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Philip Miller

Birthdate: (80)
Death: December 18, 1771 (80)
Chelsea, London, England
Immediate Family:

Son of William Miller and Susannah Miller
Husband of Mary Miller

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Philip Miller

Philip Miller

(1691-18 December 1771)

Birth date: 1691

Birth Place: Either at Deptford or Greenwich

Date of Death: 18 Dec 1771

Place of Death: Chelsea, London, England

Burial Place:

All Saints* Churchyard, Chelsea, London, England [2] marked by a flat stone. An Obleisk (a photograph can be seen at web page [2] was built nearby in 1815 by members of the Linnean and Horticultural Societies

  • Entry in the register 22 Dec 1771 St. Luke, Chelsea – “Head 30 feet from the /// wall, side? 6 feet from the Northside of the ???”


Father: William Miller (1668 - ) Scottish who after serving for some time as gardener to a gentleman at Bromley, Kent, commenced business as a Market Gardener near Deptford.

Mother: Susannah (1670 - )

Marriage: 30 May 1721 at St. Antholin Budge Row, London to Mary Kennet (ca. 1700). Mary Kennet’s sister Susanne was wife (married 1738) to botanical draughtsman Georg Dionysius Ehret.

In the marriage entry Philip Miller is said to be of the Parish of St. George, Southwark in the county of Surry and Mary Kennet of the Parish of Olave, Southwark. Married by licence. [ image]


Mary Miller (1732 Chelsea)

Philip Miller (1734 Chelsea – ca. 1796) Workled under his father for a time. he went to the East Indies where he died.

Charles Miller (1739 Chelsea – 6 Oct 1817 Chelsea) became the first head of the Cambridge Botanic Garden in 1762. He went to India and Sumatra in 1770, returning to England where he died in London on 6 Oct 1817

Married Amelia (ca. 1778 – ca. 1835) about 1799 – Their daighter Mary Ann Amelia Miller born 19 Feb 1800 London; Died 12 Jul 1873 Hertford, Hertfordshire, England) married Edward Layton (born 2 Apr 1799 Ely Campbridgeshire; died 10 Jul 1858 Harrow Weald, Middlesex, England) Family on Ancestry “Francesca Whetnall Family Tree” owner francescawhetnall.


Botanist of Scottish ancestry, Horticulturist and Gardener Chief Gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden until shortly before his death. He was at the Garden from 1722-1770.

Honours, Recognition and Awards:

Fellow of the Royal Society


Upon leaving school Miller assisted his father for a short time at Deptford. He began a business of his own as a florist on a piece of ground in St. George’s Fields, afterwards the site of the King’s Bench prison.

Whilst running the florist business he attracged the attention of Sir Hans Sloane and others, who pursuaded him to give up the florist business and help other gardeners, including Ellis who was the foreman at the Chelsea Garden. Ellis was dismissed in 1722 and on Sloane’s recommendation Miller was appointed.

“Miller was also secretary to the Society of Gardeners, an elite group of about 20, who met monthly 1724 - 30 to examine and compare the various seasonal specimens brought by members. They named many new species for the first time. It was from this society that there arose the publication of the Gardeners Dictionary, London 1731, an important horticultural milestone widely used for over 100 years. It became the forerunner of later Gardening Dictionaries.” [3]

Miller corresponded with other botanists, and obtained plants from all over the world, many of which he cultivated for the first time in England and is credited as their introducer. He trained William Aiton, who later became head gardener at Kew, and William Forsyth, after whom Forsythia was named.

He was contracted by the Fourth Duke of Bedford to supervise the pruning of the fruit trees at Woburn Abbey where he cared for the Duke’s American trees which had been grown from seeds collected by John Bartram in Pennsylvania.

In 1730 he discovered the method of flowering bulbous plants in bottles filled with water.

According to the Dictionary of National Biography Vol. 13 Miller seems to have conducted some experiments on fertilisation in 1751

He was never very wealthy. In 1761 he requested that a residence be built for him at the gardens which was apparently not granted. In 1776 he drew up a memorandum showing his salary to have been £50 a year, in addition to which he had received £31 as gate money. he had to pay £74 wages to under gardeners and £15 freight on plants, leaving him £8 out of poicket on the year. Dshortly adterwards he asked for repayment of £62 expenses and onlky received £50.

Accommodation for the Society of Apothecaries' gardener was first provided in the upper storey of the substantial brick greenhouse, a building used to house evergreens (orange, lemon, and myrtle) in winter. By 1734 Philip Miller occupied a small house in Swan Walk, adjoining the garden. Notes in the garden committee minutes of the society show that he returned to the greenhouse in later life, and nearby accommodation in Chelsea was provided when his appointment terminated. [4]

In a letter written by John Ellis to Linnaeas on 28 Dec 1770, Miller was turned out of the Botanical Garden of Chelsea aged 79, when he was replaced with another gardener. “His vanity was so raised by his voluminous publications that he considered no man to know anything but himself; though Gordon, Siton, and Lee have been long infinitely superior to him in the nicer and more delicate part of gardening” (Correspondence of Linnaeus, i. 255).

“Unfortunately, by 1769 relations between Miller, the garden committee, and the Court of Apothecaries had become strained and are fully recorded in the minute books. The main altercations were generally over Miller's assumed authority (though his terms of appointment had never been clearly defined), and in particular his obstructive stand over marking plants with index sticks. However, his employers' policy of laissez-faire had resulted in an increase of the garden's prestige, through Miller's exceptional achievement not only as the gardener but also as an acclaimed author, and he did warrant consideration. Miller agreed to resign on 29 November 1770 and was granted a pension of £60, much deserved.” [4]

Aiton and Forsyth, who succeeded him, were both pupils of Miller. Forsyth was paid £60 a year and £50 for under-gardeners and rooms.

Miller left a large herbarium, mostly of exotics gathered in the Chelsea Garden, which was purchased by Sir Joseph Banks, and is in the Natural History Museum.


Holland between 1723 and 1730


He wrote The Gardener's and Florists Dictionary or a Complete System of Horticulture (1724) and The Gardener's Dictionary containing the Methods of Cultivating and Improving the Kitchen Fruit and Flower Garden, which first appeared in 1731 in an impressive folio and passed through eight expanding editions in his lifetime and was translated to Dutch by Job Baster.

Other Notes:


References, Sources/Links, Family Trees etc.




[4] Hazel Le Rougetel, ‘Miller, Philip (1691–1771)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

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Philip Miller's Timeline

December 18, 1771
Age 80
London, England