MILLER, SYDNEY

1905 - 1992 from Falkland Islands


manager, councillor and writer, was born at Hill Cove, West Falkland, on March 1905. His father, also named Sydney, had emigrated to the Islands from Sussex in 1886 at the age of 19 and his mother was the daughter of the mariner Charles HANSEN. He had three sisters, Frederica Daisey, Ruth and Constance. Miller's father had joined Hill Cove in 1889 as manager and Sydney was educated in England. He returned to Hill Cove in 1922 to become a cadet and in 1925 went to San Julian in Patagonia, the Blake family farm, to further his sheep farming experience for two years. He succeeded his father as manager of Hill Cove in 1929 but resigned in 1932 because his views on sheep farming from those of Robert Blake (whose own experience related to Patagonia and differed from that of his father - Robert BLAKE senior - who with HOLMESTED, had developed the farm at Hill Cove.)

237 Syd and Betty Miller.

Miller contemplated farming in South Africa or Australia but his heart was set in the Falklands and he was delighted to accept the offer to manage Roy Cove, another West Falkland farm, when it was offered in 1932, although it was a smaller farm carrying about half the sheep of Hill Cove. Roy Cove had previously been managed by Howard CLEMENT of another well-respected sheepfarming family who were always close to the Millers. Miller, whose declared ambition was to be a good stockman, set about his task with youthful vigour, introducing new stock from New Zealand and Patagonia and well achieving his ambition. He was, however, more renowned for his work on grassland, as he recognised at an early stage that improvement to stock needed to be matched by better feed and controlled grazing. Despite scepticism from some quarters, his costings and estimates of return on investment proved accurate.

Not an easy man to debate with, Miller was well-respected as a pioneer sheep farmer particularly in the post-war period. His advice was sought at all levels and he was an elected member of LegCo for West Falkland from 1956-1960 and from 1964-1971. Following his retirement in 1970, he represented Stanley from 1971 to 1976. He also served on Executive Council and during the political crisis in 1968, with three other members of Council, broke his Oath of Secrecy in a direct appeal to the House of Commons over the British government's secret talks with Argentina which had culminated in a memorandum of understanding. Miller backed that up on a visit to the UK during which he castigated a Member of Parliament, who was openly dismissive of the Colony's future, at the House of Commons. He married Betty, the great, great granddaughter of Sergeant-Major Henry FELTON of the PENSIONERS on 20 February 1933. Their marriage was a long and happy one with Betty, an accomplished rider and keen on fishing, renowned for her hospitality. Betty was equally outspoken in support of the Islanders, and the author recalls a leading Argentine politician saying in the 1970s that if they failed to negotiate transfer of sovereignty soon they would have to take the Islands by force and in style, 'not by overcoming Betty Miller on the jetty brandishing her handbag'.

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Roy Cove, West Falkland

The Millers had four boys: Alan, who managed Port San Carlos after the 1982 conflict, Nigel, who commanded RMS Darwin for a while, Simon, who manages a market garden and Tim, who was injured in the conflict and established the hydroponic garden. Syd Miller was awarded the CBE in 1979. He edited the Falkland Islands Journal from 1975-1990, writing a series of articles on the history of the FIC. His book A Life of our Choice epitomized his life and contribution to the Islands. He died in Stanley on 4 July 1992, and his wife died in 2004.

See Image 12See Image 50

Authors

Frank Mitchell

References

Sydney Miller; A life of our choice; Privately published; 1988

Comments

Revisions

December 2019 Text corrected; additional photograph added; one reference added