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Miller Family History
This notable surname is regarded as both English and Scottish. It has over twenty-five entries in the British "Dictionary of National Biography", and no less than thirty coats of arms. It is or rather was, occupational, and described a corn miller, or at least someone in charge of a mill. The origination is from the pre 7th century Old English word "mylene", and the later "milne", but ultimately from the Latin "molere", meaning to grind. Job-descriptive surnames denoted the occupation of the namebearer, but only became hereditary when a son followed a father into the same line of business. The miller enjoyed a privileged position in medieval society, the mill being an important centre in every medieval settlement, and farmers gathered there to have their corn ground into flour.
The etymology of this surname goes back to the Middle English forms 'miller, muller' & c. and further still to Old English 'mylener', denoting the occupation of miller. In 1881 there were 53, 151 bearers in Great Britain as a whole. Heavy concentrations of the name were found in that year in Lanarkshire, Durham, Lancashire and South East England, particularly London, Surrey and Kent. The Scottish variant Millar was also found in large numbers in Lanarkshire, Midlothian and Angus. The surname Miller was noted by MacLysaght as being numerous also in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Examples of early bearers are Adam le Molendinator, Oxfordshire 1273 (Hundred Rolls), Ralph Muller, Sussex 1296 (Subsidy Rolls) and John le Mellere, 1300 (Writs of Parliament). The first form is in Latin, and it is in Latin, Molendinarius & c. that the name is often recorded in early records.
The Miller population frequency in England and Wales in the 1891 Census was 38,218; and of Scotland 14,951.
In Kent, as an example, the frequency of Miller was 1,839 in the 1881 Census; and in 1891 it was 1,251, that is 3% of the total for that year in England and Wales.
According to Guppy there were three groups of Millers in England, the Millers of the south, principally Dorset, the Millers of the north, mostly in Lancashire, Durham and Northumberland, and the Millers of the south-east, chiefly Essex and Kent.
This surname occupies seventh rank in the U.S.A Census for 2010, with a frequency of 1,161,437. However, the surname is often an anglicised form to which has been assimilated the cognate German and Ashkenazic Jewish Müller/Mueller, French Meunier, Dumoulin, Demoulins, and Moulin and many others.
1881, 1891 Census of England, Wales & Scotland
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, C.W.E. Bardsley, London, 1872/96
Surnames of Ireland, E. MacLysaght, Dublin 1985
Dictionary of American Family Names, P. Hanks, OUP, 2003-2013
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain & Ireland, eds Hanks, Coates, McClure, 2016
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