Elizabeth Watkin Mills was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London, on 21 March 1896.  She chose the Latin motto ‘Semper procedo’.  William Thomas Horton was initiated on the same evening.  Elizabeth Watkin Mills may have known Horton, but probably not.  She didn’t follow up her initiation at all as far as the records show, and in due course she was deemed to have resigned by default.



This is one of my short biographies.  They mostly cover GD members who lived in Bradford, Liverpool and Edinburgh.  I’ve done what I can with those people, using the web and sources in London.  I’m sure there’s far more information on them out there, but it will be in record offices, the local papers...I’d need to be on the spot to look at them, and I’ve had to admit that life’s too short! 

Sally Davis

March 2016


This is what I have found on ELIZABETH WATKIN MILLS.  I found plenty of information on her husband, but only ‘family history’-type information on her.



Virtually nothing.  Though I can suggest that she was offered the chance of initiation through a friend of both her and her husband, Frederick Crowe, who had been initiated in 1893 and knew a lot of the GD’s freemason members.  Elizabeth had known Fred Crowe since 1881 if not earlier.

I spotted some information on the web that suggested to me that Elizabeth was related to several other GD members by marriage, through the Hore family of Devon and Cornwall.  GD members Thomas Coffin and the Coryn brothers, Herbert and Sidney - all born in Cornwall - had relations who were called Hore.  Though how well Elizabeth knew the Coffin and Coryn (originally Corin) families I wouldn’t know, and in any case I might be mistaken about the relationships.



Not that I know of.  Unlike many GD members, she was never a member of the Theosophical Society.



No.  There are several for her husband but she’s not mentioned in all of them.



Elizabeth Watkin Mills was born in 1849, in Northam near Bideford in Devon.  Her parents were  Edward Hore and Elizabeth née Lashbrook Honey, who had married in 1847.  Edward Hore worked in one of Northam’s ship-yards; during the 1860s he was promoted to be the yard foreman.  Edward and Elizabeth had five children.  After GD member Elizabeth came Edward junior, born 1852; William born 1857; Thomas Hilton, born 1861; and Miriam born in 1864, who was registered as ‘Minnie’ Hore though all the census information indicates that ‘minnie’ was a mistake by the registrar.


I couldn’t find Elizabeth’s family on the 1851 census, but on the day of the 1861 census (a few weeks before Thomas Hore’s birth), they were living in a house that remained in the family until 1900: 87 Cross Street, Northam.  On census day 1861 they had some lodgers, the Hilton sisters who had all been born in the Far East.  However, taking in boarders seems to have been a welcome but temporary addition to the budget - the Hores never had lodgers on any other census.  Nor did Edward and Elizabeth senior ever have any live-in servants.  In those respects they were a typical, artisan couple, though their children all moved into the middle-classes - ending up, or marrying, someone who didn’t work with their hands.


By the day of the 1871 census I daresay a lot had changed in the Hore family but there wasn’t yet much sign of it in their census information.  Edward and Elizabeth Hore senior were still living at 87 Cross Street; all their children apart from Elizabeth were still at home; and only Edward junior was working - as a ship’s carpenter, probably in the yard where his father worked.  Elizabeth the GD member was not with them, though; she was with her husband and they were not in the UK.


Sources: freebmd, census 1851, 1861, 1871.



In the spring of 1869 Elizabeth Hore married a man whose name was - at this stage - Robert Mills.   Plain Robert Mills had been born in Painswick, Gloucestershire, in 1849.  I think you can call him a late developer - he was in his mid-30s before his career as a baritone soloist really began.  For his work as a concert musician, he added another surname to the one he had already got, and became ROBERT WATKIN-MILLS.


A couple of years ago when I first started investigating Elizabeth Watkin-Mills, there was nothing much on the web about her husband.  Now, though, there’s plenty: he has a wiki page; he comes up in an online Canadian music encyclopaedia; there are photographs; and there are even some recordings of him singing - his career lasted into the gramophone era.  So I won’t dwell too much on Robert Watkin-Mills, I’ll just pick out some aspects of his work that interested me; and speculate about how the change affected Elizabeth, whose parents wouldn’t have been able to afford to give her any musical training, even if she had shown any talent. 


I wonder whether Elizabeth and Robert were in Italy on the day of the 1871 census.  Robert Watkin-Mills’ early life is not well dated in the sources you can find now.  They do all agree that he spent time in Milan, studying singing with Federico Blasco, but none of them say when.  It’s only speculation on my part that he was living in Milan in the early 1870s.  It wasn’t until the mid-1880s, that his career finally reached a point at which concerts he was singing in were advertised in the Times.  As late as 1881, he and Elizabeth were living in Wells - just round the corner from GD member Frederick Crowe - and as well as doing some professional singing (probably in the cathedral choir) Robert was running a firm that did monumental masonry work (again, probably for the cathedral as well as cemetery headstones). 


By the 1890s, Robert Watkin-Mills was a well-known music professional, specialising in oratorio.  He also worked with chamber ensembles and sang some lieder but I can’t find any evidence that he did opera.  He sang regularly at the Royal Albert Hall at Proms and other concerts, and at the Three Choirs festival.  He was particularly associated with The Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus and Elijah, but he was also willing to sing works that were not so well-beloved at that time.  He did at least one performance of Beethoven’s Mass in D, for example; and in June 1891 he also sang in what was only the tenth performance in Britain of Bach’s B-Minor Mass, with Charles Villiers Stanford conducting.  From the mid-1890s he did concert tours in the USA nearly every year; and in 1904-05 he also toured Australia.


He was a really busy man; and Elizabeth ended up living a far more comfortable life (from the financial point of view) than she may ever have expected.  She didn’t have any children, and though she might have been very sad about that, it meant she was free (if she wanted to) to go with Robert on his tours and see more of the world than most people.



Who was Who Volume 3 1929-40 p 944.

From the web at www.thecanadianencylopedia.com, the Encycopedia of Music In Canada: Robert Watkin Mills.  Born 4 March 1849 in Painswick Glos; d Toronto 10 Dec 1930.  Studied music w Samuel Sebastian Wesley in Gloucester; w Edwin Holland in London; and Federico Blasco in Milan.  Debut at Crystal Palace 1884 began his public career.  Oratorio, partic kn f role in Judas Maccabaeus.  From 1894 yearly concert tours of N Am; toured Australia 1904-05.  He made a few records in 1903 and 1907-08.  1914 settled in Winnipeg w job of choirmaster at Broadway Methodist Church there.  Marr 1919 Elsie Cantell, organist and singer.  They moved to Toronto 1922 wh he was choirmaster and she organist at Knox Church; he also took priv pupils.  His last public perf was at age 77 singing Messiah.  In this there is no mention of a prior wife.


Issues of the Times 1890-1914; for concerts in which Robert Watkin-Mills sang.

See bbc.co.uk/proms/archive for details some concerts featuring Robert Watkin-Mills in 1895, singing Gounod and  Mendelssohn and being conducted by Henry Wood.



By 1891, Elizabeth and Robert had moved to London and were living in a house called Glencoe, on Hyacinth Road in the suburb of Roehampton.  A house that was named rather than numbered, and an address in Roehampton, argue a very comfortable income.  Perhaps, though, the Watkin-Mills were not quite comfortable about splashing out on too many of the trappings of middle-class status, when Robert’s income could be interrupted by (say) a bout of bronchitis: they were employing only the one basic general servant.  Elizabeth’s sister Miriam was visiting them on census day.


By census day 1901, Elizabeth and Robert had left Hyacinth Road.  They probably had a house in London still, but on census day they were in Torquay - taking a break, perhaps, and giving Elizabeth time away from London after the death of her mother only three weeks before.  On census day Robert had gone to stay with their friend Frederick Crowe, in Upton St Mary.  Elizabeth had not gone with him.  She’d stayed at the house they were renting - Broadlands, in Bromhill Road, Tormohan, Torquay.  Now that Robert was working so regularly in the USA, she was willing to employ two servants, a cook and a housemaid.  Her niece (who was probably also her god-daughter) Elizabeth Mills, was staying with her. 


Census day 1911 found the Watkin-Mills out of London again.  This time they were in Sussex; at Shoreham-by-Sea near Brighton, renting a house called The Warren.  Robert was still working, but at over 60 his career as a singer was reaching its end.  He and Elizabeth were back to being careful, employing just the one servant; and they didn’t have any visitors this time.



Sources: census 1891, 1901, 1911. 

Elizabeth’s niece, Elizabeth Ann Mills, was born in Wells in 1884: that much I discovered from freebmd.  I wasn’t able to identify her for certain on any census except the one in 1901.



I’m fairly sure that Elizabeth died, at Hastings, in the summer of 1914.  However, if she did, her death was registered as ‘Mills’, not Watkin-Mills.  I’ve taken as confirmation of this date of death, what happened to her husband that year: Robert Watkin-Mills moved to Canada in 1914, and my source for him in Canada knows about him, but not about Elizabeth.



Elizabeth Watkin-Mills has no descendants.


Robert Watkin-Mills went to Canada to take up the post of choirmaster at a church in Winnipeg.  He married the organist and singer Elsie Cantell, in 1919.  They moved to Toronto in 1922 to work at the Knox Church, as choirmaster and organist.  Robert’s last public performance as a singer came at the age of 77; appropriately enough, it was in The Messiah.  He died, in Toronto, in 1930.


Source for Robert Watkin-Mills in Canada: see the Encyclopaedia of Music in Canada at www.thecanadianencylopedia.com.





On the day of the 1881 census, Edward Hore was still working at the shipyard though he may have been promoted again by this time: the census official wrote down Edward’s profession as “shipwright”.  He and Elizabeth were (I think) still living at 87 Cross Street.  Their address was written as 2 Prospect Terrace, Cross Street but I think ‘prospect terrace’ may have been an older name for that part of the street.  Only Miriam was still living at home on census day 1881.  She had left school, but either she was not doing any paid work or she was not asked about it.  I think it’s more likely that she wasn’t doing paid work, just helping her mother at home - that would be consistent with the Hore family’s rise into the middle classes.


Elizabeth’s father died in March 1890.  On the day of the 1891 census William was back living at home with his widowed mother; he was working as an insurance agent.  Miriam was probably still living in Northam but on census day 1891 she was visiting the Watkin-Mills in Roehampton.  I think the Hore family was still living at the same address as in 1881 but the house had been renumbered, to 86 Cross Street.


Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Lashbrook Hore, died in March 1901.  She died in Northam, but an address in Herne Bay was given as her permanent address in her Probate Registry record.  I think she may have gone to live with her widowed daughter-in-law Mary Ann Hore - see Edward Hore below. 




By 1881, Edward Hore junior had left Northam.  He had moved to Gillingham in Kent and was working there, still in ship-building though by this time he may have been a draughtsman rather than a carpenter - he was described as a draughtsman on the Probate Registry record for the death of his father.  He married a local girl, Mary Ann Partis, in 1884 and they had two children at least, Florence Mary (born 1886) and William Edward (born 1887).  I couldn’t spot Edward and Mary Ann on the 1891 census; perhaps they were abroad on holiday.


It was probably a nasty shock to all the family when Edward Hore died in December 1899 - he was only in his late 40s.  At the time of his death, he and Mary Ann were living at 47 Gardiner Street in the New Brompton district of Gillingham.  



I’ve found it difficult to identify him on the census except when he was living with other members of Elizabeth’s family.  He acted as his mother’s executor in 1901 so he was still alive then; but I haven’t been able to find a date of death for him and I don’t know whether he ever married.



Thomas Hore isn’t on the 1881 census so perhaps he had already gone to Australia.  In 1913 he was working for Queensland Government Railways.  In October 1913 he gave evidence to a Parliamentary enquiry into the Queensland fishing industry, answering questions about the Railway’s involvement in transporting fish from the ports; as indoor assistant traffic manager.  He died, at Kedron in Queensland, in 1930.



Miriam Hore doesn’t seem ever to have done any paid work; which was in keeping with the Hore family’s view of their class status in the later 19th century.  In 1898 she married Lewis Chapple.  In 1911 her husband was 68 to her 46 - a generation her senior.  Chapple was a Devon man, but by 1903 he had moved to London to work as a commercial traveller for a joinery manufacturing firm.  Miriam and Lewis had two children: Marion Elizabeth - another god-child of Elizabeth Watkin-Mills, I daresay - who was born in 1899; and John Edward William Lewis, born 1903.  On the day of the 1911 census the Chapples were living at 46 Ellerby Street Fulham.



Censuses 1881-1911.  Probate Registry entries.  Freebmd.

And for Thomas Hore:

Parliamentary Papers of the Queensland Parliamentary Legislative Assembly; volume 3 issued 1914: p8; p31

Via google to //billiongraves.com for Thomas’ date and place of death.




BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.

Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert.  Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986.  Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914.  The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation.  All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden.  Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01.  I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.


For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923.  Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972.  Foreword by Gerald Yorke.  Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist.  He has no axe to grind.


Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.


Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.


Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette.  Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.


Catalogues: British Library; Freemasons’ Library.


Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources.  I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.





15 March 2016


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