Author: Virginia Silvester
I have done a lot of research on the early millers at Chislet and this is detailed below. A follow-up item has also been posted; see http://www.millsarchivetrust.org/index.php/blogs/more/chislet_mill_historical_research_an_update/
I have been pleased to find the information about this mill on your website, and I thought you might like to know what I have found out about the earliest millers there, who were my ancestors.
Jenny West’s book “The Windmills of Kent” states that “On a beam near the ground floor entrance is a carved plaque bearing the inscriptions – ‘Anthony May1765. A May 1789. M May 1795.’” I believe that the first Anthony May was the carpenter of that name, baptised in Chislet in 1690 and died there in 1777. He may perhaps have constructed the mill himself; certainly the Mays owned the mill and the mill house. I don’t know whether the elderly Anthony operated the mill himself, but by December 1772 his grandson Anthony May was living and working there. Anthony junior had married in 1768, and his eldest known child was baptised in Chislet in 1771, but thereafter the children were all baptised at Reculver, because the church there was much nearer than the one in Chislet. There were 11 children in total, and at least two of the sons worked as millers for a time. I suspect that the second inscription refers to Anthony May junior, and the third to his son Moses, baptised in 1778, who was a miller in Margate between 1813 and 1821 (as was his brother Zebedee in 1815). It is however possible that the inscriptions refer to three young men when they finished their apprenticeships: 1. Anthony May junior, aged 18 in 1765; 2. His son Anthony, aged 17 in 1789 (though there is no evidence he was ever a miller) and 3. Moses, aged 17 in 1795. Was there perhaps some rite of passage for young millers?
The poor rate records for Chislet show Anthony MAY as the owner and occupier of the mill and house up until the spring of 1822. From October 1822, the property was owned and occupied by John COLLARD, from a local landowning family based at Chislet Park, although John was not resident in the parish. A Henry COLLARD is said to have been the miller in 1847 – perhaps the same as the Henry COLLARD of Greys Farm in 1824. Anthony junior died in 1831, and neither his will nor his grandfather’s mention the mill.
So far my research has been based on the parish registers, poor rate records, wills and marriage licences. I still have more to do, and in particular I want to see if I can find anything in the records at Lambeth Palace and follow up a Chancery case I think may be relevant. If I find anything further, I will let you know. I would be happy to enter into correspondence with anyone about Chislet mill and the Mays.
Tel 00 44 1628 675146
Mob 00 44 7785 360973
29 Harcourt Road, Dorney Reach, Maidenhead, Berks SL6 0DT