At the Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, Fife on Saturday 21 April 2018

Ebenezer Millar


Ebenezer Millar worked as a shepherd and ploughman at Ballingry Farm, just south of Loch Leven.

He was tried at Perth on 29 March 1887 for the murder of his wife, Catherine Stark. Found insane, the trial was abandoned and Ebenezer Millar spent the rest of his life in the Lunatic Department of Perth Prison.

From The Scotsman – Monday 07 February 1887



THE ghastly injuries alleged to have been inflicted by Ebenezer Millar, a shepherd at Ballingry, upon his wife, resulted in the death of the victim on Saturday morning. From the first no hopes were entertained of Mrs Millar’s recovery, and the poor woman gradually sank. A post-mortem examination of her body was made in the course of the day by Dr Stiell, Lochgelly, and Dr Drysdale, Dunfermline. A deep incised wound, seven inches long, was found in the abdomen, and cuts were observed on the hands and other parts of the body. Millar, who is in a weak state, in consequence of the self-inflicted wounds upon his throat, was removed to Dunfermline prison in the afternoon by Inspector Webster. The knife with which the tragedy was committed has been taken possession of by the police, along with a number of other articles stained with blood. The deceased woman was forty-seven years of age, and her husband is about the same age. Mlllar’s previous insanity seems to have been ol a rather dangerous nature. His disposition was generally sullen, and it was difficult to understand his delusion. He was endowed with a good deal of the knowing character attributed to the people of Fife, as was shown by the manner in which he effected his escape from the Fife and Kinross Lunatic Asylum in the beginning to the year, he having removed a pane of glass which had shortly before been put in, the putty being soft, and having got outside he replaced the glass, and his mode of escape was a mystery till he disclosed it himself.

Excerpt from the forthcoming Kalendar of Convicts:

MILLAR, EBENEZER (1841-1926): shepherd/ploughman at Ballingry Farm (at East Blair farm in 1861), married to Catherine Stark, and children included Annie More Millar (aged 21 in 1887) and Robert Millar (aged 12); he was the brother of Janet Millar (aged 52), married to Alexander Russell, farm servant at Kirkness, parish of Portmoak; he was born at Craigiemiglo, Orwell parish (Kinross) on 19 March 1841, son of Ebenezer Miller, farm servant/weaver, and Ann More; tried at PCC 29 March 1887 for the murder of wife, Catherine Stark, on 5 Feb 1887, aged 47; she was the daughter of Robert Stark, ploughman/farm servant, and Margaret Pearson, and the couple had married at Orwell on 7 June 1861; found insane, diet deserted, and imprisoned at HM pleasure (AD14/87/122; JC26/1887/27); as a lunatic he served the rest of his life in the Lunatic Department of Perth Prison, where he had been admitted (from the Fife and Kinross Asylum) on 28 March 1887 as suicidal and a danger to others; died 16 Sep 1926 in the Royal Infirmary, Perth, to where he had been transferred from HM Prison, Perth, suffering from cerebral haemorrhage; case notes in HH21/48/2, Pp 457-59 (with photograph) describe him as the granduncle of the mother of John Welsh, the murderer; also HH21/48/3, Pp 280-82

Dundee Courier – Monday 20 September 1926


By the death of octogenarian in Perth Royal Infirmary, there has been recalled memories of a life wife murder charge, which created much stir in Central Scotland in the late eighties.

Deceased was Ebenezer Millar, who was 85 years of age, and who spent the last 39 years of his life within the grim walls of Perth Penitentiary, where he was an inmate of the Criminal Lunatic Department.

On 26th March. 1887, Millar stood in the dock of Perth Circuit Court—at which the late Lord Adam was presiding Judge— charged with a serious crime. 

By occupation, a shepherd, although described in the indictment as inmate of Fife and Kinross Lunatic Asylum, he was charged that on 4th February of that year, in the cottar house on the farm Ballingry Fife, occupied by himself, stabbed Catherine Stark or Millar, his wife, with pocket knife and otherwise assaulted her, whereby she was mortally injured and died the following day. 

Not long before the perpetration of the crime Millar had been liberated from Fife and Kinross Asylum, having recovered from serious self-inflicted injuries, and at his trial special defence insanity was put forward. 

Following upon the evidence of two medical authorities this plea was sustained, and prisoner was ordered to kept in safe custody in Perth General Prison during Her Majesty’s pleasure. 

Millar was transferred from the prison hospital the public Infirmary towards the end last week, suffering from cerebral hemorrhage, and death was subsequently certified to due to that cause. 

During his long incarceration Perth Prison. Millar, who was popularly known as ” Old Ebby,’ was a firm favourite among the prison officials, and enjoyed certain amount of freedom. 

Tall, with a long, flowing, snow-white beard, might have been daily seen from the main entrance to the prison busily engaged with his broom, keeping scrupulously clean the paths and garden patches of the prison villages. 

He delighted in having a quiet chat with the attendants and their families while he smoked contentedly at his pipe.

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