In 2008 a contributor to the Sheffield History Forum stated that

"Ernest Hall the grandfather of the famous author, Ernest Hemingway was born and bred in Sheffield"

The contributor received the response 

"Ernest Hall was a member of a famous Sheffield cutlery firm, and he first went over to the United States to start an American branch of the company. He did very well, and settled over there. I believe it was Hall's daughter who was Hemingway's mother. Well worth studying one of the better Hemingway biographies to get more details --and well worth someone's time to research the Sheffield background! "

Since 2008 no further information was added to the thread. Many articles, books, etc have been written about the life and works of Ernest Hemingway and so there was nothing I could add in that respect. There was very little either on-line or in print about Hemingway's "Sheffield connection". But amongst all the information about Hemingway, there was an excellent article on a blog by a writer Steve Newman about Hemingway's family background.

At the beginning of the article he gave the crucial piece of information - "His maternal grandfather, Ernest Hall, was born in Sheffield in 1840, and as a teenager worked for the family cutlery business before, in 1860, emigrating to America". The author then goes on to state that Ernest served bravely in the Civil War as a corporal with L Troop of the First Iowa Volunteer Cavalry - and stopped a Confederate rifle ball in his thigh. Hall, refused a disability pension, and started his own wholesale cutlery business in Chicago. Ernest soon became wealthy and built a large house in Oak Park which was to be the birthplace of his grandson Ernest."

The 1880 US Federal Census  has this record

Name: Ernest Hall
Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Birthdate: 1840 Birthplace: England
Relationship to Head: Self
Spouse's Name: Caroline H. Hall Spouse's Birthplace: England
Father's Name:
Father's Birthplace: England
Mother's Name:
Mother's Birthplace: England
Race or Color (Expanded): White Ethnicity (Standardized): American
Gender: Male Martial Status: Married
Age (Expanded): 40 years
Occupation: Cutlery/Merchant
NARA Film Number: T9-0194 Page: 468 Page Character: A Entry Number: 4784 Film number: 1254194
Household Gender Age Birthplace
SELF Ernest Hall M 40 England
WIFE Caroline H. Hall F 36 England
DAUGHTER Grace Hall F 8 Illinois, United States - (GRACE was Hemingway's mother)
SON Leicester C. Hall M 6 Illinois, United  States
Benjamin T. Hancock M 32 England
Lena Hacker F 20 Germany
Source Citation - "United States Census, 1880," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 July
2012), Ernest Hall, Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

Ten years earlier in 1870 the US Federal Census has this record

Name: Ernest Hall
Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Birthdate: 1840
Birthplace: England
Relationship to Head: Self
Spouse's Name: Caroline H. Hall
Spouse's Birthplace: England
Father's Name:
Father's Birthplace: England
Mother's Name:
Mother's Birthplace: England
Race or Color (Expanded): White l
Estimated Birth Year: 1840
Gender: Male Age in 1870: 30y
Color (white, black, mulatto, chinese, Indian): White Birthplace: England
Home in 1870: Illinois, United States Household Gender Age Birthplace
Ernest Hall M 30y England
Caroline Hall F 26y England
Source Citation - "United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 July 2012), Ernest Hall in household of Ernest Hall, Illinois, United States

Neither record gives his father's and/or mother's name but both confirm that ERNEST was born in England in 1840. The 1841 UK Census is not a particularly illuminating document but I did find a record for ERNEST

Name: Ernest Hall
Event: Census
Event Date: 1841
Gender: Male
Age: 1
Birthplace: Yorkshire
Record Type: Household Registration District: Ecclesall Bierlow Sub-district: Hallam, Nether Civil Parish: Sheffield County: Yorkshire

And the address - BROOK HILL, SHEFFIELD. Nothing is left of the house. Brook Hill and the adjoining area is now dominated by the University of Sheffield.

Ten years later the family have moved out of Sheffield and are now living in London

Personal Information Name Ernest Hall Age 10 Estimated Year of Birth 1841 Relationship to Head of Household Son Occupation Scholar Address Brecknock Terrace District Saint Pancras, Kentish Town Parish Saint Pancras Administrative County Middlesex Birth Place Burslem Birth County Staffordshire Reference Information Folio 72 Page 58 Piece RS00

The "Burslem" birthplace is in my opinion an error. Ernest's mother may have been born in Burslem but her children weren't.

In May 2020 I received this information from a researcher













"In your study of the family background of Ernest Hall you make the point that in the 1851 census his birthplace is Burslem approx 1841, which you point out looks odd. I found his baptism in Sheffield June 1842, though his actual date of birth is written in as Feb 8th 1840. Parents Charles Hall and Mary Dunhill(nee). Charles was a merchant. All seems to fit. I then went to look for his birth registration in the GRO records. I was not able to find anything in Sheffield or indeed Burslem. It could be that his surname was transcribed incorrectly?? However, his birthplace of Sheffield is confirmed in two sources from

1 Findagrave - He died May 1905, but they have his DOB as 21/02/1840 Sheffield. Father Charles, mother Mary Dunhill. There is a lot of family history in that source.

2 Cook County Illinois Death Index Died 10th May 1905, born Sheffield. "

I am not sure about Ernest working in the family cutlery business "before, in 1860, emigrating to America" The 1900 US Federal Census states that ERNEST emigrated to the US in 1855 which would have made him 15 years old at the time. His older brother MILLER must have emigrated to the US soon after the UK census was taken - The 1900 US Federal Census gives a year of emigration to the US as 1851. Ernest younger brother RAPHAEL joined them in 1857. All seem to have settled in Cicero town, Cook, Illinois, United States. A more likely possibility is that MILLER emigrated and set up the wholesale cutlery business and was joined 4 years later by his brother ERNEST.

There was also speculation that their father CHARLES HALL was part of a famous Sheffield cutlery firm. At the moment I cannot find out the name of this firm. It certainly appears as though in 1851 CHARLES now considered himself a "merchant" rather than a "cutler" which seems to indicate that he was moving away from the actual manufacture of cutlery, and more towards sales and distribution.

I cannot locate either CHARLES or MARY in subsequent UK census's and so they may well have emigrated as well. As for tracing the family further back, I noted that Charles's wife MARY had an initial D. Using Family Search I found the following entry for a marriage

Groom's Name: Charles Hall
Groom's Birth Date: 1806
Groom's Birthplace:
Groom's Age: 21
Bride's Name: Mary Dunhill Miller
Bride's Birth Date: 1807
Bride's Birthplace:
Bride's Age: 20
Marriage Date: 30 Apr 1827 Marriage Place: York, England
Groom's Father's Name:
Groom's Mother's Name:
Bride's Father's Name: Edward Miller.

The groom's birth date does not tie in but MARY'S maiden name certainly does!. And so more by hope than expectation I put the name "Mary Dunhill Miller" into a search engine and was rewarded with a family history site devoted to the McMillan Family. The whole history of the family is displayed and confirmed that both CHARLES and MARY did emigrate to the US. CHARLES died in Chicago, Illinois on 28th January 1872 at the age of 71. He was born in Sheffield on 2nd August 1800. His wife MARY outlived him by 27 years dying at the age of 90 in Oak Park, Illinois on 17th June 1897. Their son ERNEST died in Oak Park Illinois on 10th May 1905 at the 65. His only daughter GRACE was the mother of ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1872-1951)


Ernest Hall - the grandfather of Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway's full name ERNEST MILLER HEMINGWAY is derived from his grandfather ERNEST and his great grandmother's maiden name MILLER.

The "family cutlery business" that was mentioned by the contributor in 2008 remains elusive. From the evidence based on the census information of 1841 and 1851 I have the impression that Charles moved from manufacturing to distribution, hence his move to London and then the US. All his three sons emigrated to the US but at different times which seems to indicate that the business was built up in the US, rather than the UK.   


US Federal Census

UK Census

Hemingway's Childhood

Family Search

McMillan Family History

Blog - Ernest Hemingway

Find My Past, Yorkshire Baptisms.

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This page was last updated on 23/10/21 16:01