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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.



Hello There!
Did Gail Miller say to you if there is any relation to Gov. Miller or his ethnic background?



Excuse me, the man's name is Payne Daniel!


I have to tell you that I think I have found the answer to our questions! I talked to a person related to the Millers named Daniel Payne. He said that according to research he conducted, Jonathan signed petitions against King George III, and so he believed that he was of some English decent. However, from the research regarding Thomas Miller, I believe this suggests that Jonathan was, in fact, Scotch-Irish. Your thoughts?


I truly believe that you have hit the jack pot, Jaykob. Only a citizen of Great Britain and Ireland would have been allowed to sign a petition regarding King George III. On this petition, he name was spelled Millar. That means his ancestors were from Scotland. King James I of Great Britain and Ireland granted land to our ancestors in Ireland since they were Protestants. This was to weaken the strength of the Catholic Irish. David Miller tries to say that Jonathan also had Native American ancestry; however, this must be wrong. Indians could not serve on juries and other government functions as Jonathan did. That was true in Virginia as well as North Carolina. There were also racial laws too. The only exception to that was John Rolfe in Jamestown, Va. Jonathan was completely British that would include English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish. Payne Daniel does seem to be correct. Also, I forgot to mention that American Indians could not purchase land when Jonathan lived. Your cousin, Charles


It's funny you mention the American Indian aspect. The Miller's that branched off into Mississippi and Louisiana have native blood in them, Choctaw band to be more specific. When I first started inquiring into where our Miller name originated from, nationality, etc. my aunt told me that we were Native and Irish. Do you have Facebook? There's a group on there where the Miller's and associated families from the California and Mississppi/Louisiana/Arkansas areas all are connected and post things just to stay in touch. It's a pretty neat thing!


Dear Jaykob,

I have contacted the East Carolina University Lost Colony Project just in case Cousin David could be right about Jonathan.
It seems they are interested in Bertie County Millers. Perhaps I shall find something. Charles


Jaykob, I may sound odd; however, have you ever heard of Lee Miller, MA? She wrote a book dealing with the Lost Colony and possible descendants in Bertie County, NC. Could it be possible that Jonathan Miller was a descendant of that colony? It is one thing I have learned, my Cousin. History is a puzzle. One must keep trying to put the pieces together to see if they fit.



I wish I did have it. That must be where David Miller gets the Indian concept. That does not affect my side of the family, however. I do not want to hurt David in any way; however, he confuses his history. He confuses Gov. Thomas Miller and Jacob Miller (Jakob Mueller) of New Bern, NC. He is really a nice man, but his health is not good. He lives in Plymouth, North Carolina, which is in Bertie County. My wife, Nancy, has ordered me two books: one is a German novel and the other is a book from Scotland that discusses Scottish family history. I thought I might find something interesting in that. I have emailed a Mrs. Forehand who works at Hope Plantation in Windsor. It seems she has some information on Jonathan. Perhaps she will send me something that will be of interest. It is very interesting that you mention the Choctaw. Once I took a linguistics class at Old Dominion and read a story concerning the Choctaw Mount. It is very much like the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. All people began as Choctaw; however, the "gods" became angry at the people for building the hill and changed their language and ethnic origins. I am a Young Earth Creationist; however, we do believe in microevolution. I hope the NCpedia will print this. Perhaps Mrs. Forehand will get in touch. On October 11, my wife is going to take me to a movie since I will be fifty-eight years old on that day. I am going now to my library to read my German books. It is actually a lovely language. I suppose we will have to find some way to contact each other without using NCpedia. Have a good day. Charles


Sorry Charles, its been a few days since Ive been on. Gail didnt tell me what his ethnicity was, I was waiting to hear back from her! Ill let you know as soon as I hear anything!


on our family genealogy, it has always been assumed that we were direct desendants of Thomas Miller -- we have no other information about him other than we came to NC possibly around 1667. In the above Bio - it seems to state he died around 1685. Is it possible to trace back his arrival, death, place of burial and any children? We have that he had one child - Anthony.
Thank you.

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