John was born in Mulbarton, Norfolk, and baptised in the parish church of St Mary Magdalen on 8th June 1834, the first son and second child of Thomas TILLETT, Miller, and Ruth BAILEY. By 1841 the family had moved to Burgh next Aylsham where Thomas was the Miller in the fine old water mill that still stands beside the River Bure.
However, by 1846 the family had moved back south of Norwich, to Wreningham, where in the 1851 Census the family are living at Top Row, just off the old Turnpike road that runs south west from Norwich towards New Buckenham. The 1851 Census lists John as a Miller and, no doubt, he was apprenticed to his father. However, this was not to be the life for John.
(to be continued ...)