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Robert Miller

Robert Miller, one of 237 convicts transported on the Eden, 30 September 1848

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Robert Miller
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1831
Occupation: Labourer
Date of Death: 18th July, 1922
Age: 91 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Assault with intent to rob with ano...
Convicted at: Scotland, Edinburgh Court of Justiciary
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Eden
Departure date: 30th September, 1848
Arrival date: 21st January, 1849
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land or Port Phillip
Passenger manifest Travelled with 236 other convicts

References

Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 92, Class and Piece Number HO11/15, Page Number 347 (175)
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

Wesley Miller on 19th February, 2013 wrote:

Owned a farm at Ross Creek,Ballarat,Victoria for a period, and saw out his days at Beckom Street,Narrandera,NSW,Australia.

Wesley Miller on 4th January, 2014 wrote:

Robert was pardoned upon arrival at Port Phillip and was in the last of Scottish convicts to be transported to Australia, and to have their sentence commuted. The condition was that Robert did not return to the UK.

Ian Granland on 2nd May, 2019 wrote:

Robert Miller was a convict. He was serving a seven year sentence for theft. He was taken from the Millbank Prison, put on the convict ship Eden, which sailed from Portsmouth on 3 October 1848 and landed in Geelong in February 1849. He was one known as an ‘Éxile’‘.

Ian Granland on 2nd May, 2019 wrote:

18 May 1847 • Edinburgh Court of Justiciary, Scotland
Sentenced for a term of seven years for ‘theft, habit and repute from the Upper Bridge over Leith Harbour to Tollbooth Wynd to Bridge St. This was the second conviction for this offence. He was previously convicted at Leith Police Court on 17 January 1845.

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Posted 07 Oct 2010 by
Robert Miller was probably 19 (this information differs on all the certificates regarding his correct age) when he arrived in Victoria and settled in Ashby, near Geelong in Victoria.  Although he could read and write, he first worked as a shepherd.

In 1854 he married a widow, Isabella Muirhead nee Henderson who also came from Stirling, Scotland.  It is quite possible that the two knew each other in their homeland.

Isabella, was born in 1831 and married William Muirhead in 1851.  They migrated to Australia on board the ‘London’ soon after the marriage and arrived in Geelong in July 1852.

During the voyage their first child, Isabella was born before they landed.  They settled in Asby which then was then referred to as Little Scotland.  The area was renamed Geelong West in 1875.

On 1 March 1854 at the age of twenty-one, William Muirhead died of an inflamed liver or in today’s terms probably hepatitus.  A second child, Christina, was subsequently born either prior to or immediately following his death.  Sadly, she too died.

In the same year (five months after becoming a widow) Isabella married Robert Miller on 11 August 1854.  Marriage at such little time between the death of a former husband was not uncommon in that period mainly because the widow could not support herself.  In September 1855 they had a son, Alexander named after Robert’s father; he was stillborn.

The Miller family folklaw has it that Robert took part at Eureka but stories also suggest that the family was still living at Geelong at the time.  It is possible that Robert was at Eureka but not Isabella.

Robert and Isabella’s second son, also named Alexander, was born in a shepherd’s hut on Mt Elephant, near Derrinallum (Vic.) on 9 November 1856.  Apparently he grew into a fine man living to 77.

Late in the 1850s, the Millers moved to an area south from Ballarat called Ross’ Creek.  Robert, who had been in the carting business, began farming.

It is said that he leased the land before he purchased it which was pretty common for the day.  They were the second family to live in the district and had a creek frontage which is a definite advantage at any farmer.  Their children were among the first to attend the Ross Creek School.  (There is a map in the family book which identifies his block.)

In June 1864 Isabella’s parents, Andrew and Isabella Henderson, together with their younger children, arrived in the country aboard the ‘Empire of Peace.’  They too settled at Ross Creek.  In 1865 after being in Australia for only eight months, Isabella’s father died of asthma.

Three years later, on 22 January 1868, Isabella Miller died in tragic circumstances while giving birth to her eight child.  The inquest papers have been obtained and are appended to this story.

After her death, Robert, who apparently always had a quick temper began to drink heavily.  Family folklaw, from both sides, suggest he was a ‘fire and brimstone’ preacher who would indulge in whisky and then beat his family, at times with a thick wire.

His son, Alexander, was only eleven years of age when he left home with a cousin from the Henerson side of the family.  He took with him, Robert’s axe and made a living cutting timber for the miners at Ballarat.  Later he learnt the art of blade shearing and became a ‘gun shearer’.  He returned home only once and that was of a night when he returned the axe by which time he had broken the handle.

Fifteen months after Isabella’s death, Robert married Ann Parker;  She was only 21 years of age while he was 37 and had already fathered eight children. 

They were married on 17 September 1869.  It was about this time that Robert’s daughter, Isabella, left home at 17 to marry a John Lacy.

Robert and Ann farmed their block at Ross Creek until 1875.  Again it is family folklaw which tells us that with so many mouths to feed, thirty acres could not support them all and it was around this time that the big sheep stations in the Riverina area of New South Wales needed men to fence their properties.  Robert, with his farming experience, added fencing to his trade, and decided to take the family north to New South Wales.

It must have been a very difficult trip for Ann.  She had Robert’s small children from his previous marriage (the older ones decided not to go) and three of her own with one on the way.

He worked on three stations in the Riverina.  Urdary, Pemblegong and Bringagee at Hay. - the latter had a siding or rail station when the line went through to Hay. There is no record of them owning a house while there and Eva Clarke, nee Fry, one of his grand daughters, has a story that at one time, the family rented a house near a Chinese cemetry at Hay and when the Chinese population used to leave out food for their dearly departed, the Miller kids would steal it to satisfy their hunger.

We do know that Ann spent some time following the fence because his daughter, Jessie Caroline Miller, was born under a fencer’s wagon at Hay, NSW on 23 December 1876.  She was their fourth child.

Not much is known about their lives but we do know that life with Robert and his drinking was one of terror for his family.  Again, Eva Clarke told the story of Jessie, as a child, knocked a stool over which hit her father’s ‘goutie’ (gout) foot.  He was so furious that the family had to hide her for over a week;  They were so concerned for her safety.

At the age of twelve, Jessie went to work for Catherine Mattes nee Fry (her sister) who, with her husband, owned the Star hotel near Groongal between Hay and Narrandera.  Groongal was a sheep station. In 1865 the Learmonth brothers bought the lease, and between 1868 and 1875 built an imposing two storied brick homestead on a commanding site overlooking the Murrumbidgee River. They steadily acquired freehold title to some 300,000 acres embracing Groongal, Wyvern (the eastern part of Groongal) and Bringagee. In 1893 these three runs were carrying 45,000 breeding ewes.

Young Jessie (and I am wiriting this with her as the principal linage to the Fry family) was engaged as a maid-cum-cook and had to work very long hours.  Her employer was a suspicious person always watching to see that all his monies were handled correctly.  There is a story that Jessie used to be so tired at the day’s end that she would fall asleep in front of the kitchen stove when she soaked her feet in hot water.  It is known that Jessie suffered from a thryroid complaint and perhaps this complaint was present at that time.

As far as can be ascertained, this was the only job Jessie had.  It is known that she did join the Salvation Army and became Lassie, as did others in the family.  Life with Robert continued to be hard and very difficult for Ann.

One day in 1895, Jessie, wearing her new bright red skirt and while blouse, was out walking when a passing horseman’s mount shied and upset the rider.  The man’s name was Roland Fry and he was visiting his sister who was the hotel owner’s wife.  As a result of this unusual encouter, the couple formed an association, even though at that stage, Jessie was engaged to another man.  After a time her new found beau returned to his home in Ballarat, Victoria.

Towards the end of October, Jessie found herself pregnant and together with her sister Harriet, went to Victoria in search of Roland.  They met up and were married on 14 January 1896.  Their son, Roland Henry Fry was born on 26 April 1896.

In late 1911 when Robert and Ann’s youngest so, William James, left the Riverina to work in the coal mines of the Hunter Valley, Ann decided to go with him.  Life with her husband of 42 years just proved too difficult.

Ann lived out her last years at Wollongong in New South Wales with her youngest son, Edward at Bulli.  She died in 1924 at Coledale, most probably in the hospital there.

Robert Miller moved to Cowra to live with his daughter, Ellen.  He finished his life with her at Narrandera, apparently still terrorising her until his death, aged 95.  He had fathered a total of 17 children in his lifetime.

Ian Granland on 27th January, 2020 wrote:

Was sentenced to 7 years for his crime.  Initially incarcerated in Mulbring prison, he was transported to Woolwich, Portsmouth, and put on board the ship, Eden, which made its way to Van Diemen’s Land.

The ship was turned away from Hobart town because of the lack of work for the Excile prisoners and went onto Port Phillip and to Geelong.  A member of the government was rowed out to the ship where he read a proclamation giving a pardon to all convicts on the ship so long as they did not return to the UK.

Convict Changes History

Wesley Miller on 19th February, 2013 made the following changes:

date of birth 1831, date of death 18th July, 1922, gender, occupation, crime

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