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Governor: 1677

by Dennis F. Daniels
Research Branch, NC Office of Archives and History, 2005.

See also: Thomas Miller, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

Thomas Miller (d. ca. 1685) served as Albemarle’s governor for about six months in 1677, during which time his government was overthrown in an uprising known as Culpeper’s Rebellion. Miller originally resided in Ireland working as a merchant and apothecary. By 1673 he had settled in Albemarle and become a leader in the proprietary faction. In 1676 the anti-proprietary faction led by John Jenkins, regained partial control of Albemarle from proprietary leader Thomas Eastchurch. They indicted Miller for treason and blasphemy and for speaking disparagingly of the Lords Proprietors. Miller was imprisoned and later sent to Virginia in May 1676 for trial. The Virginia Council acquitted Miller; he left for London where he joined Eastchurch.

Miller and Eastchurch met with the proprietors in the fall of 1676. They presented their version of the events in Albemarle to the proprietors who accepted their story. The Lords Proprietors issued commissions appointing Eastchurch as governor of Albemarle and Miller as council member and secretary. Miller also received an appointment as customs collector. The two men left for Albemarle in summer 1677.

The ship carrying Miller and Eastchurch stopped in the West Indies. During this stopover Eastchurch met a wealthy woman and married her. Wishing to stay longer, Eastchurch commissioned Miller as acting governor. Miller arrived in Albemarle in July 1677 and claimed the governor’s office. He authorized the collections of fees and tried anti-proprietary faction members for various offences. Miller called for the election of a new assembly but disfranchised the anti-proprietary faction. Miller’s assembly imposed fines on the anti-proprietary faction to punish them. Miller caused more antagonism by having the assembly levy high taxes and by using public money to pay his armed guards.

In December 1677 Miller’s arrest of Zachariah Gillam for customs violations and his attempted arrest of anti-proprietary leader George Durant sent Albemarle into rebellion. Led by John Culpeper and Valentine Bird, an armed group imprisoned Miller and his followers. Gaining control of the government, the anti-proprietary faction brought Miller to trial. The trial was discontinued when Eastchurch, who was in Virginia, issued a proclamation calling on the colonists to disarm, to free Miller and others, and to restore the rightful government. The proclamation stopped the trial proceedings and saved Miller from the prospect of execution for treason. However, Miller remained imprisoned for two years before being freed by friends.

Miller went to London and complained to Lords Proprietors, the Commissioners of Customs, and the Privy Council about what happened. He obtained the arrest of Zachariah Gillam and John Culpeper when they were in London. But, Gillam was released due to lack of evidence, and Culpeper was acquitted of treason. Miller obtained some justice receiving monetary compensation from the royal treasury. He received an appointment as customs collector in Poole, England, in March 1681. In July 1682 he transferred to a better customs post in Weymouth. In short order he was removed from the position and imprisoned for embezzling. Miller died in prison prior to October 1685.


Butler, Lindley S. 1969. The governors of Albemarle County 1663-1689. North Carolina historical review. 46 (3): 281-299.

Parker, Mattie Erma Edwards. 1968. Legal aspects of "Culpeper's Rebellion". North Carolina Historical Review. 45 (2): 111-127.

Parker, Mattie Erma Edwards, William S. Price, and Robert J. Cain. 1968. North Carolina higher-court records. The Colonial records of North Carolina, v. [2]-. Raleigh, N.C.: State Dept. of Archives and History.

Powell, William Stevens. 1991. Dictionary of North Carolina biography. Vol. 4, L-O. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Online via NetLibrary and NC LIVE.

Rankin, Hugh F. Upheaval in Albermarle: The Story of Culpepper’s Rebellion, 1675-1689. Raleigh: Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission, 1962.

Smith, William S. 1990. Culpeper's rebellion: new data and old problems. Thesis (M.A.)--North Carolina State University, 1990.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 2008. Colonial and state records of North Carolina. [Chapel Hill, N.C.]: University Library, UNC-Chapel Hill.



There is something that should be included in North Carolina written history. The Town of Colerain in Bertie County was founded by Ulster Scots and named after the town of Coleraine, Northern Ireland. There are many Millers of Scottish descent in Northern Ireland.


I thought this my be of some interest to the residence of Bertie County, North Carolina. Colerain, North Carolina is names after Coleraine, North Ireland, which is called today Londonderry. This shows the Ulster- Scots influence in that area of North Carolina. My Grandmother Miller was a member of the Cowan family that came from Ulster and the Millers were also Ulster-Scots since their name could be spelled with an "e" or an "a." That is why my Grandfather was named Duncan Miller. Jonathan Miller, my ancestor, was most likely a relation to Gov. Thomas Miller, an Ulster-Scot also. Fellow Ulster-Scots include the great C.S. Lewis and the first Democratic President, Andrew Jackson.


If you are still interested, I must admit that I can find no connection for Jonathan Miller, Sr. I find no connection to Thomas Miller or Jakob Mueller. I still believe he was Scottish since he sometimes spelt his name "Millar." I can only assume that Jonathan was the first European of our family in North Carolina. Do I believe there is a connection with the Lost Colony? No, I do not. I would have a DNA Test; however, they are too expensive. Perhaps you can have the test one day. This is the last time in which I will use this site to express my ideas. Remember that history is a puzzle. One must always work with the pieces of the puzzle until they fit. Good luck on your adventure of the past. Charles E. Miller, BA, Old Dominion University; MA, Liberty University


Dear members of the NCpedia Staff,
This is Charles Miller, a descendant of Jonathan Miller. I will find a way so that Jaykob Miller can contact me without using your site. We believe we descend from Gov. Thomas Miller; however, it is difficult to prove this. You have been very kind to me, but I do not want to take advantage of the old North state. You may find it interesting that Congressman Thomas Wynns who served as a Democratic-Republican in Congress is my first cousin seven times removed. He served NC from 1802 to 1807. In any case, I will find a way he can contact me. Thank you for your kindness and patience.


I find it interesting that my ancestor, Jonathan Miller, spelt his last name "Millar." That sounds Scottish or Scotch-Irish to me.

Charles E. Miller, Jr., AB, AM


I am a descendant of Jonathan Miller, Sr. eight generations back. He lived in Bertie County, NC; however, no one can connect him to a family from there. He was born in 1710 and died in 1779. Could he be a descendant or relation to Gov. Thomas Miller. There are Scotch-Irish living in Bertie County.

Charles E. Miller, Jr. BA in German, MA in Religion
Former Officer, Bank of America


Hello! My name is Jaykob Miller. So far, we've tracked our ancestry to Jonathan Miller (1710-1779) as well, but are also unsure of his roots. Would you by chance have come upon knowledge of his heritage, ethnicity, etc.? I would very much appreciate it!


I have a thought for you concerning Jonathan Miller, Sr. of Bertie County. Some of my branch of the family says that Jonathan was German. It has been passed down their line of the family. I do not know them; I just read it on the internet. Is it possible that Jonathan Miller, Sr. was the first member of our family to come from Europe? It is not impossible. Perhaps it is something to consider? Charles


I am glad to her from you. The problem I am finding is this: some Millers who are related to me say that Jonathan Miller, Sr was a son of Jakob Mueller of New Bern. He was Swiss-German. I have a Bachelor of Arts in German ,and I was an exchange student in Germany in 1974. My family side used the phrase in English "I am going to throw you with a rock." In German that would be "Ich werde Sie mit Steinen bewerfen." Does that make Jonathan a Swiss-German who moved to Bertie County? There is another problem. Jonathan Miller, Sr. also spelt his name "Millar." This is Scottish and Gov. Miller was Scotch-Irish. I have read that Thomas Miller from Ireland had three sons; however, I only remember Nathaniel Miller. I really believe we descend from Thomas Miller of Ireland and Albemarle Colony; however, it is interesting to see that your name is Jaykob. Remember Jakob Mueller of New Bern. Millar is a possible clue, however.That would be Scotch-Irish. Did you know my grandfather, Duncan Miller. He lived on the farm of Jonathan Miller, Sr. He was also Chairman of the Republican Party of Bertie County in 1936. My grandmother, Essie Cowan Miller, was on her father's side also Scotch-Irish. I hope to hear from you again. Charles E. Miller, Jr. BA, MA


Sorry, I suppose I should have clarified my reason fro believing there is no correlation between my name and Jakob's. My father and grandfather are named Jay. My name is Jaykob because my father wanted me to be similar to him, but also different. That's why I don't believe the names to be a factor. But I do suppose it could be something that is related in some way.


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