Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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JONES, HARRY LONGUEVILLE (1806-1870), archaeologist and educationalist.

Harry Longueville Jones was born in Piccadilly, London, on 16 April 1806, the eldest of three children (and only son) of Edward Jones (1774-1815), linen draper and his wife Charlotte Elizabeth (née Stephens, 1784-after 1832). Jones had Welsh connections through his paternal grandfather, Captain Thomas Jones of Wrexham, killed in a duel in 1799, who had added the name Longueville on succeeding to some of the Longueville estates in Shropshire. Educated at Dr Nicholls's school, Ealing, Jones was admitted as a sizar to St John's College, Cambridge in 1823, migrating to Magdalene College in 1827, where he graduated with First-class honours in 1828 and was elected a Fellow of the college. The publication of his Illustrations of the Natural Scenery of the Snowdonian Mountains (1829), dedicated to Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester, revealed an interest in Wales and facility as a draughtsman that would be developed considerably over the following decades. Jones was ordained a deacon (1829) and priest (1831) in the Church of England, and briefly served as curate of Conington, Cambs., but did not seek further ecclesiastical preferment. Instead, after being obliged to resign his fellowship upon his marriage (14 May 1835) to Fanny (née Weston, 1814-after 2 April 1871) of Wellington, Shropshire, Jones and his wife moved to Paris.

Why the couple chose Paris is unknown. Claims that Jones had family connections with the city appear ill-founded, and the lower cost of living than in England may be sufficient explanation. Jones supported himself as a journalist on the English-language daily newspaper Galignani's Messenger and helped to update Galignani's Paris Guide, working for a while alongside the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863). He also contributed to periodicals in Britain, notably Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, which provided an outlet for his staunchly Tory opinions, and pursued his interests in social theory and reform through forging links with the Manchester Statistical Society. In 1836 a paper advocating the foundation of a university in Manchester was read to the society on his behalf, and in 1838 he became a Foreign Corresponding Member of both it and the London Statistical Society. In 1838-9 Jones was reported to be completing a work in French on universities in Great Britain. If so, this was one of several projects that never came to fruition, though Jones published an article on the subject and, with Thomas Wright (1810-1877), contributed the text to John Le Keux's Memorials of Cambridge (1841-2).

Jones also developed his antiquarian and archaeological interests in Paris. In January 1839 he was appointed one of eight Foreign Corresponding Members for England of the Comité historique des arts et monuments, one of the institutions established by the July Monarchy (1830-48) to record and preserve the heritage of France. Further recognition of his archaeological and antiquarian credentials came with his election as a member of the Société de l'histoire de France in February 1840 and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in June 1841. Jones later invoked the example of French heritage measures in his initiatives to develop Welsh archaeology. Likewise the extensive fieldwork he undertook in Wales was prefigured by his survey of forty-nine churches in the vicinity of Paris in 1839-40.

Jones returned to Britain in March 1842 and took up residence in Dover Street, Manchester, where remained until at least the end of 1847. He established a college in the town, but found greater fulfilment in visits to record the medieval churches of Anglesey. By 1848 he had relocated from Manchester to Beaumaris, from where he later moved to the nearby village of Llandegfan. By this time, Welsh antiquities had become his principal concern, as he had taken the lead, in co-operation with his fellow Anglican John Williams Ab Ithel, in establishing the journal Archaeologia Cambrensis (1846) and the ensuing Cambrian Archaeological Association (1847). These were his most enduring achievements. Jones sought to make the study of Welsh archaeology and antiquities both more systematic and more critical than before, and his rejection of the fanciful Druidic interpretations of Ab Ithel led to the latter's resignation from the Association in 1853. Jones contributed almost 100 articles to Archaeologia Cambrensis and remained its editor until his death.

On 16 December 1848 Jones was appointed Her Majesty's Inspector for Church of England schools in Wales. This transformed his financial circumstances, as the annual salary of £600 gave him his first regular income since relinquishing his Cambridge fellowship. During the following years Jones led a peripatetic life. His official duties took him not only to the Privy Council Office in London but to educational establishments across Wales, thereby providing ample opportunities to visit archaeological monuments. Moreover, he continued to move home, being resident in The Polygon, Clifton in the mid-1850s and in Pyle, Glamorgan by 1861. However, he came into conflict with his superiors - a result, at least in part, of his sympathetic attitude to the use of the Welsh language in schools - and resigned in 1864 after the first of a series of strokes which left him an invalid. He spent his last years mainly in Kensington, London, and remained intellectually active, publishing a collection of his essays shortly before his death at home at 1 Claremont Terrace, Newland Street on 16 November 1870. Jones was buried five days later at All Souls cemetery, Kensal Green. He was survived by his widow and daughters Fanny, Charlotte, Louisa and Mildred, of whom only the first two had married (in 1856 and 1861 respectively).

Although no likenesses or physical descriptions of Jones survive, his publications and correspondence reveal a restless, intelligent and independent-minded man who shared central concerns of his age: notably, a commitment to educational and social improvement, based on statistical analysis, complemented by a Romantic sensibility that took delight both in the beauties of nature and in antiquities, especially those of the Middle Ages. That sensibility was also intimately connected to his Tory politics, with its idealization of a hierarchical, deferential society ruled by the aristocracy. His relationship to Wales was therefore more complex than modern characterizations of him as a patriotic Welshman suggest. Indeed, it is unclear how far Jones saw himself as Welsh. While his partly Welsh ancestry probably helps to explain his interest in the Principality, he viewed it from the perspective of an outsider whose formative years had been spent in England and France. He could be sharply critical of the Welsh, and had little time for eisteddfod culture or Welsh Nonconformity, let alone movements for political reform. But he also condemned the education commissioners' ‘Blue Books’ of 1847, and was largely sympathetic to the Welsh language, though apparently did not learn to speak it fluently. His sympathy arose, however, from his conviction that the language sustained a sense of national pride in Wales which made an essential contribution to maintaining the liberties and strength of the British Empire against the perils of democracy. It was entirely consistent with this political outlook that Jones's most significant legacies in Wales, Archaeologia Cambrensis and the Cambrian Archaeological Association, were conceived as enterprises led by the gentry and Anglican clergy.

Sources:

  • Bodleian Library, Oxford, Phillipps-Robinson MSS, c. 499, 503, 508, 514, 527, d. 162-3 (Jones's letters to Sir Thomas Phillipps, Middle Hill, 1847-55);
  • National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, MSS 4052-4262 (Jones's letters to Blackwoods, 1840-70);
  • National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Papers of the Cambrian Archaeological Association;
  • Nancy Edwards and John Gould, ‘From Antiquarians to Archaeologists in Nineteenth-Century Wales: The Question of Prehistory’, in Neil Evans and Huw Pryce (eds), Writing a Small Nation's Past: Wales in Comparative Perspective, 1850-1950 , Farnham, 2013, 143-63;
  • Huw Pryce, ‘Harry Longueville Jones, FSA, Medieval Paris and the Heritage Measures of the July Monarchy’, The Antiquaries Journal , 96 (2016);
  • H. G. Williams, ‘Longueville Jones and Welsh Education: The Neglected Case of a Victorian H.M.I.’, Welsh History Review , 15 (1990-1), 416-42.

Author:

Huw Pryce

Published date: 2016