JONES, Thomas (by 1492-1558/59), of Abermarlais, Carm. and Haroldston, Pemb.
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Family and Education
b. by 1492, 1st s. of John ap Thomas ap Gruffydd of Abermarlais by Eleanor, da. of Thomas Vaughan of Brodorddyn, Carm. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Sir Edward Done of Kidwelly, Carm., 2da.; (2) by 1532, Mary, da. of James Berkeley of Thornbury, Glos., wid. of Thomas Perrot (d.1531) of Haroldston, Pemb., at least 3s. inc. Henry Jones I and Richard 2da. Kntd. ?16 Jan. 1542.1
Groom of the chamber in 1513, gent. usher in 1532; jt. constable, Llandovery castle, Carm. and steward and receiver of the lordship 1527; commr. lands of Rhys ap Gruffydd 1531, sewers, Card., Carm. 1540, subsidy, Pemb. 1544, relief, Brec., Card., Carm., Glam., Pemb., Salop and Haverfordwest 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Card., Carm. 1553; steward and receiver, Abermarlais and Newcastle Emlyn, Carm., constable, Emlyn castle 1532; steward, Haverfordwest, Pemb. and Laugharne, Carm. 1532, Llansadwrn, Carm. 1539; member, town council, Haverfordwest by 1539-46 or later; sheriff, Pemb. 1540-1, 1548-9, Carm. 1542-3, Card. 1543-4; feodary, Pemb. c.1546; gov., surveyor and receiver, castle and lordship of Narberth, Pemb. 1543; constable, Tenby castle and steward, lordship of Coedrath, Pemb. 1543; burgess, Cardigan, Card. by 1553; j.p. Carm., Glos., Herefs., Salop and Worcs. 1555.2
Thomas Jones’s father was a younger brother of Henry VII’s supporter at Bosworth, Sir Rhys ap Thomas. Of the father’s part in the Tudor cause little is recorded; he was almost certainly the man granted an annuity of 10 marks out of the exchequer at Carmarthen in 1487, perhaps as a reward for service two years before. It was his son who was to establish the family in the position of strength which it enjoyed during the 16th century. Of Thomas Jones’s early years nothing is known; he is first glimpsed in the expedition which took Tournai in 1513. During the next dozen years he seems to have divided his time between court and country.3
After the arrest in 1531 of his kinsman, Rhys ap Gruffydd, Jones was one of four commissioners appointed to inquire into the traitor’s lands and to seize his goods. Jones was the most active of the commissioners, and it was he who was to derive the greatest benefit from the escheat. Among the forfeited estates were Abermarlais and Llansadwrn: it was at Abermarlais that he first established himself in the house built by his uncle and visited by Leland. Jones also had a house at Haroldston in Pembrokeshire and was described as of that place on his return to Parliament for Pembrokeshire in 1541. His connexion with the shire began with his marriage to the widow of Thomas Perrot of Haroldston, near Haverfordwest. Here Jones became a leading figure; he was lessee of the lordship and manor of Haverfordwest, of the castle, lordship and manor of Laugharne, and of the manor of Castle Walwyn, Carmarthenshire, all part of the inheritance of his stepson John Perrot, whose wardship he purchased in 1533, and for many years he was a prominent member of Haverfordwest town council. Although a frequent attender at court, Jones emerged as one of the leading figures in South Wales at the Union: he was sheriff of each of the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke between 1540 and 1544.4
Jones is known to have sat in three Parliaments, twice for Pembrokeshire and once for Carmarthenshire: he may also have been re-elected for Pembrokeshire to the Parliament of March 1553, in which his son Henry sat for the first time for Carmarthenshire, although he perhaps stood aside in favour of his stepson John Perrot. During his first Membership Jones is said to have secured the transfer of several lordships, including his own of Laugharne, to Carmarthenshire from Pembrokeshire: the motive appears to have been his wish to consolidate his estates in one county. It was also doubtless he who secured a privileged position for Haverfordwest, including its enfranchisement as a parliamentary seat. He was probably one of those summoned to the Parliament Chamber and there knighted on the opening of Parliament,