Born 18 October 1759 at Brecon, son of Hugh Jones, at that time curate of Llanfaes there, later vicar of Llangamarch (1763-8) and of Llywel (1768-99), and prebendary of Christ College, Brecon - his wife Elinor (died 1786) was daughter of Theophilus Evans, and the historian spent much of his boyhood at Llwyn Einion, Llangamarch, his grandfather's home, and inherited historical documents from him. He was educated at Christ College school under David Griffith (1726 - 1816); Edward Davies (1756 - 1831), his lifelong friend, was his schoolmate. Jones practised in law for a considerable period, but on being appointed deputy-registrar of the archdeaconry he gave up his private practice and devoted himself to historical research. He married Mary Price, daughter of Rhys Price of Porth-y-rhyd (near Llandovery), and went to live in his father's former house in Lion Street, which still stands - it was the house in which bishop George Bull had died.
It would seem that the History of the County of Brecknock was conceived c. 1800. The first volume appeared in 1805, the second (dedicated to Edward Davies) in 1809. In his later years Jones was very friendly with Thomas Price (Carnhuanawc). He died 15 January 1812, and was buried at Llangamarch. His widow died on 22 July 1828, and was buried in Myddfai churchyard.
He was Welsh -speaking, author of an unpublished English version of Ellis Wynne's Bardd Cwsc, and at one time owner of the ' Book of Aneirin ' - this was given him by Anthony Bacon and passed after his death into Thomas Price's hands. He had intended writing a history of Radnorshire, and contributed several papers to the Cambrian Register and to Archaeologia. In 1905, Edwin Davies published a volume, Theophilus Jones, Historian, containing these papers, Jones's letters to Edward Davies and Walter Davies (Gwallter Mechain), and a biography by Gwenllian E. F. Morgan.
To this day, Jones's work is the best of our Welsh county histories - a work of diligent and careful research. The author's prejudices are too obvious to cause trouble - his anti-Popery, his dislike of Dissent and of Methodism (yet his article on Howel Harris, reprinted in the memorial volume mentioned, is not altogether unkindly), his prosaic nature which blinded him to the merits of Henry Vaughan the poet. A second edition with some additions was published by Edwin Davies in 1898 in one volume. In 1909-11 Davies began bringing out a third edition, which was completed by the county historical society in 1930, with copious additions from the collections of the first baron Glanusk. In this handsome four-volume edition the work is indispensable for the student of the history of Brecknock and of Brecon.
Published date: 1959
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