Select Miller Surname Genealogy

The surname comes from the occupation of a miller, who was usually one of the most important men in the village.  The root of the name is the Old English milne, from the Latin molere meaning "to grind." 

Miller, for various reasons, only ranks as the 53rd most common surname in England – although its counterpart in Germany, Mueller, is up there as number one in that country.  Miller is the third most common Jewish surname in America, after Cohen and Levy.  Miller was in fact sometimes the preferred anglicization of a Jewish name that did not even resemble Miller. 

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England.  The first recording of the surname was Ralph Muller in the 1296 Sussex tax rolls.  Millers were to be found in London, Hertfordshire and Frome, Dorset in the 16th century.  Henry Miller started a Miller family fishing dynasty in 1678 near Lulworth Cove in Dorset which has continued until the present day. 

Another Miller line began with the birth of John Miller, originally Meller, in Long Melford, Suffolk in 1734.  The Miller family of booksellers and book publishers came from Norwich in Norfolk. 

However, Miller as a surname has tended to be found more in the north of England, particularly in Lancashire.  The prominent Miller family in Liverpool
during the 19th century had come originally from Kendal in the Lake District.  Meanwhile Thomas Miller, born in Bolton, ran the principal cotton works in Preston in the early 1800's.  He was the town’s mayor three times between 1820 and 1836.  His son Thomas developed the Singleton estate near Blackpool.  Another Miller family were coal miners in the Wigan area whose descendants emigrated to New Zealand in the 1870’s.

Other names for the miller - such as Milner and Millward - emerged elsewhere in England; while surnames such as Mill and Mills also developed.  

  Both Miller and Millar are Scottish surnames. 

Miller has been very much a Border name, to be found around Dumfries.  When the Border region was pacified, many of these Millers moved to Scottish plantations across the Irish Sea in Ulster.  Patrick Miller, a successful businessman from Edinburgh, bought the Dalswinton estate near Dumfries in 1785.  However, his son squandered his fortune and the estate soon left family hands. 

There was said to have been a small Millar clan from Morayshire that had settled in the Glasgow area by the 15th century.  One Glasgow Millar history began with the Millars of Hamilton near Glasgow around 1700.  John Millar was an 18th century Scottish philosopher and professor at the University of Glasgow.  William Miller, born in Glasgow in 1810, was best known as the poet who wrote the nursery rhyme Wee Willie Winkie. 

Robert Millar from Perth was a successful 19th century timber merchant at Montrose on Scotland’s East Coast.  His family acquired Rossie castle there. 

Ireland.  Scottish Millers were recorded in the city of Londonderry as early as 1630 when Robert Miller was said to possess “musket and bandoleers” in its defense.  Millers were in fact prominent in its defense at the siege of Londonderry in 1689.  

Later Millers were Mayors of Londonderry on various occasions and made their home at Braehead House outside the city.  Henry Miller departed Londonderry for Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in 1745.  Another Henry Miller, a veteran of Waterloo, brought his family to Australia in 1823.  His son Henry, known as “Money Miller,” prospered there as an industry financier. 

The largest number of Millers in Ireland, just over 50% according to the 1890 birth index, were recorded in nearby county Antrim.  

  There were early Millers in Pennsylvania. 
Pennsylvania accounted for 25% of all Millers in America in the 1840 census.

Many of them were Mennonite Muellers from Switzerland escaping persecution.  Jacob Mueller was in Lancaster county as early as 1710.  Around 1740 a number of Amish Muellers arrived; as did Muellers from Alsace.  Abraham Mueller was a preacher in Conestoga township in 1793.  Mueller had generally become Miller by the time of the Revolutionary War.  Afterwards, many Millers migrated west to Ohio.  Today Miller is the most common family name in the Mennonite church. 

Other Millers in Pennsylvania were Scots Irish.  Henry Miller from Londonderry had come to Lancaster county by 1745.  Oliver Miller from county Antrim was in western Pennsylvania by 1772, having crossed the Alleghany mountains from Maryland on a packhorse.  His descendants remained at Mansfield, Pennsylvania until 1927 when their stone manse, built in 1808, was made into a museum.

For some in Pennsylvania, such as Abraham Miller the innkeeper in Bloom township in the early 1800's, it has not been possible to identify whether the roots were German, Scots Irish, or even possibly English.

Not all Millers came to Pennsylvania.  Friedrich Muller arrived in Milwaukee in 1855 from Germany as Frederick Miller.  He had learnt the brewing business at home and quickly embarked on beer brewing in America.  He acquired what became the Miller Brewing Company in 1856.  One of the leading beer brands in America today, it had stayed in family hands until 1966.   

Many Millers in America have Jewish roots, from the Yiddish Miller.  One line originated with Avrolum Aba Miller in the 1750’s in what is now Slovakia.  Other Millers came from Lithuania and Ukraine.  Saul Miller from Dobromil in Ukraine emigrated to New York in 1909.  Another family from Dobromil was Mehler who became Miller in America. 

Notable among the Jewish Millers in America was the playwright Arthur Miller, born in New York City in 1915 to a father who ran a clothing company there. 

.  There were early Millers in Newfoundland.  John Millar arrived in St. John’s from Scotland in 1705.  Samuel Miller came in 1766 from Dorset and founded the village of Trinity Bay.  His descendants were fishermen there.  Edwin Miller’s home there has been preserved as a heritage site. 

Lewis Miller was a Scottish timber baron from Perthshire who came to Newfoundland in 1900 to start a sawmill there.  The new town where the sawmill was built was called Millertown.

Select Miller Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Miller Names

John Millar was an 18th century Scottish philosopher.
William Miller
was one of the leading English publishers of the early 19th century.
Frederick Miller was the founder of the Miller Brewing Company in 1856.
Charles Miller is considered the English father of Brazilian football.
Keith Miller was an exciting Australian cricketer of the 1940's and 1950's.
Arthur Miller was an acclaimed 20th century American playwright.

Select Millers Today
  • 109,000 in the UK (most numerous in Essex)
  • 450,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 100,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
Miller is the #6 ranked surname in America.

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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