James Tooke Hales was born in 1864 in Birstwith, Yorkshire, where his father was the Vicar. After leaving Eton, he studied for the priesthood and was ordained in December 1889. He spent some time in parochial work, as curate in Baschurch, Shropshire and Bradwell in Essex, for example, before becoming an army chaplain.
After serving in the Boer War, Hales became chaplain to the Royal Engineers at Brompton. At the time of the census of 1901, he was living in an apartment at 6 Mansion Row.
During his time at Brompton, he took a particular interest in football, and was Secretary to the Army’s Football Association for two years. The Chatham Observer newspaper credited a pamphlet written by Hales for convincing the Army FA to abandon its plan to secede from the English Football Association.
In 1909, after eight years in Brompton, Hales was posted to be chaplain to the British forces at Tientsin, China.
At the outbreak of the First World War, the fifty-year-old Hales accompanied the BEF to France and was captured by the Germans during the retreat from Mons. The Times newspaper suggested that he chose to stay with wounded troops rather than continue the retreat. The chaplain spent some time at the Sennelager prisoner-of-war camp until he was transferred to the officers’ camp at Gutersloh. He was released in July 1915 and returned to England.
He was awarded an OBE after the war, remained in the army, and was posted to Mesopotamia as principal chaplain. After resigning his commission, Hales was appointed as Rector at St Martin’s with St Paul’s, Canterbury in 1928. He retired from that parish in 1934. Hales died in Folkestone in October 1939.