Tuesday, 7 February 2017
My husband is a real Dutch Miller and his family have been Millers since 1818, so I was pleased to discover that my maternal line also has several Millers.
In a previous blog of July 2016 I shared a newspaper article about my great great Grandfather Robert Orwin who had been a Miller his whole life but died resulting from a fall on the stairs in the Mill. Robert's father, Robert Orwin was also a Miller and he married a Miller's daughter, Sarah Freeman daughter of William Freeman of Frindsbury in Kent.
Several years ago I discovered a book in the bookcase of my father in law, 'Watermills and Windmills - a historical survey of their rise, decline and fall as portrayed by those of Kent' by William Coles Finch, first published in 1933. What a lovely surprise to discover that the author had interviewed an eighty one year old Miller friend called John J. Freeman who was the first cousin of my great great Grandfather Robert Orwin, his father Thomas Freeman was the brother of Robert Orwin's mother Sarah Freeman.
During one of the interviews John J. Freeman told the author that his Grandfather had built the House Mill in Frindsbury, Kent and that his Grandmother was the mother of twenty-six children! She lived to 101 years of age and was "a veritable Amazon," a masterful woman of wonderful personality.
I have been able to confirm that Sarah Freeman's mother, also named Sarah did infact live to be 101 she died on the 13th February 1873 and was living at the time with her widowed daughter Esther Duly. That would put her year of birth as being 1772, and according to census returns she was born in London, or more specifically according to one census, Tooley Street, which is Bermondsey, South London.
Up until recently I had only been able to find the baptisms of 11 children born in the Frindsbury area, alot of children but not the 26 mentioned in the book. I had also searched for a marriage between a William Freeman and a Sarah sometime before the birth of the first child that I had found who was born in 1800, but I couldn't find any that fitted, until I realized that the chance was great that William and Sarah did infact have more children who where born before 1800 in another area and that they where married much earlier.
I eventually found a marriage in 1787 between a William Freeman, widower and Sarah Walker, spinster in Bermondsey, London, could this be the right one? I also found the baptism of a Sarah Walker on the 9th September 1772 in Bermondsey, this fits with the date of birth of our "Amazon"! I still need to confirm things but I have been able to find a few more possible Freeman children who where married in Frindsbury but I haven't been able to find their baptism as yet, and whether I will be able to find 26 children is another question.
Another fact gleaned from Finch's book was that the uncle of John
J. Freeman was killed by the revolving sweeps of Kimmin's Mill in Frindsbury, the sweeps reached very close to the ground and were the cause of the fatal accident.
I had always assumed that the uncle was an adult working with the Mill when this accident occured, until very recently I found a newspaper report via the website Britishnewspaperarchive . The accident occured in September 1813, William's young son George who would have been 2 1/2 at the time, had wandered away from home and was hit on the head by the sweeps and died shortly afterwards. How sad to loose your child in such a way and once again shows how dangerous windmills can be.