Millar of Londonderry, Ireland

 

From Londonderry in the early 19th Century, to Belfast in the 20th.

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"Wot's in a Name?"

(With apologies to C. J. Dennis, The Play and by inference Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

Millar can be Miller even on the same document! As with our McBeath and McBeth heritage the spelling of the family name is inconsistent across many records. Both families come from Londonderry too. It has been said that the Millar usage was preferred by Protestants and Miller by followers of the Church of Rome. Was the inconsistent spelling an attempt to confuse and hide allegance due to sectarian conflicts? Londonderry was overwhelmingly Protestant until the 20thC. The usage here follows the Millar spelling for consistency.

Cumber Lower Presbyterian Church (now simply Cumber Presbyterian Church), 2014. (Photo - C. Morrow)

A Shibboleth

Ever since the Siege of Derry in 1689, the first major event in the Williamite war in Ireland, there has been tension between followers of the Churches of Rome and Ireland. It was therefore prudent to be cautious in displaying one's religeous affiliation. There is also a lingering contention over the County's name, be it Derry, the original name for the City and County, or Londonderry the appelation bestowed by William of Orange. Since 2015, legally, the city and county are called Londonderry, while the local government district containing the city is called Derry and Strabane. Londonderry is a border city. The town of Strabane is in County Donegal at the junction of the Finn and Mourne Rivers which then become the Foyle River.

The Millar Homelands

The Millar families lived, worked and traveled in and near the County City and in three Parishes along the Faughan River valley and roughly the route of the present A6, in Upper (#20) and Lower (#19) Cumber (formerely Cymber) and in nearby Templemore (#45) which contains the city of Londonderry. There may possibly be other locations in the general region, in which the family moved. The family name also occurs frequently in the adjacent parish of Gravagh.

Northern Ireland.

The Millars were Presbyterian and attended the (Lower) Cumber Presbyterian Church. Upper and Lower Cumber are Parishes, the nearby town is Claudy 10 km from Londonderry City. There were several Miller & Millar families living in the area in the mid 19th C. Probably reflects the significance of that occupation in a largely farm-based economy. The list of Cumber Lower Presbyterian Church members of 1867 contains 12 'Millers': 3x James, 3x Robert, George, 2x William, John, Alexander and Joseph. Sadly no female names were included, as was the custom at the time. The spelling is always with an 'e'. No 'Millers' (or Millars) were listed in the 1866 members of the Cumber Upper Church.


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© Updated: 1 May, 2018