Miles, John William (1817–1878)

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Miles, John William (1817–1878)

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The third son of Philip John Miles (1773–1845), John William Miles was born into an influential Bristolian mercantile and banking family. After being educated at Eton and Oxford University, Miles worked in the family banking firm of Miles, Miles, Harford, Miles & Miles (1752-1877). He was involved in many of the industrial developments of the time; holding the position of director, at one time vice-chairman, of the Great Western Railway, a director of the Great Western Cotton Company, South Wales Union railway, and director of the Great Western Steamship Co; the SS Great Britain was registered in his co-ownership. He was also a member of the Bristol Docks committee and sat on the city’s council.

Miles was involved in the aborted Serrell scheme to finish Clifton Suspension Bridge, becoming chairman and treasurer of the Management Committee formed for that purpose in 1857.

In 1868 he followed his brother and father into politics, becoming elected as a conservative MP for Bristol in April; however, the closely fought by-election was declared void within two months when Miles was charged with bribery and impersonation. After failing to be re-elected in the following General Election of November 1868, Miles turned his attentions to improving the agricultural progress of the family's Kings Weston estate. He died at Penpole House in 1878 and never married.


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