Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Maxwell Miller (1832–1867)

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Maxwell Miller (1832-1867), journalist, politician and author, was born in London, third son of Robert Miller, barrister, and his wife Jane Matilde, née Montmorini. For nine years he attended St Paul's School and then won the Camden exhibition to Worcester College, Oxford, in October 1850 and as Fitzgerald scholar transferred to Queen's College in 1851. Attracted to Victoria by reports from his elder brother William and by an offer from Bishop Perry of an inspectorship of Church of England schools, Miller migrated to Melbourne in 1852. He claimed that he had 'made Education a study from inclination' but disorder caused by the gold rush upset his plans. He became a sub-editor of the Argus and in 1855 was invited to Hobart Town with his brother to start the Tasmanian Daily News. It began on 14 March but ran at a loss until 2 June 1858 when it was incorporated in the Hobarton Mercury.

On 17 September 1856 Miller was elected a member for Hobart in the House of Assembly and from 26 February to 25 April 1857 served under T. G. Gregson as a minister without portfolio. When Francis Smith became premier in May Miller energetically supported his bill for creating the Tasmanian Council of Education with control over superior schools and endowment of scholarships. Miller criticized existing schools and argued that 'above all, we must render the masters careless of the whims or caprices of parents' but claimed that honours and prizes would induce practical Tasmanian youths to prolong their scholastic careers and 'learn to submit to discipline as do English boys'. Smith's bill, passed in 1858, had much influence on the colony's education system and was amended and re-enacted three times before the University of Tasmania was established in 1890. Miller often asked awkward questions in the assembly but in 1860 submitted a useful list of the Grammar Schools of England and the reigns in which they were founded.

Miller resigned from parliament in 1860 but was re-elected for Hobart on 28 May 1862. He resigned again in 1864 and on 29 July was appointed assistant clerk and librarian in the assembly. He had published The Tasmanian House of Assembly. A Metrical Catalogue, full of witty verses in 1860, and Financial Condition of Tasmania, a lecture to the Hobart Mechanics' Institute on 27 January 1862. As librarian he collated a useful Catalogue of The Blue Books in possession of the Parliament of Tasmania in May 1865. He continued as assistant clerk until he died in the Hobart General Hospital on 10 April 1867 aged 34.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (House of Assembly, Tasmania), 1860 (28, 71), 1862, 25.

Citation details

'Miller, Maxwell (1832–1867)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 23 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Maxwell Miller (1832-1867), by J. W. Beattie

Maxwell Miller (1832-1867), by J. W. Beattie

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125647511

Life Summary [details]


London, Middlesex, England


10 April, 1867 (aged ~ 35)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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