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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Miller, Patrick, Jun. (1769 — 1845)

The son of Patrick Miller of Dalswinton (see above) and a captain in the army. With the aid of Queensberry, he was elected Member of Parliament for Dumfries in 1790, and held his seat until 1796. In the ballad of 'The Five Carlins' Burns wrote of him:
"Then neist came in a sodger-boy [next
Who spak wi' modest grace,
And he wad gae to Lon'on town,
If sae their pleasure was.
He wad na hecht them courtly gifts, [promise
Nor meikle speech pretend;
But he had hecht an honest heart,
Wad ne'er desert his friend.'

The burghs or 'carlins' were Dumfries ('Maggy by the banks o' Nith'); Lochmaben ('Marjory of the many Lochs'); Annan ('Blinkin Bess of Annandale'); Kirkcudbright ('Whisky Jean of Galloway'); and Sanquhar ('Black Joan frae Crichton-Peel').

Writing to Graham of Fintry on 9th December 1789, Burns described 'Captain Miller, my landlord's son' as: 'a youth by no means above mediocrity in his abilities: and is said to have a huckster-lust for shillings, pence and farthings'.

Writing to Mrs Dunlop from Ellisland on 9th July 1790, Burns reported: 'I have just got a summons to attend with my men-servants armed as well as we can, on Monday, one o'clock in the morning to escort Captain Miller from Dalswinton in to Dumfries to be a Candidate for our Boroughs, which chuse their Member that day. The Duke of Queensberry and the Nithsdale Gentlemen who are almost all friends to the Duke's Candidate, the said Captain, are to raise all Nithsdale on the same errand. The Duke of Buccleugh's, Earl of Hopeton's people, in short, the Johnstons, Jardines, and all the Clans of Annandale, are to attend Sir James Johnston, who is the other Candidate, on the same account. This is no exaggeration. On Thursday last, at chusing the Delegate for the boro' of Lochmaben, the Duke and Captain Miller's friends led a strong party, among others, upwards of two hundred Colliers from Sanquhar Coal-works and Miners from Wanlockhead; but when they appeared on a hill-top, within half a mile of Lochmaben, they found such a superior host of Annandale warriors drawn out to dispute the Day, that without striking a stroke, they turned their backs and fled with all the precipitation the horrors of blood and murther could inspire. What will be the event, I know not. I shall go to please my Landlord, and to see the Combustion; but instead of trusting to the strength of Man, I shall trust to the heels of my horse, which are among the best in Nithsdale'.

Through Perry of the London Morning Chronicle, whom Millr knew, Burns was offered a position on the paper's literary staff in 1794. The poet wrote to Miller declining the position, on the grounds that his political sentiments would endanger the well-being of his familty. But he sent Miller a copy of his song, 'Scots wha hae', asking that the paper should publish it anonymously. Miller heired Dalswinton on his father's death, but the estate was later sold. He claimed that his father should 'be held and acknowledged as the real author of the modern system of navigation by means of steam.'

Buy the Burns Encyclopedia online
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Complete Burns Songs

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