Michaelchurch Escley Parish Council Minutes book (extracts)
The following extracts relate to the Michaelchurch Mill and the millers in occupation.
There is no mention of the Mill until the year 1901, [although it is interesting to note that a Mr. Thomas Gwillim served on the parish council from 1894 to 1897, being appointed parish constable in the latter year. It is not known whether he was any relation to the Thomas Gwillim who was Miller in the mid-1800’s.]
At the meeting of 22nd March 1901 a Mr. J Whistance [again it is interesting to speculate whether he was related to the Whistances who were sometime millers in Michaelchurch] proposed that Mr. Charles Price, Mill, serve the office of Parish Constable for the year. This was approved, and Charles Price continued to serve in this capacity, being re-elected each year until the end of 1907. During this period he was also a parish councillor, and on 22nd March 1907 Charles Price was elected Chairman of the Parish Council for the year, at which time he seems to have relinquished the role of Constable.
At a meeting on 14th October 1907, HR Trafford, Esq. Of Michaelchurch Court was unanimously elected Chairman of the Parish Council to succeed Charles Price, who was then proposed for appointment as Assistant Overseer for the parish. A Mr. Henry Howard contested this appointment as an alternative candidate, and Charles Price was elected in a close run ballot by 23 votes to 20, at a salary of £12-10s-0 per annum.
At the meeting of 23rd March 1908 Mr. Charles Price of the Mill was additionally appointed a trustee of the Johnstone and Merryhurst charities [there is reference in the minutes dated 24th March 1913 and 16th March 1914 to his appointment to ‘continue to act’ in this capacity, implying that he held this role throughout that period.]
Charles Price appears to have served as assistant overseer for the parish for 10 years from 1907 to 1917, the last reference in the minutes being in the meeting of November 9th 1917 when Mr Henry Howard of the Birches Farm was unanimously appointed assistant overseer in succession to Charles Price [and so presumably got his revenge for the defeat of 1907!]. Charles Price’s tenure was not without its controversial moments, however, as the minutes record at the meeting of 2nd June 1916:
“A letter was read from the Local Government Board with reference to the expenses of preparing the Registration of Voters List, and after some discussion and taking into consideration the present salary of the assistant overseer and with a view of assigning the assistant overseer a proper salary, it was proposed by Mr. P Powell and seconded by Mr. Thos. Jones that Charles Price, the assistant overseer, be paid the sum of £20 per annum. Mr. A Challoner proposed and Mr. W James seconded an amendment that the salary be £16-10s-0. On the amendment being put to the meeting, 6 voted for it and 26 against it.”
Overall Charles Price is shown as being a member of the parish council from 1901 to 1917. [It is reasonable to suppose that his position in the community derived in significant part from the importance of his role as Miller.]
For similar reasons one might expect his successor at the Mill, Mr. Charles Lewis, also to be prominent in local affairs. The parish council minutes of 18th March 1921 bear this out, when a Charles Lewis first appears in the record as a councillor [there is no reference to the mill, but it seems nearly certain that this is the same Charles Lewis who took over the mill c. 1917.] He seems to have been conscientious in his attendance at the parish council; there are references to contributions by him at nearly every meeting through to 1939, and in 1927 he was appointed parish representative to the Rating Authority for a period of three years. [It is interesting to note that at the meeting of 4th March 1929 he proposed RWRR Trafford (then owner of the Michaelchurch Estate and resident at Michaelchurch Court) be appointed Rural District Councillor, and it is minuted that this proposal was carried unanimously.]
There are no further references to Charles Lewis serving as a councillor after 1939, although it was minuted on 31st March 1941 that the parish council resolved ‘to interview Mr. C Lewis, Mill, with a view to arrange a place for a dump (for war salvage)’. There is also a reference in the minutes of 7th August 1939 that ‘Mr. W Lewis [presumably Warren Lewis, who had been Miller at Michaelchurch, but was by then running the Post Office/store at Longtown and a local delivery service for groceries, etc] be asked to collect gas masks from Longtown and deliver same to the Cottage room for distribution.’
The minutes of 14th March 1947 record the proposal that Mr. E Lewis [presumably Warren’s brother Eric, who had returned to the Mill and converted it to a ‘bakery with steam ovens’ at the end of the war] be appointed Rural District Councillor. He is shown in the minutes as serving as a parish councillor in 1947 and 1949, the last reference being at the meeting of 17th April 1950 when he was shown as ‘in attendance’. [This ties in with other records that in 1950 Eric Lewis closed the Mill in Michaelchurch and moved with his bakery business to Kingstone, at which time he would have ceased to be eligible as a parish councillor in Michaelchurch.]
So far as tenancy of the Mill is concerned, the records indicate the following definite dates, but do not rule out the possibility of these men working the Mill before or after the dates of their known service on the parish council:
1901-1917 Charles Price
1921-1941 Charles Lewis
1947-1950 Eric Lewis (as Bakery)