The history of Richard Mills is shrouded with uncertainly. Personally it would not surprise me to learn that Grimwade has actually conflated two silversmiths with the same names, one a large or plateworker, and the other a smallworker, the latter having died in 1772, the former having several marks in the lost largeworkers register of 1756 – 1773.
It is further complicated by the tentative attribution by Grimwade of a TM/RM mark (No 3836 ) on two waiters in 1763 to a partnership between Richard Mills and Thomas Hannam.
Heal records the partnership of a Hannam (no forename ) and Richard Mills, Goldsmiths, London in 1765.
Heal subsequently gives Thomas Hannam and John Crouch at 23[sic] , Giltspur Street 1766 - 1793 [sic]. They appear in PR1773 as plateworkers at 28[sic], Giltspur Street, Heal also records the partnership at 37,Monkwell Street in 1790 [sic]
The mark TM/RM is also reported on salvers, candlesticks and nippers. Also a pair of cast pierced tongs in my wife’s collection. So not exclusively largeworkers !
After the supposed partnership with Hannam , we seem to revert to firmer ground
27 November 1767
Further mark at Salisbury Court
He was assessed to Land Tax there until 1771.
In 1772 the assessment book for the property refers to the executors of Richard Mills.
20 March 1772
Reported in Daily Advertiser
"On Wednesday died at his House in Salisbury Court, Mr Mills, very eminent in the Art of Buckle-Making "
Which reopens doubts. I have records of numerous silver buckles of the period – but only ONE bears a mark that can be possibly be his.
19 March 1772
Will of Richard Mills, Silver Smith of Saint Bride , City of London was proved at PCC [ TNA/PROB 11/976/124]
Very pedantic will. Half a page of very precise instructions for his coffin and burial arrangements, although executors not to spend more than £20 !
His brother John and sister Ann ???ington of Birmingham to each to receive one shilling only. I believe it was necessary to leave a bequest to your nearest living relatives - so presumably he left no wife or children. Leaving one shilling was a sign of disfavour !
Sister Ann Hill of the parish of St Sepulcher £20
Other bequests to
John Cooper of St Martin le Grand (one of the two executors ) . His daughter is given as Catherine Cooper
George Rankin of Hatton Garden , Peruke Maker (the other executor )
John Glover of St James, Clerkenwell, Silversmith
Mr John Olive Mr George Padmore and several somewhat unreadable others given a ring each of a guinea value.
George Padmore is probably the bucklemaking silversmith of Frith Street who died in August 1774
Residue to cousin Joseph Mills, son of Joseph Mills of America
Signed 5th March 1772
Abel Bradley, Salisbury Court
Charles White ,servant to Mr Mills
2 April 1772
Advertisement in Daily Advertiser
His personal assets were to be sold by Auction by Joshua Wilkinson and his house offered for rental .
". . . Apparel, Working Tools , Tea Tongs and Buckle Patterns, of Mr RICHARD MILLS, Silversmith, deceased ,at his house, No 22 Salisbury Court, Fleet-Street ."
Executors given as Mr Ranking, Charles-Street, Hatton-Garden and John Cooper, St Martins Le Grand
Salisbury Court was used by numerous silversmiths throughout the Eighteen-Century. Bucklemakers being very prominent in the latter part.
So there is no doubt in my mind that his contemporaries knew him as a buckle maker. But under whose mark were they assayed !
My thanks to Peter Cameron , who is currently investigating the Hannam & Mill partnership, and Pat for their assistance.