Francis Davis Millet

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Francis Davis Millet

Birthplace: Mattapoisett, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: April 15, 1912 (65)
At Sea on the Titanic
Immediate Family:

Son of Asa Millet and Hulda Allen Millet
Husband of Elizabeth Greeley Millet
Father of Katherine Field Millet; Edwin Abby Millet; Laurence Frederick Millet and John Alfred Parsons Millet
Brother of Susan Bryam Millet; Lucia Allen Baxter; Josiah Byram Millet and Charles Sumner Millet

Occupation: Artist and Journalist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Francis Davis Millet

  • Name: Mr Francis Davis Millet
  • Born: Tuesday 3rd November 1846 in Mattapoisett Massachusetts United States
  • Age: 65 years 5 months and 12 days.
  • Last Residence: in East Bridgewater Massachusetts United States - Map
  • Occupation: Artist
  • 1st Class passenger
  • First Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
  • Ticket No. 13509 , £26 11s
  • Cabin No.: E38
  • Died in the sinking.
  • Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 249)
  • Buried: Saint John's Central Cemetery Bridgewater Massachusetts United States

Mr Francis Davis Millet, 65, was born on 3 November 1846 in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.

Accompanying his surgeon father to the Civil War, Millet served as a drummer boy to a Massachusetts regiment and later served as a surgical assistant. A brilliant student at Harvard, he became a reporter, then city editor, of the Boston Courier. From a pastime of lithography and portraiture of friends, he decided to devote himself to art. Entering the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Antwerp, Belgium, he won an unprecedented silver medal in his first year and a gold medal in the second. A constant traveller, Millet kept his newspaper contacts open, and during the Russian-Turkish War he represented with distinction several American and English newspapers. He was decorated by Russia and Rumania for bravery under fire and services to the wounded. Millet's literary talents led him to publish accounts of his travels and, besides writing short stories and essays, he translated Tolstoy's Sebastopol.

Millet's work as a decorative artist includes the murals of the Baltimore Customs House, Trinity Church of Boston, and the Capitol Buildings of Wisconsin and Minnesota. His paintings are found in the Metropolitan Museum, New York City, and the Tate Gallery, London (see illustration above). In addition, his administrative skills, won him acclaim as superintendent of decoration at the World's Colombian Exhibition in Chicago (1893), and as organizer of the American Federation of the Arts for the National Academy. At a memorial for Millet in 1913, Senator Elihu Root said:

"He must have been born with a sense of the beautiful and a love for it, for he devoted his life to it....He was one of the most unassuming and unselfish of men....He was a man of great strength and force, decision and executive capacity....He always pressed on to the accomplishment of his purposes, purposes in which self was always subordinate...."

In 1912 Millet resided in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 13509, £26 11s) He occupied cabin E-38. He accompanied his friend Major Archibald Butt.

While on board the Titanic Millet wrote to a friend, the letter, which was posted in Queenstown. In the letter he complains about his fellow passengers:

Queer lot of people on the ship. There are a number of obnoxious, ostentatious American women, the scourge of any place they infest and worse on shipboard than anywhere".

He also observed a number of passengers that had brought their pets with them:

"Many of them carry tiny dogs, and lead husbands around like pet lambs."

Millet died in the sinking, his body was recovered from the sea by the crew of the MacKay Bennett (#249):

Mr Millet's story was told in a limited edition biography published privately by Joyce Sharpey-Schafer: "Soldier of Fortune: F.D. Millet," (The volume is now out-of-print.) And in Washington DC a memorial was erected to his memory and that of his friend Major Butt.

References and Sources

  • Hudson Observer, 17 April 1912, Millet, the Artist, is Reported among the many Drowned
  • Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
  • Brian Ticehurst (1996) Titanics Memorials World-wide: Where they are Located. ISBN 1 871733 05 7


  • George Behe, USA
  • Frederica Romeo Burgess
  • Lee Dixon
  • Vincent Riley
  • Hermann Söldner, Germany
  • Craig Stringer, UK
  • Geoff Whitfield, UK


Resided 1860: Abington, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Resided 1880: East Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts

AKA Frank


Buried: Central Cemetery, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts

New York Times

Funeral Service for Millet

Thursday 2 May 1912

BOSTON, May 1--- The body of Francis D. Millet, the artist, who was one of the victims of the Titanic disaster, is en route to Boston in charge of Laurence Millet, a son. Funeral services are to be held in the chapel at Mount Auburn Cemetery to-morrow afternoon. After the services, the body will be take to Mr. Millet's old home in East Bridgewater, where services will be held in the First Unitarian Church Friday afternoon.


Died in the Titanic disaster. In 1912 Millet resided in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 13509, £26 11s) He occupied cabin E-38. He accompanied his friend Major Archibald Butt.

While on board the Titanic Millet wrote to a friend, the letter, which was posted in Queenstown. In the letter he complains about his fellow passengers:

Queer lot of people on the ship. There are a number of obnoxious, ostentatious American women, the scourge of any place they infest and worse on shipboard than anywhere".

He also observed a number of passengers that had brought their pets with them:

"Many of them carry tiny dogs, and lead husbands around like pet lambs."

Millet died in the sinking, his body was recovered from the sea by the crew of the MacKay Bennett (#249):


CLOTHING - Light overcoat; black pants; grey jacket; evening dress

EFFECTS - Gold watch and chain; "F.D.M." on watch; glasses; two gold studs; silver tablet bottle; £2 10s in gold; 8s in silver; pocketbook


The body was forwarded to Boston and buried at East Bridgwater Central Cemetery.

Jioned the 60th Massachusetts Militia as a Private on July 8, 1864

New York Times


Tuesday 16 April 1912

Noted Artist Famed as War Correspondent and Traveler


Frank D. Millet, a noted artist and correspondent, was born at Mattapoisett, Mass., in 1846. His adventurous temperament led him to enlist as a drummer boy at the beginning of the Civil War. He was soon promoted to the position of assistant in the surgeons' corps, which he held for a year, seeing a great deal of active service.

When the war was over, he returned to Massachusetts and entered Harvard. On graduation he went into journalism, joining the staff of the Boston Advertiser. Later he was City Editor of the Boston Courier and head of the Boston Saturday Evening Gazette.

In 1871 he took up the study of art at the Royal Academy in Antwerp, where he won a much-coveted prize in his first year. His success obtained for him the position of secretary to Charles Francis Adams when the latter was appointed commissioner to the Vienna Exposition of 1873. Though only 27, Millet managed there to keep up his art studies, do his duties as secretary and report the exposition for two New York newspapers.

In 1876 he returned to his native country and got to work harder than ever. Not only did he report the centennial Exposition at Philadelphia for the Boston Advertiser, but he found time to assist John La Farge in decorating Trinity Church, Boston's most famous place of worship.

In 1877 he became war correspondent for the New York Herald in the Russo-Turkish War and acquitted himself so brilliantly that his work attracted the attention of the editors of the London Daily Mail, who appointed him their correspondent to succeed the celebrated Archibald Forbes. Millet was by the side of the Russian General Skobeleff in a good part of the liveliest fighting in the war and wrote thrilling descriptions of the big events of the campaign. He also drew graphic sketches, and emerged from the war with no less than six decorations for bravery under fire.

After that he went to Paris and devoted himself for a while to serious art study. He was chosen a member of the Fine Arts Jury of the Paris Exposition in 1878. Returning to Boston, he married and settled down for a while, but in 1881 he was again on the move, making sketches for the Harpers in Europe. Soon after he settled down in Worcestershire, England, where his home has been ever since.

In the last quarter of a century Millet became more and more widely known as an artist and his work earned for him decorations from half a dozen countries. He was pre-eminently a painter of easel pictures, but also won distinction as a mural decorator and in other lines of artistic work. In New York he has been exceedingly popular and a well-known figure at all sorts of functions. He is an excellent story-teller, possesses remarkable social qualities and was a general favorite wherever he went.

Millet's amazing record as a traveler made him a familiar figure all over the world. It was related of him that when he was traveling on one occasion with a friend in an out-of-the-way corner of Japan his companion jokingly said: "Millet, at last we're in a place where nobody knows you." Hardly had he spoken when a waiter came up and addressed Millet by his name. It turned out that he had accompanied the Japanese delegation sent to the Chicago Exposition.

Millet has, in fact, been practically everywhere except to the arctic and antarctic regions. His latest trip abroad took him to Italy, where he was at the head of the American Academy at Rome.

Among the institutions possessing canvases by Millet are the Metropolitan Museum of Art here, the Detroit Museum, the Union League Club, the Duquesne Club of Pittsburgh and the National Gallery of New Zealand. Of late he was engaged in making mural decorations for a number of public buildings, including the State Capitol at St. Paul, Minn., the Court House at Newark, the Customs House at Baltimore and the Federal Building at Cleveland.

Francis Davis Millet

American artist


"Frank" D. Millet was the host of this small Broadway colony with his Farnham House (1885) and then the Russell House (1886-) being the two successive Broadway homes. He was 39 when he and Sargent were at Broadway in '85.

Frank was one of those guys that seemed to have his hand into just about everything. He had boundless energy -- was capable and endowed with an amazing array of talents -- a real Renaissance guy. He was connected with the highest levels socially and in the art world. The digested bio of him pegs him as an American Painter, but he was much more than that. He was an illustrator and writer, a war correspondent, he translated Tolstoy, and even had the presence to die heroically (sort of) at the age of 66. If there was ever a need to tell a good story, it must be of Frank Millet's life.

  • * *

Frank was born at Mattapoisett, Mass, on November 3, 1846. He was a drummer boy with the Union forces in the Civil War, graduated from Harvard college with a degree in literature in 1869. Two years later ('71) he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium.

He returned to the States in '75 to become a correspondent for the "Advertiser" at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. In 1876, he painted murals at Trinity Church with John LaFarge.

During the Russian Turkish War of 1877-78, he became a war correspondent for several newspapers both in American and England, and for which he was decorated twice by the Russian government. Afterwards he got himself appointed one of the United States members to the international art jury for the Paris Exposition of 1878.

He married Elizabeth Merrill in Paris the following year ('79). Elizabeth, or Lily as she was called -- a stunningly beautiful, intelligent, and engaging woman, was a sister of Frank's friend from Harvard. Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Mark Twain (the latter Frank would paint) were the witnesses at their marriage. They would have four children: Edwin after Edwin Abbey, Kate, Laurence, and John Alfred Parsons Millet -- named after both Sargent and Alfred Parson. All the children were at Broadway when Sargent was there. He exhibited art at the Salon in Paris, the Royal Academy in London. In 1887 he translated an English version of Tolstoy's "Sebastopol". He was director of the decorations at the Columbia exposition, Chicago, 1893, involved with the men of the City Beautiful Movement, and in 1898 at the age of 52, he went to the Philippines again as a war correspondent.

If there was anything important going on, Millet seemed to be there. It would be on his way back to New York from London alone (without his wife and family) that he would finally find himself in the right place but at the wrong time. On Sunday April 14th, 1912, Millet booked first class passage on the maiden voyage of the Royal Mail Ship Titanic. At 2:20 am the following morning after having struck an iceberg, she sank below the surface of the cold North Atlantic. Francis Davis Millet was last seen helping women and children into lifeboats.

Can you believe it? What a guy! What a life!

The list of his accomplishments is long. In 1880 Millet became a member of the Society of American Artists, and in '85 was elected to the National Academy of design, New York. He was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art during some of the formative years; secretary of the American Academy at Rome and Vice chairman of the Fine Arts committee; was on the advisory committee of the National Gallery of Art; and was instrumental in getting an old friend from his Antwerp days, Otto Grundman, successfully appointed Director of the newly formed School of the Museum of the Fine Arts in Boston.

His easil work was predominately period genera scenes which were popular with the English public. His home at Broadway afforded him a perfect setting and frame of mind for painting things and places from long ago, as Broadway itself had a feel of a place that time forgot.

A firm believer in the decorative arts - his works could be seen at Trinity church, Boston; the Bank of Pittsburgh; the capitol at St. Paul, Minn.; the old Hudson Court House, NY; Essex County Court House, Newark; the Customs House in Baltimore; and the Federal Building in Cleveland. His pictures are in many public collections, among them being "A Cosy Corner" in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and "Between Two Fires" in the Tate gallery, London. Besides his translation of Tolstoy, he also wrote essays and short stories. Among his publications are "The Dnnude"(1891), "Capillary Crime and Other Stories" (1892) and "Expedition to the Philippines" (1899).

By many accounts he was a capable crafted artists but some lamented that he hadn't spent all his energy just with literature and writing which he was good at.


Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 15, William Benton, 1962 P.498

Stanley Olson, "John Singer Sargent, His Portrait", pp. 120-123

  • * *

For Sargent to have had the luck to become associated with, and even befriended by such a man, presented such an opportunity for the young artists. In the shadow of his darker moment the time at Broadway would forever turn the tide and eventually open doors that most artist can only dream of.


New York Times


Friday 24 October 1913

Fountain to Titanic Victims to be Erected Near White House


WASHINGTON, Oct. 23---Plans will be completed in the near future for the dedication of a fountain erected south of the White House in honor of the memories of Major Archibald W. Butt, former White House military attaché, and Francis D. Millet, painter and author, who lost their lives in the Titanic disaster early in 1912. Announcement of the completion of the fountain was made to-day. Former President Taft is Chairman of the committee which raised the fund for the erection.

The fountain is small but artistic. It includes a large bowl of Tennessee marble, from the centre of which rises a shaft to the height of 12 feet. The water is thrown aloft from four globes brimming over the sides of the bowl in a cascade.


Francis Davis Millet, who was born at Mattapoisett, Mass., after serving with the Union army as drummer boy in the Civil War, was graduated at Harvard University.He then devoted himself to art, studying in Europeand becoming celebrated as a painter. At the Columbian World's Fair at Chicago, in 1893, he had charge of the decorative features and was director of festivities, originating the scheme of treatment that gave rise to the name "The White City." He devised also the scheme of mural decoration for the exhibition buildings that gave such an impetus to the art of mural painting for public buildings of this country. In literature and journalism he also became celebrated; he has written several books and numerous magazine articles--fiction, travel, etc.--and was a notable war correspondent with the Russian army in the Russo-Turkish war,and twenty years afterwards with the American army in the Manila campaign.



"History of the Town of Leeds, Androscoggin County, Maine" Chapter III Pg243-252 (A digital copy of this reference can be found on

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Francis Davis Millet's Timeline

November 3, 1846
Mattapoisett, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
January 28, 1880
Age 33
Massachusetts, United States
July 15, 1881
Age 34
Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
July 23, 1884
Age 37
London, England, United Kingdom
July 8, 1888
Age 41
London, England, United Kingdom
April 15, 1912
Age 65
At Sea on the Titanic
Boston, United States