Chapter 8 – William Henry Miller Story:
William Henry Miller was the author’s maternal 2nd great-grandfather. Prior to this investigation, the only biographical information available were the sketchy “facts” offered by Mildred Bedinger Rhea in her work entitled Henry and Betty, The War Years. There are also Ancestry Public Trees owned by my cousins: (1) Denise Fischer, daughter of Marlene Fischer, (2) Brandie Vanorder, granddaughter of Lillian Bedinger Lewis, and (3) Albert Lewis, son of Lillian Bedinger Lewis. The information provided with these various sources regarding William Henry Miller is either very sketchy or erroneous. This work will endeavor to identify with more certainty the ancestry of William Henry Miller to the greatest extend possible.
We will commence this analysis with the information offered by Aunt Mildred in The War Years. First, we have the photos of Dr. William Henry and Elizabeth Miller (Figure 1) and their daughter (Figure 2). Aunt Mildred did not identify which daughter is depicted in this photo, but it seems probable that this was the youngest daughter, Elizabeth Jane. This probability is predicated on the fact that Elizabeth Jane was the only daughter still living at home in the 1871 and 1881 censuses. The oldest presumed daughter, Olivia Ann, is believed to have died in 1864, so she would not have been the daughter in this photo. The only other daughter, Sarah Ann, was married and living apart from her father’s household until after 1881, by which time she would have been in her 40’s. This photo seems to depict a young woman, probably in her 20’s. The most likely candidate is Elizabeth Jane Miller, probably taken about 1875
Aunt Mildred offered the following anecdotes about William Henry:
“The doctor did visit his son [William Emmett] and family in Weatherford [TX] when Bettie [his granddaughter] was a child [about 1880-2]. She remembered him as “a cross, crabby old man. He was not a bit like Grandpa Bedinger [Henry Clay III],” she said… Dr. Miller, however, came bearing gifts, beautiful English china and a full-length, white fir coat for Minnie. When he found he could not persuade his son to go home to England with him, he tried to bribe his daughter-in-law to take the family and go. He promised her that if she would go home with him and live in England, he would send every one of her boys to college__ no doubt the idea was that he might have more than one doctor among his five grandsons. Therefore, he told Minnie that he was a man of considerable wealth, and that if she would only come home with him, she would not want for comforts__ and furthermore, William [Emmett] would soon follow…
These are the only facts we have for Betty Miller’s ancestors. No more was gleaned of the Millers, and no trace was found in the genealogical records of Liverpool, although Marlene Fischer and her mother [Mildred] made two trips to the city and scanned much microfilm while there. There were just too many Millers, and too many Dr. Millers, to locate William’s birth certificate and family with the scant number of facts that were already known.”
A search of the U.S. immigration records returned only one hit for anyone even remotely matching William Henry Miller’s demographics arriving in Texas from Liverpool during the time period suggested by Aunt Miller’s anecdote, summarized as follows:
- Name: William H. Miller; Arrival year: 1882; Arrival Place: Texas; Primary Immigrant: Miller, William H; Source Publication Code: 6015.23; Annotation: Date and place of naturalization, place of origin, date of birth. Source Bibliography: NATURALIZATION RECORDS. In Trails West (Parker County Genealogical Society), vol. 25:3 (April 1995), pp. 85-89.
According to census records William Henry Miller was born about 1819 near Oldham Parish, Lancashire, England, and died sometime after 1891, probably at Poulton cum Seacombe, Cheshire, England, but possibly at Flixton, Lancashire. He was recorded in six consecutive census records between 1841 and 1891, each summarized as follows:
1841 England Census
Name: William Mellor; Age: 20; Estimated Birth Year: 1821; Gender: Male; Where born: Foreign Parts; Civil parish: Prestwich Cum Oldham; Hundred: Salford; County/Island: Lancashire; Country: England; Registration district: Ashton and Oldham; Sub-registration district: Oldham below Town; Household Members: Name: William Mellor, Age 20; Name: Elizabeth Mellor, Age 20
This is believed to have been the household of William Henry Miller and his wife, Elizabeth. Figure 3 contains an image of the full census record, which includes a couple of important elements not contained in the summary.
Perhaps the most important element which allows us to link this census record with a high level of certainty to William Henry Miller is his reported occupation of “hatter”. This was the same occupation reported in the baptismal records of William Henry’s older children: Sarah Ann and William Emmett. It is also important to note that William was reported to have been born in “foreign parts”. This is perhaps the most important piece of information which could lead us to the identity of William’s parents. Also note that the family was living at Oldham, Below Town, which defined a rather large area extending roughly from the town center southward to the Oldham Parish boundary with Ashton Under Lyne.
1851 England Census
Name: William H Miller
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1819
Spouse’s Name: Elizabeth Miller
Where born: Oldham, Lancashire, England
Civil Parish: Failsworth
Ecclesiastical parish: St John
Registration District: Manchester and Prestwich
Sub-registration District: Failsworth
William H Miller 32
Elizabeth Miller 32
Olivia A Miller 12
William E [Emmett] Miller 9
Sarah A Miller 6
Elizabeth J Miller 9/12
It is important to note that five census records (1851 thru 1881) recorded William as “William H. Miller”, born in 1819 (or 1820, once) at Oldham, Lancashire. Similarly, his wife, Elizabeth, was also recorded in 1851, 1861, and 1881 as born in 1819 at Oldham, Lancashire. For some inexplicable reason Elizabeth was not reported in William’s household in 1871, nor was she reported in the grandson’s (Arthur E. Greene) household in 1891, even though William Henry was reported in that household in that year as still married. The consistency of the reporting of William’s birth-year and place of birth might lend fairly high credence to those facts being accurate, yet in the 1841 census he was reported to have been born in foreign parts. Similarly, in the 1891 census he was reportedly born in Ireland. Such inconsistency is not that uncommon when tracking census records from year to year. This fact may be particularly important to the task of identifying William Henry Miller’s possible parents and origins. William’s middle name was reported only with the initial “H”, except in the baptismal record for his youngest child, Elizabeth Jane, wherein he was identified as William Henry Miller. Additionally, his only known son, William Emmett Miller, named his first born son William Henry Miller. William’s household was reported within the town of Failsworth, located on the Oldham to Manchester old road. He was recorded with the occupation of warehouseman, suggesting a person of nominal education and training, basically a laborer. William and Elizabeth reported having four children: Olivia A, aged 12, William Emmett, aged 9, Sarah A., aged 6, and Elizabeth J., aged 9 months.
We should take particular note of the child named Olivia A., as she did not appear in the families household in 1841, even though she would have been about two years old in that year. This begs the question as to Olivia’s whereabouts in 1841. A thorough search of the census records for 1841 returned only one person matching Olivia’s demographics as shown in Figure 4. This household was located in St. Georges District, on Barlow Street, which was situated to the northeast of Manchester town center off St. Georges Road. It was headed by a person named Olivia Mellor, aged 60, born in Ireland. There appears to have been three separate families living in this household, one headed by Olivia Mellor, one headed by James and Ann Nugent, and another headed by Thomas and Jane Sparrow. Presumably part of the Olivia Mellor family was a young child, one year old, named Olivia Miller. There was also a young woman named Ester Miller, aged 20. Most of the adult persons in this household were reported with an occupation connected in some fashion with the hat-making industry. Everyone in this household, except for the child, Olivia Miller, was reported to have been born in Ireland. Given that this was the only record found in all of England which matched the name and demographics of Olivia A. Miller, and that she was born in England, it seems highly likely that this was the same person, who appeared in William Henry’s household in 1851, identified as Olivia A. Miller, aged 11. We will return later for further discussion of this Olivia Miller and her possible kinship connection to William Henry Miller.
1861 England Census
Name: William H Miller
Estimated Birth Year: 1820
Spouse’s Name: Elizabeth Miller
Where born: Oldham, Lancashire, England
Civil Parish: Dudley
County/Island: Worcestershire (actually Staffordshire)
Registration District: Dudley
Sub-registration District: Dudley
William H Miller 41
Elizabeth Miller 41
William Emmie [Emmett] Miller 17
Sarah Ann Miller 16
Elizabeth Jane Miller 9
In the intervening 10 years following the 1851 census William had moved his family to Dudley, Worcestershire (Staffordshire?), about 90 miles southeast of Failsworth. William’s occupation was reported as an “Herbalist”, suggesting a person engaged in the application of herbs in the practice of medicine. Such change in occupation probably required some formal training. The elder daughter, Olivia, was no longer living in William’s household. She was in fact working as a servant in the household of Dr. Charles Rothwell (Surgeon Practitioner) at Little Bolton, Lancashire, near Manchester. William Emmett was 17 years old, and working as a watchmaker. The two youngest daughters were reported being at school. It may well be that William Henry received his training in herbal medicine at Little Bolton in connection with the Salford Royal Hospital, which was founded in 1827 described briefly as follows:
“The Royal Salford Hospital opened in 1827 as the Salford and Pendleton Dispensary. In 1829 permission was granted from King George IV to rename the Dispensary the Royal Salford and Pendleton Dispensary.
New premises were built, and were occupied by March 1831. The first in-patients were admitted on 29 March 1845. By this time the dispensary was called a hospital.”
In the early 19th Century herbal medicine, much as it is today, was considered a non-traditional alternative to the practice of science-based medicine. Herbal medicine had a long history in the civilized world dating all the way back to Mesopotamia and Egypt, millennia before the Christian era.
1871 England Census
Name: William H Miller
Estimated Birth Year: 1820
Where born: Oldham Lancashire England
Civil Parish: Tranmere
Ecclesiastical parish: St Catherine
Registration District: Birkenhead
Sub-registration District: Tranmere
Occupation: General Medical Practitioner
William H Miller 51
Jane Miller 19
Henry E Christopher 3
Richard C Sumner 7
By 1871 William Henry Miller had once again moved his household, this time almost 100 miles from Dudley to Tranmere, Birkenhead, Cheshire. Tranmere is situated on the south side of the River Mersey, on the opposite bank from Liverpool. His occupation had advanced to the profession of General Medical Practitioner. Presumably, he must have received medical training somewhere along the way. His wife, Elizabeth, was not reported living in his household, nor were his two children: William Emmett and Sarah Ann. In fact, William Emmett had immigrated to the United State in 1865, and was recorded in the 1870 census living in Grand Haven, Ottawa County, Michigan, working as a jeweler. Sarah Ann had married James Henry Christopher at Old Swinford, Worcestershire on 16Jun1867. Their son, Henry Emmett Christopher was living in his grandfather’s (William Henry Miller) household at Tranmere in 1871. Henry Emmett died the following year. Also in William Henry’s household was his youngest daughter, Elizabeth Jane, and Richard C. Sumner, aged 7, described as born at New Brighton, and adopted. Efforts to identify Richard C. Sumner led to naught.
William Henry’s wife, Elizabeth, appears to have been living nearby, identified as a “visitor” and “annuitant” in a household headed by Robert Oliver on Wellington Terrace, Liscard, summarized as follows:
Name: Elizebeth Miller; Age: 52; Estimated Birth Year: 1819; Relation: Visitor; Gender: Female; Where born: Oldham Lancashire England; Civil Parish: Liscard; Town: Egremont; Registration District: Birkenhead; Household Members:
Robert Oliver 35
Mary Oliver 34
John Oliver 7
Thomas R Oliver 5
Richard D Oliver 3
Elizebeth Miller 52
The head of this household, Robert Oliver, was described as being a bookkeeper for a cotton merchant, and born in Liverpool. The author was unable to establish any particular connection between Elizabeth Miller and this Robert Oliver family. It is possible that Robert Oliver’s wife, Mary, may have been a kinsperson of Elizabeth, perhaps a niece, but, if that were the case, then why wasn’t that kinship reflected in the census? The demographics associated with this Elizabeth Miller are virtually unmistakable for the wife of Dr. William Henry Miller. That being the case, then we must ponder the reason for her living apart from her husband and daughter. It would suggest some sort of estrangement and separation.
1881 England Census
Name: William H. Miller
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1819
Relationship to Head: Head
Spouse: Elizabeth Miller
Where born: Oldham, Lancashire, England
Civil Parish: Poulton cum Seacombe
Street Address: 4 Achais Terrace St Pauls Rd
Marital status: Married
Occupation: Doctor Of Medicine
Registration District: Birkenhead
William H. Miller 62
Elizabeth Miller 62
Elizabeth J. Miller 11
John Griffiths 32
Elizabeth J. Griffiths 30
Ada M. Griffiths 4
William H. Griffiths 2
By 1881 Dr. William Henry Miller had moved his family about 2 miles downstream from Tranmere to the town of Poulton cum Seacombe. He was identified with the occupation of Doctor of Medicine. William’s wife, Elizabeth, was once again reported living in his household. She was reported born 1819 at Oldham, leaving little doubt that she was William Henry’s 1st and only wife. Her separation from William Henry in 1871 is a mystery. Might it have had something to do with Richard C. Sumner? Also in the household were William and Elizabeth’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth Jane, and her new husband, John Griffiths, and their two children: Ada M., aged 4 and William H., aged 2. There was also a granddaughter named Elizabeth J. Miller, aged 11. This granddaughter reportedly was born at Sedgley in Staffordshire, about 3 miles northwest of Dudley.
The identity of the granddaughter, Elizabeth Jane Miller, is not known with certainty. William Henry’s only known son, William Emmett, had immigrated to America in 1865, so he almost certainly was not Elizabeth Jane’s father. However, it seems highly probable that this Elizabeth Jane Miller was actually Elizabeth Jane Christopher, daughter of Sarah Ann Miller and James Henry Christopher, who were married at Old Swinford, Worchester, on 23Jun1867. In 1871 Henry and Sarah Ann were living at Swansea, Wales, as shown in Figure 5. Elizabeth was reported being 22 months old, born at Deepfields, Staffordshire, a small hamlet near Coseley, just easterly of Dudley. The reporting of Elizabeth Jane’s surname as “Miller” rather than Christopher probably was an error by the census taker.
1891 England Census
Name: William H Willer [Miller]
[William H Miller]
Relationship: Grand Father-in-law
Birth Year: 1819
Spouse [Daughter]: Sarah A Christopher
[Grand] Child [of Sarah Ann]: Elizabeth A Greene
Birth Place: Ireland
Civil Parish: Poulton with Seacombe
Registration District: Birkenhead
Sub registration district: Wallasey
Arthur E Greene 26
Elizabeth A Greene 21
Emily H Greene 1
Edward C Greene 4/12
Sarah A Christopher 45
William H Willer 72
In 1891 William Henry Miller was living in the household headed by his Grand Son-in-Law, Arthur E. Greene, who had married Elizabeth A. Christopher, daughter of Sarah Ann (Miller) Christopher. Given the matching age, and place of birth (Deepfield vs. Sedgley) it seems probable that this daughter of Sarah Ann Miller Christopher was the same person as the granddaughter, Elizabeth J. Miller, living in William Henry’s household in 1881. Why she may have been shown with the surname of Miller rather than Christopher in 1881 is peculiar. Probably this discrepancy was just a recording error made by the census taker.
William Henry was described as being 72 years old, married, retired Surgeon, born in Ireland. The family was living at 15 Rappart Road in Poulton cum Seacombe. Figure 6 contains an image of the house located at that address. It is particularly noteworthy that William Henry was reported born in Ireland, whereas in all the earlier records reported his place of birth as Oldham, Lancashire, except the 1841 census which had him born in “foreign parts”. This piece of information will be especially important in our quest to establish William Henry’s ancestry.
Also living in this household was William’s daughter, Sarah Ann, who had married James Henry Christopher in 1867, and was apparently widowed. We have included a copy of the actual census record image in Figure 7 for a complete display of all the relevant data elements related to this family. The household of Arthur E. and Elizabeth Ann Greene was located in the 1901 census, situated at Flixton, Lancashire, on the south side of the River Mersey, about five miles downstream from Manchester as displayed in Figure 8.
Now, having fairly thoroughly documented the life of William Henry Miller, it is time to establish the possible identity of his parents. At this juncture in our search for the roots of William Henry Miller, the earliest known record is the 1841 census when he and Elizabeth were recorded living at Oldham, Below Town. Other records that might be used to trace the origins of William Henry Miller are the baptismal records of his children. From those records we should be able to establish the approximate location of the family at the time of birth of each child. We will begin this analysis by examining the birth records for each child, in order from youngest to eldest.
Elizabeth Jane Miller – 1750/1
Following is a summary of the baptismal record for Elizabeth Jane Miller:
Name: Elizabeth Jane Millers
Birth Date: 10 Aug 1850
Baptism Date: 25 Apr 1852
Baptism Place: England, Newton Heath, All Saints, Manchester
Father: William Henry Millers
Mother: Elizabeth Millers
An image of this record is presented in Figure 9. The community of Newton Heath is situated about ¼ mile south of Failsworth, where the family was recorded living in 1851. The parish church, Newton Heath All Saints, has existed on its current site since 1556. The current structure is shown in Figure 10. A brief history of the area around Newton Heath is offered as follows:
“French Huguenots settled in the area in the 16th century to avoid continental persecution, and brought cotton and linen weaving and bleaching skills with them. The arrival of textile mills saw Newton Heath’s cottage industry change forever into a fully mechanised mass production system – in 1825 Newton Silk Mill (which exists to this day) was built and the Monsall Silk Dye Works followed soon afterwards.
The Rochdale Canal made movement of raw materials and finished products a practical reality. Later came other industries, including a soap works, Elijah Dixon’s match manufacturing factory, and rope works as well as engineering and glass making works. Many small back-to-back low cost houses were built to house the new migrant work force. Thus was Newton changed irrevocably from a farming area into an industrial one.
The 18th century saw Oldham Road (A62) turnpiked and a toll bar installed at Lambs Lane; this road still forms the main artery through the district. With the Industrial Revolution, by the beginning of the 19th century the Rochdale Canal had been constructed and this brought industry and creeping urbanisation to the district. During the 19th century the local population increased nearly 20 fold.”
Sarah Ann Miller
Following is a summary of the baptismal record for Sarah Ann Miller:
Name: Sarah Ann Miller
Baptism Date: 19 Oct 1845
Baptism Place: England, Oldham, St Mary, Lancashire
Parish as it Appears: Oldham
Father: William Miller
Mother: Elizabeth Miller
An image of this baptismal record is presented in Figure 11. The location of the baptism was at St. Mary Church, Oldham, which church is situated in the town of Oldham, about 3.5 miles northeast of Failsworth. It should be noted that William Henry’s occupation was reported as “Hatter”, the same occupation recorded in the 1841 census record. This is a very important fact to keep in mind, as we attempt to identify William’s parents. It should also be noted that the place of residence was reported as Northmoor, which is believed to have been situated on the north edge of Oldham, at the intersection of Oldham Road and Chadderton Way. The location of the baptism, St. Mary, Oldham, is described as follows:
“The Church of St. Mary with St. Peter, mostly known as Oldham Parish Church, is the Church of England parish church for Oldham in Greater Manchester, England. It forms part of the Diocese of Manchester, and is one of several Grade II* listed buildings in Greater Manchester.
A church building had existed on the site since 1280. During this time, a small chapel stood on the site to serve the local townships of Oldham, Chadderton, Royton and Crompton. This was later replaced by an Early English Gothic Church in the 15th century. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, the population of Oldham increased at a rapid rate (from under 2,000 in 1714, to over 32,000 by 1831). The rapid growth of the local population warranted that the building be rebuilt into the current structure. Though the budget was originally agreed at £5,000, the final cost of building was £30,000, one third of which was spent on the crypt structure. Alternative designs by Sir Charles Barry, the designer of the Palace of Westminster, although now regarded by some as superior, were rejected. In 1805 the churchyard was enlarged and nearby Church Lane, Oldham became a cul-de-sac severing an ancient route through the town. The previous continuance of the road (Church Street) was lowered by 6 feet and became an extension of the recently created Church Terrace.
The church [in] its present form, dates from 1830 and was designed in the Gothic Revival Style by Richard Lane, a Manchester-based Architect. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building. It was linked with St Mary’s Church in Prestwich and together the sites were principal churches of the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham.”
St. Mary Church, Oldham, as it appears today, was erected in 1830 and would have been the same church in which Sarah Ann Miller was baptized. Its image in a rendering, circa 1880, is presented in Figure 12. It is located just off the north side of Oldham town center, between Rock Street and Church Street.
William Emmett Miller
Name: William Emmett Miller
Baptism Date: 22 Oct 1843
Baptism Place: England, Oldham, St Mary, Lancashire
Parish as it Appears: Oldham
Father: William Miller
Mother: Elizabeth Miller
Figure 13 contains an image of the baptismal record for William Emmett Miller. It should be noted that this baptism occurred in St Mary Oldham Church, the same location as the baptism of Sarah Ann, but the family’s residential location was at Coldhurst, a small community just to the north of Northmoor about one mile distance. It is also important to note that William Henry’s occupation was still reported as “Hatter”.
Olivia Ann Miller
No baptismal record was located by the author for Olivia Ann Miller. However, there is a Lancashire County civil record index entry for an Olivia Miller summarized as follows:
Name: Olivia Miller
Registration Year: 1840
Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar
Registration district: Ashton Under Lyne
Inferred County: Lancashire
A copy of this civil register birth record was acquired by the author, the image of which is presented in Figure 14.
From this record we find that Olivia was born on 28Dec1839 at Lees Hall, Oldham, and was registered on 4Feb1840. Her father was identified as William Miller, hatter, and the mother as Elizabeth Miller, formerly Holt. This birth registration record would seem to confirm that Olivia was the child of William Henry Miller and Elizabeth nee Holt.
England enacted a national registration program in 1837 wherein births, marriages and deaths were all registered within the county in which the event occurred. Churches also continued to maintain registers for similar civil records, so there may be duplicate records both in the church registry system as well as in the civil registry system. The author placed an order for a copy of Olivia’s birth record from Lancashire County on 8Oct2020, and received a copy of that record on 23Oct2020.
The place of Olivia’s birth, Lees Hall, was the site of one of the earliest cotton spinning factories constructed in England at the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Oldham’s prominence and growth into this burgeoning industry is described as follows:
“Oldham rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and amongst the first ever industrialised towns, rapidly becoming “one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England”, spinning Oldham counts, the coarser counts of cotton. Oldham’s soils were too thin and poor to sustain crop growing, and so for decades prior to industrialisation the area was used for grazing sheep, which provided the raw material for a local woollen weaving trade. It was not until the last quarter of the 18th century that Oldham changed from being a cottage industry township producing woollen garments via domestic manual labour, to a sprawling industrial metropolis of textile factories. The first mill, Lees Hall, was built by William Clegg in about 1778. Within a year, 11 other mills had been constructed, but by 1818 there were only 19 of these privately owned mills.”
We will now resume our investigation of the household of Olivia Mellor previously introduced from the 1841 census, reiterated as follows:
1841 All England
Name: Olivia Meller
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1781
Where born: Ireland
Civil Parish: Manchester
Registration District: Manchester
Sub-registration District: St George
Neighbors: View others on page
Olivia Meller 60
Ester Miller 20
James Nugent 30
Ann Nugent 22
Lawrance Cullar 28
Thos Sparrow 48
Jane Sparrow 48
George Sparrow 13
Hy Sparrow 12
Frances Sparrow 20
Mary Sparrow 11
Olivia Miller 1
Mary Ann Nugent 9
This household, headed by an Olivia Meller, aged 60, was located in the St. George civil parish of Manchester. The household was recorded as being on Barlow Street, which was situated just off the west side of Rochdale [St. George] Road in St, Michael’s Parish as illustrated in Figure 15. Olivia’s house was the 5th house in sequence along Barlow Street, so it very likely was either House A or House B a shown in Figure 15. Everyone in this household, with the exception of the child, Olivia Miller (aged 1), were recorded as being from Ireland. Given the name match, the age, and the geographic proximity, it seems a virtual certainty that this child, Olivia Miller, was the same child whose birth was recorded in the civil register, Figure 14, above. If this record was in fact of Olivia Ann Miller, who appeared in the household of William Henry Miller in 1851, then we may be able to draw several inferences from this “fact”.
A child of one year almost certainly had to have been a kinsperson of someone within this household, headed by Olivia Meller, aged 60, of Ireland. Given the name match and age differences, it seems possible that the older Olivia Mellor was the grandmother or great-grandmother, and namesake of the younger Olivia Miller. It also seems possible that the Ester Miller, aged 20, in this household may have been Olivia Miller’s aunt, and possibly a daughter or granddaughter of Olivia Meller. There appears to have been elements of multiple families residing in this household: (1), James, Ann, and Mary Ann Nugent, (2) Thomas, Jane, Frances, George, Hy, and Mary Sparrow; all of Ireland, and (3) Olivia Meller, Ester Miller and Olivia Miller. Most of the older members of this household were reported working in some capacity in the hat-making industry, the same occupation reported for William Henry Miller in his youth.
The location of Olivia Mellor’s household in the 1841 census fell within Salford Hundred, Manchester Parish, Manchester Township, St. George Registrar’s District, Enumeration District 36. District 36 was described on the census record as:
“All that part of No. 2 Police District in the Town of Manchester comprising south side of St. Georges Road, from Barlow Street to Preston Street, east side of Preston Street to Pleasant Row, north side of Pleasant Row to Barlow Street, west side of Barlow Street to St. Georges Road.” NOTE: The compass points included with this district boundary description seem to be rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise from the map orientation in Figure 15.
There were only six households reported on Barlow Street, Olivia Mellor’s being the only family not born in England. Olivia’s household was also the fifth house in sequence along Barlow Street. The occupations reported on this street included: bootmaker, hostler, silk winder, miller, bricksetter, charwoman, glazer, hat bender, hat finisher, hat picker and collier worker. The entire enumeration district consisted of only 12 pages, and included residents on Barlow Street, Preston Street, Back Preston Street, Pleasant Row, St. George Road, Blackburn Street, Jones Street and Beaver Street. Virtually none of these streets still exist today, except for St. George Road [aka Rochdale Road]. The area occupied by Barlow Street is substantially vacant today, and appears as shown in Figure 16.
Given that we have already discovered that William Henry Miller probably was born in Ireland (1841 and 1891 census records), and given that there was an apparent daughter named Olivia Ann Miller living in the household of William Henry and Elizabeth Miller in 1851 at Failsworth, and given that no other baptismal record could be found for Olivia Miller anywhere in England during this time period, and given that Olivia Miller, aged 1 year, was the only member of the Olivia Meller household in 1841 to be born in England, and given that all other members of that household were born in Ireland; it seems irrefutable that William Henry Miller was a close kinsperson of Olivia Mellor and Ester Mellor, and probably the father of Olivia Miller, aged 1 year. Just what the kinship connection between Olivia Mellor and William Henry Miller may have been cannot be known at this juncture, but, given their respective ages, it is conceivable that William Henry Miller and Ester Miller may have been siblings, and children or grandchildren of Olivia Mellor.
Given the presence of an apparently newly married couple living at Oldham Below Town in 1841, who registered the birth of their daughter, Olivia, on 4Feb1840 at Lees hall, we might expect to locate a marriage record for a William Miller and a bride named Elizabeth in the near vicinity of Oldham in about 1838-9. From Olivia’s birth registration we discovered that Elizabeth’s maiden name was Holt. The next logical line of inquiry would be a search for a marriage record of William Miller and Elizabeth Holt sometime before 1841. Such a search was performed resulting in a hit on only one record shown in Figure 17 and summarized as follows:
- Name: William Miller; Gender: Male; Marriage Age: Of Full Age; Event Type: Marriage; Marriage Date: 2 Jun 1839; Marriage Place: Prestwich, St Mary, Lancashire, England; Parish as it Appears: Prestwich; Father: Jacob Miller; Spouse: Elizabeth Holt
There are several elements of this marriage record worthy of our note:
- The marriage occurred on 1Jun1739, about seven months before the birth of Olivia Ann Miller.
- The groom and bride’s names were William Miller and Elizabeth Holt.
- The marriage was recorded in Prestwich, St. Mary, which we believe to have been the same church already discussed herein as St. Mary Oldham.
- William Miller was described with the occupation of “hatter”, which comports with the occupation of William Henry Miller as reported at the time of the birth of Olivia, William Emmett and Sarah Ann Miller, and in the 1841 census.
- William has reported as being a resident of Coldhurst.
- Elizabeth was reported as being a resident of Northmoor.
- William’s father was reported to have been Jacob Miller, laborer.
- Elizabeth’s father was reported to have been James Holt, carder.
- Witnesses were reported to have been James Nugent and Joseph Taylor.
There are several facts contained in this marriage record, which make it a virtual certainty that this was the marriage of William Henry Miller, and his wife, Elizabeth, and the same couple recorded in the 1841 census residing at “Oldham, Below Town”. We have the exact match with the occupation of hatter, the exact match of geographic locations of Coldhurst and Northmoor with the place of residence at the birth of two children (Sarah Ann and William Emmett), and a date which predates the birth year of Olivia Ann Miller. Another compelling fact is that one of the witnesses was named James Nugent. It may be remembered that a James Nugent was listed as a member of the household of Olivia Mellor in the 1841 census. Given these connections, the author is prepared to assert this as the marriage of William Henry Miller and his wife, Elizabeth.
One element of the 1841 census record appears to be incongruous with other “facts” on record regarding William Henry Miller, that being the suggestion that he was “foreign born”. How could that be? William Henry Miller consistently reported his place of birth as Oldham Parish, Lancashire in 1851 thru 1881. We also have the marriage record for William Miller and Elizabeth Holt in which William was reported as a resident of Coldhurst, with no suggestion that he was foreign born. Yet, we also have a record of the household of Olivia Mellor in 1841 in which everyone in that household were also reported being “foreign born”, except for the child, Olivia Miller, who we believe to have been the same person as Olivia Ann Miller living in William Henry Miller’s household at Failsworth in the 1851 census. Clearly, it would appear that there was some sort of connection between William Henry Miller and these other persons born in Ireland. Remember, a James Nugent witnessed the marriage of William Miller and Elizabeth Holt, yet we also had a James Nugent living in the same household with Olivia Miller in 1841. We also have the assertion that William Miller was “of age” when he married Elizabeth Holt, yet it would appear that William Henry Miller would have been only about 20 years old. Did he misrepresent his age? How might these anomalies be explained?
As we work our way through the search for the possible ancestry of William Henry Miller, we may discover facts which might explain this “foreign born” element. That issue aside, it would appear that we have successfully established the identity of the father’s of both William Henry Miller and Elizabeth Holt. This is a vital discovery, in that that information could make it possible for us to further identify the ancestry of William Henry Miller and Elizabeth Holt.
Elizabeth Holt is believed by the author to have been a daughter of James Holt and Mally Duckworth of Cowhill, Oldham. The identity of Elizabeth’s parents was established from a search for a daughter of James Holt named Elizabeth, born about 1820 (+/- three years) in the near vicinity of Oldham. This search returned only two hits summarized as follows
- Elizabeth Holt; Baptized 6 Jun 1819; St. Peter, Oldham, Lancashire, England; Parents: James, Mally
- Elizabeth Holt; Baptized 25 Dec 1821; St. Peter, Oldham, Lancashire, England; Parents: James, Mary
The daughter, Elizabeth, born to James and Mary Holt died, and was buried at St. Mary, Oldham on 7Sep1823. So, by process of elimination, it was deduced that the Elizabeth Holt, who married William Henry Miller, was the child of James Holt and Mally, who, themselves, were married at Oldham on 31Aug1803. The witnesses were John Holt and James Clegg. John Holt undoubtedly was a kinsman, and may be instrumental in identifying James Holt’s family. James Clegg probably was a kinsman of William Clegg, the founder of the Lees Hall cotton spinning factory, where William Henry and Elizabeth Miller were living at the birth of their first-born child, Olivia. James and Mally’s marriage record is shown in Figure 18. James Holt was a weaver (wool carder), by tradecraft. He and Mally bore a total of eight children, all born in the small community of Cowhill-Alder Root, just south of Chadderton. Their children are summarized as follows:
- Anna Holt; 7 Apr 1805; St. Peter’s, Oldham, Lancashire, England; James, Mally
- Sally Holt; 4 Jan 1807; St. Peter’s, Oldham, Lancashire, England; James, Mally
- Adam Holt; 12 Feb 1809; St. Peter’s, Oldham, Lancashire, England; James, Mally
- Andrew Holt; 3 Feb 1811; St. Peter’s, Oldham, Lancashire, England; James, Mally
- Sally Holt; 10 Jan 1813; St. Peter’s, Oldham, Lancashire, England; James, Mally
- Francis Holt; 8 Jan 1815; St. Peter’s, Oldham, Lancashire, England;James, Mally
- Elizabeth Holt; 6 Jun 1819; St. Peter, Oldham, Lancashire, England; James, Mally
- John Holt; 31 Aug 1820; St. Peter, Oldham, Lancashire, England; James, Mally
William Henry’s Ancestry
At this point in our research we have successfully traced William Henry to the Oldham area where he was married to Elizabeth Holt on 2Jun1839 in the St. Mary parish church at Oldham, following the publishing of banns. In the marriage record William was reported as a resident of Coldhurst working as a hatter, whereas Elizabeth was a resident of Northmoor. William’s father was identified in that record as Jacob Miller, a labourer. Elizabeth’s father was identified as James Holt, a carder. It is worth noting that William Miller signed his own name in the register as shown in Figure 17. The marriage was witnessed by James Nugent and Joseph Taylor, both of who also signed their own names in the register. Elizabeth Holt signed the register with her mark, same as she did on the birth record for her daughter, Olivia Ann.. The fact that William Miller signed his name suggests that he had received at least an elementary school education, in spite of having been the son of a labourer. A review of the ten pages preceding and following this marriage record showed that the large majority of persons witnessing marriages were unique to each marriage, suggesting that they held a special connection to the married couple. This suggests that James Nugent and Joseph Taylor were likely personal acquaintances of either William Miller or Elizabeth Holt, or both.
A review of the seven adult James Nugents recorded in Lancashire in the 1841 census showed that six were from the Greater Manchester area and two were recorded as born in Ireland. Given this limited number of records of James Nugents, none of which appeared in the immediate vicinity of Oldham, it seems highly probable that the James Nugent, who witnessed the marriage of William Miller and Elizabeth Holt, was the same person living in the household headed by Olivia Mellor. Assuming that to be the case, and given the two instances in which William Henry Miller was reported born in Ireland, it seems highly probable that William Henry Miller was a kinsperson of Olivia Mellor and Ester Miller, both of who were reported born in Ireland. Consequently, it seems highly probable that William’s father, Jacob Miller, would have been from Ireland. No evidence was found anywhere to confirm that William’s father ever resided in England.
Assuming that Olivia Mellor, Ester Miller and William Henry Miller were kinsmen, then the obvious question becomes, what might their kinship have been? Since it appears that William Henry and Elizabeth’s newborn child was living in Olivia Mellor’s household in 1841, it is reasonable to conclude that Olivia Mellor possibly was Olivia Ann Miller’s grandmother, and William Henry’s mother. It further seems reasonable to conclude that Ester Miller may have been William Henry’s sister. Assuming this to have been the case, we then went in search of a marriage record for Esther Miller, which search returned the following hit:
- Name: Esther Miller; Marriage Date: 18 Dec 1843; Parish: Manchester, St Mary, St Denys and St George; Father’s Name: Jacob Miller; Spouse’s Name: Hugh McCurry; Spouse’s Father’s Name: Hugh McCurry
Given the date, name and location of this marriage record, it seems highly probable that this was the marriage record for the Ester Miller, who was residing in the household of Olivia Mellor in 1841. This probability is made even more certain by the additional information provided in the record image shown in Figure 19.
In this record Esther identified her father as Jacob Miller, a needle maker. Jacob Miller was the same name given by William Henry for his father in his marriage record. Also, we have the witnesses named James Nugent and Ann Nugent. The reader probably recalls that James Nugent also witnessed the marriage of William Henry Miller and Elizabeth Holt. Further, that James and Ann Nugent were occupants of the household headed by Olivia Mellor. Given that William Henry Miller and Esther Miller both identified their fathers as Jacob Miller, it seems highly probable that they were siblings, a probability that we had already deduced based on earlier facts in evidence.
Esther and Hugh McCurry were married at St Mary, St Denys and St George [aka Cathedral and Collegiate Church], which is located on Victoria Street in the Collegiate Parish and appears as shown in Figure 20. Collegiate Church marriages were performed under rather peculiar circumstances described as follows:
“Until 1850, the Collegiate Church remained the parish church for whole of Manchester (this is the ancient parish, including almost the whole area of the modern City of Manchester excepting Wythenshawe), an area which in 1821 had a population of 187,031. Within this vast parish there were considerable numbers of chapels of ease and proprietary chapels for parochial worship – as well as other chapels for dissenters and Roman Catholics. Nevertheless, the Wardens and fellows of the Collegiate church maintained their legal right to a fee of 3s. 6d. for all marriages conducted within their parish; so, unless a couple were able and willing to pay two sets of marriage fees, the only place in Manchester where a marriage might legally be contracted was the Collegiate Church. In 1821 a total of 1,924 marriages were solemnized in the Collegiate Church; commonly in batches of a score or more. The couples to be married were most often desperately poor but Brookes was no respecter of status, so all were subjected to his ‘production line’ methods. Commonly, the groom and friends would decamp to a nearby ale-house while the bride kept place in the queue; but if there was one groom too few when a group of couples were lined up in front of the altar, Brookes notoriously would countenance no delay, but would continue the marriage with any passer-by (or even one of the other grooms) as a proxy stand-in. Brookes is commonly reckoned to have conducted more marriages, funerals and christenings than any English clergyman before or since.”
Now that we have the marriages of both William Henry and Esther having been witnessed by James Nugent, it leaves us to ponder whether there may also have been some sort of kinship connection between these Miller siblings and James Nugent. The most likely probability of a kinship connection is that James Nugent was married to another Miller sibling, and that he was William Henry and Esther’s brother-in-law. Such eventuality could explain his presence in Olivia Mellor’s household, and his witnessing the Miller sibling’s marriages. Assuming this to have been the case, we seemingly have now identified three Miller siblings: William Henry, Esther, and Ann. Since Ann appears to have been almost 10 years younger than James, and only about 20 years old in 1941, it seems likely that they were only recently married. Assuming that James and Ann may have been married in England, we made a search for their marriage record. This search resulted in the following hit:
- Name: Ann Miller; Marriage Date: 1 Apr 1839; Parish: Manchester, St Mary, St Denys and St George; Father’s Name: Jacob Miller; Spouse’s Name: James Nugent; Spouse’s Father’s Name: George Nugent
Figure 21 contains an image of this marriage record. Given that the bride is named Ann Miller, and that her father was identified as Jacob Miller, needle-maker, there seems no doubt but that Ann was a sister of Ester Miller, ergo, she was also a sister of William Henry (If A=B, and B=C, then A=C). From this record we also find that James Nugent was a widower, hence the Mary Ann Nugent, aged 9 years in the household of Olivia Mellor in 1841, very likely was James’ daughter from his earlier marriage. Another important detail from this record was that a William Miller was a witness, almost certainly William Henry Miller. A comparison of William’s signatures between this record and his own marriage record shows a clear match of handwriting.
Now that we have reliably established William Henry Miller, Esther Miller and Anne Miller as siblings, it is time to infer a probable kinship connection to Olivia Mellor. If we only consider the ages reported for Ann Nugent, Esther Miller and William Miller (22 , 20 and 20, respectively) in the 1841 census, it is conceivable that Olivia Mellor could have been their grandmother. However, in looking beyond the 1841 census records to 1851, 1861 and 1871, we will learn that both Anne and Esther very likely were almost 10 years older than suggested by the 1841 census. Well might the reader wonder how such a significant difference in ages could be possible? The author has a theory. Is it possible that Esther and Anne may have lied about their ages when they married? Marrying off spinster daughters in their early thirties would have been tricky. But, if the grooms thought their prospective spouses to have been 10 years younger, marriage may have been an easier proposition. Assuming that to have been the case, then they naturally would need to lie about their ages for the 1841 census, when they were all residing in the same household
The author cannot absolutely state the cause of this discrepancy, but the record seems to be quite clear that Esther and Anne were born around 1810-2, not 1819-21. This fact is very important to establishing the probable kinship between these three Miller siblings and Olivia Mellor. Given the more reliable ages of Anne and Esther Miller, it is a virtual certainty that Olivia Mellor was not their grandmother. In fact, it seems highly probable that Olivia Mellor was their mother. By extrapolation, Olivia Mellor’s husband very likely was Jacob Miller, needle-maker, who almost certainly was deceased at the time of the 1841 census taking.
Given that prospect, we went in search of a death record for a Jacob Miller somewhere in the vicinity of Manchester sometime between 1822 and 1839. This search resulted in only one hit, summarized as follows:
- Name: Jacob Mellor; Gender: Male; Burial Date: 19 Oct 1825; Burial Place: Royton, Lancashire, England: FHL Film Number: 1545720; Reference ID: 129
The name “Jacob Miller” was extremely rare in the vicinity of Manchester in the first half of the 19th Century. In fact, the author found only one other instance, that being a Jacob Miller, born about 1772 at Ashton Under Lyne, died about 1830 at Hurst, Ashton Under Lyne. Given such rarity, it seemed highly possible that this death record may have been of the father of William Henry Miller. Royton is a town located about 2.5 miles north of Oldham, and about one mile north of Coldhurst, the place of residence reported for William Henry Miller in his marriage record. However, on reviewing the film record, this Jacob Mellor was found to have been only 15 months old. Given the name match, and the relatively close geographic proximity, it should not be discounted that this could have been a younger brother of William Henry. Regrettably, the record does not provide any information on the child’s family. If this Jacob Mellor had been a brother of William Henry, then it would establish the date of the Miller family’s migration to Lancashire at between 1819 and 1825.
Having reliably established that William Henry Miller had two sisters living in the vicinity of Manchester, we next went in search of other records associated with their families in an effort to determine whether there might be clues as to this Miller family’s origins. This search led to one very important census record shown in Figure 22.
This was the household headed by James Nugent, located on Dean’s Court, which was situated about one mile west-southwest from the household of Olivia Mellor on Barlow Street in 1841 Barlow Street was situated off the west side of Rochdale Road in St. Michael’s Parish. Dean’s Court was on the south side of the River Irwell, near the intersection of New Bridge Street and Greengate. This census record identified James Nugent’s place of birth as Dublin, Ireland. Anne (Miller) Nugent, his wife, aged 39, was identified as having been born at Swords, near Dublin, Ireland. Also, in this household was Anne’s older sister, Esther McCurry, aged 41, born at Dublin, Ireland. So, from this record we have traced the birth place of these Miller siblings to Dublin and/or the nearby town of Swords. It is reasonable to believe that William Henry Miller was also born in Dublin County, near Swords. Note that the ages of Esther and Anne have increased almost 20 years since the 1841 census.
It is important to note that the three oldest children of James and Ann Nugent were reportedly born at Manchester (probably on Barlow Street at Collyhurst), whereas the youngest child was born at Salford (probably on Deans Court). These facts allow us to establish the date range at which the family relocated from Barlow Street to Deans Court at around 1846 to 1849. Another “fact” that might be drawn from this information is that Olivia Mellor probably died sometime within that date range, which death probably prompted the Nugent Family’s relocation.
The Nugent family was living on Dean’s Court in 1851. Dean’s Court is shown in the inset contained in Figure 23. It was a small, enclosed court with an outlet onto Greengate Street to the south, or through Langworthy Court on the north onto Sandywell Street. It was situated within a couple of blocks of the Greengate Cotton Mills complex, four breweries, an Iron Foundary and a Hat Manufactory along the south bank of the River Irwell as shown in Figure 24. The area in which the Nugent family lived is briefly described as follows:
“Greengate was noted for textiles and dyeing long before the Industrial Revolution, but from the early 19th century it developed a reputation for poverty and slum housing alongside sections of manufacturing. By the mid-19th century, almost two thirds of the population of Salford were crowded into the small area of Greengate.”
James Nugent died later in 1851, and sometime over the next decade, Anne (Miller) Nugent moved her household about ¼ of a mile to the southeast across the River Irwell to Marks Lane. Her household appeared inthe Market Street Registrar’s Sub-District, Enumeration District 14 described as follows:
“All that part of the Township of Manchester commencing with Halliwell Street, Long-Mile Gate, thence along the left-hand side of Long-Mile Gate of Todd Street to Withy Grove to Garden Street, thence by the back of the houses on the south side of Balloon Street and of Halliwell Street to Long-Mile Gate, aforesaid, including the said left-hand side of Long-Mill Gate, of Todd Street, and of Withy Grove together with all other streets, courts, yards and places, whatever, within the described boundary.”
Following is a list of the streets named within this census enumeration district: Long Mill Gate, Todd Street, Carpenter Street, Hydes Cross, Huntsmans Court, Holgate Street, Back Clock Alley, Clock Alley, Arkwright Court, Mark Lane, Cock Inn – Mark Lane, [Three] Crown Yard, Pump Yard – Mark Lane, Oldham Tavern – Mark Lane, and Lamb Yard. Figure 25 contains an inset of a map of Blackfriars Ward, surveyed in 1849 and engraved in 1850 at the Ordinance Map Office, Southampton. Although Marks Lane does not appear on this map, it is clear that Marks Lane and Cock Gates were the same street, based on street and landmark references from the 1861 census of Enumeration District 14. In that census Cock Inn, [Three] Crown Yard and Pump Yard were all identified as being off Marks Lane. In Figure 25 these landmarks are shown to be off Cock Gates. It would appear that sometime after this ordinance survey in 1849 and before the 1861 census taking Cock Gates had been renamed to Marks Lane. Figure 26 contains a map of Manchester, circa 1844, which shows the locations of the James and Ann Nugent households in 1841, 1851 and 1861.
In the 1861 census record Anne (Miller) Nugent and her eldest daughter, Esther, were identified as engaged in the occupation of Furrier. The only other Furrier appearing in this Enumeration District was Anne Nugent’s immediate neighbors: Hugh Combs and his wife, Ann. In fact, Anne Nugent’s neighbors on Marks Lane were from an eclectic mixture of trades as follows: Carter (Corn Trade), Hand Servant, Porter, Inn Keeper, Book Keeper, Labourer, General Dealer, Cheese Factor, Tobacco Stripper, Domestic, Fish Hawker, Fruit Hawker, Cotton Factory Operator, School Mistress, Hand Maid, Labourer (Oil Manufactory), Currier, Market Porter, Striker at Foundary, Traveling Confectioner, Carriage Maker, Fustian Shearer, Confectioner, Baker, Tallow Chandler, Cotton Draper, Cask (Barrel) Maker, Shoe Maker, Cotton Sorter, Coach Lace Weaver, Butler, Fancy Box Maker, Nurse Girl, Cordwainer, Poulterer, and Mangle Woman. Within the various occupations listed for Anne Nugent’s neighbors, there is no suggestion of any dominant industry or trade. They represent a wide cross-section of businesses, mostly at the lower end of the economic scale.
In modern parlance, furrier describes someone engaged in the sale of garments manufactured from furs (usually exotic furs, i.e., mink, sable, ermine). This modern definition probably bears little resemblance to a furrier in 19th Century England. Although a fairly old “profession”, it is difficult to find any published literature on the subject. The author first encountered the occupation of furrier in England as early as the 17th Century in his study of John Murton, co-founder of the Baptist Church in Britain, who was a furrier from Gainsborough. From that earlier study it was learned that the trade of “furrier” might be considered synonymous with “pelter” or “skinner”. The Worshipful Company of Skinners was originally an association of persons engaged in the trade of skins or furs, established by Royal Charter granted in 1327.
Just how Anne Nugent and her daughter, Esther, came to be engaged in the furrier business is not clear. It seems possible that it may have emanated from Anne’s husband’s occupation as a Journeyman Hatter. Like furriers, hatters had no official standing as a chartered livery company. Hatters were most commonly allied with the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers. In fact, feltmakers were generally considered synonymous with hatmakers. Hat manufacturing in the 18th and 19th centuries utilized a variety of materials in the manufacture of their finished products, including felted “fabric”, linen, silk and furs. During the 19th century hats made from furs were in high demand, and even recognized as status symbols of social distinction. The most common fur in use in England during this time period was obtained from beaver pelts, but rabbit, sheep and other animal skins were also utilized as a means to lowering the cost. Furriers would have been a vital source of material for the hat making trade.
We pick up the trail of Anne Nugent in the 1871 census at Liverpool, summarized as follows:
Name: Ann Nugent
Estimated Birth Year: 1806
Where born: Dublin Ireland
Civil Parish: Liverpool; Ecclesiastical parish: St Luke
Ann Nugent 65
Esther Porter 27
Ann Porter (dau.) 2
Albert Porter (son) 18/12
Kate Heslin 25
Richard Porter 26
Elizabeth Sherwin 57
William Evans (nephew) 10
An image of this census record is shown in Figure 27. Anne Nugent was identified as the head of household, no occupation, born in Dublin, aged 65 years. Her true age in 1871 probably was about 59-60 years, based on the age shown in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. Also living in Anne’s household was her daughter, Esther Miller Nugent (who had married Richard Porter on 1Apr1868 at Liverpool), Richard Porter and their two children: Anne, aged two years, and Albert, aged 18 months. Another kinsperson in this household was William Evans, aged 10, identified as a niece, but likely a nephew of Anne Miller Nugent. Since Anne is known to have had only one sister, namely, Esther Miller McCorry, it seems possible that Albert Evans may have been a son of Esther Miller. However, it is also possible that he may have been related to Anne through her husband’s (James Nugent) family.
It is worth noting that Esther Miller Nugent Porter was identified in this census record with the occupation of furrier, as were two other members of the household: Kate Heslin, aged 25 of Dublin, and Elizabeth Sherwin, a 54 old widow of Dublin. Both Kate Heslin and Elizabeth Sherwin were reportedly boarders (aka lodgers) in Anne’s household. The household was identified as being on Wolstenholme Square. When first developed in about 1770, Wolstenholme Square was considered a very stylish little tree-lined park dubbed “Ladies Walk” near the center of this ancient city about five blocks from quayside. See Figure 28 for an illustration of Wolstenholme Square as it may have appeared in the late-1780’s. Its exclusive and tranquil appearance gave way to urban development over the next century and may have appeared as illustrated in Figure 29, when Anne Nugent, and Esther and Richard Porter were in residence. It was situated directly across the River Mersey from Birkenhead and Seacombe, the residential location of Dr. William Henry Miller in 1871 and 1881. Whether William Henry Miller would have been aware of his sister and niece living across the River is not known, but probable. In fact, he may have purchased the white fur coat he delivered to has daughter-in-law, Minnie Penoyer Miller, from his sister’s store.
No further trace was found of Anne Nugent, but her daughter, Esther Miller Nugent was found in later records. Following is a summary of Esther Miller Nugent’s marriage record:
- Name: Esther Nugent; Gender: Female; Marriage Age: Full Age; Event Type: Marriage; Marriage Date: 1 Apr 1868; Marriage Place: Liverpool, St Peter, Lancashire, England; Parish as it Appears: Liverpool; Father: James Nugent; Spouse: Richard Porter.
An image of this marriage record is shown in Figure 30.
Esther Miller Nugent would have been about 28 years old at the time of her marriage to Richard Porter. The bride and groom reportedly were living at Wolstenholme Square at the time of their marriage, probably the same address as the family in 1871. Richard Porter was identified in the marriage record and in later census records with the occupation of “French Polisher”. French polishing was a highly specialized skill described as follows:
“French polish is not a product. Rather, French polishing is a method of applying shellac to wood furniture, musical instruments, or decorative accents in many thin layers—typically well over 100—that results in a highly glossy, glass-smooth surface with a rich depth that beautifully highlights the grain of the wood.”
The author was able to trace Richard Porter’s family to the household of his parent’s Richard and Ann Porter in 1851 and 1861, situated about ½ mile east-northeast of Wolstenholme Square in the Mount Pleasant District. Esther’s husband, Richard Porter, was consistently identified in four consecutive censuses as having been born at Bombay, East India, in about 1845. This is quite curious, as his parents: Richard Porter [Sr.] and Ann were reported born at County Down, Ireland, and Liverpool, respectively. Richard was reported with only one sibling, Elizabeth A. Porter, born in Liverpool in about 1852.
Richard Porter’s household in the 1861 census is summarized as follows:
Name: Richard Porter; Age: 56; Estimated Birth Year:1805; Relation: Head; Occupation: Shoemaker; Spouse’s Name: Ann Porter; Gender: Male; Where born: Ireland; Civil Parish: Liverpool; Ecclesiastical parish: St David; Town: Liverpool; County/Island: Lancashire; Sub-registration District: Mount Pleasant
Richard Porter 56
Ann Porter 43
Richard Porter 16
Elizabeth A Porter 9
The household in the 1851 census is summarized as follows:
Name: Richard Porter; Age: 45; Estimated Birth Year: abt 1806; Relation: Head; Occupation: Shoemaker; Spouse’s Name: Ann Porter; Gender: Male; Where born: Ireland; Civil Parish: Liverpool; County/Island: Lancashire; Country: England; Sub-registration District: Mount Pleasant
Richard Porter 45
Ann Porter 32
Richard Porter 6
James Mellos [Mellor] 13
John Porter 47
There were two additional persons in this household in 1851 worthy of note. John Porter was identified as Richard Porter’s brother, born at Hastings, Sussex. James Mellor was identified as Richard Porter’s step-son, born in East Indies. An attempt was made to locate Richard Porter Sr. in the 1841 census with only marginal success. The closest match was of a Richard Porter, born in 1806, an inmate in the Pestworth, Sussex, House of Corrections. His birth place was not cited, but he was indicated as not born in Sussex. No other matches even remotely fit with the demographics of our Richard Porter. Further effort was made to locate Richard’s brother, John Porter in the 1841 census without success.
Since John Porter was the only known kinsperson of Richard Porter, an effort was made to locate a birth record for John Porter. Only one record was located, which appears to match, except for the year of birth. A summary of that record is as follows:
Name: John Joshua Porter; Gender: Male; Baptism Date: [3Jun]1808; Baptism Place: St. Clement’s, Hastings, Sussex, England; Father: John Porter; Mother: Mary Ann
This was the only birth record found for anyone named John Porter at Hastings, Sussex in the approximate time period of 1804. It seems possible to the author that this may have been the birth record of Richard Porter’s brother. Even though the date of birth is four years after the date suggested by the 1851 census record, there are other factors in favor of this having been the birth of Richard Porter’s brother. Since Richard Porter, himself, was reportedly born in Ireland, it seems possible that his parents were from Ireland. It would be very unusual for a working-class English family to have migrated from England to Ireland during this time period. If Richard was born before his brother, John, then that would fit with Richard being born in Ireland, and the family migrating to Hastings, where John Joshua would have been born. In spite of significant effort, no further records could be located for the parents of John Joshua, neither in baptism, marriage, census, nor death records. All things considered, it is the author’s opinion that John and Mary Ann Porter were the parents of Richard and John Porter, and that they emigrated from Ireland to Sussex in about 1806.
As regards the James Mellor living in Richard Porter’s household in 1851, it seems probable that he was a son of Richard’s wife, Ann, by an earlier connection. This would seem to be the only explanation for the reported kinship of “step-son”. While the term of “step-son” may have had a different meaning in the 18th century and earlier, by the 19th century its meaning was essentially the same as in present day. Assuming that to be the case, and given that both Richard Porter Jr. and James Mellor were reportedly born in the East Indies, it seems probable that Richard Porter Sr. and his wife, Ann, met and married in India sometime between 1838 and 1845. It further seems probable that Ann was widowed at the time she married Richard Porter.
Given the connection of Richard Porter Sr. with the East Indies, it occurred to the author that he may have been in military service in India. With that possibility in mind, a search was made for military service records for Richard Porter, which search resulted in the discharge paper illustrated in Figure 31. This discharge paper provides a fairly thorough record of the service performed by Private Richard Porter, No. 1059. At the time of his discharge on 27Jun1848 at Liverpool, he was a member of the 14th Kings Regiment of Light Dragoons. The record states that he was born in St. Peters Parish, Drogheda, Louth, Ireland. He enlisted in the 4th Regiment, Light Dragoons, at Dublin, Ireland on 23May1827 at the age of 21 years. He was a shoemaker, by trade. At the time of his discharge on good terms, he was entitled to credit for 20 years, 152 days of service, of which 19-1/3 years were in the East Indies.
From his service record it can be deduced that he met and married his wife, Ann Mellor, while on duty in India, probably around 1843. Further, that Ann probably was widowed and had a son named James Mellor, born about 1838 in India. It is possible that Ann Mellor’s first husband was also on military service in India.
Jacob Mellor Family – Irish Migration to England
From the marriage records of William Henry Miller, Esther Miller and Anne Miller, we have discovered that their father was named Jacob Miller, that he was a needle-maker by trade, and that he very likely originated from Dublin, or its immediate environs, possibly Swords. Whether Jacob Miller, himself, ever migrated to England cannot be established from the records thus far discovered. We can deduce with some degree of certainty that he was the husband of Olivia Mellor [nee Emmett?]. This is established with a fairly high level of certainty based on the occupants of the household headed by Olivia Mellor in 1841. The two Miller sisters: Esther and Anne were born around 1810-2. It is a virtual certainty that Olivia Mellor and Esther and Anne Miller were kinsmen. The most likely kinship is that Esther and Anne were daughters of Olivia Mellor. Olivia’s age was reportedly 60 years in 1841. That age would comport with her having had two daughters when she would have been about 30 years old, and having had a son (William Henry) when she was about 39 years old. If we accept that Olivia Mellor was the mother of Esther, Anne and William Henry Miller, then it follows that Olivia’s husband was Jacob Miller, needle-maker.
Just when this Miller family may have migrated from Ireland to England is also not known with certainty. Perhaps the best dates that can be established with any degree of certainty would be between about 1822/3, when William Henry would have been old enough to safely make the crossing, to about 1828, when these two Miller sisters (Esther and Anne) would have been old enough to receive their training in hat manufacture. This is a rather broad range, but the best the author can offer given the limited information available. It seems possible to the author that Jacob Miller may have made earlier crossings as a seasonal worker, but possible that he had died in Ireland and did not make the voyage with his family. We probably will never know for certain when the family migrated to England, beyond the broad 5-year range already suggested. Whether they migrated directly to the Manchester area is also uncertain. Possibly they first stopped in Liverpool, and then later migrated up-river to the emerging industrial center of Manchester.
We can get a glimpse into this family’s economic status and living conditions in Ireland by expanding our knowledge of the trade-craft of needle-making. Needle-making in the British Isles can be traced to as early as the 16th century. For the first couple of centuries it was a cottage industry, often times with the entire household engaged in one or more steps of the needle production process. An excellent description of needle-making in 19th Century England can be found online at http://www.coulthart.com/avery/history-pages/needle-history.html.
“Early needle making was a “cottage industry,” the term used to describe production that occurred in a person’s home as opposed to in a factory or mill… Men, woman, and children, often entire families, would be engaged in some form of needle making, including the production of fish hooks and fishing tackle. After all, what is a fish hook other than a needle with an extra barb bent into the shape of the letter “J”!”
By the turn of the 19th Century the process of needle making had achieved a certain level of standardization, even as the Industrial Revolution was introducing mechanization and innovation in virtually all aspects of industry. Needle makers relied on a steady supply of high-quality tempered wire, which could be purchased in bulk quantity. The wire came rolled on spools. The first step in needle-making would involve drawing down the wire to the appropriate size, by pulling it through a succession of gradually decreasing gauges. When drawn to the required gauge, the wire would be cut into segments roughly double the length of the finished needle. Having come from spooled wire stock, the blank wire segments would require straightening, through a process of heating, rolling and annealing. The straightened blanks were then pointed on each end by grinding on a grinding wheel. The pointed blanks were then run through a stamping tool, which flattened the middle of the blank to form the needle head, and to impart an indentation for the eye. Following stamping of the needle head, the blank would be cut in half for the final processing, which involved drilling or punching the eye, grinding and smoothing the head and eyelet, and burnishing/polishing.
“Technology advances led to the ‘industrial revolution’, and manufacture of the humble needle became a toxic and risky occupation, taken over by the introduction of machinery in 1828. In 1824 around 5 million needles were handmade per week in the Redditch district, and by 1847, after the introduction of machinery; 50 million were churned out per week. A ‘pointer’ was able to grind up to 100 needles a time on the grindstone, completing around 10,000 needles an hour. Pneumoconiosis, known as Pointer’s Rot was the result of inhaling a mix of fine metal particulates and grindstone dust into the lung. Another risk was the grindstone fatally shattering or a shard of metal ending up in the pointer’s eye causing blindness. Furthermore, to impede rust, needles were rolled in asbestos powder – prior to learning lung disease was a product of exposure to asbestos. Life expectancy for a pointer was 35yrs of age, or otherwise five to six years of working in this field till health issues commonly surfaced.”
Needle making was a labor intensive craft, aspects of which were extremely hazardous to the health. For example, needle pointers were constantly exposed to inhalation of fine metal particles and stone dust. Life expectancy of a needle pointer was around 35 years, who usually died from tuberculosis, which was at the time dubbed “pointer’s rot”. Given the prospect of early death, it seems likely that Jacob Miller probably died shortly after William Henry’s birth, around 1820 in Ireland. The family of a needle-maker would have fallen into the lower middle-class, or upper lower-class. Undoubtedly, following the death of her husband, Olivia would have been facing poverty and that prospect of poverty likely drove her to migrate to England.
Once in England and responsible for three orphaned children, Olivia was probably forced to establish her own “cottage industry” to avoid becoming a victim of the workhouse. From The Irish in the Victorian City we get a brief glimpse at the realities facing the Irish emigrant on their arrival, and the obstacles they faced in finding their niche in a foreign land. M.A.G. O Tauthaigh describes the Irish emigrant thusly:
“The Irish in Britain constituted a somewhat peculiar minority indeed. E. P. Thompson asserts with some force that the Irish were never pressed back into ghettoes. It would have been difficult to have made a people who spoke the same language and were British citizens under the Act of Union into a subject minority. A subject minority they may not have been, but, in their perception of themselves and in the way the natives of the host society perceived them, the immigrant Irish were undoubtedly a minority of some kind… The first kind (into which the Irish probably fell) is that minority, usually immigrant, which seeks the maximum degree of assimilation and integration, but which regards itself as the object of collective discrimination by the majority. In short, a minority whose urge to integrate is resisted.”
Even though they shared a common language and possessed many cultural similarities with the inhabitants of their host country, the Irish were generally viewed by the English as illiterate, unskilled, slothful, unreliable, drunken and threatening to the labor force. Because of the labor guild structure in Britain, foreigners found it difficult to find work within the more established trades. They were frequently forced into unskilled or semi-skilled labor, often times taking only the lowest forms of employment:
“…the immigrant Irish were disproportionately concentrated in the ranks of the semi-skilled casual labor force – in construction, transportation, dockside labour, in food distribution, and in railway construction. Again, in certain industries such as sugar refining, textiles (especially where the Irish acted as sweated labour in declining trades), in gasworks and paper-making, as sawyers, coal-heavers, and porters – in all of these categories the Irish were disproportionately numerous… The occupations most frequent among female Irish immigrants were in the textile factories, laundry work, and domestic service… Many Irish women survived and contributed to the family income, through earnings from piece-work (such as needle-work, sewing and rag-picking) in their own homes. Both male and female Irish immigrants were heavily involved in hawking and street-trading in the large centres of population, while the keeping of lodgers was an important source of income for the enterprising immigrant family, both because of the rent and the laundry service offered by the women of the house.”
Also, because of these class distinctions, the Irish were forced to live in the poorest and most desperate conditions:
“Their living conditions were generally the very worst which the Victorian industrial slum could offer. Some of these inner-city Irish settlements became bywords for industrial slum living. The “Little Ireland” ghetto in Manchester… displayed the full spectrum of social evils. – appalling over-crowding, little or no sanitation, open sewers and cesspools, unhealthy diet, inadequate clothing, vagrancy, disease, alcoholism, and general squalor; a high quota of unemployed paupers, or of underemployed casual labourers; and a high incidence of casual violence (very often provoked by drink).”
Given the composition of her household in 1841, it would appear that Olivia Mellor had established a “hatting” industry, possibly in her own home. In that year we found her heading a household situated on the north side of Barlow Street in Collyhurst, a northeastern suburb of Manchester. Her household was described as containing six persons working in the finishing stage of hat-making, including her two presumed daughters. There was only one other hatter listed within Olivia’s enumeration district, that being Thomas Taylor, a hat finisher residing on Blackburn Street. These facts hardly seem coincidental, when we consider the state of the hat-making industry around Manchester at that time:
“Southwark in south London was the major early (felted hat) production centre, supported by an experienced workforce and the largest single market in England. However, the need for imported beaver pelts meant that a number of early manufacturing centres also sprang up around the ports of Bristol, Chester, and Liverpool. In these towns the guild system controlled the manufacture of felt hats. In Chester, where felt hat making was recorded as early as 1550, the trade was dominated by the hat-maker-cum-retailer and was overseen by The Skinners and Felt-makers Company from the early seventeenth century (Giles 1959, 106; Phillips & Smith 1994, 54). During the seventeenth century felt-makers of fur and wool hats could be found in many of the larger English towns such as Coventry, Exeter, and Ripon, as well as in smaller centres such Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Preston, and Warrington (Giles 1959, 106-7). These scattered production centres meant that during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries felted hat manufacture of these cheaper types of hat could and did become a common domestic-based [cottage] industry in a number of areas, supplementing on a seasonal basis the tenant farmer’s income (Smith 1981 , 104). In the North West these included Denton, Kendal, Manchester, Nantwich, Oldham, Sandbach, and Stockport where the farmer-hat-maker-cum-retailer was common (Phillips & Smith 1994, 54).”
In the mid- to late-18th Century hat-making in Britain was transformed and distributed by a series of Acts initiated by the London Feltmakers Guild, described as follows:
“…finally through the imposition of a heavy tariff on the re-export of beaver skins to foreign craftsmen, thus securing the supply of the best quality skins (1764; Giles 1959, 107-11). This last act was also supported by felt-makers in Bristol, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, and Newcastle-under-Lyme… The restrictions of the guild system encouraged the development of regional production centres, where wage costs were lower and margins higher…” “… the lifting of the ban on finishing London hats in the regions in 1758, marked not only the beginning of the decline of the guild system in London but also allowed many London-based firms to expand into production areas beyond the capital (Giles 1959, 108) through what were in effect cheaper sub-contractors. These regionally-based master hatters might have no more than a warehouse and packing-room, hat production in their areas being commissioned on an out-work system… Writing in 1771 in his book ‘A Six Months Tour Through the North of England’, Arthur Young thought that hat manufacture was one of the four chief industries of Manchester, the others being fustian, check, and worsted small ware manufacture… During the 1770s and 1780s the Felt-makers’ Company was active in Manchester and Stockport, by then the most important hatting manufacturing centres in the country, leading Smith to suggest that the whole hatting process was probably being carried out in these towns… By the late eighteenth century the production process in the North West had begun to fragment as more London master hatters shifted work to the region. This can be seen in both Manchester and Stockport where the hatting trade was divided between firms using out-workers, who specialised in particular parts of the process, and master hatters with a small journeymen workforce working on their own premises.”
From the foregoing citations we have the evolution of hat-making in the North West, particularly around Manchester, into “the most important hatting manufacturing centre in the country.” We also have the description of how the industry evolved from manufactories controlling the entire production process, to a distributed and bifurcated industry, in which the work was subdivided into specialized stages of production. Given the composition of Olivia Mellor’s household work-force, it would appear that she probably had established her own small-scale “cottage industry” which specialized in the finishing, or end-phase of hat manufacturing. Just how she may have acquired the means and skills to establish her cottage business can only be guessed at, but, that seems to be the only logical explanation for the concentration of these skilled hat-making tenants in her household. It is known that hat-manufactories were established in the Manchester area as early as the 1750’s, the closest being the Miles Bower and Son on Deansgate Street.
It seems probable that Olivia would have purchased her hat cones from a local sub-contractor, and would have performed the blocking, brimming, and trimming in her own workshop. The finished shaped hats would then go to another subcontractor, who would dye and cure the hats, before attaching a lining and any adornments, readying the hats for the retailer. To better inform the reader of the multi-stage process of hat-making, we offer the following:
One excellent resource for a more comprehensive understanding of the somewhat complex and mysterious process of hat-making is a book entitled The Book of English Trades and Library of the Useful Art, printed for C & J Rivington, 1827. The descriptions contained in this publication for the “Hatters” trade focuses mainly on the manufacture of hats made from felted material. There appears to have been as many as eight distinct stages in the hat-making process, beginning with the removal of the “stuff” or “fluff” from the animal hide described as follows:
“The materials in general use for hat-making, are lambs’-wool, rabbits’ and hares’ fur, beaver, seal-wool, monkey-stuff, or neuter-wool, camels’-hair, goats’-hair, or estridge silk, and cotton. The best fur is from the backs of the different animals; it decreases in value as it approaches the belly. As the process is nearly the same in all, it will be sufficient if we describe the method made use of in the manufacture of beaver hats. The skin of the beaver is covered with two kinds of hair; the one long, stiff, and glossy; the other is short, thick-set, and soft, and is used alone for hats. To tear off these kinds of hair and cut the other, women are employed, who make use of two knives: a large one, something like a shoe-maker’s knife, for the long hair, and a smaller one, nearly in the form of a pruning-knife, with which they shave or scrape off the shorter hair.”
The next stage in this process is almost magical and mystic, a process called bowing, felting and rolling depicted in Figure 32 and described as follows:
“The bowing commences by shovelling the material towards the right-hand partition with the basket, upon which the workman holding the bow horizontally in his left hand, and the bow-pin in his right, lightly places the bow-string, and gives it a pluck with the pin. The string, in its return, strikes upon the fur, and causes it to spring up in the air, and fly partly across the hurdle in a light open form. By repeated strokes the whole is thus subjected to the bow; and this beating is repeated till all the original clots, or filaments, are perfectly opened and dilated, and having thus fallen together in all possible directions, form a thin mass or substance for the felt (batt)… When the batt is sufficiently bowed, it is ready for hardening; which term denotes the first commencement of felting. The prepared material being evenly disposed on the hurdle, is first pressed down by the convex side of the basket, then covered with a cloth and pressed backwards and forwards successively in its various parts by the hand of the workman. By this process the hairs are twisted together, and the lamellae of each hair, by fixing themselves to other hairs, which happen to be directed the contrary way, keep the whole in a compact state. When the felt is thus managed the cloth is taken off; and a sheet of paper with its corners doubled in, so as to give it a triangular outline, is laid upon the batt, which last is folded over the paper as it lies, and its edges meeting one over the other, form a conical cap. The joining is soon made good by pressure with the hands on the cloth. Another batt, ready hardened, is in the next place laid on the hurdle, and the cap, here mentioned, placed upon it with the joining downwards. This last batt being also folded up, will, consequently, have its place of junction diametrically opposite to that of the inner felt, which it must therefore greatly tend to strengthen.
The foregoing description of the forming of the hat “cone” is less than instructive. As the author interprets this cone-forming process, we start by folding a square sheet of paper diagonally along a central axis to form a triangle. Then that triangular sheet of paper is laid on top of the roughly square batt. Then the edge of the batt is folded across to form a joining seam along the opposite edge, thus supposedly forming a cone. This process is repeated by laying the cone on top of a second batt with the seam facing down and centered on the second batt. Then the edges of the second batt are folded over and around the first cone to form a new seam, opposite the original seam.
Clearly there must be other steps/instructions omitted from this description. First, the best and truest method to form a cone is to fold a semicircular sheet of paper or a batt to join the edges. A square sheet of paper, folded into a triangle and then shaped into a cone produces an “oblique cone”, not a “right cone”. Moreover, if the batt was still square, when wrapped around the paper cone, there would be almost half of the material wasted. It seems more likely that the batt would have been cut into a circle, and then cut in half. The paper conical mold probably should also be formed from a semicircular sheet in order to create a “right cone” shape rather than an “oblique” cone shape. This method would result in less than 25% waste material, which possibly could be salvaged and repurposed.
An intermediate step in the hat-making involved a process known as basoning, working and soaking as depicted in the background of Figure 33, and described as follows:
“The basoning is followed by a still more effectual continuation of the felting, called working. This is done at an apparatus called the batter consisting of a kettle containing water slightly accidulated with sulphuric acid, to which, for beaver-hats, a quantity of winelees, or the grounds of beer are added, or else plain water for rinsing out, and eight planks of wood joined together in the form of a frustrum of a cone, and meeting in the kettle at the middle. The outer or upper edge of each plank is about two feet broad, and rises a little more than two feet and a half above the ground ; the slope towards the kettle is considerably rapid, so that the whole battery is little more, than six feet in diameter. The quantity of sulphuric acid added to the liquor is not sufficient to give a sour taste, but only renders it rough to the tongue. In this liquor, heated rather higher than unpractised hands could bear, the felt is dipped from time to time, and worked on the planks ; before which it is plunged gently into the boiling kettle till fully saturated with the liquor, which is called soaking.”
Also depicted in the foreground of Figure 33 was the near-final stage of bending and trimming the brim to a uniform width utilizing a notched jig and trimming knife described as follows:
“When the legs of this angle are applied to the outside of the crown, and the board lies flat on the brim of the hat, the notched edge will lie nearly in the direction of the radius, or line pointing to the centre of the hat. A knife being therefore inserted in one of the notches, it is easy to draw it round by leaning the tool against the crown, and it will cut the brim very regular and true. This cut is made before the hat is quite finished, and is carried entirely through; so that one of the last operations consists in tearing off the redundant part, which by that means leaves an edging of beaver round the external face.”
Esther Miller was identified as a “hat bender”, which would have entailed one of the stages following the working and soaking stages. Esther’s skill would have entailed the bending of the felted hat cone to form the brim of the hat. James and Anne Nugent were identified as “hat finishers”, which probably, as the name implies, was a near final stage in the hat manufacturing process and probably entailed blocking and crowning, trimming the brim to the desired size and shape, and possibly sealing the underside to make the hat waterproof. William Henry Miller in his early days was simply identified as a “hatter”. This descriptor suggests someone trained and skilled in all aspects of hat-making, but in fact he may have been more specialized and worked at a specific stage in the process.
Appendix A contains a rather rudimentary diagram of the primary stages in the hat manufacturing process. Although somewhat simplified, this graphic may be useful to better illustrate certain stages, particularly the initial cone forming stage.
Mechanized hat-making was yet to be introduced. Most hat-making was still performed by manual labor, in small shops connected with residences or farms. Much of this work was segregated by specializations. In Olivia’ case, it would appear that she and her resident hatters were engaged in the final stage, or finishing of hats. This suggests that she probably received the hat cones, ready for blocking, bending, trimming and sealing. It seems probable that Olivia’s son, William Henry had received his own training as a “hatter” from his mother’s workshop.
A thorough search of all known databases for a death record of Jacob Miller in both England and Ireland failed to produce a viable hit. Similarly, searches were made for a death record for his presumed spouse, Olivia Mellor, which also failed to produce any hits. These searches included the Catholic Church records around Manchester. St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, which is located just across St. Georges Road from Barlow Street, has a large cemetery with burial records dating from before 1830. If Olivia or her husband had been affiliated with the Catholic Church (which over 75% of Irish were), we might expect to find a burial record for Olivia at St. Patrick Church on Livesey Street. Absent any further records for either Jacob Miller or his presumed spouse, Olivia Mellor, we are only left with educated guessing as to their family connections.
We can deduce to some degree of certainty the names of Jacob’s parents. For example, given that Jacob appears to have named his eldest daughter, Esther, it seems probable that his mother was also named Esther. This prospect is given weight by the fact that his youngest daughter, Anne, named her oldest daughter Esther. Clearly, this female appellation held some significance within this family. Similar inclinations can be observed in William Henry having named his oldest daughter, Olivia Ann, presumably in honor of his mother.
We might also speculate about the name of Jacob’s father. Given that he named his only known son, William Henry, it seems highly possible that Jacob’s father also may have been named William Henry. It also seems possible that Olivia’s surname may have been Emmett, since Jacob and Olivia’s only known son named his only known son, William Emmett. Emmett was not a typical given name, and very possibly originates from a maternal surname. As a test of this hypothesis, the author searched all English baptismal records spanning a 20-year period between 1830 and 1850 and found only 10 instances of first names of Emmett, whereas there were roughly 70 instances of the middle name of Emmett, and nearly 800 instances of surnames of Emmett. Middle names were frequently reserved for the practice of “maternal surname perpetuation”. Hence the high percentage of Emmett middle names as compared to Emmett first names. All things considered, the author is inclined to believe that Jacob’s wife probably was named Olivia Emmett.
The Miller Family in Ireland
We will end our excurses into the William Henry Miller family with a discussion of Swords and the Dublin area before the early part of the 19th Century. Since Anne Miller, youngest of Jacob Miller’s two daughters was specifically identified as having been born near Swords, we will focus most of our attention on the Swords township. It seems probable that, if Anne was born nears Swords around 1811/2, Esther very likely would also have been born in the same area in 1810. We cannot state with any certainty just where William Henry may have been born, as he was identified only as having been born in Ireland. However, it is reasonable to think that the family of a needle-maker would not have been changing their place of residence with any great frequency, as Jacob’s occupation probably was a “cottage industry”, wherein he would have need for a working forge and workshop, replete with grinding wheels and myriad tools. Such accoutrements would not be easily replicable, suggesting that the family’s location would likely have been stable and constant.
Refer to Figure 34 for a Dublin vicinity map showing its proximity with Swords (about 8 miles north of Dublin). Based on the 1851 census of the James Nugent household, we found that both Anne Miller and Esther Miller were born in the Dublin area, with Anne specifically identified as being born in the town of Swords near Dublin. Given that most of the 18th and 19th Century church and civil records of Ireland are lost, it seems very unlikely that we will be able to trace the family of Jacob Miller or his spouse, Olivia [Emmett?] Mellor, any further than to suggest that they originated from the Dublin area. Nevertheless, the author has performed a thorough search of all Ireland databases available online at Ancestry.com, which search found absolutely no trace of this Miller family nor that of James Nugent or Richard Porter. Perhaps the most comprehensive records surviving in Ireland are those of the Catholic Church. Since no matching records could be found in those Catholic Church records, it seems probable that the Millers were protestant. This prospect is supported by the fact that Jacob’s children recorded their marriages, births and deaths with the Anglican Church.
From an address delivered at Swords, in the Borough Schoolhouse on Wednesday evening of 12Sep1860 by the Right Reverend William Reeves, D.D., L.L.D., M.R.I.A, Bishop of Down, formerly Vicar of Lusk, we have the following history of the ancient origins of the name and founding of Swords:
“Conspicious among the evangelical labourers in Ireland was St. Columba, or Columbkille, whose genius and devotion have won for him a high place in the annals of the Church of Christ. This man was born in Gartan, in the county of Donegal, in 521. About the year 553 he founded the church of Durrow, and previously to 563, when he departed from Ireland to Iona, it is recorded that he founded your church of Swords.
The early Irish Life of him, to which I have already alluded, thus relates the origin of your church and of its name “Columbkille founded a church at Rechra (that is, the island of Lambay), in the cast of Bregia, and left Colman, the Deacon, in it. Also he founded a church in the place where Sord is at this day. He left a learned man of his people there, namely, Finan Lobhar, and he left a gospel, which his own hand wrote, there.
There also he dedicated a well named Sord, i.e., ‘pure,’ and he consecrated a cross. One day that Columbkille and Cainnech were on the brink of the tide, a great tempest raged over the sea, and Cainnech asked, ‘What saith the wave?’ Columbkille answered, ‘Thy people are in danger yonder on the sea, and one of them has died, and the Lord will bring him in unto us to-morrow to this bank on which we stand.”
“As Bridget was one time walking through the Currach of Life (i.e., the Curragh of Kildare), she viewed the beautiful shamrock-flowering plain before her, whereupon she said in her mind, that if to her belonged the power of the plain, she would offer it to the Lord of creation. This was communicated to Columbkille in his monastery at Sord, whereupon he said with a loud voice, ‘Well has it happened to the holy virgin; for it is the same to her in the sight of God as if the land she offered were in her own right.”‘ Hence St. Columba has always been regarded as the founder and principal patron of the church of Swords. He died in 597, on the 9th of June, and that day has been regarded as his festival in Scotland as well as in Ireland.”
In a work entitled Monasticon hibernicum: or, A history of the abbeys, priories, and other religious houses in Ireland; interspersed with memoirs of their several founders and benefactors, and of their abbots and other superiors, to the time of their final suppression (1873) Archdall, Mervyn, 1723-1791; Moran, Patrick Francis, 1830-1911, editor, pp. 139-141 we find an abbreviated history of the town of Swords in the 8th thru the 9th centuries in which the town was repeatedly pillaged and burned to the ground by various marauding factions, including the Danes. From this history we learn that by 1166 Swords was a parish in the Diocese of Dublin.
From an inquisition held at Dublin in 1326 we have the follows accounting of improvements at Swords:
“”In 1326, Alexander de Bicknor, the Archbishop, having displeased the king, and further, being greatly in arrear in his accounts as Lord Treasurer, the king seized into his hands the profits of the see, in satisfaction for the deficiency; and, in order to ascertain the available amount, Inquisitions by jurors were held before the Sheriff in the various manors.
That on Swords was sped at Dublin, on the 14th March, 1326, and twenty jurors were empanelled. The result of their finding, as regards the palace of Swords, was as follows:-
“Who being sworn, say on their oath, that there is in this place a hall, and the chamber adjoining said hall, the walls of which are of stone, crenelated after the manner of a castle, and covered with shingles.
“Further, there is a kitchen, together with a larder, the walls of which are of stone, roofted with shingles. And there is in the same place a chapel, the walls of which are of stone, roofed with shingles. Also there was in the same place a chamber for friars, with a cloister, which are now prostrate. Also, there are in the same place a chamber, or apartment, for the constables by the gate, and four chambers for soldiers and wardens, roofed with shingles, under which are a stable and bake-house.
“Also, there was here a house for a dairy, and a workshop, which are now prostrate. Also, there is on the premises in the haggard a shed made of planks, and thatched with straw. Also, a granary, built with timber, and roofed with boards. Also, a byre, for the housing of farm horses and bullocks.
“The profits of all the above-recited premises, they return as of no value, because nothing is to be derived from them, either in the letting of the houses, or in any other way. And they need thorough repair, inasmuch as they are badly roofed.”
Thus we perceive that so early as 1326, these buildings were beginning to suffer from the effects of time.”
Although there are numerous ancient ruins still to be found at Swords, clearly the above accounting shows that this manorial in the early 14th century was in advanced decay and ruin. Rev. Reeves, in his 12Sep1860 address gave the following account of the archaic ruins still existing at Swords in that year:
“The only remains of the early ecclesiastical structures that adorned this place, is the belfry tower of the old church, a square building of the 14th or 15th century ; one of the ancient round towers, 73 feet high, and 52 foot in circumference (see Figure 35); and the archbishop’s palace [the Castle]. The latter was an extensive structure in the centre of a court, encompassed by embattled walls, flanked by towers, the inner portion of which is now a garden. There was also a Nunnery here, as appears on record by a pension being granted by Parliament in 1474, to the Lady Prioress and her successors.”
In the 16th Century we have the following description of a revitalization of Swords [Castle], when the Archbishop of Dublin had chosen it as his baronial seat (see Figure 36):
“The castles of Baldungan and Swords were built for ecclesiastics. They must have been the two strongest castles in the district. The Archbishop of Dublin was a great feudal baron as well as a great ecclesiastic. About the year 1200 he fixed on Swords for his country residence, and built the castle whose ruins still remain. Swords had become, within two centuries of the conquest, an immensely wealthy parish. Archbishop Allen (1532) says it ” was called the golden, as if it were virtually a bed full of gold.” The Archbishop had a large share of this wealth, and here he lived as a prince bishop, dispensing profuse hospitality, and rigorously enforcing English law.”
So, from the foregoing citations we have seen the ebbing and flowing of the fortunes of Swords through more than half a millennia. In the 8th and 9th Centuries the site was repeatedly pillaged and burned by outside marauders. By 1200 Swords had been selected by the Archbishop of Dublin for his summer home, and he built the castle “whose ruins still remain (see Figure 36). In the early 14th Century the baronial seat was appraised and found to have fallen into great decay and ruin, and “of no value”. Then in 1583 Sir Henry Sydney, the Queen’s Deputy, planted a group of Dutch Reformed refugees in the castle at Swords, described as follows:
“The Romish persecutions on the continent helped the Reformation in Fingal. In 1583, Sir Henry Sydney, the Queen’s Lord Deputy, planted forty families of Protestant refugees from the Low Countries in the old Castle of Swords. It is significantly related of them: “Truly it would have done any man good to see how diligently they worked and how they re-edified the quiet spoiled castle of the town, and repaired almost all the same and how godly and cleanly their lives and children lived.” “
Sir Henry Sydney, writing in 1583 to Sir Francis Walsingham (Elizabeth I’s spy-master) states:
“I caused to plant and inhabit there about 40 families of the reformed churches of the Low Countries flying there for their religion’s sake in one ruinous town called Surds (Swords). And truly Sir, it would have done any man good to have seen how diligently they wrought, how they reedified the quite spoiled old Castle of the same town and repaired almost all the same and how godly and cleanly, they, their wives and children lived. They made diaper and ticks for beds and other good stuff for man’s use and excellent good leather of deer skins, goat and sheep fells (felts), as is made in Southwark.
This truly was an unexpected and important discovery. Forty families from the Low Countries were settled at Swords in 1583, refugees from Catholic persecution on the Continent, seemingly at a time when Swords was substantially depopulated, and fallen into ruin. Is it mere coincidence that a fairly large (probably 300 or more) group of Dutch reformed protestant refugees should be planted at Swords in 1583, and that two centuries later we have a family named Miller [possibly Mueller] residing in that very same locale? Who were these refugees from the Low Countries, and how might they have been connected to Jacob Miller? In order to answer that question, we should first look at another important historical event involving the citizens of Swords which emanated from the Irish Rebellion of 1641:
“1641 – About the beginning of November, five poor men (whereof two were Protestants) coming from the market of Dublin, and lying that night at Santry, three miles from thence, were murdered in their beds by one Captain Smith and a part of the garrison of Dublin, and their heads brought next day in triumph into the city; which occasioned Luke Netterville and George King, and others of the neighbours, to write to the Lords Justices to know the cause of the said murder: whereupon their lordships issued forth a proclamation that within five days the gentry [George King and his associates] should come to Dublin to receive satisfaction, and in the mean while (before the five days were expired) old Sir Charles Coote came out with a party, plundered and burned the town of Clontarf, distant two miles from Dublin, belonging to the said George King, nominated in the proclamation; and killed 16 of the townsmen and women, and three sucking infants. Which unexpected breach of the proclamation (having deterred the gentlemen from waiting on the Lords Justices) forced many of them to betake themselves to their defence, and abandon their houses.”
“In the same week (1st week of Nov1641), 56 men, women, and children, of the village of Bulloge, (being frightened at what was done at Clontarf,) took boats and went to sea, to shun the fury of a party of soldiers come out of Dublin under the command of Colonel Crafford; but being pursued by soldiers in other boats, were overtaken, and thrown over board. One Russell, a baker in Dublin, coming out of the country in company with Mr. Archbold of Clogram (who went to take hold of the proclamation of the Lords Justices,) were both hanged and quartered. In March, a party of horse, of the garrison of Donshaghlin, murdered seven or eight poor people in protection, tenants of Mr. Dillon of Huntstowne, having quartered in their houses the night before, and receiving such entertainment as the poor people could afford. About the same time, a party of the English quartered at Malahyde, hanged a servant of Mr. Robert Boyne’s at the plough, and forced a poor labourer to hang his own brother: and soon after they hanged 15 of the inhabitants of Swords who never bore arms, in the orchard of Malahyde; they likewise hanged a woman bemoaning her husband hanged among them.”
“Clontarf Castle was burned in 1641 by the Governor of Dublin, Sir Charles Coote, apparently in revenge for the disloyalty of the then owner, George King.”
“Hard was the case of the country people at this time, when not being able to hinder parties of robbers and rebels breaking into their homes and taking refreshments there, this should be deemed a treasonable act, AND SUFFICIENT TO AUTHORIZE A MASSACRE. This following so soon after the executions, which Sir Charles Coote… had ordered in the county of Wicklow, among which, when A SOLDIER WAS CARRYING ABOUT A POOR BABE ON THE END OF HIS PIKE, he” [namely, Coote] “was charged with saying THAT HE LIKED SUCH FROLICS, made it presently be imagined that it was determined to proceed against all suspected persons in the same undistinguishing way of cruelty; and it served either for an occasion or pretence to some Roman Catholic gentlemen of the county of Dublin (among which were Luke Netterville, George Blackney, and George King) to assemble together at Swords, six miles from Dublin, and put themselves with their followers in a posture of defence.”
The foregoing murderous events took place during the so-called Irish Rebellion of 1641 in which the Catholics in Ireland revolted against the English Crown. Sir Charles Coote (the Elder) was commissioned by the Lord Justices of Ireland to enforce martial law in an effort to put down the rebellion. Coote was relentless and ruthless in carrying out this commission. He became a “law unto himself”, and his actions resulted in the murder of numerous innocents, including 15 “pacifistic”(?) protestant residents of Swords. Why do we say “pacifistic”? Well, we do have the account of the 15 inhabitants of Swords who were hanged, in which they were described as persons “who never bore arms”. This hardly seems to be a casual reference. Nowhere else in the accounts of the persons murdered around Dublin at this time, were the victims described in this manner. Such a description would seem to suggest a pacifistic tendency. Further suggestion of a pacifistic inclination may be observed in the fact that George King, a catholic, and his fellow “rebels” were permitted by the inhabitants of Swords to set up a defensive position within their town.
Even though the Irish Rebellion occurred 58 years after the planting of 40 reformed protestant Dutch families at Swords, the events described above regarding the fate of the 15 inhabitants of Swords suggests that there was still a strong influence of those reformed Dutch within that community. How do we arrive at that conclusion? We should first look at the words of Sir Henry Sydney in his letter to Lord Walsingham: “families of the reformed churches of the Low Countries flying there for their religion’s sake”. Sir Henry did not refer to the people as being members of the Dutch Reformed church, an association which would connote a specific religious affiliation. Rather he referred to them as being affiliated with the “reformed churches”, flying for their “religion’s sake”. In this context, these Low Country refugees in fact could have been affiliated with a variety of different protestant sects extant in Holland at that time. These sects could have included Mennonites, Dunkers (or Brethren), Separatists, Calvinists, and Anabaptists, to name a few. Having been from the “low countries” it seems highly possible that they may have been Mennonites or Dunkers, both of which practiced and preached pacifism.
There was nothing found in our research into the history of Swords during the 17th or 18th centuries to suggest the existence of an independent or non-conformist protestant sect, but that does not mean that it did not exist. In fact, if these early low country refugees were Mennonite or Dunker, they may have felt it acceptable and more prudent to simply integrate with the prevailing protestant churches in their community, but practice their unique rituals separately.
One other significant element of Sir Henry Sydney’s accounting of these refugees was the select skill sets which he attributed to them. For example, he made reference to their ability to make “diapers and ticks for beds”, which was a specific reference to a style or method of weaving cotton fabrics unique to Holland at that time. During the 15th thru the 17th centuries the Dutch were recognized across Europe to be superior masters of various crafts and trades, particularly in the various forms of fabric weaving. He also made reference to “excellent good leather of deer skins”, and “goat and sheep fells (felts?), as is made in Southwark.” Clearly, Sir Sydney believed these foreigners to be possessed of unique and valuable skills that would enhance various Irish industries and trades. We specifically draw the reader’s attention to the reference to “goat and sheep fells”. Given the further reference to Southwark, it is the author’s belief that this was a reference to their ability to make felt, a predominant industry already well-established at Southwark at that time. In an earlier study performed by the author for his monograph on his 6th great grandfather, Edward Arterbury, he compiled a statistical tabulation of the top 25 occupations recorded in St. Olave’s Parish, Southwark between 1706 and 1715, presented in Figure 37. From this tabulation it can be seen that feltmaking was the 2nd most common occupation after watermen. Clearly, feltmaking would have been an important industry in Southwark in the latter part of the 16th Century, and that fact would have been known to Sir Sydney.
So, what inferences or conclusions might we draw from our study of the history of Swords, and how might it enable us to draw inferences about the origins of the Jacob Miller family? What we are about to suggest is pure speculation on the author’s part, but supported by strong circumstantial evidence. First, we have the connection between a reference to feltmaking being a specialized skill known to the low country refugees, and the prevalent practice of feltmaking among the descendants of Jacob Miller. Next we have the inference that these low country refugees continued to have a significant presence in Swords 58 years after their first installation in the castle ruins at Swords, when 15 of their numbers were hanged for a show of benevolence to a catholic. What irony, that these same people who were driven from their homeland by Romish overlords in Europe, should then lose their lives for providing shelter to a catholic in Ireland. We have the surname of Miller, which very possibly originated in Holland, Germany or Switzerland as Mueller. We have the given name of Jacob, not exactly your typical English or Irish given name, but fairly common on the continent. And, lastly, we have the strong suggestion that this family originated from Swords, prior to its migration to England. All things considered, the author believes there is a strong possibility that Jacob Miller was descended from one of those 40 families of low country refugees that were planted at Swords in 1583.
We will close this excurses with one final speculation, that being the source of the education evidenced by William Henry Miller and Esther Miller being able to write their names. It seems entirely possible that Anne, Esther and William Henry may have attended the Old Borough National School in Swords, which currently operates as the Old Boro public house shown in Figure 38. A brief history of the Old Borough National School is as follows:
“The Old Borough was designed by Francis Johnston who also designed the General Post Office in O’Connell Street Dublin. In December 1804 the Government purchased the land for £200. The building opened as The Old Borough National School on the 18th of February 1808 at a cost of £1,800. The first schoolmasters were Joseph Carmichael and Anne Carmichael. They were paid £100 a year as a salary. The Old Borough National School occupied the premises for 191 years, becoming one of the best known buildings and most significant constructions in the town during the 19th Century, funding mandatory schooling as well as apprenticeships. The School closed down in the year 2000 and a new school was built at Church Road.”
 Henry and Betty, The War Years, Mildred Bedinger Rhea, 1992, pp. vii-xi.
 Ibid., pp. xxvii-xxviii.
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 Ibid., pp. 16-7.
 Ibid., p. 16.
 The Rise and Fall of the Felt Hatting Industry, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275656136_Denton_and_the_Archaeology_of_the_Felt_Hatting_Industry, accessed 7Nov2020.
 The Book of English Trades and Library of the Useful Art, printed for C & J Rivington, 1827, pp. 162-73.
 Ibid, p. 165.
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 Fingal and Its Churches: A Historical Sketch of the Foundation and Struggles of the Church of …, Robert Walsh, 1888, pp. 123-4.
 The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Vol. 105 (1975), pp. 47-82, An Irish Medieval Tile Pavement: Recent Excavations at Swords Castle, County Dublin, Thomas Fanning, p. 57.
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