Augustus Frederick Miller was a seafarer who was born in either Poland or Norway in 1821. His name was originally Moeller and he changed it to Miller when he went to Boston, USA and at the age of 21 married Ellen Ockleshaw age 21 who was born in England.
In 1871 the Census Returns show they lived at 18 Springfield, Islington, Liverpool, England where he was described as an Emigration Agent. Later they moved to Great George Square, Liverpool, and ran what was described as a first class hotel with a hostel next door to cater for emigrants awaiting passage to the USA and Canada.
Ellen (Nellie) Miller née Ockleshaw spent some time visiting her son Frederick in Australia. She returned to Liverpool by sailing ship and is buried in St John the Evangelist’s graveyard, Knotty Ash, Liverpool. Her grandson Neil came to England with the Australian Army during the 1914/18 war. He survived the war and returned to Australia.
As well as the hotel and hostel, Augustus and Ellen owned a house in Pilch Lane, Liverpool. This is still a pleasant enough residential area, but developed – if you want to see what it looks like enter Pilch Lane, Liverpool into Google Earth and click on one of the photographs – but in those days it was a cottage in the country:
Here’s a family picture taken there:
The two men in the back row are (left to right) Augustus Frederick Miller and Jack Sleigh. Jack was born about 1859 in Liverpool, married Annie Miller a daughter of Augustus Frederick and Ellen, and was a steward on a steamship. He looks to me a few raisins short of a fruit cake, but people spoke well enough of him. Ellen Miller née Ockleshaw is in the centre of the middle row; on her left as we look at the picture is Anne Sleigh, née Miller, and the child Ted (Edward M Sleigh, born 1884 in Liverpool). On Ellen’s other side is Elizabeth Margaret (Bessie) Thomas 1860 to 1921 who married William Miller, son of Augustus Frederick and Ellen, who is the man sitting on a rug at the front of the picture. The woman on the right in the back row is unidentified.
Augustus Frederick Miller’s father was Theophilus Moeller and all we know of him is that he was born in Poland and that he had a brother Johann Ernst Moeller whose daughter Marie Henriette married a Wilhelm Timm, who was Norwegian. They had 18 children who must all have been friendly with their cousin in England, William Miller. The Timms owned the Oslo firm of Timm Rope & Sailmakers which dates from 1772, but none of the Timm family is still in the business. There is a letter dated 6th January 1891 from Gustav Timm in Norway to William Miller in Liverpool. Note that this is a recent translation, which suggests that William must have been able to read Norwegian:
Oslo 6th January 1891
G Timm, Sailmaker
Maker of canvas, tarpaulins, flags etc.
Mr William Miller, Liverpool
Your friendly letter of 20th October received and from which I see your wife has been ill for a long time – hope she is almost well again now. I have today a sad message to bring you. Our dear mother died peacefully Sunday morning about 10 o’clock of a blood clot in the right lung. Yes. She went very quickly, before the doctor came she was already dead. She started with pneumonia eight days before Christmas and she was severely seized with same and it was very doubtful for some days before Christmas whether she would overcome the illness. The Doctor gave us little hope and warned us that she could not live, but nevertheless she began to eat and drink and got a little stronger. I visited her Saturday afternoon and spoke for a long time with her, also about you good friends in Liverpool and when she was well again she would write to you but that was not to happen. It was God’s will that took her so quickly although it was not unexpected, but it was a consolation that we believe she was well prepared to go and that she had a very quiet death. She was 66¾ years old.
Please give this sad news to your wife, your mother, your brothers and sisters and brother-in-law Maddox. Olava has also not been as well as she would wish. She was at the moment complaining of severe headache, but is better than she was. I hope that she will be better. The rest of us are all well and healthy. Ragna is in France and she is enjoying it. She will be there until the autumn, so she has been there two years – a long time. At the Johnsens everything is fine. Mrs Johnsen is very youthful and likes to have her children with her, therefore we often visit her and we live well. Yes, she means it. Otherwise everything is as before but not as well at my sailmaking works as Ernst has much to warehouse at the rope yard.
If your time permits, be so kind to visit the firm Smalley, Rice (not far from Maddox) and ask why the separating machines have not been sent. It is now six weeks over the time they should have arrived. We are waiting urgently for them and the money has been paid in advance. Excuse the trouble. I sent you a card for the New Year. Did you receive it?
With friendly wishes from my wife and myself to your wife, Mother, Mr and Mrs Maddox, not forgetting your sister Emily.
I remain, Yours sincerely, Cousin Gustav Timm.
Gustav was actually Carl Gustav Timm 1848 to 1892 (so he died the year after this letter was written). Olava was his wife, Olava Josefina Johnsen, born 1848. Maddox was Charles Alfred Maddox 1850 to 1904 who married William Miller’s sister, Theresa Ellen Miller. Ragna 1871 to 1944 was the daughter of Carl Gustav and Olava Johnsen
This history of the Timm Ropeworks was in Norwegian. It may be that the translator’s Norwegian was better than his/her English and I shall be happy to supply a copy of the original Norwegian to anyone who can do a better job:
Hans Johan Wilhelm Timm, a sailmaker, was born in Altona 11th September 1812. The third son of Hans Heinrich Timm. Deliveries had gone slacker than in the 27 years since he had come to Christiania, that is to say it fell out in 1839, after seeing round on a visit to his son’s house, and evidently he had come earlier, although much later than he had come to Christiania in 1836.
In 1841, Marie Henrietta Müller was given in marriage to William Timm. She was born in Hamburg in 1824 and she was the daughter of J Ernst Müller who was appointed Sugar Master to Thorvals Meyer.
The Timm family lived in the easterly quarter of the environs of Vognmannsgaten and Jernbanegaten. A sail loft was sited there, like the ropery. William Timm had eighteen children by his wife. Two of the sons, Ernst and Gustav, who afterwards became a part of the business, Ernst as his factory manager until his death in 1896, while Gustav was his sail maker. The third son, William, went to sea and died a ship’s captain.
Timms sail loft was a popular meeting place for captains, mates and others linked up with the sea and harbour. Here the talk went lively, and not least with regard to ships’ voyages, deployment of labour and conduct of harbour business were discussed.
The result of this private get-together was that B Hall, a seafarer, proposed that the men should set up a Union, in addition to the strong sailors’ social unions, to serve their common interest. The proposal received great sympathy and after the initial stage it became set up as Christiania Seamen’s Society in the sail loft on 19th December 1846. Wilhelm Timm was elected as society treasurer.
In 1840, the ropery was further extended. It was built out and on completion the length of the site was just short of 360 metres. The railway now went right over the ropery. In 1851 the town paid Timm and Smith in compensation for laying the track.
In 1872 they both went together to Helsfyr in the Eastern Plain, where the foreigners were – exactly 100 years after the railways were established. The earlier site was given over to the extension of the territory of the East Railway Station.
While no-one came along, the ropery was meanwhile taken over by Wilhelm Timm. It said in 1857, following the Oslo Town Clerk’s Rule, the takeover and addition to the site was notified nr. 15, now Nylandsveien nr 25. Removing the business to Helsfyr, the sons in those days, very naturally, many managers would be pleased to make use of the site today.
The next section deals with the collapse of the sail making business as steam replaced sail and I have omitted it.
So there we have the story of how Polish Moellers became English and Australian Millers, having passed through Germany and Norway on the way there. Descendants of Augustus Frederick Miller are thriving in Britain and Australia — and, quite possibly, in other places, too.