Bleak House II: The Jones Family (newsletter 9, Autumn 2002)
Mr. D.A. Tucker of Malpas has sent us some more of the results of his research into his family
history. Readers will remember from newsletter no. 3 his account of the Chancery dispute in which so
many of his ancestors became embroiled. This instalment attempts to disentangle the different
branches of the family involved in the dispute, and looks at the ownership of the timber yards in
Newport’s Dock Street, which were held as copyhold tenancies from the Tredegar estate.
One of my earliest recollections, before the Second World War, is of my mother pushing me in my
pushchair past the Dock Street entrance of the Provisions Market, and telling me that the market and
the Timber Yard once belonged to my grandmother’s family. At that time, in 1939, the nation was
getting geared up for war. There were endless lorry convoys going to the Docks, young men going to
the Newport Barracks for mobilisation, Authorities commandeering vehicles at the traffic lights. It was
all very confusing and exciting stuff for a young child. However, in spite of everything that was going
on, what my mother and father had said stuck in my mind.
My father and his parents were unwavering in their tales that the areas round the Market, the timber
yard and parts of the High Street belonged to the Jones’s. They often referred to ‘the Deeds of
Chancery’. A cousin of mine insisted that most of the Land in Upper Dock Street, and High Street had
belonged to the Jones family - or rather had been copyhold, leased from the Tredegar Estates. More,
our family had been cousins of the Morgans’. William Jones of Abergavenny had married the
daughter of Thomas Morgan of Machen and Tredegar, and both families had intermarried several
What, I wondered, were ‘The Deeds of Chancery’? And what had happened to the land in the
nineteen-twenties? And who were our Ancestors? Of such (I believed) a very humble family as ours?
I had to find out!
The story that I have discovered so far:
Edmund Jones was baptised 1758 at Llanover (parish registers in NLW): father Thomas Jones,
mother Mary, née Morgan (cousin to Sir Charles Morgan).
Edmund was a Freemason of the Royal Cambrian Lodge, Senior Warden 1809, Acting Worshipful
Master 1810, 1811, 1812. Still a member 1813. The Royal Cambrian met at his house in 1809. Was
this the Green Dragon? Or the Ship on Launch in Skinner Street?
Edmund Jones of Risca was married at Llangstone in 1776 to Catherine, née Andrews. They had
four surviving children: Sarah born 1782, William born 1785, Isaac born 1786, Edmund born 1789.
William married Ann Frost, daughter to Thomas Frost. No Issue?
He died in 1824. Ann outlived him. She contested the administration of Edmund’s estate by her
mother-in-law Catherine in the Consistory Court of Llandaff in 1825/27. This may have resulted in the
leasehold estate being taking into Chancery.
Isaac married Hester, née Harris, in 1806. Their only son was Benjamin, my great, great-grandfather.
Edmund married Rebecca Thomas. They had three children: Sarah Rebecca, Catherine Rebecca,
Sarah Rebecca was married 1st to John Rees, then after his death to a Rowland Henry Nicholas*.
They had two children, Esther* and John Henry*.
(the asterisks indicate those who were involved in the Chancery cases.)
These two Children of Rowland Henry Nicholas - Esther* (who had became the wife of John Aiken*)
and John Henry Nicholas* became defendants in the Chancery Case of 1874/76.
Catherine Rebecca Jones married a *Benjamin Thomas and had one daughter,
*Catherine Rebecca Thomas, who married a Colonel Walter Williams of Wynnstay, Stow Park Circle.
(See Bradney’s The Hundred of Newport. p 54: Jones of Magor.
George died unmarried in 1844.
Sarah, Isaac’s sister, married a William Neatly. Issue? Unable to say.
Isaac had died in 1817, leaving a widow, Hester, and son Benjamin; Hester had then married a
second time in around 1840, a Mr Wilde, and passed the administration of Isaac’s estate to her son
Benjamin was a controversial character, a thorn in the side of the Jones family. As well as objecting
over the change of the family surname of Jones to Herbert in 1862, he had also quarrelled with his
relations over religion. His grandparents, father, and he himself, had become Dissenters and are
buried at Bethesda Chapel, Rogerstone. But his Uncle Edmund had become a churchwarden of Saint
Woolos and is laid to rest there.
In 1874 Benjamin was granted Letters of Administration on the unadministered estate of his
grandfather Edmund Jones, licensed victualler of Newport, who died on 20 Sept.1820. His solicitors
then proceeded to bring an action in Chancery against his deceased cousin’s husband, a Benjamin
Thomas, and other relations of his, to find out what had happen to the share of his grandfather’s
estate, which he alleged his uncle (Edmund the younger) had fraudulently withheld from him. The
case was dismissed for want of prosecution in 1876, both Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Thomas
having died in the man time.
Edmund Jones the younger was a timber merchant and took public office, becoming Mayor of
Newport in 1830/31. The Jones and Nicholas family timber yard had been in the Dock Street and
Skinner Street area of Newport. Benjamin’s uncle Edmund had made a will in 1840 creating a trust
for his family. This was the will that Benjamin contested in the Chancery Court Case of 1874/76. My
old relations always said he had prosecuted the wrong people, and that the leases were still in
Chancery. They had been there since the dispute of 1825/7. It is recorded that a payment was made
out of this Fund in 1828 but it was not until 1923 that money was paid into the account for loss of the