John Miller

1778 - 20th Dec 1854

Claimant or beneficiary


John Miller, merchant, born circa 1778 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, husband of Mary Robinson McCook, born Jamaica. Described also as a merchant in Kingston, Jamaica. Awarded compensation as co-owner of 3 enslaved persons in Kingston, Jamaica, and for 19 enslaved persons on Stavely Park in Jamaica as executor of Robert Hamilton.

  1. John Miller was born circa 1778 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire. There are two possible baptisms. The first is for John Miller, born 23/05/1777 and baptised 25/05/1777 in Barony, Lanarkshire, to John Miller, Ruchill, and Anne Mitchell. The date is pretty much spot-on and Ruchill is in Barony, as is John Miller junior’s later address in St Vincent Street in Glasgow. Three daughters, all named Anne, were born to John junior, almost certainly named after their grandmother, the first in line with the Scottish naming pattern, with all three dying young. The second baptism is for John Miller, born 21/11/1781 and baptised 21/12/1781 in Glasgow (no church given) to John Miller, Taylour, and Dorothea Hall. The date is a bit late and the occupation somewhat unlikely but one of John junior’s daughters was baptised Florence Hall Miller. However, none of his eight daughters was named Dorothea so on the whole the first John Miller seems the more likely possibility.

  2. At some point John travelled to Jamaica as he is given, in his Testament, as ‘… formerly Merchant of Kingston in the Island of Jamaica …. ‘. Circa 1808 he married Mary Robinson McCook, daughter of Henry McCook, Planter in Jamaica, and Mary Scarlett McCook, maiden surname Hilton. Mary Robinson McCook was born in Jamaica and it is likely that the marriage took place there though no record has been found in either Jamaica or Britain. Fourteen children were born to the couple: Mary (c1810), Anne (c1811), Isabella (c1812), Anne (c1813), John (bap 11/01/1815), Henry (c1816), Arch(?) Robert (c1817), Anne (bap 18/08/1819), William (c1821), James Black (c1823), Frances Hilton (c1825), Florence Hall (c1827), Elizabeth (c1826) and George (c1829). Only two baptisms have been found, that for John (11/01/1815) in Kingston, Jamaica, and for the third Anne (18/08/1819) in Glasgow. However, these are consistent with the statement on Mary Robinson McCook Miller’s 1855 death certificate that she was born in Jamaica but had lived in Glasgow since 1816. Although no other baptisms seem to be recorded, the likelihood is that the first five children were born in Jamaica, Henry in either Jamaica or Glasgow, and the last eight in Glasgow. Censuses support Jamaica as the birthplace of Isabella and Glasgow as the place of birth for the younger children.

  3. In 1841 John Miller is in St Vincent Street, Glasow. He is given as 62, a merchant, born in county. In the same household is his son, John, aged 27, also a merchant, born out of county, his son James Black, aged 18, a clerk, born in county, his daughters Mary, aged 30, and Isabella, aged 28, both born out of county. There is also what appears to be another member of the family. The first word isn’t clear but it could be Mrs John Miller, aged 45, born out of county. If this age is correct – and the others are not rounded down – then it is a bit young to be John’s wife, Mary Robinson McCook Miller, and as this person is listed at the end of the family, after the sons and daughters, it seems unlikely that it is Mary. If the age is rounded down then this could be Mary. No other likely identification, though. Daughter Frances, aged 17, and son George, aged 14, are in Nottingham Row, Marylebone, London, both shown as born Scotland. They are not scholars and the surnames of the household, all individuals, are Sherson, Balman, Kemble, Taylor, Beadley, Reader and Hewitt. Daughters Florence, aged 15, and Elizabeth, aged 14, both born Scotland, are at a small school in Western Terrace, Brighthelmstone (now Brighton), Sussex.

  4. In 1851 the address in St Vincent Street is more specific, given as 168, St Vincent Street, Glasgow. John Miller, aged 73, merchant, born Lanark, Glasgow, is head of the household and living with him are daughters Isabella, 34, born Kingston, Jamaica, and Elizabeth, 22, born Lanark, Glasgow, both unmarried. John’s wife, Mary, is in Montgomerie Street, Ardrossan, Ayrshire, listed as aged 61, born Jamaica, mother-in-law to the head of household, Alexander Martin, aged 59, Formerly in the Army, born England. His wife is not in the household but marriage indexes show that Alexander Martin married Frances Miller in Ardrossan 13/01/1844. Also in the household is Florence Miller, aged 24, sister-in-law to Alexander Martin and born Glasgow. There is no obvious sign of Alexander’s wife, Frances née Miller anywhere in Britain.

  5. John Miller’s Testament gives him as ‘… formerly Merchant of Kingston in the Island of Jamaica thereafter of the City of Glasgow latterly of Muirsheil ….’. The Glasgow address is 168, St Vincent Street as found on the censuses and his wife, Mary’s, death certificate. Muirshill in near Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire. A History of Muirshiel House and Shooting Estate has some information: ‘The house was built some time between 1830 and 1875: it is difficult to be more accurate due to the lack of specific historical evidence. An unofficial census in 1821 does not mention the house, nor is it shown on John Thompson’s 1826 map, and it is not mentioned in the Fowler’s 1831 Directory. The first absolute record of the house is in a cash book of 1875, where there are entries of payments to numerous tradesmen and of ‘poor rates’, beginning on 1 January 1875 and continuing throughout that year.' Another local document ‘The Cairn of Lochwinnoch’ takes the story a step further when it adds: "John Millar Esq., a merchant of Glasgow and of Queenside and Muirshiel, is erecting two servants' houses and a cattle shed in October 1831. He intends to take in ground for a garden and has now enclosed it. The ground stands at the foot of Mistylaw Muir and he intends to build a house for his gardener near the said Mistylaw hill this summer. He intends also to grow corn on his improved ground this year. Mr Millar will have nearly 20 acres of crop this summer adjoining Duchal Muir and he has planted nearly six acres of plantation so that in a few years time Muirshiel will be a delightful paradise". This was perhaps the foundations for what was to become Muirshiel.’ Queenside is also in Renfrewshire.

  6. John Miller died 20/12/1854 aged 76 and is buried in Glasgow Necropolis. His wife, Mary Robinson McCook Miller, died less than three months later on 04/03/1855 at 168 St Vincent Street, Glasgow and is also buried in the Necropolis. Their two sons John, died 14/03/1859 aged 45 and William, died 05/12/1857 aged 37. John Miller senior died before statutory registration but there is a death certificate for his wife, Mary Robinson McCook who died age 63, born in Jamaica, resided in Glasgow since 1816, daughter of Henry McCook, Planter in Jamaica, and his wife Mary Scarlett McCook MS Hilton, spouse of John Miller Esq of Muirsheil who died 04/03/1855 at 168 St Vincent Street, Glasgow.

  7. John Miller has a lengthy and detailed Testament listing shares, property and bequests. His estate in Scotland is valued at £25,807. 19. 11½. His estate ‘in England and elsewhere furth of Scotland’ is valued at £16,342. 3s 9d.

  8. The Testament also mentions his son, ‘James Black Miller residing at Port Natal’ and more information on James is available in The Bednall Archive in the section ‘Miscellaneous Wills in the Bednall Collection BC4/.... Names beginning with M (continued)': James Black Miller was the husband of Martha Miller who died 20/07/1878; children’s names: John Francis James Miller, James Martin Miller, Charles Joseph Miller; address: Weymouth, Dorset, UK. Notes: Mrs Miller was the wife of James Black Miller sometime residing in Liverpool, Lancashire (merchant) afterwards at Bombay in the East Indies, afterwards at Port Natal, South Africa, afterwards in Gloucester, UK and latterly at Middledrift in the British Province of Kaffraria. She was known as Mrs Martha Bradshaw. Copy of probate included. When she died on 26th January 1893, she was living in Spencer Terrace, Bognor, Sussex, UK.'


T71/864: Port Royal claim no. 63. T71/862: Kingston claim no. 1805.

  1. 1851 census online and [accessed 21/01/12]; General Register Office for Scotland OPR Births 622 020 486 and 644/1 170 172.

  2. SC36/48/41; General Register Office for Scotland Deaths 1855 644/6 120; FamilySearch online; 1851 census online.

  3. 1841 census online.

  4. 1851 census online.

  5. SC36/48/41; [accessed 21/01/12].

  6. [accessed 21/01/12]; General Register Office for Scotland Deaths 1855 644/6 120.

  7. SC36/48/41.

  8. SC36/48/41; [accessed 21/01/12].

We are grateful to Morag Fyfe for her help compiling this entry.

Further Information

Mary Robinson McCook
Mary (1810-), Ann (1811-), Isabella (1812-), Ann (1813-), John (1814-), Henry (1816-), Arch[?] Robert (1817-), Ann Murray (1819-), William (1821-), Frances Hilton (1825-), Florence Hall (1827-), Elizabeth (1828-1901), George (1829-)
Wealth at death
£42,150 3S

Associated Claims (2)

£90 16s 4d
£331 0s 8d

Associated Estates (1)

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
1834 [EA] - → Executor

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Name partner
John Miller jun. And Co
West India merchant  

Imperial (2)

South Africa: Natal 
notes →
Father of John Black Miller who lived in Natal, although no more details of his activities there are...
East India Company
notes →
His son James Black Miller was a merchant at some point living in Bombay, although the exact details of his relations with the East India Company are...

Relationships (1)

Father → Son

Addresses (2)

Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Central Scotland, Scotland
168 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Central Scotland, Scotland