The History of Leith

October 26, 2011

Miller Monument and Window at South Leith Church

” IN memory of James Miller, Esq., Merchant. Born at Wick in the County of Caithness and for nearly sixty years a resident in Leith. He became one of the Magistrates of the Town in 1822. and long took an active part in its public affairs, closing an honourable and useful life on 15th December 1855, in the 81st year of his age, and of his wife, Elizabeth Sutherland, eldest daughter of the Rev. William Sutherland, Minister of Wick, who died on 25th May 1862 in the 89th year of her age.
” Also in memory of their children, William who died in 1806 ; Daniel who died in 1813, both in infancy; James drowned by the running down of the ‘ Comet’ Steamer, on the Clyde in October 1825, aged 18, and who is buried here. John, a member of the Faculty of Advocates, who was appointed Attorney General of the Bahama Islands in 1837. and died in the Colony in Autumn of the same year aged 29. He is buried at Nassau, New Providence. Margaret Cornwall, wife of Alexander Miller, Esq., of Ashford House, Middlesex, their eldest son, who died 9th August 1842, and is interred here. Richard Miller, Esq., of Manderston, the youngest son, who died on the 12th January 1860, aged 41.”
The inscription on the Window reads
thus:—-” Sir William Miller, Bart., aged 78.
Died 10th October, 1887.”
THE first member of the Miller family. JamesMiller, was born at Wick in February 1775.
He came to Leith probably about the year 1797. He was a cooper to trade, and started business in the Kirkgate. Engaging in the herring business, he kept up a connection with his native place, and married in September 1801, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. William Sutherland, minister of the parish of Wick.he afterwards erected a dwelling house and warehouses in Constitution Street. In later years this house was occupied by Mr John Jordan and his mother. The business gradually grew, and he established a strong connection with Russia, which continued in the time of his successors until the Soviet Government stepped in.
In the year 1813, James Miller contracted for the feeding of French prisoners at Greenlaw, in Berwickshire, not far from which lies the estate of Manderston, still in the possession of his descendants. Taking an active part in the public life of Leith, he survived to the ripe age of 80. His remains are interred in South Leith Churchyard. One of his sons, William, in early life went out to Russia, and aided greatly in the extension of the business. The office there exported hemp, tallow, grain, to all the chief ports of the United Kingdom, while in Russia itself he set up large breweries which, aided materially in building up the family fortunes.
Shipping was added just about the time of the Crimean War, and proved very lucrative. William Miller was born in 1809, and married in 1858 a daughter of John Farley, Q.C.. Leith. They had a family of -three sons and two daughters. About this time he became Member of Parliament for Leith Burghs, and continued in this honourable position until 1868. Buying Manderston from his brother’s Trustees he became, about 1874, for a brief period M.P. for Berwickshire. He did not make any mark as a public speaker, but did excellent work in the Committee Room. He took such a share as was helpful in the charities and public institutions of Leith, providing drinking fountains and helping reading rooms. He died in October 1887.

source-South Leith Records

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