George Mills
George mills
Sex: Male
Birth: 2/12/1843 Westbury, Wiltshire
Death: 16/11/1910 Norwood, South Australia
Father: David Mills
Mother: Emma Hill
Spouse/Partner: Caroline Berenice De Laine
Marriage: 26/10/1865 Adelaide, South Australia

George was born in Westbury, Wiltshire, England in 1843, the eldest son and child of David & Emma Mills (nee Hill). His siblings were Julia, Frederick, Walter, Anne, Howard, Roland and Rosa.


George's father was a weaver and a labourer who was part of the Protestant Non-Conformist movement in Wiltshire. They were Bible ChristiansWp globe tiny who did not always have established churches, so it is unclear where George may have been baptised. The Bible ChristiansWp globe tiny faced some intolerance from the established religions of the day, so when the weaving industry began to decline, George's father decided to emigrate to South Australia, hoping for religious freedom and better agricultural opportunities.

Journey on the SibellaEdit

The family boarded the barque Sibella at Plymouth and sailed on 6th April 1848. George was only 5 years old and an only child at this stage, as a younger brother had died a year before. He did have his uncle Ebeneezer, aunt Ann and 3 cousins on board to keep him company, as they were making the trip with the family. Ship steward, Fracis Trealor, noted in his diary that children would play games on deck when the weather was calm. George's cousin Ann, who was barely a year old when they began the journey, died on the crossing and was buried at sea.

South AustraliaEdit

The colonists disembarked in South Australia on July 18th 1848. The family first settled in North Adelaide and by 1851 had moved to the Tea Tree Gully area which was known as Steventon. His father became a farmer on 80 acres at Section 5487. Most of George's siblings were born at this location. George would have spent his early years assiting his father on the farm.

Work and MarriageEdit

It appears that George may have learnt blacksmithing from a young age and eventually moved into the city to obtain work. At some point, he had an accident in which a piece of hot iron or coal hit him in the side of the face. This left a rather nasty scar and, as a result, all known photographs of George show him standing side on so the scar can't be seen.


George with wife Caroline in 1873

It is not known how he met future wife Caroline De Laine, but her father was a policeman and a butcher who lived in the Sturt Street area of the city. They were married on 26/10/1865 and the marriage was reported in the Register newspaper with the following notice:-

"On the 26th October, by licence, by the Rev. A Pithouse, at the residence of the bride's father, Mr George Mills, eldest son of Mr David Mills of Tea Tree Gully, to Miss Caroline Berenice, eldest daughter of Mr Charles DeLaine of Sturt Street, Adelaide."

George and Caroline started and raised their family in Adelaide.

George moved into the field of coach building and was employed by the Cobb and Co coach company at some point. It is not proven at this stage exactly when this occurred.

By 1881, the family had moved to Gilbert Street, Goodwood, where the last two children were born. It was around this time that George began working for another coach company, John Hill and Co. It is believed he was employed as a foreman coach builder. He is listed in the South Australian directories as a coach smith for the years 1884 and 1885.

Patent 3470Edit

George appears to have been an inventor while working as a coach smith. In 1896 he made specification for registration of a patent titled - 'An improved brake for vehicles', which was an improved braking system for stage coaches. It was registered as Patent 3470, and it is possible that the braking system was used by both Cobb and Co and Hill & Co coach companies.

Braking system by george mills

George's braking system

The following information on George's invention has been obtained from the National Archives of Australia. George wrote:-

"This invention relates to an improved brake for vehicles the special object of the invention being to construct and arrange the various layers and rods which go to make up the whole gear in such a manner that a more effective grip can be obtained with less straining in the various parts."

"In order to achieve this object I construct a main connecting rod with a rack end which works into a toothed wheel or segment which is mounted upon the rolling bar. I more-over make use of the fulcrum which is directly connected with the axle or spring buckle, so that in applying the break strain the bloacks in acting upon the wheel do not distort the shape of the side springs."

The specification for his invention was signed in Adelaide on the 20th November 1896 by George's agent, John Herbert Cooke, and witnessed by D. John Clarke and a Mr Roberts. He provided an illustration of his invention with the specification.

Final yearsEdit

In 1903, George was still employed at Hill & Co and attended their annual social event. Details of his attendance are recorded in an article in The Advertiser newspaper on Thursday 24th September, 1903. The article indicated that he had worked for the firm for over 20 years. By this time, he and Caroline were living at Clarke Street, Norwood.

George died in November 1910 at Clarke Street, Norwood of senile cardiac degeneration and cardiac failure. He is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide. Caroline would survive him by another 15 years.

Grave of george & caroline mills

George's grave in the West Terrace Cemetery


Name Birth Death
Children of George and Caroline Mills

George Herbert 24/9/1866
Adelaide, South Australia
Murray Bridge, South Australia

Charles David 28/7/1868
Adelaide, South Australia
Norwood, South Australia

Arthur Edgar 28/8/1870
Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Frederick Percival 17/8/1872
Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Alfred Archibald 6/3/1874
Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Lillian Caroline Berenice 6/12/1876
Adelaide, South Australia
Norwood, South Australia

Milton Harvey 30/9/1878
Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Ada Florence 22/8/1881
Goodwood, South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Frank Roland 7/1/1885
Goodwood, South Australia
Dulwich, South Australia


  • Information from Ken Mills
  • Information from Jane Harding
  • National Archives of Australia, Series number A13128, Barcode 7547510
  • The Register newspaper, 26th October 1863
  • The Advertiser newspaper, 24th September 1903
  • The diary of Francis Trealor, ship steward, the Sibella
  • Births, Deaths and Marriage registrations for South Australia
  • South Australian directories