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Walter Millard

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Walter Millard (1818-1908)

Walter Millard was born 21 Sep 1818, at Coleford, parish of Kilmersdon, Somerset, England, according to his own account written in 1877, the second son of Robert Millard (1789-1845) and Martha Button (1792-1877). He was christened at Kilmersdon church on 25 Dec 1818. Robert was a carpenter (1841 Census) and Martha was later a tea dealer and grocer (1851 census), and they resided at Kilmersdon in Somerset. At the time of the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses Walter was not living in Kilmersdon.

At some point Walter migrated to the USA. In June 1855 he accompanied James Mason Hutchings on the first tourist trip from San Francisco to the Yosemite Valley (described by Hutchings in his 1886 book In the Heart of the Sierras). That this is the same Walter Millard is corroborated by the inheritance in the family of a first edition copy of Hutchings book, inscribed by Hutchings with a dedication to Walter Millard. Presumably he is one of the men in Thomas Ayres' first sketch of the valley.

Hutchings' party's visit to Yosemite was also described by L H Bunnell in his 1892 book Discovery of the Yosemite. Although he says "Stair and Millard ... were especial friends of mine", he mistakenly gives Walter Millard's forename as Wesley, and this error is perpetuated in other historical accounts, notably the National Park Service's Historic Resource Study of 1987.

Walter also bequeathed to his descendants a cupboard with drawers made Californian Redwood and other Californian momentos. The drawers carry a faint pencil incscription in Walter's handwriting which reads:

These drawers are made of wood from what is called the "Big Tree" grown at about 15 miles from Murphy's Camp Cal.... County California when standing the tree measured 310 feet high and 30 feet in diameter at 6 feet from the ground was straight & very handsomely grown was cut down in the year 1854 this wood was brought from the spot by me
Walter Millard

Other traces of Walter in the USA are harder to find. As the group which visited Yosemite has been described as "a group of luckless forty-niners" (by Discovery and Invention in the Yosemite, though no basis for them being forty-niners is given), it seems likely that he is the Walter Millard who journeyed to San Francisco from New Orleans, departing New Orleans on 19 July 1849 aboard the Alabama bound for Chagres in Panama (The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, July 20, 1849). Presumably he would then have crossed the isthmus and travelled on another steamer north to San Francisco, following the route taken by many other forty-niners seeking gold.

There is also a Walter Millard aged 40 and born in England in the US Federal Census for New York in 1860. In the same family are five people surnamed Tucker (Joseph, aged 36, Sarah, 38, Charles, 34, Henry, 28, Jane, 34), Ann Millard 30, and Syndonia Millard 12. All were born in England except Syndonia who was born in New York. Interestingly our Walter's mother had a cousin named Syndonia. Joseph, Charles and Henry all had the occupation "Britania Ware Maker" (Britannia Ware is an alloy similar to pewter), and Walter was a salesman, just as ours was later in England. Perhaps this is our Walter? Ann might then be his wife which would account for the next sighting of him being as a widower. If Syndonia is his daughter then she was born about a year before his trip to California.

By 1871 our Walter was back in England. In the census of that year he is recorded as a 52 year-old widower lodging in the house of Edward Bickmore at 64 Great Dover Street, Newington, south London. His occupation was given as "commercial traveller - wholesale stationer".

On 20 May 1874 he was married to Mary Jowett at Church Mumbles, Oystermouth, Swansea, by the vicar, Rev. Secretan Jones. On 28 March 1875 (Easter Sunday) at 1 Thornbury Villas, South Norwood, Surrey, their only child was born, Walter Jowett Millard. According to the birth certificate, Walter senior was a commercial traveller.

Mary's brother John Cardwell Jowett had died at Kotrie in India (now Pakistan) in 1878, a year after his wife, and it appears that Walter and Mary became the guardians of his children, Arthur Frere Cardwell Jowett, Edith Fanny Jowett and Thomas Nowell Jowett. Administration of John and Jane Jowett's estates was granted to Mary Millard in 1886. In 1887 the administration was granted to a solicitor acting on behalf of Arthur Jowett, who was then residing in the Guernsey. In the 1881 census Edith F Jowett was living with Walter and Mary. In 1891 they had in their house Edith and Thomas, Mary's sister Ellen F Hill and Ellen's son Edgar N Hill.

In both 1881 and 1891 censuses Walter's occupation is given as commercial traveller, but by 1901, aged 82, he is listed as a retired stationer.

He died on 21 May 1908 at his home, 25 Albert Road, South Norwood, and was buried at the Crystal Palace Cemetery, Elmers End.

Transcripts of sources

1860 US Federal Census of New York

Ward 9, District 1, New York, New York, 11 June 1860

Dwelling no. Household no. Name Age Sex Colour Occupation Real estate Personal estate Place of birth Married within the year Attended school within the year
170 349 Joseph Tucker 36 M Britannia Ware Maker England
Sarah " 28 F do
Charles " 34 M do do
Henry " 28 M do do
Jane " 34 F do
Ann Millard 30 F do
Walter " 40 M Salesman do
Syndonia " 12 F N.Y. |

1871 UK Census

RG10/610 folio 84 page 4
Parish of St Mary Newington, Surrey

Schedule no. House and street Name Relation to head Condition Age of male Age of female Occupation Where born
22 64 Great Dover Street Edward Bickmore Head Mar 34 Salesman Manchester House Essex Witham
Walter Millard Boarder Widr 58 Commercial Traveller Wholesale Stationer Somerset Coleford

1891 UK Census

RG12/594 folio 108 page 6
South Norwood, Croydon, Surrey

Schedule no. House and street Name Relation to head Condition Age of male Age of female Occupation Where born
22 25 Albert Road Walter Millard Head M 70 Commercial Traveller Somerset, Coleford
Mary Do. Wife M 57 Lancashire, Garstang
Walter J. Do. Son S 16 Commercial Clerk Surrey, South Norwood
Ellen F. Hill Sister-in-law M 48 Lancashire, Fleetwood
Edgar N. Hill Nephew S 21 Theological Student Glamorganshire, Swansea
Edith F. Jowett Niece S 23 India, British Subject
Thomas N. Do. Nephew S 21 Mathematical Instrument Maker Do.

1901 UK Census

RG13/648 folio 45 page 22
South Norwood, Croydon, Surrey

Schedule no. House and street Name Relation to head Condition Age of male Age of female Occupation Where born
129 25 Albert Road Walter Millard head M 82 Retired Stationer Somerset, Coleford
Mary do wife M 69 Lancashire, Garstang
Walter J. do son S 26 Commercial Clerk Surrey, Sth. Norwood

more to come...

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