Friday, April 30, 2010

Lt. Arthur Frederick Hobart MILLS (43673)

For today's adventure in reading antique newspaper print, I thought I'd continue to turn over the fertile soil of the London Gazette looking for information about George Mills' half-brother, Arthur Frederick Hobart Mills. There wasn't a lot, but it turned up some interesting facts.

First off, from the 18 September 1908 issue:


The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, Arthur Frederick Hobart Mills, in succession to Lieutenant F. H. Span, seconded.

1908 was the year Arthur told his publisher at the time, Evans Brothers, that he had been "gazetted" into the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. We do know from Sandhurst that the date of his actual commission had been the next day, 19 September 1908. Was "gazetted" a term meaning that the news had appeared first in the London Gazette?

The next we read of Arthur is in the Gazette's 3 February 1914 issue:



The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, Arthur Frederick Hobart Mills, late lieutenant, with seniority as from 26th July, 1912. Dated 4th February 1914.

Now, wording can be awfully difficult stuff to look up on the internet for interpretation. Has he become a lieutenant here, or was he a lieutenant of late and now is at this point being promoted upward?

And here's an interesting Gazette listing, Arthur's entry being amid a flock of other names, dated a full 25 years later, in the 12 December 1939 issue:



The undermentioned, from the Army Officers' Emergency Reserve, to be 2nd Lts. 2nd September 1939:—

A. F. H. Mills (98184)

So we find that Arthur, some quarter of a century removed from having been wounded in France, was returning to duty at the age of 52. We found out yesterday that George would follow in less than a year. Interestingly, Arthur left the military at some earlier point having achieved the rank of Captain. George left as a Lance Corporal in 1919. But they'd both return as Lieutenants as World War II was beginning.

We then find three consecutive entries referring to Arthur in just one section of the Gazette dated 1 March 1940:


The personal number of Lt. A. F. H. Mills is 43673, and not as notified in the Gazette of 15th December 1939.
The notifn. regarding Maj. A. F. MILLS (43673) in the Gazette of 9th Sept. 1939 is cancelled.
Lt. Arthur Frederick Hobart MILLS (43673) relinquishes his comm. 10th Sept. 1939.

I've searched extensively through the London Gazette's website using their Byzantine system, but there simply are no issues dated 9th September 1939, and I can't seem to find any additional references to Arthur Mills anywhere, in 1939 or not, except this one:

Name of Deceased (Surname First)
MILLS, Arthur Frederick Hobart

Address, description and date of death of Deceased
Winds Cottage, Downton [pictured, right], near Lymington, Hampshire, formerly of Stable Cottage, Hurst Wickham, Hassocks, Sussex, Captain H.M. Army (Retired), 18th February, 1955

Names, addresses, and descriptions of Persons to whom notices of claims are to be given and names, in parentheses, of Personal Representatives
Hunters, 9, New Square, Lincoln's Inn, London, W.C.2, solicitors. (Hugh Murchison Clowes)

Date on or before which notices of claim to be given
8th September, 1955 (283)

That's quite a lot of information regarding the demise of Arthur F. H. Mills. But I wish we knew more about his life from 1939 to 1955.

A couple of things do jump out at me. First, in the second citation on 1 March 1940, Arthur's rank is listed as "Maj." Is it safe for me to assume that he may have been elevated in rank from Lieutenant to Major somewhere in early September only to have it cancelled?

Also, if I'm reading things correctly, he was reinstated from the Army Officers' Emergency Reserve on 2 September 1939, but almost immediately relinquished his commission on 10 September. Apparently, during those 8 days—possibly on the 9th—a promotion had been announced and subsequently rescinded the next day. What an interesting week that must have been...

I'll admit, when I think of the onset of the Second World War, I imagine it beginning with a standing army of well-trained troops from Britain being bolstered by an influx of strong, young men and women joining the cause. In the last two days, however, we've seen Arthur Mills—age 52—returning to his military roots, albeit briefly, just one day before Great Britain officially declared war on Germany, Sunday 3 September 1939. George enters the fray a year later, at 44 years of age.

These must have been confusing times. By that Sunday, the 3rd, the Wehrmacht had unleashed two days of blitzkrieg on Poland. HMS Courageous and HMS Royal Oak would soon be sunk by u-boats. And by the time George Mills returned to the military on 11 October 1940, the Luftwaffe had at last crossed the channel and attacked British warships at Firth of Forth. All of these events had been and were being played out against the backdrop of the drama leading up to the Norway Debate in Parliament, and in its wake, the resignation of Neville Chamberlain and succession of Winston Churchill.

We have the luxury of putting all of this in perspective using hindsight, though. At the time, a populace being called on to sacrifice again had already endured a World War just two decades before would have been bracing itself for yet another global conflict—and one in which technological advances had burgeoned so quickly that long range bombers and rockets would present a danger never before experienced. Given the labile emotional, technological, and political landscape of 1939-1940, did anyone really know exactly what to expect in the long term?

Were the Mills brothers, Arthur and George, patriotic citizens who saw their country in need and wanted almost immediately to help, despite their relatively advanced ages? Or was the War Office anticipating the need for able-bodied young men in the various theatres of war abroad, and doing its best to draw upon a pantry full of veterans who would have been able to stock many military positions on the home front while younger fighting men were steadily sent overseas?

It's interesting to note that Arthur F. H. Mills published his novel White Negro in 1940. He'd published at the very least one novel per year since 1921, while also writing short stories for periodicals. That particular book, however, would the last one he would publish until 1947's Don't Touch the Body—unless there were texts written and published in between that I simply cannot find record of anywhere.

Is there a relationship among Arthur's brief return engagement with the military (presumably due to the declaration of war), his almost immediate relinquishing of his commission, and the fact that he soon goes roughly 7 years without penning a novel? Or is all of that merely coincidental? Were there simply so many fewer opportunities to publish a book during the war years that writers at the low end of the food chain like Mills would have had to do without? Or is it possible that something was seriously bothering him—perhaps mentally, physically, or both—that led to his prolonged dry spell?

I invite any of you who knew these times and can provide some context and insight to share your observations, experiences, and your opinions. It would certainly be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lt. and Paymr. G. R. A. Mills (150796)

Last evening before I went to bed, I decided to run a search on someone I haven't found much about, but who would have known George Mills: His uncle, Dudley Acland Mills, an officer in the Royal Engineers. Dudley was a career military man, and I find mention of him here and there, but not enough to have fleshed him out yet. His career seemed to have taken him around the world, but last night via Google I found a record of his death in 1938 in a link at the London Gazette.

On the off chance that I might find something interesting, I decided to search within the London Gazette's own website as long as I was there. I wasn't holding out any hope.

Of course, by now you've realized I found something more than just good old Uncle Dudley!

I found only three brief mentions of George Mills, but those entries speak volumes about his life between 1939, when he published two children's books [Minor and Major and St. Thomas of Canterbury] and 1956, where we've found him teaching at Ladycross School in Seaford.

In chronological order, here they are:

From a Supplement to the London Gazette dated 12 November 1940, came this subheading and listing, amid a plethora of others:

The undermentioned to be Lts.:—

11th October, 1940:—
George Ramsay Acland Mills (150796)

I'll admit, when I found that Mills had been born in 1896 and had served in the First World War, I knew he'd have been in his forties during World War II, and suspected that he wouldn't have participated in it, at least not as a military man. Despite the fact that he'd turned 44 just 10 days before 11 October, he had, indeed, returned to the military—and had jumped from Lance Corporal upon his discharge in 1919 to Lieutenant some 21 years later.

The next entry is from an issue of the London Gazette dated 10 April, 1942:

The undermentioned to be Lts.:—

11th April 1942:—

2nd Lts.:—
T. L. Kelly (150969), G. R. A. Mills (150796), A. F. Relleen (150979)

I suppose that would be good news—except that on 5 January 1942, Mills had lost his wife, Vera Louise Beauclerk Mills, to a cause that is unknown to me at this point.

The final reference to Mills, from the 2 November 1943 edition of the Gazette:

War Subs. Lt. C. G. Larkin (141829) to be Lt. and Paymr. 13 Aug. 1943.

Lt. and Paymr. G. R. A. Mills (150796) relinquishes his commn. on account of ill health, 3 Nov. 1943, and is granted the hon. rank of Lt.

As you may recall, before George was born, his father's first wife passed away in 1889. Rev. Barton R. V. Mills resigned as vicar of Poughill at the time and didn't return to his livelihood until he became vicar of Bude Haven in 1891. Right now, it's open to speculation whether it was mental anguish, physical sickness, or both that kept the senior Mills away from the pulpit for some two years after the death of his spouse.

We see that George was officially replaced by 13 August in 1943, even though his commission is not relinquished until 3 November, just after he had turned 47 years old.

[This does make me wonder what, exactly, it measn to have "relinquished" his commission? And is it possible that Mills had simply been some sort of inactive reserve for 21 years and was called back to active duty at 44 years of? And I'm assuming "Paymr." means paymaster. Does it? Pardon my density, but I can't say I'm 100% sure.]

Perhaps Mills leaving the service in the middle of a global conflict had nothing to do with the loss of his wife of 16 years, and maybe its similarity to what seemed to have happened a half-century before with his father was purely coincidental.

Nevertheless, after a decade or more of moving from one teaching position to another, from Cumbria to Switzerland, George settled in for a few years as a paymaster in the Royal Army Pay Corps. My sense is that the loss of Vera, combined with some sort of "ill health" had him on the move, career-wise, yet again.

There's much to be known about Mills and his return the military during the Second World War, and I do hope we learn more. I think it's interesting to note that, during the First World War, his father Barton had become an "Acting Chaplain to the Forces" in his sixties. We also saw that the senior Mills was quite concerned, even if merely academically, with the state of war and conflict in the modern world.

Just as in most families of the time, the "War to End All Wars" had a significant impact on the Mills family as a whole, and must have had a more direct impact on young George, who'd served in the Royal Rifles and Royal Army Service Corps from 1916 through 1919.

Since 1919, however, George had a wife, a great deal of talent, a winning personality… and a complete lack of security in his life. Between walking onto the campus at Windlesham House in 1925 and walking away from the Army in 1943, George Mills had had no less than six employers in those 18 years—and that would not include his self-employment as an author of four books during a 6 to 7 year stretch from 1933 to 1939.

Besides doing his part for King and country, the Army must have looked quite secure to a then middle-aged George, perhaps a place where he could stay for awhile, a place that had sports—apparently the Pay Corps played rugby, football, and golf among other sports—and a place where he could at last settle down with Vera by his side after over a decade of scuffling to find prolonged employment.

His loss of Vera must have dashed that plan as well, although I don't know the circumstances of her death. I understand the "Blitz" would have been over by January 1942, but I also have read that there were still random attacks that killed hundreds, if not thousands, between May 1941 and the onset of the V-1 and V-2 attacks in 1944. If an attack had been the cause, Mills might also have been looking for a new home as well as possibly having the loss of all of his belongings, memorabilia, heirlooms, etc.

How much Vera's death had an effect on George's 1943 "ill health" open to conjecture is at this point. What we have been able to do, though, is narrow the window on another segment of the 'missing years' of George Mills.

Instead of leaving George in 1939—a published author with two books hitting the booksellers' shelves within a calendar year—we now have him, as of 3 November 1943, in poor health and a widower on an island under constant attack during the largest global conflict in history. It's hard for me to imagine what London [pictured, left] or Sussex must have been like at the time, still seven full months short of the Normandy invasion, and how all of that must have been perceived by Mills—ailing, jobless, possibly homeless, and quite likely missing Vera terribly.

What are the chances that Mills had been a paymaster in a distant battle locale? Would a man returning to the service in his forties have been assigned outside of the British Isles as a paymaster? Or had he been working in the city or at the centre in Brighton? Where would a 2nd Lieutenant Paymaster have been assigned at the time?

If anyone has any thoughts on Mills and his new, brief, and certainly unexpected mid-life career, please do let me know. I'll admit: This unanticipated turn of events has thrown me for a loop!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Our works do not pass away, as they seem to do" -- Bernard of Clairvaux

Information still continues to drift in, often when I've just about given up hope of receiving it. Several weeks ago I posted an entry about a stained glass window in the church at Bude Haven that was dedicated to the memory of Rev. Barton R. V. Mills, father of George Mills. Cornwall records had shown that a plaque had been approved, but I couldn't at the time verify that there actually was one or what it may have said.

Yesterday afternoon, however, I received the rest of the details from Cornwall:

Dear Mr Williams,

I’m afraid that I am probably not going to be of much help, and can only give you such information as I have obtained from Budehaven Church.

I quote from the guide book of the Church:
“The window on the North side of the Sanctuary is in memory of Rev. Barton Mills and shows St Bernard of Clairvaux, on whom this priest was an authority. It is an adaption of a 15th century panel of an altar-piece from the Abbey of Clairvaux, now in a Dijon Museum.”

Under the window itself is a small plaque which reads:
“To the glory of God and in loving memory of Barton Reginald Vaughan Mills for ten years Vicar of this parish 1891 – 1901”

The bronze tablet is on the East Wall of the North Transept of the Church, under the Organ, and reads:
“To the beloved memory of Barton R. V. Mills. Born 29 October 1857, died 21 January 1932. Vicar of this parish, 1890 – 1900. ‘Our works do not pass away, as they seem to do; they are the seeds sown in time of a harvest reaped in eternity.’ Saint Bernard of Clairvaux”

I’m afraid that any information on ceremonies or services held during his time, or for the dedication of the window, would be held in the County Record Office in Truro.

I hope some of this is useful, and if you require anything further, please do let me know.

With kind regards,

David Standen

The Rev'd Dr David Standen
Priest-in-Charge of the Benefice of
Stratton & Launcells, Budehaven with Marhamchurch

Thank you very much! That actually was a great help since it would've been cost-prohibitive for me to fly to Cornwall and read those myself.

Someday I'd like to make a trip and take a look at all of the places and all of the things I've been discovering instead of merely experiencing them 'virtually'. Teachers' salaries anywhere in the United States don't exactly make entering this profession a get-rich-quick scheme, and here in Florida, they make one feel more like a "plantation worker" than a "professional," but I'm starting to put away some nickels and dimes for just such an excursion.

Until then, however, I am exceedingly appreciative of the assistance and kindness I've received from everyone who is helping me learn so much about a place and a time that sometimes seem so very far away.

Regarding the information above, I've found reference to an "Altarpiece from the Abbey of Clairvaux, with five panels (15th cent.)" in Dijon. The source is the book Northern France, from Belgium and the English Channel to the Loire by Karl Baedeker (1909). I haven't been able to find the name of the artist of that piece or any five-part 15th century image.

I have come up with an image of St. Bernard "exorcising a possession" from an altarpiece [right] by the German painter Jörg Breu the Elder (c. 1475 – 1537). Breu was born in Augsburg, about 400 km from Dijon, so that makes him a possibility in terms of time and place, especially since the on-line date of the work is simply "circa 1500." I have not been able to find the location of this painting, though.

Does it look like the window? Probably. Would I have noticed the resemblance to the stained-glass Bernard above without anything having been mentioned? Probably not.

Finally, I think the quotation of St. Bernard's is particularly wonderful. I took the second half of the quote, the segment after the semi-colon, and punched it into three major search engines: Altavista, Bing, and various Google sites. I came up with only one location for it on-line, and it is lengthy:

It displays an excerpt from a 1937 book called Cornwall—England's Farthest South by Arthur Mee. Mr. Mee's context for the quote is: "The north window of the chancel has a big figure of St. Bernard holding a church; on a tablet nearby, in memory of a vicar, are these fine words of St. Bernard: Our works do not pass away, as they seem to do; they are the seeds sown in time of a harvest reaped in eternity."

It's obviously not a well-known quote, certainly not one that's proliferating across the internet. Barton R. V. Mills is the unnamed vicar in Mee's text.

I'm certain there are theologians and students of theology who study St. Bernard, his life, and his words today. I'm certain they write papers, present theses, and publish journal articles among themselves. Mills himself certainly did that.

What strikes me is that it was the death of Mills that managed to keep these powerful words by Bernard of Clairvaux alive among the lay people in Bude Haven. Arthur Mee never mentions Mills, but keeps the words of the saint alive in an English language text for the public at large—something Mills had been working to do during his career as a cleric. Finally, St. Bernard's words find their way here—on a blog, of all things!

Perhaps Barton Mills knew that St, Bernard's words were withering away in Latin, unavailable to the masses of the Modern age in which the reverend found himself in the early 20th century, post-World War I.

According to Mills' friend and colleague, Rev. Watkin W. Williams, M.A., in the Introduction to Williams' own short 1920 book on St. Bernard, The Treatise of St. Bernard, Abbat of Clairvaux, Concerning Grace and Free Will: "Researches made by my friend, the Rev. Barton Mills, have led to the conclusion that Mabillon's [commonly known] text of St. Bernard's writings, as presented in the Benedictine folio edition of Migne's Patrologia Latina, is far from trustworthy. It is not, perhaps, generally known that, when the Abbey of Clairvaux was sacked at the period of the French Revolution, a certain number of its literary treasures were rescued, and ultimately found an asylum in the Bibliothèque de la Ville in Troyes, where they still remain under the guardianship of the learned and courteous librarian, Mons. Morel-Payen."

Barton Mills spent the latter part of his life trying to define the thinking of Bernard of Clairvaux for a person—perhaps for members of his own family—and translating it for use by an increasingly modern public, regardless of social class.

Mills' 1901 book, The Marks of the Church, was initially criticized in the Church Quarterly Review [Vol. 54, April/June, 1902] as being "average" and "unnecessary," its sermons being "too plain and commonplace in style and matter to attract more than passing attention." However, a secular publication, The Bookseller [11 October 1901], had already lauded Mills for publishing a book that "more than merits the attention of the public," and whose "sermons fall in with the vogue of the day. Even pulpit utterances must be up to date, no less than other more sublunary affairs."

Perhaps the most interesting critique of the book came from The Churchwoman: "Plain and practical sermons, very much of the Walsham How type, which will describe them best." Rev. William Walsham How, of course, was a 19th century cleric who became Bishop of Wakefield. From Wikipedia: "He founded the East London Church Fund, and enlisted a large band of enthusiastic helpers, his popularity among all classes being immense."

In 1929, at almost 70 years of age, Barton Mills published his English translation of St. Bernard's twelve Degrees of Humility and Pride. In its preface Mills writes: "This volume is intended for those who do not read Latin, all quotations from classical or patristic writers have been translated, and for this purpose I have used and acknowledged public translations where such exist. Quotations from the Bible present some difficulty. St. Bernard of course uses the vulgate, and his arguments and phraseology are profoundly—and sometimes unfortunately—affected by that version."

I can't believe anyone in the hierarchy of the church was exactly doing cartwheels over a new interpretation of the 12th century writings of a saint, but Mills was at odds with the Anglican Church over several other issues as well, it seems. Writing about religion in a manner that would have suited the populace, not the Church, seems to have been one of those. Perhaps it was because his translations might not have encouraged theology students of the new century to read original church manuscripts in the Classical Languages. Why bother when clear, well-researched English language editions would be available?

In conclusion, the above quote from Bude Haven—written by St. Bernard and translated by Mills—is a remarkably fine example of what Mills was doing with the later years of his life: Making something he deeply and faithfully believed in available to us all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Of Parisian Night Clubs, Mysterious Blondes, Devil's Island Shackles, and Failing Marriages

Having finished The Road to Timbuktu, I've diverged from the path of Lady Dorothy Mills and begun reading The Apache Girl by Arthur Mills, her husband and elder half-brother of George Mills. It was first published in 1930.

Now, I know we've seen that Lady Dorothy's marriage may not have been all bliss, but perhaps the fact that divorce and marital infidelity keeps cropping up in the relatively little I've read of her writing is purely coincidental.

On the other hand, I had read less than three pages of The Apache Girl last night when I came to this, regarding our hero, Harry Rolyat, a British art dealer who has inherited a huge estate, Flairs, and a priceless collection of Chinese porcelain from an elderly client of his:

Curiously enough there had been no proviso in the old lady's will about not selling the porcelain or ultimately bequeathing it to the nation. Harry was perfectly at liberty to sell Flairs and all its treasures any time he wished. There was, however, a codicil to the will that could affect him very materially. Brought up in a strict Victorian era, the old lady, in the later years of her life, had been deeply shocked by modern standards of conduct. The number of divorces that had taken place immediately after the war had filled her with horror. And though well pleased with Harry's marriage, she had seen fit to safeguard his future—as she thought—by inserting a clause in her will that in the event of his marriage being dissolved the property she had left to him, or any money accrued to him through the sale of it, should revert to the next of kin.

It was a surprising codicil for a shrewd, worldly wise old woman to make. For Harry said, when he told Meriel [his wife] about it: "She knew we married for love; why should she think we should need money to keep us together now?"

To which Meriel answered: "Well, money is always useful."

A page later, Harry is silently ruminating on his marriage when the narrator of the story adds: He wondered whether this money they had now was really making them any happier.

Still, this was simply the beginning of the book, and it's a book pegged as an adventure. Things would surely begin to unfold more quickly, and the pace was bound to become less contemplative, right?

After Harry dances and sips champagne with a mysterious, intriguing blonde in a Parisian night club [at his wife's behest, might I add, while she entices another man], we meet a murderous apache gangster [depicted in stereotypical garb, left] who has escaped from his shackles on Devil's Island and paddled away on a barrel to the coast of Central America. He has made his way back to Paris where he ends up in Harry's iron choke hold after we discover he's the evil and abusive husband of the blonde—and, yes, we're still in Chapter 1!

Soon, in Chapter 2, Harry and his wife are back at their Paris hotel:

For a while he watched his wife intent on her beauty preparations. The thought flashed oddly through his mind that there had been a time when Meriel had never put cream on her face until after he had kissed her. What days those had been when no other woman in the world existed for him and no other man for her! But one could not expect that sort of thing to last forever.

And, via the narrator, we soon know:

They had completely redecorated Flairs, putting in central heating, electric light, and several bathrooms. It had been necessary, for the old Baroness Mollot, in spite of her wealth, had lived there under Victorian conditions, refusing to have even a telephone installed. New carpets and wallpapers had been bought, ceilings repainted. These matters Meriel had supervised, ordering everything of the best without question as to price. She was the same over clothes; her frocks, some of which she would wear only once, were fantastically expensive. Though it did not matter, they were for the moment almost without ready cash.

I'm sorry, but I'm thirty-some pages into this book, and that's a lot of talk of divorce and marital discontent. And at this same time, 1930, we've read that Lady Dorothy is discussing faithless, divorce-minded Arab husbands in her autobiography and in the newspapers, making it clear that one needs to have one's eyes wide open before entering into a marriage!

The last excerpt above is actually not lifted from the married life of Arthur and Lady Dorothy, but appropriated from the lives of her father and mother, Robert Horace "Robin" Walpole, heir to the Earldom of Orford, and his American bride, Louise Corbin, a daughter of American railroad magnate D. C. Corbin [right].

Walpole inherited the Earldom and its estates, Mannington and Wolterton Halls, both of which were in states of neglect and disrepair. Countess Walpole [née Corbin] worked to modernize both edifices, updates that were covered famously by the press. Here's a snippet of what is really a rather lengthy and ghastly tale for another time,

In 1888 Louise married Robert Walpole, 12 years her senior, soon to be the fifth earl of Orford, making Louise a countess and the mistress of Mannington and Wolterton halls in Norfolk, England. At first glance, the marriage bears the marks of a late nineteenth-century stereotype: “rich American girl marries into English aristocracy, replenishing the sagging fortunes of her husband and his family while providing her tycoon father with titled in-laws to add luster to the company letterhead.”

Typical of many such English noblemen, Robert Walpole was land-rich but cash-poor, and the two stately homes he soon inherited were badly in need of restoration. D. C. Corbin was 56 at the time of his daughter’s marriage, and the earl could reasonably have expected her to outlive her father. However, in 1909, after two decades as a minor ornament of English society, Louise died…

When D. C. Corbin died in 1918, he left to that branch of the family only a trust fund for his granddaughter [that would be Lady Dorothy] from which she could not draw income until the death of her father, the earl. In the meantime, Lord Orford’s diary makes it clear that, during his marriage, little money had been forthcoming from his rich American father-in-law.

So, in 1909, Lady Dorothy was left motherless at the age of with a father who, among many other faults, had spent far more in his life than he earned or inherited. She was 18 years old, barely two years from having been presented to society, when her mother, according to the New York Times, "dropped dead."

Seven years later, Lady Dorothy marries Arthur Mills, already described as "a handsome and well connected man but with little money." The couple pound out stories for periodicals and newspapers to make ends meet at home, and, as we know, each publishes a book in 1916.

Money, though, seems as if it would have always been a concern for Lady Dorothy's family, and as a bright, only child, I'm certain she'd have been aware of discussions regarding expenses, finances, and resentments. Perhaps I should have written that 'lack of money' was the concern, although it didn't stop the Walpoles from traveling internationally and leading the lifestyle of sophisticated modern gentry.

And we have seen the stately home of Arthur's grandfather, Arthur Mills, Esq., M.P., in Cornwall [left], and know that Mills' family of origin was quite wealthy, even if just a few short years later he came back from France wounded and relatively light of cash.

Money certainly seems to have been a concern of both young Lady Dorothy, 25, and limping war hero Arthur Mills, aged 31, circa 1916. By 1930, however, there seems to be plenty of money—but she is recovering from what apparently was a devastating car accident, he is just about to be caught in an adulterous liaison, and each is writing of love, marriage, and divorce with an edge as sharp as a razor and all the tenderness of a bayonet.

Back to the book:

The pleasures of the rich, hunting, shooting, the best of everything in the way of houses and servants, had been theirs by chance of birth. And yet, when they married and had to forego everything, neither had minded. They had often talked of what they would do, in those days, if they ever did have any money. Hunting was sport of which each was passionately fond. And then money had come to them and Flairs—a beautiful house in one of the best hunting centres of England. What had they done with it? This winter they had gone away in the very middle of hunting season, because Meriel said she wanted to see Egypt.

Egypt, huh? That was obviously a bone of contention already, although Lady Dorothy's letter pictured at the right was written later from Luxor, when she was still planning to write another book that never quite came to fruition. She applied for that Egyptian visa alone in 1931, without an acccompanying one for Arthur.

Is Arthur Mills writing an exciting, mysterious adventure novel here, or simply brooding aloud? And Lady Dorothy was renowned for her love of hunting and fishing from her earliest childhood. I assume Arthur hunted as a boy in Cornwall and Devon as well. I'll finish with this excerpt:

His body was tired but his mind would not let him rest. Where was all this leading to—that was the thought that obtruded itself persistently. In the eyes of the world he and Meriel had everything to make them happy—a beautiful home, plenty of money, and no worry about illness. They had not in fact, in the literal sense of the word, a care in the world. And yet Meriel was not really happy, not like they used to be when they were living hand to mouth.

Knowing how the marriage of Arthur and Lady Dorothy came out, that's all so very sad. I know that danger, mystery, and mayhem await in this somewhat melodramatically written adventure, but I still can't help wondering about page 250, the last one: Will Harry and Meriel have resurrected their flagging marriage, or will have taken up with the beautiful night club blonde, Yvonne Levard?

What was Mills' vision of the future back then in 1930? It'll be interesting to see if he'll reflect on it as thoughtfully and as often as he has his past—through just these first 36 pages!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Lady Dorothy Mills Award (1965)

Sometimes I feel like a seagull picking over the remains of the same old beached flounder, time and again. I try to set aside some time every day to run at least one George Mills-related internet search, and most often I fail to come up with anything new. Sometimes, though, I rearrange the search terms or try instead of and I do find a morsel, and it's very exciting: Yesterday I discovered a fringe reference to "M. Kalab," who had been awarded the Lady Dorothy Mills Award in 1965 for a proposed Cambodian village project.

I e-mailed the Royal Geographical Society about it before retiring last evening, and returned from lunch to find this reply waiting for me:

RE: "Lady Dorothy Mills award"
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 11:51 AM

Dear Mr Williams

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the above award. According to our records, Lady Dorothy Mills was formally elected to the Fellowship of the Society on 3 November 1930.

I have found a couple of key references to the later award in the Society’s ‘Geographical Journal’ (GJ).

The first appeared in the ‘Society’s News’ column in the GJ 127(3), Sept. 1961, p.383, with the announcement of a bequest:

“LADY DOROTHY MILLS AWARD. As a result of a bequest of the late Lady Dorothy Mills, Fellow of the Society, an award has been established of £1000 to be made to a young woman traveller who is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. The award will be made in the form of a grant covering one or more years and will be primarily for a project involving travel of an adventurous kind rather than projects purely for academic research”.

This bequest was awarded only once, to the Milada Kalab you mention. The award was made at the Society’s AGM of 14 June 1965 (reported in the GJ 131(3), Sept, 1965, p436), with the President Sir Dudley Stamp in the chair:

“The President: Now, finally we come to a unique award. It is the Lady Dorothy Mills Award, provided for under a bequest from the late Dorothy Mills. It can only be presented once and it goes, and carries with it £1000, to Miss Milada Kalab, at present Lecturer in Geography at Durham University. The award is to enable a young woman Fellow of the Society to travel and undertake geographical work, and Miss Kalab proposes to spend a year in research in field-work in Cambodia, where she will study village life and social organization in the hilly areas. The Lady Dorothy Mills Award is thus an award for work which will be done in the future, and not for past endeavour. In presenting this award to Miss Kalab, I give her also the Society’s best wishes for the success of her work.
Miss M. Kalab: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen: I wish to thank the Council of the Royal Geographical Society for giving me this award and I should like also to express my gratefulness to the late Lady Dorothy Mills for having instituted this grant. I feel very humble here at being the only person who has yet to deserve the award she is getting, and I can only hope that I shall do some worthwhile piece of work in Cambodia. I hope too I shall be able to talk to you about it on some future occasion, and to tell you of some exciting adventures. Thank you very much”.

She in fact reported back to the Society in a paper entitled “Study of a Cambodian village”, which appeared in the GJ, 134(4), Dec. 1968, pp.521-537.

And although we hold four of Lady Dorothy Mills’ own works (monographs) from the 1920s, we do not have any biographical or obituary works on her, so I’m afraid that we cannot provide any further background information on this individual ourselves.

Hope this helps.

Yours sincerely,

Jan Turner
Deputy Librarian

Thank you for your prompt reply, Jan!

I guess it's really no earth-shattering bit of information: Upon her passing in 1959, Lady Dorothy left £1000 to fund some future project by "a young woman traveller who is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society."

I'm never sure of past exchange rates, or rates of inflation, buying power, earning power, and the like, but I'll wager that £1000 in 1959 went a lot farther than it would today—and it's still nothing to thumb one's nose at these days. It was very thoughtful and foresighted of her to create the one-time award.

I suppose what really surprised me, though, was that she was not formally elected a fellow of the RGS until 3 November 1930, especially since they had been holding several monographs of hers in their collection since the 1920s.

From the point of view of today, it would seem a natural that she'd have been embraced by the Society. I do wonder, however, how her exploits were viewed at the time. Admittedly, they were probably less scientific and more "popular culture" in their overall nature than was perhaps seen as appropriate.
I'll admit I'm uncertain of what the climate of the Society might have been towards a woman who carefully researched, observed, and documented the ancestries, religions, languages, and social customs of the various peoples of coastal and West Saharan Africa for her books—as well as having freely discussed scratching her mosquito bites bloody, wrangling seamy hotel managers for semi-decent rooms, and being forced to wear an embarrassingly silly-looking sun hat around in public in those same texts.

Any thoughts?

[Many thanks to James Wallace Harris ( for the wonderfully dramatic image of Lady Dorothy you see at the top, left!]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sheikhs, Spinsters, and the Local Standard of Beauty

I'm not sure when Lady Dorothy Mills suffered her 1929 automobile accident returning from Ascot, but by 29 November she was not sufficiently recovered to be permitted by her medical advisors to attend a benefit in London for the King Edward's Hospital Fund and recount some of her African adventures.

A year later, in 1930, she published A Different Drummer: Chapters in Autobiography, a memoir presumably written during recovery from an accident that "
left her scarred for life."

It's unclear at this point whether or not the 'scarring' referred to is literal or not. Either way, we already have seen that Lady Dorothy has some self-image issues related to her body. Those issues are touched upon in this newspaper piece from The Argus [Melbourne, Australia] on Saturday, 8 November 1930, and are almost used as a punch-line after 1600 or so words on the topics of romance, marriage, and divorce.

Lady Dorothy comments on younger women capturing the attentions of older men, and about the lack of faithfulness of "Sheikhs" once a wife, who once had been showered with poetry and promises, finds she has eventually become "old and ugly."

These adventures must have taken place years before, but they may have taken on new meaning to Lady Dorothy as she was convalescing, much of the time probably spent in her home on Ebury Street in London. It was a home she shared with her novelist husband, Arthur Mills. Was she concerned about Arthur, now that she was 41 years of age, had recently suffered serious injuries unlike any of the discomforts she endured on the road, and was still likely far thinner than she knew the men of England at the time would "admire."

[Update: After sleeping on it, I also can't help but wonder how, after a few years, husband Arthur felt about Lady D. repeatedly regaling friends, family, and the public at airshows and the like with tales of these amorous advances in wild but romantic locales, and how she always led on each fellow and evoked more information about his"proposal". I'll admit, if my wife, Janet, came back from a holiday with such tales, I might be a bit jealous, if not utterly miffed.]

Does she sense here that a page has been turned in her life, and that love and/or marriage would never be the same for her again? Her life had once been filled with adventure, danger, and exotic locales; here she spins yarns on behalf of fantasizing spinsters who do not know the "truth" about men.

See what you think. Here's the complete newspaper text plugging her new autobiography:

DITH M. HULL'S novel is almost forgotten; Rudolph Valentino is dead. Yet for many women sheikhs—the sheikhs of fiction—still have a curious fascination. Lay Dorothy Mills, the author and traveller, who is the daughter of the Earl of Orford, has no illusions about them. She has travelled since she was a child. Among her most conspicuous achievements are those of being the first Englishwoman to visit Timbuctoo and of leading an expedition through Liberia. During her travels she has met many sheikhs—she has even been proposed to by two—and she writes amusingly of her experiences with these great lovers in a chapter entitled "Sheikh-Stuff" in her book "A Different Drummer." The title of her autobiography was taken from Thoreau: "And if a man does not keep step with his fellows, it may be that hears a different drummer."

Lady Dorothy Mills begins by describing an incident in a little tourist town of the North Algerian desert. In the dining room of the same hotel were 12 elderly English women under the care of a harassed, flurried looking courier. "They belonged to one of the less expensive tourist agencies which, in 10 days, from door to door, for ₤30 or thereabouts, give their clients a fleeting taste of the Sahara and its thrills." In the middle of the meal there entered the Caid of a nearby douar with whom Lady Dorothy was acquainted. "He was a tall, handsome, black-bearded man of about 40, with lordly deportment, immaculately dressed in embroidered burnous and snow-white turban, and his rank in life corresponded to that of an English country squire." He made a profound impression upon the 12 English spinsters, and Lady Dorothy basked in some reflected glory because the "sheikh" recognised and spoke to her. She had to answer many questions, and, despite the fact that she was disillusioning them, told the truth: "that the Caid had five wives, three living, one dead, and one divorced, that he had 11 children, that he had never killed anyone in his life, in fact, that he considered fighting uncivilised, that he was a peaceable, home-loving soul, chiefly interested in farming.

The Sheikh at His Best.

"And that is what the 'Sheikh' at his best generally is," adds Lady Dorothy Mills. "The hawk-eyed bit of proud, brown beauty that struts the market-place, causing havoc among the more susceptible tourists, is as often as not, but a hen-pecked householder, who spends his days in money-getting, and loves to play with his numerous children after the day's work. That is the 'Sheikh' at his best. At his worst, he may be a lot of other things, but he is rarely romantic."

There was another side of the incident of the 12 English spinsters. The Caid told Lady Dorothy Mills that he had noticed the interest which they had taken in him.

"Who are they?" he asked. "It was told me that it was an English milord, who travelled with his wives."

"When I denied the truth of this typically Arab conclusion," Lady Dorothy Mills says, "he answered with an equally typical one. 'I thought not,' he said. 'Had it been true, he would have chosen them younger and handsomer. That information, out of the kindness of her heart, Lady Dorothy Mills did not pass on.

"'A queen by night, a beast of burden by day.' Thus, and pretty accurately, has an Arab writer summed up the position of an Arab wife," she says. "The Arab is fond of women as playthings, but he regards the subject of marriage very seriously, and his courtship is a matter of barter. When he finds himself financially able to support a wife and family, his parents search around among girls of marriageable age, that is to say, about 13 or 14, and of suitable requirements, possessing money, virtue, good health and temper, and, if possible, good looks. The girl found, the parents of both young people haggle for days or weeks or months over a dowry, which varies according to her share of the above-mentioned assets. No personal inclination of hers carries any weight, and the young man takes it for granted that his parents have done their best for him.

"They never see each other until the evening of the wedding, though the girl, if she be of the lower classes, may have caught a glimpse of him as, closely veiled, she passed through the streets. In very exceptional cases only can she obtain separation if he is unkind to her, but he on the contrary, can divorce her on any or no ground, providing he returns her dowry, by a few words spoken before the Cadi (town lawyer), for the sum of a few francs. This is certainly not the Koranic law, which is fair and generous in its treatment of women, but it is the custom-made law of the Arabs themselves, in a country where women's lack of education makes it impossible for her to assert her rights and privileges.

Hazards of Married Life.

"The young wife is lucky if her bride-groom is young and amiable; for sometimes he is old and repulsive, with a multiplicity of wives, regular and irregular, who may make her life a burden to her," Lady Dorothy Mills writes. "If she is young, though, maybe it is better for her to be the last wife than the first. For the Arab woman ages early and it is only a question of time, she knows, before her husband takes in marriage a younger, better looking girl, on whom he lavishes his kindness, his endearments, and his presents. As a sad little Arab wife said to me once: 'It is better to be the wife of an old man, the last and favoured one, than that of a young man and to grow despised and neglected in his service.' Luckily for her, the Arab woman is generally too ignorant to be dissatisfied, or to realise that there are greater possibilities of happiness than to simply be well fed and clothed by a husband who does not actively ill-treat her.

"Personally I have met many charming Arab gentlemen, some of whom I am honoured to number among my friends, but I would not marry one of them for all the wealth of the Sahara. And when I have mentioned this fact to them, and we have threshed out the subject; when, more especially, I have enumerated my requirements in a husband, with a grave smile most have admitted to me, from my point of view, to be right! Many Arab wives are happy after their fashion, for they know of no other order of things. But, however she may be beguiled by the imagery of the Sheikh's wooing, or the ardor of his assurances, the Sheikh will treat a white wife—if he can obtain one—just about the same as a brown one, once the novelty has worn off, and the fate of a few white women I have known who have married Arabs has been heartrending."

Although the Sheikh is not as romantic in his wooing, his language is poetic, at any rate to a European woman. Lady Dorothy Mills tells frankly of the two direct proposals of marriage which she has had from Arabs. "Neither flattered my self-esteem," she writes. "The first was from a very beautiful and resplendent creature of Northern Algeria, and his proposal was couched in all the vivid imagery of the 'Arabian Nights.' Among other things, he told me that my hands were like the little pink clouds that race the sky at dawn, and my face like the roses that bloom in a Sultan's garden; all of which pleased me very much! But he came down to earth with a bump when, out of curiosity, I began to probe for practical details."

A Sophisticated Arab.

The following dialogue is recorded:—

"You have already two wives," I told him, "and you know that we Europeans are not in the habit of sharing our husbands with other women."

"I am civilised, madame, I understand perfectly," he assured me. "And if you will marry me I will divorce them."

"But wouldn't you mind that?" I asked inquisitively.

"The elder one I should not mind; she is old and ugly. The younger one I should be a little sorry about, for she is pretty and good-tempered. But if you insisted I would divorce them both."

"But," said I, probing still further, "when my turn comes to be old and ugly, you will divorce me for a younger, prettier woman?" He shrugged his shoulders philosophically.

"Imshallah! If Allah wills!" he said.

"And that, I may add," Lady Dorothy Mills comments, "is what generally happens in Sheikh romances."

The other proposal was from a Caid of Southern Tunisia, "rough and uneducated, sixty and fat, with most of his front teeth missing, but he was a big chief in that wild country. Already he had three wives, two brown and one black, and now he wanted a white one to round off the quartet permitted him by the prophet. His proposal, through an interpreter, was conducted on the most correct lines, and the dowry he offered me was generous in sheep, cattle, and silk. But, he added, though he personally found me charming, I was far too thin to do credit, in the eyes of his people, to so great a chief, and he must make it a condition that I should partake of a local root called khalba, which his other wives would prepare for me, that was guaranteed in a very short time to fatten me up to the local standard of beauty."

It is doubtful, nevertheless, whether all the disillusioning things which Lady Dorothy Mills says in her entertaining book will counteract the romance with which the Sheikh has been invested by fiction and the films.

*"A Different Drummer," Chapters in Autobiography, by Lady Dorothy Mills (London:- Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd.); 11/6

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gone, and Now Only Somewhat Forgotten

It's a hot, humid day here in central Florida and I'm tired of pulling weeds this afternoon. Not everything I've been working on has been here on Who Is George Mills? I've also been trying to build Wikipedia and Shelfari pages for George Mills and his seemingly forgotten clan.

Here are some links:



George Mills

Arthur F. H. Mills

Arthur Mills

Lady Dorothy Mills [left]

Two months ago there wasn't anything at any of those locations. It may not all be perfect, but it's better than the alternative, which was absolutely nothing.

So here's to the Mills family: Gone, and now only somewhat forgotten!

And may someone always be there to remember the rest of us when we're all gone…

Friday, April 23, 2010

'"But in England, Men Admire Thin Women..."

I suppose it's because she was the daughter of the Earl of Orford, but I don't seem to have much trouble turning up a seemingly endless stream of bits of information about Lady Dorothy Walpole Mills, who for 16 years was married to the brother of George Mills, Arthur Frederick Hobart Mills.

Still, I think it might also have been a factor of a burgeoning media that was thriving on advancements in communication technology in the fledgling 20th century. Suddenly, even seemingly trivial bits of information could make their way halfway around the world amazingly quickly. While news of Lady Agnes Mills, George's grandmother in Cornwall, and Lady Catherine Mills, first wife of George's father Barton, is virtually non-existent, they lived and died in the 19th century.

But neither of those two women had the glamour of Lady Dorothy's mother, Louise Corbin, an American who'd married the heir to the Earldom of Orford. Although she had been born in Helena, Montana, and raised almost exclusively in and around the finest spas of Europe [she never lived in her father's house in Spokane, Washington, except briefly as a guest], New York City claimed her as a native, and the British press seemed fascinated by this woman who was allegedly from the Big Apple of the United States.

Lady Dorothy had been born in 1887, but by the time she was a teen, her life was being written about quite publicly and being read about around the world, especially the speculation over when her parents would allow her to make her debut in society. This was long before her first novel, press conference, or highly publicized excursion.

Still, I'm not quite yet ready to explore Lady D's life here. Last night, however, while reading her book, The Road to Timbuktu, I came upon a section in which she describes her husband, Arthur, George's half brother.

The scene finds her in the tent of the wife, sister, and sister-in-law of a Touareg tribe's chieftain,
"squatting around a low fire of embers" somewhere amid the wastes of the Western Sahara…

After a few minutes of rather sticky silence and constraint, while they eyed me furtively and brewed me some sickly-sweet tea, their questions poured out so quickly that I had scarcely time to answer them. Was I married? How old was I? Did a man in England have more than one wife? Did my husband beat me, as did the husbands of the negresses? Did we have divorce?

They made favourable comparisons between the English and the Touaregs when I told them that we, too, were monogamous and not addicted to wife-beating, but they evidently thought it scandalous that in a civilised country a man should be able to divorce his wife, and that on the trifling ground of unfaithfulness. But that being the so, they were surprised that, having been married nearly seven years, I had not yet been divorced! Though, as the old lady remarked, rather cattily, I thought:

'When a man goes forth to fight, little can he know what passes in the tent.'

The little wife wanted to know if my husband was a great man.

'Very great, though not so great as yours,' I answered tactfully. 'When he speaks, his words are carried by road and air throughout the breadth of our land and far beyond the seas.' I thought that rather a neat way of describing a fellow-scribbler, and evidently it impressed them. In answer to another question, I said that to the best of my belief my husband loved me.

'But,' broke in the old crone, who seemed to have a spiteful outlook on life, 'he cannot be very rich or you would not be so thin.'

'What has that got to do with it?' I asked.

'Were he rich, and did he have a great regard for you, he would instruct his servants to feed you with rich milk and fattening pastes, and to rub you with oil, so that you would be fat and good to look upon.'

'But in England, men admire thin women,' I protested, lying simply to preserve a fragment of my self-respect, but evidently they did not believe me.

In many ways, Lady Dorothy tries to be as intellectual and detached as possible in her explorations. Of course, sometimes it can't help but become personal, such as when, after running through the night in her underwear after a departing riverboat, she was rescued, slung over a strong black shoulder, and carried like a sack of potatoes back to the vessel. Or when the stalking of a tribesman reputed to be a cannibal ended with her shyly being presented a bouquet of hand-picked wild berries and a smile full of sharpened teeth.

Here we do learn that she is proud of her husband Arthur [left], with whom she feels an affinity as a
"fellow-scribbler"they'd both published a few novels at that point in their marriage. In addition, we learn Arthur's books are so popular that they're being published abroad. I've seen editions of Mills' books in French, German, and Swedish, and I don't claim that's any sort of exhaustive list.

Switching to the subject of body image, Lady Dorothy is quite thin to begin with—something she admits is at odds with her being attractive to the average British male in the early, pre-Twiggy 20th century—and even more so after a couple of months cruising the Niger River and knocking about the desert. Does she wonder in her heart if Arthur truly finds her attractive—at least attractive enough to keep her?

She does think Arthur loves her at that moment, at least 'to the best of her belief.' That may be a preview of coming attractions as Arthur is discovered in flagrante delicto in a hotel in 1932, leading to Lady Dorothy's filing for divorce which was uncontested and granted in 1933 [below, right]. I'll ashamedly admit that I do wonder, "How thin was Arthur's lover that evening?"

It was Lady D who was often away from home, living in the countries of people whose bodies she often described with phrases like "magnificent black torso" with "sheer animal strength," and "fine physical specimens… well over six feet and well proportioned." It was Arthur's activities at home
"in the tent," however, that ended up making the discussion of divorce with the chieftain's wife prophetic.

One does wonder about Lady Dorothy's complete adventures as a traveler and explorer. We read West with the Night by Beryl Markham and Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen [Karen Blixen] and do find breathtaking African adventures along the lines of Lady Dorothy's. Men like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Denys Finch Hatton may be frequently mentioned in those two texts, but only in the most Platonic of ways. Still, the words of the two authors often resound with passions that I'm certain were also explored in their undocumented affairs with those lovers.

In contrast, Lady Dorothy's words are frequently those of someone cataloging an adventure rather than completely savouring it. She often spends an entire chapter ticking off various tribes, religions, or locations in such strict organization and sequence that her story can take on the aspect of a very user-friendly textbook. Sections in which she recites racist litanies of offensive smells, sights, sounds, and proclivities are far less user-friendly, and paint her in a much less flattering light.

Anyway, Lady Dorothy's words, as quoted above, do give us some small bit of insight regarding the relationship between her and husband Arthur. One can't help wondering if theirs was a relationship that changed a great deal as she saw her career arc ascend over the next several years, while Arthur—the "very great" man she'd married who "when he speaks, his words are carried by road and air throughout the breadth of our land and far beyond the seas"—would soon see himself pounding out genre-specific novels that would come to be seen both then and now as having reached a rather low point on the scale of timeless literature.

The Road to Timbuktu is entertaining and even, at times, extremely insightful. It's also racist, elitist, and exhibits thinking along the lines of many of the worst aspects of colonialism. I can see why these books have slowly drifted out of our line of sight while, say, Out of Africa hasn't.

From our perspective today, we don't always find Lady Dorothy's beliefs very defensible. They do, however, offer a very personal glimpse into the world in which George Mills would have been born, bred, schooled, and wed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Replies and Records Concerning the Revd Barton R. V. Mills

I just received a couple of e-mails I'd been awaiting, so here are some thoughts on the Revd Barton R. V. Mills, father of George Mills

Revd Prof Peter Galloway, Chaplain of the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, had recently suggested checking with the City of Westminster Archives regarding Rev. Mills and the possibility that he had not, indeed, ever been an assistant chaplain at the Savoy.

This is from Hilary Davies of those Westminster Archives:

Thank you for your e-mail of 5 April concerning the employment of Rev Barton RV Mills at the Savoy Chapel Royal, 1901-1908.
I checked the volumes for which you supplied the references (thank you), and found him preaching in the chapel regularly, though not frequently, from 1901 (Ash Wednesday & Good Friday) onwards. He is listed as celebrating Holy Communion on the 24th Sunday after Trinity and Christmas Day in 1907. He is clearly noted down as being an Assistant Chaplain.
I hope this is helpful to your research.

Yours sincerely
Hilary Davies (Ms)
Senior Archives & Local Studies Assistant

Good to know! Thank you, Hilary. But that left Revd Galloway—and me—with the problem of why a man who'd renounced the Anglican Church [according to the 1885 book, Converts to Rome, by W. Gordon Gorman] was preaching in the Chapel Royal. From Revd Galloway:

I am pleased you managed to discover a little more about Barton Mills, though the facts are certainly confusing. I think it highly unlikely that Mills would have been allowed to preach at the Chapel Royal, if his conversion had been known. My first instinct is to question the accuracy of Gorman's assertion that Mills was a convert to the Roman Catholic Church. My second instinct is that you try the records of the diocese of Truro - the diocese which covers Cornwall - held at the Cornwall County Records Office to see what papers they have regarding Mills. You can contact them at:

I hope this helps and I look forward to hearing more.

Having e-mailed them promptly, I very soon received this well-researched reply:

Thank you for your email.

I began by checking the entry relating to Barton Mills in the 1896 Crockford’s Clerical directory which we hold. This states that he was ordained deacon in 1882 and priest in 1883 in the diocese of Rochester. Therefore any records relating to his ordination would be held in Kent. He took his degrees at Christ Church College, Oxford who may hold records relating to this period of his life. This also says he was vicar of Poughill 1887-1889 and of Bude from 1891.

We hold registers of institutions and licences to benefices for the Truro diocese. These are indexed by the name of the parish. I have looked in the register covering his period at Poughill (D/R/275). I have found the entry for institution of Barton Mills to the vicarage of Poughill which was dated 9 May 1887. The institution of the next incumbent was dated 11 October 1889 and was due to the resignation of Barton Mills. Budehaven was a perpetual curacy so I looked in the register of licences to perpetual curacies (D/R/286). He was admitted to Budehaven 3 March 1891 and the next incumbent was admitted 7 June 1901.

I have also searched our parish collections for Poughill and Bude. We hold a register of services for Poughill 1887-1890 (P192/2/22) which I have looked at. This begins on 15 May 1887 when Barton Mills is the preacher. The last service he takes is 7 October 1888.

I hope this information is useful to you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely

Jennie Hancock
Cornwall Record Office

Thanks, Jennie! This message presents us some interesting information. None of it, however, addresses a possible conversion to Roman Catholicism by B. R. V. Mills.

First, though, we now know the years in which Mills was ordained a deacon and a priest: 1882 and 1883. Even more interestingly, despite Mills being from a family that is heavy on its relationship with southern England, from Cornwall to Sussex, and London, he does this work in the Diocese of Rochester. That's a brand new pin on my big, figurative George Mills Map, and may mean something.

We also are able to work out the "turn around time" it takes from the time someone is named a vicar through to the time one actually takes the pulpit. Mills was named the vicar of Poughill the day after Ash Wednesday, 24 February 1887. His actual institution in the Diocesan records is 9 May, with his first sermon being delivered on 15 May—about seven weeks later. His first child would be born on 12 July 1887.

The last service he takes at Poughill is on 7 October 1888, just 17 months later. He is the vicar of record, however, until 1889. The new vicar is instituted at Poughill on 11 October 1889—just over a year after Mills delivers his last sermon from the pulpit at Poughill.

Let's say that over four weeks is fairly normal for a vicar's resignation to be accepted, a new vicar named, for him to be instituted in the records, and for the new incumbent to arrive with his belongings and cassock. That would still have left Sundays in Poughill, if I understand it all correctly, having been handled by the deacon for well over ten months during 1888-1889.

And we know that Lady Catherine Mills, Barton's wife and the mother of infant son Arthur, passed away on 25 September, just 16 days before the institution of the new vicar.

Would I be wrong in assuming that Lady Catherine likely suffered a protracted illness or recovery from an injury? Would I also be wrong in assuming that Mills must have been very much the worse for wear after a long year that must have ended in tragedy, fully knowing he would no longer be able to handle his duties in the small Poughill parish. In fact, is it likely that he already resigned and had a replacement on his way to Poughill by the time of his wife's actual demise?

We don't truly know exactly what kept Mills out of the pulpit for a full year, or what led to the death of Lady Catherine, but hopefully we'll hear soon about Mills and his affiliation with Roman Catholicism. I'm waiting to hear back from the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Perhaps we'll know something soon!