MILLER, Sir Thomas, 5th Bt. (1731-1816), of Lavant, Suss.
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Family and Education
bap. 5 May 1731, 1st s. of Sir John Miller, 4th Bt., of Lavant by Susan, da. of Matthew Combe, M.D., of Winchester. educ. Corpus Christi, Camb. 1753. m. (1) 1 June 1762, Hannah, da of John Black, alderman of Norwich, 2da.; (2) c.1780, Elizabeth Edwards, 2s. 3da. suc. fa. 19 Apr. 1772.
Sir Thomas Miller, 1st Bt., son of an alderman of Chichester, was several times mayor and in 1689 and 1690 represented the borough in Parliament; as did his son and grandson. Sir John Miller, 4th Bt., and his son Thomas were connected in Chichester politics with John Page, who in 1760 was contesting the patronage of the borough with the Duke of Richmond. Miller was eager to enter Parliament; and Richmond, to divide Page’s party, offered to bring him in on the Goodwood interest. This Miller refused, and said he would stand by Page. In the negotiations for a settlement it was suggested that, as Page wished to retire, Miller should stand but concede to Richmond the right of recommending to customs appointments at Chichester. However, Page chose to remain in Parliament.
Although there was no explicit understanding, Page seems to have urged Newcastle to return Miller for another constituency. In May 1761, on the death of Sir William Peere Williams, Newcastle offered Miller a seat at New Shoreham; which Miller had to decline since his father was not prepared to pay the expenses.1 But on 21 Feb. 1762 he wrote to Newcastle:2 ‘My father has just given to me his whole estate in the Isle of Wight’; and asked to be recommended to Lord Holmes for a vacant seat at Newport. Newcastle did not do so, and nothing more is known of further efforts by Miller to enter Parliament before 1768.
In 1761 Richmond had obtained virtual control of Chichester, and it seems that the Millers then left Page and attached themselves to Richmond—which did not commend them to Newcastle, always jealous of Richmond’s influence in Sussex. But in 1768, when Newcastle was worried about whom to recommend at Lewes, Thomas Pelham suggested Miller. Miller, wrote Pelham to Newcastle, 18 Feb. 1768,3 ‘declared to me you might depend on his steadiness and that you should ever command his vote in Parliament ... He likewise declares he has no particular attachment to the Duke of Richmond more than any other man, and that if you should approve of him for Lewes he shall attach himself solely to your Grace.’ Upon this Newcastle revoked his recommendation of Thomas Hay and substituted Miller; but Hay had already canvassed the town as Newcastle’s candidate and Miller, having started too late, was defeated.
In 1774 Miller again contested Lewes as the Pelham candidate. Since Lord Pelham held office it was naturally expected that Miller would support the court, but in the division on the Address, 5 Dec. 1774, he voted (‘to the general surprise’, wrote Gibbon)4 with Opposition. And he continued steadily to support Opposition, his name appearing in all but two of the extant division lists for this Parliament. Apparently he never spoke in the House.
Robinson, in his survey for the general election of 1780, did not expect Miller to be re-elected for Lewes. By then Lord Pelham had two sons of age; anyhow it seems doubtful if he would have recommended Miller. In fact Miller did not stand either in 1780 or 1784.
He died 4 Sept. 1816.