Reverend John Miller
by
Stefan Bielinski


John Miller (1666-1724) graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1684. In 1692, he was appointed chaplain of the New York Companies, received his ecclesiastical license from the Bishop of London, and, by that October, had landed in New York. For the next three years, Miller was the sole Anglican cleric in New York. He served at the English forts on Manhattan and in Albany and preached at the other English outposts as well.

John Miller was a keen observer of the late seventeenth century New York scene - describing and reflecting on what he saw in what became a considerable collection of notes and drawings. In 1696, Miller left the colony to return to England. However, his ship was captured by a French privateer - but not before Miller threw overboard his papers to prevent their capture by the enemy. Miller was incarcerated and used the time to re-write and further develop his accounts of his New York experience. Redeemed, he was returned to England in 1696.

Serving the remainder of his life as the vicar of Effingham, Miller was called a "worthy and respectable vicar" and "a man of research." On his death in 1724, an inventory of his estate revealed an extensive library - with many of the volumes annotated by Miller, as well as a number of original manuscripts.

One of those works (taking the form of an extended letter to the Bishop of London) has been preserved in the British Museum. It was printed several times over the next two centuries. The best-known and most accessible version is entiitled New York Considered and Improved, 1695 by John Miller ("published from the original MS. in the British Museum"), was edited by Victor Hugo Paltsits, and published by The Burrows Brothers Company of Cleveland in 1903. With its descriptive text, analyses, and annotated maps and diagrams, that work represents a major historical and ethnographic resource for the history of New York during the 1690s.

Included in that volume are John Miller's map of Albany and his diagram of the fort. They are among the often seen visual representations of early Albany.



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first posted: 10/30/02