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Houseofnames > Knowledge Base > Sample History: Miller
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Sample History: Miller


The first people to use the name Miller were a family of Strathclyde- Britons who lived in the Scottish/English Borderlands. They lived in the county of Dumfries. In Britain, few locations have produced as many notable families which have contributed to world history such as the names Armstrong, Nixon, Graham, Bell, Carson, Hume, Irving, Lock, Rutherford, to name but a few, from the notorious Border region of England and Scotland.

The first record of the name Miller was found in Dumfriesshire where they were seated from very ancient times.

Different spellings of the name were found in the archives researched, typically linking each alternate to the root source of the surname. The name Miller, occurred in many references, from time to time the surname was spelt Miller, Millar, Myllar, Mylar, Millare, Myllair, Mellir and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son.

The family name Miller is believed to be descended originally from the Strathclyde Britons. This ancient founding race of the north were a mixture of Gaelic/ Celts whose original territories ranged from Lancashire in the south, northward to the south bank of the River Clyde in Scotland.

Tracing its ancient development, the name Miller was found in Dumfries. Although the name is frequently the name of a tradesman, it should be remembered that in the early development of names, a Miller, i.e., a person who operated the mill of any given town was called a Molendinarious, hence in the tax rolls of 1120, called the Hundrendorum Rolls, the name is shown as Milendinarius, Le Molendinator or De Molendino, not Miller. The name Millar or Miller came into general use about 1500 and previous charters show them as spelt above. The first mention of the name was about 1253 when King Alexander III of Scotland held an inquest to determine the death of Adam Molendinarius of Dumfries Castle by poisoning. This gives added significance to the name by establishing that the King's Miller was an important position of trust, and that, in those days, there was an ever conscious concern that the food or drink of important people, especially royalty, was the best means of obtaining their speedy dispatch. Hence, the Millar, the Baxter (Baker) and the Brewer were trusted courtiers, often gifted with extensive lands so as to ensure their continued loyalty. Indicative of this is the acquisition by the Millers of Monk Castle and the lands of Craigmill which anciently belonged to the monastery of Kilwinning in Ayrshire. Notable amongst the family at this time was Miller of Monk Castle.

By the year 1000 A.D., border life was in turmoil. In 1246, six Chiefs from the Scottish side and six from the English side met at Carlisle and produced a set of laws governing all the Border Clans. These were unlike any laws prevailing in England or Scotland or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world.

In 1603, the unified English and Scottish crowns under James 1st dispersed these "unruly Border Clans," clans which had served loyally in the defense of each side. The unification of the governments was threatened and it was imperative that the old "border code" should be broken up. The Border Clans were then banished to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. Some were outlawed directly to Ireland or the Colonies and the New World.

Many Border Clans settled in Northern Ireland, transferred between 1650 and 1700 with grants of land provided they "undertook" to remain Protestant. Many became proudly Irish. One hundred and sixty six heads of Millar and Miller families were transferred to Ireland between 1650 and 1750 settling in the counties of Antrim, Londonderry and Down, 50 percent in the county of Antrim alone.

But life in Ireland was little more rewarding and they sought a more rewarding life. They looked to the New World and sailed aboard the "White Sails" an armada of sailing ships such as the Hector, the Rambler, and the Dove which struggled across the stormy Atlantic. Some ships lost thirty or forty percent of their passenger list. Migrants were often buried at sea having died from dysentery, cholera, small pox, and typhoid.

In North America, some of the first migrants which could be considered kinsmen of the family name Miller and its spelling variants were Daniel Millar who settled in Maryland in 1714; the family, Millars and Millers, also settled in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New Hampshire, in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Newfoundland, Richard settled in Fermeuse in 1675; John in St. John's in 1705; Samuel in Trinity Bay in 1766; Samuel Jr. and Thomas settled in Fogo, Twillingate in 1771; William and Patrick in Placentia in 1794; and many many more up to 1871. There is a Miller Head, Miller Rock, Miller Peninsula, Mill Point, Millers Brook, Miller Island, Miller Passage, Miller Pond, Miller River, and Millertown, in Newfoundland. The migrants formed wagon trains westward, moving to the prairies or the west coast. During the American War of Independence those who remained loyal to the Crown moved north into Canada and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

There were many notable contemporaries of the name Miller: Baron Inchyra (Millar); Dame Elizabeth Millar; Sir Oliver Nicholas Millar; Rear Admiral Andrew John Miller; Arthur Miller, playwright; Sir Douglas Sinclair Miller; Lt. Gen. Sir Euan Miller; Sir James Miller; Sir John Holmes Miller, and many more.

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was:

Silver with a red cross.

The Crest was:

A right hand with first and second fingers pointing upward.

The ancient family Motto for this distinguished name was:

Manent optima coelo


This page was last modified on 14 February 2011 at 14:47.

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