GILES, Daniel (1761-1831), of Youngsbury, nr. Ware, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - 1807
25 Jan. 1809 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 1761, o.s. of Daniel Giles, dir. Bank of England, of Youngsbury by Elizabeth née Messman. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1777; Hertford, Oxf. BA 1781, MA 1784; L. Inn 1784, called 1792. unm. suc. fa. 1800.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Herts. 1816-17.

Commdt. Standon vols.


Giles’s grandparents were protestant immigrants from Caen. His father, a London merchant, rose to be governor of the Bank of England and purchased the Youngsbury estate for £30,000 in 1795. He contributed £20,000 to the loyalty loan of 1797 but, in his official capacity, resisted Pitt’s continual demand for advances to government from the Bank. He died worth about £170,000. Giles, his chief beneficiary, was then a barrister practicing in King’s bench and occasionally on circuit. It seems that he continued special pleading until about 1813. His reputation was that of ‘a pleasant, hospitable bachelor’.1

Giles was a paying guest of the dowager Duchess of Dorset in the Parliaments of 1802 and 1806: perhaps he purchased for five years. His associations were Whig and he voted for inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s finances, 4 Mar., as well as for Fox’s proposal for a council of general officers, 2 Aug. 1803. On 7 June he had attempted to amend the Election Bribery Act with respect to the oath and on 12 July carried a clause he proposed for the justices’ bill to enable juries to assess costs as well as damages. Sunday training seemed to him to cheat the employers of trainees of their labour. He took exception to the volunteer exemption bill which he thought a breach of faith towards the volunteers, but approved it as amended by the Lords, 13, 19 Dec. 1803. He did not vote against Addington as his ministry crumbled, but was listed Foxite in March, May and September 1804. He voted against Pitt’s additional force bill, though apparently not until 15 June 1804, and tried to amend the Irish version of it, 6 July. He objected to permanent purchase of land for the Ordnance, 12 July. On 17 July he found fault with the Additional Force Act and the volunteer officers bill; he moved for papers to show the failure of the former, 19 Feb., 3 Apr. 1805. He voted with the minorities on defence, 21 Feb. and 6 Mar., and described the militia enlisting bill as a ministerial admission of failure, 28 Mar., 1 Apr. 1805.

On 31 Jan. 1805 Giles was met with silence when he asked for an assurance that the ministry would continue the commission of naval inquiry; on 1 Mar. he moved its continuation. Pitt brushed the motion aside as unnecessary and it was lost by 92 votes to 75. On 8 Apr. and 12 June he voted for the censure and criminal prosecution of Melville, being appointed on 27 May to the investigatory committee and on 26 June to the management committee of Melville’s impeachment. Meanwhile he had failed in a bid to assimilate the terms of reference of the commission on military expenditure to that of the naval commission, by 90 votes to 42, 16 May. He shepherded in a bill to extend to the whole kingdom the Act to prevent bank-note and bill of exchange forgery, which passed on 4 July. On 7 Mar. 1806 Whitbread credited him with a fresh article of impeachment showing that Melville had misappropriated £27,000 of public money in addition to the £10,000 already charged against him. He spoke several times that session as a manager of the impeachment. With his friends in power, he voted for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806: but he did not always see eye to eye with them. He thought it unjust to tax malt brewers and not cider makers, 19 May. He disliked Windham’s training bill, but acted as teller for it when it was explained to him, 26 June, 3 July. He objected to proceedings to expel John Fenton Cawthorne*. On 16 Feb. 1807 he neatly exposed the error in Castlereagh’s counter-plan of finance. He voted for Brand’s motion following the dismissal of the Grenville ministry, 9 Apr. In March he had taken over from Bankes, who objected to their hurry, the chair of the finance committee and was reading their first report when Parliament was prorogued, 27 Apr. The committee lost a ‘most valuable man’ when he could not find a seat at the ensuing election.2

The Whigs imagined that Giles would purchase a seat as soon as possible. Francis Horner* reported, 31 Oct. 1807, that Giles had declined one at £4,000-£5,000, because he was ‘engaged’. Lord Grey asked Tierney, 8 Nov., if Giles would pay 4,500 guineas for a seat he had got wind of. Tierney reported, 12 Nov.:

I had a note from Giles today to say that he had been deceived about a bargain he thought he had concluded and desiring me to find him a place with a guarantee for time. This I cannot do, but I will state to him tomorrow what there is in the market.3

A vacancy occurred at St. Albans in January 1809 and Giles got in after a contest. He was spared the petition threatened by his opponent, but it was not a secure seat and he had at first no objection to giving it up to one of Lord Melbourne’s sons, if desired. In the House he joined opposition to the convention of Cintra, 21 Feb. 1809, and to the Duke of York, 17 Mar. He objected to the militia completion bill, 24 Mar., 13 Apr., and took the sense of the House against the ballot as a mode of recruitment, 18 Apr. He voted for both the moderate and the radical motions alleging ministerial corruption, 25 Apr., 11 May.

On 1 Feb. 1810 he was given leave for a bill to extend the validity of bankers’ bills. The Whigs rightly regarded him as one of their stalwarts that session: he opposed the conduct of the Scheldt expedition throughout, and the treatment meted out to Burdett and Gale Jones, 5, 16 Apr., though he disliked the tone of Burdett’s letter to the Speaker. He voted for parliamentary reform, 21 May, but could not be rallied to an extra-parliamentary meeting to promote constitutional reform in March 1811. He was a critic of the Regency proposals, 23 Jan. 1811, and of the Irish secretary’s treatment of the Catholics, 22 Feb. On 8 Mar. and 1 Apr. he objected to the militia enlistment plan. Although he was inactive for the rest of that session, he warned Lady Melbourne, who now wanted his seat for her son William, that he did not mean to relinquish it, as he did not hold it ‘as a mere tenant for another’.4 In the session of 1812 he supported economical reform. He was placed on the civil list committee, 10 Feb., but washed his hands of it when its powers were curtailed. He voted with opposition on Ireland, 4 Feb., and for Catholic relief on 24 Apr.; for Turton’s censure motion, 27 Feb.; spoke and voted against the bank-note bill, 26 Mar., 10 Apr.; was teller against the orders in council, 3 Mar., and against McMahon’s appointment as secretary to the Regent, 14 Apr.; supported Stuart Wortley’s motion for a stronger administration, 21 May; opposed (as he had previously on 12 Mar. 1805) the agricultural horse tax, which he attempted to throw out, 29 June; objected to the leather tax, 26 June, 1 July; and opposed the preservation of the peace bill, which he tried to amend, 16 July.

Giles was pessimistic about his prospects at St. Albans in 1812 and had to be persuaded to persevere: even so he was defeated by a ministerialist, while his Whig colleague Halsey headed the poll. It does not appear that he sought re-election: he had recently extended his Hertfordshire estate by the purchase of Thundridgebury. He joined Brooks’s Club on 10 Mar. 1815. He died 27 Dec. 1831, requesting his heirs (his nephews and nieces) to take the name of Giles in memory of his father. The trustees were two stalwart Hertfordshire Whigs, Lord Dacre ( Thomas Brand*) and Nicolson Calvert*.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Cussans, Herts. Braughing, 172; Oracle, 27 Oct. 1795; Sir J. Clapham, Bank of England, i. 195, 267; The Times, 12 July 1800; Farington, iii. 219; Warrenne Blake, Irish Beauty, 50.
  • 2. Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lowther, 24 Jan. 1807; Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, iv. 186.
  • 3. Horner mss 3, f. 207; Hants RO, Tierney mss 33c; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 12 Nov. 1807; HMC Fortescue, ix. 150.
  • 4. Lady Airlie, In Whig Society, 120-5.
  • 5. Spencer mss, Harrison to Spencer, 1 Oct. 1812; Gent. Mag. (1832), i. 82; PCC 84 Tenterden.