All posts by gilbertsmate

Thomas Millington of Nottingham – Investigating one of the fallen of WW1

A poppy to commemorate the dead of World War I

On the face of it finding out more about Thomas Millington, a 24 year old Railway Porter of 116 St Stephen’s Road, Nottingham at the time of the 1911 census (RG14/PN20523) should have proven straightforward. He was living with his father John and presumed mother, Maria. John and Maria stated that they had been married 33 years and there were 4 younger children, Leonard, Harold, May and Mabel also present in the house.

Working backwards, Thomas appeared in the 1901 census at 22 West Street, Nottingham (RG13/3179/43/25), aged 14 with older siblings John and Emma and a younger brother Alfred; in 1891 he is at 9 Upper Eldon Street also in Nottingham (RG12/2705/27/8). Despite registration of births being compulsory neither Thomas, John or Emma appear to have been registered at birth. The younger children in the 1911 census do appear to have been registered and the mothers maiden name is given as Taylor. No marriage of a John Millington to a Maria Taylor has been identified either.

Seeking further information, I identified a marriage of a Thomas Millington in Nottingham in the second quarter of 1911, soon after the taking of the census. Matching the reference numbers in the General Register Office index showed that his wife was one of Mary A Ingham, Mary A Sansom or Lily Saxby. There are no Millington children registered whose mothers name is given as either Ingham, Sansom or Saxby. I could find no obvious death registration for Thomas nor a presence on the 1939 registration.

Somewhat short of ideas I turned to the Newspaper collection held by FindMyPast. I searched for references to Thomas Millington of Nottingham. A page from the Nottingham Evening Post from 1916 immediately attracted my attention. There were successive notices for a Thomas Millington who had died of wounds on 8th October 1916. The first was from his widow Mary. The second was from his brothers, Harold, Len and Alf. The names of his brothers seem to correspond with those entries found in the census suggesting the correct identity of this individual.

Having confirmed that Thomas served in the military, I turned to Ancestry to see what military records had survived. The attestation (enlistment) record for Thomas had survived which gave his next of kin as his wife Mary Ann nee Ingham and that they were married in Sneinton in 1911. Included in amongst the records were some papers confirming a return of personal effects to his widow and payment of a pension. At one point she was referred to not as Mary Ann Millington but as Mary Ann Riley. This suggested that at some point his widow had remarried. Indeed in 1919 there is a marriage of a Mary A. Millington to William Riley.

Thomas led a short life, though from a record keeping perspective, complex one. Military records and crucially newspapers have been used to put the different phases of Thomas’ life together as well as the more traditional sources of BMDs and Census. As we approach the centenary of the end of World War 1, it is perhaps fitting to end with the words from Laurence Binyon’s poem They Shall Not Grow Old:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

Kezia Millington and the Portugese Baron (John Stott Howorth)

John Stott Howorth

One of the Millingtons that has proved elusive in the 1911 census is a Kezia Millington living at 87 Crawford Avenue, Toxteth Park, Lancashire (RG14/PN22288) as Housekeeper to George Anderson, a surveyor. She is described as 59, a widow and born in Brampton, Derbyshire. I have tried to find more about this lady before without success but I thought I would have another go.

I searched my database for individuals called Kezia(h) who married a Millington – or at least that’s what I meant to do. I accidentally searched for marriages involving a Kezia(h) Millington. I noticed the marriage by licence of Kezia Millington to John Stott Howorth, 16th July 1869 at Rowsley in Derbyshire, close to Brampton. John Stott Howorth is described as a Merchant from Rochdale and a bachelor of full age. Both witnesses were from Kezia’s family, her sister Judith, and John who I presume to be her father.

The name “John Stott” made me recall another mysterious entry – the marriage of John Stott Millington in Preshute, Wiltshire in 1894 to Edith Annie Kirby. He is a Civil Engineer and described as the son of John Stott Millington, deceased. The repeated presence of “John Stott” could not, I feel, be a coincidence.

Previous investigations had linked the John Stott Millington who married in Wiltshire to census entries in Southampton in 1881 (RG11/1210/122/17) and Ormskirk in 1891 (RG12/3038/53/6). In both instances he is living with his mother “Kate” who is listed as being from Barlow or Brampton both in Derbyshire.

But where was the father and where were the whole family in 1871? Eventually I found Kezia Howorth and her son John S M Howorth (John Stott Millington Howorth?), aged 1, are in Baslow, Derbyshire (RG10/3626/26/17), but still no John Stott Howorth senior. There is also a birth registration of a John Millington in Bakewell Registration District in 1869. I have ordered this certificate to see if it is indeed Kezia’s child.

John Stott Howorth was born in Rochdale and baptised as a Wesleyan Methodist in 1829, but was later baptised as an adult in the Church of England at Whitworth, Lancashire in 1850. On 5th August 1852 he married Alice Rawstron at Whitworth.

I also came across an Ancestry tree for John Stott Howorth which implied he died in Lisbon, Portugal in 1893 but with no evidence offered. Intrigued I did a Google search for John Stott Howorth and “Lisbon” and came across a Portugese Wikipedia entry. It confirmed that he died in Lisbon and also stated that he became Barão Howorth de Savacem in 1885. No mention of a Millington connection though.

However, a reference in Yorkshire Evening Post for 19th May 1894 (courtesy of FindMyPast’s British Newspaper Archive) strongly suggests a connection. The announcement of John Stott Millington’s marriage describes him as the only son of the late John Stott Millington, of Lisbon. Substitute Millington for Howorth and it fits with the Baron’s death the previous year.

Why did Kezia and her son revert back to the Millington name? The Wikipedia entry suggests after his marriage to Alice Rawstron he lived with a Portugese lady and fathered three children. It is not clear what became of Alice. John Stott Millington, his son by Kezia, became a Chartered Civil Engineer which suggests that someone was funding his education. Kezia after all was a housekeeper. May be she felt abandoned or had found out that the marriage was bigamous (if indeed it was).

So is the 1911 census entry that of Kezia Howorth (nee Millington)? I think so, but absolute proof is wanting and may always be so. As a footnote, a death of Kezia Millington is recorded in the West Derby Registration District in 1921, aged 78 and that of her son John Stott Millington in Chelsea in 1937, aged 67.

Data-driven versus Pedigree-driven

The Millington One-Name Study (ONS) is classified as large by the Guild of One-Name Studies (there are 4,735 entries in the 1881 census covering England, Wales and Scotland). By 1911 there are 6,925 entries and to date there are 7,434 entries in the 1939 register. Add to this some 63,000 entries from civil registration and I am faced with a significant logistical problem – how best to start organising these in to pedigrees.

The traditional, pedigree driven, approach to genealogy is to start with what you know and work backwards, to a marriage and then a baptism or a birth – and on to the next generation (not forgetting births and burials). I believe that this approach works well with small and medium sized ONSs where the set of data is relatively small.

However, I have found that for my study it does not work well for two reasons:

  • a tendency to get distracted on a particular line;
  • too many similar names leading to a brick wall sooner or later. There is then a tendency to try and force a match perhaps a little too hard leading to poor quality pedigrees.

My alternative approach, which I have termed data-driven, is to work through sets of data one record at a time, building as many connections from that record as you can. In that way small pedigrees start evolving, slowly at first, but hopefully more quickly as more connections are made.

Some data sets serve this approach better than others. Census records (and I include the 1939 register) are an excellent start because in many cases a collection of individuals who are already organised in a family.

So I might start by going through each census record trying to match any of the individuals listed to a birth registration. If successful, this will (hopefully) give me a mothers maiden name which might help identify a marriage for the parents. And repeat … 🙂 for all of the census records. Slowly, slowly, the number of people linked grows.

I suspect a different approach might be required when I start to get seriously into the pre-1837 data, but for now it as worked out well for the censuses from 1841 through to 1911 and is going well for the 1939 register.

I would be interested in know how other operators of large ONSs carry out the family reconstruction aspects of their study.

1911 Census – the unknown Millingtons

The 1911 census is the most recent census that is available for the UK. Inevitably it has the most detail for family historians including for wives, the number of years that they have been married and the number of children both alive and dead. It is worth paying close attention to the census forms because a number of husbands and widows also provide this information even though it is not required.

By 1911 the range of forenames had vastly increased making the identification of children much easier and similarly there are more individuals with middle names (which may only be given as an initial).

By 1911 too, civil registration had been running for 74 years (though birth registration had only been compulsory since 1874) and so only the elderly should be without a birth certificate and even they should have a death certificate at some point in the future.

Lastly the recent release by the General Register Office of the results of their indexing program means that mothers maiden names of children born before 1911 can be more readily identified.

Given all of these changes, I thought it was a worthwhile exercise  to see how many of the 6925 Millington entries that I have located in the 1911 census could be linked to at least one of a Birth, Marriage or Death entry.  After a number of years work on this, I am left with 478 entries (just under 7%) that at present are still in my difficult pile.

The list as it currently stands can be found here. If you have any evidence linking these entries to birth, marriage or death registration I would be delighted to hear from you. I doubt whether I can match all of the outstanding entries, but a few more would be good.

Update (02.05.2018) The list is now down to 454 entries – hopefully in a future post, I will talk about some of the more complex identfications I have made.