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THOMAS MILLER

Governor: 1677

by Dennis F. Daniels
Research Branch, NC Office of Archives and History, 2005.
http://www.ncmarkers.com

See also: Thomas Miller, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

Thomas Miller (d. ca. 1685) served as Albemarle’s governor for about six months in 1677, during which time his government was overthrown in an uprising known as Culpeper’s Rebellion. Miller originally resided in Ireland working as a merchant and apothecary. By 1673 he had settled in Albemarle and become a leader in the proprietary faction. In 1676 the anti-proprietary faction led by John Jenkins, regained partial control of Albemarle from proprietary leader Thomas Eastchurch. They indicted Miller for treason and blasphemy and for speaking disparagingly of the Lords Proprietors. Miller was imprisoned and later sent to Virginia in May 1676 for trial. The Virginia Council acquitted Miller; he left for London where he joined Eastchurch.

Miller and Eastchurch met with the proprietors in the fall of 1676. They presented their version of the events in Albemarle to the proprietors who accepted their story. The Lords Proprietors issued commissions appointing Eastchurch as governor of Albemarle and Miller as council member and secretary. Miller also received an appointment as customs collector. The two men left for Albemarle in summer 1677.

The ship carrying Miller and Eastchurch stopped in the West Indies. During this stopover Eastchurch met a wealthy woman and married her. Wishing to stay longer, Eastchurch commissioned Miller as acting governor. Miller arrived in Albemarle in July 1677 and claimed the governor’s office. He authorized the collections of fees and tried anti-proprietary faction members for various offences. Miller called for the election of a new assembly but disfranchised the anti-proprietary faction. Miller’s assembly imposed fines on the anti-proprietary faction to punish them. Miller caused more antagonism by having the assembly levy high taxes and by using public money to pay his armed guards.

In December 1677 Miller’s arrest of Zachariah Gillam for customs violations and his attempted arrest of anti-proprietary leader George Durant sent Albemarle into rebellion. Led by John Culpeper and Valentine Bird, an armed group imprisoned Miller and his followers. Gaining control of the government, the anti-proprietary faction brought Miller to trial. The trial was discontinued when Eastchurch, who was in Virginia, issued a proclamation calling on the colonists to disarm, to free Miller and others, and to restore the rightful government. The proclamation stopped the trial proceedings and saved Miller from the prospect of execution for treason. However, Miller remained imprisoned for two years before being freed by friends.

Miller went to London and complained to Lords Proprietors, the Commissioners of Customs, and the Privy Council about what happened. He obtained the arrest of Zachariah Gillam and John Culpeper when they were in London. But, Gillam was released due to lack of evidence, and Culpeper was acquitted of treason. Miller obtained some justice receiving monetary compensation from the royal treasury. He received an appointment as customs collector in Poole, England, in March 1681. In July 1682 he transferred to a better customs post in Weymouth. In short order he was removed from the position and imprisoned for embezzling. Miller died in prison prior to October 1685.

References:

Butler, Lindley S. 1969. The governors of Albemarle County 1663-1689. North Carolina historical review. 46 (3): 281-299.

Parker, Mattie Erma Edwards. 1968. Legal aspects of "Culpeper's Rebellion". North Carolina Historical Review. 45 (2): 111-127.

Parker, Mattie Erma Edwards, William S. Price, and Robert J. Cain. 1968. North Carolina higher-court records. The Colonial records of North Carolina, v. [2]-. Raleigh, N.C.: State Dept. of Archives and History.

Powell, William Stevens. 1991. Dictionary of North Carolina biography. Vol. 4, L-O. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Online via NetLibrary and NC LIVE.

Rankin, Hugh F. Upheaval in Albermarle: The Story of Culpepper’s Rebellion, 1675-1689. Raleigh: Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission, 1962.

Smith, William S. 1990. Culpeper's rebellion: new data and old problems. Thesis (M.A.)--North Carolina State University, 1990.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 2008. Colonial and state records of North Carolina. [Chapel Hill, N.C.]: University Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/.

Comments

Comment: 

I am a descendant of Jonathan Miller, Sr. eight generations back. He lived in Bertie County, NC; however, no one can connect him to a family from there. He was born in 1710 and died in 1779. Could he be a descendant or relation to Gov. Thomas Miller. There are Scotch-Irish living in Bertie County.

Charles E. Miller, Jr. BA in German, MA in Religion
Former Officer, Bank of America

Comment: 

Hello! My name is Jaykob Miller. So far, we've tracked our ancestry to Jonathan Miller (1710-1779) as well, but are also unsure of his roots. Would you by chance have come upon knowledge of his heritage, ethnicity, etc.? I would very much appreciate it!

Comment: 

Hello!
I have a thought for you concerning Jonathan Miller, Sr. of Bertie County. Some of my branch of the family says that Jonathan was German. It has been passed down their line of the family. I do not know them; I just read it on the internet. Is it possible that Jonathan Miller, Sr. was the first member of our family to come from Europe? It is not impossible. Perhaps it is something to consider? Charles

Comment: 

I am glad to her from you. The problem I am finding is this: some Millers who are related to me say that Jonathan Miller, Sr was a son of Jakob Mueller of New Bern. He was Swiss-German. I have a Bachelor of Arts in German ,and I was an exchange student in Germany in 1974. My family side used the phrase in English "I am going to throw you with a rock." In German that would be "Ich werde Sie mit Steinen bewerfen." Does that make Jonathan a Swiss-German who moved to Bertie County? There is another problem. Jonathan Miller, Sr. also spelt his name "Millar." This is Scottish and Gov. Miller was Scotch-Irish. I have read that Thomas Miller from Ireland had three sons; however, I only remember Nathaniel Miller. I really believe we descend from Thomas Miller of Ireland and Albemarle Colony; however, it is interesting to see that your name is Jaykob. Remember Jakob Mueller of New Bern. Millar is a possible clue, however.That would be Scotch-Irish. Did you know my grandfather, Duncan Miller. He lived on the farm of Jonathan Miller, Sr. He was also Chairman of the Republican Party of Bertie County in 1936. My grandmother, Essie Cowan Miller, was on her father's side also Scotch-Irish. I hope to hear from you again. Charles E. Miller, Jr. BA, MA

Comment: 

Sorry, I suppose I should have clarified my reason fro believing there is no correlation between my name and Jakob's. My father and grandfather are named Jay. My name is Jaykob because my father wanted me to be similar to him, but also different. That's why I don't believe the names to be a factor. But I do suppose it could be something that is related in some way.

Comment: 

Thank you Charles! I found similar information regarding Jakob Mueller as well. I found some discrepancies with this line, though, because there was a generation between Jonathan and Jakob that seemed to be missing. Also, the information that I found regarding the Jakob's son Jonathan, was that our Jonathan was born sometime after Jakob's son (hopefully that made sense!). I do not know if my name has a correlation with the line of Jakob Mueller, though. My family line does come from Jonathan Miller Sr. At some point after his death, our family lost the land he had acquired to his widow's children, and they moved to Mississippi. Eventually, they branched out into Louisiana and Arkansas. My grandfather came from Louisiana and went to California, where I was eventually born. I now have relocated to North Dakota, where I also attend the University of Jamestown. My curiosity of our family lineage led me to look into it, and here we find ourselves! But regardless, I believe that we are more likely related to Thomas Miller, and are Scottish, rather than to Jakob Mueller's line of Swiss-German, simply because of the discrepancies with the birth years of the Jonathan Miller under question and Jakob's son. Again, I hope that what I'm saying is making sense. It's great to meet other family this way though! I hope to hear from you very soon!

Comment: 

I believe you are correct. I have always considered myself to descend from Gov. Miller. As you may know, King James I of England gave many Scottish and Northern English people land in Northern Ireland. That is where Gov. Thomas Miller lived. In Northern Ireland that is why they are called Ulster Scots; however, in America we call them Scotch-Irish. It has been good to meet you. Let us keep in touch.

Comment: 

Absolutely! I would love to keep in touch! I actually spoke with a Gail Miller who still lives in Bertie County and has information that dates beyond Jonathan. I hope to hear from you soon!

Comment: 

Did Gail Miller tell you what Jonathan Miller's nationality was? If she did, let me know, Jaykob.

Charles

Comment: 

Did Gail Miller say what the ethnic background of Jonathan Miller, Sr. of Bertie County was? Was he British or German? I still say he was Scottish since he spelt his name also Millar. If that is the case, we descend from the Earls of Lennox in Scotland. I feel like a child at Christmas. Puzzles truly interest me. Thanks Jaykob. Charles

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