Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , JOHN ( 1777 - 1842 ), ‘of Ystrad ’, politician ;

b. at 38, King Street , Carmarthen , 15 Sept. 1777 , the son of Thomas Jones , solicitor , of Job's Well and Capel Dewi , and the grandson of Thomas Jones , R.N. Educated at Eton and Christ Church , Oxford , he was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1803 and became the leading counsel on the South Wales circuit and recorder of Kidwelly . He unsuccessfully contested Carmarthen borough against the Cawdor interest in 1812 but, on the death of general Picton (q.v.) in 1815 , became member for the Pembroke boroughs , a seat which he held until 1818 . In that year he again unsuccessfully contested Carmarthen borough but, when his opponent in this election succeeded to the earldom of Cawdor in 1821 , he won the seat against the Whig candidate , Sir William Paxton , and was re-elected in 1826 and 1830 . He led the opposition in the Commons in 1830 to lord Cawdor 's measure for the abolition of the Courts of Great Sessions . In the election in April 1831 he was injured in the rioting at Carmarthen , and no return was made, but he was again returned in Aug. of the same year. On 22 Oct. following, he fought a duel at Tavernspite with R. F. Greville , the unsuccessful candidate for Pembrokeshire . Contrary to general expectation he voted for the Reform Bill , but he was defeated by a Whig opponent in 1832 and, in 1835 , he unsuccessfully contested the county seat. He was returned as county member in 1837 and retained his seat in 1841 . He d. 12 Nov. 1842 . He was unmarried. He was Welsh -speaking and was very popular, being known locally as ‘ Jones yr Halen ’ because of his efforts to abolish the salt tax . He was described as ‘a Tory in politics but in private life a Liberal.’ There is a memorial to him in S. Peter's church , Carmarthen . The idea that the Carmarthen suburb, Johnstown , is named after him is erroneous.


  • W. R. Williams , The History of the Parliamentary Representation of Wales (1895) ;
  • J. E. Lloyd (ed.), A History of Carmarthenshire , ii (see bibliography);
  • David Williams , The Rebecca Riots a Study in Agrarian Discontent (Cardiff, 1955) ;
  • First Report of Commissioners on Courts of Common Law (1829) (for his opposition to abolition of Courts of Great Sessions).


Emeritus Professor David Williams, D.Litt., (1900-78), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959