Jones family history

Revd Thomas Jones (1738-1797) (great great great grandfather)

Thomas Jones, who bought Langstone in 1794, was the second son of David John Jones, from Llanwrda in Camarthenshire, and Ann.   Long before the days of the internet my uncle, Colin Jones, constructed a family tree from family papers, church registers and gravestones.   David and Ann had three other sons, John, Morgan and David, and possibly a daughter.   But the coincidence with Thomas' progeny (four sons and a daughter) suggests there may be some confusion between the generations and therefore doubt that David and Ann also had a daughter (unless I find some other evidence).

John, the eldest son, had three children: David, baptized on 15 August 1765; Margaret, baptized on 12 February 1768; and William, baptized on 8 June 1771.   Morgan had two children: Thomas and another son.

The Joneses moved from Camarthenshire to Herefordshire some time in the middle of the 18th century.   David Jones (the father) was still alive in 1778.   Thomas is described as being of Whitfield, Marstow: the farm near the Thorn Cross, the crossroads between the A4137 and the lane between Glewstone and Llangarron.

An article about Langstone by John Cornforth in Country Life on 9 November 1967, i largely based on information from my uncle, says that “the Joneses appear out of the mists of South Wales, from Pwllagddy in Camarthen”.   Thomas Jones “was born in 1738 and ordained deacon in 1762, the year that his father gave him property at Llwynyrelyifsah.   A few years later he began to buy property himself, but his main purchases date from the late 1780s and 1790s.   Besides buying Langstone [for £8,035], he spent about £3,500 on other property.”   The Country Life article says “Quite how he managed to do this is not at all clear from his papers, but a full examination of them might explain his origins.”   If there are any papers, I hope I may find some at Langstone.

Richard Hodgkinson, estate manager for Henrietta Maria Atherton, who discovered the unsold Gwillym estates and advised her to sell them to help to settle debts, travelled to Herefordshire in January 1795 to follow up the sale.   His diary for 30 January says that after a visit to Langstone, where they “called upon old Mr Cope [the tenant farmer] whom we found but in an indifferent state of Health”, they went to Trecella Farm and then “we went by Whitfield and called upon Parson Jones, the Purchaser of Langstone.”  ii

Hodgkinson gives a splendidly scurrilous account of my great great great grandfather.   “Divinity is most shamefully disgraced in Mr Jones.   His appearance is that of a Drover or Butcher.   His wife who is now living was a Mrs Edwards, a Widow, with who he & his Brother boarded.   In consequence of an Agreement bet. Mr Jones & her Servant Maid she was kept in a state of intoxication for sevl days, in which condition he married her, & it is reported in the Village where they then lived that when she came to herself she did not know which of the Brothers she had married.”

Hodgkinson continues: “She has an annuity of £200 a year which drops when she dies.   The servant above ment. continued to live with them after they were married.   In consequence of a connection between Mr Jones & her, she was sent four times into Wales to lie in.   He has also a Daur. a fine Girl abt 14 years of age whom I saw at his house, which he had by a Sister of the Servant's.   Not long ago he advertised for Boarders in the News Paper in consequence of which advertisement four boys came soon after to reside with him, & are now in his house which are all well known to be the fruits of the connection between him & his Servant.”

My uncle's manuscript family tree shows that Thomas was married to Elizabeth and that there were four sons: John (1781-1852), Joseph (1781-?), Matthew Henry (1786-1851) and Thomas (1788-1804), who is buried at Peterstow; and an unnamed daughter, who died on 31 March 1856.   Are they the children Hodgkinson described?   Thomas (the father) was already 42/43 when his eldest son, John, was born.   This is a pattern that was repeated many times in subsequent generations.   Many Joneses married late (or not at all) and had children late (or not at all).

Hodgkinson visited Herefordshire again in August 1795 to chase the buyers who were being slow to pay, inspect harvests etc.   On 24 August he visited Langston and found that “The Hall is entirely uninhabited, old Mr Cope who lived in it being dead since I was last there.” iii  So Thomas Jones was clearly not yet living here.

An extract from An Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-houses in Central England (HMSO 1986), focused on Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, says that Ruxton chapel “was built c.1800 by the Rev.  Thomas Jones, an Anglican clergyman of independent means who was much influenced by the evangelical preaching of the Rev. William George of Ross-on-Wye, and completed by his son the Rev. John Jones.”   Such power from the grave: if Thomas Jones started the building, it must have been before 1797.

Mary Andere gives the following account: “the Revd Thomas Jones, an Anglican clergyman residing at Whitefield nearby, attended a gathering at a farm in Whitchurch called The Malt Shovel (it had once been a public house) in order to hear a well-known preacher from the Independent Church at Ross, the Revd William George.   He was so affected by the sermon then heard that, an old record says, 'he wept like a child … and became quite another man.'   Having considerable estates in the area, and becoming convinced that the parochial system of the Church of England frequently left much of the Gospel unpreached, he determined to build a chapel in order that his tenants might have the inestimable benefit of hearing the true gospel preached in all its simplicity and power.   He therefore built Ruxton Chapel at his own expense – which apparently caused a rift with the nearby beneficed parson at Marstow!” iv

Thomas is buried at Peterstow.

Matthew Henry (third son) studied at Queen's College, Cambridge, and gained a degree as Doctor of Divinity (D.D.).   He purchased the advowson of the living of Llanddewi Scyrrid in about 1820.   Sir Joseph Bradney records in his volume on the Hundred of Abergavenny published in 1906 that the advowson “has still remained in that family.”   Matthew Henry was himself the incumbent until he died in 1851.   The Patron for two institutions in 1852 (10 January and 7 August) was Matilda Jones, widow: presumably Matthew Henry's widow.   When John Walton Jones was appointed Rector in 1880 his father, Dr John Jones, was Patron (see here) .v

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     i     Cornforth, J., Langstone Court, Herefordshire, Country Life Vol. CXLII No. 3688, 9 November 1967  (return to text)
     ii    Wood, F. and K. ed., A Lancashire Gentleman: The Letters and Journals of Richard Hodgkinson 1763-1847, Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Stroud, 1992, pages 78-79  (return to text)
     iii   ibid. page 86   (return to text)
     iv   Andere, M., Homes and Houses in Herefordshire, Express Logic, Hereford, 1977, page 46  (return to text)
     v    Bradney, J.A., A History of Monmouthshire, Vol 1 Part 2a, The Hundred of Abergavenny, Academy Books Limited, London, 1991, pages 280-81  (return to text)