Born in 1686, Giles Jacob was the only son of Henry and Susanna Jacob of Middlebridge Street, Romsey.

Giles moved to London to study law.

He rose to be an eminent lawyer and Chamber Counsellor but won most fame for compiling a renowned law dictionary. His aim was not simply the obvious one of defining legal terms for the benefit of fellow law practitioners. Instead, he declared, he was inspired by the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke who believed that it was essential to agree about the definition of words in order to discuss or debate in a meaningful way on any subject. In this context Giles Jacob sought to define legal terms as clearly as possible.

He began work on his dictionary in 1720 when he was 34 years old and it was published in 1729. It was so successful that – long after Giles Jacob had died in 1744 - it went through countless editions and expansion.

Dr Latham commented on it when he was studying the local history of Romsey in the early 19th century. Indeed, the dictionary went international with an 1811 edition (in six volumes!) appearing in New York and Philadelphia. Alexander Pope was very aware of the dictionary, and its compiler, about whom he wrote one of his acerbic couplets: ‘Jacob the Scourge of Grammar, mark with awe, Nor less revere him, Blunderbuss of Law’.

In private life Giles Jacob lived with his family in Staines in a house that he could then describe as ‘my plain country habitation’. He was fond of drama, writing two dramatic pieces and publishing the Dramatic Register that recorded the lives and characters of the English dramatic poets.

Jacob maintained his links with Romsey. After the death of his father he wrote to Richard Peace, one of his brothers-in-law, in a strangely contradictory fashion. The letter started with expressions of grief about his father’s death and affection for his family, but then continued in peevish tones. He resented being left only £6 for mourning clothes; he was very sharp about the papers that should be forwarded to him at all possible speed; and he challenged the purchase price offered by Richard for the family home.

But the sale to Richard did go through and the property continued in the Pearce name until the beginning of the 19th century. Then, Thomas Ely bought the house in 1804, and sub-divided it into present-day Nos 11 and 13 Middlebridge Street.