James Milliken I

1669 - 1741


Slave-owner on St Kitts, partner in the South Sugar House in Glasgow (although some sources attribute this partnership to his son James Milliken II), and builder of Milliken House c. 1733: the house burnt down c. 1801 and was rebuilt in 1836 by Sir William Milliken Napier (q.v.), James Milliken I's great-great-grandson.

Like his friend, partner and relation by marriage, William McDowall, the Glasgow histories document 'Major' Milliken as a career soldier who acquired a St Kitts plantation through marriage to 'a lady of opulent fortune' and returned to Scotland as a leading merchant. In fact he was born in 1669 in Ayshire, and a burgess of the Port of Irvine (1692). Emigrated to Nevis c.1693, overseer on the plantation of Henry Carpenter. Married Mary Stevens, widow of planter Richard Tovey in 1700. Captain in the militia by 1706, later Major. In the 1707 Nevis census he owned 112 enslaved Africans.

Milliken's Nevis plantation was damaged in 1706 French invasion. He expanded to St Kitts and acquired former French 'Lamberts' (Monkey Hill) plantation from 1712. Milliken co-owned the slave ship The Fair Parnelia (named after his daughter) with William McDowall on which 272 enslaved Africans drowned in 1726. He returned to Britain 1729 where his partner McDowall had purchased Houston estate (renamed Milliken) in Renfrewshire on his behalf. Partner in the South Sugar House, along with McDowall, from 1733. Established Jas Milliken & Co. (later Alex Houston & Co.). Buried Kilbarchan cemetery.


We are grateful to Stuart M. Nisbet for compiling this entry.

Stuart M. Nisbet, 'A Sufficient Stock of Negroes', Renfrewshire Local History Forum Journal (RLHF), Vol.14 (2008), available for download at rlhf.info/wp-content/uploads/14.6-Negroes-Nisbet.pdf; Vere Langford Oliver, Caribbeana being miscellaneous papers relating to the history, genealogy, topography, and antiquities of the British West Indies (6 vols., London, Mitchell, Hughes and Clarke, 1910-1919) vol. 3 p. 174; Old Glasgow Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry LXXIII Milliken House, http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/smihou/smihou073.htm [accessed 11/05/2016]; Stuart M. Nisbet, 'A Map Which Changed History: Milliken Estate', RLHF Journal, Vol.18 (2016).

Further Information

Mary Tovey nee Stephens
Anne, Parnell, James II, Frances
Plantation owner

Associated Estates (2)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
- 1741 [EY] → Owner

Tentative association only. The transmission of the estate is still under exploration.

1722 [SY] - 1729 [EY] → Attorney

Stuart M. Nisbet, 'Early Scottish sugar planters in the Leeward Islands, c. 1660-1740', in T. M. Devine, Recovering Scotland's Slavery Past: the Caribbean Connection (2015) chapter 3.

Legacies Summary

Physical (1)

Country house
Milliken House [Built] 
description →
Built by James Milliken after his return from St Kitts c. 1730, destroyed by fire in 1801, rebuilt 1836 and demolished early 20thC. Only Milliken Tower, originally the dovecote,...
notes →
See Stuart M. Nisbet, 'A Map Which Changed History: Milliken Estate', RLHF Journal, Vol.18...

Relationships (4)

Other relatives
Notes →
Great great grandfather and great great...
Father → Son
Grandfather → Grandson
Other relatives
Notes →
Great grandson and great grandfather...

Addresses (1)

Milliken House, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Central Scotland, Scotland