John Jones, c.1597-1660

Welsh Parliamentarian army officer and Fifth Monarchist. He was executed as a regicide after the Restoration.

Portrait of John JonesBorn at Llanbedr, Merioneth, in north Wales, John Jones went to London and served an apprenticeship in the Grocers' Company, becoming a freeman of the Company in 1633. He enlisted for Parliamenton the outbreak of the First Civil War and served in Wales as a captain of foot under Sir Thomas Myddelton. By 1646, he was colonel of a cavalry regiment. Jones was one of the commissioners appointed to negotiate the surrender of Anglesey in June 1646, and he was present at the surrender of Harlech Castle — the last Royalist stronghold in Wales — in March 1647. He was elected MP for Merioneth in November 1647.

During the Second Civil War, Jones was active in suppressing Sir John Owen's insurgency in north Wales and was appointed a commissioner of the High Court of Justice in January 1649. After sitting as a judge at the trial of King Charles and signing the death warrant, Jones was appointed to the Council of State in February 1649.

In February 1650, Jones was made a commissioner for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales under the presidency of Colonel Harrison, with whom he shared radical Fifth Monarchist beliefs. Before Jones could begin his work in Wales, however, Parliament appointed him a commissioner for affairs in Ireland, where he arrived in January 1651. He maintained a close correspondence with Harrison, in which he expressed his regret that he could not be closer to the centre of power in Westminster, where the Rule of the Saints appeared to be imminent. Like other disappointed millenarians, Jones opposed the establishment of Cromwell's Protectorate in December 1653. Although he lost his commission in Ireland, he gradually became reconciled to the Protectorate régime. He served as a commissioner for the militia in Wales under Major-General James Berry during the Rule of the Major-Generals, and in 1656 he married Protector Cromwell's widowed sister Catherine. Jones was elected to the Second Protectorate Parliament as MP for Merioneth, and was appointed to Cromwell's Upper House in 1657.

After Richard Cromwell succeeded Oliver as Protector in 1658, Jones reverted to his opposition to the Protectorate and supported the republican officers determined to restore the Commonwealth. In July 1659, he accompanied Edmund Ludlow to Ireland and remained as commander-in-chief of the army in Ireland when Ludlow returned to England in October. Jones declared his support for General Lambert when he forcibly dissolved Parliament on 13 October 1659, but officers loyal to Parliament seized Dublin Castle in December and arrested Jones. He was impeached before Parliament along with Ludlow and other commissioners for Ireland early in 1660. After appearing before Parliament, he was released on parole.

Jones made no attempt to escape at the Restoration. He was arrested as a regicide in June 1660 and confessed his complicity in the execution of Charles I when brought to trial. He was hanged, drawn and quartered on 17 October 1660, conducting himself bravely at his execution.


Stephen K. Roberts, John Jones, Oxford DNB, 2004