Research Spotlight – Henry Millington

Henry Millington

Born 28 Oct 1840

Died 3 Sept 1911


Henry Millington was born in Bath, the eldest son of William Millington, the landscape and architectural artist of merit, and was a talented musician. The family moved to Trowbridge when he was about a year old. The Millington family included many musicians.  For a century they were connected with Chester Cathedral as vicars choral or lay vicars.  As a youth Henry Millington displayed genuine musical talent and was regarded as one who was sure to make his mark in the profession.  Besides being a pianist and organist his repertoire included many instruments amongst them the side drum.  As a boy drummer he was regarded by his friends and critics as a marvel.

When he was only seven years old he played for services in the Parochial School (present Parochial Mall) in 1847 while the Parish Church was closed for restoration.  His first appointment, which he held for several years, he secured when he was very young in 1856 as organist of the Conigre Chapel and then at the request of the Rev. J.D. Hastings, rector of Trowbridge, he transferred his services to the parish church, where he stayed as organist and choirmaster for forty-three years.  In 1906 he relinquished this post and was presented with a testimonial.

In 1861 he became manager of the Trowbridge Music Saloon and a few years later at the age of 21 its owner.  He was allowed to display the Duke of Albany’s coat of arms and the words By Appointment… over the shop front as a result of his association with the Duke (Prince Leopold).  In 1879 he rebuilt the premises now known as “Shaggers” haidressing saloon.

Henry was bandmaster of the Trowbridge Rifle Volunteers.  He took charge of the local rife corps band and soon was appointed battalion bandmaster to the 1st Wiltshire V.R.C. and later bandmaster to the Western Counties’ Volunteer Brigade.  One of his most pleasant occasions occurred when he was requested by the Duke of Albany to make the musical arrangements for his band at the garden party at Boyton Manor, the Wiltshire home of the royal Duke.  At the Jubilee Review at Windsor, Henry Millington was personally congratulated by the Kaiser, Frederick William, who with his retinue, halted and listened to the Wilts Battalion Band playing a selection from Rossini.  He arranged the music of the regimental march The Vly be on the Turmuts.  He later became organist at Pewsey Church.

A piece written of him says he was a musician through and through, imbued with a deep love and reverence for all that was best in music, informed by a vast knowledge of the productions of the great masters of the art in which he revelled, a man who had been received in comradeship by famous singers and players and who, from the depths of many memories, could converse about musical people and facts so skilfully that most people were delighted to be in his company.  He would play excerpts from opera and oratorio and improvise.

He founded and carried on a Musical Union and gave many concerts in which musical celebrities took part. He was a composer and enjoyed the distinction of having his compositions played at the Crystal Palace under the conductorship of Sir A. Manns.  He was a local examiner for the Royal College of Music and other musical institutions and many of his pupils gained high positions.  He was a brilliant performer on the Mustel organ.  Henry Millington was a pupil of Chevalier Lemmens.  He was also a pianoforte student of Mr. Julius, afterwards Sir Julius, Benedict.  He became personally acquainted with Wallace, Balfe, Charles Dickens, Thackeray, Douglas Jerold, Charles Kean, Charles Mathews, Phelps, Fechter, Webster, Toole, and Paul Bedford.

He prepared the specifications from which the organs at Steeple Ashton, Holt, North Bradley, Trowbridge Tabernacle (2 – now the United Reformed Church) and Conigre Chapel were built and several others renovated in different parts of the country. He was a prominent Freemason, and on six occasions was appointed Provincial Grand Organist for the Province of Wilts. He married Sarah Cogswell, daughter of Mr. Wm. Cogswell, cloth manufacturer whose business was later Messrs. Kemp and Hewitt’s on the Town Bridge.  They had four daughters and three sons.

He died at Avon View, a large mansion at the corner of the Down and Canal Road, designed and built for him by his father  (this was demolished some years ago), Trowbridge aged 70. At his funeral his sons, A.R., H.C. and E.C. Millington attended together with his grandson Cecil, his brothers James and William, his sons-in-law, James Harper and T.W. Hawes, his nephew C.M. Lansdown, and his niece’s husband W.W. Snailum.  The funeral was conducted by the Rev. G.E. Watton, Vicar of St. Thomas’s church and he was buried in the cemetery near his house.

The floral tributes mentions his widow, Mr. And Mrs. J. Harper (see above), the Misses Edith, Ethel and Evelyn Millington;  Mr. And Mrs. A.R. Millington and the grandchildren;  Mr. H.C. Millington;  Mr. William Millington;  Mrs. Lansdown (his sister Sarah who married James Lansdown one of the proprietors of The Wiltshire Times) and family;  Mr. and Mrs. T.W. Hawes (see above) and family;  Mrs. Millard;  Mrs. And Miss Mackay;  the Central Conservative Club;  the Misses Trollope;  Miss Henrietta Massey;  the W.M. Officers and brethren of the Lodge of Concord.  The flags at the Conservative Club and offices of the Constitutional Association were lowered to half mast during the day.

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