Milles, Thomas (1671-1740) (DNB00)


MILLES, THOMAS (1671–1740), bishop of Waterford, eldest son of Isaac Milles the elder [q. v.], was born at Barley, Hertfordshire, on 19 June 1671. He matriculated at Wadham College, Oxford, on 12 March 1689, was exhibitioner of the college in 1691–2, and graduated B.A. in 1692, M.A. in 1695, and B.D. in 1704.

Having been ordained by Bishop Hough, he became chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1694, and was from 1695 to 1707 vice-principal of St. Edmund Hall. According to Wood (Antiq. Oxon., ed. Gutch, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 855) he was appointed regius professor of Greek in 1705; but Le Neve (Fasti Eccles. iii. 516) gives the date of his nomination as 8 Feb. 1706–7. In April 1707 he accompanied to Ireland as chaplain the new lord-lieutenant, Thomas Herbert, earl of Pembroke, and on 11 March 1708 was appointed bishop of Waterford and Lismore. He was consecrated in St. Patrick's, Dublin, on 18 April.

Milles's appointment was unpopular in Ireland. On 28 Feb. 1708 Archbishop King wrote to Swift: ‘You will not expect from me any account of how it [the appointment] is relished here. Some say if General Laureston had been primate it would not have been so.’ On 7 Jan. 1720 Swift wrote to Dr. Charlet: ‘I do not wonder at the Bishop of Waterford appearing among the Sorbonne doctors. I do not hear that he showed his crucifix that he wears continually at his breast. He is one you sent us, and you must answer for him’ (Mant, History of the Irish Church, ii. 98).

Archbishop King, in a letter of 29 Dec. 1725, charged Milles with not only giving ‘all livings of value in his gift to brothers and relations, but likewise his vicar-generalship and registry, tho' none of them reside in the kingdom’ (ib. ii. 445, cf. art. Isaac Milles). As bishop, Milles is said to have taken great pains in restoring decayed churches and to have contributed liberally from his own purse to the work.

After an episcopate of more than forty years he died of the stone at Waterford on 13 May 1740, and was buried in the cathedral. He was unmarried, and left his property to his nephew Jeremiah [q. v.], afterwards dean of Exeter.

Milles was a man of considerable learning. In 1703 he published while at Oxford a valuable folio edition of the works of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, with Greek and Latin notes; and in addition to some controversial tracts and sermons (see Harris's edition of Ware's History of Ireland) he was author of:

  1. ‘The Natural Immortality of the Soul asserted and proved from Scripture and the first Fathers, in answer to Mr. Dodwell,’ Oxford, 1707, 8vo; 2nd ed. 1726.
  2. ‘De Officio eorum qui de Fide certant; concio coram Acad. Oxon.’ 1707, 4to.

An ‘Account of the Life and Conversation of Isaac Milles of Highcleer [his father],’ London, 1721, 8vo, is also attributed to him (Halkett and Laing, Dict. of Anonymous and Pseudon. Lit. col. 22).

[The Life of Isaac Milles is the only authority which states accurately Thomas Milles's parentage. Besides the works mentioned above, see Cotton's Fasti Eccles. Hibern. i. 13, 14, v. 20; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Chalmers's Biog. Dict. art. ‘Jeremiah Milles;’ Gent. Mag. 1740, p. 262; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.