JONES, Thomas (1765-1811), of Stanley Hall, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. 1 Sept. 1765, 1st s. of Capt. John Tyrwhitt, RN, of Netherclay House, Bishop’s Hull, Som. by Katherine, da. and h. of Very Rev. Penyston Booth, DD, dean of Windsor. educ. Winchester 1777; Christ Church, Oxf. 1782. m. 25 Apr. 1791, Harriet Rebecca, da. of Edward Williams of Eaton Mascott, Salop, 3s. 2da. suc. cos. Sir Thomas Jones c.j.c.p., 1782; took name of Jones 6 Mar. 1790; cr. Bt. 3 Oct. 1808.
Sheriff, Denb. 1792-3.
Jones was frequently styled Tyrwhitt Jones, although he adopted the latter surname only. He had inherited an estate that straddled the Welsh border. He was returned for Weymouth in 1790 on the interest of (Sir) William Pulteney*, who had written to Chief Justice Kenyon on 1 Apr. 1790 offering him a seat ‘without expense’ for any friend he chose to recommend, provided he was a ‘respectable independent gentleman’.1 Kenyon evidently recommended their neighbour Jones, who resigned the seat in the following year to accommodate his patron’s brother, without having made any mark in Parliament, apart from a severe speech of 17 Dec. 1790 in which he supported the impeachment of Warren Hastings as a ‘state delinquent’. He was listed ‘doubtful’ on the question of Test Act repeal in April 1791.
Jones, who had joined the Whig Club on 1 May 1787 but seceded in 1792, was then out of Parliament until 1797, when he came in for Denbigh during the abeyance of the Chirk Castle interest. It was in this Parliament that Jones acquired the reputation of an independent and eccentric Member which made him a great favourite of the caricaturist Gillray. His speeches illustrate the fact that he took his own line and, thanks no doubt to the secession of the Foxite Whigs, few intervened so frequently in debate during that Parliament: yet ‘absurd’ and ‘coarse and ridiculous’ were typical reactions to his attempts at oratory.2 On 10 Apr. 1797 he ‘warmly’ opposed Fox’s peace motion, claiming that he was in favour of peace only when the balance of power in Europe was restored: the insult inflicted on the British emissary by France should be avenged, but British ‘pecuniary embarrassments’ rendered the moment inopportune and the motion dangerous. On 3 June he supported the sedition bill and hoped that ‘not one Member would resist it’. He disclaimed all party connexion on 5 Dec., when he described Pitt’s tax proposals as necessary to tame the insolence of France. He repeatedly expressed his alarm at the existence of French émigrés of doubtful loyalty in the country, 22 Feb., 12 and 29 Mar. 1798: his persistence on this subject provoked ridicule, 24 Apr., and clashes with their champion Windham, 27 Apr. He disliked the land tax redemption bill, because it did not provide for the taxing of the monied interest, ‘the swindling fraternity’, 4 Apr. He proposed a decimal levy to obviate this, 9 May: at the same time he was glad to see the end of the land tax, as it was ‘a perpetual fund for a standing army’, 30 May.
Jones, who regarded the French revolutionary regime, the Directory in particular, as monsters of aggression, supported the address, 21 Nov. 1798, though he wished for more economy. He hailed Admiral Nelson as ‘the saviour of mankind’, 23 Nov. He supported Pitt’s income tax bill, 4 Dec., with reservations about its inquisitorial tendencies in practice, but opposed the land tax redemption bill next day as ‘the child of inordinate power’, which led to the first of many brushes with Pitt. In the later stages of the income tax bill he also turned against that, claiming that as the danger of invasion had passed it was no longer needed, 17, 19 and 27 Dec. He was one of the two Members who voted against the third reading of the bill on 31 Dec. Having reluctantly supported the use of the English militia to pacify Ireland, 12 Dec., he went on to become a keen critic of the union with Ireland, 11 Feb. 1799. He claimed that it would add 100 Members to Pitt’s ‘muzzled majority’, which provoked ‘a loud laugh’, 14 Feb. Henceforward, he became a sniper against the ‘muzzled majority’.
Jones criticized the bill to suppress seditious societies as a threat to the liberty of the press: ‘he cared not whether he should be called a Jacobin ... or exhibited in the print shops: he would do his duty’, 30 Apr. 1799. He also defended Sunday papers against their critics: ‘it was more immoral to ride on Sunday than to read a paper’, 28 May. In this he regarded himself as champion of the poorer classes; he also championed the lower paid officials on the question of salary rises in government departments, 13 June: but he emphasized the need for government economy and disapproved of the restoration of the monarchy in France as a legitimate aim of the war, 3 July. He seconded Plumer’s motion for a call of the House, 25 Sept., and Tierney’s similar motion of 22 Jan. 1800. While he did not oppose the augmentation of the militia as a means of self-defence, 30 Sept. 1799, he was opposed to the renewal of repressive measures at home, 13 Feb. 1800. On 28 Feb. he seconded Tierney’s motion against the continuance of war, claiming that the country at large was weary of it ‘and its chief advocates were now found only among contractors and placemen, whose interest it would be to continue it for ever’. It led, he claimed, to scarcity at home, 19 Mar. He could not support taxation which was designed to continue it, 17 Apr., 20 May, especially as it weighed more heavily on the landed than on the mercantile interest, 26 May.
Jones made a determined attack on the Irish union, 21 Apr. 1800, claiming that it had been achieved by corruption and would destroy the constitution: he appealed to the country gentlemen to back him, but got nowhere. He stayed away from Grey’s motion on the same subject, 25 Apr., allegedly because it did not go far enough.3 His motion for the dismissal of ministers in the interests of peace and plenty was heavily defeated (by 59 votes to 8), 8 May. Subsequently he became involved in acrimonious exchanges with Windham over his allegation that Roman Catholic émigré priests were active proselytizers, 22, 23 May, 23 June 1800. As a friend of peace, he seconded Sheridan’s motion of 27 June for a call of the House, claiming that Buonaparte, like Hannibal, would overreach himself and that the alliances were futile: subsidies to the Emperor were even more so, 18 and 22 July. Meanwhile the alleged breach of the Anglo-French convention on the evacuation of Egypt became his bête noire and on 8 and 23 July and 18 Nov. he introduced motions on the subject which were resisted by Dundas. On 11 Nov., attacking the address, he deplored the pursuit of the war and threatened another motion for the dismissal of ministers: he denied that the war had been successful and claimed that it had led to famine at home. His threatened motion was defeated by 66 votes to 13 on 4 Dec.: it catalogued the failures of administration. Returning to the attack on the subject of the King’s speech, 3 Feb. 1801, he claimed that it breathed war. He subsequently complained of the low attendance which had bedevilled his efforts and those of his bearleader Richard Bateman Robson* to bring down Pitt’s government. Canning had dubbed Robson, Jones and John Nicholls* ‘the three Horatii’ in their makeshift opposition and Nicholas Vansittart* later recalled, ‘You may judge of their numbers by the circumstance that they generally went home to dinner with Tyrwhitt Jones in his coach’.4
Jones was much better disposed towards Addington’s administration. He explained, 24 Apr. 1801, that he disbelieved in any collusion between Addington and Pitt and had ‘almost quarrelled on the subject’ with his nearest friends. On 27 Mar. he had at last secured approval for an inquiry into the evacuation of Egypt, but his attempt to secure further information on the subject was thwarted, 1 May, and he went on to invoke ‘the bloody ghost of the brave Abercrombie’ and ‘the noble army of martyrs in Egypt’ in the hope that the former ministers would receive ‘condign punishment’, 18 May: he was again thwarted, 2 June, and having stated that he could not tell ‘who was now the minister of the country’, 27 May, attempted to persuade Addington to dissociate himself altogether from Pitt’s policy, 10 June. He congratulated Addington on achieving peace, 12 Nov. 1801, and a few days later gave notice that he would move the abolition of income tax if the minister did not do so. He soon discovered the peace to be a hollow one, 19 Jan. 1802, and was disappointed in his hopes of tax relief, 2 Feb., 12 and 17 Mar., and government economy, 10 Mar. He complained that Addington, by not distinguishing his accounts from those of the preceding ‘wasteful’ administration, appeared to condone the latter, 5 Feb.: he continued to subject Pitt to his keenest attacks, 5 Apr.
In March 1802 Jones had hoped to cut a figure as a newly made liveryman of the City when the income tax came under fire at common hall. At the meeting neither he nor his friend Robson said anything. When Addington abandoned the income tax soon afterwards, Jones was reported to be mortified, as the ‘popularity’ of bringing forward its repeal might have secured him a seat for Westminster, or London. He knew that Denbigh would be closed to him in future.5 While he sought credit for the abolition of income tax, he objected to the substitution of a window and inhabited house tax for it, 9 and 12 Apr. He was also a keen advocate of the resumption of cash payments by the Bank of England and a critic of paper currency, producing a tattered bank-note in the House to prove that the Bank had become, instead of gold merchants, paper merchants, 30 Apr. 1801, 9, 21 and 22 Apr. 1802. He was anxious for an inquiry into the affairs of the East India Company, 24 June, 25 Nov. 1801, 5 Apr. 1802, for which he clearly believed government should assume responsibility. On the subject of the Irish union, he changed his mind: ‘no man now more thoroughly approved of the Union than he did’, 9 Apr. 1802. His insistence on economy, moreover, did not extend to the necessities of defence policy, 12 Mar., 9 June; but he deplored foreign alliances in peacetime, 12 May, and the efforts of the warmongers, as he styled Windham’s friends, to tease the public mind; for he subscribed to the ‘two greatest nations’ programme, by which England and France were to rule the world in condominium, 26 May. Although he could not forgive Pitt for having ‘dilapidated 258 millions of public money, created 583 pensions and 95 peers’, 12 Apr., and seconded the motion of thanks to the King for Pitt’s removal from office, 7 May, he was glad to find that Pitt did not condone his bellicose friends.
In 1802 Jones was left without a seat. In his farewell address to the electors of Denbigh he alleged: ‘I promised to serve you with fidelity, zeal and independence: I can lay my hand to my heart and say, I have done so.’ He came in for Athlone a year later on the interest of William Handcock*, the very type of the Irish friends of government whom he had cordially denounced at the time of the Union. Jones himself was a different man: during the Whig secession and while possessed of an independent seat, he had been ‘disinterested and patriotic’, the symbol of ‘independence and Old England’ to the caricaturists.6 Now he became an ‘Irish Addingtonian’. He had parted company with his friend Bateman Robson. In June 1803 he spoke, as a liveryman of the City of London, in favour of the income tax as a necessity to combat Buonaparte; he had been made a liveryman precisely because he had in the past opposed the tax.7 On 15 Mar. 1804 he defended Addington against Pitt on the question of naval administration and on 18 June apparently opposed Pitt’s additional force bill; that autumn he was listed ‘doubtful’, but his hands were tied and he was listed ‘Pittite’ in 1805. He voted against Catholic relief, 14 May 1805. He was a conditional supporter of the Grenville ministry at first, but by June 1806 was described as hostile. If disposed to support the repeal of the Additional Force Act, he ‘liked the new bill still less’, he claimed, ‘and would oppose it’, 9 May. He found fault with the property duty bill, 12, 19 and 20 May, and objected to the public auditors bill, 2 and 9 July. He renewed his attacks on the East India Company, 18 July, and on 21 July requested government to continue their campaign against public abuses: ‘Give us’, said he, ‘but economy and a fig for Buonaparte.’
Jones was obliged to look elsewhere for a seat at the election of 1806 and stood for Shrewsbury, allegedly ‘on the Paull and Burdett principles and interest’.8 He was defeated by Henry Grey Bennet then, but successful in another contest against him in 1807. In his last Parliament he supported administration, speaking seldom and to little effect. The Duke of Portland rewarded him with a baronetcy. He died v.p., 26 Nov. 1811, at his favourite residence, Clarence Lodge near Roehampton.9
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. HMC Kenyon, 530.
- 2. M. D. George, Cat. Pol. and Personal Satires, vols. vii, viii, passim; Add. 48246, f. 105; T. Green, Diary of a Lover of Literature, 235.
- 3. Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 73.
- 4. Add. 38833, f. 11; Pellew, Sidmouth, ii. 135.
- 5. The Times, 30 Jan., 16, 17, 19 Mar., 8, 14 Apr. 1802.
- 6. PRO 30/8/161, f. 88; Salopian Jnl. 10 Feb. 1802; M. D. George, vii. 9401.
- 7. The Times, 5 Mar., 30 June; Shrewsbury Chron. 8 July 1803.
- 8. Spencer mss, Williams Wynn to Spencer, 10 Nov. 1806.
- 9. R. P. Tyrwhitt, Notices and Remains of Fam. Tyrwhitt, 75; Burke PB (Berners) gives 24 Nov.