Michael Jones, d.1649

Parliamentarian army officer who became governor of Dublin and won a notable victory over the Marquis of Ormond at the battle of Rathmines.

Portrait of Michael JonesThe second son of Lewis Jones (1560-1646), a Welshman who became Bishop of Killaloe in Ireland, Michael Jones was born between 1606-10. He trained as a lawyer and was admitted to the King's Inns in Dublin in 1640 but became a soldier in the Earl of Kildare's regiment on the outbreak of the Confederate War, rising to the rank of major.

As a staunch Protestant, Jones was suspicious of the King's negotiations with the Confederates and refused to fight for the Royalists when the Cessation of Arms was signed in 1643. He defected to the Parliamentarian army and served with Sir William Brereton's forces in Cheshire, distinguishing himself at the siege of Chester and the battle of Rowton Heath in 1645. Jones was appointed governor of Chester after its surrender in February 1646.

In April 1647, Jones was appointed governor of Dublin and commander of Parliament's forces in the province of Leinster. His first responsibility upon his return to Ireland in June 1647 was to accept the surrender of Dublin by the King's lord-lieutenant the Marquis of Ormond, who preferred to surrender the city to Parliament rather than allow it to fall into the hands of the Catholic Confederates. In August, Jones marched against the Confederate general Thomas Preston who had captured a number of fortresses in Leinster and was besieging Trim. Jones won a major victory over Preston on 8 August at Dungan's Hill, where the Confederate army of Leinster was virtually annihilated. Regarding the victory as the Lord's work, Jones refused to parade the captured enemy colours upon his return to Dublin after the battle.

In October 1647, Jones co-operated with Colonel Monck, commander of Parliament's Ulster forces, in a bold campaign to drive Owen Roe O'Neill out of northern Leinster and to establish garrisons at strongpoints along the River Boyne. By the end of 1647, they had secured Leinster for Parliament. During 1648, an internal civil war broke out within the Confederacy when Archbishop Rinuccini and Owen Roe O'Neill refused to accept the Inchiquin Truce. Jones capitalised on the situation by negotiating a separate truce with O'Neill in August 1648 that allowed him to consolidate his control of Dublin and the Pale while the Confederates were preoccupied with their internal struggle. Jones' example of negotiating with O'Neill was followed the following year by Monck at Dundalk and Sir Charles Coote at Londonderry.

Early in 1649, the Marquis of Ormond succeeded in forming a coalition of Royalist and Confederate forces under the Second Ormond Peace. The Ulster Scots also joined the coalition after the execution of King Charles. Ormond was determined to recapture Dublin and initially attempted to persuade Jones to abandon the regicide Parliament and surrender the city. Upon Jones' refusal, Ormond besieged Dublin in June 1649. Jones conducted a vigorous defence that culminated in a spectacular victory over Ormond at the battle of Rathmines in August 1649. Jones attempted to follow up his victory by immediately marching against Drogheda but the garrison rejected his summons and he did not have enough forces to besiege or storm the town.

Jones' victory at Rathmines enabled Cromwell's army to land unopposed in Ireland in mid-August 1649. Appointed lieutenant-general to Cromwell, Jones served on the Irish campaign at the sieges of Drogheda and Wexford, where he captured the fort of Rosslare. Jones became feverish on the march from the unsuccessful siege of Waterford in November 1649. He died of fever at Dungarvan on 10 December, his death much lamented by Cromwell.


Sources:

Aidan Clarke, Michael Jones, Oxford DNB, 2004

Jane Ohlmeyer, The Civil Wars in Ireland, (Oxford 1998)

James Scott Wheeler, Cromwell in Ireland, (New York 1999)