Hugh Miller was removed by his uncles from the Cromarty parish school and attended a private school established “by some of the wealthier tradesmen of the town” until his expulsion in 1817. In his autobiography he notes:
There was a mulatto lad, a native of the West Indies, who sat at the same form with me. He was older and stouter than I, and much dreaded by the other boys for a wild, savage disposition which is, I believe, natural to most of his countyfolks.
The West Indian is likely to have been the son of a Cromarty tradesman or merchant.
In 1836 Miller wrote to one of his boyhood friends, Alexander Findlay, reminiscing about their childhood companions and referred to ‘[John] Layfield [dead] in Berbice’ [Peter Bayne, Life and Letters of Hugh Miller (London, 1871), ii, 96 & 101]. The boy was perhaps a son of Thomas Fryer Layfield, in Berbice, who was associated with John Ross, a planter there and brother of the factor of the Cromarty estate. Or he might have been the son of one of the related Layfield men in the colony.