Jeremiah Milles

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Portrait of Milles, c. 1765 - 1780, attributed to Nathaniel Dance-Holland, collection of the Society of Antiquaries Jeremiah Milles DanceH.jpg
Portrait of Milles, c. 1765 – 1780, attributed to Nathaniel Dance-Holland, collection of the Society of Antiquaries
Jeremiah Milles as Dean of Exeter, with Exeter Cathedral in the background: watercolour portrait by John Downman, 1785 JeremiahIIMilles ByJohnDownmanNPG.png
Jeremiah Milles as Dean of Exeter, with Exeter Cathedral in the background: watercolour portrait by John Downman, 1785
Canting arms of Milles of Cockfield, Suffolk: Argent, a chevron between three millrinds sable. Visible in the portrait by George Vertue of Rev. Isaac Milles (1638-1720), Vicar of Highclere; and on the hatchment of Jeremiah Milles (d. 1797) in Sawbridgeworth church, Hertfordshire. MillesArms2.PNG
Canting arms of Milles of Cockfield, Suffolk: Argent, a chevron between three millrinds sable. Visible in the portrait by George Vertue of Rev. Isaac Milles (1638–1720), Vicar of Highclere; and on the hatchment of Jeremiah Milles (d. 1797) in Sawbridgeworth church, Hertfordshire.

Rev. Jeremiah Milles FSA (1714–1784) [2] was President of the Society of Antiquaries and Dean of Exeter between 1762 and 1784. He carried out much internal renovation in Exeter Cathedral. [3] As part of his antiquarian research into the history of the parishes of Devon he pioneered the use of the research questionnaire, which resulted in the "Dean Milles' Questionnaire", which survives as a valuable source of historical information.

Society of Antiquaries of London British learned society for archaeologists

The Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) is a learned society "charged by its Royal Charter of 1751 with 'the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries'." It is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, and is a registered charity.

Dean of Exeter

The Dean of Exeter is the head of the Chapter of Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Exeter, England. The chapter was established by William Briwere, Bishop of Exeter (1224–44) who set up the offices of dean and chancellor of Exeter Cathedral, allowing the chapter to elect those officers. The deanery is at 10 The Close, Exeter. The current dean is Jonathan Greener.

Exeter Cathedral Church in Devon, United Kingdom

Exeter Cathedral, properly known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Exeter, is an Anglican cathedral, and the seat of the Bishop of Exeter, in the city of Exeter, Devon, in South West England. The present building was complete by about 1400, and has several notable features, including an early set of misericords, an astronomical clock and the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England.



Jeremiah Milles' father was Rev. Jeremiah Milles (1675–1746), who was a fellow and tutor at Balliol College, Oxford from 1696 to 1705; became Rector of Riseholm, Lincolnshire in 1704; and was rector of Duloe, Cornwall for 42 years from 1704 until his death. The elder Jeremiah was the son of Rev. Isaac Milles (1638–1720), vicar of Highclere, Hampshire, who was considered the model parish priest of his age – there is a monument to him in Highclere Church. [lower-alpha 2] Isaac Milles' eldest son was Thomas Milles (1671–1740), Church of Ireland Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. Jeremiah Milles was his nephew and heir.

Duloe, Cornwall village and civil parish in Cornwall, England

Duloe is a village and civil parish in England, United Kingdom. It is situated approximately four miles (6 km) south of Liskeard at grid reference SX 233 585. The village of Herodsfoot and the hamlets of Churchbridge, Highercliff, Milcombe, Tredinnick, Trefanny Hill, Tregarlandbridge and Tregarrick Mill are also in the parish. The manors of Brodbane, Trenant, Lanwarnick, Killigorick and Tremadart are mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086).

Isaac Milles English cleric

Isaac Milles or Mills was an English cleric, often described as the model parish priest of that day.

Highclere village in Hampshire

Highclere is a village and civil parish situated in the North Wessex Downs in the Basingstoke and Deane district of Hampshire, England. It lies in the northern part of the county, near the Berkshire border. It is most famous for being the location of Highclere Castle, a noted Victorian house of the Earl of Carnarvon. It is the setting for numerous films and TV series, including Downton Abbey.

Milles was educated at Eton College and matriculated in 1729 as a gentleman-commoner at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (BA 1733, MA 1735, BD and DD 1747). [2] In 1733 he went on his first grand tour of Europe visiting France and Italy with his cousin, the Rev. Dr. Richard Pococke, anthropologist, travel writer and diarist, later Bishop of Ossory and Meath. The two returned from their travels in 1734 earlier than planned to allow Milles to take up Holy Orders and to assume the position of Treasurer of Lismore Cathedral, in the Diocese of their mutual uncle, Thomas Milles, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore.

Eton College Independent boarding school in Windsor and Maidenhead, UK

Eton College is a 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire, England. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore , as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school. Eton's history and influence have made Eton one of the most prestigious schools in the world.

Matriculation entering a university

Matriculation is the formal process of entering a university, or of becoming eligible to enter by fulfilling certain academic requirements such as a matriculation examination.

Corpus Christi College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

Corpus Christi College, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1517, it is the 12th oldest college in Oxford.

Two years later Rev. Milles and Dr. Pococke set out on their second grand tour, this time visiting the Low Countries, Germany, Austria, Poland & Hungary. Milles returned alone in 1737 to attend the bishop, who was suffering from "the Gravel" (gallstones), leaving his cousin to continue his voyage to the East. Detailed accounts of their travels survive in a large collection of letters to Bishop Milles and Mrs. Pococke, as well as in a number of note-books, all in the British Library. Pococke published his travels in his pioneering book, A Description of the East (1743 & 1745), and the correspondence of the two cousins was published in 2011. [lower-alpha 3]

British Library National library of the United Kingdom

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world by number of items catalogued. It is estimated to contain 170–200 million+ items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. The Library is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

On 29 May 1745 Milles married Edith Potter, the youngest daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury John Potter (c. 1674 – 1747). [4] Their children included Jeremiah (1751–1797), DL and Sheriff of Hertfordshire (1786). [lower-alpha 4]

Archbishop of Canterbury Senior bishop of the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.

John Potter (bishop) Archbishop of Canterbury

John Potter was Archbishop of Canterbury (1737-1747).

The High Sheriff of Hertfordshire was an ancient Sheriff title originating in the time of the Angles, not long after the invasion of the Kingdom of England, which was in existence for around a thousand years. On 1 April 1974, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972, the title of Sheriff of Hertfordshire was retitled High Sheriff of Hertfordshire. The High Shrievalties are the oldest secular titles under the Crown in England and Wales, their purpose being to represent the monarch at a local level, historically in the shires.


Milles became Precentor of Exeter in 1747 and in June 1762 Dean of Exeter, in succession to Dr Charles Lyttelton (1714–1768), who had been elected in 1762 Bishop of Carlisle. Lyttelton was President of the Society of Antiquaries, and had started a period of renovation of the fabric of Exeter Cathedral. Milles continued the work with great vigour. He succeeded Lyttelton also as President of the Society of Antiquaries from 1768 until his death on 13 February 1784.

Charles Lyttelton (bishop) British bishop

Charles Lyttelton (1714–1768) was an English churchman and antiquary from the Lyttelton family, who served as Bishop of Carlisle from 1762 to 1768 and President of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1765 to 1768.

Bishop of Carlisle Diocesan bishop in the Church of England

The Bishop of Carlisle is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Carlisle in the Province of York.

Milles completed the renovation of the choir and presbytery planned by his predecessor, and laid new paving in the choir and fitted new wainscotting and choir stalls. These were later removed by Sir Gilbert Scott, and parts remain in the Deanery. In 1763 Milles removed the grave-stones of former bishops and canons from the floor of the choir and replaced them scattered throughout the aisles to replace worn paving. He was careful to be present when workmen lifted the slabs but nevertheless did not observe one of them slipping into his pocket a sapphire ring found in a coffin. The sharp-eyed bell-toller informed him of the theft and Milles wrote to Lyttleton about the incident: "The workmen I daresay took me for a conjuror for I told them there was a ring taken out of the grave, that they must produce it, and the guilty person immediately drew it out of his pocket".[ citation needed ] It is now in the collection of the Cathedral Library.

His next project was the re-glazing of the great west window with armorial glass made by William Peckitt of York between 1764 and 1767. The glass was removed in 1904 but some was replaced in the windows of the cloister room in 1922. He ordered much cleaning, colouring, gilding and varnishing in the 1770s and painted the magnificent Bishop's Throne in 1777. He donated three velvet cushions and a new Bible and Book of Common Prayer for use at the altar. In 1772 he had most of the old church plate melted down and re-made, but spared a pair of 1629 flagons and 1693 candlesticks from his renovation. In 1777 he added new pews to the nave to cater for the growing congregations. He was succeeded by Dean Buller. [10]

Parochial Questionnaire

In 1753 when still a prebendary of Exeter [11] he sent out a questionnaire to all parishes of the diocese of Exeter, in Devon, generally known as "Dean Milles' Questionnaire" or "Dean Milles' Parochial Questionnaire", the returns to which formed the basis for his "Parochial Collections for Devon" or "A Parochial History of Devon", compiled in 1755, [12] but never published by him as a book as he had intended. [13] The 120 numbered questions on two folio sheets [11] were very detailed and varied, and concerned the history of the parish and manors within it, the armorials of the leading families, the geology, archaeological remains, colleges, hospitals, agriculture, etc. 15 questions concerned the parish church itself, including descriptions of ancient monuments. The answers were generally supplied by the parish priest or occasionally by the schoolmaster, as for example at Pilton. The 263 returns he received, equating to a 57% response, he bound together with his annotations on each parish into five volumes arranged alphabetically by parish [11] and these form valuable historical records. [14]

Milles' manuscripts were purchased by the Bodleian Library at Sotheby's in 1843 for £90. [2] The original bound returns are in the Bodleian Library, catalogued as "MSS. Top. Devon b. 1–7, c. 6, c. 8–17, c. 19, e. 7–8, Title: Milles Devonshire Manuscripts". [2] [lower-alpha 5] A microfilm copy of the returned questionnaires and a second series of "parochial collections" is in the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter. [15]


Milles was a pioneer of the circulated questionnaire, and until the end of the eighteenth century was the most successful user of the technique as a research tool. [11] Milles had been a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London since 1741, and it was possibly from his example[ citation needed ] that James Theobald, the Society's president, proposed the production by the Society of its own questionnaire on natural and civil history "Whereby such gentlemen of learning and industry as should be disposed to promote usefull and entertaining researches of those kinds, might be directed in their choice of materials, and the Society reap the fruits of their labours and knowledge". In June 1754 he read out at the Society a pamphlet entitled "Queries Proposed to Gentlemen in the Several Parts of Great Britain, In hope of obtaining, from their Answers, a better Knowledge of its Antiquities and Natural History". [11]


Matching portraits of Milles' son, Jeremiah Milles (1751–1797) and his wife Rose Gardiner (1757–1835), heiress of Pishiobury, Hertfordshire, painted by George Romney c. 1780 – 83
  1. This portrait was donated to the Society of Antiquaries in 1883 by Major General Thomas Milles. The Society also possesses a copy by Mary Black, commissioned by the Earl of Leicester, FSA (later Marquess Townshend), 1787. [1]
  2. Isaac Milles, Jeremiah Milles grandfather, was the youngest son of Thomas Milles of Carrington's Farm, Cockfield, Suffolk. [4]
  3. Letters from Abroad: The Grand Tour Correspondence of Richard Pococke & Jeremiah Milles. Volume 1, Letters from the Continent (1733–34); Volume 2, Letters from the Continent (1736–37); Volume 3, Letters from the East (1737–41). Finnegan, Rachel (Ed.). Published by Pococke Press (2011, 2012 & 2013 respectively). [5]
  4. Milles' son, Jeremiah Milles (1751–1797) married Rose Gardiner (1757–1835) (whose memorial tablet exists in St Mary's Church, Sawbridgeworth), who was the daughter and heiress of Edward Gardiner (died 1779) of Pishiobury House, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire. [4] The younger Jeremiah rebuilt the house in 1782–4 to the designs of James Wyatt, and it was illustrated in Neale's Views of Seats. [6] His white marble mural monument by John Ternouth of Pimlico (1795–1849), showing a Grecian-style female figure in mourning, [7] together with his hatchment with an inescutcheon of pretence showing the arms of Gardiner, Or, a chevron gules between three griffin's heads erased azure langued gules, [8] is in St Mary's Church, Sawbridgeworth. A pair of portraits of the couple painted circa 1780–83 by George Romney exists in the collection of the Huntington Library Art Gallery, California. Their only son Thomas Gardiner Milles died an infant in 1786 and their sole heiress became their daughter Rose Milles (died 1824) who in 1810 married Rowland Alston (b.1782), MP for Hertfordshire 1835–41, second son of Thomas Alston (died 1823) of Odell Castle, Bedfordshire, nephew and heir of Sir Rowland Alston, 6th Baronet (died 1790). [9]
  5. Milles' notes based upon the replies are catalogued as "MS Top. Devon c.8–12". [11]

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  1. Black, Mary. "Jeremiah Milles (1714–1784) (copy after Nathaniel Dance-Holland)". Art UK . Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Milles Devonshire Manuscripts" Bodleian Library, Oxford. Accessed 26 November 2016.
  3. Ursula Radford (1955). "An Introduction to the Deans of Exeter". Report & Transactions of the Devonshire Association 87: 1–24
  4. 1 2 3 Pishiobury. Accessed 26 November 2016.[ unreliable source? ]
  5. Pococke Press Accessed 16 November 2016.
  6. Neale's Views of Seats, 1st ser. iv, 1821; (Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840 3rd ed. (1995):"James Wyatt")
  9. Burke's Landed Gentry, 1937, pp.28–29, pedigrees of Alston of Odell & Alston of The Tofte
  10. Hope, Vyvyan; Lloyd, John; Erskine, Audrey (1988) [1973]. Exeter Cathedral: A Short History & Description (revised ed.). Exeter. pp. 71–75.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Fox, Adam, Parochial Queries: Printed Questionnaires and the Pursuit of Natural:Knowledge in the British Isles, 1650–1800, Edinburgh University
  12. Williams, Michael Aufrère, Medieval English Roodscreens , PhD History Thesis, 2008, Exeter University
  13. Hoskins, W.G., A New Survey of England: Devon, London, 1959, p.97
  14. Reed, Margaret, Pilton its Past and its People, Barnstaple, 1977, pp.3–8
  15. Archived 16 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

Church of England titles
Preceded by
Charles Lyttelton
Dean of Exeter
Succeeded by
William Buller