Sometimes in doing all of this research, I have to make decisions regarding the direction of my research at any given time. Often, those decisions work out well, and at other times, not so well. Many times, if not most, I'll admit, they are based almost entirely on a hunch that might either pay off handsomely—or have me wasting hours, or even days.
Here's a case in point. This is a long-awaited e-mail from Wellington College [pictured, above left] that I received last Friday:
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 3:23 AM
Dear Mr. Williams,
Thank you very much for your email enquiry of last month. I apologise for the delay in responding, but the query arrived during the holidays and I have been clearing the backlog for the last couple of weeks. I have managed to find some information about the Mills family members at Wellington, as per your request.
Arthur Fredric Hobart Mills
1900 – 1903 Hardinge dormitory
Son of Rev. B.R.V. Mills
Royal Military College 1906
3rd Bn Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry 1908
Great War 1914 – 1918, Capt.
Arthur Mordaunt Mills
1892-1896 Hardinge dormitory
Son of Col. A McL. Mills IA
Shooting VIII 94-96
(very long war record, please let me know if you want the details)
Married Winifred Alice Carew (1908), who died (1931); married Hilda Young (1940).
Address in 1948: Maj. Gen. Sir Arthur Mills CB, DSO, The Little House, Enton Green, Godalming, Surrey.
I hope that this information is of interest and use. Do let me know if I can be of further assistance.
With kind regards,
Guy Williams (Wellington College archivist)
First wrong guess of mine: I'd privately speculated that Arthur F. H. Mills had been gazetted into either the 4th or 5th battalion of the DCLI. No big deal there.
I'd also, almost at the outset of my quest for information on Mills, had to decide how far into his family tree I wanted to climb. Regarding relatives, the farther I strayed from George Mills himself, the farther I was from my original intent, or so it seemed.
Based on that, I'd originally decided that Sir Arthur Mordaunt Mills and his family were probably too distant to work on much, even though the internet seemed to be rife with references to him. It was a hunch. But as soon as I saw his name in the above e-mail, I decided to check him out, figuring knowing something about him just might come in handy. Another hunch.
Well, Sir Arthur has a distinguished and well-documented military record as long as my arm. I can't, however, seem to find anything that indicates in the least that Sir Arthur Mordaunt Mills [right] is related in any way to the Mills family of my interest—at least not for several previous generations, back through into the 17th century.
George's great grandfather married a Lady Catherine Mordaunt, daughter of Sir John Mordaunt, 7th baronet, but I can't find any ancestors of George that would have shared his surname, Mills, with anyone in Sir Arthur's family. If somewhere back in history the two "Arthur Mills" in the above e-mail are related, it's likely to be more immediately through the name Mordaunt than through the name Mills. So let's review:
My first hunch: Don't waste any time [as I've done all day today] investigating Sir Arthur.
My second hunch: Reverse course after months, go ahead, and spend an entire day trying to link Sir Arthur to George Mills.
That second hunch wasn't the most brilliantly intuitive move during all of this Mills-mania of mine. But I'll admit that my motivation for finding a male Mills relative of George Mills who was born in the mid- to late-19th century was fueled by another puzzle I've run into: I need a father.
Whose father? Barbara Mills, that's who.
And who is Barbara Mills? That's exactly what I'd like to know, and it's what we'll take a look at next time!