Notes on aspects of the life and work of Frederick William Mills (1868-1949), diatomist.

by David Walker, UK

Addenda added May 24th 2012.


I would like to thank the following people for their invaluable help while preparing this article. However, any errors or omissions are solely mine.

- Steve Gill for sharing his own independent study of the ancestry of the F W Mills and his wider family which added valuable records to the author's own study.
- Brian Stevenson for sourcing a copy of one reference and for valuable discussions and insight on 19th and early 20th century slide makers.
- Wendy Adams, an archivist at Rugby School, for kindly checking the Rugby School Registers of scholars.
- David Hogan, Trustee of the Littleham and Landcross Community Web Site Association
for kindly seeking permission to use the Petticombe Manor artwork and for providing details on the image.
- Guy Etchells of Anguline Research Archives for permission to share extracts from their CD ref. ARA 490.
- Terry Fairbrother of the 'Milton Damerel Community website' and local historian Grace for valuable information on the likely identity of 'Woodford Hall'.
- David Spencer, webmaster of the PhotoSeed website sub-titled
"Bringing to Light the Growth and Artistic Vision of 19th & 20th Century Photography", for a valuable insight into the photographic exhibitions at Vienna in the late 19th century and for suggested references.
- Brian Davidson for an example of Mills bookplate below, the image of the botanical slide in text and for information on F W Mills - Arthur Earland connection.
- Richard Carter for supplying images of the 'Kerimba, E. Africa' arranged diatoms slide with F. W. Mills' label of which he is the owner.

Addendum added May 24th 2012

Brian Davidson kindly sent an example of a bookplate from one of Mills' books when living in retirement at Fyling Hall. (Note this is printed and not Mills' signature.)

Additional references and resources not linked to in the text

1. 'Obituary Frederick William Mills. (1868-1949)' signed 'N.I.H.' i.e. Norman Ingram Hendey, Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society*, 1950, vol. 70, (3), pp. 292-293. (* Mills was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Microscopical Society in 1912 (1).)

1a. Obituaries also written by Hendey were published in the Proceedings of the Linnean Society**, 1951, vols. 162-164, and a condensed entry in the Quekett Journal of Microscopy, 1950, vol. 206, part 3, p.205. (** Mills was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1918 (1).)

1b. Obituaries for Norman Ingram Hendey himself were published in the Phycologist, 2005, 68 (Spring), p. 10-11 by Gerald Boalch (free access) and Diatom Research, 2005, vol. 20. no. 2, pp. 417-424.

2. Ancestry record searches: The author's own using 'Find my Past' website - birth, censuses up to 1911. 2a. Supplemented by the more extensive and wider family records compiled by Steve Gill and kindly shared.

3. B. Bracegirdle, 'Microscopical Mounts and Mounters', Quekett Microscopical Club, 1998. Entry for 'MILLS, F. W.', p.67 and plate 36, slide 'O'.

4. The Journal of the Quekett Microscopical Club***, 1868 - 1992, CD-ROM Edition. (*** Mills was elected a Member of the Club in 1913 and as an Honorary Member in 1948 (1).)

5. Brian Stevenson, personal communication.

6. David Spencer, webmaster of the PhotoSeed website. Personal communication. He kindly suggested that the journal Photographische Rundschau (link is to PhotoSeed's description of the Journal) may provide information on Mills' photographic award but likely editions of the period ca. 1888-1890 have not been readily accessible to date.

7. The website has some splendid photographs of the Watson 'Van Heurck' microscope models, a historical summary and extracts from Watson's catalogues describing the stand.


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