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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.



I recently learned through my research of the Larkham family of England that Thomas Miller, governor of Albemarle, was a grandson of the nonconformist minster, Thomas Larkham of Tavistock, England. Thomas Miller's mother, Patience Larkham, was the daughter of Rev. Thomas Larkham. She married Joseph Miller, a lieutenant in Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentary army in Ireland. As far as I can tell, Thomas Miller never married and died without issue. I've just completed a webpage on his at This was a very interesting family!


Ms. Cox,
You have done some very fine research. I hope they will let you know what I have read about Nathaniel Miller. If I cannot find the book in the Chesapeake Library again, I will just give up. In any case, it appears you are a very fine historian.

Charles Miller, grandson of Duncan Miller of Bertie County


What you have written is very interesting and it may be true that Gov. Miller had no children. I have, however, read a book that said that Gov. Thomas Miller had three sons. It is in the Chesapeake, Virginia library, and I do not remember the title. I have not seen the book in twenty years. My health is not good. I have diabetes and broke my leg when I passed out due to my sugar levels. I only remember one child's name. It was Nathaniel Miller. If I can find the book or remember the title, I will be happy to let you know. I may not be able to find it. Charles E. Miller, Jr., BA, MA


Dear Sally,

Thank you very much for taking the time to add this information for our readers and share your link to your work. Your comments will remain linked to the Thomas Miller entry for future users. We're always grateful when readers are able to share their knowledge and work with us for the benefit of our readers.  It's also nice to know that you get as excited about biography, history, and genealogy as we are here at the GHL!

Please visit NCpedia again and best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NCpedia Staff


I don't know if some of the commenters are still interested in the origins of Thomas Miller, however I've learned through some of my personal research on the Larkham family of England that Thomas Miller, governor of Albemarle was the grandson of the controversial, nonconformist minister, Thomas Larkham of Tavistock, England. I've just completed a webpage on him at: This was, to say the least, a very interesting family!


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

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