Guest Post – A Parishioner’s Tale

Rebecca Walker lives and works in London.  She was introduced to family and social history a few years ago and her ancestors quickly led her back to St Pancras Parish.  Rebecca can be followed on Twitter @ancestreemakers and also blogs at ancestreemakers.wordpress.com.

My great, great-grandfather – Daniel Millard – his family and descendants were parishioners of St Pancras parish from the 1850s until the 1920s.  This is Daniel’s story.  

On Christmas Day 1855, my great, great grand-father, Daniel Bristock Millard, left his home in the parish of St Pancras and headed west.  His route took him along the Euston Road, past both the Railway Station with its great Doric Arch and the “new” Church of St Pancras, said to be the first place of Christian worship erected in Great Britain in the strict Grecian style.  What was going through his mind as he continued on with his journey, I wonder?  Perhaps that this “New” church was not a patch on the “Old” one?  Perhaps he was mulling over the events of the past twelve months?  London had seen both a memorable beginning and an historic end: the first postal boxes had appeared on the streets while Smithfield’s 722nd – and last – Bartholomew Fair had taken place, closed down by the City fathers for encouraging debauchery and public disorder.  Closer to home, the St Pancras Workhouse had been busy gaining itself a certain notoriety.  The press had spent much of the year penning delicious detail about the appalling treatment it had been meting out to its inhabitants.

It was to be a year to remember for Daniel too.  Continuing on with his journey, he reached the neighbouring parish of St Marylebone.  There, at Trinity Church, on 25th December 1855, he married my great, great grand-mother Sarah Young. 

Twenty-one years before Daniel had been born in Holborn – the second illegitimate child of an Irish mother and a father who, undertaking his role as serial philanderer with evident relish, was to go on to ensure Daniel had – at least – seventeen half-siblings.  It is not clear when Daniel first moved to St Pancras, but Trinity Church’s marriage register tells us that, by 1855, he was living in Chalton Street amongst neighbours who included cab drivers, decorative painters, boot and shoe-makers and labourers.  

Chalton Street is still there today, running initially north-west from the Euston Road before turning north-east and heading towards St Pancras Old Church.  And it was to this Old Church that, over the course of the next fifteen years, Daniel and Sarah brought the children of their marriage to be baptised.   These Old Church records tell us that Daniel remained living at Chalton Street with his family, and that he was a printer – a rather successful one I should image.  Fast-forward to 1871 and the census record for that year informs us rather grandly that Daniel B Millard of 23 Chalton Street has one domestic servant, and is a “stationer and printer employing one man and three boys”.

Could these have been the same employees who, four years later, arrived at Chalton Street to start their day’s work only to find no trace of their employer? Some time earlier that morning, Daniel had once again left his home in the parish of St Pancras.  This time he headed south.  His route took him through London to the parish of Westminster St Margaret.  What was going through his mind as he continued on with this journey, I wonder for, once he reached Westminster Bridge, he threw himself from it into the waters of the Thames and drowned.  

It is said that a family historian must ensure each ancestor is “hatched, matched and despatched”.  However, I refuse to end my account of this parishoner’s journey in the cold, fast-flowing waters of London’s river.   And, after all, it was a birth that first brought me to the parish of St Pancras in search of my ancestors.  

So instead, let us go back to the parish records of St Pancras, 1868.  They will show us an entry for a ten week old baby, the splendidly named Ada Matilda Elizabeth.  They will tell us that her father – Daniel Millard, a printer resident in Chalton Street, and her mother, Sarah, brought her – their daughter and my great-grandmother – to be baptised and welcomed into the Christian faith at one of the oldest sites of religious worship in England: St Pancras Old Church.  

And so we end with a beginning. 

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