Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Miller, Frederick (1806–1862)

by E. R. Pretyman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Frederick Miller (1806-1862), Congregational minister, was born on 8 March 1806 at Hackney, London, the only son of Henry Miller, a librarian in the Bank of England. After attending Thompson's Academy at Cambridge Heath he studied with the intention of becoming an architect. Although confirmed in the Church of England at the Episcopal Jews' Chapel, in July 1825 he was greatly influenced by the prophetic preaching of Rev. Edward Irving at the Caledonian Church, Hatton Garden. He then attended Dr Burder's Independent Chapel, St Thomas's Square, became a member and at 22 entered Highbury College, Islington, as a candidate for the Christian ministry. When he learned that the London Missionary Society had received a request for a minister from Henry Hopkins of Hobart Town, he volunteered for service and with the college's approval accepted the invitation.

On 7 February 1830 at St John's Church, Hackney, he married his cousin, Elizabeth Miller. He was ordained in April and they left England together in May in the Lang, reached Hobart in September and duly took up residence in a house provided by Hopkins. Miller conducted his first service in October at Deane's Library, Elizabeth Street, preaching to some thirty people. He declined a salary of £200 offered by Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur, considering such official support contrary to the ideals of Congregationalism, but he accepted a loan of £500 towards a new chapel. It was opened on 20 April 1832. The governor attended and personally contributed £25 to church funds. This chapel in Brisbane Street, Hobart, was the first Congregational or Independent church built and maintained in Australia, and Miller the first permanent minister of that denomination.

Miller was never robust but he laboured with a sincerity that won him general respect. Many local religious organizations originated with him and he laid himself out to foster their interests. He was an originator of the Colonial Missionary Society, assisted in re-establishing the Bethel Union for seamen and co-operated with James Backhouse and George Washington Walker in the formation of a temperance society. A pulpit exchange for six months with the minister of the Independent Church in Collins Street, Melbourne, widened his activities, and three of his sermons and an address were published. In 1861, despite a long sea voyage taken on medical advice and with the financial assistance of his congregation, his health broke down completely. He died in Hobart on 13 October 1862. More than two thousand persons attended a memorial service in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Melville Street. He was survived by his widow and seven children.

Select Bibliography

  • A. C. Nelson, History of the Effective Establishment of Congregationalism in the Australian Colonies and New Zealand (Hob, 1930)
  • E. Cox, Life of the Rev. Fredk. Miller (Hob, 1930)
  • Mercury (Hobart), 14 Oct 1862.

Citation details

E. R. Pretyman, 'Miller, Frederick (1806–1862)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/miller-frederick-2454/text3279, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 22 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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