Saturday, April 16, 2011

Where In Ireland? Part 2

In earlier posts we have discussed the Scots-Irish Northern Ireland roots of Rebecca Bradford through her father, Samuel. In this post we will examine the origins of the Millers.

For many years my brother, Bill, and I searched for records of the ancestral home of William Miller. The only clue we had was the Allen Family Record (written by William and Rebecca's grandson, George Washington Allen, in 1876). Of William's father the record states, "Abraham Miller - Born in Holland, came to America in the early part of the eighteenth century - his ancestry having fled England to Holland during a violent persecution of Protestants."

For years I interpreted this to mean that Abraham's ancestors must have been part of the Separatist-leaning Pilgrims who fled England for Holland, eventually settling in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I figured that the writer must have meant "seventeenth century." But no Miller's sailed in 1620 on Mayflower, or on later ships, and no Miller is listed in the Plymouth colony rolls. Perhaps, I thought, Abraham's ancestors remained behind in Holland, not coming to America till the 1700's ["eighteenth century"] as noted in the Allen Family Record).

However, over the past couple of years, research done by one of our Miller-Bradford Group members, Chalmers Williams, has shed new and startling light on this issue - see post entitled "Miller Genealogy by Chalmers Williams - Part 1" dated May 5, 2010.

Chalmers, very convincingly and with excellent documentation which we will examine in future posts, makes the case that the Millers were probably Ulster Scots living Northern Ireland who were "Covenanters" - members of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterians), who rejected the royal decree proclaiming the King supreme head of the church in Scotland and signed a covenant which stated that only Jesus Christ could command such a position" and swore to take up arms in defense of their beliefs. (Source: http://scottishcovenanters.org/history.htm)


This commitment let to severe persecution of the Covenanters in England, Ireland and Scotland. "The methods used to persecute and oppress the Covenanters is almost beyond belief but evidence exists for all the following : butchering, hanging, beheading, mangling, dismembering alive, quartering upon scaffolds, imprisoning, laying in irons, torturing by boots, thumbkins, fire-matches, cutting pieces out of the ears of others, banishing and selling as slaves old and young men and women in great numbers, oppressing many others in their estates, forfeiting, robbing, spoiling, pillaging their goods, casting them out of their habitations, interdicting any to reset them, under the pain of being treated after the same manner". (Source: http://www.thereformation.info/restoration.htm)

It is no wonder that the Covenanters fled. Where did they go? From one source we learn, "Another bastion for the exiled and fleeing Covenanters was Holland where there was full Communion with the Reformed Church of Holland and the Scots. There were Scottish churches in Rotterdam, Campvere, Leyden, Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, the Hague and Middleburg [for the] exiled Presbyterians." (ibid)

Is this then the foundation for the claim of William Miller's grandson that his [and thus our] ancestors "fled England to Holland during a violent persecution of Protestants"?

In order to answer this question, the next post will examine whether or not any documents exist that actually tie our Millers to the Covenanters.

3 comments:

  1. Pretty neat discovery. It's nice to hear one's ancestors were on the good guys' side.

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  2. Really appreciate hearing from you both!!

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