Miles, Henry (DNB00)

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MILES, HENRY, D.D. (1698–1763), dissenting minister and scientific writer, was born at Stroud, Gloucestershire, on 2 June 1698. He was educated for the dissenting ministry, probably in London. His first settlement was at Lower Tooting, Surrey, where he succeeded Francis Freeman (d. 17 Nov. 1726), a presbyterian. Miles was at this time an independent. He was ordained in 1731. In 1737, still retaining his Tooting charge, he became assistant to Samuel Chandler [q. v.], at the Old Jewry. From this time he ranked as a presbyterian. He held the double appointment till 1744, and for the rest of his life was minister at Tooting only, having John Beesley as his assistant from 1756. In 1743 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1744 he received the degree of D.D. from Aberdeen. His communications to the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ extend from 1741 to 1753, and relate to natural history, meteorology, and electricity, in which he made new experiments. He gave important assistance to Birch in his edition (1744) of the works of Robert Boyle [q. v.] To his pulpit work, for thirty years, he devoted two days a week, rising between two and three in the morning to write his sermons. He was a friend of Daniel Neal [q. v.], and Nathaniel Lardner [q. v.], and a correspondent of Philip Doddridge [q. v.], to whom he sent some criticisms of his ‘Family Expositor.’ In private life he bore the character of great amiability. He died on 10 Feb. 1763. His funeral sermon was preached by Philip Furneaux [q. v.] . His widow, Emma Miles (d. 1790), by deeds of 6 Oct. 1763 and 15 Feb. 1766, settled an endowment of 500l. on the ministry at Tooting, and conveyed the meeting-house to trustees for the use of dissenters of ‘the presbyterian or independent denomination.’ In 1880 the property became the subject of a chancery suit, which was decided on 1 March 1888 in favour of the independents.

[Furneaux's Funeral Sermon, 1763; Stedman's Letters to and from Doddridge, 1790; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808, ii. 384; Neal's Hist. of the Puritans, 1822, i. p. xxxi; Humphreys's Correspondence of Doddridge, 1830, vol. iii; Waddington's Surrey Congregational History, 1866, pp. 312 sq.; Attorney-General v. Anderson, 1888.]

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