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JONES, Sir THOMAS (d. 1692), chief justice of the common pleas, of an old Welsh family, was second son of Edward Jones of Sandford, Shropshire, by Mary, daughter of Robert Powell of the Park, Shropshire. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1632. He entered at Lincoln's Inn in May 1629, and was called to the bar on 17 March 1634. In 1638 he was elected an alderman of Shrewsbury. His property escaped sequestration during the civil war, but he is said to have been twice a prisoner, once being taken by the parliamentary forces on the fall of Shrewsbury in 1644, and once being committed to custody by Sir Francis Offley, governor of Shrewsbury, for refusing to furnish a dragoon for the king's service. He appears to have trimmed cautiously, professing to be well affected to the Commonwealth as long as it lasted, and to have been a devoted loyalist as soon as monarchy was restored. Under the Commonwealth he was elected town clerk of Shrewsbury by the parliamentary party there. After the Restoration complaints were made of the irregularity of this election; commissioners were sent to Shrewsbury to inquire into the case, and they vacated his election on the ground of his having been 'a great countenancer of the presbyterians,' and he gave up the office on 9 Aug. 1662 (see Owen and Blakeway, Hist. of Shrewsbury, i. 483; Gent. Mag. new ser. xiii. 2, 270). Just before the arrival of Charles II and again in 1661 he was elected M.P. for Shrewsbury, but he took no part in debate in parliament. He continued to advance in his profession, became a serjeant in 1669, king's serjeant and knight in 1671, judge of the king's bench on 13 April 1676, and finally on 29 Sept. 1683 chief justice of the common pleas. As a judge he seems to have been subservient to the crown, and to have shown considerable harshness and illiberality in presiding at political trials. In Trinity term 1680 the House of Commons ordered him and Chief-justice Scroggs to be impeached for hastily dismissing the grand jury of Middlesex, in order to prevent them from presenting an information against the Duke of York for omitting to attend divine worship. This proceeding was put an end to by the prorogation of parliament (see Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. pt. i. 479 n). In 1681 he charged the grand jury in Fitzharris's case [see Fitzharris, Edward], and was one of the judges who tried Stephen College [q. v.] in 1681, and William, lord Russell [q. v.] in 1683. In June of the same year he pronounced the judgment in favour of revoking the charter of the city of London; but in 1686, refusing to declare in favour of the dispensing power, he with others was dismissed on 21 April. Un 14 June 1689 he appeared before the House of Commons to give the reason for this dismissal, and again on 19 July he and Pemberton, formerly chief justice of the common pleas, were summoned to justify their judgment pronounced in 1682 against Topham, serjeant-at-arms, and the house deciding this judgment to have been a breach of privilege, they were committed to custody, and only liberated when parliament was prorogued. He died in May 1692, and was buried at St. Alkmond's Church, Shrewsbury, where there is a mural tablet to his memory (see Phillips, Antiquities of Shrewsbury, ed. by Hulbert, p. 98, and correction in Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. x. 430). North (Examen, p. 563) describes him as 'a very reverend and learned judge, a gentleman and impartial, but being of Welch extraction was apt to be warm.' He married Jane, daughter of Daniel Bernand of Chester, by whom he had three sons, William, Thomas (made a king's counsel in 1683), and Edward. His portrait by Claret was engraved in mezzotint by R. Thompson. He was the author of 'Reports of Special Cases in the Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, from the 19th to 30th year of Charles II,' first published in French in 1695, and in French and English in 1729.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; State Trials, vols. vi-xi, xvi, 821; Parl. Hist. iv. 1224, 1261, 1273; Kennett's Hist. iii. 451; Luttrell's Brief Relation]

J. A. H.