Millais family page
The famous member of this family is artist John Everett Millais
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Origin of Surname
Strangely, for a name which has been present in Jersey for at least eight centuries, and quite probably longer, we have been unable to find any reference to its derivation.
There is no clear concensus on the meaning of the closest French surnames Millet, Milley and Milhet, nor any reason to believe that Millais is associated with them.
Millais, in its many variants, has been recorded in Jersey since the early 14th century and is among the first baptism records of St Saviour, four children of John Millais and an unknown Perronelle, being baptised between 1542 and 1547. Perronelle died in 1558, probably while giving birth to another child, which was not baptised, and there was a fifth child, also not baptised, who died in 1555.
The family of Millais has held, for centuries, a place among the lesser landholders of Jersey. Of earliest Norman settlement in the island, there can he little doubt that the name of Millais existed here long prior to the Conquest of England. Geoffray de Millay, according to some chroniclers, fought under William I at Hastings, and possibly was the patriarch of the English families of Millet, Milles, and others of similarly sounding names.
"Les Monts Millais", a bold range of hills to the north-east of the town of St Helier, and the "Cueillette de Millais", one of the "gatherings" or vingtaines of the parish of St Ouen, seem to prove that in times beyond not only history, but even tradition, members of this family were among the opulent and powerful "dwellers within the isle".
In 1331, the Extente, or Royal Rent Roll of Jersey, of that year, shews that Geoffray Milayes owed to the Crown ten sols for a bouvée of land held by him in the parish of Grouville.
In 1381 the properties of John and Guille Millays were taxed by the Prior of St Clement, as appears by an extract from the Archives of St Lo, in Normandy. In 1402, various other members of the family, which then apparently had its headquarters in this parish, owed several rents to the great Priory of St Clement, as appears from another extract from the same depositary.
About the middle of the 15th century, the head of this house, who always appears to have been a John Millais, settled in St Saviour's parish, and is recorded, in 1409, in a manuscript register of Sire John Hue, curate of the parish, as owing half-a-pound of wax to the church.
In 1527 Clement Myllais was Rector of the parish of St Saviour.
About 1540, John Myllais, by his marriage with the heiress of the Le Jarderay family, became possessed of the estate of Tapon, situated in St Saviour's parish. This estate remained in the family until the beginning of the present century. It is a dependency of the fief of Gorge or Bagot, and by its tenure the proprietor owed yearly to the Seigneur a pair of white gloves, three hens, three loaves, and a capon. The court books of this fief shew that the Millais family were somewhat troublesome tenants, and much opposed to the Seigneurial rights, which are, in the present day, regarded with the utmost distaste.
In 1629, at the period of Dr Heylin's visit to Guernsey, one of the family, termed by the learned Doctor, Millet, was a beneficed clergyman in the island, and was one of five ecclesiastics who prayed for local Church and State reform. Of his interview with these local pundits, Heylin gives, in his journal, a very humorous and graphic account.
In 1608, as appears by the Extente of that year, John Millais was a tenant of the Crown in the parishes of Grouville and St Clement.
- Millais, 1607
- Millaes 1528
- Myllais 1527
- Mileix 1461
- Millays, 1381
- Milayes 1531
- Milais, Milaeis, Milaeys 1309
- de Millay
- Descendants of John Millais (1331), the family tree of artist John Everett Millais
- Descendants of John Everett Millais, the artist's descendants
As will be seen from the trees above and the baptisms below, the Millais family died out in Jersey in the late 19th century. John Everett Millais had one brother, William Henry, also born in Southampton, and he married and raised his family in London.
John Everett's uncle George Henry married Mary Maria Highland in St Ouen in 1847, and they had seven children in Jersey between 1848 and 1857. Their baptisms are the last on record for the family in the island. Burial records suggest that this family left Jersey.
The last burial on record in Jersey is that of Alice Millais (1866- ) at St Mark's Church in 1919, but her connection to the family is uncertain.
All John Everett Millais' children and grandchildren were born and lived in England, but the family's Jersey ancestry was recognised by the use of such baptismal names as Guille, Helier, de Carteret, Raoul and Amice for some of the children and grandchildren.
Prominent family members
John Everett Millais artist
Great War service
These wills created by members of the Millais family are now held by Jersey Archive. By visiting the archive site and using the names, dates and reference numbers shown here, it is possible to view a copy of each will. You will have to subscribe to the Archive's online service to do this. To find out more about this collection, which covers the period from 1663 to 1948, and how to search for your family's wills there, visit our Jersey wills page
- Ann Millais of St Helier - 26 February 1891, D/Y/A/50
- Edouard Millais of St Saviour, desires to be buried in St Saviour's Cemetery, bequeaths to the poor of St Saviour, £20 of the order of the King 22 February 1815 - D/Y/A/18
- Henrietta Millais, 23 Midvale Road - 17 November 1937, D/Y/A/101
- Isabel Millais, 19 Duhamel Place, St Helier - 14 April 1937, D/Y/A/100
- Marie Millais, daughter of Edouard of St Saviour, now of St Helier, bequeaths to the poor of St Saviour, £16 of the order of the King 30 August 1806 - D/Y/A/17
- Thomas Millais of St Helier, bequeaths to the St Helier Asylum for Infirm and Aged Women £10 - 14 June 1882, D/Y/A/42
- Thomas Millais was one of a succession of chemists to trade at 4 King Street. He was born in about 1816, the son of Abraham and Elizabeth Labey. His name appears in a 1874 almanac trade directory.