of Paignton serving as a Mariner was noted in Muster records for the years 1770 to 1772 (BT 98/2). This was Philip Milman (b 1752) who served on the Brig 'Honor' under Capt George Norris of Dartmouth on a short voyage to and from Lisbon, between October and December 1772. Interrestingly, his place of birth was given as Paignton and his age as 20 (and thus born about 1752). He was thus one of the three younger sons of Thomas Milman Snr and wife Jane (nee Brooking). While the Paignton register shows no baptism for him there around that time, there is one for Philip Milman in Throwleigh in that very year - born fittingly to Thomas Milman. We find this Philip again early in 1773 on the Brig 'Codfish' under Capt Wm Tully who, like Philip, is shown as both born and currently residing in Paignton. His age was now given as only 18, which is likely an error; there being no other Philip born in Paignton around 1750 to '55. This trip was to Newfoundland. [Capt Tully of Paignton was later noted as serving on a Naval ship (in 1795) and the relevant PRO Guide points out that men on such ships were often transferred from the merchant service to the Navy and often back again - at that worrying time.]
There was also a William Millman who sailed in this earlier period - on the 'Two Friends' during 1774, shown as just 17 (but quite possibly about 19), born in 'Newton Abbott' (ca 1754), which was listed as his current abode. Interestingly, the Master was born in Marldon (next to Paignton). The elder Thomas Milman and wife Jane did have a son William (their last) - baptised in 1754 - again in Throwleigh. He later married in Paignton in 1785 and is known to have been a Mariner. It is possible that he was actually born in Newton Abbott or there may have been be a second, unrelated William of this elder generation. Equally, as there were two other crew members shown as born in Newton Abbott on that trip, both this William's abode and place of birth may have been assumed to be the same - in error. The accuracy of some of these Musters does appear suspect at times (described as such in the Guides). In any case, any such William would be too old to represent our William - of the next generation. We shall seek more on this man in any earlier records (ie in BT 98/1 - not yet examined). It would be useful if we could also locate any details in that earlier period (ca 1767-69) regarding the maritime career of Edward Milman, the third brother of this generation known to have gone to sea - a little before his brothers Philip and William.
Philip Milman appears next as the Mate on the Brig 'Devonshire' during the latter half of 1776. His age was now given appropriately as 23 and abode and place of birth again as Paignton. As a Mate, Philip's name may appear in an Admiralty class of records of those Masters and Mates (mainly) who were to be protected from being 'pressed' into the Navy (ADM 7/). This will be checked in case it provides further confirmation about Philip or other Millmans who served as Mates - as shown below. [Sadly, these records only gave names of Masters and no Milmans were noted.] In any case, we may note that there appears to be more than one Milman shown as born in Paignton for whom that register lacks the expected entries - including William, Thomas and now this Philip at least (and possibly others). This can only strengthen our hypothesis regarding our William.
The next relevant entry found was for a Thomas Millman (apparently born in 1762) one of the 'boys' (ie apprentices) shown on the large Brig 'Heptarchy' which made a 6-month trip to Greenland in mid 1777 with a large crew, including several 'harpooners'. He too was shown as having been born in Paignton (and as then living there), although his age wasn't given. He was probably around 15 and thus very likely the Thomas born in Paignton to the eldest of the 6 sons of Thomas Snr - ie to Thomas (Jnr) and wife Mary (nee Churchward), although as noted no baptism appears in that parish's main church register. However, as described above, it was later discovered that he was baptised locally, and as the son of Thomas and Mary, in neighbouring Marldon Chapelry - in 1762. The Master of another ship sailing out of Dartmouth that year - the 'Mary' - was a Capt Richard Goodridge of Paignton - of a family with several sea-going members - into which a Milman daughter had married. There were a number of such inter-married seafaring families in Paignton. Sadly, we can't follow Philip, William, (possibly Edward) or Thomas's immediately following careers - during 1778 to 1786 - due to missing records. We may however reasonably assume that they (and possibly other Paignton Milmans) made several more trips out of Dartmouth during that gap period.
In 1787/8, a John Millman of Paignton, aged 21 was a Seaman on the Schooner 'Industry'. He was very likely the John born to Thomas and Mary in 1766 (their third son) who later married his cousin Joney, when she signed but, significantly, he 'made his mark'. If, as I believe, my ancestor William was also born to Thomas - about 1770 (and was thus this John's younger brother), we may better accept that he too would likely only sign (ie at his marriage) - which was indeed the case. In 1788, another seeming John Millman, aged 34, born and living in Paignton, is listed as a Mate on another Schooner - the 'Good Intent' whose crew included 7 others all born in Paignton. The latter man would thus be born about 1754 but this doesn't fit (even approximately) for any known John of the Paignton family and I suspect that there has again been an error; it should, I beleive, have read Philip Millman, who was then that exact age and living in Paignton.) By 1788/9, the above-mentioned Thomas Millman, 26, born Paignton, is now shown as a Mate himself - on the 'Vigilant' - his previous voyage having been on the 'Industry' under Capt Carpenter possibly two years earlier (and thus not when younger brother John Millman, 21, was on her under a different Captain seemingly - just the year before). [Note: the spelling of the family surname was as often Millman as Milman in these Maritme records; this likely signifies simply the variability of spelling generally at that time; all Paignton Milmans/Millmans were of the one family.]
File BT 98/5 ends in early 1789 and the records continue unbroken in BT 98/6 as of March 1789. It was in this file that I had briefly first noted a William Millman listed on an earlier occasion. He was a Seaman on the Brig 'Unity' under Capt Thomas Palmer of Paignton. His place of birth and abode was clearly given as Paignton, and his age as 18. The voyage lasted 10 months - departing Dartmouth on 25 March 1789 for Newfoundland and returning to Dartmouth on 24 Jan 1790. His immediately previous voyage was given as this same ship (when he would have been 17) but I did not note this record over that previous year. (It appears that not all voyages and muster lists were invariably recorded as ostensibly required.) It is however most satisfying to note that this William appears to have been born (in Paignton) in 1770 or '71 and thus fits exactly with our expectations and very neatly into the gap of births noted in the family of Thomas and Mary as suggested. There was no other William Milman of Paignton born there at that time. (The Williams born to Edward and John were born in late 1773 and in 1775, respectively.) We may also note here (before mentioning other Millmans from Paignton seen in subsequent lists, including two other sons of Thomas), that we find this Paignton-born William Millman mentioned twice more - on ships sailing during 1790 (on the 'Unity' again) and 1791/92 (on the 'Brothers') - when his age was given as 19 and 22, respectively - thus further re-enforcing our view that he was born in Paignton in late 1770/early 1771 - most probably to Thomas and Mary. [He was also the age that fits for the death in Exeter of William Millman in 1841, aged 69+.] And, importantly in one sense, he then appears no more in maritime records before or after our William (semmingly the same man) joins the Militia in early 1796 - significantly in the Naval port of Plymouth. For he may well have spent 1793-95 in the Navy (as had Capt Tully) and, as many did then, may have jumped ship in Plymouth (see below). This too to be checked.
The Napoleonic wars had begun in 1793 and experienced Seaman in particular were subject to quite legal impressing into the regular Navy - both before that date but increasingly afterwards. Also, we find a 37 year old Seaman - John Granville - sailing in 1793 out of Dartmouth and born in what appears to say Dittisham (next to Dartmouth). This was the only Granville noted in the area. It had occurred to me that our William may have met his future wife (Susannah Granville) through knowing her brother by virtue of such common marine careers. We can only hope that they may have served together later (ca 1793-95) - quite possibly in the Navy. [I did also note a Michael Granville in the Navy ca 1795 subsequently.] Equally, it strongly appears that not all merchant trips were properly recorded. [In an Index of Naval officers and ratings for ca 1815-1880, I saw, in addition to a William Milman serving on 3 Naval ships around 1847-'50 (possibly the grandson of the William Milman of present interest), 4 entries for sailors named Granville (ie Thomas, Henry, James and William). These can be followed up later (in vols. 4, 12, 63 and 68; pages 139, 100, 207 and 234, respectively) to see if any derived from south-east Devon rather than from the Plymouth and Cornwall areas where this surname was slightly more in evidence, although still relatively rare.]
Between William's 2nd and 3rd recorded trips (there may have been others), we find another entry for his seeming brother John Millman for the year 1791 - he born Paignton, aged 28 - for a short 3 month trip on the 'Snow Hawk' out of Dartmouth. His previous trip is shown as on the Brig 'Monkey' under Capt Palmer of Paignton (with whom William Millman had first sailed). The given age proves difficult to analyse - unless he was born some time before he was baptised - in 1766. We also find the other brother Thomas Millman - born Paignton and shown as 27 - now serving as a Mate on the Brig 'Polly' during a 6-month trip to Newfoundland in the spring and summer of 1791. John Millman - born Paignton, age 26 - appears again - in 1792 - on the Brig 'Mary' - again under Capt Palmer. We next find Edward Millman, yet another brother it seems, serving on the Brig 'Priscilla' for a 9-month trip - he also shown to have served previously on the 'Monkey' with Capt Palmer. After William's last recorded trip, we find brothers Thomas, Edward and John serving on more trips: Thomas as a Mate (age 28) on the 'Experiment' during mid-1792, Edward (age 26) on the Brig 'Elizabeth' on a 7-month trip to Newfoundland during 1793 and John (age 26) on the Brig 'Siren' in early 1794. The latter man appears again in 1799 on the Brig 'Swallow' shown now as aged 31 - born Paignton. Finally, we find John still at sea in 1813, now aged 46, on a 5 month trip to Newfoundland on the 'St Laurence' out of Dartmouth. His abode then was given as Stoke Gabriel (next to Paignton) where some of the family were known to reside. Significantly, there is no further sighting of elder brother Thomas (born 1762) after the burial in Dartmouth in 1798 of a Thomas Milman; this supports his concluded identity.
A second (younger) Philip Millman (of generation Two) first appears in 1795 and 1801, apparently born around 1771 (possibly in Stoke Gabriel) but baptised in Paignton, serving on the Packet 'Naples' and the Brig 'Caplings', respectively. He was a son of the elder Edward Milman (also an earlier Mariner) and wife Susanna Harris who married in Paignton in 1770 when both signed and were 'of this parish'. [Cf the elder Philip bn 1752.] The younger Philip married in Stoke Gabriel (to Ann Penam of that same parish) in 1796 and if his abode was there, his birth place, again, may have been wrongly shown to be the same (ie in the muster list). This middle Philip (there would be another in generation 3) had apparently joined the Naval vessel H.M.S. 'Minataur' in March 1794, age 23, where he would no doubt meet his future bride's brothers Richard and Joseph Penam - also of Stoke Gabriel (if he didn't already know them) - who also served on that same ship then. To later serve on the Merchant vessel 'Caplings' in 1801, he would presumably have ?deserted the 'Minataur prior to that date (ca 1798?) which could imply that he had been 'Prest'. This should be revealed when I examine the records for the latter ship. [Result: No, he appears to have been a Volunteer but may still have 'Run', as it was recorded, or simply was given permission to return to the merchant marine which, as described, happened frequently.]
It thus appears that William ceased his (recorded) maritime career around 1792. His last recorded trip - on the 'Brothers' - was a short one to London and he wasn't shown as one of the crew who returned (to Teignmouth) after an additional, lengthy 10 month trip (possibly to Africa?) as the second part of that earlier voyage. One must assume that, at just 22/23, he returned more directly back to Dartmouth, one way or another, during 1793-94, say and hopefully wasn't swallowed up into the anonymity of London (or 'pressed' there) - and so eventually to become the William Millman of the Militia by early 1796 and, crucially, to marry in Brixham in 1798, have his son Thomas in 1800 and finally, after the war, to settle eventually in Exeter by ca 1820, where he died in 1841, aged almost 70. No other William Millman fits this scenario. It may well be significant that the first Militia musters for the developing Napoleonic Wars occur in early 1793. We may assume that the 'Fencibles' (a Naval equivalent of the Militia) were also mustered about then and that the legal right the Navy had in such times to impress experienced Seamen in particular would be further implemented from that year. This gives us two sources of records to search next for any further information about William - especially during the years 1793 to '95 when, unfortunately, we have lost sight of him. [The Fencibles did muster about 200 men monthly in Brixham and in Dartmouth although not in Paignton itself but these records sadly didn't commence until 1798, after William had joined the Militia. Many familiar Paignton names were noted therein, but no Milmans. The men received 4 shilling a month for which they had to sign; about two thirds still made their marks.]
We may note here that the Philip Milman born in Paignton (but baptised in Throwleigh) in 1752, appears to be the Philip of generation One (rather than he of generation Two) who married in Paignton in January 1792, he albeit then aged ca 39 (about the time of our preent considerations), to a Mary Burgess and with her had as a first daughter an Eleanor Millman in 1795. She was baptised at St Saviors church in Dartmouth in Sept that year - out of which port Philip would likely still be sailing at that time. It may be noteworthy that our William and his apparent brother Thomas (b 1762) (likely nephews of Philip) were themselves associated with Dartmouth around then.
Records of Naval Vessels Stationed Mainly in Plymouth
The sheer numbers of ships in the Navy at that time make the latter source almost impossible to search if one hasn't the name of the ship concerned. One possible lead in this sphere however is where the marriage entries in parish registers in or near port towns show that the groom was then serving on a particular naval vessel stationed nearby. It seems reasonable to assume that it would be onto fairly locally based ships (even if temporarily so) that men in a given area would be so impressed. Thus, by 1813, another second generation Philip Milman was shown at his marriage to be serving on the Cutter H.M. 'Surly' - as was his brother-in-law Thomas Spendlow. This Philip was born to the elder (1754-born) William Milman and wife Catherine Goodridge (who married in Paignton 1785) and after having their first two children in Paignton, had three others, including this Philip in 1789, baptised in neighbouring Churston Ferrers. His later records consistently shown him to have been born in that parish as well. His sister Jane married a fellow crew member Thomas Spendlow in 1813 in Dartmouth, just 3 days after Philip's own marriage - to an Elizabeth Tippett - in that same port town (which abutts Churston). We may note that this Philip's father William was the younger brother of the 1752-born Philip.
I had assumed that Thomas Spendlow would be a friend and fellow Seaman with this younger Philip - both from the Paignton area - who had likely worked previously on Dartmouth vessels, say, and had been 'impressed' onto the 'Surly' a year or so earlier. But it turns out that Spendlow was in fact born in distant Northamptonshire and joined the 'Surly' as a Volunteer in July 1807 - just 6 months after it was first commissioned - in January 1807 - probably in Plymouth where the crew received their first pay in February that year. Philip Milman (born Churston) joined some months later near the end of that year. [Interestingly, a member of the Clerical staff of the Navy there overseeing the Plymouth payments was one 'John Millman' (along with a Henry Hayward). His identity is presently unknown.] The majority of the 'Surly's small complement of 50 men were however not essentially from Devon but from almost anywhere - with no predominance of area apparent. However, there were 3 others from Dartmouth at least and it appears that this ship did stop there or thereabouts briefly around 1808. They were later sent to Spithead. About half the ship's crew were 'Prest' and half Volunteers. In 1811, a Joseph Millman, aged 40, born Dartmouth (unrelated to the Paignton family), joined the ship as a 'Substitute' [he later noted on H.M. Blenheim in 1795], while a member of the crew deserted around that same time by "swimming away at Dartmouth"! Another man was shown as sent to the hospital at Paignton - in May 1811. The ship was thus clearly in that area again that year at least. In 1813, Spendlow appeared on another ship - the 'Lord Cochrane' - as noted in an entry in 'Surly's muster: viz "deserted to the 'Lord Cochrane"; such behaviour was seemingly tolerated. This was the same year that he and Philip had married - in Dartmouth. He was listed as an 'AB' initially and later as an 'Ord' (ie ordinary Seaman) and a Boat's Mate. But Philip worked his way up from some rank below 'AB' to becoming first 'Captain's Master ' (after 4 years) and then 'Quarter Master' (1814) and remained on the 'Surly' until at least 1820. He was clearly determined to make a successful career at sea. I believe I discovered a Will written by him some years later (currently misplaced).
If William Millman had been similarly impressed - but in 1793 or '94 - we may ask whether he too may subsequently have deserted (many did) - in order to join the Militia - where he would presumably be protected from further presses; naval life then being notoriously harsh and not sought out by most non-commissioned Seamen. One can thus examine marriage registrations for, say, Dartmouth, Brixham and Paignton during 1793 to 1795 to see if any one or two ships in particular are mentioned for that area and then search their records (in ADM 36/) to see if anything on William may be found. We have the above references to H.M. 'Minataur' and H.M. 'Surly' as possible models. However, the 'Surly' wasn't commissioned early enough to find our William on same. But 'Minataur' is a better possiblity on which we know middle Philip Milman (of a very similar age to our William) did serve - for a time - as well as the two Penam brothers - also from the Paignton area; we shall see. It would of course be extremely satisfying if an entry could be found for William in early 1796 that stated something like "deserted to the Militia". There are also records showing which ships entered a given harbour (as Plymouth) over a given period (eg 1792-96) and these too can be examined. But if pressed, he could be sent to serve on any one of a very large number of ships. The value of finding William on such a naval vessel is that it would show his parish of birth and age and thus allow us to identify him as being available in the mid- 1790s conveniently to join the Militia there in Jan 1796, as our Wiliam certainly did.
Initially, one was hopeful that a Naval ship - the 'Rattlesnake' - on Coastal duty off Dorset and Devon during 1792-94, which had permission to land periodically at Dartmouth (as did the 'Surly' later), may have taken on board our William. But this search proved negative. However, I now have the names of about 20 larger ships that were stationed at Plymouth itself over that same period and hope gradually to examine their muster lists as well - particularly H.M. 'Cambridge', a 'Recruiting Ship' where new and transferred men (from other ships) were held briefly before being allocated to particular new ships - mostly in 1795. [This has now been examined and while a very large number of men were indeed channeled through that ship, William again wasn't one of them. Recruiting parties from the 'Cambridge' sought both volunteers and men for pressing throughout most of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and parts of Wales at that time. However, while some towns (as Dartmouth, Brixham and Plymouth) and many rural parishes were frequently noted, these recruiters appear never to have visited Paignton itself. On one occasion, they visited Roborough Camp, near Plymouth, where they recruited as volunteers about 25 men from the Cornish Militia - then stationed there. One hopes that it was the case (as it was between the merchant marine and the Navy) that this was sometimes a two-way traffic - with some men choosing to leave the Naval service to join the Militia, and vice versa. If William had somehow ended up on another Naval vessel during 1793-95, it is possible that he was transferred to a different ship - but via some other recruiting ship - in such as Portsmouth or London, if such existed. Hopefully, this can also be checked, one day.]
Result: Portsmouth did have a comparable Recruiting Ship - the H.M. 'Royal William' which was stationed there for most of 1794 and 1795. But sadly, no muster lists showing the very large number of men transferred briefly to her over that time and showing to which ship the men concerned were then sent appear to exist!! How maddening. One ship then in Plymouth docks, H.M. 'Sceptre' seems to have held a large number of men for a time also - all shown as having come from the 'Royal William' and, after two weeks, sent back to her!? What did become apparent was that when in a large harbour like Plymouth, many more men were deserting, especially during late 1795, than was the case 2 or 3 years before. This was exactly the time we would expect William to have done just that, and in Plymouth, before almost immediately joining the Militia there - in early January 1796. All we have to do is find the right ship to verify this. But there are just too many - some with over 800 men! Maybe I'll check a few more - after taking a break from this tiresome search; the PRO at Kew is situated inconveniently, being expensive and time consuming to travel to. We'll see.... But, in any case, I am at least now much more confident (about 99.9%) than I was previously that our William, father of Thomas, was indeed the Mariner of the Paignton family - born there about 1770/71 to Thomas and Mary Milman.
We may now contrast the mushrooming family of the 70-odd Milmans deriving from Thomas Milman Snr of Paignton (several of them Mariners as described above and including, it now appears, our William) with that of said Thomas's one surviving elder brother, the Rev Francis Milman. As mentioned, his only son, also Francis, was born in 1746 and after education at Grammar school and Oxford, became the noted Physician to George IV. As with his father, he too didn't marry in his impulsive youth (as did virtually all his cousins) but not until he was 35 (in about 1781). He was by then in a position to attract the daughter (Frances) of a successful Bristol and London businessman - one William Hart. By this date, his cousins back in Devon (children of his only uncle and several of them Mariners or Butchers) had had about half of their eventual 70 or more children - most to receive minimal educations. There must be a moral there somewhere.
Dr Milman's first son (Sir) William George Milman inherited the Baronetcy in 1821 - just about when our (other) William and family first settled in Exeter after the Napoleonic wars. Except for Officers who made the Services their careers, men in the middle classes were typically not 'drafted' into them. Sir William's 3rd son, Henry Hart Milman, Professor of History and Poetry at Oxford, became Rector of St Margaret's, Westminster (after a time in Reading) and later the famous Dean of St Paul's. Both were educated at Eton. The 3rd, 4th, 5th Baronets, etc followed in turn - in each case being the eldest surviving son, brother, cousin, or nephew and as the family became increasingly well-educated and financially secure, the age at which they married could decrease and family size prudently increase. Thus, in one of the later generations there were (ironically) 6 sons (!) - by one of the later Baronets - thus emulating the fertility of the first Rev Francis' second son Thomas of some generations earlier. The continued inheritance of the Baronetcy was thereby assured. Equally, their progeny would be expected to maintain the high academic standards set by their forebears. Universal education should ensure that even the 5th son of a 5th son (if this ever transpired) need never become a Mason's labourer - nor sign with 'his mark' (X) ! Hopefully, this won't recur with respect to my own progeny either...
John Millman (M.A., Ph.D.)
October 1991 (Revised 1999, with a few later 'tweaks')
[Note: The following (Part Three) should have had its own Web page entered independently but it refuses to to be so 'created' and for the present must remain here.]:
As stated in Parts 1 and 2, I began to research my own Millman ancestry some years ago - while Shirley and I, then long resident in England, were on holiday in the English 'west country' . Certain memories from my childhood in Vancouver, Canada were evoked as we stopped off in Honiton, Devon during that trip. This was because my grandfather, Joseph Millman, had spent 7 years in this small town, around 1900, completing an apprenticeship and I had been told a little about it as a child. From these beginnings, I gradually traced my Millman family tree back to the early 1700s, and earlier. In my write-up of these findings, I mentioned one or two aspects about Joseph's origins and education, as well as a little about his later years in Canada.
However, the continuity of the 'Millman story' - from those earlier discoveries in the 18th century through to the present day - suffers from a gap in detail for much of the first half of the 20th century (1900 to 1950). Living members of the family would be familiar with most developments over the years since 1950 so the present account seeks to fill in some of that earlier missing data; it thus concerns essentially the more relevant events and dates in the early adult life of our forebear - Joseph Millman. It doesn't purport to be his biography, not even a mini one, but rather simply a way of gaining some perspective on his early movements and of understanding why it is that some of us are Canadians and not English (and vice versa), or even why any of us of that family are here at all.
Joseph was born in August 1882 to Joseph Millman Snr and his wife Jane (nee Woodhouse) on Coombe Street in Exeter, Devon - an area of crowded tenements where both his father and grandfather were Fish Hawkers; Neither could read nor write. [See Parts 1 and 2 for their prior descent.] Had the younger Joseph's father not perished in the famous fire at the Theatre Royal there, he (then just 5) would probably have left whatever purported to be a school in that crowded Victorian city centre, aged about 10 and barely literate, to follow in his father's footsteps - selling fish from a cart. But, with others so orphaned, including his sister, he was sent away instead - to an excellent orphanage school in London, where he did quite well. The Headmaster 'spoke very highly' of him, saying (in a school Report) that he should stay on for the optional extra year - from age 14 to 15+ so that he could obtain 'white-collar' employment with one of the 'larger London establishments' - something which Joseph himself had strongly sought. However, this was not to be. His mother back in Devon was apparently missing him and had arranged an apprenticeship for him - with a fancy Confectioner-Baker - in Honiton (and why my recollection of that name and town accounted for us stopping off there on our west country holiday almost 100 years later). He'd at least have a skilled trade, to add to his fair education - things none of his immediate forebears or neighbours on Coombe Street had, in either respect.
So Joseph stuck this training out for the required 7 years - from aged 14 to 20 - completing his journeyman training by 1902 - with the new century before him. What should he do now? Back in Exeter, his uncle William Millman (older brother of his deceased father Joseph Snr) had continued to reside on Coombe Street where, in the Census of 1891, he was described as a House Painter, aged 36, with his 2nd wife Mary and two sons - William, 10 and Frederick, 8 - seemingly born to a first wife Amelia (nee Burnett) - whom he had married in 1880 while in the Navy for a time. She must have died by about 1885. In the same household lived William's parents (and Joseph's grandparents) William Snr and wife Elizabeth, then in their mid-60s, still described as Fish Hawkers. By the time Joseph had completed his education and apprenticeship - 10 years later - these grandparents appear to have died. Meanwhile, his own mother had re-married (a Mr Board) and lived for a time in Honiton. His uncles William and Thomas and families had apparently remained in Exeter.
Confirmation of his grandparents' futures and whether his uncles (now in their 40s) were still there, could not be easily confirmed until details of the next Census, that for 1901, are released - on January 1st, 2002. [This was in fact initially delayed due to difficulties with a new computer system but it was later found that his uncle William at least, was indeed still in Exeter that year but that his parents had died by then.] But, in 1891 at least, when the family lived at 36A Coombe Street, two other families were shown as residing at 36B and 36C. As mentioned,these were crowded tenements and there was very likely little or no room for young Joseph and his mother there just after 1901. Near neighbours were still John and George Bennellick and their families - both also Fish Hawkers ; they had known Joseph's parents and grandparents for many years before. I never heard Joseph refer to his grandparents, nor to any visits back to Coombe Street, Exeter - as on any holidays he may have had during the 1890s of his teens. I have not located Thomas, the other uncle, in Exeter nor any cousins or other Millmans descend from William or them.(It is interesting to speculate that if Joseph had ever spoken to his grandfather William, he might, conceivably, have heard something definite about the origin of that man's grandfather - the earlier William Millman, the Militiaman - which we would dearly have wished to know.)
But, in any case, as a bright, adventurous lad who had spent much of his youth in the more exciting environs of London, it appears that after 1902 Joseph couldn't get out of sleepy, rural Devonshire fast enough. He and his mother, now Jane Board, made their way to Bristol, the nearest large city and a port, where Joseph found a position as Confectioner-Chef on the trans-Atlantic liners - sailing between Bristol and Montreal or New York. He stayed with this for only a year or two however before changing tack completely - becoming a travelling salesman who sold Artist's Prints in the south of England - centred on Bristol.
It was probably while pursuing this new occupation - around 1905 - that he had occasion to visit a stationer's shop on Radcliffe Hill, Bristol owned by a retired printer Sidney Walter. This was just across the road from a famous church - St Mary Radcliffe (said to be Queen Elizabeth I's favourite). Besides stationery, they apparently sold souvenirs pertaining to the church for the tourists and Joseph may have tried to get Mr Walter to take some of his Prints - to re-sell to such potential customers. In any case, it probably didn't escape Joseph's notice that Mr Walter had 3 attractive daughters serving in the shop. It seems that he was soon courting one of these (Ethel, I believe) with whom an 'understanding', if not actual engagement, had apparently developed. However, he appears to have switched allegiance at the last minute to another of the daughters - namely Clara (my grandmother-to-be) - during 1906. For they were soon married - on 9th January 1907 - and just in time it seems; my father Robert arriving just two months later - on 7th March that same year. At his marriage that year, Joseph still described himself as a Confectioner (not Salesman) and may thus have returned to the greater security of this occupation for a time about then.
Possibly because of his brief experiences in Canada, Joseph decided to emigrate there - in about January 1908 - when young Robert was but 10 months old. For some reason, they made for Brandon, Manitoba, in the middle of the prairies. Joseph may have seen an advertisement for a Baker needed there. Whether this was as an employee or running his own small bakery, I'm unaware. In any case, according to their daughter Marion (my father's sister), Clara was most unhappy there - it being 'much too cold in the long winters, often with insufficient food, with Joseph spending too much time socialising in the evenings'. She lost weight ('down to 90 lbs') and after a letter or two home, her father sent some money and she and son Robert returned to England in about 1910. Whether this was ostensibly for a holiday only or a more permanent intention, I'm not sure. However, they later did return to Canada - in 1911 - possibly when Joseph wisely decided to move to milder Vancouver. Thus, Robert's younger sister Marion was subsequently born in Vancouver - in 1912 - when they lived, I believe, on Venables Street in a district in the east of Vancouver called Grandview. Robert started at the local elementary school - Lord Nelson - in September 1913. (Remarkably, my own school career would begin at this same school - some 23 years later when, quite coincidentally, we happened to live in this same district, not two streets away!) during the Depression of the '30s.
It must have been during the summer vacation of 1914 that Clara and the two children returned to England again - again seemingly for a short holiday. But War was declared just after their arrival and a return to Canada was considered too dangerous - due to German torpedo threats. Nevertheless, Joseph decided to accept this risk in the other direction - crossing the Atlantic to re-joined the family in England - in early 1915 - when he would learn that his step-father John Board had died, leaving his mother Jane a widow yet again. Shortly after returning, Joseph developed a thrombosis in his leg which, for a time, prevented him obtaining employment (but also from being conscripted). They lived for a time over a Post Office when Clara had to work as a cleaner to help pay the rent. Joseph eventually found work - selling a new Children's Encyclopaedia - which he did by travelling around the 'west country' on an early motorcycle - sometimes with his 'uncle Bill' (then about 60 and, ironically, now a Doorman at the re-built Theatre Royal in Exeter). He later spoke very happily about this period of his life - ca 1916 -'19 when aged in his mid-30s. He developed a sales technique involving first interviewing Headmasters of local schools who would then recommend his products to the parents.
In 1919, Clara's father Sidney Walter (born 1844 in Shepton Mallet, Somerset and later apprenticed as a printer) died and, by 1921, a depression had begun in England. They decide to return to Canada - Joseph then 37, Clara 36, Robert almost 15 and Marion 9. This wasn't very considerate of young Robert's education. Two or three years before, he had won an academic scholarship to a Technical/Grammar (High) school (where, incidentrally, he was also the school's fastest runner) and would normally have continued toward his matriculation exams there and probable further education in a skilled or professional career. But Joseph seems to have been offered a promising position in Vancouver with an Insurance company (Metropolitan Life in Canada), so off they went again. But on arrival in Vancouver, Joseph learned that he had first to pass a medical test for this position and the implications of his leg problem meant he failed this. They were soon in financial straits and had to borrow money from some local friends they had known in Bristol - who kindly put them up in their home (ie the Kings who then lived at Pacific and Thurlow in Vancouver's West end).
By about 1923-'24, however, Joseph was on his feet again - selling Encyclopaedias throughout western Canada and in the north-western States of Washington and Oregon. He must have done quite well as, by 1925-'26 when she would be about 13 or so, Marion was placed in St Ann's Academy (a private high school for girls) which, I would imagine, required fees. Around this time, Joseph and one 'Mr Langer', a German, had gone into partnership in the new movie industry - developing several suburban cinemas/theatres. Joseph became part owner and manager of a number of these while Clara managed one located rather far out - on Victoria Drive at about 49th Avenue - near to which they lived for a time. Marion recalls having to travel the rather lengthy journey from there to St Ann's in downtown Vancouver each day by tram. So later that year (1926), they moved closer into town - to an apartment on East Broadway near Fraser St.
By this time, Robert was about 18 or 19 and working with his mother Clara helping to run the Victoria theatre. [After arriving back in Vancouver when 15, he discovered that the local schools were about two years behind the level he had reached in his Bristol Grammar School and he soon grew bored and left.] He worked for a time helping a gardener on a large estate out in Point Grey and later in the Britannia Copper mine on Howe Sound. But, by the age of 18 or 19, the cinema seemed to offer a more congenial and promising career - as a trainee manager.] While working at 'the Victoria', he met a local girl - 'Mickey' Mahoney - daughter of an house builder of Irish descent and (as he related the story to me years later) found it more convenient after working late most evenings to accept the offer to stay over-night at their house nearby rather than travel down to Broadway, only to travel back again for day-time duties - often quite early the next morning. However, this arrangement proved rather 'too convenient' - for he soon repeated his own father's example and he and Mickey were required to marry somewhat earlier than either would have wished - his Victorian father Joseph apparently insisting upon this against Robert's youthful and tearful inclinations. The young couple soon moved in with Joseph and family on East Broadway in about 1927 - Marion recalling having to take young 'Bobby' (born Apr 1927) for walks in his pram there. Young and relectant husband Robert was apparently rarely at home, however, according to Marion, and very soon didn't return at all (from late 1927/early 1928).
Just where he lived subsequently or was employed, I'm uncertain. I have a note to the effect that he lived in rooms in Kitsilano (at Yew St and 2nd Ave) about then. In any case, he seems to have become friendly with a group of 'bright young things' (of the roaring '20s) and attended a few parties with them. Amongst these were a number of 'girls' who worked as sales assistants at 'the Bay' (Hudson's Bay Company - similar to Selfridges). One of these was my mother-to-be, Christine Macleod, then aged about 20 - brought to Canada as a young girl from Glasgow and the Hebrides in Scotland). They began going out together in mid-1929. Whether or not she knew his true circumstances at that time, I'm quite unaware. I would imagine not.
It would have been about November that year that the inevitable (it seems) happened and young Christine also found herself 'with child' (ie me) - just about when the stock market crashed and the great depression was just around the corner. Meanwhile, Joseph had become involved with opening and managing a large new theatre in New Westminster - the Columbia - near to where the family had moved earlier that year. They lived in a house on a large corner lot surrounded by lawns (as pointed out to me some years later) several blocks 'up the hill' from the theatre. Again, Marion recalls taking young Bobby for walks in his 'pushchair' there when she was about 17, Mickey still living with them. Joseph and Robert appear to have been effectively estranged by this time and quite incommunicado. Robert was, I believe, trying to sell Encyclopaedias himself by then - also in the western states - and, having stopped in Portland, Oregon, invited Christine to join him there - probably when her condition became apparent - around Easter 1930. She then travelled to Portland by train. I was subsequently born in August that summer, where we remained about two years. The 'Depression' was becoming more serious by that time.
Joseph and family were still in New Westminster when, recalls Marion, Robert suddenly re-appeared one day with his new 'bride' and a two year old son - a total surprise to everyone apparently. [These tangents into matters that may appear to pertain more to the life of Joseph's son Robert than to Joseph himself (our prime concern) are nevertheless justified, I feel, in that they were, at that time, as much or more significant elements in Joseph's life (and Clara's) - which they often sorely affected - than they were of those only of later generations.] Joseph, now 52, left the Columbia Theatre shortly after this due to some dispute and took over the management for a time of a suburban cinema in Vancouver - the Grandview - on Commercial Drive. Robert and his new family followed suit and over the next 5 years lived in 4 different places in that same district (and hence my attendance at the same school there ca 1936-38 as Robert had briefly attended in 1913/14). He worked in that cinema for a time (where I got in free on Saturdays as a 6 and 7 year old), as well as in a nearby retail shop called 'Warman's Radios' where some of his earlier technical education came in handy when radios required repair. He had a number of other temporary jobs nearby as well; the Depression was still a problem but, as he later told me with some pride, he never had to go 'on relief' (the 'dole'). Until I was much older, I of course had no idea of what had transpired in my father's life between, say, 1926 and 1934. I eventually discovered that my parents had finally married - in March 1933 - just after everyone had moved from Westminster; I presume Robert's first union was officially dissolved by then and that Mickey and Bob Jnr had moved to new premises (I believe near Kitsilano) by 1934 - probably through the help of Joseph - as well as her own father who was, I understand, then building in that district. They still resided there to about 1942, I believe.
Joseph and family had moved to their final home on Cornwall Street, near the beach, about this time - also in Kitsilano - where he began to manage the local cinema of this same name - on 4th Ave - where Bob and I attended free on Saturday mornings around 1938-41 (I generally calling for him at his house - then at 7th Ave and East Boulevard). Joseph and Mr Langer had sold their shares of the business to the Famous Players chain of cinemas by this point and Joseph bought two or three houses - for rental income - near Cornwall St. Marion soon married Angus Holt-Barlow (ca 1933), and had one son by him - David - before that marriage also ended in divorce. Later, in the '40s, she would marry into the McKenzie-Bowell family (to 'Bud') - an ancestor had been a Prime Minister of Canada in 1894 - and have another son - MacKenzie-Bowell IV - known as 'Mackie or 'Mack'' and later, two grandsons by him. She was still with us until 2007, aged 95. Mack later moved to the States, I believe. He had quite a successful business as a property developer when still in Vancouver.
Joseph and Clara remained for the rest of their lives in their house on Cornwall Street where, from about 1935 onward, various members of the family spent many happy and regular Sundays sharing Sunday dinners of roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, with hot apple pie for dessert, while listening to the Sunday radio shows such as Jack Benny and Bob Hope, etc. The adults played Bridge in the evening, Bob and David sometimes playing chess; I just watched. Family Christmas dinners and the sharing out of presents there were other regular and much appreciated memories. Joseph retired in about 1955, having been a member (and President) of the local Lion's Club and Chamber of Commerce, while both he and Clara had been active members of the lawn bowls club for many years. They also enjoyed several holidays together back in England - particularly enjoying Burton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, as I recall and visting Clara's relatives.
Sadly, Robert and they became estranged yet again (he having 'let them (and others) down' financially in various ways; and they were never again reconciled - despite Robert eventually becoming head of the Library and Schools division of Encyclopaedia Britannica in Toronto, Ontario - to where he and my Mum settled for a time - but she returned alone to Vancouver about 1975 when he 'took up with' his secretary. Christine died in 1979 and he in 1981 - both in their early 70s; alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and partying had taken their toll of both of them - victims of the culture of their age and times: the roaring '20s, the Depression and the War years.
Clara pre-deceased her husband by one or two years - suffering latterly with Alzheimer's. Joseph died in 1963 when he was 81, still able to recite Byron, Keats and Shelley. It was a long time since the Orphan's Working School in London (where he first memorised such material in the 1890s), and even longer since Coombe Street and the Fish Hawkers of his Exeter youth. Now, with the second half of the century (post-1950s) completed and a new millennium upon us, it was time for the next generations to build on the platform he helped establish. His (and Clara's) two children, four grandchildren, eight gt-grandchildren, twelve gt-gt-grandchildren and about eight gt-gt-gt grandchildren (thus far) are witness to his legacy. Like most of us however, the latter will most likely not be overly-interested in the distant past; they have their own lives and interests to be getting on with. And, in any case, the two and three times gt-grandchildren have between 16 and 32 other such gt-grandparents to show interest in (all equally important in that legacy) - which is surely too much for us, at least, to focus on just now. It's up to others, if interested and curious, to investigate. So, Good Luck - in any searches !
John Millman - October 2012
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