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Stella Maris, Millerton


D-5 (668 acres), D-59 (686 acres, 24 Apr 1788), D-20 (1620 acres, 6 Jun 1788)

John Miller. Origin: Other

We are unsure about where John Miller “hung his hat” initially, because he was the founder and owner, with co-partner Bromfield Bonamy (who considered himself simply “British”), of the John Miller Trading Company of Nassau. Miller was also a Pensacola (West Florida) merchant who departed Florida, about 1780, for the Bahamas. When he had first arrived in West Florida and established a trading business with partner Peter Swanson is unknown; however, they were granted 2,200 acres of land in the neighborhood of Mobile (now Alabama, then West Florida) in March 1770. It is most likely that Miller also considered himself merely a citizen of the British Empire where, as a trader, he moved continuously between Florida and the Bahamas. Also, as a trader, he would have been unlikely to choose a political side in the war and risk alienating potential trading partners and customers.

In 1782 after Miller had made his Nassau operation the company headquarters, Great Britain ceded the Bahamas to Spain. The Spanish then impressed his vessel, The Regulator, and later sent him to prison in Havana, along with other Nassau merchants. Once he returned to Nassau, John established a close relationship with Lord Dunmore. He employed William Augustus Bowles, another Long Island grantee, to facilitate his trade with the Creek and Cherokee Indians of Florida—in hopes of breaking the hold that the rival firm, Panton, Leslie & Co., held on the West Florida Indian trade. At that time, “West Florida” included land from what is today the panhandle of Florida, all the way to New Orleans. At some point around this time, Miller also owned a Brigantine called the Unicorn.

Miller became a member of the King’s Council in 1785, and on 5 November 1791, he married Mary Coakley, daughter of John Coakley formerly of Cat Island. John severed his partnership with Bromfield Bonamy, also a Long Island grantee, in 1792.

On Long Island, John Miller received two large land grants: one for 1,620 acres in the current settlement of Stella Maris, granted on 14 November 1788; and 686 acres, given 24 April 1788, also in Stella Maris. His land grant of 1,620 acres states that quit rent on the land is exempt for two years, which implies he was not a Loyalist. John also bought 783 acres of land on Long Island from the Crown in 1803.

In John's will, he states he was from Elgin, County of Moray, “Great Britain,” though the hamlet is located in Scotland. In her manuscript, from which most of the above information is taken, Lydia Parrish describes John as a “Scotsman.”

Note: John Miller’s last name is spelled “Millar” on the Tatnall Map of Long Island.

References: FC, HB, Parrish

John Miller

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