Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The children of William and Florence Millington

Geoff and Joan's wedding at St Peter's, Ladywood in 1958
L-R Iris Millington, Nance Bourne, Kath Robinson, Florence & Bill Millington, Brian Lawlor (boy at front), Pat Lawlor (bridesmaid), Bill Millington, Geoff Millington, Joan nee. Lawlor (bride), Betty Lawlor (bridesmaid), James Lawlor, Dennis Lawlor (boy at front), Elizabeth Lawlor  

Children of William and Florence


William and Florence Millington had four children in total. Following the birth of Annie (Nance) in 1917, William was posted to the city of Ahmedabad in Northern India and a few months after he left he was followed by his wife Florence. Sadly, she was forced to leave her baby girl behind in England at the last moment after Annie became too ill to travel. The local doctor told Florence “if you take the child on the voyage to India, you can expect to bury her at sea”. She was left behind to be brought up by her grandparents, in the extended Clayton family home in Garbett Street.

Their second child Kathleen Mary was born on 3rd January 1922. Four years later their third child, William Frederick was born in Birmingham on 21st April 1928 and their fourth child, my father Geoffrey Ernest was born on 5th May 1937. My father is twenty years younger than his oldest sister Annie (Nance).

Nance married Edward (Ted) Bourne in the autumn of 1946, they had one child in their long marriage, David born on 31st October 1948. He married Carol Mason and they have one child named Ian. David and Carol live near Alvechurch. Nance died in 2005.

Kath married Harry Robinson, whose family ran the Vesper Bell pub in Ladywood, on 27th June 1942. The couple lived for many years in Bartley Green and both died in 2000. They did not have children.

Bill (also known as Fred) married Iris Butcher on 21st August 1955 at St John’s church in Ladywood. Bill and Iris had four children, Paul W born on 28th March 1963, Lynda Ann born on 29th April 1967, Karen Lesley born on 9th December 1969 and Antony William born on 28th April 1972. Their first child Paul died at two weeks old on 11th April 1963. Bill's widow Iris stills live in Weoley Castle, where the couple resided for close to forty years.

Geoff married Joan Lawlor of 26 Sherborne Street on 10th May 1958 (see below for more details of their children).

Ancestors of the in-laws: Robinson, Lee and Townley


Albert Lee on right, outside Vesper Bell, the two other men are likely to be his sons or possibly his son-in-law Edward Robinson


Harry Robinson was born Henry James Robinson at the Vesper Bell public house at 1 Blythe Street in Ladywood on 31st March 1920. The Vesper Bell was an old Victorian pub which stood on the corner of Blythe Street and Ledsam Street. Harry's grandfather Albert John Lee was landlord of the pub from 1905 until he died in 1961. Harry was one of three children, he had a brother named Edward and a sister named Emily. His parents were also named Edward and Emily and they also adopted Harry's cousin Trudy.

As a child Harry attended Piggot Street School in Lee Bank. Much of his early life was spent helping out in his grandfather's pub and playing around the streets of Ladywood. The Lee and Robinson family worked tirelessly in the Vesper Bell which had a local reputation of being a well-run pub which discouraged drunken behaviour. The family had a reasonable quality of life compared to other families in the neighbourhood, though purely through their own graft. Harry's brother Edward worked at Kunzell's cake and chocolate factory at Five Ways, whilst Harry worked for many years at Joseph Lucas's.

The Lee family are to be found in the 1911 census living at the Vesper Bell at 1 Blythe Street, Ladywood:

Albert John Lee, aged 43 (born 1868), Licensed Victualler born in Birmingham

Emily Lee, aged 41, born 1870 in Birmingham

Albert George Lee, son, aged 18, a postman, born in 1893 in Birmingham

Henry Herbert Lee, son, aged 16, a prentice fitter cutter and dir binton, born in 1895 in Birmingham

Walter Frederick Lee, son, aged 5, born in Birmingham in 1906

Emmie Elizabeth Lee, daughter aged 13, born in Birmingham in 1898

Henry Townley, Father in law, a widower and army pensioner, born in Treadworth, Gloucestershire in 1838

Rhoda Broadhurst, domestic servant, single woman aged 22, born in Walsall in 1889


The same family are to be discovered again in the 1901 Census, though at this time Albert Lee is not yet a pub landlord but a barman and the address is given as 21, 270-2, Coventry Road, Bowling Green Terrace:

Albert J Lee, aged 33, barman, born Hockley in 1868

Emily Lee, wife, aged 31, born Birmingham 1870

Albert G Lee, son, aged 8, born Bordesley 1893

Henry H Lee, son, aged 6, born Bordesley 1895

Emma E Lee, daughter, aged 3, born Small Heath 1898

Henry Townwley, father-in-law, widower, aged 61, timber yard labourer, born Treadworth, Gloucestershire 1840

In these records we can note the presence of Albert Lee's father-in-law Henry Townley living with the Lee household at the Vesper Bell for several years. Uncle Harry had a memory of his great grandfather as being a very tall man whose coffin had to be lifted through a window of the pub because they couldn't get it down stairs at the removal. We also know he served in the navy which is recognised by him being in receipt of a war pension. It seems that Henry Townley was a widower for a few decades as there is a record of him with his family, including Emily (Harry's grandmother) in the 1891 census living at 9 Bertha Buildings, Bradford Road, Birmingham:

Henry Townley, head, widower, timber merchant labourer, aged 51, born Treadworth, Gloucestershire 1840

Mary J Townley, daughter, single, aged 16, domestic servant, born 1865 Birmingham

Harry H Townley, son, single, sawyer aged 23, born Birmingham in 1868

Emily Townley, daughter, single, aged 21, domestic servant, born Birmingham 1870

Ada L Townley, daughter, single, aged 19, pin machine minder, born Birmingham 1872


This is a fascinating photo given to me by Harry Robinson. One of the old salts in this photo was Harry's grandfather, Henry Townley. Unfortunately I don't know which one. Born in 1840 in Gloucestershire, if Henry saw active service in the Royal Navy it might have been in the Crimean War of 1853-1856  

Also in the 1891 census there appears to be a possible reference to Albert John Lee himself as a single man working as a barman and living at 114 Great Barr Street in Aston with the publican's household:

Thomas Leckie, head, married aged 31, publican licensed victualler born Kirkmichael, Scotland

Sarah Leckie, wife, aged 32, born Winforton in 1859

Albert J Lee, aged 23, barman born in Birmingham 1868

William Butler, aged 20, Barman born in Liverpool 1871


Henry Towley's family can be traced back further in census records to 1881 and 1871 and this time Henry's wife is still alive:

1881 census living at 1, back 33 Springfield Street, Ladywood

Henry Townley, aged 41, labourer in timber yard, born in Gloucestershire 1840

Elizabeth Townley, aged 50, born Gloucestershire 1831

Mary Jane Townley, daughter, single, aged 16, warehouse girl (J), born Birmingham 1865

Harry Herbert Townley, son aged 14, warehouse boy (flab), born Birmingham 1867

Emily Townley, daughter, single, aged 11, scholar born Birmingham 1870


In the 1871 census, the same family are living at Edward Street, Court House, Birmingham but with the addition of two older siblings who were both born in Gloucestershire which suggests the move to Birmingham being between 1856 (Julia's birth) and 1864 (Mary's birth):

Henry Townley, head aged 38, born Gloucestershire 1833

Elizabeth Townley, wife, aged 38, born Gloucestershire 1833

Charles Townley, son, aged 17 born in Gloucestershire 1854

Julia Townley, daughter, aged 15 born in Gloucestershire 1856

Mary Townley, daughter aged 7, born in Warwickshire 1864

Herbert Townley, son aged 4, born Warwickshire 1867

Emily Townley, daughter aged 1, born Warwickshire 1870


More in-law ancestors - Butcher, Nash, Baker

My father's brother Bill married Iris Butcher from Guildford Street in Lozells. Iris's mother was named May Nash and she was born in 1891 in Aston Manor. The Nash family are recorded in the 1911 census living at 11 Guildford Terrace, Guildford Street, Aston Manor:

William Nash, head, aged 64, edge tool worker, born Birmingham 1847

Caroline Nash, wife, married 35 years, aged 56, born 1855 Birmingham

Lily Nash, daughter, single, aged 25, machinist bestead, born Aston 1886

May Nash, daughter, single, aged 20, press worker shin, born Aston 1891

Arthur Nash, son, single aged 14, milk trade, born Aston 1897


The Nash family can also be found living at 12, 21, Guildford Street, Lozells in the 1901census:

William Nash, head, aged 50, Labourer bricklayer, born Birmingham 1851

Caroline Nash, wife, aged 46, born Birmingham 1855

Sylvia Nash, daughter, single, aged 22, knob making machinist, born Birmingham 1879

Annie Nash, daughter, single aged 17, press worker knob making, born Aston Manor 1884

Lily Nash, daughter, single aged 14, press worker knob making, born Aston Manor 1887

May Nash, daughter, aged 10, born Aston Manor 1891

William Nash, aged 7 born Aston Manor 1894

Arthur Nash, aged 4, born 1897 Aston Manor

Iris had always believed that her father had come to Birmingham from his home town of Salford in Lancashire. Possibly that he had come to Birmingham as a young adult to find work. Census records appear to back-up the theory that he came from Salford but tell a slightly different story connected to his own father's death whilst working in Salford for a very short period. Iris also told me that there is a family story that the said gentleman (her grandfather) died tragically in a railway related accident - I have not found records appertaining to the tragedy yet but the census records and a death index reference appear to back this story up.

Working backwards to this apparent tragedy, we find a record of William Butcher in the 1911 census, though at this stage he is still a single man:

208 Park Lane, Aston Manor

William Hill, 68 year old horse keeper born in Norfolk Elmham Old Heath in 1843

Eliza Hill, wife, aged 57, born in Abergavenny, Monmouth in 1854

Eliza Hill, daughter, single, aged 21, button worker, born Birmingham 1890

Albert Hill, son, single, aged 19, premulator painter, born 1892 Birmingham

Thomas Evans, boarder, single, aged 32, stoke, born Birmingham 1879

William Butcher, boarder, single, aged 21, rubber worker born Salford, Manchester 1890

Iris confirms that her father William Butcher worked in the rubber industry for many years at Dunlop in Birmingham.

Going back 20 years to the 1891 census, William Butcher is just a small child living with his widowed mother and her parents at 8 Walsall Street, Willenhall. At this point the story of his father's death unfolds alittle further as we note that he is the only child who was not born in Willenhall but in Salford the previous year. The father must therefore have died sometime in the 18 months before the census:

Henry Baker, head, aged 59, hair dresser, born in Bilston in 1832

Emma Baker, wife, aged 60, born in Uttoxeter in 1831

Emma Butcher, daughter, aged 35, born Willenhall in 1856

Annie Butcher, granddaughter, aged 13, born Willenhall in 1878

Emma Butcher, grandaughter, aged 10, born Willenhall 1881

William Henry Butcher, grandson aged 1, born 1890 in Salford

If we turn to the death inexes at this point, the death of a Henry John Butcher was registered in Salford in the January-March quarter of 1890, aged at death 36. Death Index Ref: Volume 8d page 76. The death certifcate will no doubt prove whether this is Iris's grandfather and also the cause of death will confirm whether he did die tragically in an accident on the railway. However, the leads so far are strongly in favour of this story.

The 1881 census records the Baker family of Willenhall once again, also at 8 Walsall Street, this time comprising:

Hnery Baker, head, married, aged 49, born in Bilston in 1832, a Hairdresser
Emma A Baker, wife, married, aged 50, born in 1831 in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

Mary Ann Baker, daughter, single, aged 20, born 1861 Willenhall

Eliza Baker, daughter, single, aged 19, born 1862 Willenhall

Martha J Baker, daughter, single, aged 17, born 1864 Willenhall

Henry Baker, son, single, aged 15, born 1866 in Willenhall, Assistant Hair Dresser
William Baker, son, single, aged 11, born 1870 in Willenhall, scholar

We should note that Emma (Irsis's grandmother) is not in the household in 1881, suggesting that she has left home and married Henry Butcher (her oldest child Annie was born in 1878). Sure enough, Henry and Emma Butcher can be found living in Willenhall in the same census records of 1881 at 4 St Anns Road:

Henry John Butcher, Head, Married, aged 27 born 1854 in Bewdley, Letter Carrier
Emma Butcher, Wife, Married aged 25, born 1856 Willenhall

Annie Butcher, Daughter, Single, aged 3, born 1878 Willenhall

Emmie Butcher, Daughter, Single aged 0, born 1881 Willenhall
Eliza Butcher, Mother, Widow, aged 66, born 1815 in Bewdley


As so often happens with census records, the presence of an older relative, in this instance Henry Butchers widowed mother Eliza gives us a brand new clue into family origins. This census record tells us that both Henry and his mother originated from Bewdley in Worcestershire.

Geoff and Joan Millington's six children:

Returning to the fourth child of William and Florence Millington, Geoff Millington is my own father. He married my mother, Joan Lawlor of 26 Sherborne Street on 10th May 1958 at St Peter’s RC church near Broad Street. They had six children: Denis Geoffrey born on 21.02.1959, Susan Patricia born on 03.03.1960, Peter John born on 25.12.1961, Kathryn Ann born on 10.03.1964, Alison Margaret born on 05.02.1968 and Fiona Joan born on 09.08.1970. Geoff and Joan lived most of their married lives in Station Road in Harborne, but retired recently to Saxmundham in Suffolk.

Denis married Carol Robey on 7th June 1986 at Melbourne in Derbyshire. They have two daughters, Victoria aged 4 in 2003 (born March 5th 1999) and Melissa aged 2 (born July 23rd 2001). Denis and Carol live in Florida in the USA.

Sue married Barry Brinkley of Suffolk on 14th April 1984 at St Mary’s in Harborne. Sue and Barry live in Saxmundham in Suffolk and have two children, Lara aged 18 in 2003 (born August 22nd 1985) and Liam aged 10 (born November 4th 1992).

Peter married Theresa Dwyer at the Oratory on Hagley Road on 17th February 1996. They have three children, Patrick aged 6 in 2003 (born 24th March 1997), Joseph aged 4 (born March 25th 1999), and Alice aged 1 (born May 28th 2002). They live in Quinton in Birmingham.

Kate married Simon Cooke at St Mary’s church in Harborne on 6th June 1993. They live in Studley and have three children, Christopher aged 7 in 2003 (born March 23rd 1996), Matthew aged 5 in 2003 (born February 6th 1998) and George who was born on April 10th 2003.

Alison married Ewan MacDonald on July 28th 2000 at the Oratory church on Hagley Road. They live in Littleworth, West Sussex.

Fiona married Andrew Smyllie on August 13th 1994. They live in Halesowen and have three children, Elizabeth aged 5 in 2003 (born on January 13th 1998), Aimee aged 3 (born on July 7th 2000) and Daniel born February 24th 2003.

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