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NEWS

GREAT LOSS
11 November 2009
NOTICE

The McKenzie Johnston family with great sadness have to announce that Marian (Merrie) died suddenly, but peacefully, in hospital on Friday 23rd October, aged 87. She is sorely missed by Henry, her husband of 60 years, by her children Stephanie, Robert and Miranda, and by her grandchildren and great-grandchild. Her funeral will take place on Tuesday 10th November at 12noon at St Michael’s Church (Sutton Court), Elmwood Rd, London W4 3DZ.
There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for her life in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh on Wednesday 18th November at 12:30pm.
Her ashes will be interred beside her parents’ graves in Cromarty (Scotland) on Thursday 19th November

A TRIBUTE from The Friends of Hugh Miller

WE will hugely miss the zeal, energy and love which Marian McKenzie Johnston brought to the Hugh Miller Museum and Birthplace Cottage, home of her beloved great great grandfather and his wife Lydia.

Marian’s contributions to Hugh Miller’s legacy in general and the Museum in particular were beyond measure valuable. She and her husband Henry spent some 10 years of meticulous research over the lengths of Britain to compile a full authoritative Genealogical Chart. It ran from the 16th Century, and covered Hugh’s ancestors, the Feddes line, and Lydia’s, the Mackenzies of Kintail, right down to her own grand-children.

She was also actively involved in bringing Lydia the recognition she deserved, as a considerable author in her own right, as well as Hugh’s intellectual foil, devoted spouse and posthumous champion. She was an inspiration behind the first biography, Lydia (Tuckwell Press, 2003), by the celebrated Black Isle writer Elizabeth Sutherland.

She was proud to perform the opening ceremony for Miller House on 8th April 2004, and went on to write a personal Foreword to its new Guidebook underlining the family’s ongoing connections and deep commitment to the Museum.

She also donated the remnant tea-set believed to have belonged to Hugh’s sea-captain father, which had continued in use by descendants who had taken it across two continents and back.

Marian agreed to become a Patron (one of three) of The Friends of Hugh Miller, when it was founded in 2006 to build support for the Museum's continued development.

She freely acknowledged the great assistance and support in all these projects which she received from her husband Henry, and the Friends has already expressed its condolences to him and all the family.

BIBLIOGRAPHY UPDATED
24 June 2013
Please note that this page has been comprehensively revised, and now lists all relevant titles published up to this year.
7th AGM
26 January 2013

FRIENDS OF HUGH MILLER
SEVENTH ANNUAL MEETING
Saturday, 18th May 2013
The Old Brewery (Cromarty Centre), Burnside Place, Cromarty
2.00-5.00pm

PROVISIONAL AGENDA

1. Chairman Professor Nigel Trewin’s opening and comments
2. Minutes of the 6th AGM 2012
3. Treasurer’s report
4. Secretary’s report
5. Election of office bearers
6. Property Manager’s report (powerpoint)
7. AOB

NB: Item 5, There is a vacancy on the management committee, and nominations are welcome before and/or at the meeting.

Followed by, 3.30pm approx

PUBLIC MEETING

On

“Highland history’s riches and where to find them”

An illustrated presentation by

Norman Newton

(former head of Highland Council Libraries’ reference and information services, and member of Groam House Museum Board)


Light refreshments will be served. Please make every possible effort to attend this important event.

STOP PRESS
03 July 2012
Waterstone's Inverness store in the Eastgate Centre is holding a Hugh Miller fortnight in August. Watch this space for more details.
SUMMER NEWSLETTER IS OUT
03 July 2012
Go to foot of The Friends page for the latest Hugh's News (No 14)
GREAT LEAPS FORWARD
04 February 2012
04/02/2012
INVERNESS publishers For the Right Reasons have agreed with The Friends of Hugh Miller that they will launch the exciting new novel by Lesley Beake, "Jamie's Adventures in Time," at our next AGM.

Jamie, the eponymous hero, is a troubled youth in ways typical of modern times. While in Cromarty he discovers what a lot he has in common with the young Hugh Miller.

The AGM is on 5th May 2012 at The Old Brewery, Cromarty, from 2.00 to 5.00pm. The Speaker willl be Bob Davison on "Fossil Collecting: The Miller Legacy."

A second novel, by Hugh's daughter Harriet Davidson, entitled "A Man of Genius" will also be launched that day.

Will all members please make an effort to attend what will be a most important meeting, and the most exciting new development in literature around Hugh Miller. in many years.

LYDIA'S NOVEL REPUBLISHED
16 May 2011
BOOK REVIEW
Monday, 16 May 2011
A LITERARY curiosity if ever there was one is a novel, Passages in the Life of an English Heiress, by Lydia Miller, the wife of Cromarty’s famed geologist Hugh Miller.

It was published in 1847 and has been out of print and all but forgotten ever since – until her direct descendants, and the well-known Black Isle writer Elizabeth Sutherland, recently revived interest in Lydia’s life and achievements.

Lydia wrote a string of best-selling stories for children that can still be found in antiquarian booksellers’ lists. This was her only novel. It is also the only work of fiction ever written round the great schism in the Scottish Presbyterian church known as The Disruption of 1843.

Elizabeth Sutherland notes in her introduction, that Lydia “excels in her descriptive scenes and dialogue.” She is equally at home in the drawing rooms of the gentry, and amidst a riot over the split in the Kirk, and in evoking the Highland wilds.

Elizabeth adds: “Lydia herself shines through the character of Miss (Jane) Legh (the heroine), her opinions, her outlook on life, her appreciation of beauty, and her passionate belief in the Free Church principles.”

The book also adds to our knowledge of Hugh Miller himself. It can be described as a rewarding if not always easy read, and worthy of study by any student of mid 19th Century Scottish history.

It can be obtained , price £8, from the publishers, For The Right Reasons, 60 Grant Street, Inverness, or from the Hugh Miller Museum, Church Street, Cromarty IV11 8XA.

Republication of the book was an initiative of Henry McKenzie Johnston, widower of the late Marian McKenzie Johnston, who was a great great grand-daughter of Hugh and Lydia Miller.
He is donating the proceeds of sales to the Museum’s supporting charity, The Friends of Hugh Miller, from where it can also be obtained, price £10 (inc P & P). Contact Martin Gostwick (01381 600301, or martingostwick@tiscali.co.uk)
ENDS

WONDERFUL NEW ACQUISITION
16 May 2011
A fascinating new artefact has been presented to the Museum which offers vital insight into the life of Hugh Miller's family following his tragic death.

It is a Cash Book which details disbursements by the Trustees of the Miller estate to his widow Lydia, and their four children, Harriet, William, Bessie and Hugh jnr.

It was gifted by a member of our Friends' management ccommittee, Henry McKenzie Johnston.

More information will follow later.

The gift was made following a most successful annual meeting of The Friends, the minustes of which you can find on The Friends pages.

LATEST NEWSLETTER OUT NOW!
11 December 2010
HUGH'S NEWS No 9 (Winter 2010) has all the latest on the big donation, the new Cottage thatched roof, and a top award for Miller's Yard. Go to the bottom of The Friends page to read and download.
MUSEUM'S FUTURE SAFE AT LAST!
19 November 2010
AN ANONYMOUS £600,000 donation to the Hugh Miller Museum & Birthplace Cottage in Cromarty was made in memory of three of his direct descendants, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has announced.
The descendants are Hugh and Lydia Miller’s three great-great-granddaughters, the recently deceased sisters Marian McKenzie Johnston, Bright Gordon and Lydia Clarke.
The sisters were born Middleton, granddaughters of Sir Thomas Middleton of Rosefarm, Cromarty, whose wife Lydia was Hugh Miller’s granddaughter. The Middletons have been farmers in The Black Isle for over 200 years, with Bright Gordon being the last.

This gift will now create a special fund called the Middleton Fund to be used solely to meet the costs of staffing and keeping the properties open. The museum had to reduce staffing and cut back its opening hours in 2008 due to financial pressures.
The Trust has confirmed that it will shortly reinstate a full-time curator/manager, and restore the museum’s opening hours to 7 days week during the summer season next year.
NTS said it will continue to work closely with the Friends of Hugh Miller support group to ensure that new initiatives and programmes can be developed.
Donors can make a contribution to the Middleton Fund if they so wish and should contact the NTS development department on 0844-493-2422 for further details.

MUSEUM IS SAVED - FOR SURE!
22 October 2010
HUGH MILLER MUSEUM BENEFACTION
AN ANONYMOUS £600,000 donation to the Hugh Miller Museum & Birthplace Cottage in Cromarty was made in memory of three of his direct descendants, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has announced.
The descendants are Hugh and Lydia Miller’s three great-great-granddaughters, the recently deceased sisters Marian McKenzie Johnston, Bright Gordon and Lydia Clarke.
The sisters were born Middleton, granddaughters of Sir Thomas Middleton of Rosefarm, Cromarty, whose wife Lydia was Hugh Miller’s granddaughter. The Middletons have been farmers in The Black Isle for over 200 years, with Bright Gordon being the last.

This gift will now create a special fund called the Middleton Fund to be used solely to meet the costs of staffing and keeping the properties open. The museum had to reduce staffing and cut back its opening hours in 2008 due to financial pressures.
The Trust has confirmed that it will shortly reinstate a full-time curator/manager, and restore the museum’s opening hours to 7 days week during the summer season next year.
NTS said it will continue to work closely with the Friends of Hugh Miller support group to ensure that new initiatives and programmes can be developed.
Donors can make a contribution to the Middleton Fund if they so wish and should contact the NTS development department on 0844-493-2422 for further details.

Summer 2010 Newsletter
22 June 2010
The latest Newsletter is just out, and it can be downloaded (as can earlier issues) from the link at the bottom of the Friends page. Or download our Summer 2010 newsletter in .pdf form by clicking here
SCOTSMAN OBIT
11 November 2009
We further add the following Obituary notice which was published in The Scotsman newspaper.

11 November 2009
By GHE
Nutritionist

Born: 11 November, 1922, in London.

Died: 23 October, 2009, in London, aged 86.

MERRIE McKenzie Johnston was the eldest daughter of Brigadier A A Middleton and his wife, Winifred Salvesen, daughter of the leading Scottish shiADVERTISEMENTp owner and whaling pioneer Theodore Salvesen. During several years of her education her parents were serving in India, and with her sister, Bright, she spent much of the holidays at her grandfather's home in Inverleith or in his somewhat pretentious house in Easter Ross, Carbisdale Castle.

After Sherborne School for girls she started to read modern languages at Edinburgh University, but left to join the WAAF in 1941. She was commissioned in 1942 as flight officer radar supervisor. On release in 1946 she returned to the university, graduating in 1947.

She married in 1949 Henry McKenzie Johnston, a childhood friend, who had been recruited to the Foreign Office after war service with the Black Watch. Their postings included Paris, Germany, Uruguay, Mexico, Trinidad and, finally, Munich, where Henry was appointed consul-general to cover the 1972 Olympic Games.

Merrie found plenty to keep her busy during those diplomatic years, apart from bringing up two daughters and a son. She set up and ran her households with great competence. She also did much to support other diplomatic wives, some of them quite bewildered in their first encounters with strange foreign countries. Sometimes her urge to organise others went a little far, but this was always far outweighed by the appreciation of the new friends whom she guided.

Stationed in Mexico she found time to study the country's archaeology, and in particular to learn about and locate some of the famous "open churches".

When Henry returned from Munich in 1973 they settled permanently in London. Merrie developed her interest in healthy food, qualifying in home economics and nutrition. She became a nutrition consultant, based on a commercial health club in London, and many people sought her advice.

She remained a loyal Scot, and returned frequently to her ancestral home, Cromarty, where she produced skilful watercolours of the landscape. She supported the National Trust for Scotland when it set up the Hugh Miller Museum in Cromarty, commemorating the 19th-century author and geologist, her great-great-grandfather. Her research enabled her to commission Elizabeth Sutherland to write a biography of Hugh's wife, Lydia.

Merrie took great pleasure in arranging, in 1995, the publication of Confessions of Custard, the diary of an Aldershot mule, written for Merrie and her sister by Colonel V R Burhardt, a gunner friend of their father. The Confessions will still delight readers of any age.

Her spirit and wit will be greatly missed by her many friends and relations.


SURVIVAL STRUGGLE START5 NOW
21 September 2009
PLEASE VISIT IMMEDIATELY THE FRIENDS OF HUGH MILLER'S JUMBO AUTUMN 2009 NEWSLETTER, AVAILABLE IN PDF FORM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE FRIENDS PAGE.

IT ANNOUNCES AN APPEAL FOR FUNDING WHICH WILL HELP TO ENSURE THE MUSEUM STAYS OPEN BEYOND THE END OF THIS SEASON.

MILLER'S YARD: GARDEN OF WONDERS
22 December 2007
Building work has begun on Miller's Yard :Garden of Wonders.

22 DECEMBER 2007

First, the rear and side walls of red sandstone were repointed in matching lime mortar.

Then two plaques inscribed by one of Britain's leadng letter-cutters, Charles Smith of Great Ouseburn, Yorkshire were installed in the rear wall.

One bears the advice of Miller to "Make a right use of your eyes". The other says: Miller's Yard: Garden of Wonders, Opened Spring 2008.

Main contractor, Kishorn Specialist Contractors, have been on site since the beginning of December, and the foundations of both the stairway and the upper pavement are now in place.

(Please see The Friends page for a more detailed report).

_____________________________

5 STARS RETAINED
27 May 2006
VisitScotland has renewed the museum's 5-star rating following an inspection earlier this month. Its evaluation report is expected shortly and will be summarised in an extended story.
MORE WRITINGS
27 September 2005
A stimulating new range of incidents and episodes involving Hugh Miller is to be found in the SELECTED WRITING pages.
NEW MUSEUM IS TOP RANK
14 May 2005
MILLER HOUSE has won Scottish tourism’s highest rating as a visitor attraction – the “5 star award”.

VisitScotland graded the museum overall at over 85 per cent out of 100 – the minimum level needed to secure all five stars.

Two of the key elements in any attraction, the information and interpretation, and the welcome, attitude and efficiency of staff, both scored 100 per cent.

The appearance of the building, its interior décor, cleanliness and presentation, were all marked at 90 per cent.

Among its comments, VisitScotland noted the “excellent” welcome from staff “as soon as visitors walk through the front door.” Décor was “very fresh, clean and tidy.”

Orientation provided verbally by staff was “clear and easy to follow”. Interpretation boards were “clear, simple and easy to understand, and should also be easy for children to understand and absorb.”

The touch screens (inter-active media) worked well and were easy to use, and appealed to younger visitors, and the final room had a “great hands-on area” for handling rocks and fossils.

VisitScotland also commended the new audio tour of the birthplace Cottage next door, and said the reading room there had a “fantastic selection” of Hugh Miller’s books, and other information about his life and family. There was a “nice selection” of goods in the cottage’s new shop.

MONSIEUR AGASSIZ PAYS A CALL
10 May 2005
In the summer of 1839, two VIPs paid a call on Hugh and Lydia Miller at their home in Cromarty….

The most exciting development at Miller House in 2005 will be the production for the first time in many years at the Miller Cromarty properties of “Living History”. This will take the form of a short play entitled A Meeting with Monsieur Agassiz.

The plot is extremely simple: The famed Swiss-born naturalist, Louis Agassiz, accompanied by the amateur geologist Lady Eliza Maria Gordon Cumming of Altyre, call at Miller House. Hugh and Lydia welcome them. Monsieur Agassiz announces that he is to name one of Hugh’s fossil fish discoveries after him, thereby making his name immortal. They are joined at one point by Lydia’s class of children and they all celebrate Hugh’s new found fame.

This quartet in period costume will make quite a little spectacle. Miller, the lad o’ pairts, wears his trademark shepherd’s plaid. Lydia is a pretty, accomplished woman of 25. Agassiz arrives fashionably attired from Paris, where he had once fought a duel. Lady Eliza is a celebrated beauty, with passions for fossil-hunting, plant-breeding and salmon-fishing.

Performing the play in period costume will be Timemasters, a small, Inverness-based troupe of professional actors specialising in Living History, led by actor/manager Duncan Cook. They have already performed at other National Trust for Scotland properties in the Highlands, including Brodie Castle and Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, where Duncan is employed as interpretation officer.

Timemasters (“Bringing the past to life for you”) will perform A Meeting with Monsieur Agassiz three times a day, once a week, throughout July and August. The dates are, Friday 15 July, Saturday 23 July, Sunday 31 July; Wednesday 3 August, Thursday 11 August, Friday 19 August, and Saturday 27 August. The times of performances on each of these days will be 12.30, 2.00 and 3.30.

In the cast are: Duncan Cook as M. Agassiz; Shaun Hastings as Hugh Miller; Julia Duncan as Lydia; Victoria Lochore as Lady Gordon Cumming. They are all members of Equity, the actors’ union. Julia is involved in education at Brodie Castle, and Shaun and Victoria are both studying drama at Inverness College.

There will be an opportunity during the play to chat with and quiz the cast, and to meet them before and after each performance. Bookings can me made through the property manager (and scriptwriter), Martin Gostwick, on 01381 600245, or by email to mgostwick@nts.org.uk. The cost of tickets is £2 adults, £1 for senior citizens and people aged under 18.

NEW GUIDEBOOK
03 May 2005
The Trust is scheduled to publish a new top quality guidebook for Miller House and the birthplace Cottage in late June or early July, entitled, like the exhibitions it describes, In The Steps of Hugh Miller. It will replace the booklet for the Cottage published in 1994. The new product will be a handsome publication more than twice the length in text of its predecessor, and with many beautiful new illustrations.

It will also feature specially commissioned written contributions by a number of experts in Miller’s fields of interest. Contributors include Miller’s great great grand-daughter, Marian McKenzie Johnston, with an illuminating foreword; Dr James Robertson, author of the outstanding novel Joseph Knight, and of Introductions to the Miller masterpieces My Schools and Schoolmasters and Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland.

Dr Lizanne Henderson, Glasgow University history lecturer, comments on Miller’s significance as a folklorist; Professor Donald Macleod, principal of the Free Church College, bears witness to Miller’s Christian faith; Dr Michael Taylor of NMS describes the fossil collection; and Dr Sara Stevenson, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, discusses the Hill/Adamson calotypes.

In the Steps of Hugh Miller will therefore be more than just a conventional guidebook. It is intended to serve as an authoritative new popular biography, as well as introducing the public to the two historic buildings in Cromarty associated with the man. It is planned to retail it at all NTS bookshops and at other appropriate outlets nationwide.

FOUNDING DEED
29 April 2005
A DOCUMENT of major importance in the history of the Free Church of Scotland has been gifted to the new museum – by an Australian.

Richard Beeching, of Balook Road, Callignee, Victoria, Australia, is a descendant of one of the Free Church’s founders, Rev William Fraser, at the time minister of Kilchrennan in Argyllshire.

Mr Fraser’s signature is prominent on the document signed by over 470 clergymen on 23 May 1843, which was in effect the Church’s founding charter. A scroll more than two metres long, the document was known as the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission.

The “separation” is described in history as The Disruption, because nearly half the ministers concerned walked out of the General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland, to form their own church, the Free Church of Scotland.

They did this in order to restore to their congregations the right to elect ministers of their choice. This right had been enjoyed in the Established Church from the Reformation in 1560, until it was handed over to local landowners under the Patronage Act of 1712.

William Fraser was born on Gigha Island in 1801. He married in Glasgow in 1834, and came to Australia with most of his family in 1856, 13 years after the Disruption. He died in Bulla, Victoria in 1872.

His descendant, Mr Beeching, visited the museum not long after it opened in 2004, and was so impressed that he immediately offered to donate the scroll. He said: “I can’t think of a more appropriate place to house the deed, than the home of the writer who played such a prominent part in the founding of the Free Church.”

Copies of the Deed of Demission are quite scarce. The Free Church of Scotland Library, and the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh, both have several. There were other deeds, for probationers and elders of the church.

The unique value of the copy gifted to Miller House is that it is known to have belonged to one of the ministers involved.

SOME VISITOR RESPONSES TO MILLER HOUSE, APRIL 8 – OCTOBER 13, 2004
13 October 2004
08.04 Lord Mackay of Clashfern - A very special memorial to a great son of Cromarty.

08.04 Verity Walker - A real asset to the Black Isle & the Highlands.

Anthony & Jane Bryant - A vision realized, well done to you all.

Felicity Sampays, 11, Cromarty - Hooray, it's so good.

Rev Archie Black, Inverness - Congratulations. Good to see a child-friendly presentation.

Robt Crerar, silversmith, Cellardyke - A triumph of the will!

09.04 Theo Seller - Comprehensive, beautifully laid out, engrossing.

Susan Christie - Elegant bright and beautiful display. Thoughtful use of space and great to see specific spaces designed to house some of the special exhibits, ie the bust of Hugh, the tapestry, the carving etc. Congratulations.

10.04 Katherine Cameron, Inverness - Entrancing exciting display in the mode that Hugh would have approved of. Plenty room for individual space so that one can read leisurely. Thank you for devising a treat for the mind and imagination.

11.04 Antonia Louise Robin Hall, 10, Cromarty - Thanks for letting me be a volunteer.

Catriona Mallows, 10, Cromarty - Very interesting and I love the computers.

20.04 Helen & John Pernie - Very erudite - I now understand more about local "mores."

4.5.04 Neil & Leena McLean - Very informative and educational.

8.5.04 Muriel Murray, Castletown Heritage Society - A terrific exhibition long overdue.

Stans and Albert von Derhoeff, Netherlands - Marvellous exhib, nicely done, we enjoyed it.

24.05 Tony & Judy Haverstich, Pennyslvania - Window on to another time, especially when coupled with My Schools & Schoolmasters.

31.05 Alan & Shona Henstock, Avoch, Black Isle - Fantastic! Will definitely be back for more visits.

2.6.04 Marjorie Finlayson, Aberfeldy - good to be back and see improvements.

4/7.04 Liam Alexander, 10, Cromarty - Brilliant games on the computer

do Fraser Thomson, 9, Cromarty – Brilliant. I would be glad to work here.

23/7/04 Linda Wellens, Aberdeen.- Nice fossil collection. Lovely presentations of fossils.

25.07.04 Patrick Anderson – I was here in 1965 and have a black and white photo of me in my wee boy’s kilt outside the house. This is a great improvement to the old days of 1965.

30/08/04 R Richardson, Birmingham, England - Great to hold a white shark’s tooth.

06/09/04 Ralphy O’Connor, St John’s Coll, Cambridge –Really good to see how so much extra space has been used so effectively – brilliant displays. Thank you.

17.09.04 A Paterson, Cromarty – What a wonderful environment for youngsters to be impressed.

24.09.04. John Mayhew, NTS head of policy-making – Great to see the culmination of all the plans I head about back in 1997

13.10.04 Michael Hughes - You have done Hugh Miller a great service by restoring his name and work to public knowledge. The great spirit of the man, his integrity and work have been beautifully captured. Thank you.


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