1833-People in Thurso & other parts of Caithness mentioned in will of Donald MILLER
My g-g-g-g-grandfather was Donald MILLER, a Shipmaster of Thurso, who died in 1833. I downloaded his will, and there is some information in it which might interest people researching ancestors in Thurso, and some other parts of Caithness.
At the time of his death, he owned the Sloop Alexander of Thurso, valued at 145 pounds, and three-fourth parts of the sloop "Good Intent" of Thurso, valued at 195 pounds. He also owned two shares in the Thurso Shipping Company.
Most importantly, he mentions an extensive list of people who owe him money, their occupations, and the amount owed.
Note: The amounts are obviously all in pounds, but I don't have a pound key (and couldn't be bothered fiddling around with the special characters function). Also, anyone with the surname NICOL or SWANSON in this list are likely related to him through his wife, Esther NICOL, as I believe her parents were Donald NICOL and Elspet SWANSON. And some of the words I couldn't decipher, so there are a few question marks throughout. Please tell me if you know what the correct word could be.
"Debts due to the deceased considered receivable viz:
William SWANSON, Fisherman, Thurso -/13/-
James ANDERSON Esquire, ?Respond? -/4/-
James MacKAY, Messenger, Thurso -/18/-
James RITCHIE, Shipmaster, Thurso 206/2/8
(NOTE: James RITCHIE was Donald's son-in-law though his daughter, Elizabeth MILLER. They married in 1825 in Thurso, and James was from Pitsligo in Aberdeen).
John MacDONALD, Carpenter, Thurso -/3/8
Robert ?ROVE/ROSE?, Writer, Wick 2/10/-
George SUTHERLAND, Labourer -/12/6
William WISHART, Bulk Master, Thurso -/8/6
John SKINNER, Fisherman, ?Forve? -/4/-
Andrew NICOL, Sailor, Thurso -/14/-
Arthur DAVIDSON -/1/-
William WATERS, Scrabster Roads -/14/7-and-a-half
Donald DUNNEL/DUNNET, Sarvier, Thurso -/18/-
Alexander GUNN, Merchant, Thurso 5/19/-
John NORSEBROUGH Esquire, Tongue 13/10/-
Donald SINCLAIR, ?_? Sailor, Thurso -/5/-
William ?CALDER?, Vintner -/9/-
Donald NICOL, Shoemaker 4/7/-
James SMITH Esquire of Olrig 7/17/2
Doctor John BAIN, Thurso -/10/-
William MORISON, Scrabster Roads -/19/6
Captain David HENDERSON, Oldfield -/2/3
William PRINGLE, Clerk of ?Excise/Excase? -/4/6
Alexander SWANSON, Vintner, Thurso 2/3/3
John Stephen SMITH, for Capt. HENDERSON 1/7/2
Robert GUNN, Writer, Thurso 4/12/-
James SINCLAIR, Fisher, Thurso -/3/8
John MacKENZIE, Currier 1/1/-
Marcus GUNN, Fisherman, Thurso -/11/-
John SWANSON, Pensioner, Thurso -/17/-
Baillie WILSON, Thurso -/19/-
John MacKENZIE, Shipmaster -/2/2
Donald MALCOLM, Fish___?, Pully____? 2/10/-
Alexander LEED, Cooper, Thurso -/6/-
Alexander ALEXANDER, ?Jourier?, Thurso 1/7/-
William ROSS, Shipmaster -/16/10
Lieutenant MILLER 2/3/-
William GEAR, Carter, Thurso -/9/-
Peter JOHNSTON, Sailor -/2/-
Hugh TULLOCH, mason -/18/-
Donald SUTHERLAND, Pensioner -/9/-
David ALLAN, Shoemaker, Thurso -/18/-
John BUDGE, Shoemaker, Thurso -/10/-
Murdoch MacKINTOSH, Salmon Fisher -/2/-
John HOSACK, Currier, Thurso -/9/-
William TODD, Saddler, Thurso -/18/-
Collector MacIVER 3 or 5/8/-
James WARD, Shipmaster -/18/-
David WATERS, Shipmaster -/18/-
John BAIN, Sailor, Thurso 6/-/-
John MILLER of the Alexander 59/5/5-and-a-half
John GUNN, Clerk -/10/-
Book Debts on open account considered irrecoverible (Note: Due to death or insolvency):
Angus CHRISTIAN, Cooper, Thurso 2/19/-
Robert TAIN, Cartwright, Thurso -/3/-
George BROTCHIC, Shoemaker, Thurso 1/14/2-and-a-half
William STEVEN, Blacksmith, Thurso 1/3/-
William REED, Bucher -/4/6
James THOMPSON, Sailor, Thurso 1/3/-
Francis SINCLAIR, Writer, Thurso -/4/7
John LEED, Shoemaker, Thurso -/6/9
Andrew BRIMS, Taylor, Thurso 1/17/6
Mr George DOUGLAS, Thurso 7/16/6
George DURRAN, Vintner 1/3/-
Donald CAMPBELL, Blacksmith, Thurso -/19/-
James CORRIGILL, Carpenter, Thurso -/11/6
William MILLER, Shoemaker, Thurso -/9/-
Alexander BEGG, Shoemaker, Thurso -/6/6
Rev. James TAYLOR, Independent Chapel, Thurso 2/1/-
William MANSON, Messenger, Thurso 1/13/-
Hugh BREMNER, Writer, Thurso 1/4/-
William MOWAT, Shoemaker, Thurso -/10/6
John SWANSON, Taylor, Thurso 1/1/-
Robert REID, Shoemaker, Thurso -/8/9
John STEWART, Merchant, Thurso 1/1/-
John DANCER & William SWANSON, Fishers, Thurso -/6/6
James NICOL, Shoemaker, Thurso 2/3/-
David MacKENZIE, Shoemaker, Thurso -/2/-
John MURRAY, Merchant, Thurso 2/2/-
Donald FINLAYSON, Shoemaker, Thurso 1/9/6
Robert MacKID, Writer, Thurso -/10/-
Owners of the sloop Sophia, Thurso -/6/-
James GUNN, Clerk, Thurso -/9/-
William SUTHERLAND, Taylor, Thurso -/3/-
Frank BAIN, Brewer, Thurso -/18/-
Robert FORSYTH 1/8/-
John MacKINTOSH, Fisher, Thurso -/1/-
George MacLEAN, Merchant, Thurso 4/15/10
Sutherland Ryrie Gardiner, Thurso -/9/-
(I'm not sure if his last name is Ryrie, with his occupation being mis-spelled, or Gardiner)
James BUDGE, Cooper, Thurso -/9/-
John MacREAY, Tidewaiter, Thurso 1/16/-
John ?MacREE?, Sawer, Thurso -/17/-
Macmillan Tanyard 2/14/-
Alex SINCLAIR, Fisher, Thurso -/9/-
Isobell SINCLAIR -/1/-
George MacKAY, Sawer, Tongue -/9/-
Alexander SMITH, Plasterer, Thurso -/14/-
Alexander TORRANCE, Thurso -/15/-
George FORBES, Excise Officer, Thurso -/9/-
Alexander SUTHERLAND, Carpenter, Thurso -/10/-
William SWANSON, Merchant, Thurso -/18/-
If anyone would like a copy of the whole will, feel free to contact me and I can e-mail it to you.
Last edited by kristy_mac8; 03-Jan-09 at 23:05.
will of Donald MILLER
Kristy, this is wonderful, William Mowat Shoemaker is in my husbands tree.
I would very much appreciate a copy and will PM you my email contact.
I am sure you are going to get a lot of replies, it is very good of you to spend the time to input this will and the contacts are so wide there will be many who use this site who will recognise persons from their tree.
Would you please post which site you got the download of the Will from please, I could do with looking up a couple myself.
Regards and Happy New Year
I downloaded the will from scotlandspeople.gov.uk You need to be registered (free) to search, and will results are free to view (unlike birth, death, and marriage results). To download a will is five pounds, which is quite reasonable really, considering that some of them, like Donald's, are nine pages long.
I will e-mail you the will now.
will of Donald Miller
Thank you so much for posting the list of all these people! I would be very grateful for a copy of the will - Dr John Bain was my Grt Grt grandfather. His parents were William Bain and Betty Miller, who married c 1783. Is there any chance Betty is related to your Donald Miller?
Details for boats owned by Donald Miller mentioned above.
Alexander was a sloop built in Kirkcaldy in 1799. She weighed 60 tons and the captain was John Miller, her trade is listed as a coaster.
Good Intent was also a sloop, built in Leith in 1814. She weighed 64 tons and the captain was Donald Miller. Her trade is listed as a coaster. This vessel is mentioned as being owned by Don Miller and Co. where as the Alexander is just Donald.
Regarding the John Miller mentioned and I presume to be a relation of Donald's I own his pocket watch which I bought sometime back. The case is not the original but added sometime later. The inside has his name engraved on it and "Merchant" with some sailing ships indicating his work as a shipping merchant. Made around 1790 in London it still works and I wind it up every so often to keep it going.
I would be very interested if anyone else has relations mentioned on the will and know anything about them just for my own interest.
Last edited by thirsaloon; 04-Jan-09 at 00:02.
Originally Posted by Pompeygirl
I seen your post about about Dr John Bain being your Grt Grt grandfather Pompeygirl.
John, apothecary and surgeon in Thurso had a brother Sinclair who was an ironmonger in Thurso, High Street if I recall. Sinclair was married to the sister of Lewis Dunbar if I remember rightly. She died aged 66 at their house in Wilson Street in Sept 1866 (on a Monday evening).
Sinclair had died around 4 months prior to that. She was a member of the Independent Church in Thurso and was laid to rest in the New Cemetery in Thurso.
Sinclair also ordered a pump for the Meadow Well through his business in 1850 and paid a subscription to the erection of the obelisk in memory of Robert Dick. Oh and he was involved with the Thurso Natural Science Association.
Think that will do for my rambling tonight.
Last edited by thirsaloon; 04-Jan-09 at 00:24.
Just PM me your e-mail address, and I will send you a copy of the will.
Donald may have been related to Betty in some way, but can't say for sure as I don't know who his parents were. I have several baptism possibilities for him. I would think that he would be more inclined to lend money to people with some kind of a family connection, though. I will let you know if find a connection with the families.
Thirsaloon, wow, thank you so much for the information. I will PM you.
I just started another thread regarding the will of John Miller, died 1822. I thought he might be Donald's father, but it doesn't look like it. However, there is also a list of residents in Thurso and other places, and some of the names that appear on this list are on the other too. It's a great way of seeing where your ancestor was at pre-censues.
Pompeygirl and thirsaloon, I've already e-mailed you both John's will. Kathb, William Mowat isn't mentioned on the other will.
I am new to this site and have just found your post on the Will of Donald Miller. I believe that he could also be my gggg grandfather although probably down a different ancestral line to yours, in my case his ggg grandaughter who was called Catherine Reid McPhail is my grandmother. So as we are almost certainly related in some way I would be interested in how we fit together in the tree.
I am also very interested in the Will made by Donald and if you still have a copy I would certainly appreciate receiving one at some time.
Hope to hear from you soon
Originally Posted by goffer
Was Catherine married or related to Angus MacPhail Goffer?
There two Angus McPhails in Catherine's tree. The first is her Grandfather who was born in 1802 and died in 1876, he was married to a Catherine Reid. The second is her brother who was born in 1880 in Thurso, but I have no more details about him since I have been concentrating on Catherine's line.
You mentioned in an earlier post that you own a pocket watch the belonged to a John Miller. I believer that this could be Catherine's g-grandfather on her mother's side. Do you have more information about this side of the family?
Have more information on the McPhails Goffer. Sent you a private message.
Originally Posted by goffer
Apologies for my delayed reply. I thought that I was automatically notified of responses on this board, but I didn't get one for this post.
Anyway, if you PM me with you e-mail details, I will be happy to e-mil you a copy of the will. Which Miller are you descended from? I have only been able to trace descendants of Donald's daughter Elizabeth (my ancestor), and her brother John (whose only surviving child married a Thompson). So more descendants would be great
I'll OM you too, just in case you aren't notified of my reply on here.
The Good Intent
I have information re the Shipwreck of "The Good Intent" in 1833 off Formby.
a) Would this have been the same ship, and
b) Was drowning / shipwreck the cause of death of your Donald Miller?
My GGG Grandfather, Dr Richard Sumner (the local surgeon and apothecary in Formby) was awarded a gold Medal and Fifty pounds for saving many lives during his rescue of persons from "The Good Intent".
I wondered if it was the same ship?
Don't know if you have this info: 1855 M.I. Thurso: St. Peter's Church Grave yard.
No: 73. T.S. Don Miller shipowner 31.1.1835 72, ed fam; this burying ground belongs to And Nicol.
No: 75. T.S. ( worn) Don Miller master sloop ALEXANDER, Thurso, ()8.7.1826 65: Donald Miller Ritchie 8.1828 4mths; Margt Miller 8.18() 11. ( fa John Miller shipmaster); ( Margt ?) Miller 13.8.1852 25yrs5mths ( fa Do. Miller shipowner).
You might be able to ref which Don. Miller is the right one.
Although I am not interested in any of the parties mentioned in the will of Donald Miller, I thought you might be interested in some information I found in a book published in 1812, called "General View of the Agriculture of the County of Caithness" by Captain John Henderson. Among the information, he printed in the appendices of the book letters, memos, etc written by Sir John Sinclair on improvements and opportunites for the county. He was one of the leaders in calling for a Herring Fishery Industry in Caithness, and Donald Miller apparently appeared as one of the witnesses at a meeting held in Thurso in 1809 to discuss the matter. Part of the information is transcribed below:
<beginning of transcript>
Copy of Papers regarding the Herring Fisheries on the Coast of Caithness, and the Means of Improving the same.
At a meeting of the Magistrates of Thurso, held there, on Tuesday the 15th day of August, eighteen hundred and nine years, for the purpose of considering the practicability of establishing the Deep-Sea Herring Fishery, on the Northern Coast of Caithness;
George Paterson, Esq. the eldest Magistrate, and Baillie of the Town, being in the Chair;
There was laid before the meeting, the evidence of Mr Donald Miller, master of the sloop Alexander, of Thurso, also the evidence of William Swanson, fisher in Thurso, and of several other fishermen belonging to that town, from which it is evident,
1. That great shoals of herrings appear upon the Northern Coast of Caithness, and Strathnaver, (extending from Dunnet-Head to Cape-Wrath), as early as the months of May and June…
…It was therefore resolved – 1. To send certified copies of the evidence already obtained, to the Honourable the Fishery Board at Edinburgh; to the Right Hon. George Rose; to Mr Rickman, Secretary to the Commissioners for Highland Roads and Harbours; and to Mr Salton, Secretary to the British Fishing Society…to enable them to judge of the importance of the proposed fishery, and of the propriety of countenancing, and supporting the measures recommended for its establishment.
<end of transcript>
The above meeting seems to have been one of the first steps toward establishing a herring fishery in Caithness, although they suggest that Thurso should be the base with further ports at Sandside and Portskerra. Although they didn’t establish there, it was obviously one of the main factors leading to the establishment of Pulteneytown Harbour.
Captain John Henderson also made a brief mention of vessels sailing from Wick and Thurso. I've transcribed the entry below.
<beginning of transcript>
…There are a few sloops, of from 40 to 70 tons burden, which sail from the harbours of Thurso and Wick, to Leith, and occasionally to Sunderland, Newcastle, and London; they export fish, kelp, and oats, but more frequently convey mechanics, and labourers, as passengers, who go from Caithness in quest of work, to the southern counties: and by those vessels there is imported broad-cloth from Leeds, to supply the want of the cloth formerly manufactured in every family, from the wool of their little flocks; and cotton cloth and linens from Glasgow; tea, sugar, snuff, tobacco, and other articles from the London and Leith markets, and hardware goods from Sheffield, and Birmingham, &c., all which are retailed by the shop-keepers of the county…
<end of transcript>
The definition of mechanics as used in the above passage refers to men who would make farming equipment such as carts, ploughs, harrows, thrashing machines, etc
I don't know if this is of any interest to you, but I thought it was worth posting.
Last edited by sgmcgregor; 12-Jun-11 at 06:26.