Revisiting the Windmills of Anglesey

My Anglesey History web site had its beginnings in 1995 as a single page on my main business site for Kovach Computing Services. Five years later I hived it off to a separate web site, Anglesey-History.co.uk, and started expanding it with various new major sections. In 2008 I added a completely new section on the Windmills of Anglesey.

The inspiration for the section was the excellent book Windmills of Anglesey by Barry Guise and George Lees. It was published in 1992 and the first print run sold out quickly. It was highly sought after, not least by me (I made the mistake of not buying it as soon as I saw it!), and prices of second-hand copies on eBay were reaching £100. In 2010 a revised edition was published, which is still in print and available on Amazon and other outlets, such as the Oriel Môn shop.

Over the Christmas 2020 holiday I began revising the windmill section of the web site. This was mainly because many of the links to other websites that I had added in 2008 were no longer functional. The sites had either disappeared or had moved the pages to new addresses. I also started revisiting the actual descriptions of each windmill.

In developing the windmills section of the website I relied heavily on the research that Guise and Lees had published, as well as information from my own research and other sites, such as the millsarchive.org. But in the years since, many new sources of historical information have become more easily accessible over the internet. These include the Wales censuses from 1841-1911 (on Ancestry.co.uk or FamilySearch.org), the Anglesey parish records (again on Ancestry.co.uk or FamilySearch.org), the 1840 Tithe Maps and many archives of scanned and indexed newspapers from around the country (britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk and the National Library of Wales). The scrollable version of the early Ordnance Survey maps at the National Library of Scotland is also very useful. I started delving deeper into the history of a couple of the mills and discovered there was much more that I could add, to expand on what Guise and Lees had published, to clarify some points that were uncertain, and to correct some mistakes.

1871 Census for William Jones, miller at Mona Mill

The censuses are particularly useful. These give the names, ages, birthplaces and occupations of every person living on the island. In a land where just a few surnames and given names predominate, these are vital for determining which William Jones, for instance, is being mentioned in other records. The birthplaces of children can also be useful for tracking the career of a miller who may have moved around to work at different places. Milling often ran in families, with sons and brothers found working at various mills around the island. I’ve started building family trees of the millers and their families I’ve encountered in the censuses so far, using genealogical software, to help in making connections between the people found working around the island.

Mona Mill/Melin y Borth

As an example of how these approaches can work, lets look at Mona Mill. Also known as Melin y Borth, it overlooks Amlwch harbour and is the tallest on Anglesey, as well as the only brick-built one. Guise and Lees point out that it was built and owned by the Paynter family, and was run by various members of the Jones family through the decade, first Owen Jones, then Robert Jones, and then William Jones, who they say was probably Robert’s son. However, investigating the censuses for Amlwch has shown that, not only was William not Robert’s son, but there were actually three different unrelated William Jones that ran the mill through the years. The second William, who was running it in 1871, had previously been working at mills in Llechylched and Llandrygarn, and later went to run Melin Adda on the other side of Amlwch.

As this blog is published I have only revised the histories of just a few of the mills (the three mills near Amlwch, Melin Adda, Melin y Borth and Melin y Pant, two in Llandrygarn, Melin Manaw and Melin Newydd and Melin Orsedd in Rhoscefnhir) . But the process is ongoing and I hope to have all the pages updated in the near future.


Warren Kovach is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.

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