Tuesday 13 March 2018

152 Colonel Philip Jones

152 Colonel Philip Jones
The expression “to run with the hare and the hounds” conveys endeavouring to remain on good terms with both sides in a conflict or dispute.  A local person who achieved this, surviving radical changes of government during a turbulent time in 17th century Britain, was Colonel Philip Jones of Llangyfelach.
He was born in 1618 at Pen-y-waun Farmhouse (now demolished), north-west of Llangyfelach Church, into a well-off family, for his grandfather was said to own seven properties.  During the century following the European Reformation, radical and Puritan ideas were becoming prevalent, especially in the years leading up to the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642.  Jones’s neighbour Marmaduke Matthews of Nydfwch was educated with a view to entering the ministry in Oxford, at that time a hotbed of Puritan ideas.  By contrast with the uniformity of Church of England services from the time of Elizabeth I, Christian believers were forming congregations that were “gathered” – people coming together to worship in a particular way, rather than assembling on a parochial or geographical basis.  The first such “gathered” church in Wales was formed as an Independent Church in 1639 at Llanfaches in Gwent by William Wroth, followed by, at Ilston, the first Baptist Church in Wales, founded in 1649 by John Miles (also spelt Myles), who like Marmaduke Matthews had imbibed Puritan ideas while studying in Oxford.  Within a few years Philip Jones became a member of that Baptist Church.        
He was evidently an able administrator, being appointed governor of the garrison of Swanzey (as it was then spelt) in 1645, when aged only twenty-seven, and the following year becoming Steward of Gower and Kilvey.  A colonel in the Parliamentary army, Philip Jones purchased The Great House in Swansea’s High Street, to the north of the castle (this was not The Plas).  He married Jane Price of Gellihir, and they had four sons and five daughters.
After the execution of King Charles I, during the interregnum Colonel Jones became a Member of Parliament, and supported the Act for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales, which established state-sponsored schools, and ejected Anglican clergy, replacing them with men of Puritan sympathies. 
When Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector, Jones became a member of the Privy Council, and purchased Fonmon, the fortified medieval castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, although he did not take up residence there for several years.  When Cromwell died aged 59 at Whitehall Palace, it was Colonel Philip Jones who attended to the funeral arrangements at Westminster Abbey.
Subsequently there was a reaction against the eleven years of Puritan rule during the interregnum, and a move to restore the monarchy.  Charles II was crowned King, and many parliamentarians removed from high office, with Jones ceasing to be Steward of Gower and Kilvey.  As might be expected in such times of political upheaval, Philip Jones had his enemies, being criticised as a mere opportunist, accused of fraud, and impeached, and yet he survived.  It was even alleged that he had taken away the organ of St Mary’s, Swansea, and one wonders whether Fonmon Castle might contain a 17th century organ?  However, since he was not involved in the regicide of King Charles I, Philip Jones managed to obtain pardon under the Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion.
Subsequently, apart from serving as Sheriff of Glamorgan, he retired from public office and took up residence at Fonmon, where he died in 1674 aged 56, being buried in nearby Penmark Church.
Colonel Philip Jones may well have been an opportunist, who during a time of social unrest and civil war managed to survive the Restoration of the Monarchy, but at least in those turbulent times there is no record of his having killed anyone.  Descendants of this Llangyfelach man, who had the skill to become the leading parliamentarian in South Wales, still reside at Fonmon Castle.

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