Friday, June 11, 2010

38 Onslow Gardens, SW

Pickings have been lean lately on the George Mills front. Right now, I'm reading Robinson Crusoe, and I feel like the title character, savoring crumbs from the last of my biscuits!

As I've mentioned before, I've created a "timeline" of events in the life of George Mills and his family. I seem to think of the gaps in the line as "windows," places where George is outside of the timeline, but that I'm peering out of, looking for him. The bigger the "window," the less I know about George, his family, and that time period.

Here's an interesting bit of information that may help to narrow one of the gaps in the time line, closing the window ever so slightly.

According to website called Kelly's Genealogy Projects, George Ramsay Acland Mills entered the army reserve in the "Rifle Depot (Res.)" in 1916, during the First World War. We basically already knew that. What's interesting is his address at the time:

38 Onslow Gardens, SW, in Kensington, London, England [pictured, above left].

In 1911, Mills's nuclear family lived at 12 Cranleigh Gardens, SW [pictured, right] on the date of the census. In that home had been found his father, mother, and two sisters, being tended to by no less than seven servants.

George Mills, however, is 14 years old and living in 2 Grove Hill at Harrow School from 1910 to 1912. He was counted along with three other student boarders, school master Charles George Pope, and five servants on the night of that census, 2 April 1911. Easter fell on Sunday, 16 April, that year, and I'm not sure how that would have figured into the school's terms.

Mills's older half-brother, Arthur, was stationed in the Gravesend Barracks and Military Hospital in Kent on 2 April 1911. Arthur was 23 at the time and serving as an officer in the D.C.L.I.

The gap regarding George Mills and his late adolescence is the who, what, where, how, and why of things may have occurred in his life between leaving Harrow in 1912 and the commencement of his military service in 1916. We still may not know much of all that, but we now have an idea of where: 38 Onslow Gardens, SW.

George would have left Harrow at almost 16 years of age. By 1916, he was approaching 20 and providing the military with that Onslow Gardens address.

From an earlier post here dated 7 April 2010, we know that: On 3 August 1914, [Arthur Frederick Hobart] Mills is "staying at the time in a large house by the banks of the Thames" with his hostess, a mother of soldiers, [when he is called upon to leave for France at the outset of the First World War]… [Arthur] continues, "I went up to London to my rooms to collect a few things."

If Arthur Mills had, as I'd suspected, been keeping some of his belongings at his parents' home, it wouldn't have surprised me. Still, it's odd that he mentions only his "rooms" and not his father and step-family. Isn't it peculiar that in a household of at least a dozen people, he'd have referred to their home as his "rooms"?

Speaking of his "rooms" actually makes more sense if he's keeping a private flat for himself somewhere else in town. It appears that Mills had received a promotion earlier in 1914, and had perhaps that afforded the opportunity to move out of the Gravesend [left] barracks and into the more comfortable nearby situation "on the Thames" mentioned above. Did his new commission allow him to keep a flat of "rooms" in the city as well?

What if George had been living at an Onslow Gardens flat that he shared with Arthur in 1916? It would not explain what exactly young George was doing there, how he managed to contribute to the paying of the rent, or how he was getting on with his life. It would, however, imply that George and Arthur, half-brothers with almost a decade difference in their ages, had been closer than we otherwise might have suspected.

Is it possible that their father, Rev. Barton R. V. Mills, had helped not only George, but both of the boys, by providing that address as a place to live? Could it be that Reverend Mills had held the home as a rental property, and that the boys were simply his tenants at the time?

Despite separating himself from the Chapel Royal of the Savoy in 1908, the household of Barton Mills was still sporting seven servants in 1911, indicating that he was making a comfortable living somehow. His next steady employment is listed as having served as a "Chaplain to the Forces" during World War I, despite approaching sixty years of age.

After that war, George entered Christ Church in 1919, and Barton Mills listed his address as 7 Manson Place—the S.W. home of Sir George Ramsay, Barton's father-in-law, who would soon pass away in 1920—pictured at right. Or at least I'd assumed that Oxford was given Barton Mills's own address. Is it possible that young George Ramsay Acland Mills, having just returned to London from the war, had opted to live instead with his namesake and ancient maternal grandfather in 1919, and that the address given Oxford was, indeed, that of son George and not Barton's own?

If Rev. Mills and his clan were not then living at 7 Manson Place in 1919, it could be that the entire nuclear family was living at 38 Onslow Gardens, SW. That could also mean that they all had been living there in 1916 when George went off to war, and that Arthur's "rooms" were, indeed, in his family's home, and that George had returned from Harrow and lived with his parents for those four years. That would still move Arthur closer in spirit to his family than we might otherwise have thought, since there is no evidence that they were truly close thereafter.

The key bit of knowledge here would be when, exactly, the Mills family moved out of 12 Cranleigh Gardens, and to where: Into 7 Manson Place or 38 Onslow Gardens?

One clue may be in the London Times article covering the marriage of Mr. G. R. A. Mills and Vera Louise Beauclerk on 23 April 1925: "The marriage took place yesterday at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, of Mr. George Acland Ramsay Mills, son of Rev. Barton and Mrs. Mills, 38, Onslow-gardens, S.W., and Miss Vera Louise Beauclerk, daughter of the late Mr. William Nelthorpe Beauclerk, of Little Grimsby Hall, Louth, Lincolnshire, and Mrs. Nelthorpe Beauclerk, 4, Hans-mansion, S.W."

Rev. and Mrs. Mills are sporting an "Onslow-gardens" address in 1925. Had they moved there following the death of Sir George in 1920 after living with him at Manson Place? Had they lived there all along, having moved sometime between the 1911 Census and George's military induction in 1916? Was the house an investment property held and perhaps rented out by Rev. Mills during the early 20th century, one that, by 1925, he and his own family eventually had settled into?

I know this doesn't "close the window" on the 1912 through 1916 span of the life of George Mills very much, but it does suggest that much had been going on within the family during that time.

The Mills family arrived in London, living at 13 Brechin Place [pictured below, right] with two children in tow, and no servants, in 1901. By 1911, their household contained three children and seven servants, and was located at 12 Cranleigh Gardens, S.W.

In 1925, Rev. and Mrs. Mills resided in Onslow Gardens, SW, but after 1911 had been at least associated with the Manson Place address that had been recorded in written documents filed by Rev. Mills himself on behalf of George at the University of Oxford in 1919.

The veracity of that address seemingly as Barton Mills's own is corroborated by a book, The County Families of the United Kingdom; or, Royal Manual of the Titled and Untitled Aristocracy of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland [Ballantyne & Co., London: 1919], which lists Rev. Barton Reginald Vaughan Mills among its entries, and cites his then-current address as "7. Manson Place, S.W."
If the above reference is completely accurate, it isn't just George who's living at Manson Place in 1919, but Barton and family. I suppose it's possible that the family lived in Onslow Gardens in 1916, moved to Manson Place by 1919, but then returned to Onslow Gardens once again by 1925. Still, if so, why?

The Rev. Mills had, indeed, proved to have been a man-on-the-move throughout his career, with occupational stops at Rochester, Battersea, Devon, Hanover Square, San Remo [Italy], Poughill, and Bude between 1883 and 1900.

He seems to have been no less a man of many locations and occupations after arriving in London. It's unfortunate that his London Times obituary doesn't account for his residence at the exact time of his passing, but he's listed in the England and Wales Death Index of 1932 as having died in Kensington. Hence, it's likely he still was living at the Onslow Gardens address in that year, but given his history of movement, that can't be considered certain.

Does all of this suggest instability in the family, or simply in the Reverend's occupational choices? George Mills later showed a similar predilection to living a nomadic life and career. Was it simply a familial trait?

The real question is: What did the address 38 Onslow Gardens, SW, mean to the Mills family in 1916? Who lived there? And for how long?

Answers to these questions would go a long way toward closing the "window" in my George Mills timeline between 1912 and 1916!

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