William Dutton took on the lease of Longmoor Mill in Sutton Park in 1825, paying his rent to the Warden and Society of Sutton. The mill, once known as the button mill because buttons were polished there for the Birmingham trade, had been converted back to being a corn mill. William’s daughter Ann was only a baby when the family moved in to the mill house, and she grew up there, sometimes going to the top of mill, like her namesake in Hardy’s novel “The Trumpet Major”, “where the wheat lay in bins, and where long rays like feelers stretched in from the sun through the little window and got nearly lost among cobwebs and timber.”
By 1851 William Dutton had prospered and taken on the lease of Warren House Farm, employing eight farmworkers to cultivate his 150 acres. He also had the lease of nearby New Hall Mill, describing himself as “Farmer and Miller” with four mill employees. Ann Dutton was now Ann Brockas, married to a miller, Henry Brockas, living in the mill house at New Hall Mill. Ann’s four-year-old daughter, also called Ann, is listed as living with her grandfather at Warren House in the 1851 census, while her 2-year old son William is at the mill house. In the 1850s the mill was very busy, often working through the night, and Ann, with her long experience of corn-milling, was a useful additional miller, going, as Hardy puts it, “to the inner part of the mill, where the air was warm and nutty, and pervaded by a fog of flour”.
Ann Brockas had three more children, then in 1856 her husband died, leaving her in charge of the mill. Shortly afterwards her father died, and the lease of Warren House and New Hall Mill passed to William Dutton’s relatives, Joseph and Thomas Dutton, also farmers and millers. The Dutton brothers renewed the leases of Warren House and New Hall Mill (the owner was John de Hely Chadwick of New Hall) for a further 21 years, but both of them lived elsewhere - Joseph Dutton had a farm of 350 acres in Little Sutton (Dutton’s Lane ran through it). They employed Henry Brighton as the miller, and set up Ann Brockas (now 37 years old) as the farmer at Warren House - the 1861 census shows her there with her five children, occupation - farmer of 150 acres.
The Dutton family association with corn milling in Sutton ended in 1866 when the lease of New Hall Mill was transferred to the Adcockes, and Ann Brockas moved away from Sutton - in 1871 she was a beer house retailer in Birmingham.