What evidence is there that John Mildenhall who died in India is the same man who married Elizabeth Bates in Wiltshire?

+5 votes
152 views
As far as I can tell, there is not a single shred of evidence to support the identification of John Mildenhall, merchant (who is described as being "of London") with the Mildenhalls of Wiltshire. John Mildenhall who died in India should probably be disconnected from his putative wife (of whom I can find no contemporary record) and son.
WikiTree profile: John Mildenhall
in Genealogy Help by C Handy G2G6 Pilot (130k points)
retagged by C Handy
Agreed. I looked up the passage mentioned in his Wikipedia article. (Discussing Lake Van, Turkey) "there is abundance of fish, which come of themselves to one end of the hike ; which I may compare to our herring-time at Yermouth [Great Yarmouth], where the countrey-people doe resort from divers places and catch the said fish in great abundance, which they salt and dry and keepe them all the yeare for their food ; the fish are as big as pilcherds."

Hard to imagine someone from Wiltshire being familiar with fishing in Great Yarmouth.
There is also a Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, which is much nearer Wiltshire.
But it's still not very near, and Yarmouth and the North Sea coast were very well known for the herring fishery.
The Solent is not renowned for those great shoals of herring, mackerel waters. Almost certainly refers to Great Yarmouth.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Hi C.

The question might be are there two John Mildenhalls?  One perhaps from Wiltshire who married Elizabeth Bates, and a separate one who is the merchant who went to India.

Or is Elizabeth Bates and the son complete inventions?

If Elizabeth Bates and husband John Mildenhall did exist, then perhaps it would be better to leave them as is ,and create a separate profile for the other John Mildenhall, merchant of London?
by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (486k points)
I have not been able to find any evidence to support the existence of Elizabeth Bates or to verify the claimed marriage year of 1579; it appears without a source citation in many online genealogies, but this is the only place it appears, as far as I can tell. Whether or not there was a John Mildenhall who was the father of Thomas, I can't say; there isn't one in the Wiltshire parish registers under the spellings of "Mildenhall", "Midnall", or "Minall", but absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence.
+2 votes
I have contacted the Mendenhall historian and waiting to hear if she has any input on this. I will let you all know what I hear.

Jacky
by Jacqueline Clark G2G6 Pilot (162k points)
Response
Jacky, at the Mendenhall.org website there is a slide presentation by Dean Leonard (past historian for the Association - now deceased) that was given at the 2002 reunion in Salt Lake City.  Dean did a lot of research on this John Mildenhall.  At the bottom of each slide there are notes. 
From the first slide notes: In Feb 2001, my wife and I traveled to India where I located the grave of John Mildenhall. Little is known of John's life before 1598. At that point there were letters written by John and others that shed quite a bit of detail about him. Also, records of the East India Company reveal his transactions with them. According to tradition, he was born about 1560 in Little Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England. He married Elizabeth Bates and they had at least one child. He later fathered two children with an Indian woman in Persia. He died in 1614 and was buried in Agra, India. But where in Agra, now a city of over 1,000,000 people? That was the question that I wanted to answer while I was in India.
Slide 23, 24, 25 shows John Mildenhall's burial place and headstone, with inscription.
Also, here is what appears in the notes section in the Mendenhall database - don't know who wrote this:
John gained a good deal of experience on merchant ships and became a ships captain in the employ of Richard Staper, a merchant of London. He had traveled as far as Constantinople and the Mesopotamian region by 1598. Late that year he returned to London.
  In Feb 1599, he set sail on an epic, ten year journey to the Far East. He set sail first for Constantinople in the "Hector" and arrived in October. During that winter he heard that an expedition sponsored by Queen Elizabeth to launch a British trading venture with India had failed. John decided to do it himself.
  England wanted to enhance its economic and political power. To do this they had set up the British East India Company to establish trade rights and possible monopolies with the Persians and the old Mogul Emperors of India. Privy Council Papers of 1599-1600 record letters from Queen Elizabeth to Sir John Harte, Alderman Banninge and their fellow adventurers setting off for India. She wished them well and gave a few instructions.They had six ships financed by the Crown.
  Previously in 1583 and in 1591 the British Levant Company had sent expeditions to India and had failed. The 1599 expedition likewise failed, not even succeeding in getting around the Cape of Good Hope.
  Meanwhile John was at Constantinople and decided to travel the overland route to reach the Mogul Emperor Akbar. He organized a large caravan of 600 persons.
  John spent some time in Persia and bought and sold in order to augment his funds. He finally arrived in Lahore, India in 1603. His plan was to claim to be the Queen's personal ambassador in order to arrange trade concessions. He could then greatly profit by offering these trading privileges to the English Crown. He spent three years in Agra. He saw the Mogul and presented him 29 Persian horses and jewels and was very convincing as an ambassador. He requested trade facilities like the Portuguese had and non-interference in the war the British were fighting then with the Portuguese. The Mogul refused. There were Portuguese Jesuits there who opposed the Englishman. The Mogul offered some money and some trading privileges but John refused, deciding to wait him out.
  While waiting he learned the language and in six months got all he requested from the Emperor. He even promised to have Queen Elizabeth's ambassador come to live there as a hostage for the peaceable behavior of his countrymen. They signed papers and then also signed papers with Akbar's son, Emperor Jahangir, who ruled in Eastern India at that time.
  This accomplished, John started on his way back to England in Oct 1606. He stopped over again in Persia and sent a letter to the East India Company. In it he declared what privileges he had obtained. He offered his documents and services in exchange for £1500 and a high position in the East India Company. The company deferred its decision saying John's demands were unreasonable, particularly his demand for a high position. By 27 Jul 1609 he was back in England and appealed to King James directly. He said he had just completed ten years of travel and had discovered great trade in the dominions of the Great Mogul. He even asked if he could conduct the trade privileges himself. Finally the Company gave in and appointed him as a factor and paid him a substantial sum.
  Within two years the English began establishing trading stations on the east coast of India. From there the company grew to dominate the Far Eastern trade and eventually the British Empire itself developed from that.
  John remained at odds with the East India Company and couldn't wait to get out of London again. He sailed with a shipment from Staper and other London merchants. He went to Constantinople and this time tried to sail on farther, through the Black Sea. But the Turks attacked him there and pursued him for many miles. Finally they captured him and accused him of being a Persian spy because he spoke their language. He was saved by the nearest English ambassador and continued on his journey. This was only the second journey by an Englishman through the Black Sea. He arrived in Apr1614 at Ajimer where the Indian Royal Court was located. But he became ill and died within two months. Before he died he sent a letter back to London. It read, "English cloth will not sell; it is only bought by great men to cover their elephants and make saddles for their horses; for garments they use no such thing in these parts, neither in rain nor in cold."
  John had married a Persian woman and kept her in Persia. In addition to the children of his first wife he had two children by his Persian wife. When he died he left his estate to the children of his Persian wife. He was buried in Agra, India in the Catholic Cemetery. It is the oldest known gravestone of a Mendenhall and is the oldest English monument in India. He was the only Englishman to visit both of the royal courts of the Emperors Akbar and Jahangir.
I hope this helps. The database is confusing - it shows two sets of children born to a Persian mother. - different birth dates.  Don't know which is correct.  I don't know how to prove one or the other as don't have information about when John traveled to India over the years. It looks like he travelled there more than once. Also, the Mendenhall Family Association is planning a trip to Mendenhall England next fall - visiting remaining relatives in the Wilshire area.  The information is on the Association's Facebook page. 

Ann

https://www.mendenhall.org/mfa/reunion/2002/slide-presentations/JohnMildenhallIndia/index.htm

Not a bit of that addresses the question of whether John Mildenhall the merchant was of Wiltshire (which no contemporary record says he was; they all say "of London"). The connection to a romantic figure feels like the sort of falsely claimed pedigree on the basis of "name's the same" that was exceptionally common in 19th century American genealogies; again I ask this: where is a single primary source that identifies John Mildenhall the India merchant with a man in Wiltshire, or with a wife called Elizabeth Bates?

Unfortunately some of it is also incorrect.  I did do some research to answer another question about him.  His two children with the Persian woman were definitely described as illegitimate, and he didn't leave them his estate (if he had such a thing) but his goods (I presume the goods he was using to trade), though they didn't belong to him anyway.

Having had a further look, the entire pedigree is suspect; the earliest verifiable Mildenhall of Wiltshire I can find is Thomas who died in 1682, who left a will proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (this Thomas appears as a Quaker on recusant rolls). There is no record of the two previous generations also named Thomas who are claimed to be father and grandfather of Thomas d. 1682; they do not appear in parish registers, nor are there any records in the UK National Archives that I can find. And again, there is absolutely nothing whatever to connect John Mildenhall who died in India to Wiltshire, to a wife called Elizabeth Bates, or to a son called Thomas.

There are a some earlier Wiltshire 'Mildenhall' probates. (haven't time to read them. (note see discussion on surname spelling https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/126584/using-the-lnab-mendenhall-when-it-should-be-mildenhall

They do show there was a John Minoll in Little Bedwyn in 1603. Doesn't mean he is  John Mildenhall, Merchant. This one can't be since he was present in 1603 when John Mildenhall, Merchant was on his travels.

Wiltshire Wills (on Ancestry)

Inventory Robert Mynoll, Little Bedwyn,  taken by son John 1603 admin next page.

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/sharing/25237187?h=ff7733&utm_campaign=bandido-webparts&utm_source=post-share-modal&utm_medium=copy-url

 Will, Thomas Minoll sr 1639 Marridge Hill Ramsbury (fits with https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Mildenhall-56)

  https://www.ancestry.co.uk/sharing/25237072?h=503a48&utm_campaign=bandido-webparts&utm_source=post-share-modal&utm_medium=copy-url

Admin Anne Minoll widow Marridge Hill 1641 to Thomas https://www.ancestry.co.uk/sharing/25237078?h=b488dd&utm_campaign=bandido-webparts&utm_source=post-share-modal&utm_medium=copy-url

Daniel Mildenhall, Pewsey who died intestate in 1633, administration to Margaret, widow.

Will & inventory of Francis of Little Bedwyn 1673

(plus later ones)

Some Mynoll, Minole, Minall in  17th c registers  or BTs for Little Bedwyn, Great Bedwyn and Ramsbury + elsewhere in Wilts

eg Anne d of Thomas baptised 1606  Ramsbury https://www.ancestry.co.uk/sharing/25237118?h=aa8f94&utm_campaign=bandido-webparts&utm_source=post-share-modal&utm_medium=copy-url

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