Millington Family

Phyllis Millington was the daughter of William Millington and Minnie Walker.  William was from Liverpool. He came over to Belfast around 1920 to find work, and boarded in a house in the city. 

William’s mother was Mary Edith Hulme and his father Thomas Millington, who married in 1898. 

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Mary Edith’s father was Robert Hulme, a butcher. There are several Robert Hulme’s in Cheshire and I cannot establish which is her father.  Her mother was Elizabeth. They married in 1866. Below is the census record from 1881. They lived in West Derby, Lancashire and Elizabeth was born in Woodley, Cheshire. Ancestry trees give her as Elizabeth Hartley. 

If the record in Ancestry is correct, Elizabeth was born in 1831. Grandad had mentioned a connection with ‘Hartley’s jam’ company, so this could be the connection. The founder of the jam company was William Pickles Hartley, born in 1845. His father was John Hartley, born 1824. There appears to have been siblings; Richard, MaryAnn, Elizabeth and Lister although I cannot establish with any certainty if this Elizabeth is Mary Edith’s mother. A history of the Harley Jam company states he was the only sibling to survive, so unlikely. The parents of these children were William Hartley and Christiana Lister, born 1788 and 1793 respectively. They had four sons, so if there is a connection it could be through one other of these. But Elizabeth was born in Cheshire, so…. This looks like her birth, and possibly the 1851 census record for her family(below age 18). No mention of jam making Hartleys. 

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There were many Thomas Millingtons born in and around Liverpool around 1868/7. Three other people have researched the family, including searches from Family Search. Assuming they are correct we can trace the Millington line back to a Benjamin Millington, born in Eccles in Lancashire, in 1748. His grandson, Caleb Millington was born in 1788. His son, Thomas married Sarah Wolstenholm, whose son William had a son, Thomas. This Thomas Millington was Grandad’s father. See images below from Ancestry. The 1881 census record for Thomas’s family show them to be Miners. In an interesting window on social history, everyone over the age of 10 is working. Coal mining was a common occupation at this time. 

The Lancashire Coalfield was one of the most prolific in England. The number of shafts sunk to gain coal number several thousand, for example, in 1958, Wigan undertook a survey of old shafts and located 500. In 1995 following several years of redevelopment across the Wigan Metropolitan Borough by the British Geological Survey (BGS), in association with the planning consultants Roger Tym & Partners, the list had grown to over 1000 with no real idea of the total.[1] Similar surveys in Bolton and Manchester have also produced long lists of undocumented shafts.

The proliferation of mines resulted from its accessibility at the start of the Industrial Revolution and the climate which was ideal for cotton mills. Coal fed the boilers of the cotton mill towns of Ashton-unden LyneBlackburnBoltonBurnleyBuryDarwenOldham and Rochdale as well as the Rossendale Valley. The first industrial revolution coal mines supplied coal locally and to Liverpool, along the River Mersey via the Sankey Canal. On the Manchester Coalfield, the early collieries were those of the Duke of Bridgewater in Worsley, where the Bridgewater Canal was built to transport coal from his mines to Manchester”

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Thomas and Mary Edith are in the 1901 census. In 1901 they had a servant, (Margaret Wilson) and Thomas is recorded as being a Wine and Spirit Store Manager. This is from the UK 1901 census, address 363 and 365 (?) Prescot Road, West Derby, Liverpool. 

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However by 1911, they had no servant and Thomas is recorded as a labourer in a sugar refinery. Mary Edith Millington died in 1918. They lived at the Old Swan. 

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William was the second eldest in Thomas and Mary Edith’s family. 

The eldest, Robert (Bob) married Elsie McCracken in 1920 and they lived in West Derby. I think they had four children, Lillian, Hazel, Beryl and Alan. Alan married Kath and they were landlords of a pub called the Derby Arms (?), at Deysbrook Lane. They had a daughter Lynn and another daughter and a son. We visited about 1973 (?). An Alan Millington died in Liverpool in 2007, aged 83. 

This is Alan Millington. He sent it to his Dad in 1944.

Lillian married Frank Nixon. Beryl  married ? Davies. Hazel married Bob Gray and they has sons, one named Kenneth I think. Bob died in 1986, his address was 83 Sunbeam Road, Old Swan, Liverpool, which I think is Hazel’s address, based on small notebook belonging to Grandad. Elsie died one year later. Mum told me Bob and Elsie were ‘childhood sweethearts’.

Gran, Bob, Elsie and Grandad

Grandad never said much about Ernest. My sense was he was closer to his brother Bob. Yet Ernest was witness at Grandad’s wedding to Minnie Walker in 1925. There is an Ernest Millington, born 1903, father Thomas, from West Derby, who married Winifred Fitzoy in 1926. The parish is the same as for his birth (and confirmation). The record for 1939 register is below. This Ernest died in 1956. A Winifred Millington died in Devon in 1968, born c. 1904. It is unclear if this is Grandad’s brother, but looks right. 

The 1939 register of people living in the UK shows Ernest and Winifred still living in Liverpool at that time.

The census record for 1911 shows a Fitzroy family in West Derby Liverpool, with father Thomas and Winifred as daughter aged 9. There are 7 other siblings.

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Grandad visited his brother Bob and sister Betty regularly, although he never mentioned his youngest sister. I found Betty’s baptism. They were still living at Prescott Road in 1906.

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I think the picture may be Thomas Millington, with Betty and Mum. Uncertain, but guessing, based on appearances and my memory of Betty. 

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We did not know about Ilene (Eileen). She is listed in a tree on Ancestry as being born in April 1908 and living for only 10 hours. Grandad was only 7 when she was born,so he may not have even known about her.

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William was born in 1900. 

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He grew up in Liverpool. One of Grandad’s abiding regrets was that he was not allowed to serve ‘King and Country’, being partially deaf, and therefore not making it past the recruiting sergeants on a number of attempts. One of these was when he visited his brother Bob while billeted in Collins barracks in Dublin. Whether he was born deaf or lost hearing as a result of childhood illness, I do not know. However his speech was not impaired, suggesting he was not born partially deaf. He told me once that when he was very small he was in race. The course apparently was a section of a lap of a pitch, but he kept running around, completed the whole lap and subsequently was awarded a prize. Everyone cheered him, which he thought was funny, because it was only due to him not hearing ‘stop’ that he ran the whole loop. 

I found this in Find My Past – it is from 1918. It could be Grandad’s name 

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When Grandad came to Belfast (about 1921 I think) he was apprenticed to a surgical craftsman, making wooden legs and caliphers for polio victims. This trade no longer exists. The landlady of the Boarding house was assisted by her niece Minnie. Mum remembers her as the formidable Aunt Maggie. 

William asked Minnie out and (acc. to Mum) gave her a box of chocolates. Her aunt forbade her to eat these as William presumably couldn’t be trusted, being from ‘forren parts’. This did not deter the couple and they married around 1924-5. The address on the marriage certificate for Grandad was 201 Dunluce Avenue so that could be the address of the Boarding House. A poster on ‘Belfast’ forum has confirmed that this house was belonging to Margaret Henry – George’s sister and mother of Norman Henry.  

Phyllis was born in 1926, and around 1930 George, her brother, was born. Phyllis was named Phyllis Geary Millington, and she maintained that the ‘Geary’ (which she hated) was inserted to keep the name in the family. I have found a ‘Geary’, who married one of Alan and Kathleen’s grandchildren (daughter of Philip) but I an unsure if this was the Geary they were trying to preserve as it is likely to be well after Mum was born. George did not survive meningitis and died in 1933, aged 2. I have only one picture of him, with Mum, below). They lived in the house in Forth River Gardens, off the Springfield Road, with Minnie’s father, George Walker. This was his house, where Minnie was raised, at least for some years. They moved to Mayfair Avenue, possible when Mum was 10. The pictures below are the few we have of Minnie, with Grandad.

Mum, aged 8 at Ardglass

Mum seemed to recall her grandfather George Walker as very strict. He wouldn’t permit such frivolities as card playing, calling playing cards ‘the devil’s books’. And he had a bird in a cage that she wasn’t enamoured with. He died in 1951, in a home at Cliftonville. 

There was a factory at the end of her road she recalled, and she was in trouble once for drying her wet clothes, after a dip in a river, on the hot airvent of the factory. There are others who lived on the street and recalled this factory or laundry, as posted on ‘Belfast Forum’.

Minnie (I Think)
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Grandad worked in various places after the trade fell off. He worked I believe for a while in the Harland and Wolff shipyard (where the Titanic was built). He ran his own shop for a short while. He played rugby for Malone and was capped for Ulster around 1933 I believe.

He worked in the Tate and Lyle sugar factory at one point and Mum recalls an incident in which, while on his break at work he saw smoke coming from a building nearby. He thought it was her School and ran all the way to School to rescue her. Fortunately it wasn’t the School. 

The School I think was Harding Memorial School, still open today. According to their website:

Canon Harding was rector of Willowfield Parish from 1900-1922. (…) Canon Harding approached Lord Arthur Hill about a plot of land on the Cregagh Road.  The Select Vestry of Willowfield Parish gave its support and the ground was secured.  The first building open on the site was Dromore Street Hall on Saturday 25th February 1911. (…) After Canon Harding’s death in 1922, the school was renamed Harding Memorial Primary School in his honour. 

Mum probably started School in 1930 and left at the age of 12 or 14.

Below are pictures from the 1930s and 1940s. She could be in any of these. 

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Mum only stayed at School to about the age of 12 or 14. She hated embroidery and knitting and was apparently called upon to read stories to the other girls when this work was being undertaken. She was much better at reading than the hated embroidery, and won elocution competitions, now a thing of the past, when she was in her teens. I inherited this hatred of anything with a needle. 

After Harding Memorial she went to secretarial college and worked in a company called Vulcanite, which made roofing felt. She told me her cousin, Norman Henry also worked there. I never met Norman Henry, although this is he in the picture below, with Mum at Vulcanite.  

Minnie died when Mum was about 12 or 13, of TB. I cannot find her death certificate, but I did find her death notice in the ‘Belfast Newsletter’ in 1939.  At this stage they lived in Mayfair Avenue. The picture below of a modern day house in Mayfair Ave, although I do not know if it was theirs. Mum remembered her mother in the fever hospital. 

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Grandad remarried, a woman called Eva (Evelyn) Henderson. She was born in Dublin in 1902. Her father is listed as a shepherd, living on the Hampton Demese in Balbriggan. Her mother was Margaret Johnson. Her family is in the 1911 census in Carnduff, Co Antrim, her father George a land steward. I do not know how Grandad knew Eva, or when they married. She suffered from a mental health condition and sadly took her own life around 1954 when Mum was in her 20s. Grandad lived to the age of 1993, dying in Dublin in the Gascoigne Nursing home, having lived with Mum for his final years.

Mum was an active member of Willowfield Parish Young People Society, and through that met my Father around 1955. They married in Belfast, in Willowfield and the steeple fell down later that night, no doubt due to the malevolent presence of a Dublin man in their church. Grandad re married that same year, Margaret Menzies, whom I am named after. 

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Peter was born in 1959, followed by myself in 1960 and Patrick in 1962.

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