Giles, Thomas (1819-1869)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Alfred Kitson

Was born at Bishopston, in Wiltshire, in the year 1820. Blessed with a pious mother, he enjoyed a sense of sin forgiven at the early age of seven; but being left destitute of pious instruction by the death of his mother, while he was yet young, he unhappily wandered from the path of virtue and fell. But the good Spirit never left him; for often on returning from scenes of unlawful mirth, he was so alarmed at the thought of sins committed, that he was afraid to go to sleep. Yet against these keen convictions he continued to strive until the year 1838, when he yielded; and yielding, was led back in deep penitence to the cross, where by faith in the Crucified, he was restored to the favour of God, and the peace he had lost, which he now retained to the day of his death.

Conscious of Divine sonship, he at once performed a felt duty in joining the Primitive Methodists, and was an ornament to the feeble society where he dwelt. Observing his consistency, and perceiving in him indications of usefulness, the officials of the Farringdon circuit soon called him to labour in the Lord’s vineyard as a local preacher. In this capacity Mr. Giles laboured with great acceptance and success. Frequently he spent the greater part of the night preceding his appointment in prayer; then walked many miles; preached the life-giving word in the power of the Spirit. As a necessary result, many sinners were converted to God. Usefulness in this sphere led those by whom he had been called into it to believe that his usefulness would increase in a wider sphere. Consequently, in the year 1845, the officials above-named called him out to labour as a home missionary in the village adjoining the Farringdon circuit. Here his labours were abundant and hard; but through a change made between the Farringdon and Mitcheldever stations, he was removed towards the close of the year to the latter from the former, and was soon on the Hampshire mission field. There he endured a great fight of bitter persecution; but he was not a man to be intimidated by a little. Having entered the ranks of Emmanuel, he knew nothing of desertion or retreat. Onward to battle, victory, and glory, was his motto. And when mortals frowned and devils raged, taking faster hold on the arm Omnipotent, onward he marched triumphant in God, scattering blessings on every hand. And in the great decisive day many we believe will be proved the fruit of his toil and suffering on earth, and the crown of his rejoicing in heaven.

After this, he laboured on the Andover, Pillawell, Pontypool, Redruth, St. Ives, Chippenham, Grimsby, Spilsby, and Driffield stations. By the Conference of 1863, he was stationed for Tadcaster as superintendent; the wisdom of which appointment, and his adaptability for the superintendency, were fully proved by the prosperity of the station generally, especially by the erection of, and leaving in easy circumstances, the noble sanctuary which now adorns the above town, and honours both the man and the Connexion.

After two years of successful labour on the Tadcaster station, Mr. Giles was removed thence to the Market Rasen circuit, where he spent the last four years of his ministry with perhaps greater success and esteem than in any of his stations. Here he has left behind two splendid chapels and many friends in proof of his worth. The Hull District Meeting of 1869 appointed him to Alford, but God ordered otherwise. For on June 2nd, 1869, after preaching at Grasby with good liberty, from Exodus xxxiii. 18, he proceeded alone towards his home, and nothing more was seen of him till about an hour after, when he was found by the wayside quite dead, without the least signs of violence, struggle, or pain. His death is believed to have resulted from over-exertion. Thus were eminently fulfilled the poet’s words:—

“Oh that without a lingering groan,
I may the welcome word receive;
My body with my charge lay down,
And cease at once to work and live.”

The shock of the report of his death spread right throughout the circuit, yea, and far beyond; and friends from the town and all parts of the station, manifested their sense of the worth of the departed, by following, June 5th, the mortal remains to the Market Rasen Cemetery, where the sleeping dust awaits the resurrection of the just. The Rev. C. Kendall, kindly sent by Conference, read the burial service, and delivered a suitable address at the grave with great efficiency and impressiveness. The Rev. S. Hutton, Wesleyan, offered up a very appropriate petition. A. Kitson gave out part of a hymn, which was sung with deep emotion. A solemn awe rested on the whole assembly, and the whole proceedings terminated with such solemnity and order, as are seldom witnessed on occasions otherwise similar.

The melancholy event brought an unusually large number of brethren together at the June Quarterly Meeting, where much of the presence and power of God were felt, and a minute was passed expressive of resignation to God under this afflictive providence, and of sympathy with the bereaved widow and son of the departed. Sympathy which was further manifested in a practical form and liberal subscription, for which the bereaved widow tenders her most hearty thanks to all concerned.

At the same meeting, the writer was requested to improve the mysterious event wherever practicable on the station. This he has since done with good effect, manifest in the salvation of souls, To God be all the glory!

Mr. Giles was a man not brilliant, but useful; not of shining talents, but illustrious grace; not polished in expression, but sound in doctrine and warm in affection; not below, but rather above, the ordinary standard of intellect, which only needed cultivation to have made him a giant in Israel.

He was an affectionate husband, a loving parent, a faithful minister, a colleague, exceedingly kind, an ardent lover of the Connexion of his choice, a true Christian, and a friend to all mankind. 

Through all his Christian career, he was the subject of keen temptation, so keen that he frequently wrestled with God for three or four hours successively before he got the victory. But wrestle he did, and the victory he has now eternally gained. Now he is “where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are for ever at rest.”

The earnest prayer of the writer is, that he, with the bereaved widow and son, and all who knew and loved the departed on earth, may meet him again in heaven, “where God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”


Thomas was baptised on 17 October 1819 at St Mary, Bishopstone, Wiltshire. His parents were John, who worked the land, and Anne.

Thomas worked the land before entering the ministry.

He married Mercy Bugden (1806-1880) in late 1847 at Shaftsbury, Dorset. Census returns identify one child.

John Thomas (1850-1922) – a PM minister 1872-6; later a PM lay minister (1901 & 1911)

John died in January 1869 at Market Rasen, Lincolnshire.


  • 1843 Farringdon
  • 1844 Bishop Waltham
  • 1846 Andover
  • 1848 Pilowell
  • 1850 Pontypool
  • 1851 Redruth
  • 1852 Falmouth
  • 1854 St Ives
  • 1856 Chippenham
  • 1857 Grimsby
  • 1859 Spilsby
  • 1860 Spilsby & Wainfleet
  • 1861 Driffield
  • 1863 Tadcaster
  • 1865 Market Rasen


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1870/168

PM Minutes 1869/7

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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