Friday, March 19, 2010

Mills Arrives at Harrow

On Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:18 AM, I received the e-mail message below from Luke Meadows, an information officer of the Harrow Association of Harrow School, following a request for information about George Mills.

Here's what Harrow knows about Mills:

Dear Mr Williams,

Thank you for your message, I am able to tell you that George Mills did attend Harrow and the initials R.A stand for Ramsay Acland. George came to the school in 1910 and left in 1912. We know that he was in the Rifle Brigade and then transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps (R.A.S.C.) during the First World War between 1916-1919. After the War was over he went onto study at Oxford between 1919-1921. The only other thing I am able to tell you is that we have his occupation as being a Preparatory School Master.

Georges Father, Rev. Barton Mills was also at Harrow. He entered the school in 1870 and left in 1871. He obtained a BA at Oxford in 1880 and an MA in 1883. he then became Chaplin at san Remo 1886-7, then Vicar of Poughill, Cornwall 1887-9 then of Bude, Cornwall 1891-1901 and was also Assistant Chaplin at the Savoy 1901-8.

Unfortunately I cannot find anything about a brother by the name of D. Mills but I will pass this message onto our school Archivist who might be able to give you some more information on the Mills family!

Good luck with your research,

Kind Regards,

Luke Meadows

Information Officer Harrow Development Trust and Harrow Association

5a High Street Harrow on the Hill Middlesex HA1

So! Not only are we incrementally gathering information about Mills, but his family history is gradually coming into focus as well. Tracking the movements of the family during Mills's lifetime, we find him born in 1896 in Cornwall. In 1901, however, Barton R. V. Mills moves to "the Savoy" [right], presumably the "Great Hospital of St Bernard de Monte Jovis in Savoy" run by the Congregation of Canons of the Great Saint Bernard.

And as we saw in an illustration in a prior post, St. Bernard becomes a huge point of academic interest for George's father—more on that another time.

We learn that G.M. transferred from the Rifle Brigade to the Royal Army Service Corps during his time in the military, which we find ended in 1919.

It's noted that Mills "went on to study at Oxford between 1919-1921", but I find that less than definitive. How loosely is the word "at" used here? At Oxford, the place, or at Oxford, the university, one wonders? If Mr. Meadows simply means Oxford as a location, it likely means that Mills first attended Christ Church, one of the colleges at Oxford in 1919, matriculating to the Final Honours School in 1921?

That seems especially likely given that Ms. Peacock has already informed us that Mills "was exempted from taking Responsions (preliminary examinations for entry) and the examinations of the First Public Examination, under a decree of 9 March 1920." Mills would not have been exempt from examinations yet had he entered the university in 1919. His studies during the years Mr. Meadows mentions must have been at Christ Church.

In addition, it's interesting to note that Mills, at some point, informs Harrow that his occupation is Preparatory School Master. What I wonder is: Could Mills have attained that title legitimately at any other prep school without the "B.A. Oxon" he claimed to have at Windlesham House?

Anyway, on my time line of George Mills, his life and career, let's go ahead assume he finally entered the prestigious Universitas Oxoniensis itself in 1921. How long did he remain there? It's hard to say.

As we know, the dedication to 1933's Meredith and Co. reads: "To MR. J. GOODLAND, sometime Head Master of Warren Hill, Eastbourne; to the STAFF AND BOYS OF THE SAME SCHOOL, and to those of WINDLESHAM HOUSE, BRIGHTON." Is this sequence intended to imply that he taught at Warren Hill before Windlesham House. Or is it simply sequenced to move an individual, J. Goodland, to the top of the list?

Dr. Houston, in a prior post, cites Mills as having taught at Warren Hill after Windlesham. This makes it possible for Mills to have spent all or some of 1921-1924 at Oxford. Or was something else fitted into those years?

And that still leaves another set of four years—1912 through 1916—unaccounted for. What happened during those "missing years"? Where was Mills between his departure from Harrow at 16 and the onset of his hitch in the military that began in 1916, when he was 20? And is it at all unusual he started as a private? Why would it have occurred to me that the grandson of an M.P. and the son of a Master's Degree holder from Oxford might've started on a higher rung?

As always, if you have information, or even some intriguing speculation, please let me know!

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