Joseph Langley Mills

Mills is the only clergyman in this study, other than Bishop Daniel Sandford and Curate Charles Lane: he shared their interest in education, but appears to have been more assertive in his Anglicanism than Sandford which caused some problems in a not dissimilar religious situation. He probably knew Anne Craigie in Quebec before he came to Edinburgh to marry her and take her back there, restoring her to her place as one of the city's elite, with an estate named after her grandfather's estate in Scotland. Unfortunately his death while trying to claim his salary from the British government apparently condemned her to sudden poverty a second time.

Lived
1788-1832
Origin
Deddington
Father
Moses Mills Esq of Deddington
Mother
Sarah
Estate
He owned the villa of Kilgraston and 'a considerable property round his seat, and some valuable quarries on the shore of the St Lawrence, from whence the stone mostly employed to build the citadel is drawn', between Sillery and Cap Rouge (6)
Religious views
In 1812 a dispute between the 'Bellonians and Lancastrians' raged in Edinburgh: Daniel Sandford successfully promoted Mr Lancaster's non-denominational system of monitorial school, as opposed to Dr Bell's Anglican one. Mills' choice of the Bell system, despite the sectarian problems which ensued, suggest he was of a higher churchmanship than Sandford. (3, 4)
Profession
Fellow of Magdalene College Oxford 1810. Ordained Deacon at Christ Church, Oxford, 1811, and Priest the following year (5). Commissioned army chaplain 1812. Served in Portugal in the Peninsular War. 1814 chaplain to the garrison in Quebec. He gave evening lectures at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. 1821 senior chaplain to the forces in Canada. He was a founding member of the Quebec branch of the Royal Humane Society of London for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned or Dead. As chaplain he was responsible for schooling soliders' children and had a lifelong interest in education. He was involved in founding the National School on the Madras or Bell system, then Executive Secretary (ie. driving force) of the Royal Institution which was the first system of public education in Canada; however, it was opposed by Methodists and Roman Catholics. According to his biographer,
In this hostile climate, Mills administered with justice and humanity. He avoided religious and ethnic controversy and, with remarkable sensitivity and adaptability, tried to provide a system as acceptable to Canadians in the seigneuries as to British Protestants in the townships... Sufficient local control existed to ensure that in Canadian regions the schools reflected the character of the population they served.
Wealth at death
None: The conflicts meant he didn't receive his pay as secretary to the Institution. In 1829 he went to England to obtain £720 he claimed to be due, and travelled there again in 1832, but on the second attempt he died, leaving his wife and family destitute: British government support only arrived two years later:
'It was a sad end for someone who had given so much of himself to his church and to education in Lower Canada. Rather than being remembered as a pioneer and driving force ... he is recalled unjustly as a minor figure who administered an unpopular and controversial system that spanned, effectively, only a decade of operations. In fact, it was in part because of his efforts on behalf of the Royal Intitution that others were spurred to lay the groundwork for a system of formal edcation for the Canadians.' (2)
However, a guide published in 1831 described his estate, suggesting he was not entirely destitute yet. (6)
Chapel connection
1817 (wedding)
Married on
3 March 1817
Spouse
Anne Cecilia Craigie
Children
Robert Twyford Mills (Rector of Halse, Somerset, 1844, d.1874)

Quebec, 1831

Quebec, 1831 (6)

Sources

  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Réal G Boulianne, 'Joseph Langley Mills' in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol 6, 1821-1835, (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1987)
  3. H.J.C.Grierson (ed), Letters of Sir Walter Scott vol. III, 1811-1814 (London, Constable and Co. 1932) p.83.
  4. Caledonian Mercury 1 April 1811
  5. Clergy of the Church of England Database, online accessed 20 October 2011
  6. Lt Col Cockburn, Quebec and its environs (Thomas Cary, Quebec, 1831)

Back to index