Virginia Governor William Branch Giles

Born near Amelia Court House in Amelia County, Virginia, on August 12, 1762, William Branch Giles was educated at Hampden-Sydney College and Princeton University and studied law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. He practiced law in Petersburg, Virginia, for five years, after which he was elected as an Anti-Federalist to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives. He went on to serve from 1790 to 1798 and again from 1801 to 1803, at which point he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. He went on to be reelected to the Senate, serving in all from 1804 to 1815. He retired to private life but returned to politics, first as an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the U.S. Senate and then as a successful candidate for the Virginia legislature. From that position, he assumed the office of governor after John Tyler, Jr. resigned. He was then elected by the state legislature to two one-year terms as governor in his own right. Giles died on his estate "The Wigwam" near Amelia Court House, Amelia County, Virginia, on December 4, 1830. He was interred in a private cemetery on his estate.

William Branch Giles was married twice - first to Martha Peyton Tabb in 1797. After she died in 1808, he married Frances Ann Gwynn in1810. His surviving children, one son and two daughters, appear to have been from the second marriage.


Anderson, Dice Robbins. William Branch Giles: A Study in the Politics of Virginia and the Nation from 1790 to 1830. Gloucester, MA: P. Smith. 1965 (c1914)

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress