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The Clytus

(Captain) William MILLER was born in Ardrossan, Ayrshire (Scotland). He was a wood-merchant, who operated his ship The Clytus from the harbours of Saltcoats and Ardrossan, in Ayrshire. He married Mary GARRETT in 1791.

Their oldest daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy) MILLER, was born in Saltcoats. She worked in her father's shipping office until her brother Hugh drowned, after which she joined her father on board The Clytus as a "seaman". When her father was forced to retire due to ill-health, Betsy took over as captain of the brig - with a 14-man crew sailing with coal from Saltcoats to Dublin and bringing limestone back to the Ayrshire coast. She was the first female captain of a British ship to be registered with Lloyds.

On one occasion when The Clytus ran into danger off the Irvine Coast, Betsy is claimed to have cried "Lads, I'll gang below and put on a clean sark, for I wid like to be flung up on the sauns kin of decent. Irvine folks are nasty, noticin' buddies". The crew later attributed the safe return of their ship to this change of clothing. Betsy died in 1864, aged 71, having succeeded in paying off family debts of 700 pounds, and providing relative comfort for her family.

Betsy had brothers Hugh, William and John, and sisters Mary, Hannah, Margaret, Mary Garret and Hannah Thompson.