This page has three sections:

  1. An extract from the Preface
  2. George Gill
  3. A short list of names of papermakers extracted from the index

From the Preface

This Appendix is mainly concerned in providing data to support the subject of Chapter II of this book, namely the emergence of Maidstone as a papermaking centre towards the end of the 17th C. It has not proved possible, however, to isolate the material thought to be relevant cleanly from that which may not be relevant; there are areas where the picture becomes blurred. Documentary evidence is very scarce almost to the point of being non-existent and in most cases the main source of evidence lies in the genealogy of the paper makers themselves, that is if one can demonstrate a connection between the names of individuals and papermaking and paper mills in a given district.

In order to try to simplify the very diverse material covered in this Appendix much of the less essential information has been relegated to "Working Papers". To give an example in the case of certain names, names known to be associated with papermaking but names very commonly found, it has been necessary to search the registers of more than 50 different parishes. It may be that in the majority of cases where the name has been found it has not been considered to have any bearing on the subject and the information in instances like this has been condensed to a statement such as "present; n/a". The reason for mentioning them at all is a consequence of the system of searching employed. At present it is out of the question to search every parish record in Kent so the searches carried out here have been limited to what have been designated as primary, secondary and tertiary search areas. There are obvious drawbacks in using this method, but in order to limit the search to reasonable proportions one has to take a chance. Having adopted a system of this kind it has been thought essential that there should be a record of the registers or other records searched whether the results have been positive or not. A person who may wish to extend these searches may have noticed that a vital parish has been overlooked.

From the Preface to Appendix IV, The Elder James Whatman, p. 121

George Gill (ca.1650's-1726)

From "The Gill Family", App. IV, pp. 167-169

So far as is known George Gill was the first member of his family to become a paper maker.[1] The entry for the burial of his daughter in 1681 is the earliest evidence discovered indicating him in this occupation.[2] Another entry, 1683, for the burial of his son, George, also describes him as "paperman". As the Table opposite shows he came from Dartford where, it is believed, he served his apprenticeship.[3]

His first appearance in the Maidstone district is to be found in the Boxley PRs., an entry for the baptism of his daughter, Elizabeth, in 1680.[4] There are no Gill entries prior to this date. Entries continue up to 1693 and these include William (1686 s.o. George and Susanna).

There was no other mill in the Maidstone district, and Boxley in particular, where George might have been a Master Paper Maker other than Turkey mill. The inference is that he must have converted Turkey mill from a fulling mill sometime prior to 1681, by which time he was described as a "paperman" in the area. (It is known from a lease that this mill was converted sometime between 1671-1693[5] and this could therefore have taken place at any time between 1676-1680). George Gill must surely have supervised the conversion himself; the recent construction of Dartford No.2 paper mill (obviously before 1679, when it was first assessed) may have been the inspiration for his move to Boxley coupled with the current incentive given to the manufacture of White paper as a result of the embargo on French goods (1678-85). One might legitimately assume then that the manufacture of White paper was in hand at Turkey mill by 1680 at the latest.

The Gill genealogy has not been pursued here in any depth, but William (b.1686) seems to have been George's only surviving son; and yet in the first 2 decades of the 18th C. three other Gill families may be identified in the PRs. of All Saints', Maidstone; and another in the 1720's.[6]  No other Gills have been noticed in the records of the district prior to George's arrival. It is possible that these other Gills came from the Dartford area following in George's wake and were perhaps cousins.[7] They are mentioned solely because the ownership of Forstal and, later, Cobtree paper mills passed into the hands of a "Mr. and Mrs. Gill" at some unknown point in the 18th C., Forstal (and possibly Cobtree) having belonged formerly to William snr. and later William jnr., George Gill's grandson. From what we know of William jnr.'s family (see Pedigree; Landed Gentry 1853) this "Mr. Gill" cannot have been directly related, but was perhaps a descendant of a collateral of George's e.g. one of the Maidstone families referred to.

It is not known where George Gill was domiciled when he first arrived in the Maidstone area. Five baptisms and 1 burial are recorded in the Boxley PRs. between 1680-93;[8] whilst 3 burials are found in the All SS'. Maidstone PRs. all connected with George's family for this period. His own burial is recorded in Maidstone also.[9] Turkey mill lies less than a mile due East from the centre of Maidstone and 2.75 miles South of Boxley Church. Living at Turkey Court might account for his use of two churches for baptisms and burials, though Thomas Balston reckoned that Turkey Court, the house adjoining the mill, may only have been built ca.1688.[10] The occupation of the latter cannot be distinguished from that of the paper mill when the first assessments appear in the ratebook (1691). These assessments (see App.III for Extracts from RB) are almost identical in value to those of Forstal mill for the initial period, a surprising fact when one considers the different size of the two mills; it is unlikely that once converted George Gill made any further major alterations to the supply of water power, though in 1695 he rebuilt the drying lofts and carried out miscellaneous improvements to the value of £200.[11]

Although William snr. seems to have taken over the mill in 1716 (see below) his father and mother probably remained at Turkey Court until 1720 at least, the year Susanna died;[12] the assessments in the Boxley RB remain in George's name up to and including 1721, after which he moved to Ditton. His Will, made in 1725, begins "I, George Gill of Ditten in the County of Kent paper maker.......".[13] George must have gone to live with his only surviving daughter, Ann, and her husband, Thomas Walter, who were resident there.[14] Whether Ditton had any special significance for George is not known; his son had been the owner of nearby Forstal mill since 1716 and there may have been Ancient Paper Maker associations there as well (?), viz. a Walter connection with Court Lodge Farm on which Millhall paper mill was sited.

It has been said that Wills of that period rarely contained any mention of real estate and this certainly seems to have been the case in George's Will. He was only the tenant of Turkey mill, so it is difficult to know whether one should attempt to read anything untoward into the terms since one does not know what his possessions were. Had he quarrelled with his son, for instance ? He left £40 to 2 grand-daughters, Susan and Ann, when they came of age; £30, his silver tankard and books to his grandson George; and to William, his son, 5 shillings only to be paid 12 months and a day after his decease. Everything else was left to his daughter, possibly because her need was greater than William's ?

George Gill was buried at All Saints', Maidstone, in 1726. His contribution to English papermaking and to the manufacture of White paper in particular has been discussed in the text (see Chaps.II & IV). In retrospect he must be considered as one of the most important paper makers of his time; Dr. Harris in his account of the mill evidently thought likewise. He can justifiably be seen then as a significant influence on the next generation of White paper makers in Kent.[15]


[1] Keyes, S.K. "Dartford, Historical Notes" (1933, 1938) refers to Thomas Gill as a tailor in the High Street, who made his mark when signing a document. Whether this was George's father or not is not known; no other Thomas Gills are mentioned.

[2] PRs. All Saints', Maidstone (held by Incumbent).

[3] The Petition of the Ancient Paper Makers (1690) implies that they, including George Gill and other paper makers opposing the COMPANY, had all served their apprenticeship in papermaking. There is no documentary evidence of George having served one in Dartford, but the fact that he was born and married there and later became a noted manufacturer of White paper all support the notion that he learnt his trade there. Dunkin, J. (Bib.46 306 footnote) specifically states that George Gill, s.o. Thomas Gill of Dartford (d.1667), was apprenticed to the Spilmans or Mr. Blackwall (sic), but provides no evidence to support this statement. William Blackwell, traditionally held to have been apprenticed to the Spilmans, was the occupant of Dartford No.1 paper mill by 1670 and a Ralph Blackwell, paper maker, there  in 1666/7 (Shorter, A. Bib.12 180). The name of William Blackwell appears in the Dartford PRs. as early as 1651. All this lends credence to Dunkin's statement. In any case where else could he have learnt his papermaking ?

[4] Boxley PRs. KAO P 40 1/2.

[5] Spain, R.J. Bib.8 85 (see also in this Appendix under Peter Musgrove).

[6] All SS' Maidstone PRs. show a John & Mary Gill from 1707; a Thomas & Frances from 1708; a Robert & Elizabeth from 1717; and John & Anne from 1721.

[7] Dartford PRs. (KAO TR 1303/2) no Gill baptisms 1640-78 : Sutton-at-Hone (TR 2322/69) no Gill in PRs. other than 2 shown in pedigree (1611, 1626) : Darenth PRs. (TR 2322/20) only begin 1678, 11 yrs after Thomas' death. There may have been Gills in Darenth earlier because there is a "Gill's Farm" marked on modern O.S. maps (MR TQ 576698) and this quite probably goes back to the 17th C. since the Darenth PRs. show that a John & Sarah Walter were having a family at "Gill's Farm" from 1715, possibly a connection with Thomas and Ann Walter at Ditton (?) George's son-in-law.

[8] Boxley PRs. KAO P 40 1/2.

[9] All SS', Maidstone, PRs.

[10] Balston, T. Bib.1 11 and Plate IIa.

[11] Ibid. 4.

[12] The only evidence of the date of Susanna's death found is in Dunkin's description of William Gill snr.'s tomb in the churchyard of All SS', Maidstone (Dunkin, J. Bib.46).

[13] KAO PRC 32/60 fo.176 (1725).

[14] Ditton Churchbook KAO P 118/5 shows Thomas Walter among those assessed in 1717 (there are no entries for Gill). The PRs. show that Susan d.o. Thomas Walter was bapt. 1717 and Thomas s.o. Thomas & Ann Walter bapt. 1725 (see also Note in this appendix on the "WALTERS").

[15] Shorter, A. Bib.9 50, a 1971 view : Harris, J. Bib.4 191, a comment of ca. 1716.

Papermakers in the Maidstone area

Short list of names of taken from the index to Appendix 4, The Elder James Whatman.

Miscellaneous Goudhurst Paper Makers
Robert Wilson
Stephen Manktellow
Richard Hover & Thomas Gulvin
Thomas Ashedowne

Early Paper Makers at Forstal Mill
Thomas Willard
Willard/Wellard Genealogy
Thomas Taylor
John Hyllier

The Archers
Peter Archer snr.
Richard Archer snr.
Peter Archer jnr. and the Deane family
John Archer (s.o. Peter snr.)
John Archer (s.o. Richard snr.)
Richard Archer jnr.
William Archer
Robert Archer of Sittingbourne

Millhall Mill, Ditton
The Richardsons
James West
Edward Middleton
Thomas Ashedowne

The Succession at the East Malling Paper Mills
The Gill Family
George Gill
William Gill snr.
James Brooke
William Gill jnr.

Miscellaneous Boxley Paper Makers
The Peter Musgroves
The Walters (?)
The Radfords
The Russells
Alexander Russell
The Forstal and Aylesford Russells

Other Miscellaneous Figures in the Maidstone Papermaking District
Thomas Newman
James Smith
Richard Burnham