The Millers and Alans

Extracts of e-mails between Stewart Thomson (Courtside) and Martin Kay (New Zealand). June 2020 that shed light on the Miller and Allan family members from early 1800’s and

1.            their dwellings in West Port, Backwynd and Allan Park.

2.            the Milller joinery business based at Courtside and the building that is now Courtside Cottage.

3.            the house opposite Courtside Cottage – Whinstone as it is named in last dozen years but recorded in Sasines as the Big or Large House

4.            Embo (adjacent to Whinstone) and likely to be on the spot referred to as Arthur’s shade.

5.            Mrs Muckarsie’s little parcel of land (forming the western boundary to Courtside Cottage).

6.            Occupations.

7.            Emigration of some family members to New Zealand.

8.            The Cracklin(g) Burn.

9.            Tenancy or ownership of the Balmblae fields.

From Martin Kay (resident in Nelson, New Zealand and descendant of Matthew Miller (1815-1909)

Whinstone House

I have just come across your Courtside Cottage ( website when I was having a look at my Miller / Allan ancestors who came from Falkland in Fife to New Zealand over 150 years ago. I was trying to firmly establish the Allan family House (which I decided was the Whinstone House) – opposite [Courtside Cottage] and which you mention on your website. I do not have definitive proof this was [the Miller house] and I would like to discover more of the history of the Whinstone House.

My great great grandfathers from Falkland were Matthew Miller (1815-1909) and John Allan(1803-1859). When I saw your piece of history on your website [] I realised that the Miller family that used to live in your house (Courtside main house) was the same Miller family as my ancestors.

The Miller Family

My great, great Matthew Miller emigrated from Falkland to Dunedin in New Zealand on the ship “Pladda” in 1861. Matthew left with his wife, Elizabeth and 8 children: Jane (my great grandmother), Catherine, Elizabeth, John, Ann, Margaret, Andrew & Agnes.

Matthew was a builder by trade and when he settled in New Zealand he continued in this trade as well as being a small farmer as well. He lived in a small rural settlement of Kilmog, about 30 kms north of Dunedin. Before he left Scotland he worked as a carpenter and lived in Cross Wynd, Falkland.

Matthew was the son of John Miller (1779 – ??) and Catherine Anderson (1780-1847). John Miller was a carpenter.

John and Catherine Miller had four sons:

Robert Miller born 1803. Became a Joiner / carpenter. In 1834 he married Ann MUCKARSIE (a family that had moved from Kettle to Falkland.)

James Miller born 1805 became, I believe, a shepherd and lived at Cupar.

John Miller born 1810 may have become a baker in Strathmiglo.

Matthew Miller born 1815……(my great great grandfather) emigrated to New Zealand.

This links with your land that is referred to as Muckarsie land. Robert and his wife Ann are shown as living in West Port (south side) in the 1841 census with the occupation – turner. He is shown as living next door to my Allan great, great, grandfathers brother, William.

In the 1851 & 1861 census Robert & Ann Miller as shown as living in High Street, Falkland with the occupation Joiner / Turner / Cooper.

Robert and Ann Miller had four children:

John Miller born 1834 – died as a baby

Margaret Miller born 1836

James Miller born 1838 – married Margaret Cairns and moved to Fossaway, County Kinross.

Robert Miller born 1846.

Robert Miller died in 1874 and his wife Ann died shortly after in 1877.  The son Robert Miller  (1846 -1913) appears to have carried on living in the house in West High Street / West Port:

1871 census – Robert Miller living with parents in house in WestPort as a 25 year old Cooper

1881 census – Robert Miller living in West Port with wife Catherine (Wallace) and two children (Mary aged three; Annie aged 7 months)

1891 census – Robert Miller living in West Port with wife Catherine and children Mary aged 13; Annie aged 10 and Robert aged 8

1901 census – Robert Miller living in West Port with wife Catherine and children Mary aged 23 (teacher at public school); Annie aged 20 and Robert aged 18 (Joiner apprentice).

I have no further information on this Miller family but I presume that the latter Robert Miller continued to live in the West Port house and his descendants continued to live in it up to the 1950’s as you indicate on your writeup on the web site.


My great great grandfather was John Allan (1803-1859). Two of his sons (Robert and John) emigrated to New Zealand in 1861 on the same ship as the Matthew Miller family (mentioned above). Both of these boys had trained as carpenters / joiners and plied that trade in New Zealand. John unfortunately died in a tragic accident being caught by falling ground within a year of his arrival in  New Zealand.

I suspect my great grandfather, Robert Allan, did his apprenticeship under one of the members of the Miller family – either Matthew or Robert Miller. Robert Allan (my great grandfather) married Jane Miller (my great grandmother), the eldest daughter of Matthew & Elizabeth Miller in 1863. They settled at Merton, about 20 kilometres north of Dunedin and Robert turned to farming but continued working as a carpenter in the area when needed.

John Allan (1803-1859) was born in Falkland to James Allan and Agnes (Gardiner). His siblings were:

Margaret Allan born 1798. Married George Allan and lived in Falkland.

William Allan born 1800. Married Euphemia (Elspeth) Stevens. Was a linen manufacturer in Falkland and (as mentioned above) was (in the 1841 census) next door neighbour to Robert Miller living in West Port.

My enigma with John Allan (1803-1859) is where he lived in Falkland.

Sometime between 1861 and 1871 the family (his son William appears to have been the driver) had Allan Park house (still situated at the foot of East Lomond near the St John’s factory), built and John Allan’s widow (Janet Henderson) moved into the house with some of her family. I have part of a letter which talks of them constructing and then moving into Allan Park house.

However where did they live during the life of John Allan? The 1841 & 1851 census records show the Allan family as living in High Street, Falkland. 1841 – John Allan shown as a Merchant with wife Janet (Henderson), 5 children and a servant living in High Street. 1851 – John Allan shown as a Manufacturer of Linen with wife Janet (Henderson), 8 children living in High Street.

1861 – Janet Allan shown as a Grocer with 5 children living in High Street, Falkland. John Allan had died in 1859.

The will of John Allan was drawn up in 1844 and showed he was the owner of numerous properties in Falkland as well as pieces of land in the Commonty of the Lomonds of Falkland which had been divided up in 1818.

His will  indicates he owned property:-

“_All & haill the west part or half of that dwelling house lying at the Westport of the burgh of Falkland with the Byre & Stable thereto belonging bow converted into a dwelling house & half of the yard consisting of about a rood or thereby immediately opposite the said Byre & Stable all as presently occupied by my tenants…”_

“_also All & haill that dwelling house lying within the Burgh of Falkland High Haigh back & fore together with a piece of ground situated at the back of the said house running in a straight line from the corner of the back of the house of the subjects of the heirs of Thomas Forsyth, Brewer in Falkland East to the corner of James Hatherstons house presently possessed by myself_”

“_also All & haill the yard belonging to my new Dwelling House created by me upon the said yard purchased by me from Margaret Hoy or Arnett, sister of Henry Hoy, Falkland deceased all bounded as in a disposition granted by her in my favour of date the sixth October eighteen hundred and thirty six years”

“_also All & haill these my dwelling houses lying in the said Burgh at the head of the Mill Wynd purchased by me from Charles Forsyth, Portioner in Freuchie conform to disposition by him in my favour dated twentieth March eighteen hundred & thirty seven years_”

He also held pieces 45-50 & 57 of the Commonity of Lomonds of Falkland.

I have found it very difficult to determine which houses he was referring to and especially which house he actually lived in and when I looked at the historical Sasines in Edinburgh I could not find his name anywhere. During 2016, when I last visited Falkland I tried to determine which house it would be from the order of the census results. In all the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses the Allan family is either first or close to first on the census lists for High Street. This would probably place their house close to  one end or the other of High Street and my hunch was that he was at the West Port end.

I concluded that it was quite likely the ‘Whinstone’ house. It certainly was of a size that would have suited a large family as well as providing space for linen weaving.

It was quite exciting when I came across your website which indicated that you have an interest in the ‘history of both “Courtside” and “Whinstone” houses. I see that you have a date for “Whinstone” alias “The Large House” being built in 1752.  You also mention that it was owed by the Miller family until a few years ago. It could be possible that my great great grandmother sold the house to the Miller family after the death of her husband, John Allan in 1859 as she moved to Allan Park House before 1871.

Response from Stewart Thomson

The previous occupier of The Large House(prior to the current owners who changed its name to Whinstone) was a Charlie Bain who was brought up there by his mother. She died probably in the 1960’s and Charlie lived alone there until he died in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s.

It transpired the Bains did not own the house. His mother was a live-in housekeeper to a Miller (the last?) and Charlie was rumoured to be Miller’s son. That could be scurrilous village gossip but may explain that the deeds were in Miller’s rather than his mother’s name.

[Charlie Bain died in his mid-seventies around 2005. This places his mother at giving birth to him in 1930. This date plus or minus ten years is an educated guess when she was employed at the Large House as it housekeeper]

[While he didn’t inherit the house he owned the adjacent garden to the East side of this house. It was subsequently inherited by Margot Brunton].

I’m aware that solicitors had a difficult job establishing Whinstone’s ownership and there was a connection with someone (likely deceased) in Oxford and a link back up to Falkland in the name of Margot Brunton.

Response from Martin Kay

I have just re-read a letter that I have.

It was written by James Lawson (and his wife Elisabeth Lawson) of Balamblae, Falkland and dated 23 April 1862. It was sent to my great grandfather Matthew Miller.

(According to the 1861 census Mr James Lawson is shown as being an inn keeper and farmer of 10 acres at Balamblae)

Within the letter it is written:-

“you are wanting to know what they had don with your house they have made a splendid job of it they have put a story on the ……..(shape?) they have a front to the burn and a gabel up at Arthurs shade. It is as good a house now as many in Falkland but it has cost a great deal of money. I depose at least more than the first ….. (building?). Mr Robert Miller and his son is always very busy . His mistress has been poorly this while back but she is better now. She is over at Strathindoy (Strathenden??) waiting on her daughter”

Not sure what house this is but Matthew Miller lived in Cross Wynd (in the 1861 census) but the reference to ‘a front to the burn’ does not appear to refer to a house in Cross Wynd. I wonder if it refers to the ‘Whinstone’ House ??

What would ‘Arthurs Shade’ refer to ?

Response from Stewart Thomson

The burn must be the Cracklin(g?) Burn that runs down past the West side of from Milfield House to the south and uphill by 200m from Whinstone. It is now underground but I’m guessing it followed a route past Mrs Macarcie’s little parcel of land and likely through the Whinstone garden.

Arthur’s Shade. I can only think that this was a space adjacent to Whinstone’s western gable. It is now occupied by a tiny wee cottage called Embo. Embo may have started life as an outhouse of Whinstone or a lean-to

Response from Martin Kay

Found the old pictures of Allan Park house [ which contains most of the Falkland Society’s phot archive].  I do not know when the Allan family sold Allan Park House but it was probably just after Janet Allan died in 1874.

I have just looked at the Register of Voters in Falkland in 1832. It shows James Muckarsie (Muckersie) as owning a house, garden and piece of land in Falkland. James Muckarsie was from Kettle – his wife Margaret Paddon was a Falkland girl. The children I can find records of were all born in Kettle – Thomas in 1795, Alexander in 1797, Agnes in 1799, Margaret in 1801, James in 1804, Ann in 1806. So somewhere between 1806 and 1832 James Muckarsie moved to Falkland and acquired land (presumably the piece on your title). Presumably James was an agricultural labourer – his son Alexander is shown as an agricultural labourer and mole catcher in the censuses. Possibly James Muckarsie inherited the land through his wife Margaret Paddon,

The 1841 census has James Muckersie (now aged 80) living at West Port north side with Muckersie family members.