MILLS, Robert William (1777-1851), of Willington, co. Dur.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1830 - 10 Feb. 1831

Family and Education

bap. 9 May 1777, 2nd s. of Henry Mills (d. 1807) of Willington and Elizabeth, da. of Robert Fenwick of Lemington, Northumb. m. 16 Dec. 1806, Jane, da. of George Robinson of Hendon Lodge, co. Dur., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. d. 9 Mar. 1851.

Offices Held

Ensign 86 Ft. 1795, lt. 1795, capt. 1798; capt. 36 Ft. 1805, 45 Ft. 1809; brevet maj. 1810; capt. 82 Ft. 1810, 9 Ft. 1813, half-pay 1815-d.; brevet lt.-col. 1819; col. 1837; maj.-gen. 1846.


Mills’s ancestors included members of the Forster family, aldermen of Durham in the eighteenth century. His father was at one time in business in that city as a wine merchant, in partnership with one of his Forster kinsmen, and by 1787 he was senior partner in the Durham banking house of Mills, Hopper and Company, which ceased trading in 1802; by then he had acquired some land and a house at Willington in the parish of Brancepeth, near Bishop Auckland.1 Mills pursued an uneventful army career, becoming a brigade major on the staff of the eastern district in 1809 and 1810. On his father’s death in 1807 he received £500, charged on a freehold farm at High Close, Willington, in addition to £1,500 already advanced to him from a legacy by his mother’s half-sister Isabella (Forster) Widdrington of Hawksly.2 At the general election of 1830, when he was described as the ‘steward’ of William Russell*, lord of the manor of Brancepeth, he was returned for Bletchingley on the latter’s interest. However, this was said to be ‘merely ... a temporary arrangement’, until Russell could find an ‘efficient’ nominee from among his Whig friends.3

The duke of Wellington’s ministry listed Mills as one of their ‘foes’, and he duly voted against them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He is not known to have spoken in debate, and he vacated early in 1831 to accommodate Sir William Horne, the Grey ministry’s solicitor-general.4 He lived in comparative obscurity at Willington until his death there in March 1851. He divided his modest estate between his children.5

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. H.C. Surtees, Hist. Willington and Crook, 5, 10, 12; M. Phillips, Hist. Banking in Northumb. 45, 52-53, 57, 64, 69, 307-10, 354; Gent. Mag. (1807), ii. 1089.
  • 2. IR26/327/183. The personalty was sworn under £100.
  • 3. Brighton Guardian, 4 Aug.; Lincs. AO, Tennyson D’Eyncourt mss 2 Td’E H89/8, C. to G. Tennyson, 9 Aug.; Brougham mss, Durham to Brougham, 7 Sept. 1830.
  • 4. NLS, Ellice mss, Ellice to Russell, 25 Dec., reply, 27 Dec. 1830.
  • 5. IR26/1906/296.