An Honoured Public Servant of Rushden
The news of the death of Mr George Miller, J.P., C.A., of Rushden, which took place at Rushden on Monday morning, at the age of 52 years, will be received with profound regret, not only in the town but throughout the county, as by his demise, after an illness of but about four months' duration, the community has lost one of the ablest, most devoted, and most popular of its public servants. The last Ald. Miller leaves a widow, two sons and two daughters to mourn their loss. The elder son, the Rev. George Miller, holds a curacy at Torquay, and Lieut. Basil Makepeace Miller, of the Machine Gun Corps, is serving his King and Country in Egypt. Miss Fredonia Miller is engage in Red Cross work in Salonika, and the younger daughter, Miss Ingaborg Jackson Miller, has been doing useful work at home, as during in her father's illness she has diligently and ably carried out secretarial duties in connection with his business and public offices.
The deceased alderman was a native of Bedford, and was educated at the Bedford Schools. About 30 years ago he came to Rushden and established an ironmongery business in the High-street, an enterprise which proved eminently successful consequent upon Mr Miller’s remarkable business acumen and all-round courtesy to his clients. In his younger days, and prior to his marriage, Mr Miller was a keen and enthusiastic Volunteer, and since his residence in Rushden all movements or organisations of a similar character have invariably received his sympathy and support. The deceased gentleman was a Freemason of 30 years’ standing, and had been a member of the Pemberton Lodge 3039 since its formation. His brethren throughout the county held him in highest esteem. In January 1917, Mr Miller met with the misfortune of having his business premises destroyed by fire, and from that date he devoted the whole of his time and energy to his public work.
In politics Mr Miller was an ardent Conservative and an enthusiastic worker for the cause. Although a keen fighter for what he believed to be right, he always fought in a perfectly clean and straightforward way, and he had the respect of political opponents and friends alike. Considerate to a degree towards those with whom he differed on matters of policy, he never made an enemy; on the other hand, he secured and retained the true friendship and lasting respect of men of opposite political principles, whilst among his own political friends he was held in affectionate regard.
Mr Miller’s public services were of an important character, and he filled a considerable number of offices. At a County Council bye-election for the Northern Division of Rushden in November 1907, Mr Miller contested the seat in the Conservative interests, his opponent being Mr Frank Ballard (Liberal). The election was fought strenuously, but in a perfectly friendly manner, and the polling, which took place on November 7th resulted:
Previously the seat had been consistently Liberal. In returning thanks for his election Mr Miller said that Rushden had treated him very handsomely: he did not expect it, seeing the views he held. He believed he was the first Conservative ever elected in Rushden when the contest had been a single fight between Conservative and the Liberal Party. In March 1910, he and Mr Ballard again contested the seat, and Mr Miller was returned by an increased majority, polling about 130 more than his opponent. In March 1913, Mr Miller was not successful at the poll, but in view of his useful services on the County Council he was offered a vacant Aldermanship, which he accepted, and which he held to the day of his death. Ald. Miller served on the Finance Committee of the County Council, and also on the Small Holdings and Allotments Committees, the Public Health, Housing and Local Government Committee, and the Old Age Pensions Committee. He regularly attended the meetings of the County Authority and the committees until failing health prevented his doing so, and as a member of the County Council his death will be deplored by his colleagues.
As a member of the Rushden Urban District Council the late Mr Miller did much useful work. In 1896 he was second on the poll. In 1899 he was re-elected at the top of the poll. In March 1907, he was returned by a heavy vote, and again in 1910. In March 1913, Mr Miller did not seek re-election to the urban Council. During his membership of the Urban Council he occupied the vice-chair for a year and then succeeded to the position of chairman. At the meetings of the committees as well as of the Council, Mr Miller was a very regular attendant, and his business acumen proved of great value on the local governing body.
From 1897 to 1900 Mr Miller served on the old Rushden School Board. He was honorary treasurer of the Rushden National Schools for a long period, and, from the time of Mr Balfour’s Education Act of 1902, he was one of the Managers of the Rushden Church of England Schools (formerly known as the National Schools), a position which also gave him a seat on the Rushden District Education Sub-Committee.
Mr Miller represented the County Council on the Rushden District Old-Age Pensions Committee, and he was the chairman of that body. At the meeting of the committee last Monday week a letter was received from him, offering to resign the position of chairman in view of his serious illness, but his fellow-members would not hear of such a course being adopted, and sent a letter conveying their sincere sympathy with him in his ill-health.
In 1915 Ald Miller’s name was added to the Commission of the Peace for the county of Northampton, and as a magistrate he took his seat regularly on the Wellingborough Bench, being held in high esteem by his fellow Justices of the Peace.
Ald. Miller was a member of the Rushden Local Tribunal from its formation, and attended the sittings regularly until the last three months, when his health broke down. At the meeting of the Tribunal on Monday, as reported in this issue, a vote of sincere sympathy with Mrs. Miller and the family was passed.
A staunch Churchman, the deceased gentleman for many years carried out the duties of sidesman at St Mary’s Church, and was relied upon very considerably by the successive Rectors of the parish for that assistance in Church work which was always given loyally and ungrudgingly. As a member of the Church Council he rendered valuable service to St Mary’s, and at various men’s meetings held in the venerable edifice it fell to his lot to read the lessons. At St Mary’s Vestry Meeting last Easter the Rector, on the resignation of the office of Rector’s warden by Mr G H Skinner on account of failing health, nominated Mr Miller to the position, but unhappily he was never able to carry out the duties, and it is a sad coincidence that two gentlemen who were so closely associated in ecclesiastical, political, and local governing matters as Mr George Miller and Mr George Henry Skinner should have passed away within ten days of each other.
The late Ald. Miller was one of the leaders of the Conservative party in Rushden. He was a member of the Rushden Conservative Association and of the Rushden Conservative Club, having been a director of the club since its formation. He occupied the position of chairman of both the association and the club. For many years also he was a member of the Executive Committee of the old East Northants Central Conservative and Unionist Association.
Mr Miller was for a considerable period the president of the Rushden Athletic Club, in which capacity he succeeded the late Mr A G C Vann, M.A., on the removal of the latter from Rushden to Higham Ferrers, and this position Mr Miller held up to the time of his death. The gaps caused by Mr Miller’s demise at such a comparatively early age will not easily be filled up, and by reason not only of his invaluable public services but also of his lofty moral principles and his high-toned character his memory will long be cherished. He was an ideal of what a public man should be—strenuous in striving for the causes in which he believed, ever loyal to his colleagues, and invariably courteous and kindly to those who found themselves in opposition to him.
The late Mr Miller served his apprenticeship to the ironmongery business at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire and he formed a deep attachment to the town and district, visiting the neighbourhood frequently in after life.
At the meeting of the Northamptonshire County Council yesterday the Chairman (Mr Stopford Sackville), before commencing the business, referred with deep regret to the death of Alderman Miller, and said they were all sorry to hear that their colleague had passed away. He was elected a Councillor for the Northern Division of Rushden, and was subsequently elected an Alderman as a tribute to the importance of his work on the County Authority. Alderman Miller had done very useful work on the Finance Committee, the Small Holdings Committee, the Public Health Committee, and the Old Age Pensions Committee. They all regretted that so industrious a colleague had been taken from them.
The funeral took place yesterday at the cemetery amid manifold signs of sympathy and respect, the obsequies being conducted by the Rector (the Rev P E Robson) whose warden the deceased gentleman was.
[a long list of attendees from the various organisations follows]
The body of the deceased Alderman was contained in an elm shell enclosed in a coffin of plain oak with brass fittings and cross bearing the inscription:-
Born October 20th 1865
Died May 13th 1918
The grave was beautifully lined with lilac the work having been carried out by Messrs. W Seckington and Sons, florists, Rushden.
The family mourners were as follow: Mrs Miller (widow), the Rev G H Miller of Torquay (son), Miss Ingaborg Miller (daughter), Mr and Mrs Carlyle Miller, of Bedford (brother and sister-in-law), Mr and Mrs W Mullard (brother-in-law and sister), Miss Miriam Miller, of Bedford (sister), and Miss Gertrude Miller, of Leicester (sister).
As stated above in our biographical notes, Miss Fredonia Miller (elder daughter) is nursing at Salonika, and Lieut. B M Miller (younger son) is serving his country in Palestine.
Most of the representatives of the public bodies assembled at the Council Buildings, and preceded the hearse to St Mary’s Parish Church, where a large congregation had assembled. The Rector (Rev. P E Robson) conducted the service, and the lesson was read by the deceased gentleman’s son (the Rev. G H Miller). The hymn “For all the saints who from their labours rest” was sung, Mr J E Smith being the organist. As the congregation assembled Mr Smith rendered on the organ the following pieces: “Lamentation” (Guilmant), the first movement of Sonata by Markel, the first movement of Sonata by Medelsshon, and “I know that my Redeemer liveth”. As the cortege left the church he played the “Funeral March” (Schubert) and “O rest in the Lord”. There was again a large congregation at the cemetery, where the Rector and the rev G H Miller read the remainder of the burial service. After the family mourners had taken a last look at the coffin, the representatives of the public bodies filed by, and the Freemasons in attendance each dropped in the accustomed sprig of acacia.
On the coffin were two lovely floral tributes, a cross and crown inscribed “From his wife and children, May 16th 1918”, and a choice wreath, bearing the Masonic device, and inscribed “In fraternal remembrance, from the W M and Brethren of the Pemberton Lodge of Freemasons, No 3039”.
[a long list of wreath inscriptions follows]