George Llewellyn Millard was the Author's Great-great- grandfather.
A 'Pillar of the Community'.
A 'Pillar of the Community'.
On 28th June 1845, James Millard of Wind Hill, Manorbier in the County of Pembrokeshire made a new will. He pointedly left the farm to “my second son”, and made careful provision for his third and fourth sons, and for his daughter. He even made a little bequest to his niece. But he made no mention of his first son, George Llewellyn Millard (who we shall call here GLM ). That son was living with his large family just a few miles away in Haverfordwest. Now it might be that as GLM had made his way in the world, doctor, town councillor, JP and Coroner to the Borough, his father felt no provision was needed: GLM had become a pillar of the community. But in the absence of even a remembrance it is more likely that there had been a falling out. The old man, who died the following year, maybe knew his eldest son too well.
GLM was born in Manorbier in January 1795 and christened in the little church beside the castle a few days later. His later career suggests he was socially ambitious, wanted to get on, and by 1814 he was a surgeon’s apprentice in Haverfordwest. But away from the parental eye he had a fling with a girl from the nearby village of St. Michael’s. Mary Mortimer gave birth to their son William Millard in November 1814. GLM likely accepted responsibility, for he was named as the father on the baptismal record. But there was to be no marriage.
On 7th July 1815 GLM was granted the Diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons, and began his practice in Haverfordwest as surgeon and apothecary. And while he did so, he made a new relationship. All we know of Anne Edwards is that she was born in 1799 and was illiterate, for she could only make her mark in the register of Brecon Cathedral when the two married in March 1825. Of course it was the custom to marry in the bride’s parish church (and the Brecon register describes her a “Spinster of this Parish”) but she had already borne GLM three children in Haverfordwest, Mary Ann (1820), Elizabeth (1821), and Caroline (1823): and she was pregnant again at the altar, because a fourth child, George Millard, was born that October. All four were christened together on the same day in the parish church at Slebech, out on the Carmarthen road, though they are recorded as living at Haverfordwest. Why these foreign churches? Why delay the baptism, or indeed the wedding, so long? There feels something hugger-mugger here, that old James Millard knew or suspected, and that Haverfordwest did not, or chose to ignore.
Anne died in 1837, aged only thirty-eight. She had given GLM three more children, Augusta (1827), Amelia (1828), and Louisa (1832). A final girl, Ann, lived only a few months and was buried in the same month as her mother; a common enough personal tragedy for the period, though we know the Victorians felt it no less keenly than ourselves. But the 1841 Census shows GLM living in a comfortable menage on Market Street, surrounded by his daughters to fuss over him after a hard day’s work; and his new son-in-law too. Francis Scowcroft had married Elizabeth in 1839. He was the son of the town’s attorney and Sheriff, and his mother’s family owned a fine old house at Llandeloy. There were two servants as well. It was about this time that GLM was elected a town councillor and for 1845/6 appointed the Mayor of Haverfordwest, which carried with it the additional title of Admiral of the Port, a relic of the medieval period when the river town was the busiest port in Wales. He was a JP, and the Borough Coroner, a Freemason and surgeon to the Oddfellows. GLM was part of the crachach now, a big fish in a small pond. And as part of his ascent, he was appointed in 1843 the Medical Officer of the Poor Law Union and the County Lunatic Asylum. He was to be paid £30 pa for weekly visits.
Haverfordwest set up its paupers’ asylum by special Act of Parliament in 1822, when it dedicated to its use the town’s old gaol. It was at St.Thomas’ Green, at the top of Market Street’s steep hill. There’s a fancy modern leisure centre on the site now. But by the time GLM took on his new role little had been done to alter it, so it remained in essence a gaol. A visit by the Lunacy Commissioners in 1842 found eighteen paupers accommodated with only sixteen beds, and that it was ‘deficient in every comfort and almost every convenience”. The conditions deserved “almost unqualified censure”.
Nationally the tide of Victorian reform was beginning to flow, and the Lunacy Act 1845 driven by the great social reformer Lord Shaftesbury, put the Commissioners on a new footing. And indeed on the first visit by the new representatives that same year it was recorded that under GLM’s “judicious direction” there had been distinct improvement, the diet better, the patients well attended. Soon after, there was even glass in the windows.
But the running of these institutions remained the responsibility of the local Justices, ever anxious about the cost to the Ratepayers. The new legislation imposed a duty on the medical officer to keep careful records of his visits, and especially of cases where restraint was used. It transpired that GLM failed to manage this at all over a six month period, and the Commissioners considered this so egregious as to justify the unusual step of prosecution for neglect of duty. Humiliating as it was, GLM had to appear in the dock of his own court, before his fellow Justices. He tried to plead pressure of work, but was fined £5 on each of two offences. It was the minimum the Justices could impose, despite the second offence including an attempt to alter the records, in other words, a failed cover-up. Yet GLM remained in post.
There appears to have been prolonged correspondence in the ensuing years as the Commissioners tried to compel the Justices to improve conditions at the Asylum, which were alleged to be “inferior to many gaols” and “ill-adapted for the treatment and care of insanity”. In 1857 it was discovered that under GLM’s direction illegal restraints had been used on two patients on several occasions, with insufficient checks by GLM on their conditions, and minor injury resulted. GLM was suspended. In the following year the Commissioners recorded that the building had inadequate ventilation, a blocked chimney filled the rooms with smoke, and slopping-out from the open privies was done through the kitchen. Overcrowding continued: there were now thirty-seven inmates. GLM had meanwhile resigned.
There is a dramatic sense of hubris in what followed. We do not know GLM’s reaction to being excluded from his father’s will, but there was a harbinger of what was to come. In 1850 his son George, then a medical student in London, was committed to a debtor’s prison. Such a step should have been social death in Victorian Britain, and it is difficult to believe that GLM would not have prevented this had he the means - or maybe the will. On 25th August 1857, GLM himself was the subject of a Final Order in Bankruptcy.
GLM appears to have struggled on with his medical practice. He advertised his availability for consultation in nearby Neyland. He remained the local Vaccination Officer. The 1861 Census still records his profession as Surgeon, and indeed his son George was back home and working as his father’s assistant. They were living round the corner in Goat Street by then, though only with Mary Anne and her son (her husband was serving in the Royal Navy). Notably, no servants were recorded. In the last Act - for this now feels like a slice of Ibsen - George Llewellyn Millard died of a heart attack on 29th March 1862. There was a sale of his effects two months later, just a few bits of furniture and some medical books. Not far away his daughter Elizabeth Scowcroft and her husband were Landed Gentry.