John Whittome The Millwright & Miller

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This headstone in Hilgay Churchyard, Norfolk, jumped straight out at me when I walk around the corner of the church, I have never seen one like it before.  I was quite fascinated by it and wondered if John Whittome had been a miller.  So I did a bit of researching to day and found out quite a lot of John Whittome, who was a Millwright and also became a Miller.

In loving memory of John Whittome died May 10th 1891 aged 74 years also of Elizabeth his wife died March 31st 1894 aged 76 years God is love

John Whittome died in 1891 and was buried in Hilgay churchyard, to the south of the church. The distinctive headstone has the carving of a large tower windmill with a stage, possibly Denver Mill, and was inscribed:Wheel & Millwright, Joiner & General Smith.  

The Whittome family ran The Hilgay Post Mill (which stood for 250 years) and also The Hilgay Smock Mill.  John had also been a Corn Miller from 1868 to 1883.  The Smock Mill was used for grinding corn, and had a pair of fine French dress stones. John built a house in the village with a foundry and steam mill nearby.  Sad to say that that not any of the mills survive today.

The following was found in the Lynn Advertiser – 13th October 1866

Wheel & Millwright, Joiner & General Smith

Thanks his friends for their patronage during the last 30 years & solicits a continuance of their commands in the above branches of business 

Steam & Horse machines of all kinds carefully attended to.

Agricultural Implements of the most approved principles built or repaired.
Joiners & Smiths work of every description.
Timbers sawn by steam power.

It is a wonderful headstone to commemorate the life of a Millwright and Miller.


12 Replies to “John Whittome The Millwright & Miller”

  1. What a lovely story, and I think the headstone is just beautiful – you can see how much care and skill has gone into it. I’m sure that Mr Whittome would have loved it!

    1. I have never seen a headstone like it before and just thought it must stand for something and I had great fun in finding out about Mr Whittome. Even the name is very unusual…oh no I feel more research come on 🙂

  2. I visted this churchyard when I was researching family history a couple of years ago. I was amazed by the headstone and glad to see that it has survived so well. The name ‘Whittome’ also held my interest, as I am a descendant of the Whittomes of Whittlesey, who were farmers and land owners. Was John Whittome related to them? In 1845 William Whittome, formerly of Whittlesey, was an innkeeper in Hilgay. My ggg grandmother, Elizabeth Skelton, nee Whittome, moved to Hilgay after her marriage to Robert Skelton, who took over as decoy keeper in 1825. Shortly after they moved to Modney Hall Farm. All their chldren were baptised in Hilgay church until they moved to Holme Fen, Huntingdonshire, in 1838.

    1. Its a wonderful headstone and how interesting about your Whittomes. I would think that some how they were related as it is a quite unusual name. I have been researching my family history for the last 35 years, but mine mostly come from the Isle of Wight and they were farmers. But how lovely to have a decoy keeper in1825, you just come across so many interesting things when you start on the family history trail 🙂

    2. My maiden name was Whittome and I have met no one with the name until recently. I know little of the family history only that my father was the twelfth of 13 children and at least one brother was killed in WW1. I believe his father was William.

      1. Hi Pam, maybe you could look up William Whittome on the census if you have an idea where the family lived and then you might find the names of the children and it will also tell you where William was born and then you could work backwards. You can find lots on the internet just by typing in the name Whittome………good luck 🙂

      2. Hello Blosslyn,

        I’ve read your response to Pam Hornby regarding the name Whittome and I am willing for you to pass on my email details. I might be able to help Pam with information that I have discovered via Ancestry website and general ‘googling’. It’s also nice to meet another distant relative – assuming she is related.


        Jean Bower

        Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2014 22:22:46 +0000 To:

      3. Hi Pam, you might be interested in the comment from Jean, the last comment on this list, she is quite happy for you to email her, she has quite a bit of information on your name……might even be related 🙂

  3. Hi, those of you who have Whittome ancestry, has anyone found an Elizabeth Whittome in Whittlsey, b about 1786, who married a John Allick, or Allix. After John had died she married a Henry Goode. If so I would be really interested to hear from you. I have her on the 1841 census as Elizabeth Goode, with two of her sons, John and Robert Allick.

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