Wednesday, 6 January 2010

William and Phebe Millington - Wellington to Birmingham


The parish church of Aston, St Peter and St Paul, still stands in close proximity to Aston Villa football ground. On Christmas day 1821, our G-G-G-grandparents William Millington and Phoebe Jenkins were married in this church.

William the Journeyman

It is almost certain that William and Phebe lived in Birmingham for large parts of their married lives – they eventually ended up living in Cregoe Street in Lee Bank. However, there is also evidence that they moved back to William’s home town of Wellington for significant periods.

The first two of William and Phebe’s children were James and Emma. According to information in the 1841 Census, James was born in 1827 and Emma in 1832. There are no exact places of birth recorded for James or Emma, except that they were not born in Shropshire. I believe it is reasonable to guess that they were therefore born in Birmingham, possibly at 89 Weaman Street if this was where William and Phebe initially settled.

However, another record indicates that James and Sarah were Christened together in Wellington on 20th October 1833. James would have been aged 6 and Emma just 1. Already there is a picture emerging of William the journeyman, a travelling artisan, moving with his wife and family between Birmingham and Shropshire.

The Millingtons may well have stayed in Wellington for a few years during the late 1830s, because this is where their third and fourth children were born:

William in 1835 and John in 1838.

William and Phebe’s fourth child, John Millington, was our direct ancestor, the great great great grandfather of the present generation of children in the year 2003.

There is additional evidence to support the theory that William and Phebe lived in Wellington throughout the 1830s, in the two court judgements of 1834 and 1837 which we have already looked at. However, it then appears that they may have briefly returned to Birmingham.

On 4th May 1840, William and Phebe Christened their two youngest children, William aged 5 and John aged 2, at St Philips in Birmingham. According to the baptismal record, the Millingtons were living in Bartholomew Street in Digbeth.

If William and Phebe were intending to stay in Birmingham, it was not long before circumstances may have pulled them back once more to Shropshire. We already know that William’s father Andrew died in a tragic accident on the 30th June 1840, just under two months after the Christening of his two grandsons in Birmingham. It is possible that William and Phebe returned to Wellington straight away, because by the time the Census was taken in 1841 they were residing in New Street in Wellington.

Six months prior to the 1841 Census, their fifth child Henry was born. The Census indicates that Henry was born in Shropshire. However evidence from the 1861 Census indicates that this child, referred to as Harry in the later Census, was actually born in Wolverhampton.

The 1841 Census

Twenty years after the 1821 Census, where we discovered Andrew and Elizabeth Millington and their teenage children living in New Street in Wellington, according to the 1841 Census their oldest son William is to be found living with his own family in the exact same street.

The 1841 Census records 40 year old William (shoemaker) and 40 year old Phoebe Millington (note that the Census officer has given her the missing ‘o’ in her name) living at 53 New Street with their five children:

James (13) born in 1827 – not in County (Shropshire)

Emma (9) born in 1832 – not in County (Shropshire)

William (6) born in 1835 in Wellington

John (3) born in 1838 in Wellington

Henry (6 months) born in 1841 in County of Shropshire


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