Tangled family connections- a look at Eling Mill, Southampton

My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Adams, and her grandfather George Adams migrated from Southampton to Dunedin NZ in the 1860’s. Many of his mother Elizabeth’s extended Burgess family were involved in businesses that processed grain from milling to selling wheat corn and barley. However,the common connection of the families was through the large clan of Soffe and George’s grandmother Philadelphia was a Soffe before her marriage to William Adams.
Very few of the families lived far from Southampton, and the village of Eling is just across the River Test from the port city. The bridge had long been a toll point, and the miller supplemented his income with the pennies collected from passing traffic.
There has been a tidal mill on the waterways for centuries, it being mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.Originally owned by King John,as Eling was a royal manor and a part of the New Forest, which were the royal hunting grounds. In the 1200’s, King John sold the manor and mill. They went through various hands until 1382 AD, when they were purchased by the Bishop of Winchester. He gave them to a school he was founding as a source of income. The school –Winchester College – owned the mill for almost 400 years (1382 to 1975), though they didn’t run it directly, but leased it out on long leases.
1806           It seems the Soffe family were granted a lease sometime prior to the marriage of Beaulieu miller William Adams to Philadelphia Soffe in 1806.Their first 2 children, Jane 1807 and George 1809 were baptised from Beaulieu Mill so it is unknown how long William worked at Eling.

1821           The next record of the miller at Eling is in 1821, when a George Soffe was declared insolvent. He was Philadelphia’s brother. From then until 1854 when he was 78 years of age, an older brother Joseph Soffe was the Miller in charge at Eling.

1852         A George Hunt worked with him for a while, but in 1852 William’s son George arrived at the mill with his wife and 4 children. Helen, George (who migrated to New Zealand) William junior and Henry had all been born in Gosport where their father George had variously been a clerk and a grocer.

In 1853 when Henry was 2 and a half, he fell into the tidal estuary and would have drowned but for the courage of a passer-by who jumped into the water to rescue him.

1854         George senior died in August 1854, aged 45, and his cause of death is recorded as effusion of the brain, most likely caused by a fall or injury to the head. The wooden beams of the mill loft are very low set, as can be seen by the photo below.

Interestingly, the Mill is said by some to be haunted! The present mill owner records the legend:
“The ghost of a dead miller has been seen by people passing the building outside, reporting him looking through the window. One would expect in a place such as this that the ghost occupying the building would be that of a former employee, from ages past and this is confirmed when further reports have been lodged by people who have witnessed the ghostly miller working in the sack loft. No -one seems to know who the miller is or even when he worked at the mill” (Paranormal Hampshire)

George is buried in the Eling Cemetery, just up the hill from the Mill.

1861        From then, it appears Phillip Stride operated the mill through from George’s death until sometime after 1861 when he appeared on the census at Eling, until 1871 when he was miller at Nursling, 5 miles away.Phillip’s wife Ann was the sister of George Adams wife Elizabeth, nee Burgess.

1871         By 1871 the miller was George H Mackrell. His mother was Jane, nee Adams, daughter of William and Philadelphia. Jane had married his father but was widowed a month after George was born. She remarried ( a miller named Robert Arnold) two years later and they spent the rest of their lives at Fox’s Mill, about 7 miles further north on the River Test.

1881           In 1881 George was a corn miller in Romsey village.One of George Mackrells’ 6 children was Sydney, born in 1863.At age 10, he was employed to collect the tolls from the mill bridge and in 1881 when he was 17 he was working as a flour miller in Eling. In 1911 he was still at the mill with his wife and family, including son Tom who was 10 at the time.

1931            Tom took over the mill in 1931,and worked until 1946 when the mill closed. He continued collecting tolls from the bridge until the late 1970’s.

1980          The mill reopened in 1980, and is now one of only two working tidal mills in the United Kingdom. The Mill was working on the day I visited, and the thrum of the mill working as the water ran through  was like a heartbeat.

a part of the workings of the mill at Eling.

1841-1911 census documents
England births, deaths and marriages
Family trees online
UK city and country directories
Eling Tidal Mill Wikipedia
National Probate Calendar
Hampshire Mills
The history of a working mill: Diana Smith
Tide Mill,Totton & Eling Historic England
Eling Tidal Mill Experience



My favourite saying after watching the kids movie “UP”, looks like I have been attracted by a bright and shiny thing and led away from the telling of the Roydhouse families. Temporarily.

I have very recently made contact with my Mum’s cousin who is now in his 80’s. His Dad was the brother of my Grandmother Millicent, who married into the Roydhouse family.

With the extremely common surname of Adams to research, it has been amazing that over the years I have made contact with several descendants from the original traceable couple, William and Philedelphia in Hampshire close to Southampton.  Lynley in NZ, Fiona in South Africa, Jess in England and now John in New Zealand.

I am preparing files and photos of his ancestors to send to him  and I just know he will enjoy their stories as much as I have!

Photo is of George Adams, the man who left England and started the New Zealand dynasty, John’s great grandfather ( George, Walter, Walter, John)and my great great grandfather.(George Walter, Millicent, Jill, Cathy)

Jemima Price

(This week, in the 125th anniversary year I acknowledge one of the women in my family story who is recorded as having signed the historic petition in 1893)

My great, great, great grandmother Jemima Smart nee Price was almost 70 years old when she signed that petition to give women the right to vote, a world-wide first.

She was born on the 24th July, 1824 in Minchinhampton, Gloucester, eldest of three children known to be born to James and Mary.

Jemima was 19 when she married George Smart of Theescombe in 1849, and their first known child was George, born in 1853 in Rodborough.

Their second child, Ellen, was born in the County of Brant, Canada in 1857, and although I have found no proof, I rather suspect George was in Canada with the British Army at the time.

Jemima gave birth to their son James back in England in 1860, and Emma their daughter in 1863.

At age 50 in 1874 Jemima and her family migrated to Christchurch, New Zealand and she became a widow in 1890.

The right to vote was granted to women in New Zealand on the 19th September, 1893, and I am confident that Jemima would have been marking her ballot papers on the 28th of November in the same year.

Jemima was buried in Addington Cemetery, Christchurch early September 1895.

Helen Adams 1840-1922


Helen was the only daughter of George and Elizabeth Adams.

Her older brother had died as an infant,and in the census of 1841, she was recorded as being 1 year old and living in Forton Road, Gosport.

By 1851, she had three younger brothers, George, ( my great, great grandfather) William and Henry, and they lived at 43 High Street.

The map of Gosport shows:

Brockhurst Road, where George and Elizabeth were living when George their son was born in 1839.

This road changes its name to Forton Road, where Helen was born, so I imagine it could have been the same address. 43/44 High Street is marked now as the premises of the Barclay Bank.

In 1854 her father George died at Eling where he was learning to run the tidal mill.

In September, 1860, her mother married William Searle in Southampton and by the census of 1861 Helen is living at Millbrook with the Bewes family, in her role as governess to 10 year old Augusta.

She married Charles Williams, a bank clerk in South Stoneham in 1869 and by 1871 they were living at 3 Sylvan Place, Sevenoaks, Kent with Edith, their 1 year old daughter.

The family was in Chelmsford with Charles now recorded as bank manager, and in 1881 included

Edith 11, Helen 9, Charles 8, Elizabeth 6, Rachel 4 and Beatrice 2. Sydney Sutton was living there as a 10 year old nephew.

1891 shows two more daughters had been born to the family, Mildred  9 and Francis 6.

Edith was living and teaching at a private school as a music teacher, and her sister Elizabeth was boarding as a pupil. The only son, Charles, was training to be a bank clerk.

At 5 Upper Street Springfield in 1901, Helen was now 60, and had 4 daughters at home, with 2 nephews Henry and Melville from South Africa. The household also included a cook and servant.

At the 1911 census,, three daughters were at home.

Charles died age 69 two years later, and Helen in 1922 age 81.

Only two of her children married, Charles jnr had 2 daughters and Elizabeth 2 sons and two daughters.

Helen was my great, great Aunt.

(This weeks challenge was actually “Black Sheep”. I chose not to write about any of my ancestors under this theme.)


Fathers Day- Robert Soffe

This topic set me exploring the impact of just one father on a community over 7 generations. It is quite incomplete, as this family is not one to dig at depth for too long, without a monster size headache and crossed eyes. All those names the same, and cousins inter-marrying!!

Robert Soffe was my 9 times great grandfather, his son Thomas was christened in 1640 in Minstead, Hampshire. Roberts birth range most likely 1600-1620. One of the Philedelphia Soffe’s in the 6th generation married William Adams.

James Walter Smart- So Far Away

I met a lady on my travels in England who asked why my family had moved so far away from home ( in this case, the village of Corby Glen where an ancestor had lived).The comment and its implications have stayed with me, and I have come to realise that although all my ancestors have a travel story that saw them leave England and America for New Zealand, mostly once they arrived there they tended to stay in one place again. Except for THAT one in every family- and it seems to be my branch that always leave. Even now, in my generation, I live the other side of the country to the rest of my family, so far away.
James Walter Smart was born in Lady Wood, Warwick Birmingham to parents George and Jemima ( nee Price) on the 24th April 1860. His parents had just arrived back from County of Brant , in Canada where his sister Hellen had been born. I wonder why they went there but returned to England, and then several years later decided to migrate to New Zealand.
In 1874 the family of George, Jemima and three children travelled on the Merope to Christchurch. At the time of departure, George was a carpenter.
:Hellen Elizabeth 1857-1927
: James Walter 1860-1926
: Emma Jane 1863-1928
George Arthur Smart 1853- 1927 married Ellen Jane Hancock in Gloucester in 1874 and appears to have travelled to Christchurch between 1875 and 1878.
In the English census documents, James is listed as a carpenter, but it was his career as an Engine driver with New Zealand railways that took him from 1875 through to his retirement after 1919.

His postings with the Railways were mainly around the Dunedin area, and can be seen by tracing the births,deaths, school records and marriages of 10 children.
1.Alice Eliza 1881, Oxford-1934, m Walter Adams,1899 Dunedin 5 of 6 children born in Dunedin
2.Ada Catherine Mary 1883, Dunedin-1968 m George Ashley,(2) George Fowler
3.Mima Matilda 1885-1971m Owen Davies 1908 Dunedin 3 sons, 2 daughters
4.Edwin Walter 1888 Invercargill-1961 m Catherine McFarlane 1914 Dunedin
5.James Wilfred born and died 1893 Dunedin
6.Emily May 1894 Popotunoa-1977 m Arthur Clearwater 1921
7.Herbert George 1897 Popotunoa-1952
8.Leslie Carter 1899 Heriot- 1956
9.Olive Iris 1901 Heriot-1962
10.Hazel Mavis 1903 Dunedin -1984 m Kenneth Wolland 1931

When James died in 1926, his will was specific in naming the children to inherit , and it is hard to understand why he left out Alice.

Her bachelor brother Leslie also failed to mention her in a family tree, her death earlier is not a reason as he lists a brother as “”obit”.

Neither is the distance between “home” and the 9 Smart children’s eventual place of settling a factor- at least three of them lived in Palmerston North,North Island as adults.

Fortunately, both records online for births and a recent DNA test prove beyond all doubt that Alice does belong to this family.

So far away in distance, but who can doubt the close family ties in looks? James descendants Mildred, Jill and Colleen, and Hellen his sisters descendant Florence :

top left: Jill- top right: her sister Colleen

bottom left: Florence, bottom right: Mildred.

Florence and Mildred are second cousins, Jill and Colleen are 2C once removed to Florence ( and are the daughters of Mildred).

Albert Henry Kingsbury

Albert Henry Kingsbury was the first child born of 6 sons and 6 daughters to Eliza Munton and Robert Kingsbury on the 21st June 1882, Cust, New Zealand.

He worked on the family property until his enlistment, and did not marry.

His call to duty in World War One  saw him enlist in the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.


August 1914 The Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment (CMR) is formed from the three Territorial Force mounted rifles regiments of the Canterbury Military District and starts training for service overseas as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force .Lieutenant-Colonel John Findlay is appointed to command the new regiment, which is assembled at the Addington Show Grounds from 12 August and reaches full strength on 16 August.The regiment’s horses come from two sources. A man can enlist with his own horses. Those who do not are allocated a horse (known as a ‘remount’) from the stock that the army purchases at the start of the war. This leads to skulduggery as men attempt to acquire a suitable mount.

September 1914

  • 23rd– The CMR leaves camp. Most of the regiment ride to Lyttleton.
  • 25th– On arrival in Wellington, the men of the CMR disembark as the departure of the convoy carrying the Main Body of the NZEF has been delayed. 1st (Canterbury) goes into camp at Lyall Bay, while 8th (South Canterbury) and 10th (Nelson) enter camp at Trentham.

October 1914

  • 14th– The CMR re-embarks on its transports.
  • 16th– The convoy carrying the Main Body of the NZEF leaves Wellington.
  • 21st– The convoy arrives at Hobart, Tasmania.
  • 22nd– The men of the Main Body undertake a route march through Hobart, then re-embark on their transports and the convoy leaves the harbour.
  • 28th– The CMR and the rest of the Main Body arrive at Albany, Western Australia, and join the convoy carrying the main body of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

November 1914

  • 1st– The combined AIF/NZEF main body convoy leaves Albany for the Indian Ocean.
  • 15th– The troop convoy arrives in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
  • 17th– The troop convoy leaves Colombo.
  • 30th– The convoy arrives at Suez, Egypt.

December 1914

  • 3rd– After passing through the Suez Canal, the CMR disembarks at Alexandria and travels by train to Zeitoun Camp, which is located near Cairo, the capital of Egypt.
    The regiment soon settles into a routine of training interspersed with sightseeing and sport.
  • 17th – The horses have acclimatised and mounted training begins.

1915  For the first four months of 1915, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment (CMR) continues training in Egypt. Hopes of action in defence of the Suez Canal and then in the invasion of the Dardanelles are dashed.

April 1915

2nd– Rioting by Anzac soldiers in Cairo’s Wazzir brothel district is put down by mounted troops. All leave is stopped.

  • 3rd– Orders are received for the Gallipoli invasion. The bulk of the NZMR (including the CMR) and the two Australian Light Horse brigades will remain in Egypt to continue training and to defend the Suez Canal against the Ottoman Turks.
    Training focuses on long-distance treks and inter-brigade maneouvres. The CMR suffered heavy casualties on Gallipoli. 485 men landed at Anzac Cove on 12 May and another 192 arrived later as reinforcements. Of these 677 men, 113 have been killed in action, 12 died of sickness, 46 are missing and 466 have been evacuated wounded or sick. Just 28 men of the CMR travel to Lemnos.

February 1916 The CMR spends the month training, playing sport and swimming in the Suez Canal.

Over the next two years, the troopers saw action and camps at many places, including Serapeum, Moascar, Salhia,Kantara,Romani,Bir Etmaler, Debabis, Gaza, Tel El Fara, Bersheba, Bethlehem and Amman, to name a few.


In September 1918, the troops spent time in a valley which was infested with malaria.

The 27th Hospital was about 100 kilometres from Cairo on the road to Jerusalem. Early in October 1918 the Canterbury Mounted Rifles suffered greatly from an outbreak of malaria, with about 170 men evacuated to hospital.

Just 5 days before the Ottoman Turks signed an Armistice Treaty, Albert Henry Kingsbury died  and was buried on the 25th October, 1918 .

He was 35.

He was my 1st cousin 3 times removed. His mother Eliza was the sister of Elizabeth Munton, my great great grandmother.

George Smart -multi-linguist

Perhaps not  completely new languages, but the accents and idioms of speech encountered in Gloucester, Canada and New Zealand would have varied incredibly.
George Smart was baptised on August 12th 1821 in Minchinhampton, Gloucester by parents James and Elizabeth of Theescombe.
He married Jemima Price on the 25th December 1843 in the same parish, at that time he is listed as a dyer, and she as a dressmaker.
There is a strong possibility that children were born before 1853, and even a possibility they were born overseas, however there is no sign of any children in the 1851 census.
1853- George Arthur born 31st August Rodborough, Gloucester, m Ellen Hancock, 3 sons, 2 daughters
1857- Hellen Elizabeth born August 11th Brant, Canada married Richard Lewis, 1 son, 1 daughter
1860- James Walter born 24th April Lady Wood, Gloucester, m Elizabeth Munton, 4 sons, 6 daughters
1861census George is a gas fitter .
1863- Ellen Jane born July 30th Gloucester, spinster
In 1871, the family is in Barton, St Michael,, and three of the children are working.
On the 27th September, 1874, the family boarded the Merope, and sailed to Lyttleton, New Zealand.
George died in Christchurch on the 27th December, 1890, and Jemima on September 10th, 1895.
He was my great, great, great grandfather.

(Marriage of George and Jemima 1843)
 (Jemima Smart, nee Price)