Miller Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Miller Meaning
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
Mueller, is up there as number one in that country.  Miller is the
most common Jewish surname in America, after Cohen and Levy.  Miller was in fact sometimes the preferred
of a Jewish name that did not even resemble Miller.

Miller Resources on

Select Miller Ancestry

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

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

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

Scotland.  Both Miller and Millar are
Scottish surnames.

Miller has been very
much a Border name, to be found around Dumfries.  When the Border
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
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

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
Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in 1745.
Another Henry Miller, a veteran of Waterloo, brought his family
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

America.  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

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
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

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

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
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
company there. 

Canada.  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.


Miller Miscellany

The Miller Family of Liverpool.  This Miller family history began with the birth of
John Miller in Kendal (then in Westmoreland) sometime around 1695.  He was an apothecary and alderman in the
town.  His grandson William moved to
Liverpool in the 1780’s where he was a mercer and a draper.  William of the next generation speculated in
land and built
his home at Miller’s Castle in Bootle.

of the later Millers of this family stayed in the Liverpool area.  A number were shipbrokers who travelled
widely.   Joseph was a merchant who
abroad in Madeira in 1847.  Henry
and George prospered in the tea plantations of India in the 1890’s.  Other Millers emigrated to Canada at that

Francis Spurstow Miller joined the
Navy and had various naval commands during World War One.
He was promoted to Admiral after the war.

The Miller Fishing Dynasty in Dorset.  Henry Miller started up a small fishing business in
the village of Tyneham near Lulworth Cove in Dorset in
1678.  His business was handed
down father to son through the generations, to John and a second John
in the
18th century and then to Henry, Joseph and Edwin in the 19th.

Charles was the first Miller to
go to sea in a
motor-powered boat after he installed an old Ford car engine on it in
the late
Jim succeeded him.  He was a
well-known figure in the local fishing community until his death in
2008.  His son Joe joined in the 1970’s and
fishes in Joe’s old boat, the Silver Foam.

When Henry
Miller started out, he sold fish direct to local villagers from the
beach.  But over the decades, as the
business grew,
the Millers started selling most of their catch to fish merchants.  In recent years the
family has sold their fish from
their own shop
in Lulworth Cove.  On the wall is a family tree showing all the
Millers who
have worked for the business down the years. 

Mueller/Miller Mennonites.  There are a large number of Anabaptist/Mennonite Muellers
from various parts of Switzerland and they were among the earliest
in the 16th century.  Included in their
number were Elsi Mueller of Basel, Hans Mueller of Medicon, and
Mueller of Meisterschwanden.  Jobst
(Just) Mueller was a martyr at Jena in Germany in 1536.

During the 17th and early 18th centuries many
of them left Switzerland because of persecution. Some of them settled
Alsace; others departed for the Palatinate in Germany.
By the 1720’s Mennonites with the name of
Mueller from Switzerland and Alsace began emigrating to Pennsylvania.  Michael Mueller, later Miller, arrived in
1727 from a family which was originally from the canton of Bern in

Abraham Miller of Bloom Township, Pennsylvania.  Abraham Miller was born in 1758 in Berks county, Pennsylvania.  German parentage is most
likely.  But it is not known for certain
whether his parents were German, English, or Irish.

married twice, having six
children by his first wife Phebe and nine by his second wife Nancy.  He was an enterprising man.
He was an innkeeper, shopkeeper, landlord,
farmer, and President of the Susquehanna Bridge Company.
He also owned and operated a mill and
quarry.   In 1799 he started his Halfway House Inn, so named because it
was halfway between Berwick and Bloom in Northumberland county.  His son Thomas took over the inn after he
died in 1821.

was buried next to his two wives in Rosemont cemetery in
Bloom township.  It was and is a
picturesque spot on a hilltop overlooking the town and mountains to the
distance.    Some of his children remained in the
area.   Others moved to Michigan and Ohio.

Frederick Miller and the Miller Brewing Company.  Frederick Miller had come from a well-to-do family in Riedlingen in Germany and spent his early years travelling, mainly in
France.  On his way back to Germany, he
visited his
uncle, a brewer, in Nancy.  He decided to
stay and learn the business.

with Germany in the throes of political unrest and growing
restrictions, Frederick
decided to emigrate with his young family to the United States.  He brought with him $9,000 in gold.  This was believed to have been partially gifts
from Miller’s mother and his wife’s dowry and also possibly money that
he had made
from brewing in Germany.

after his
arrival in Milwaukee, Frederick Miller paid $8,000 for the Plank-Road
Brewery, a
five-year-old brewery started by Frederick Charles Best and abandoned
in 1854.  Miller became a brewery owner in
an era when
beer sold for about $5 per barrel in the Milwaukee area and for three
to five
cents a glass at the city’s taverns. The Plank-Road Brewery was several
west of Milwaukee in the Menomonee valley.  It
proved ideal for its nearness to a good
water source and to raw materials grown on surrounding farms.

and spare, Frederick Miller had a long
face with a high forehead and a short Parisian beard.   He dressed
and acted like a Frenchman too.   But his “confoundedly good glass of
beer” won the respect of the German community of early Milwaukee. 

Saul Miller from a Jewish Shtetl.  Saul Miller wrote in later life: “In my seventeenth
year I left Dobromil for Berlin in Germany and never set eyes on
again.”  He had been born there in 1890,
grown up in the Jewish shtetl there, and had been apprenticed as a
tailor there.

He in fact stayed
about two years in
Berlin and came to New York in 1909.
There he was a garment worker all his life and an active union
leader in
the 1920’s and 30’s.

he did not forget where he had come from.  He
published his reminiscences of his life
there in Dobromil: Life in a Galician
Shtetl, 1890-1907
.  After World War
II he was a one-man committee of correspondence, seeking out all the
refugees of the Dobromil area and helping them to find new homes.



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 Miller Numbers 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 Miller and Like Surnames   

The various medieval trades and occupations were a source of surnames as John the baker would over time would become known as John Baker.  Some skilled craftsmen – such as chandlers, fletchers and turners – were able to form guilds, protective organizations, and style themselves Worshipful Companies.  These are some of the occupational surnames that you can check out.




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