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Compiled by Glenn Gohr

The Giles Family can be found in colonial Virginia during the 1600s and 1700s and is fairly well documented. However, for many years I have tried to determine the parentage of Mary (Giles) Harris, but still this line has stumped me. I have found some very interesting things since going on the internet. One reference says her maiden name most likely was WILLIS rather than GILES. The HARRIS-VA list on Rootsweb that I manage has been debating the maiden name of Mary Giles and has not come up with any conclusive answers.

In August 2001 I heard from Joe W. Giles regarding information he has been given on the background of Mary Giles. In correspondence with other researchers Joe has been told that Mary Giles who married William Harris, Gent., later married a Harding. If so, she was the only daughter of William Giles b. ca. 1650-d. 1690s in Henrico Co. and his wife Bethaniah Knowles, dau. of Capt. John Knowles and wife Mary Broadnax. This Mary Giles had brothers William, John (grandfather of Governor William Branch Giles), and Nicholas.

It would be great to find some original documentation on this line, rather than just family tradition which could possibly be in error.

The only printed genealogy I have been able to locate on the Giles family is:

Vinton, John Adams. The Giles Memorial: Genealogical Memoirs of the Families Bearing the Names of Giles, Gould, Holmes, Jennison, Leonard, Lindall, Curwen, Marshall, Robinson, Sampson, and Webb, also Genealogical Sketches of the Pool, Very, Tarr and Other Families, With a History of Pemaquid, Ancient and Modern, Some Account of Early Settlements in Maine, and Some Details of Indian Warfare. Boston: Printed for the author by Henry W. Dutton, 1864, 611 pgs.

Here is an excerpt from that book, pages 164-165:

“Tradition reports that a branch of the Giles family settled in Portsmouth, Virginia. Capt. Samuel Giles of Gloucester [254] on a certain voyage, had, as a passenger, an individual of this Giles family of Virginia, and learned from him that his own family and that of Capt. Giles, were originally one. But how much this information was worth, cannot now be ascertained.

“I copy the following from Allen’s Biographical Dictionary, for the information of my readers; though I do not think that the Giles family will derive any additional luster from so unsound a statesman, and so unscrupulous a politician.

“Giles, William Branch, governor of Virginia, was for many years a member of Congress. He was a Representative, as early as 1796. In 1802, he voted for the repeal of the judiciary law; and in 1812 he voted for the war. He was elected to the Senate in January, 1811, and resigned his office in October, 1815. He was again a candidate for election to the Senate, in 1825; but his rival, Mr. Randolph, was chosen. IN 1826, he was chosen Governor, and continued in office till 1829. He died at his residence, the Wigwam, in Amelia County, December 8, 1830, at an advanced age. He published a Speech on the embargo law, 1808; in November, 1813, Political Letters to the People of Virginia; a Series, signed A Constituent in the Richmond Enquirer of January, 1818, against the Plan for General Education; in April 1824, a singular Letter of Invective against President Monroe and Henry Clay for their ‘hobbies’—‘the South American Cause, the Greek Cause, International Improvements from the Tariff.’ In November, 1825, he addressed a Letter to Chief Justice Marshall, disclaiming the expressions, but not the general sentiments, in regard to Washington, ascribed to him in the Debate of 1796, in [Marshall’s] Life of Washington, V., 722.

“There is a Giles County in Virginia, and one in Tennessee.”

Here is my GILES lineage:

  1. Mary GILES, b. ca. 1675 VA, d. aft. 1757 Hanover Co., VA; md. bef. 1694 Henrico Co., VA to William HARRIS, Gent., b. ca. 1672 Henrico Co., VA, d. ca. 1743 Hanover Co., VA
  2. David HARRIS (brother of John Harris below), b. ca. 1701 Hanover Co., VA, d. aft. 1781 Hanover Co., VA; md. 1727 Hanover Co., VA to Jane HARRISON or LANDY (reported to be the widow of Mark Richardson), b. in VA, d. bef. 1760 Hanover Co., VA;

    John HARRIS (brother of David Harris above), b. ca. 1704 Hanover Co., VA, d. Dec. 1786 Hanover Co., VA; md. ca. 1738 Hanover Co., VA to Mary TINSLEY, b. ca. 1705 VA, d. bef. 1786 VA)
  3. Lewis HARRIS (son of David Harris and Jane Harrison or Landy), b. 1730 Hanover Co., VA, d. ca. June 1784 Prince Edward Co., VA; md. 1763 Hanover Co., VA to his first cousin, Elizabeth HARRIS (dau. of John Harris and Mary Tinsley), b. ca. 1744 Hanover Co., VA, d. summer 1818 Prince Edward Co., VA
  4. Gideon HARRIS, b. 30 July 1772 Prince Edward Co., VA, d. 26 Oct. 1860 Marshall Co., TN; md. 25 Dec. 1805 Prince Edward Co., VA to Martha Taylor GILLIAM, b. 3 Feb. 1786 Goochland Co., VA, d. 14 May 1860 Marshall Co., TN (both buried in Harris Family Cemetery in Marshall Co., TN)
  5. Gideon Lindsey HARRIS, b. 12 Dec. 1813 Wilson Co., TN, d. 11 March 1896 McNairy Co., TN (buried at Mars Hill Cemetery, McNairy Co., TN); md. 22 Nov. 1831 Maury Co., TN to Lucy Elizabeth LEDBETTER, b. 14 Dec. 1814 Chatham Co., NC, d. 11 April 1856 McNairy Co., TN (buried Ledbetter Cemetery, Hardin Co., TN)
  6. William Ashley HARRIS, b. 19 May 1849 Hardin Co., TN, d. 12 Mar. 1916 McNairy Co., TN; md. 18 Oct. 1868 McNairy Co., TN to Sarah Agatha LITTLEFIELD, b. 28 Oct. 1849 Jonesborough, Tippah Co., MS, d. 7 Feb. 1940 Leapwood, McNairy Co., TN (both buried at Mars Hill Cemetery, McNairy Co., TN)
  7. James David HARRIS, b. 9 Jan. 1871 McNairy Co., TN, d. 22 Sept. 1938 Marlow, Stephens Co., OK; md. 28 Oct. 1894 McNairy Co., TN to Docia Bell PYRON, b. 5 Oct. 1872 McNairy Co., TN, d. 1 Sept. 1944 Lyford, Willacy Co., TX
  8. William Earl HARRIS, b. 8 Aug. 1895 McNairy Co., TN, d. 5 Jan. 1967 Cortez, Montezuma Co., CO; md. 12 Dec. 1915 Parker Co., TX to Orpha Antonia Hazel GARVIN, b. 11 Nov. 1895 Jack Co., TX, d. 21 Dec. 1979 Cortez, Montezuma Co., CO *These are my grandparents.


If you have queries concerning the GILES surname, you may post these at the Giles Family Genealogy List which is a part of the Rootsweb e-mail discussion lists. It offers free queries and discussion on the Giles surname and variant spellings.

To subscribe, send an e-mail to:
Leave subject line blank (This will be ignored).
In the body of the message type: subscribe

Then a welcome message will be sent telling how to post messages. Once you are subscribed, you may send a query to everyone on the list by sending e-mail to:

Archived postings to the Giles e-mail list can be found on the WEB at:

When prompted, type in GILES for the name of the list. A second screen will appear where you can choose a year and type in a search word(s). If you type in GILES you would probably get all the previous postings to the list. You can also type in a person's name instead or a locality to narrow your search. If you wish to do a search by date, try entering it in quotation marks with the day and then the month as "01 Mar" using single digit dates preceded by a zero and only the first three letter of the month.


There are several Message Boards on Rootsweb which are set up for the GILES surname. These boards are for posting information in the following categories: BIBLE, BIOGRAPHY, BIRTH, CEMETERY, CENSUS, DEATH, DEED, IMMIGRATION, LOOKUP, MARRIAGE, MILITARY, OBITUARY, PENSION, QUERIES, and WILLS. The search perameters and drop down screen on the main page allow you to do a key word search or to view all postings according to one of the above categories. Click on the icon below to access the Giles Message Boards.

Query Post a query (or information from any one of the above categories) on any GILES name or related family. Please give dates, and locations they lived. Try to give as much information as possible.

An online genealogy forum for posting queries has also been set up specifically for the GILES family. It can be found at the following address:

***Note***During the Fall of 1998, GenForum combined with Family Tree Maker, which means that all queries and information posted to that site becomes the property of Family Tree Maker. This is still a good site to look up information and get contact names for the GILES lines you are searching, but be advised that if you now post a new query or a response to something on that site, chances are that sometime in the future Family Tree Maker will include that information on a CD-ROM which they will sell for profit to anyone who is interested. I do not like the idea of someone else using my hard researched information and ideas and selling them for a profit without my knowledge. This same practice is evident on all of the Family Tree Maker pages which are found on the internet, if you will read the disclaimer notices on those pages. I recommend the Family Tree Maker pages as good look up pages, but I don't recommend posting information there. Similar things can be said for and which are connected to each other and seek to make a profit from genealogical materials on the internet.

Copyright © 1998-2005.

Last updated April 1, 2005.

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