William Fell Giles

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William Fell Giles
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
In office
July 18, 1853 – March 21, 1879
Appointed byFranklin Pierce
Preceded byJohn Glenn
Succeeded byThomas John Morris
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 4th district
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 3, 1847
Preceded byJohn P. Kennedy
Succeeded byRobert Milligan McLane
Personal details
William Fell Giles

(1807-04-08)April 8, 1807
Harford County, Maryland
DiedMarch 21, 1879(1879-03-21) (aged 71)
Baltimore, Maryland
Resting placeGreen Mount Cemetery
Baltimore, Maryland
Political partyDemocratic
Educationread law

William Fell Giles (April 8, 1807 – March 21, 1879) was a United States Representative from Maryland and later a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

Education and career[edit]

Born on April 8, 1807, in Harford County, Maryland,[1] Giles attended a private academy and the Bel Air Academy,[2] then read law in 1829.[1] Giles was admitted to the bar and entered private practice in Baltimore, Maryland from 1829 to 1837, in 1839, from 1841 to 1844, and from 1847 to 1853.[1] He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1838 and 1840.[1]

Other service[edit]

Giles was an officer of the American Colonization Society for more than thirty years, and for more than twenty years one of the commissioners of the State of Maryland supervising the emigration of free blacks to Liberia.[2]

Congressional service[edit]

Giles was elected as a Democrat from Maryland's 4th congressional district to the United States House of Representatives of the 29th United States Congress, serving from March 4, 1845, to March 3, 1847.[2] He declined to be a candidate for renomination.[2]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Giles received a recess appointment from President Franklin Pierce on July 18, 1853, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland vacated by Judge John Glenn.[1] He was nominated to the same position by President Pierce on December 19, 1853.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 11, 1854, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on March 21, 1879, due to his death in Baltimore.[1] He was interred in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.[2]

Notable case[edit]

Giles issued the original writ of habeas corpus in Ex parte Merryman.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h William Fell Giles at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e United States Congress. "William Fell Giles (id: G000184)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ Benson John Lossing (1866), Pictorial Field Book of the Civil War, 1997 reprint, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, Vol. I, Ch. XVIII, "The Capital Secured—Maryland Secessionists Subdued—Contributions by the People", pp. 449-450.


Further reading[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John P. Kennedy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert Milligan McLane
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Glenn
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
Succeeded by
Thomas John Morris