James Giles

James Giles was the father of Elizabeth Giles the second wife of Robert Humphrey Marten. He was the schoolmaster of the Free School in Gravesend from 1764 to 1780. He died on 9 Dec 1780 and was buried on 15 Dec 1780 aged 61, giving a birth year of 1719.

It is recorded in Robert Pocock’s book that he was largely a self taught man and originally had been a shoe maker. He tutored himself in mathematics and corresponded with mathematical magazines. This dedication must have contributed to the late flowering of his career. He did not marry till the age of 39 and became the Schoolmaster only at the age of 45. He did not live to see any of his grandchildren born.

St Peter and St Paul, Milton-next-Gravesend South Porch and Sun-dial designed by James Giles 1775

St Peter and St Paul, Milton-next-Gravesend South Porch and Sun-dial designed by James Giles 1775

His greatest memorial is perhaps the Sundial over the south porch of the church of St Peter and St Paul, in Milton-next-Gravesend, which he designed himself. It dates from 1775. The name of James Giles of London also appears on an Orrery that he invented and constructed. It, though, is dated 1791 and could be the work of his son.

James Giles married Elizabeth Wolf on 27 Mar 1758 and had four children. His son James Giles and his grandsons Robert Humphrey Giles and Henry Wilson Giles all succeeded him in turn as schoolmaster of the Free School in Gravesend. The book entitled “The Rudiments of English Grammar elucidated: A guide to parsing” first published in about 1800 is attributed to his son James Giles (jnr)

His daughter Peggy Giles married Bury Hagger, a business man and friend of Robert Humphrey Marten. Robert Goswell Giles another son was a London merchant.

The name Robert Goswell leads to a will of 1773 of ‘a mealman’ of Reading, in which Robert Goswell bequeaths his apparel to his cousin James Giles, schoolmaster of Gravesend. It is likely that Robert Goswell is related to James’s wife Elizabeth Wolf rather than James himself.