JONES, Theobald (1790-1868), of Bovagh House, co. Londonderry and 54 Curzon Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1830 - 1857

Family and Education

b. 5 Apr. 1790,1 2nd s. of Rev. James Jones (d. 1835), rect. of Kilcronaghan, co. Londonderry, and 1st w. Lydia, da. of Theobald Wolfe of Blackhall, co. Kildare. unm. d. 7 Feb. 1868.

Offices Held

Vol. RN 1803, midshipman ?1804, lt. 1809, cdr. 1814, capt. 1828, ret. 1848; r.-adm. 1855, v.-adm. 1862, adm. 1865.


Jones’s ancestor Bryan Jones (d. 1681), a Welshman, settled in Dublin in the early seventeenth century. Bryan’s grandson Theophilus (1666-1742) of Headford, county Leitrim, sat for Sligo and county Leitrim in the Irish Parliament for a total of over 40 years. His grandson, another Theophilus (1729-1811), who married a Beresford, represented his native county as well as Coleraine and Monaghan at Dublin, 1761-1800, and county Leitrim at Westminster, 1801-2. His eldest son Walter (1754-1839), governor of Leitrim, was Member for Coleraine in both Parliaments in three spells between 1798 and 1809, while his second son Theophilus (1760-1835) served in the navy, becoming an admiral in 1819.2 The third son, James Jones, whose address was often given as Merrion Square, Dublin, entered the church, becoming prebend of Killamery in 1783 and being resident in Kilcronaghan from 1786. It was there that his wife gave birth to this Member, ‘Toby’ Jones, who was perhaps so called in order to distinguish him from his similarly named elder brother, Theophilus.3 Later that year James moved to Tamlaght O’Crilly and from 1814 until his death in 1835 he was the incumbent of Urney, in the diocese of Derry. In 1796, three years after the death of his first wife, he married the relict Anne Ryder, daughter of Sir John Blackwood of Ballyleidy House, county Down, Member for Killyleagh and Bangor, 1761-99.4 The family were active in the Protestant suppression of the Irish volunteers in 1798, and from about that time James Jones held the grandmastership of the Orange order of the city and county of Londonderry.5

Jones entered the navy on 1 June 1803, serving as a first class volunteer in the Melpomone frigate, and the following year he was twice engaged as a midshipman in the bombardment of Le Havre. From November 1805 he served with his stepmother’s brother Henry Blackwood in the Euryalus, and they were both on board the Ajax when it caught fire and exploded near the island of Tenedos on 14 Feb. 1807. He subsequently joined the Endymion, seeing action in the Dardanelles, and after a period in England, he was appointed to the Warspite under Blackwood in May 1808. Commissioned as a lieutenant in July 1809, he served in the skirmish with the Toulon fleet in July 1810, and in home waters until 1814. He went with the convoy to the Cape in the Désirée, returning to Britain the following year to find himself again promoted. Having commanded the Cherokee on the Leith station from February 1819 till at least 1822, he was in May 1827 made second captain of the Prince Regent, which for a while was Blackwood’s flagship at the Nore. By the duke of Clarence, briefly lord high admiral, he was awarded the rank of captain, 25 Aug. 1828, but thereafter never again served at sea.6

A second cousin of the underage 3rd marquess of Waterford, Jones was in late 1829 considered by the family managers as a possible candidate to replace the now pro-Catholic George Dawson on their interest in county Londonderry. Henry Barré Beresford observed that ‘I would think Theophilus Jones, as better known, would answer better than his brother’, but considered that the ‘Joneses are natives of Derry, well known and well liked and in certain parts of the county where they reside could gain many freeholders’.7 In fact, perhaps because Theophilus held a legal appointment in the county, it was Theobald who offered at the general election in mid-1830, when he boasted that his Orange, anti-reform and retrenchment principles coincided perfectly with those of the electors.8 Dawson’s withdrawal meant that he was returned unopposed with the like-minded Sir Robert Bateson, 16 Aug. 1830, when Beresford reported that

his speech was much approved. The uproar was great when he said he would have voted against the Roman Catholics [emancipation] bill, but it was from the lowest mob. His conduct is much approved by all and I have no doubt he will be a useful working man, diligent and persevering.9

Jones was expected to be ‘pro-government’, but Planta, the Wellington government’s patronage secretary, listed him among the ‘moderate Ultras’ that autumn. He was noted as absent from the division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830, which led ministers to resign, though at the following election he asserted, apparently in vindication of his having divided with them on this occasion, that considerable economies had been made under the Tories.10

He attended the meeting of Apprentice Boys in Londonderry, 26 Jan. 1831, when resolutions were passed against repeal of the Union.11 He voted silently against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., but explained in a printed letter the following day that he had been unable conscientiously to support it, especially as the Irish measure would threaten the position of the church there.12 He divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr., which precipitated a dissolution. Calling for the preservation of the constitution inviolate, but conceding that some changes were required, he stood again for Londonderry and was returned in second place behind Bateson after a severe and violent contest against two reformers, who had government support.13 He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, for using the 1831 census to determine the boroughs in schedules A and B, 19 July, and to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. He defended the grant to the Kildare Place Society, 14 July, and presented a petition in its favour from Urney, 12 Aug. On Wyse introducing his Irish education bill, 8 Aug., he stated that his objection to it was ‘so great and so decided’ that, even if he were a junior Member, he would resist it to the full; the House was cleared for a division, but none took place. Having voted for Benett’s amendment to the motion for issuing the Liverpool writ alleging that there had been gross bribery at the previous election, 5 Sept., he divided against the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept. It was probably John Jones, Member for Carmarthen, who was granted a fortnight’s leave on urgent private business, 28 Sept. 1831.

He voted against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and its committal, 20 Jan. 1832. Although he was in the majority against limiting the polling in boroughs of fewer than 1,200 voters to one day, 15 Feb., he voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. He divided against Hunt’s motion for information on military punishments, 16 Feb. He brought up a petition for continuation of the grant to the Kildare Place Society, 23 Feb., and another against the government’s plan for national education in Ireland, 8 Mar.; he denied that his opposition to the latter was political, 16 Mar. He supported the city petition for alteration of the grand jury laws, 5 Mar., and defended the conduct of the corporation of Londonderry, 1 June. He intervened in discussions on a case of tithes levied on a Catholic priest, 13, 30 Mar., 10 Apr., and got embroiled in a row concerning a Mayo magistrate, 3 Apr. He voted against the government amendment to the Irish arrears of tithes bill, 9 Apr., but for its general tithes bill, 13 July, and against an amendment to this measure, 1 Aug. He divided against the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, and to preserve the rights of freemen under it, 2 July, commenting on its details, 9, 25 July. He condemned the Irish party processions bill as unworkable and voted against it, 25 June. He sided with opposition against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July. He voted against making the ecclesiastical courts bill retrospective, 3 Aug. Like his colleague he was thought likely to join the Protestant Conservative Society of Ireland that summer.14 Beresford informed Lord Beresford, 2 June, that ‘there is no doubt Jones has done his duty well, he is a zealous working man and stands high with all parties as an honest faithful representative, and he will be returned no doubt’.15 He was duly re-elected unopposed at the general election of 1832 and sat for county Londonderry as a Conservative until his retirement in 1857.16 He died in February 1868, presumably leaving his estate to his nephew Walter Henry Jones of 26 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin.17 An accomplished lichenologist, who had contributed papers to the Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Dublin, Jones’s library and valuable collection of lichens eventually passed to the National Museum.18

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. IGI (co. Londonderry).
  • 2. Burke Commoners, iii. 268-9; Hist. Irish Parl. iv. 503-7; HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 324, 327.
  • 3. IGI (co. Londonderry) gives a speculative birth year for Theophilus of 1788.
  • 4. Rev. J.B. Leslie, Derry Clergy, 303; Hist. Irish Parl. iii. 192.
  • 5. Belfast Guardian, 22 June 1830.
  • 6. W.R. O’Byrne, Naval Biog. ii. 594; Wellington mss WP1/952/4.
  • 7. PRO NI, Primate Beresford mss D3279/A/4/39, 40.
  • 8. PRO NI, Pack-Beresford mss D664/A/178; Belfast News Letter, 8 June, 13 July 1830; [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 297-8.
  • 9. Belfast News Letter, 20 July, 20 Aug. 1830; Pack-Beresford mss A/190.
  • 10. Belfast Guardian, 20 May 1831.
  • 11. Belfast News Letter, 1 Feb. 1831.
  • 12. Belfast Guardian, 8 Apr. 1831.
  • 13. Ibid. 17, 20, 24 May; Belfast News Letter, 17, 20, 24 May 1831.
  • 14. NLI, Farnham mss 18611 (3), Lefroy to Farnham, 4 June 1832.
  • 15. PRO NI, Carr Beresford mss T3396.
  • 16. Londonderry Sentinel, 1, 29 Dec. 1832.
  • 17. Ibid. 11 Feb.; The Times, 11 Feb. 1868; Gent. Mag. (1868), i. 404.
  • 18. R.L. Praeger, Some Irish Naturalists, 110; R. Desmond, Dict. British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, 390.