Brisbane Courier Saturday 28 April 1923
THE FOUNDERS OF BRISBANE.
CAPTAIN HENRY MILLER.
By Dr. F. AV. S. CUMBRAE-STEWART.
There were three Regiments of the Line serving in Australia a hundred years ago. Those were the 48th, now the 1st Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment, which came out in 1817; the 3rd Buffs, now "The East Kent Regiment," which came out in 1823; the 40th, now "The South Lancashire Regiment," which followed soon after. The custom in those days was to send out the regiments in detachments as guards in the transports bringing convicts, and finally the colonel and headquarters staff.
Major, afterwards Lieutenant -Colonel, Morrisett, of the 48th, left descendants who were afterwards well known in Queensland. Lieut. Stirling, of the Buffs, was with Oxley when the Brisbane River was discovered, and from the 40th came the first commandant at Moreton Bay.
Sir Thomas Brisbane had laid it down that only married officers with families were to be sent as commandants of the out settlements, and when it became necessary to send a commandant to Moreton Bay his choice fell upon Lieut. Henry Miller. Promotion was slow in those days, for our first commandant was 38 years of age, having been born in 1785. He belonged to Londonderry, where his father was a clergyman. His brother, Mr. Joseph Miller, was Mayor of Londonderry on five different occasions. His nephew, Sir William Miller, was mayor about 40 years ago. He entered the army at an early age, being gazetted as an ensign in the 40th in 1709, when only 14. He married some ten years later, his eldest son, Henry, being born on December 30, 1809, at Londonderry.
At that time the 40th were with Wellington on the Peninsular. The great battle of Talavera had been fought the previous July. "This battle," says Jomini, "recovered the glory of the successes of Marlborough, which for a century had declined. It was felt that the English infantry could contend with the best in Europe." Wellington won his peerage at Talavera, and the 40th carries the name of the victory on its colours. Miller was with his regiment when, on September 27, 1810, Wellington fought the battle of Busaco to secure his retreat to his "laboured rampart lines" at Torres Vodras. When the Iron Duke opened his campaign of 1812 by taking Ciudad Rodrigo, Miller took part in the assault, which cost us 90 officers and 1200 men. Three months later Badajos was 'taken by storm. This was the most bloody of all the struggles of the war, and cost us 5000 in killed and wounded. Assault after assault had failed. In two hours 2000 men had of a Forlorn Hope, and was severely wounded.
The 40th were with Wellington in his victorious advance. Its battle honours include Salamanca, "Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, and Toulouse. The fall of Napoleon left Great Britain free to turn her attention to the United States, and Miller crossed the Atlantic with the 40th. He was at the unsuccessful attack on New Orleans on January 8, 1815, when the commanding officer, Sir E Pakenham, was killed. He was back again in Europe in time to be present at Waterloo, which scaled the fate of Napoleon, and, incidentally, of Australia, too, for it left Great Britain without a serious rival and in possession of a great colonial empire.
Miller's last fight was Waterloo. He was given the Peninsular medal, with clasps for Busaco, Badajos, and Ciudad Rodrigo, and the Waterloo medal. These decorations are in the possession of his family in Melbourne, and are here reproduced. After Waterloo the 40th formed part of the army of occupation, and Lieut. Miller was joined by his wife and family in Paris. From France the 10th went to Glasgow, and in March, 1823, the regiment was ordered to go to New South Wales. Lieut. Miller and his family came out with one of the detachments, and on October 27, 1824 the Mayles arrived with Colonel Thornton and the headquarters of the regiment. By that date Lieut. Miller was in charge at Moreton Bay, having come up from Sydney in the brig Amity a couple of months earlier. His appointment as commandant is dated September, 12. 1824.
It would be hard to imagine a more desolate and forsaken spot than that upon which Mrs. Miller found herself and her young family. She was many miles up a river in a savage land. The only tie with civilisation was the rare arrival of a ship from Sydney in Moreton Bay, for no ship in that time had ever entered the Brisbane River. There were no buildings, except huts, -and no other women except the soldiers' wives on the strength of the regiment. It was in these surroundings that Mrs. Miller gave birth to a son, who was afterwards christened Charles Moreton Miller. It is confidently believed that he was the first white child born at Moreton Bay, and therefore the first Queenslander. He is no longer living, but his widow still survives at the great age of 96, and his son, Mr. Charles Miller, of Ballarat, hopes to be present at the centenary celebrations.
Lieut. Miller was at Moreton Bay for about l8 months. Ho was then succeeded by Captain Bishop, also of the 40th, and returned to Sydney. From, thence he went to Van Diemen's Land, and when, in 1828, the regiment went to India, Captain Miller, as he had then be- fallen without result. Miller was one come, remained behind in an appointment connected with the commissariat. He lived at Hobart in a house facing: the Glebe, which was standing a few years ago, and may, perhaps, still be there.
His oldest son, Henry, who was a lad of 15 when his father was at Moreton Bay, entered the Audit Office in Hobart, but left to go to the new- settlement at Port Phillip. There he soon established himself.
On December 30, 1840, Mrs. Miller died at Hobart, aged 53, and on August 23, 1842, Captain Miller married again. His second wife was a Miss McQueen, of New Norfolk, Van Diemen's Land. He died at Hobart on January 10, 1866. The second Mrs. Miller died in 1891, and is buried at Hobart with her son, Ernest George Miller, who died in 1887, aged 37 years. Captain Miller's eldest son, Henry Miller, rose with the settlement on the Yarra, and saw it grow from a few huts to ho the noblest city south of the Line. His fortunes grew with the city. The Bank of Victoria and the Victoria Insurance Company owed their existence to him, and when he died on. February 7, 1888, he left sons and grandsons to carry on the memory of our first commandant. Sir Edward Miller, Albert Miller, and Septimus Miller are household words in Victoria.
Captain Miller's grave at Hobart in course of time fell into disrepair. A now gravestone has recently been erected by the family. The photograph of it which is here reproduced was taken, a few months ago by Mr. Studley Miller, of Melbourne, great grandson of Brisbane's first commandant.