Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Andrew Miller (c. 1759–1790)

by George Parsons

This article was published:

Andrew Miller (d.1790), commissary and governor's secretary, was the first commissary of stores and provisions for the colony of New South Wales. He was appointed probably on the recommendation of Governor Arthur Phillip, and in that capacity embarked in the Sirius in April 1787. On the way to New South Wales he stayed as a guest with Phillip at Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope, apparently because his pay of 10s. a day was not adequate to meet his expenses. Miller's superior status had been recognized before he left England by his appointment as one of the members of the Vice-Admiralty Court, and after reaching Sydney he acted as secretary to the governor until replaced by David Collins in June.

His most important work was naturally that of the commissary. Because of the difficulties attached to the issue of provisions Miller sought the help of a trustworthy assistant, and in April the governor appointed Zachariah Clark. Even so, the position was not enviable; supplies were short and Miller had constantly to prepare lists of stores required from England. There was no coin or other medium of circulation and Miller had to issue notes on the Treasury to pay for the labour of free artificers.

In April 1790 he resigned. He had 'acted so unlike the commissary that he has lost his health and in three years has never made three shillings', wrote Phillip; if the government would give him a pension of £50, it would 'make an honest Man happy'. Miller left Sydney in the Supply, but after transhipping to a Dutch packet at Batavia he died at sea in August 1790. He was not a colourful administrator, but he displayed ability and courage, qualities which, like his honesty, were not common among commissary officers of this period.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vol 1, part 2
  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vol 1
  • P. G. King, letter book 1788-89 (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

George Parsons, 'Miller, Andrew (c. 1759–1790)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 3 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


c. 1759


28 August, 1790 (aged ~ 31)
at sea

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events