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Arthur Frederick Mills (1863-1908)

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Arthur Frederick Mills
Sex: Male
Birth: 19/09/1863 Colchester, Essex
Baptism: 18/10/1863 Wivenhoe, Essex
Death: 20/05/1908 Adelaide, South Australia
Father: William Munson Mills (1824-1917)
Mother: Mahala Kent (1833-1902)
Spouse/Partner: Emily Morris
Marriage: 1/2/1886 Adelaide, South Australia
2nd Spouse: Adelaide Ellen Starr
2nd Marriage: 4/11/1904 Adelaide, South Australia

Arthur Frederick Mills was born in 1863 in Colchester, Essex, England, the 6th child of William Munson Mills and Mahala Kent. His siblings were John, George, Wallace, William, Thomas, Sarah, Mahala, Victoria, Blanche, Cicey, Charles, Grace and Marguerita.

His father was a shipwright who had been a soldier in the Sihk Wars prior to his marriage. When the ship building industry began to change and the services of shipwrights began to decline, Arthur's father decided to emigrate to South Australia with the family, as eldest brother George had done some years earlier. The entire family decided to make the journey, with the exception of brothers Wallace and William, who were employed as sailors at the time (siblings John, Thomas and Marguerita had died in infancy).

Journey to South AustraliaEdit

The family boarded the ship "Woodlark" in late 1878. As his eldest brother was already in South Australia and his other two elder brothers were staying behind in England, Arthur was the eldest of his siblings on board. He was 14 years old and listed as an agricultural labourer. It is beleived the job description may have been a fabrication in order to gain passage, as the Mills family were very centred around city life.

The family arrived in South Australia on 21st February 1879. It is believed that they may have lived with older brother George for sometime on arrival, before finally settling in the Norwood area. It is uncertain at this stage what Arthur did in his early years in the colony.

Arrest and MarriageEdit

When he was only 22 years old, Arthur was arrested for false pretences in the state of Victoria. The South Australian Register newspaper dated 23/11/1885 reports that he was charged by Detective Upton with having in Melbourne obtained from John William Kirk the sum of 5 pounds by false pretences. Arthur had been arrested by a Detective Lawton and, when appearing before the Police Court on Saturday November 21, he was cautioned and stated "It is all a mistake; I came over to get some money. I was going back to-day." The South Australian Police Gazette reports that he was remanded till November 30th and bail was refused.

Within 2 months of being back in Adelaide, Arthur married a 27-year-old widow by the name of Emily Hawken (nee Morris). They married at the Bible Christian House on February 1st, 1886 and the minister and his wife served as witnesses.

Arthur and Emily had a daughter, Cissy Cornelia, who was born in August of that year in Sydney, New South Wales. What the couple were doing in the state of New South Wales is currently unknown, but it appears that some of Arthur's siblings may have moved to the state and they could have been visiting them. Cissy would be their only child.

Gold MiningEdit

By 1892, Arthur was involving himself in debates in South Australia about gold extraction. Many small gold mines had opened up in the state, but did not last long as the gold they contained was in small amounts and difficult to extract from the rock. Many methods of extracting the gold were proposed, and Arthur appears to have joined the debate, as recorded in the South Australian Register newspaper on 31/3/1892. In the article, he is referred to as 'Professor Mills' and he recommends the use of cyanide to extract the gold from the rock.

There is no evidence of Arthur having attended any educational institution at this point, so the title "Professor" is likely to have been chosen by Arthur in attempt to give himself some credibility and sell his services. He would continue to use the title up until his death. In reality, it appears that people knew that the title was not real, and used the term 'Professor' in a derogatory and sarcastic manner when speaking about Arthur. This is weighed out by family stories passed down the generations about daughter Cissy chastising people who used the term 'Professor' to describe others incorrectly.

Arthur appears to have continued to be involved in gold mining ventures for a few more years. The South Australian Register newspaper reports that an extraordinary general meeting of the 'Progressive Gold Mining and Prospecting Company, Limited' was to be held at the Art Printing Works, Franklin Street, Adelaide on 20/8/1896, in which they proposed to wind up the company and reconstruct it as 'Kilalloo Progressive Goldmining Company'. Arthur is recorded by the newspaper as the person appointed as liquidator to wind up the old company.

On Tuesday 15/12/1896, he attended a meeting of the 'All Nations Goldmining Company' at the Union Hall on Pirie Street. The meeting was a turbulent one in which Arthur was particularly vocal. The article describing the meeting calls Arthur 'Professor' Mills in the first instance (placing the word 'Professor' in italics) and then refers to him as 'Mr Mills' for the remainder of the article. Some shareholders claimed at the meeting that the liquidators report was not in order and that Arthur knew 'everything' that had happened with the money and that they knew how he had spent it. The article clearly demostrates that some people were aware of Arthur's charlitan tactics.

Other ventures Arthur tried included buying shares in horses. The South Australian Register reported on 5/3/1900 that he had purchased a one share at Glenelg in the well-known horse called 'Bugler'. The share was worth one pound.

InsolvencyEdit

It appears that Arthur and Emily settled in the Port Pirie area of South Australia for some time in this period. Arthur was employed in the area as a clerk. His wife Emily appeared before the local court of Insolvency on September 22nd, 1892 for a final hearing, as reported in The Advertiser newspaper, 23rd September 1892. Mr J Duncan appeared as her representative, and a first class certificate was awarded.

The South Australian Directory for 1893 lists Arthur as a manager at Gladstone.

On Wednesday 3/4/1895, the South Australian Register newspaper reported that the lawyer who had represented Arthur's wife, Mr J Duncan was now pursuing Arthur for the amount of 19 pounds, 10 shillings and 10 pence. This was the amount owed for his services in representing Emily, and mr Duncan claimed that Arthur had paid him with a dishonoured cheque. The verdict was in favour of Mr Duncan for the amount owed. When Arthur was examined as to his position to pay, he described himself as a manufacturing chemist. He advertised himself as 'Professor Mills' and also advertised that he made 99 per cent of cure, but that was not a fact.

QuackeryEdit

By 1894, Arthur was calling himself "Professor" Mills and had become an well-known "quack" in the city of Adelaide. According to Wikipedia, Quackery is a derogatory term used to describe unproven or fraudulent medical practices. Random House Dictionary describes a "quack" as a "fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill" or "a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, knowledge, or qualifications he or she does not possess; a charlatan."

Professor mills ad1

One of Arthur's adverts in the newspaper

Arthur advertised his services in The Advertiser newspaper, sporadically from 1894, and then almost on a weekly basis between 1901 and 1908. As well as calling himself 'Professor', he included the initials 'S.F.C.' and 'M.H.' after his name. What these initials are meant to represent is yet to be determined. He claimed to cure 98 out out of every 100 cases he undertook. He called his office the Snoyah Medical Institute, and it was located on the corner of Grote Street and Victoria Square. He later moved to 19 Flinders Street, and would consult between the hours of 10am to 9pm. An advert from July 1903 reads as follows:-

Professor mills ad2

Another of Arthur's adverts


Why the thousands of MEN and WOMEN in the Australian States have consulted PROFESSOR A. MILLS is because they have been recommended to do so by their friends. I have made an original and exhaustive study of Nervous Diseases, and will GUARANTEE a CURE in each case I undertake. IT IS DIFFICULT TO REALISE. But it is true. If you suffer from Nervous Debility, Exhausted Vitality, Loss of Memory, Spots Before the Eyes, Dizziness, Sleeplessness, Tired Feeling in the Morning, with a Bad Taste in the Mouth, Kidney, Bladder, or Stomach Troubles. LET ME CONVINCE YOU that I CAN Cure You. You can do so by calling, or, if convenient, by letter enclosing stamps for reply. Consultation is FREE. I guarentee to restore health to the most ragged and weak constitution. ON ALL COMPLAINTS, MALE OR FEMALE, consult me at once. Why continue to suffer? You can be treated equally as well at your own home as at my rooms. Delay no longer. Hours, 10 to 9 daily. PROFESSOR A. MILLS, 19 Flinders-street, near G.P.O, Adelaide


It appears Arthur may have been doing good business in 1903 as he had enough resources to request the services of several people to assit with his business, mostly to deliver hand bills. It is also possible that he may have used the business as a cover for other for other activities, as he advertises frequently in the lost-and-found section of The Advertiser, describing objects of considerable wealth including a single stone diamond ring, a gold pin and a bank book.

It is unknown exactly when Arthur came back to Adelaide to start his business, but records from the Adelaide City Archives have traced his premises in the city of Adelaide. They are as follows:-

1 grote st

One of Arthur's shopfront locations at 1 Grote Street. The Hilton Hotel now stands here.

  • 1894 - 16 Sturt Street
  • 1895 - 21 Carrington Street
  • 1896 - 1 Grote Street
  • 1897 - 1899 - 23 Flinders Street
  • 1900 - 1903 - 1 Grote Street
  • 1904 - 1905 - 19 Flinders Street
  • 1906 - 1908 - 27 Carrington Street


This information is supported by the South Australian Directories, which lists Arthur at the same locations, sometimes with the title 'Professor' and sometimes without. His occupation is initally listed as a chemist, then a herbalist, and then specialist.

Christian ScienceEdit

Arthur may have been a follower of Christian Science, according to an article that was published in the South Australian Register newspaper on the 16th August 1898. A Dr G. Affleck Scott of Ballarat took particular offence to Arthur's medical practices and attempts to convert people in the city of Ballarat when he visited there, and aired his views in the Ballarat 'Star' of August 13. The article was called 'Christian Science Assailed'.  

Christian Scientists subscribe to a radical form of philosophical idealism, believing that spiritual reality is the only reality and that the material world is an illusion. This includes the view that sickness and death are illusions caused by mistaken beliefs, and that the sick should be treated by a special form of prayer intended to correct those beliefs, rather than by medicine. Between the 1880s and 1990s the avoidance of medical care and vaccination led to the deaths of a number of adherents and their children; several parents and others were prosecuted for manslaughter or neglect and in a few cases convicted.

Death of first wife and second marriageEdit

Arthur's wife Emily died on the 24th August 1904 from the effects of alcoholism and was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide. The headstone was erected by her mother, sister and brother. By the 4th November, Arthur had married again to Adelaide Ellen Starr, a 23 year old, at Miss Hand's Private Hospital in Adelaide. It has yet to be established at this stage why the marriage occured at the hospital.

FireEdit

On the 5th May 1906, a fire was reported at Arthur's residence on the corner of Carrington Street and Nelson Place. The fire was reported by Foot Constable O'Donohoe at approximately 8.55pm and it was put out by the fire brigade. The fire had been restricted to one room which Arthur used for mixing medicine. Enquiries by the police found that Arthur had left the premises at about 8.40pm and just before leaving he lit a cigarette and probably threw the lighted match amongst some papers and caused the fire. The fire was ruled as an accident and the building was found to be insured with two companies, the Commercial Union for 500 pounds and the stock in the United Insurance Company for 4oo pounds. Despite the accidental ruling, it is suspected that Arthur may have started the fire in order to claim the insurance money.

Wife AssaultedEdit

On the 17th December 1907, The Advertiser newspaper reported that Arthur was charged at the Adelaide Police Court for assaulting his wife. The incident occured on December 11th and Arthur pleaded guilty. His wife stated that he had assualted her previously when he was under the influence of drink and, on this occassion, her had held her down and blackened her eyes. She was afraid that he would take her life, and desired him to be bound over to keep the peace. Arthur was fined 1 pound, with 2 pound 17 shillings costs, and bound over in one surety of 30 pounds to keep the peace for six months.

SuicideEdit

It appears that Arthur's mental health was deteriorating further at this time, because he committed suicide on 20th May 1908. Foot Constable Smedley was sent from the City Watch House at 8.10pm to Arthur's residence, where he found him lying in the water-table with a pillow under his head. The constable and some men on the street carried Arthur back inside the house, a doctor was called, and Arthur died at about 8.45pm. The doctor thought that Arthur had taken poisin.

Arthur's wife Adelaide, told the police that Arthur had come home at about 3.30pm that day and told her that he was going to poisin himself. She did not take any notice of him, as he had threatened to do so many times before and had not gone through with it. He drank from a cup at dinner and left. She then went out to find a boy to run a message for her, and while she was out someone told her that Arthur was lying in the gutter. When she found out, she immediately went home.

The Advertiser newspaper reported that a friend of Arthur's, George Davall, went between 5 and 6 pm that day to a hotel on King William Street to have a drink with Arthur. Arthur had said to George, "Will you have the last drink with me, George?" and Mr Davall had asked him what he meant by that. Arthur produced a small bottle from his pocket, tore the wrapper off, threw the wrapper on the floor, and put the bottle back in his pocket. George Davell reported that Arthur had been drinking a lot lately, and had 'a good deal' of financial and domestic trouble.

An inquest was held into Arthur's death and it was found that he had died from poising by his own act, he being at the time of unsound mind. An article in the Bendigo Advertiser dated 23rd May 1908 indicates the poisin in question was 'Choral'. Choral was once used as a sedative and hypnotic substance, until prologed usage found it to be unhealthy. 

Arthur is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.

ChildrenEdit

Name Birth Death
Children of Arthur and Emily Mills


Cissy Cornelia 18/08/1886
Sydney, New South Wales
3/2/1961
Fullarton, South Australia


ReferencesEdit

  • South Australian Births, Deaths and Marriage registrations
  • South Australian Passenger Lists
  • The South Australian Register, 23/11/1885, 31/3/1892, 31/12/1894, 3/4/1895, 13/8/1896, 16/12/1896, 16/08/1898, 5/3/1900, 21/5/1908, 23/5/1908
  • The South Australian Police Gazette, December 2 1885
  • The Advertiser newspaper, 23/9/1892
  • Wikipedia article on Quackery
  • Wikipedia article on Christian Science
  • The Adelaide City Archives
  • The Advertiser newspaper, advertising section 1901-1908
  • Coroner's report & reply, 5/5/1906 & 6/5/1906
  • The Advertiser newspaper, 17/12/1907
  • Police Report to the Coroner, 20/5/1908
  • The Advertiser newspaper, 23/5/1908
  • The Bendigo Advertiser, 23/05/1908

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