Peter, Richard Milliken (1849–1909), rugby and swimming pioneer and administrator, was born in Dublin, a member of the Peter family after whom Peter Place, off Adelaide Road in Dublin, was named; no other family details are known. He was educated at Blackheath school near London, where he gained his love for rugby football, and returned to Dublin in the late 1860s. In 1870 he was appointed as a clerk in the newly established Commissioners of Church Temporalities in Ireland, a body whose role was to oversee the administration and maintenance of the property of the recently disestablished Church of Ireland. The work was not overly arduous and allowed him plenty of free time to make a major contribution to the development of sport in Ireland. Peter is credited with being either the founder, or a major contributor to the founding, of both the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Irish Amateur Swimming Association (IASA), and with founding Wanderers Football Club (1869) and the Dublin Swimming Club (1880). He was the first honorary secretary of Wanderers and the first honorary treasurer of the Irish Football Union (IFU) from 1874 until the establishment of the IRFU in 1879. He was later the first honorary secretary of the IRFU.
Peter severed his connection with rugby in 1882 after being taken to task by the Wanderers club committee for being critical of the sportsmanship of their players in a match report for the Irish Times. His energies subsequently went into swimming and other water sports. He was a founding member and the first vice-president of the Leinster Swimming and Aquatic Polo Association (1891) and was the first honorary secretary of the IASA (as well as president of its Leinster branch) on its foundation in 1893. Peter was subsequently elected president of the IASA on three occasions (1901–3). He also had a long-standing association with the Pembroke and Neptune rowing clubs and was a committee member of both the Dublin Bay and Edward yacht clubs. He was not just an administrator, however: he had been a leading lacrosse player in his youth and a member of the first Leinster interprovincial rugby team, and was an active swimmer, rower, and sailor.
Peter also played a crucial role in bringing together the Northern Football Union (NFU) and the IFU to form the IRFU. He visited Bangor in 1893, while president of the Leinster body, to encourage the formation of an Ulster Swimming Association, and subsequently attended every significant initiative in Irish swimming, including the inaugural meeting of the IASA in 1893. An example of his vision as a sports administrator was that in 1880, while secretary of the IRFU, he took it upon himself to publish the Irish Football Annual, an extraordinary publication that included both rugby and the ‘new’ game of association football (‘soccer’), with season overviews, club news, and pen-pictures of hundreds of rugby players. He expected it to become an annual publication, but – probably due to his resignation from the IRFU – it became instead a one-off, and a testimony to the drive and enthusiasm of possibly the only man in a position to compile it. It is a fascinating and unique historical resource. He had also attempted to set up an IRFU Challenge Cup, which, although not adopted on a national basis, was the inspiration for the Leinster Senior Cup competition.
As well as working for the Commissioners of Church Temporalities and, later, the land commission, Peter also had spells as an insurance agent and a sports outfitter. Popularly known by his nickname, ‘Jelly’, he remained, despite his estrangement from the game at an administrative level, a regular spectator at international rugby matches until his death. As well as being the ‘father of Irish football’, it was suggested at his death that he could also lay claim to being called the ‘father of Irish football reporting’, given his prodigious contributions to various newspapers and magazines, and his idiosyncratic reporting style. He married (date unknown) Emily Pearce (Pearcy) and they had at least one son. Peter died as a result of an operation on 3 March 1909 at the age of 59.