Friday, March 20, 2009


Jean Milligan was the first born child of Robert Milligan and Jean Dunbar. She was born in London in 1782, the year following her parents' marriage, and named after both her mother and maternal grandmother, Jean Davidson.
Jean would have enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle spent in both her father’s London and Hampstead residences, and also their country home in the beautiful Cotswolds in Gloucester. Being a very affluent and well-respected London businessman, Robert Milligan and his family certainly associated with London’s high society of the time.
Jean married quite late in life for the period in which she lived...she was in her late twenties when in 1811 she married one of the business associates of her father.
Thomas Hughan was an unmarried bachelor with two ‘natural born’ daughters, Margaret and Jane. Like Robert Milligan, he was Scots by birth, and a very successful merchant based initially in Liverpool and then in London but with other interests in Jamaica, where he had resided for twelve years. It is most likely that during this period in Jamaica his two illegitimate daughters were born. He was a member of Parliament for East Retford in Nottinghamshire in 1806-7, and then for Dundalk in Ireland from 1808 until the time of his death in 1811.
Thomas and Jean had just under nine months together as man and wife. Towards the end of Jean’s pregnancy her husband fell ill and two days later, on October 29, he died. He had been residing at their residence at North End, Hampstead, and Jean was at their Devonshire Place home in London. Because of the nature of his illness (“inflammation of the bowel”), Thomas is not likely to have wanted to risk the health of either his wife or unborn child. There is no mention of her having visited him during the period of his illness, and she definitely wasn’t present at the time of his death.
It was most probably the shock of the sudden loss of her husband that sent Jean Milligan Hughan into labour, and baby Thomas Hughan arrived two days after his father’s death, on October 31, 1811. He would only have been slightly premature, as it was almost exactly nine months since his parents had celebrated their marriage.

At this traumatic time of her life Jean would have been drawn back into the close family circle of her mother and sisters, and baby Thomas would have grown up the shining light in a family of doting women. His maternal grandmother Jean Dunbar Milligan died when he was nine, but his spinster aunts Justina and Mary Milligan survived well into his adulthood, as did his mother Jean. He also had his father’s only living sister, Jane Hughan Dalzell, to lend support. Besides his two half-sisters, she was the only contact Thomas had with his Hughan heritage, as his paternal grandmother Margaret Gerran Hughan and his uncle Alexander Hughan had both died in 1810, the year before his own birth. His half-sisters, Jane Hughan and Margaret Hughan Spence, both died while Thomas was still a young boy, the latter in Edinburgh in 1818, and the former in the same city in 1817.
His aunt Jane Dalzell married in her forties and had no children of her own, and so Thomas fared very well with her will when she died in 1836. He was a beneficiary in several wills, as detailed below:
Jane Hughan Dalzell: paternal aunt. Made her will in 1826. “For the love and affection which I have for Thomas Hughan, my nephew, only son of the deceased Thomas Hughan Esq of Airds, my brother German, and for the respect and gratitude which I owe to the memory of my said brother, I convey to the said Thomas Hughan my nephew all my lands, tenements and other estates now belonging and owning to me”. She also left Thomas Hughan money, and made him sole executor of her will, sidestepping her husband James Dalzell.

Justina Milligan: maternal aunt.To my dear nephew and Godson Thomas Hughan I give five hundred pounds. I also beg his acceptance of my large maps printed under the direction of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge and some books set apart for his use. To his dear wife Lady Louisa Hughan I leave one hundred pounds in token of affectionate regard. To my dear grand-neice Janetta Hughan I give fifty pounds, and to my dear little God daughter Wilhelmina Mary I bequeath two hundred pounds.” 1840

Jean Milligan: maternal grandmother. “Twenty five pounds to my two dear grandchildren Thomas Hughan and Sophie Milligan.” 1820

Jean Milligan Hughan: mother. All her household goods and furniture at Grosvenor Place, Hyde Park, as well as plate, linen, china, books, pictures, horses and carriages. Also two thousand pounds duty free for his absolute use, the amount of a legacy left to her by her late sister, Justina Milligan. 1854.

Thomas Hughan: father. Apart from bequests to his 'natural' daughters Jane and Margaret, Thomas Hughan left all of his estate to his wife Jean and their unborn child, who, since he was an only son and heir, inherited everything anyway by Law.

Jane Hughan: half-sister from his father’s first marriage. Jane wrote her will in 1817, just prior to her death. Except for a bequest to her cousins, the Stirling sisters, and one friend, Jane left all that she possessed to her sister Margaret. She made the provision that if she outlived her sister, the remainder of her money after her bequests was to go to Thomas Hughan. Margaret outlived Jane by just over a year, and she made no bequest to her half-brother, so Thomas received none of his sisters’ estates.

We are fortunate that one of the most prolific letter writers of the period, poet and writer Joanna Baillie, was on intimate terms with Jean Milligan Hughan and her family, and mentioned them in her letters to others. A collection of these letters, published under the title “The Collected Letters of Joanna Baillie”, as edited by Judith Bailey Slagle in 1999, includes correspondence which describes visiting Jean Hughan and her sisters in Gloucestershire, as well as the fortunes of the Milligan family. Joanna’s much-loved niece Elizabeth Margaret Baillie married Jean Hughan’s brother, Robert Milligan, so there was a family connection by marriage between Jean and Joanna.
On November 12, 1827, Joanna wrote from her Hampstead home:
“ Agnes ( her sister) and I have been in Gloucester lately, passing a short time with Mrs. Hughan and her sisters, a visit both pleasant and melancholy. Justina Milligan has done a great deal to improve their place, which is now a beautiful commodious residence, surrounded as it is by fine beechwoods, it still retained great richness and beauty even in the end of October.
The good these ladies do in that neighbourhood, by helping and teaching the poor to help themselves and giving work to the men at reasonable wages is scarcely to be imagined but by those who are on the spot; it gave us great satisfaction to witness it.
And we were very much pleased too by finding young Hughan so decidedly improved in body and mind- a docile, intelligent sociable lad and promising fairly to be a real comfort to his mother and his Aunts. Mary Milligan is so much better since she followed Dr. Granville’s advice in her diet that there are now considerable hopes of her entire recovery.”
Another collection of published letters, this time by Maria Edgeworth, also tells of dining at the home of Mrs Hughan:
“April 6, 1822.
We dined at Mrs. Hughan’s (footnote: Jean, daughter of Robert Milligan Esq, of Cotswold, Gloucestershire): select party for Sir William Pepys, who is 82, a most agreeable, lively old gentleman, who tells delightful anecdotes of Mrs. Montague, Sir Joshua, Burke and Dr. Johnson. Excellent house of Mrs. Hughan’s, full of flowers and luxuries.”

This “house of Mrs Hughan’s” would most likely have been her home at 33 Grosvenor Place, although there was a record of “Mrs Hughan of Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square” recorded as subscribing to ‘The Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline and the reformation of Juvenile Offenders’ in 1822. Grosvenor Place formed the eastern boundary of Belgravia, extending southward from St. George's Hospital, and overlooking the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
33 Grovsenor Place was – and is to this day- a huge building. The 1841 census shows that the Hughans had eleven live-in servants to run the household, and in 1851 Jean and her widowed son still employed a valet, footman, helper, housekeeper, cook, housemaid, lady’s maid and a governess.
On December 28, 1835, Jean’s son Thomas, aged 24, married Lady Louisa Georgiana Beauclerk, a daughter of William Beauclerk, the 8th Duke of St. Albans. Louisa married on her 29th birthday, and just under nine months later, at her mother-in-law’s family residence at Cotswold House, Gloucestershire, she gave birth to Jean’s first grandchild, a daughter named Janetta Hughan.
Two more daughters followed...Wilhelmina Mary Hughan, known as Mary and born in London in 1840; and Justina Louisa Hughan, born in London in 1841.She was named after her great aunt, Justina Milligan, who died the year before her birth in 1840.
Jean Milligan Hughan was the head of the Grosvenor Place residence, and with her until her death lived her son Thomas, daughter-in-law Louisa (until her death in 1843) and three little granddaughters.
The Grosvenor residence seems to have been given up by Thomas Hughan sometime after the death of his mother in 1854. A Court Guide to London in 1852 mentioned ‘Thomas Hughan, Esq, of 33 Grosvenor Place”, but a street directory for 1859 has him at “38 Halkin Terrace”.
I can’t locate Thomas Hughan in the 1861 or 1871 census returns, either in England or in Scotland where he had a large estate at Airds, but when he wrote his will in 1875 he was residing at 6 Halkin Street West.
At the time of Jean Milligan’s death in 1854, she was still living at 33 Grosvenor Place and also spending time with her Milligan family at Cotswold House in Gloucestershire. She was seventy years old when, on January 11th, 1854, she fell ill. Like her husband 43 years before, Jean Hughan died after an illness of only two days, passing away in her Grosvenor Place home on January 13, 1854.

The Times newspaper reported the event as follows:
“ On the 13th inst, at her residence 33 Grosvenor Place, Jean, the widow of Thomas Hughan Esq, M.P., after an illness of 2 days, aged 70.”
-London Times, Monday, January 16, 1854.

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