John Ontario Miller


John Ontario Miller

Sir John Ontario Miller, KCSI (August 7 1857January 19 1943) was a British civil servant in India. He was born in Toronto, Canada, the eldest son of Robert Schaw Miller and Eliza Miller. He died at Lavant, Sussex.

Early life

John Ontario Miller was brought up by members of his mother's familly in Scotland after the his mother's death in mid-1863 after the family came to Scotland after his father's death in Canada the previous year.1 He was educated at King's College, University of Aberdeen to which place he had won a bursary of £35 in 1874.2

Career in India

John Ontario Miller joined the Indian Civil Service in 1879.3 Given the trade and commercial background of both sides of his family, it is surprising that he should join the Indian Civil Service, a profession and area with which there are no apparent links. It is possible that a member of staff at his Scottish university had the contacts which enabled him to sit the exam necessary to enter the ICS. It seems probable that he attended one of the two crammer schools in London to give him the sufficient extra education necessary to pass the exam which he probably took in 1878. He must have done well in this exam to have qualified for later postings in Northern India.

He probably took his first furlong back to England in 1887 and was possibly on the same boat taking his future father-in-law Alfred Comyn Lyall back to England to start his retirement. Had he come to Lyall’s notice prior to their departures to the UK? Where his initial postings were is unclear other than he must have been in the Punjab in 1889 where his eldest daughter Evelinia was born 4, a position he must have obtained through the influence of his new wife’s uncle James Broadwood Lyall who was Lieutenant-Governor of the province at the time.5 He would have a working knowledge of the Hindi language, a requirement for the region of India he was posted to.6

He held various secretary positions from 1895 to 1907. He was Chief Secretary to the North West Provinces and Oudh Administration 1899 to 1902 (and also appointed Companion to the Order of the Star of India).7,8 He was a Secretary in the Government of India Revenue Deptartment 1902 to 1903 and then Chief Commissioner of Central Provinces and Berar from 1905 to 1907.9 He then became a member of Viceroy Executive Council of India and Commissioner of Legyral Province from 1907 to 1910.10 For his work he was awarded Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India in the 1901 New Years Honours List.11 He was very highly regarded by his fellow ICS acquitances as his daughter found when she visited India in 1927.12

Later Life in England and Family

On his final return to Great Britain John Ontario Miller served as a London County Council (Non-Member) representative on the London Port Authority from 1916 to 1925.13 He served in the Ministry of Food (probably at the time of the First World War).14 He suffered a middle stroke in late 1926/early 1927.15 His obituary appeared in the Scotsman newspaper after he died in 1943.16

He was a founder of the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1895.17 He was interested as he described as “the currency question” publishing two small books on this subject in 1920 and 1931.18

He married Mary Evelyn Lyall (the youngest daughter of Alfred Comyn Lyall) in 1888.19 They had three sons (of whom one died young in India) and two daughters.20 He brought his family back to the United Kingdom for short breaks in 1894, 1899 and 1901. After their final return to England, Sir John and Lady Miller first lived at Rowley Lodge in Arkley, Hertfordshire (at least between 1908 and 1911).21 They then moved to 6 Sussex Place, Hyde Park, London.22 They then moved to Robson’s Orchard at Mid-Lavant in Sussex sometime after 1934.23

He was a grandson of William Mitchell (Scottish entrepreneur) (1781 - 1854).24 One of his grandchildren is Richard L. Hills.25

Notes

* 1 - Family tree held by the author
* 2 - The Scotsman newspaper 1874
* 3 - National Biographia
* 4 - Family tree held by the author
* 5 - Who's Who 1917
* 6 - David Gilmour, Imperial Lives in The Victorian Raj, Pimilico, London, 2007
* 7 - Who's Who 1917
* 8 - London Gazette 1900
* 9 - Who's Who 1917
* 10 - London Gazette 1901
* 11 - London Gazette 1901
* 12 - Letters from Peggy Miller, 1927
* 13 - Port of London 1909 to 1934, Alan Nell,Port of London Authority, 1934
* 14 - The Scotsman newspaper 1943
* 15 - Letters from Peggy Miller, 1927
* 16 - The Scotsman newspaper 1943
* 17 - LSE Memorandum of Association 1895
* 18 - Copies of books held by the author
* 19 - Family tree held by the author
* 20 - Family tree held by the author
* 21 - Sir Alfred Lyall's will probated in 1911
* 22 - Who's Who 1917
* 23 - Sir John O. Miller's will probated in 1943
* 24 - Family tree held by the author
* 25 - Family tree held by the author


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