Thomas Jones (bishop) explained

Thomas Jones (ca. 1550  - April 10, 1619) was Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was also Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral and Bishop of Meath and the patrilineal ancestor of the Viscounts Ranelagh.

Jones was a native of Lancashire and the son of Henry Jones, Esq. of Middleton. His brother, Sir Roger Jones, Alderman of London, was knighted at Whitehall. Thomas acquired a Master of Arts from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1573, after which he relocated to Ireland. He married a widow, Margaret Purdon, who was also a sister-in-law of Archbishop Adam Loftus. The relationship to Loftus proved beneficial to Jones.[1] He was named Chancellor of St. Patrick's Cathedral and was elected Dean in 1581. While dean, Jones granted questionable leases of church property including a particular 161-year lease which caused later St. Patrick's Dean, Jonathan Swift, to scold Jones:

When Archbishop of Armagh Thomas Lancaster died in 1584, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (and former Archbishop of Armagh) Loftus recommended Jones as a replacement despite his unorthodox leases. John Long was chosen for the position instead but, on May 10, 1584, at the written urging of Queen Elizabeth, Jones was named Bishop of Meath.[1] [2] He was immediately called to the privy council of Ireland by the government of lord deputy John Perrot, a position he held for 20 years.[1] [2] In April 1605, Adam Loftus died and King James I emphatically chose Jones to be Archbishop of Dublin, commencing the following November. He was also named prebendary of both Castleknock parish of St. Patrick's and the rectory of Trim in the Diocese of Meath:

In 1605, Jones was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland, a position he held for the duration of his life. He was staunchly anti-Catholic during the era of King James's Plantation of Ulster.[2] [3] In 1611, he was part of a Protestant Council in Dublin "to prevent sectarianism and extirpate Popery." He attended the opening of the Parliament of Ireland in 1612, giving an important speech. During this period, he had eight Roman Catholics excommunicated and imprisoned for recusancy and then had them reimprisoned after Parliament released them soon afterwards.[2] Jones was a lord justice in 1613, received an honorary D.D. degree from the University of Dublin in 1614, and again served as lord justice in 1615. He and his son, Roger Jones, 1st Viscount Ranelagh, took part in several disputes with Lord Howth, the most serious of which involved an affray in Thomas St. in Dublin in 1609 in which a man was killed. During his time as Lord Chancellor, Jones saw that the cathedral of Christ Church underwent extensive repairs. He grew ill very suddenly and died at his St. Sepulchre's palace in Dublin in 1619. He was buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral beside his wife who had died four months earlier. Viscount Ranelagh, his only surviving son, had a monument and statue created with inscriptions for Thomas and his wife[2] :

The monument was restored in 1731 at the request of St. Patrick's dean, Jonathan Swift.[2]

Notes and References

  1. Book: O'Flanagan, James Roderick. The Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of Ireland. 1870. Chapter XXII. 296–304. (HTML version).
  2. Dictionary of National Biography edited by Sidney Lee, Volume XXX (link), pp. 163-164.
  3. Book: McCormack, W. J.. The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture. 2001. 312. 0-631-22817-9. Blackwell Publishing.