Mills Surname Genealogy

was locational and described someone who lived near a mill.  In time it also came to mean someone who
worked at a mill.  The mill was an
important center in every medieval settlement, normally operated by an
agent of
the local landowner.
The root of the word is the Old English mylen, from
the Latin molere meaning “to grind.”
Surname variants of Mills in Scotland are
Milne and Mill.

Mills Resources on

Mills Ancestry

first recorded spelling of Mills as a surname was Richard de la Melle
in the Sussex rolls of 1200.  Over time
the surname spread across England.  By
the 19th century, it was most common in SE England, in the West
Midlands, and
in Lancashire.

The Mills in Southampton date from the early 16th
century when John Mill was a successful merchant there.
By 1613 the family was well enough
established to afford an impressive memorial in Nursling church.

“Sir Richard Mill and his wife Mary, plump
and colourful in painted alabaster, lie propped up on their elbows,
their one-time domain.” 

By the 18th
century the family had inherited Mottisfont Abbey and later became the
Barker-Mill.  A Mills line from
Mottisfont started with Thomas Mills, born there in 1799, and continued
Lyndhirst.  William Mills from
Warwickshire acquired the ancient Bisterne house in the New Forest in
1792 and
it has remained in his family since that time.

Thomas Mills was born in Lingfield, Surrey around 1540; while Henry
Mills was baptized at Coldwaltham near Pulborough in Sussex in
1609.  George
Mills was born in Coventry, Warwickshire also in 1609.
Rev. John Mills became rector of the
village of Barford
in Warwickshire in 1745 and his family
were later
the principal landowners
there.  John Mills, born in Oldham in
1584, was an early Lancashire name.
Later Mills of this family were Quakers who settled in America.

Two Mills
families did well for themselves in the 18th century.
One Mills family, thought originally to be
Huguenot silk weavers, made their money from textiles and property in
London and
made enough to buy country estates in Hertfordshire and Norfolk.  William Mills was a linen draper in Coventry
and also prospered, buying into the banking house of Glyn’s.

“William Mills, who married the heiress of Sir John
Salter, the Lord
Mayor of London and an East India proprietor, saved the Glyn’s bank in
the panic
of 1772 with £10,000, stipulating that he become a partner with his

generations of Mills
were partners in Glyn’s, England’s foremost private banking house,
until its takeover by the Royal Bank of Scotland in

Wales.  The
Mills name appeared
in mid-Wales, perhaps initially in villages such as Trefeglwys and
Llandnwog in
Montgomeryshire in the 16th century.  The
Mills family of Llanidloes
was a family of composers,
printers and writers.  The first of the
family was Henry
Mills, a pioneer in Welsh congregational singing.

born in Montgomeryshire in 1799, was the forebear of a Mills family
that settled in Liverpool in the 1830’s (a branch of the family later
emigrating to New Zealand


The Scottish name is
Milne, found initially in Aberdeenshire.
A family by the name of Milne were farmers at the mill of
Boyndie for
generations.  Milne
often pronounced Mill in Scotland.  James
Mill, the Scottish economist, was born in Angus.

Ireland.  The Mills name was
brought across from either England or Scotland.
It could also come from the Gaelic an
meaning “of the mill.”  One English Mills
family was based at Knockall in Roscommon from the 1740’s and possibly
earlier.  John Mills was an
Ulster Scot who emigrated
to America in 1682 and settled in North Carolina.

America.   The first
Mills in America may have been Simon Mills
who was said to have come to the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts on
the Mary and John in 1630.   He and his family
established themselves in Connecticut, first in Windsor and then in
Simsbury.  Their family genealogy was undertaken most recently by
Ralph Mills in his 1984 book The History of the Simon Mills Family.

Many Mills in
America descend from George Mills.  It is
believed that he came from Yorkshire and arrived in New England also
1630.  More certain is the fact that he
was one of the co-founders of the town of Jamaica on Long Island in
1656.  His son Samuel lived to be ninety
five.  When he died in 1726 he left behind
nine children, eighty grandchildren, and fifty four great grandchildren.  Hence the large number of descendants of his
line in New England, New York, and, after the Revolutionary War, in
Kentucky (Thomas
) and in Canada (Loyalists).

Dutchess county in New York came James Mills who served as the
supervisor of
North Salem in Westchester county in the early 1800’s.
His son Darius joined the California Gold
Rush in 1848.  He made his money in
railroads and in banking, not in gold.
For a time he was California’s wealthiest citizen.
Later Mills of this family were prominent in
business, politics, and in racehorse ownership and breeding.

Caribbean.  Matthew Mills from London
had arrived in St.
Kitts in 1688.  He was shot in a
duel and his nephew Thomas started up a
plantation on St. Kitts
1720.  This plantation stayed in family
hands for
four generations for about a hundred years.
George Mills of this line, overcome by debts, shot himself to
death in 1828.

Jesse Mills and his family from Westchester county, New
York – descendants of George Mills – were Loyalists who made the
journey across
the border into Canada in 1784.  They
settled in Cumberland county, Nova Scotia.
David Mills, a Liberal politician in Canada in the late 1800’s,
from these Loyalist roots.  Also arriving
in Canada, this time near Niagara, was John Mills and his family from
New Jersey.

James Mills came to Canada in 1800 from America and was a
farmer in the Hamilton area of Ontario.
His son Samuel was a businessman who did well, described at one
time as
“one of the three wealthiest men in Hamilton.”
Stanley Mills’ 1926 book Genealogical
and Historical Records of the Mills and Gage Families
tracked the
family history.

and New Zealand
Peter Mills had a short and eventful
life in Tasmania, arriving there in 1806 as a protégé of Captain Bligh
but disappearing ten years later.

Mills was an early arrival in New Zealand, coming to Wellington from
Scotland in 1842 and later settling in Dunedin where he was collector
of customs.  His son James Mills involved himself in coastal
shipping and built up the United Steam Ship Company to be the largest
shipping line in the southern hemisphere.  His company was also
then New Zealand’s largest private sector

Mills Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Mills Names

a Scottish
economist of the early 19th century, one of the founders of classical
John Stuart Mill
, the son of
James Mill, was an influential philosopher and political economist of
mid-19th century.

Darius Mills
was a prominent American banker and
philanthropist.  For a time, he was
California’s wealthiest citizen.

Bertram Mills
was a
British circus owner who ran the Bertram
Mills Circus.

John Mills
was a well-known 20th century English actor whose
career spanned seven decades.

Select Mills Today

  • 70,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 54,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 41,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ausatralia)




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