GILES, John (c.1533-1606), of Totnes and Bowden, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1533, 1st s. of William Giles of Bowden. m. Agnes, at least 1s. Edward 1 da. suc. fa. 1557.

Offices Held


Giles was the grandson of John Giles, mayor of Totnes 1517-18, reputedly the wealthiest merchant in Devon. He was related to both the Savery and Blackaller families, and therefore to both sides in the disputes within the Totnes corporation. During the discord which followed the granting of the new charter in 1596, he supported the popular group of burgesses, who thrice unsuccessfully nominated him mayor. He was a persistent litigant both in Star Chamber and Chancery. In 1579 he was involved in a dispute about the appointment of a curate at Ashprington, where his father and grandfather had purchased ex-monastic lands, and ‘notorious disorders’ were investigated by the ecclesiastical commissioners. In 1588 his lands and goods were sequestered because he had failed to render his account as collector for the subsidy, but he later obtained restitution. He died in 1606, his will, dated 11 Feb. 1602, being proved 14 May 1607. He left his manor of Bowden and property in Totnes and elsewhere, together with beasts, plate and household goods, to his wife for life, and then to his heir Edward, the executor and residuary legatee. Several other manors went to his remaining sons, and small bequests to his daughter’s children, and to his servants and godchildren. He remembered the poor of Totnes, including the inmates of the almshouse. He was buried at Dean Prior, 30 Nov. 1606.

Roberts thesis; C142/107/10; PCC 44 Huddleston.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler