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