Miller, Thomas (1717-1789) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


MILLER, Sir THOMAS, Lord Glenlee (1717–1789), lord president of the College of Justice, the second son of William Miller of Glenlee, Kirkcudbrightshire, and of Barskimming, Ayrshire, writer to the signet, by his wife, Janet, eldest daughter of Thomas Hamilton of Shield Hall, was born on 3 Nov. 1717. He matriculated at Glasgow University in November 1730, but did not graduate, and on 21 Feb. 1742, was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates. In 1748 he was appointed sheriff-depute of Kirkcudbright, and was elected joint town-clerk of the city of Glasgow. In 1755 he resigned the office of sheriff-depute, and became solicitor of the excise in Scotland. He succeeded Andrew Pringle as solicitor-general on 17 March 1759, and was appointed lord advocate in the place of Robert Dundas the younger of Arniston (1713–1787) [q. v.], who became lord president of the court of session on 30 April 1760. At the general election in April 1761, he was returned to parliament for the Dumfries district of burghs. The only speech which he made in the house is said to have been one in opposition to the repeal of the American Stamp Act, but no speech of his is recorded in the pages of the ‘Parliamentary History’ (vols. xv. and xvi.). Miller was elected rector of the university of Glasgow in November 1762, and was made lord justice clerk on 14 June 1766 in the place of Sir Gilbert Eliot of Minto, taking the title of Lord Barskimming, which he afterwards changed to that of Lord Glenlee. He succeeded Robert Dundas the younger, of Arniston, as lord president of the College of Justice on 15 Jan. 1788, and was created a baronet on 3 March following. His health, which had been failing some years, soon afterwards gave way, and he died at Barskimming on 27 Sept. 1789, aged 71. He was buried in the family vault at Stair, Ayrshire.

Miller enjoyed a high reputation as a lawyer, and was an industrious and conscientious judge. Burns alludes to him in the ‘Vision’ as ‘an aged judge … dispensing good’ (Duan i. stanza 20). With the help of five other advocates Miller compiled the ‘Decisions of the Court of Session from the beginning of February 1752 to the end of the year 1756’ (Edinburgh, 1760, fol.) His able and elaborate report to the Duke of Grafton, dated 23 Oct. 1768, on Lieutenant Ogilvie's case, in which he expressed his opinion that there was no appeal from the court of justiciary to the House of Lords, is preserved in the Record Office (Scotland MSS. 1737–70, No. 25).

Miller married, first, on 16 April 1752 Margaret, the eldest daughter of John Murdoch of Rose Bank, provost of Glasgow, by whom he had an only son, Sir William Miller, lord Glenlee [q. v.], and one daughter, Jessie, who became the wife of Mr. John Dunlop. His first wife died on 18 April 1767. He married, secondly, on 7 June 1768, Anne, daughter of John Lockhart of Castlehill, Lanarkshire, by whom he had no issue. She survived him many years, and died at Clifton on 14 Jan. 1817. Portraits of Miller and of his first wife by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and of his second wife by Sir Henry Raeburn, are to be seen in the Scottish National Gallery. There is also a medallion of Miller by James Tassie in the National Scottish Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. Miller's portrait has been engraved by D. B. Pyet.

[Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1790, vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 63–75; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, 1832, pp. 530–1; Omond's Lord Advocates of Scotland, 1883, ii. 68–73; Anderson's Scottish Nation, 1863, iii. 157; Foster's Members of Parliament, Scotland, 1882, p. 251; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1890; Foster's Baronetage, 1881, p. 434; Hist. of the Society of Writers to the Signet, 1890, p. 145; Scots Mag. x. 155, 207, xiv. 213, xvii. 269, li. 467.]

G. F. R. B.