The Millards of Tewkesbury

A key source in my discovery of the Gloucestershire origins of my great-great-great-great-grandfather, James Blanch, was the 1770 Quaker marriage certificate for Thomas Blanch and Sarah Millard. The certificate describes Thomas as a heel-maker in Bristol, son of another Thomas Blanch, heel-maker of Tewkesbury, and his wife Mary. We know that James Blanch was born in Tewkesbury in 1755, the son of Thomas and Mary Blanch, and that they were Quakers. The obvious conclusion is that the Thomas Blanch who married Sarah Millard was James’ brother. (Whether he is also the person to be found living in Holborn, London, not far from James and his second wife Sophia, in the first decade of the 19th century, is still an open question.)

I’ve now discovered more about the family of Sarah Millard. We know from the certificate of her marriage to Thomas Blanch that her parents were John and Esther Millard of Tewkesbury, and that John worked as a salesman. The marriage of John Millard, son of Daniel Millard of Swindon Bridge, and Esther Engley, daughter of bricklayer Henry Engley of Tewkesbury, was recorded in the register of the Quaker Monthly Meeting of Stoke Orchard, near Tewkesbury, on 7 October 1734. At that time, John, was working as a tailor. From other records we know that John Millard was born in about 1713.

John and Esther Millard had five children, of whom Sarah, born in Tewkesbury in 1736, was the eldest (incidentally, this means that she was already about 34 years old when she married Thomas Blanch in 1770). Their other children were John (born in 1738), Henry (1741), Thomas (1744) and Mary (1746), all of them born in Stoke Orchard. Thomas died in infancy and was buried in 1745 at the Friends’ burial ground in Tewkesbury. John junior, Henry and Mary were among the witnesses to the marriage of their sister Sarah to Thomas Blanch in 1770.

Esther Millard died in Stoke Orchard in 1773, three years after the marriage of her daughter Sarah, and was buried in Tewkesbury on 21 December. Two years later, on 19 September 1775, her eldest son John Millard junior married Anna Elkington, daughter of Thomas and Margaret Elkington of Lechlade, in a Quaker ceremony at Cirencester. John’s father, his brother Henry, and sisters Mary and Sarah (Blanch), were among the witnesses.

The British Universal Directory for 1798 lists John Millard junior as a maltster in Tewksbury, although another source (see below) claims that he was a clock-maker. He and his wife Anna had two children for whom I’ve found records, both born in Tewkesbury: Esther in 1776 and Simeon Warner in 1778. Esther married Samuel Atkins in 1799, while Simeon Warner Millard became a noted naturalist. When he died in 1839, the Tewkesbury Yearly Register and Magazine wrote about him in these terms:

At his residence Southminster, Bedminster, near Bristol, aged 61, Mr Simeon Warner Millard, a gentleman of considerable attainments in various branches of natural philosophy, particularly entomology, conchology and mineralogy. His early pursuits were so exclusively directed to the former of these studies, that of him it might aptly have been said, he was ‘a man of caterpillars, fleas and earwigs – one whose heart was set upon midges, and to whom a cricket was the noblest animal in creation.’ Mr Millard was a native of Tewkesbury, and a member of the Society of Friends; he was the only son of Mr John Millard, a celebrated clock-maker, and nephew to the late Mr Moses Goodere. He was, from his youth, of very eccentric habits, and his natural disinclination to the sedentary life was the source of much anxiety to his parents and friends. He was first apprenticed to an ironmonger at Henley-upon-Thames, and afterwards to a maltster at Stourbridge, but remained only a few months in each situation. He then took up his abode at Chipping Norton, where he was smitten with the charms of a spruce little Quakeress; […]

In the fervour of the moment he vowed ‘eternal constancy;’ but on reflection, becoming frightened at what he considered ‘perpetual bondage’, he deserted the lady, and eventually gave her six hundred pounds to prevent an action for breach of promise of marriage. The Society of Friends have always fearlessly expressed their abhorrence of war, and Mr Millard carried this feeling to a most extravagant height. In 1799 he published a long address to the inhabitants of Tewkesbury against the practice of illuminating for national victories, contending that it was ‘only a mark of folly, wantonness, irreligion, ignorance and barbarism,’ and ‘no characteristic of patriotism – no criterion of loyalty.’ This publication produced a lengthened ‘war of words’, and drew down upon him the ridicule of friends and foes, who charged him with a lack of proper national feeling: he coolly received these attacks, and consoled himself with anticipating the honour that would attach to his native town, if it should wisely hearken to his advice, and set an example to the empire of abolishing ‘a practice that disgraced human nature’.  In 1802 he became librarian and secretary to a ‘permanent library’, which through his instrumentality had been established here; and about the same time his partiality to reading had nearly cost him his life – for having taken a book with him to bed, and falling asleep, he set fire to the curtains, and burnt the furniture of his bed-room before it could be extinguished. He now resolved to make a tour in Wales, in search of objects in natural history; with this view he purchased a horse and gig, but before he reached Ledbury, he was thrown from his carriage and broke his thigh. When he recovered, he again determined to proceed on his travels among the Welch mountains; and in order to escape a calamity similar to that which he had before encountered, he procured a fine dog, of the St Bernard breed, upon whom he fastened saddle-bags, laiden with provisions and a change of raiment, and thus he made a rambling peregrination through the Principality. In 1805, a constitutional asthmatic complaint brought him apparently to the brink of the grave: he was never seen abroad, even in the streets, without high clogs or pattens on his feet, his body enveloped in a long warm pelisse, and his neck and hands covered with furs. Whatever might have been his own opinions on the subject, it is quite clear that his friends considered that his days on earth would be few indeed: for to one of them he sold a house in High-Street for an annuity of 80l. ; to another, a house and three cottages in Barton-Street for an annuity of 67l. 10s.; and for a malthouse in Tolzey-Lane he obtained an annuity of 40l. The two latter properties, after a period of some years, reverted to him, in consequence of the inability of the purchasers to continue to fulfil their engagements; but for the house in High-Street he regularly received the full annual payment of 80l. until the day of his death – a period of thirty-four years! After having thus disposed of the chief of his property for life annuities, he permanently took up his residence in the neighbourhood of Bristol, and devoted his time to the pursuit of entomological and similar studies. In 1821 he published ‘Outlines of British Entomology, in prose and verse, with plates’, printed at Bristol, in small octavo; previously to which he had prepared for the press a volume of Fables, and those would have been published also, if he could have found a bookseller who entertained as high an opinion of their merits as the author himself. His cabinet of insects, at one point, was considered equal to that of any private individual in England; and shortly after his death his entire collection was sold, being described as ‘an immense number of English Coleopterus, Hemipterous, Lepidopterous, Neuropterous, Hymenopterous, Dipterous, and Apterous Insects, arranged in order, in well camphorised, corked and glazed drawers; a few Foreign Coleopterous Insects; a choice glazed cabinet of Minerals; a small cabinet of Gems; and a very handsome Chinese Cabinet, containing a great number of valuable English and Foreign Shells, Fossils, specimens of the Star Fish, &c. &c.’

One wonders whether the pattens famously worn by Simeon Warner Millard were made by his uncle, Thomas Blanch? The mention in this source of another of his uncles, Moses Goodere, enabled me to supply a missing link in the story of the Millard family. Searching the Nonconformist records for Moses, I found that he married Mary Millard, daughter of John and Esther, in a Quaker ceremony at Stoke Orchard on 3 April 1786. Moses is said to be of the parish of Kemsey in Worcestershire, the son of another Moses Goodere of  ‘the Township called Saint John in Bedwardine’ in Worcestershire and his wife Mary. Both of Mary Millard’s parents were dead by this time: her father John Millard senior had died on 6 May 1784, at the age of 73.

Worcester in the 18th century

Moses Goodere senior was a glover. In addition to Moses junior, who was born in 1753, he and his wife Mary had a son Ephraim, born in 1751, a daughter Hannah, born in 1756, and a son Thomas, born in 1764, who died in 1768: their births were all recorded in the register of the Quaker Monthly Meeting of Worcestershire. Ephraim Goodere worked as a goldsmith: he married Ann Bradley, daughter of maltster Joseph Bradley, in Worcester in 1782. His sister Hannah remained unmarried, dying in Worcester in 1829, at the age of 72. Moses Goodere senior died in Worcester in 1800, at the age of 83.

Moses and Mary Goodere had a daughter Esther, born in Tewkesbury in 1787. There is a record of an Esther Goodere dying in Tewkesbury in 1847: if this is the same person, then she too must have remained a spinster, and would have been 59 when she died. Her mother Mary Goodere, née Millard, died on 21 March 1822.

The Tewkesbury Yearly Register lists Moses Goodere junior as one of the ‘Directors of the Poor’ there in 1799. On his death in 1839, at Church Street, Tewkesbury, ‘in the 86th year of his age’, it described him in a lengthy memoir as ‘a worthy and consistent member of the Society of Friends, and an inhabitant of this borough for upwards of half a century.’ The memoir continued:

He was a native of St John’s, Worcester, where he served an apprenticeship to his father, who was a glove-manufacturer: he afterwards spent a considerable time in acquiring a knowledge of agriculture, and for several years rented a large farm, near Worcester, belonging to the Rev Dr Nash of Bevere. For a long period subsequent to his location at Tewkesbury, he carried on the business of a confectioner, and frequently took an active part in parochial affairs, particularly in whatever related to the management of the poor. In 1792, he warmly advocated the application to parliament for the ‘act for the better relief and employment of the poor’, and was deputed by the parish to give evidence before the committee of the House of Commons in its favour. This mission was an important epoch in his life, and it appeared ever afterwards to afford him much satisfaction to refer to his London reminiscences. Some of the respectable inhabitants viewed this act of parliament in a most unfavourable light, and designated the house of industry ‘the Bastile’: meetings were held nightly at public-houses, where the arbitrary tendency of some of its clauses were artfully pointed out , and those who had taken a prominent part in obtaining it were severely stigmatized and lampooned. The poor, at length, became infuriated against those whom they were taught to consider their oppressors, and Mr Goodere was more especially selected as the object of their vengeance. On several occasions a mob collected in front of his house, and broke his windows: and once the populace appeared so bent upon the destruction of his property, that the personal interference of the magistrates could not induce the multitude to disperse until after the riot act had been read. Mr Goodere was never a violent politician: he was first a Whig, then half Whig and half Tory, and at last presented the anomaly of a Conservative Quaker. He was a zealous and useful member of the religious community in which he was bred, and a strict observer of its outward forms: ‘he never wore a garment of forbidden cut or colour, never bent his body in salutation, and never uttered the heathen name of a day or a month’.  When he first settled here, the Quakers were a somewhat small fraternity, and assembled for worship in an obscure lane; then afterwards increased and flourished, and a better and more enlarged meeting-house was erected, in a more central situation. The Friends, however, from deaths, removals and secessions, have recently dwindled into comparative insignificance: since Mr Goodere’s decease, there has only been one male inhabitant, of full age, professing the tenets of Quakerism, and he is upwards of ninety years old; and the females and children are so few in number, that ere long this once numerous and opulent religious sect seems likely to become almost extinct in Tewkesbury. Mr Goodere was truly honest and conscientious in all the relations of life, and was respected by his neighbours of every religious persuasion; he had a friendly and peculiar salutation for those of all ranks whom he encountered in his walks, and from his primitive manners, characteristic attire, and patriarchal appearance, he was familiarly and extensively known. As he was almost the last of the old school of Quakers resident here, we have given a somewhat lengthened memoir of him, and annexed a portrait, accurately engraved from a drawing taken two or three years prior to his death.

Moses Goodere

Perhaps, on his visit to London in the early 1790s, Moses Goodere might have called on my 4 x great grandfather James Blanch (then working as a heel and patten-maker in Soho), who was the brother of Moses’ brother-in-law Thomas Blanch, and who (from what we know of his voting record) probably shared his political convictions?

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