JONES, John (c.1610-92), of Lothbury, London and Hampton, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1610. educ. Shrewsbury ?m. 15 Apr. 1632, Elizabeth Smith of London, 1da.2
Member, Grocers’ Co. by 1633, asst. May 1660; member, Hon. Artillery Co. 1641, July 1660, capt. of militia ft. London 1642-?47; common councilman 1645-7, elder of 7th classis 1646, commr. for militia 1647, assessment, Mdx. Jan. 1660, London and Mdx. 1661-80, Surr. 1661-73, Mdx. 1689-90, recusants, London 1675.3
Jones was born of obscure parentage in the parish of St. Chad, Shrewsbury and educated at the local grammar school. He came to London in 1629 and became a successful Grocer, ranking in the third class of ‘able inhabitants’ in 1640. A militant Presbyterian, he served as an officer in the train-bands during the Civil War; but he supported a negotiated settlement with the King, and was put under arrest in 1647, which subsequently enabled him to claim that he had ‘sufficiently expressed his loyalty in the worst times’. Though holding neither company nor municipal office, he was elected for London to the second and third Protectorate Parliaments.4
At the general election of 1661 it was estimated that Jones received about 3,800 votes out of 4,000 on a show of hands, with particularly strong support in the common council. Though the Government was disappointed at this crushing Presbyterian victory over the court candidates, the official view was that ‘Jones of late years hath been esteemed both honest and able’, and he was the only City Member not listed as a friend by Lord Wharton. He never held municipal office again, but he was the last London MP to receive wages, which he continued to draw throughout the Cavalier Parliament, and, on the grounds of ‘his attendance upon public affairs’, he was excused without the usual fine from serving as warden of his Company. He was probably an active Member, though until 1670 he is not usually distinguishable from Thomas Jones I. He may have served on 244 committees, the majority being concerned with trade. He was teller in ten divisions, and made 18 recorded speeches. In the opening session ‘Mr Jones’ was named to the committees to consider the security bill and to inquire into the shortfall of the revenue. ‘Captain Jones’ (as he was still occasionally described) served on the committee for confirming the pawnbrokers’ register, and it was presumably he who carried the bill to the Lords. After the autumn recess he may have helped to consider the bill for the execution of those under attainder and the additional corporations bill. With Sir Richard Ford he undertook on 6 Dec. to give notice to the petitioners against the Dover harbour bill that the committee was prepared to consider ‘a more fitting and reasonable way for the raising of money for the repair of the said harbour’. Jones’s name usually occurs near the end of the list, but on 3 Mar. 1662 it stands first on the committee for the bill to regulate abuses in the packing of butter, and he probably introduced a petition on the same day from London tradesmen dealing in butter and cheese. He acted as teller against extending the imposition on Newcastle coals, London’s principal fuel, to those shipped from Wearside. In 1663 he was among those ordered to bring in a bill for the better maintenance of the clergy in corporate towns, perhaps an indication that his religious opinions were evolving towards Anglicanism. But it is unlikely that he favoured the activities of the commissioners for corporations. He was among those ordered to consider the petition of his Shrewsbury namesake and the bill to restore the clerk of the chamber of London. Though he acted (with Sir William Thompson) as teller against the bill concerning the grant of offices in London on 30 June, he was named to the committee. He probably contributed to the great debate on trade initiated by Sir George Downing in this session, for he was the first Member appointed to inspect the Import of Madder Act and to consider the bill to regulate the trade of weaving. On the report stage of the bill to vest in the Duke of York the profits of the postal service and the power of granting wine licences, he was teller on 6 July for an unsuccessful proviso on behalf of vintners’ apprentices and the Haberdashers’ Company, and later helped to manage a conference. He was among those sent to ask the King for a proclamation ‘for the punctual and effectual execution and observance of the Act of Navigation’, and for the withdrawal of dispensations from it. In 1664 ‘Mr Jones’ acted as teller against another corporations bill and as manager of a conference on the conventicles bill. He was teller with his fellow-Grocer (Sir) John Frederick in two divisions affecting the assessment of London in January 1665, and he was nominated to the abortive parliamentary accounts commission.5
Apart from serving on the committee for the accounts bill, Jones took no part, direct or indirect, in the proceedings against Clarendon. His chief activity in this session was over Irish cattle. He was named to the committee to review the Act, reporting on 9 Dec. 1667 that fresh legislation was necessary to prevent resale, and he also took the chair for the additional bill. On behalf of the merchants, he opposed a bill to fix the price of wine and punish adulteration, and he feared that an increase in customs duties would invite Spanish retaliation against English exports. ‘The Dutch’, he said, ‘ease all commodities inwards in the customs, which invites all trade to them.’ Having by now acquired a modest estate in Middlesex, he was able to complain of unjust taxation: ‘he pays for his goods more than for his land in the country ratably’. Hearth-tax and excise, he thought, were particularly burdensome to corporations. He urged the House not to renew the Conventicles Act, and opposed legislation to reduce interest. He described the slitting of the nose of Sir John Coventry as ‘this horrid, un-English act ... his soul trembles at the sad consequences’. By sitting day and night on the bill to punish the assailants, the House would give satisfaction to the country without delaying supply. He seconded the motion of Sir Trevor Williams for the rejection of the subsidy bill. On 23 Feb. 1671 he made ‘a long, sharp speech’ against the additional excise on ale and beer, a very unpopular measure in the City. On the proposed bridge over the Thames at Putney, he declared:
This bill will question the very being of London; next to the pulling down the borough of Southwark, nothing can ruin it more. All the correspondences westward, for fuel and grain and hay, if this bridge be built, cannot be kept up. The water there is shallow at ebb; the correspondences of London require free passage at all times, and, if a bridge, a sculler can scarce pass at low water. It will alter the affairs of watermen to the King’s danger and to the nation’s.
He acted as teller against the bill.6
During the third Dutch war Jones was among those appointed to draft a bill for the general naturalization of foreign Protestants; but when the bill was brought in he acted as teller against committing it with another London Member, William Love. In the debate on the speech from the throne on 12 May 1674, he produced a catalogue of grievances from his constituency. Speaking no longer as a merchant, but as a man in the street, he said:
The imposition upon coals is hard upon the rich, but destructive to the poor; thousands had died for the want of them, but for the favourableness of the weather. He has known London these 45 years, and never knew that impudence in meetings that the Papists have now. ... Protections from the Lords’ House and this ruin trade, together with shutting up the Exchequer; how can we secure that the Exchequer be not stopped to-morrow again?
He described the Leather Export Act as more of a burden than a tax of £70,000 a month, and he qualified as ‘a great paradox’ the assertion of Josiah Child that the increase of building had improved the value of London houses. In 1675 he was named to committees on bills to relieve poor prisoners (12 May) and to prevent the growth of Popery (27 May) and illegal exactions (21 Oct.). Sir Richard Wiseman professed himself unable to answer for the London Members in his report of 1676, but believed that ‘the ascertaining the interest of the bankers’ debt’ could only be beneficial. But his name appeared on no other government list. Shaftesbury initially classed him as ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677, but altered it to ‘vile’, probably after Jones’s speech of 4 Feb. 1678, when he approved supply to assist the allies against the French ‘if there be reason for it’. He was appointed to the committee to reform the bankruptcy laws (27 Mar.), and acted as teller against limiting the benefit of the poor prisoners bill to those owing less than £500. After the Popish Plot he was named to the committee to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament.