Jones, John (d.1660) (DNB00)

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JONES, JOHN (d. 1660), regicide, son of Thomas ab John or Jones and Ellen, daughter of Robert Wynn ap Jevan, esq., of Taltreuddyn (Williams, Eminent Welshmen, 1852, p. 257), was born at Maes-y-Garnedd in Merionethshire (Pennant, Journey to Snowdon, ed. Rhys. ii. 265). During the civil war Jones served in the parliamentary forces in Wales, is described as a colonel in 1646, and negotiated the surrender of Anglesey in June 1646. In 1648 he helped to suppress Sir John Owen's rising, was thanked by the House of Commons for his share in the reconquest of Anglesey, and was voted 2,000l. on account of his arrears of pay (4 Oct. 1648; Commons' Journals, vi. 43). Jones was selected as one of the king's judges, attended the trial with great regularity, and signed the death-warrant (Noble, Lives of the Regicides, i. 372). He had been returned to the Long parliament about 1647 for Merionethshire, and was elected a member of the first two councils of state of the commonwealth (Return of the Names of the Members of Parliament, i. 499); Godwin Commomwealth of England, iii. 15, 178). In July 1650 Jones was voted one of the commissioners to assist the lord deputy in the government of Ireland, and was reappointed for two years longer on 24 Aug. 1652 (Commons' Journals, vi. 434, vii. 167). His colleague Ludlow describes him as 'discharging his trust with great diligence, ability, and integrity, in providing for the happiness of that country, and bringing to justice those who had been concerned in in the murders of English Protestants' (Memoirs, ed. 1751, p. 370). A strong republican, Jones was greatly dissatisfied at Cromwell's assumption of the protectorate, and Henry Cromwell describes him as 'endeavouring to render the government unacceptable,' but 'more cunning and close' in his opposition than Ludlow (Thurloe Plapers, ii. 149). He was accordingly set aside, and when in March 1656, there was a rumour that Jones was to be again employed in the Irish government, Henry Cromwell remonstrated with Thurloe against the choice, asserting that he was not only factious and disaffected, but 'had acted very corruptly in his place' (ib. iv. 606). But by this time a marriage had been arranged between Jones and the Protector's sister Catherine, widow of Roger Whitstone. 'When I writ to you about Colonel Jones,' explained Henry Cromwell, 'I did not know that he was likely to be my uncle. Perhaps that may serve to oblige him to faithfulness to his highness and government' (ib. p. 672). In the parliament of 1656 Jones represented the counties of Merioneth and Denbigh. In the 'Second Narrative of the late Parliament' Jones is described as originally 'one of good principles for common justice and freedom … lately married the Protector's sister, by which means he might have become a great man indeed, did not something stick which he cannot well get down. He is not thorough-paced for the court proceedings, nor is his conscience fully hardened against the good old cause' (Harleian Miscellany, ed. Park, iii. 485).

Jones was summoned to the Protector's House of Lords (December 1657), but held no office except that of governor of the Isle of Anglesey. On 2 June 1657 parliament voted Jones Irish lands to the value of 3,000l., for arrears of pay amounting to that sum (Commons' Journals, vii. 492, 543). But he was still so far trusted by the republican party that on 7 May 1659 he was appointed one of the committee of safety, and on 14 May one of the council of state (ib. vii. 646, 654). An act was passed making Jones and others commissioners for the government of Ireland, 7 July. Jones landed in Ireland with Ludlow in July 1659, and when the latter returned to England in October following, he selected Jones to command the Irish forces during his absence (ib. vii. 707; Ludlow, Memoirs, p. 268). To Ludlow's disgust Jones and most of the Irish officers supported Lambert and the army in their quarrel with the parliament. When Ludlow expostulated Jones made the excuse that he acted at the 'incessant importunity of others,' and begged Ludlow to return and ease him of the burden of his command (ib. pp. 279, 282). On 13 Dec. 1659, however, Colonels John Bridges, Theophilus Jones [q.v.], and other officers of Monck's party seized Dublin Castle and arrested Jones (ib. p. 299). An impeachment of high treason against Jones and his colleagues (Ludlow, Corbet, and Thomlinson) was presented to parliament on 19 Jan. 1660 (Commons' Journals, vii. 815). The main charge was that he had 'openly and publicly owned that treacherous and traitorous act of part of the army in England in their unjust force put upon the parliament.' Jones was summoned before the council of state, but released on an engagement not to disturb the existing government (Ludlow, p. 331). As a connection of Cromwell's and an opponent of Monck's party, the Restoration exposed Jones to certain ruin. But he made no attempt to fly, was arrested on 2 June 1660, as he was quietly walking in Finsbury, and was committed to the Tower (ib. p. 346; Mercurius Publicus, 31 May–7 June 1660). On 4 June the House of Commons excepted him from the Act of Indemnity, and he was tried on 12 Oct. following. Jones confessed that he had sat among the king's judges, made no attempt to plead any point of law, and was sentenced to death (Trial of the Regicides, 1660, pp. 95–100). He was executed, together with Adrian Scroop, on 17 Oct. 1660, and died with great courage and dignity. A full account of his behaviour and last utterances, with a sketch of his life, is given in 'A Complete Collection of the Lives, Speeches, Private Passages, Letters, and Prayers of those Persons lately executed, with Observations by a Person of Quality,’ 8vo, 1661, pp. 135–46.

Catherine Cromwell, the third sister of Oliver Cromwell, was baptised on 7 Feb. 1596–7. By her first husband, Roger Whitstone, she had three sons and two daughters; by John Jones she had no issue (Noble, House of Cromwell, ed. 1787, i. 88, ii. 207, 219). A letter of hers on the execution of Charles I is printed in 'Notes and Queries,' 7th ser. ix. 303.

[Ludlow's Memoirs, ed. 1751, fol.; Noble's House of Cromwell, ed. 1787, ii. 213; Phillips's Civil War in Wales, 1874, and the authorities mentioned above. Official letters from Jones during his employment in Ireland are printed in the Thurloe Papers, in Cary's Memorials of the Civil War, and in the Proceedings of the Liverpool Historic Society for 1860–1, pp. 177–300.]

C. H. F.