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ERNEST GRANVILLE MILLER, LAWYER, BRINGS CHEER to WWI TROOPS

A French cover is addressed to Monsieur E. Granville Miller, Launceston, Tasmania. The large purple handstamp identifies that the sender is Charles Roussin/ N. 9 SOULS BARBES N. 9/ and it is dated 30 NOV 86. There are 4 strikes of the double circle PARIS/ 3/ NOV./ 86/ GARE DU NORD, ‘26' in a circle, a large ‘R’ in a box and a ms. ‘338'. There are five French stamps all with ‘ REPUB FRANC’, 3 with 10c at lower left, 1 with 30c at upper right, and an unidentified different design 20c at lower right (Figure 1).

The reverse has a purple double circle transit PARIS A MODANE/ 6/ NOV./ 86 as well as a reception LAUNCESTON/ H/ DE 14/ 86/ TASMANIA (Figure 2).

The sender Charles Roussin (1812-1902) was an early prominent Paris stamp dealer in the 1860s who held meetings discussing French faked stamps, in which stamp collectors often joined. The addressee, Mr. Ernest Granville Miller, had an obituary published in the Examiner (Launceston) newspaper on 2 September 1943 on p. 4, as follows: Mr. Ernest Granville Miller, who died at Launceston yesterday at the age of 79, was one of the oldest members of the legal profession in Tasmania. Admitted to the bar in 1887, he was in partnership with his father, the Hon. Robert Bryon Miller, for many years. Mr. Miller was a quiet worker for many welfare and patriotic causes. Ernest had been born in Hobart on 5 April 1865, his mother was Emily Harrison.

During the last war he rendered outstanding service in the matter of collecting magazines for Australian troops overseas. He was one of the oldest members of Holy Trinity Church. Mr Miller’s wife was formerly Miss Jennie Richie, Launceston, (who) died some years ago. Mis Helen Miller of Launceston, is a daughter.

This is not a very communicative obituary and the entry for the wife in the ‘Launceston Family Album’ website states that her name was Jessie Anstice Ritchie the third child of David Ritchie and his wife Mary Amelia Anstice of ‘Scone Mills’, Perth, Tasmania. Jessie was born on 12 September 1862, and the place of residence of the Miller family was 13 Brisbane Road, Launceston. At the age of 32, she married Ernest and they had 2 children, Helen de Burgh and Alan de Burgh, Miller. The two children were born in Launceston, and both were christened at the Holy Trinity Church. Jessie predeceased Ernest on 16 October 1936. A picture of Jessie Anstice Miller is seen in Figure 3.

Ernest Granville Miller is given even less space in the A.D.B. entry of his father, Robert Bryon Miller (lawyer, politician) and uncle, Granville George Miller (judge). Ernest was described as the eldest son of Robert and he became a partner in his father’s law firm.

The work that Ernest performed supporting Australian troops in WWI is well documented in the Hobart Mercury. On the 9 March 1916, an article was headed ‘TASMANIA. LITERATURE FOR SOLDIERS’ which described a fund for ‘Newspapers for Tasmanians at the Front’ where daily and weekly papers, magazines, etc. had been forwarded, and there had been an oversupply of newspapers, but the military authorities had requested a continuation of a supply of all illustrated weeklies, magazines and books. The Government Tourist Bureau received all contributions and a goods-shed had been opened in Hobart and weekly parcels were forwarded to Ernest Miller. These were forwarded to troops on active service in the trenches as well as to a camp in Egypt.

An article on 14 March 1917 in the same paper requested more Australian, New Zealand and Tasmanian illustrated weekly papers, not more than five weeks old; illustrated English papers of any date; magazines of any date; novels and other light literature of any date etc., and the advert was signed by E. Granville Miller, Honorary organiser: Newspapers for the Front Fund.

Addendum (August 2009):  A picture of Ernest Granville Miller' Carte-de-visite dated 22 June 1877 is shown as Figure 4.

I wish to acknowledge the assistance of Margaret Harman and Elizabeth Lehete of the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office, State Library of Tasmania.

 
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