Benjamin Milliken

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Benjamin Milliken
Died1791 (aged 62–63)
OccupationAmerican Loyalist, landowner, mill and ship owner

Benjamin Milliken (b. 1728 Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay d. 1791 Bocabec, New Brunswick) was an American Loyalist,[1] major landowner, mill and ship owner[2] in Maine in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, British North America. He was the founder of Ellsworth, Maine (first called the Union River Settlement) in 1763,[3][4] laid out and received the land grant for the Township of Bridgton, Maine (originally called Pondicherry) in 1765 and was one of the first settlers in Bocabec and St. Andrew's, New Brunswick in 1784.[5][6]

Business career[edit]

He began his business career in Scarborough, Maine where he had a store on the Dunstan Landing Road. He was an owner of lands in Rowley-Canada ( now called Rindge, New Hampshire) which had been granted to soldiers who had served in the Canada Expedition ( which included the Raid on Chignecto (1696) and the Siege of Fort Nashwaak (1696)) which he lost in a boundary line dispute between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. As a result of losing these lands he and 2 others were granted, in 1761, a township named Pondicherry, now Bridgton, Maine, seven miles square, east of the Saco River. He was one of three who proceeded to lay out the township and received the land grant for the entire township on June 25, 1765. Finding the timber on these lands too remote from a market Milliken sold out his share and invested in lands adjoining other lands owned by him on the Union River that he bought in 1769 from William Maxfield [7][8]

He had business reversals, lost his lands and other property in Scarborough, Maine and in 1764 made Trenton, Maine his headquarters. He was granted a mill privilege there with timber lands adjoining. He and his brother Thomas Milliken built a dam and mill on the Union River at or near the head of the tide, close to where the Bangor Hydro Dam exists.[9] It may have been tidal powered but proved a failure was called the " Folly Mill," and was soon abandoned.[8][10]

Afterwards the Benjamin and Thomas Milliken built a double saw-mill, at the Head Tide Dam[11] on the Union River at what became the Union River Settlement ( now Ellsworth, Maine) of which City Benjamin Milliken is acknowledged the founder.[12] When the second dam was built by the Millikens, they were either unable to build the whole or sold the rights to the western bank, and the settlers on the west side of the Union River, John Murch and Benjamin Joy built a mill.[13] The Ellsworth hydro-electric dam begun in 1907 is located at the site of one of the original Benjamin Milliken Union River dams.

Milliken also owned vessels, and shipped lumber to Connecticut. In 1773 the first schooner built at Ellsworth, Maine, on the Union River was named the "Susan and Abigail[14]", after the daughters of its two most prominent citizens, Benjamin Milliken and Benjamin Joy. The vessel carried pine shingles and oak staves in annual voyages to the West Indies. This trade was the township's primary business for some time. A British cruiser destroyed the "Susan and Abigail" during the American War of Independence.[15]

American War of Independence[edit]

American rebels called Milliken "Royalist Ben", "Tory Ben" and "Runaway Ben" as he expressed Tory sentiments when the American War of Independence broke out and was a loyal supporter of King George III.[8] He first joined the British at Bagaduce,[16] on Penobscot Bay (now Castine, Maine) after his home, grist & saw mills and farm, were destroyed by rebel forces.[17]

During the early years of the American War of Independence he served as a pilot on British Ships[18] and transported lumber and supplies to a British garrison under the command of a General Francis McLean at Fort Majebigwaduce (Castine, Maine) .[19]

He was taken prisoner at Castine in July 1779 by rebel Colonel John Allan and a band of Native Americans who put him in irons. He was imprisoned on board the rebel frigate USS Warren[20] part of the fleet that commenced the Siege of Penobscot (Penobscot Expedition). British troops constructed Fort George while fighting the American rebels for three weeks, during which time Benjamin Milliken was held prisoner.

During the Siege Milliken's house was plundered by American rebels. A group of rebels led by an officer entered the house and attempted to force their way into Milliken's wife Phebe's bedroom where the silver plate and other valuables were concealed. One of the Milliken's female domestics placed her hand upon the latch of the door, the officer drew his sword and nearly severed her fingers, she stood firm holding up her dripping hand before her face, saying, "There, sir, is better blood than runs in your veins". The rebels ransacked the house and then drove the cattle belonging to the Milliken estate into the kitchen and slaughtered them, leaving the offal in the floor.[21]

On the twenty-first day of the Penobscot Siege, on August 14, 1779, three British frigates of war commanded by Sir George Collier arrived. The American fleet unable to escape ran their boats ashore up the Penobscot River, released their prisoners including Benjamin Milliken, set fire to their fleet and escaped by foot into the woods. It was the greatest loss in American Naval history until Pearl Harbour.[22]

Later years[edit]

He moved to New Brunswick in 1782-3. On Aug. 12, 1784, he, with about one hundred others, known as the Penobscot Association Loyalists,[23] received two grants of land from the British Crown. Their town grant comprised the town plot of St. Andrew's New Brunswick and their farm lots under separate grants included several tracts extending from Bocabec westerly along the coast to St. Stephen, with an additional tract on the St. Croix River above what is now St. Stephen, New Brunswick (formerly Milltown). Shortly after these lands were granted Milliken left St. Andrew's and moved to Bocabec, New Brunswick on the shore of Passamaquoddy Bay near St. Andrew's where he built a shipyard and lived out the remainder of his life.[8][24]

He was a pioneer settler three times in British North America starting in Scarborough, Maine, then on the Union River as the founder of Ellsworth, Maine and then in St. Andrew's and Bocabec, New Brunswick.[8][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ He was the son of the Honourable Edward Milliken (b. 1706 Boston), a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas (retired 1773) in the Province of Massachusetts Bay and his wife Abigail Norman (b.1710 d.1751), "Collections of the Maine Historical Society" John Chamberlain 1890 p 65
  2. ^ "Markham 1793-1900". Isabel Champion, editor, Markham Historical Society, Markham, Ont. 1979 p.74, retrieved from Our Roots.
  3. ^ Hellmann, Paul T. (2004). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Taylor & Francis. p. 452. ISBN 9780203997000.
  4. ^ "Archaeologists dig up Surry homestead belonging to family among earliest European settlers". The Bangor Daily News.
  5. ^ His son Norman Milliken (b.1771 Trenton, Maine d.1843 Markham Township, York County, Canada West, Province of Canada), and in 1807 founded Milliken, Ontario (originally called Milliken Corners). Miliken Public School, History
  6. ^ "Markham 1793-1900". Isabel Champion, editor, Markham Historical Society, Markham, Ont. 1979, pp. 74, 75 276f; 74f. Retrieved from Our Roots (Milliken family).
  7. ^ "Along the Union River" By Connie Jellison, Arcadia Publishing, New Hampshire 1997 p.7
  8. ^ a b c d e History of the Families Millingas and Millanges of Saxony and Normandy, Comprising Genealogies and Biographies of Their Posterity Surnamed Milliken, Millikin, Millikan, Millican, Milligan, Mulliken and Mullikin, A. D. 800-A. D. 1907. "Posterity of Edward Milliken", G.T. Ridlon, Maine , 1907, pp. 59-61.
  9. ^ Ellsworth American, 19 Dec. 1900, Albert Davis's History of Ellsworth, Maine, and Ava Chadboume's Maine Place Names
  10. ^ Ellsworth History, No. 11" Ellsworth American, 26 Dec. 1900. Ava H. Chadboume, Maine Place Names and the Peopling of its Towns (Bangor: Furbush-Roberts Printing, 1955)267-268
  11. ^ "Along the Union River" By Connie Jellison, Arcadia Publishing, New Hampshire 1997 p.11
  12. ^ The Maine Historical Magazine. Vol. VIII. Bangor, Me., Oct., Nov., Dec, 1893. Nos. 10, 11, 12
  13. ^ "History of Ellsworth," from extracts from a lecture by Dr. Calvin Peek of Ellsworth in 1837-8, printed in Ellsworth American, Nov. 19, 1869, and reprinted in 1888, Maine Historical Magazine 1885-1894, p.1080. "Materials for a History of Ellsworth, Maine," Bangor Historical Magazine 1885-1894, pp.1993-94, citing Lincoln County Deeds, 16:206 and 18:74-75.
  14. ^ daughter Abigail Milliken b.1750 d.1832
  15. ^ Albert H. Davis, History of Ellsworth, Maine (Lewiston, Maine: Lewiston Journal Printshop, 1927) 114
  16. ^ "Castine".
  17. ^ "Robert Vardon: Our First Canadian Ancestor" by Nancy Danby, Generations, the journal of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society, Vol. 18, No. 3 (issue 69), Fall 1996, pp 47 – 49
  18. ^ "Loyalists to Canada - The 1783 Settlement of Quakers and Others at Passamaquoddy" by Theodore C. Holmes (p. 172)
  19. ^ "Milliken Public School > History".
  20. ^ Certificate Application of Stymiest, Carlyle William Wayne The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada
  21. ^ History of Ellsworth, Maine, Benjamin Milliken Saint Croix Courier, September 19, 1878, St Stephen, New Brunswick
  22. ^ "A Chapter of the Early Settlement of Charlotte County" by Edward Seelye, Saint Croix Courier, Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, September 19, 1878
  23. ^ "Glimpses of the Past", Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB , May 10, 1894
  24. ^ "Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine Vol. II", George Little, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, 1909
  25. ^ "The Milliken Family - Saco Valley Settlements Series" G.T.Ridlon, first published Lewiston, Maine, 1907 reprint Tuttle Publishing, 1970 pp. 59-61