My 3 times great grandparents, John and Elizabeth can be found in the 1861 census at Mill Pond, Dartmouth in Devon.
Great, I thought, I’ll take a look on my next visit to Dartmouth. Ah, but where exactly is Mill Pond today? A search of the current map shows nothing and so a little bit of investigative work was all I needed. At least that was what I thought!
By checking back through the census returns on TheGenealogist, Ancestry and findmypast we can see that immediately prior to walking Mill Pond, the enumerator recorded entries for North Ford Lane and immediately after Mill Pond he had enumerated the residents of Charles Street followed by Mariner’s Place, then North Ford Lane again and New Road.
A fantastically helpful document on the Dartmouth Archives website ( http://www.dartmouth-history.org.uk/view_doc.html?Id=140&Hrow=0 ) has given me the current names of some of the roads in the town that have changed names over the years. While Mill Pond is not mentioned, North Ford Lane is. It is now split into North Ford Road and Newport Street. Mariner’s Place is now called Roseville Street and backs on to North Ford Lane. New Road was renamed Victoria Road after Queen Victoria’s Diamond jubilee in 1897 and so on.
I also gleaned from a document on this website that the Dartmouth mill pond was where the market place is today and westward from here – “The Butterwalk was the covered market before the mill pond was filled in and a new market was built in 1828.”
By opening the census record for my ancestor I could find that it was in district 6d in 1861 and by navigating to the Description of the Enumeration District I found that it gave me a list of the streets in the part of the parish of Townstal that were included in that district enumerated by one Mr John Pound. It comprised of Clarence Hill, Mount Pleasant, Mount Galpin, Clarence Street, Silver Street, Bake Lane Hill, Cox’s Steps, Hardress, Broadstone, Slippery Hill, North Ford Lane, New Road, Albert Place, Charles Street, Mariner’s Place, Mill Pond, Market Square and Foss Street.
Then consulting a map, not from the 1860s I regret, but from twenty eight years later, I wondered if the 6 households counted in Mill Pond are the properties to the north of Market Square next to the Methodist Chapel around the market square at the bottom of a hill called Broadstone. In other census, however, the number of dwellings change up and down and the neighbours are not the same meaning it is hard to tie Mill Pond down. In fact in the 1851 census I found no Mill Pond, Dartmouth, at all.
Returning to the document charting the development of the Mill Pond I now understand that Mill Pond refers to the development that occurred west from Charles street as well as the market place.
“In 1816… the building of a new Wesleyan Chapel on a site on the north side of the Millpond at a point just to the west of the entry to the old mill race. It replaced an earlier meeting house situatedÂ elsewhere in the town” This gives weight to my first theory about it being the north side of the market place.
While the next two quotes give weight to my second thought that it was an area along New Road to the west.
“Until the filling in 1828 of the market site the water continued to flow through the gullet, albeit, into the boat dock only. In 1831 the gullet and the boat dock were filled and the Millpond became land locked. By this time houses had been built both along the New Road and in Charles Street.
“The Corporation plan was to develop the Millpond area systematically beginning from Charles Street and moving westward as the prime sites were leased. The primary requirement was for houses and not for commercial premises.”
In most cases, by looking at the enumerator’s description and a contemporary map it is easy to find where your ancestors once lived, so why not give it a try?
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