Milles, Isaac (DNB00)

MILLES, ISAAC (1638–1720), divine, born on 19 Sept. 1638, was youngest son of Thomas Milles, esq., of Cockfield, near Bury, Suffolk. Of his elder brothers, Samuel, of Queens' College, Cambridge, was vicar of Royston, Hertfordshire, and John 'a very considerable tradesman' at Dedham, Essex. After spending seven years at King Edward VI's School, Bury, where Lord-keeper North was among his schoolfellows, Isaac was admitted at St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1656, and graduated M.A. in 1663. His tutor at Cambridge was Francis Turner, afterwards the nonjuring bishop of Ely, who was his lifelong friend. On leaving the university Milles took holy orders, and became curate in sole charge of Barley, Hertfordshire, the rector, Dr. Joseph Beaumont [q. v.], master of Peterhouse, being non-resident. In 1674, by the influence of his friend, Chief Baron Atkins, he obtained the vicarage of Chipping Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Here he made the acquaintance of Dodwell, and became intimate with Dr. Martin Lluelyn [q. v.], whose epitaph in Wycombe Church he wrote.

While at Cambridge he had met Edward Coleman [q. v.], Oates's victim, and seems to have read Coleman's letters to Père la Chaise before they were printed. He came to the conclusion that no popish plot existed, and gave offence by expressing his conviction to that effect in his sermons. It was only the reputation which his high character had won for him which saved him from prosecution.

In 1680 he was presented by Sir Robert Sawyer to the living of Highclere, Hampshire, where he remained till his death. Milles took pupils there, including the sons of Thomas Herbert, eighth earl of Pembroke [q. v.], the new proprietor of Highclere. Chief among his friends at this period were Dr. George Hooper, incumbent of East Woodhay and Ashmansworth, afterwards bishop of St. Asaph and Bath and Wells, and his successor at Woodhay, John Herne, canon of Windsor. For some time he had scruples about taking the oath of allegiance after the revolution. Turner the nonjuror appears to have persuaded him to do so.

Milles, a strong tory and high churchman, was a model parish priest. The parish register of Highclere describes him as 'for 39 years 2 months and 7 days the constant resident rector and pastor of this parish,' and records his 'primitive integrity and piety' and his charity to the poor. 'He never refused any of his neighbours that desired to borrow any money of him, leaving it to them to take their own time to repay it, without usury.' He laid out between 400l. and 500l. on the parsonage house and outhouses, but 'never exacted the utmost of his tithes.' He died of paralysis on 6 July 1720, and was buried on 9 July in the chancel of Highclere Church, where a black marble slab with a Latin inscription was put up to his memory by his children. A white marble monument with inscription was also placed by his eldest son on the north wall of the chancel. Bromley mentions a rare engraved portrait of him, signed by Vertue.

Milles married in 1670 Elizabeth Luckin of Springfield, Essex, who died of smallpox on 4 Jan. 1708. His eldest son, Thomas, bishop of Waterford, is separately noticed. Of his younger sons, Jeremiah Milles (1675-1746), fellow and tutor at Balliol College, Oxford, from 1696 to 1705, became rector of Riseholm, Lincolnshire, in 1704, and was rector of Duloe, Cornwall, from 1704 till his death; his son Jeremiah [q. v.] was dean of Exeter.

Another son, Isaac Milles the younger (fl. 1701-1727), B.A. of Balliol College 1696, graduated M.A. from Sidney Sussex, Cambridge, in 1701, was treasurer of the diocese of Waterford 21 May 1714, and prebendary of Lismore 6 Sept. 1716, but was non-resident, and carried on his father's school at Highclere. In 1727 he resigned his Irish benefices to become rector of Ludshelfe or Litchfield, Hampshire.

[The quaint Life of Isaac Milles, published in 1721, was written by or under the influence of Bishop Thomas Milles. With it is printed a funeral sermon by J. W., a neighbouring clergyman. In 1842 a duodecimo edition of the Life, summarised, and containing preface and some additional matter, with three illustrations, was published. See also Cotton's Fasti Eccles. Hibern. i. 23, 27, 56, 74; Grad. Cant.; and Foster's Alumni Oxon.]

G. Le G. N.