Family history

Hundreds of thousands of people were employed in mills or in the manufacturing industries that were powered by wind or water. Our family history database below holds more than 50,000 names and other details of millers and mill-related professionals complied by volunteers and family historians.

The Mills Archive holds a wealth of images and documents of milling heritage. The Archive Collections and Library provide a rich source of information on mill owners, millers and millwrights, and their families.


This database currently contains over 50,000 records. It is based upon the extensive information assembled by the late Mary Yoward, with help from her husband Tony. The late Eve Logan, another assiduous compiler of information on millers and millwrights, gave Mary over 30 bulging lever-arch files of information to add to her own. To this strong base Archive volunteers have added many more entries derived from a variety of sources, including the enormous name index on Berkshire millers and millwrights compiled by Tom Hine. This work continues.

We do not hold the original records for some of the references, and therefore we cannot always guarantee the accuracy of the transcribed information. In all cases, please check the original sources. Please ask us for help with locating the original records.

Entries usually include the person’s name and trade, gender, place and county as well as notes of interest and the source of the information (such as a directory, census, parish register or other record). Company names are also included where they contain ancestral names of potential interest to family historians

Because the same names often occur in several records there is some duplication and, inevitably, there may be some transcription errors: as always, original sources must be checked. We welcome suggestions and corrections.

Search the milling ancestors database…


We have catalogued documents and images on 10,000 individual mills which can be accessed via the Mills Database.  Please ask if the mill does not appear, as we are adding mills all the time.  Material on individual mills may also be found in our general county material.

We have several large collections of material on milling families and dozens more individual family histories in our smaller collections. These can be searched by name on the Archive catalogue.  In our Library there are several hundred books containing information on people and detailed family histories.

These images are a snapshot of the type of original material that we hold at the Mills Archive that can enhance your research in milling history: Day books; accounts and wages books; deeds and indentures; correspondence and billheads; large drawings and plans; map; press cuttings; photographs; archaeological surveys; sales particulars and auction records.

In our library you will find a lot of information in books and journals about the history of milling in the context of the history of technology and historical events at home and abroad.  Technical information can help you to understand the developments in the milling process for flour mills and industrial mills. There are also books of individual mills, milling family histories, the life of the miller and recollections on milling life.  Many general books on mills in different counties also mention the names of millers and millwrights.

The Features and Articles on our website are interesting to read and the Online Resources offer many links to milling websites around the world.  There is also a useful Illustrated Glossary of milling terms.


We encourage researchers to make an appointment to visit the Mills Archive for all aspects of milling research.  Our Archivist, Librarian, Family Historian and Mill Expert can provide you with help and advice.


The Mills Archive was set up in 2002, so before that material and records relating to mills and millers were often deposited in county archives, local history libraries, and museums.  In addition public records often contain the names of mills and mill people.  We have put together a list of other sources that can be searched elsewhere.


Unless we have been sent information about your particular family by someone else or they have been written about in a book, it is unlikely that we can provide you with a detailed family history.  However, our family history researcher can give you advice on where to look and how you can break through brick walls.


Please send us copies of your milling family history and images of your milling forbears to add to our Archive collections.  Perhaps you might consider talking to our Archivist about donating original milling documents and images that are in your possession, so that they are preserved for posterity.