My latest book purchase intended for holiday reading is called ‘Killers Of The King – The Men Who Dared Execute Charles I’ by Charles Spencer, the brother of the late Princess Diana. My interest in this topic is not caused by a sudden discovery of anti-royalist feelings on my part, which can be taken as read, and are already an established part of my world view. More this has been the discovery of the history of our family, and our old family home, which in the 1640s was one of the homes of Colonel John Jones, who married Margaret Edwards, an ancestral cousin. They had had many children together who grew up in the same place as we did more recently.
I recently attended a historical presentation of the Civil War as it took place in Shropshire, and also visited the Museum in Shrewsbury, formerly the Music Hall, which has a section on the Civil War. In neither case could I find anything about Colonel Jones which is curious, as he lived nearby and had a pivotal role to play in both local and national events in the Civil War and its aftermath. Margaret Edwards died in the 1640s, and he then married Cromwell’s sister, formerly married to a Whetstone. He later on was the Commander of all English forces in Ireland and was tried in Parliament himself for disloyalty to Cromwell, who greatly disappointed him when he made himself Lord Protector. That was subsequent to Jones’ own partaking in the trial of Charles I as one of the regicides, signing the sentence of death. During the hearing, he was one of the more outspoken of the accusers.
Subsequent to Cromwell’s watering down of the possibilities for democracy, and the return of the Monarchy under Charles II in a royal coup d’etat, Jones was unlucky enough to be tried himself, and then be hung drawn and quartered along with others of the regicides.
He was not an insignificant player locally, as well as nationally, and was one of the two officers who accepted the surrender of Royalist Welsh forces at Anglesey. He also played a part in the significant number of skirmishes that took place around Shropshire from 1642 to 1647, including battles at Oswestry, Wem, Whitchurch, Shrewsbury and Chester further North. All eventually fell to the Parliamentarians, despite the area being mostly Royalist in 1642. It was the determination and military skill of men like Jones that turned the Civil War in Cromwell’s favour in Shropshire, and that too kept the Welsh from playing a bigger role in the war than they did.
The winning side writes the history and Jones clearly fails to meet the standard required for a historical mention, even today, when paid historians feel it safer not to overly mention the people who had the courage to kill a king, be that nearly four hundred years ago. Jones believed the King was a threat to England, being married to a Catholic Queen, and he believed the Pope was the AntiChrist. In Ireland he fought against the Catholics and protected the Ulster Orange Order. The Orange Order finally defeated Catholicism at the Battle Of The Boyne, enabling the Age Of Reason, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to come to pass.
The world now faces a new threat from another religion, and foreign influences being brought to bear with the intention of subduing us, destroying us as a nation and sending us back to the stone age. Let’s hope we can find sufficient spirit to fight again against such evil as Colonel Jones did in his lifetime.
As a child I was puzzled finding so many rusty old swords in our attics. There was the handle of a multiple whip, a long the lines of a cat’o’nine tails. Many years ago, all the papers were taken away by the Museum Of Wales (this part of Shropshire was part of Wales in the 17th century), where hopefully the role of Colonel John Jones is properly explained and acknowledged. I hope to find out yet more details by reading Charles Spencer’s book as part of my research into these deeds of yesteryear.