William John Miles

27 August 1871 - 10 January 1942

William John Miles was born at Woolloomooloo in Sydney. His parents were John Balfour Clement Miles and Ellen [nee Munton]1. He was an accountant and director of a number of companies, including the family clothing company Peapes & Co Ltd, of which he was part owner1. He married Maria Louisa Binnington at St Philip's Anglican Church on 23 April 18973. They produced 6 children: Helen [died at 6 months], Arthur,John, Constance, Louise, and the well known Sydney "eccentric" Bee Miles.

In about 1912 he helped found a local branch of the Rationalist Press Association, London. He actively opposed conscription for overseas war service, and in October 1917 helped establish the Advance Australia League, under the slogan "Australia First"3.

In July 1936 Miles funded and edited The Publicist. This journal has been described3 as "pro-monarchical, pro-fascist, pro-Aboriginal, anti-British, anti-communist, and anti-semitic...". He wrote in this journal under the pseudonym "John Benauster"2. He published The Foundations of Culture in Australia by his fellow-rationalist P.R Stephensen, and Capricornia by Xavier Herbert3. The Publicist was eventually transferred to Stephensen [who founded the Australia First Movement in October 1941 and was interned in March 1942 because of his supposed threat to Australian security during the war].

Towards the end of his life WJ Miles he ran a sweep on when he would die3, and asked that the words "Death is the greatest of all blessings to men" be inscribed on his monument2.

In his younger years, Miles was active in athletics, cricket and rugby union, and he was also quite musical [singing and piano]3. He also represented New South Wales at chess and was honorary treasurer of the Shakespeare Society of NSW3.



  Some sources of information about W J Miles.

  1. Information from family members
  2. Original personal research
  3. Nairn B & Serle G Australian Dictionary of Biography Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1986
  4. Muirden B. The Puzzled Patriots, Melbourne, 1968.
  5. Munro C. Wild Man of Letters, Melbourne, 1984.



Copyright Michael Lee 2007
updated 18 april 2007