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Patrick Miller of Dalswinton

1731 - 1815

Entrepreneur, banker and early patron of Robert Burns (1759-96). Miller went to sea in his youth and made his money in the boom in trade in Glasgow during the second half of the eighteenth century. In 1767, he was appointed a Director of the Bank of Scotland, rising to become its Deputy Governor in 1790. Miller bought the run-down Dumfriesshire estate of Dalswinton in 1785 and did much to improve it. He undertook agricultural experiments, invented a drilling plough and a type of threshing machine. Miller was also a shareholder in the Carron Company which became the largest iron works in Europe and manufactured cannon for the navy and components for steam engines. An enthusiast for naval architecture, Miller worked with James Taylor (1753 - 1825) and William Symington (1763 - 1831) to build the world's first steam-powered boat which was demonstrated on a loch on his estate in 1788.

Miller met Burns shortly after the poet arrived in Edinburgh in 1786 and leased him the farm at Ellisland in 1788 on favourable terms. However the land was poor, and as yet unimproved, and Burns moved on just three years later.

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