Jones, Thomas

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Jones, Thomas

JONES, THOMAS. (1731–1792). Loyalist historian. New York. Born into a prominent New York family on 30 April 1731 at Fort Neck, Long Island, Jones graduated from Yale in 1750, studied law with his father and Joseph Murray, and set himself up as an attorney in 1755. He became clerk of the Queens County court of common pleas in 1757 and married Anne, daughter of New York's Chief Justice James De Lancey, in 1762. In 1765 he had his residence, Mount Pitt, built on the highest point of land on lower Manhattan, between the Bowery and the East River. One of the finest residences and estates on Manhattan, it was the site of Jones's Hill Fort when Charles Lee organized the defenses of New York City.

In 1773 he succeeded his father, David (1699–1775), as a judge of the provincial supreme court. As a loyal crown official and wealthy man, he was a natural enemy of the Patriots. On 27 June 1776 he was arrested at his home by the New York Committee of Safety. The New York Provincial Congress released him on parole to reappear before it on reasonable notice. On 11 August, Washington ordered the arrest of all Loyalists likely to aid the British, and Jones was again arrested. Charged with disaffection, he was a prisoner in Connecticut until paroled in December 1776 by Governor Trumbull. He returned to his family's home at Fort Neck and avoided politics.

On 6 November 1779 his house was suddenly entered by a Patriot force under Captain Daniel Hawley of Connecticut. Jones was seized with a view to exchanging him for General Gold Selleck Silliman, a Yale classmate and friend of Jones who had been captured in his home six months earlier by Loyalist raiders. Jones spent the next several months as a sullen guest of Mary Silliman. The exchange was effected in April 1780, shortly after a New York Act of Attainder had confiscated all his property. The next year Jones and his family went to Bath, England, where Jones recovered from injuries received in a sleigh accident in Connecticut. He remained in England, bitter over the outcome of the Revolution and blaming both Britain and America for the destruction of his life and the empire. He settled in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, in 1783 and began work on a history of the Revolution, one of the few to give the Loyalist perspective. He finished his history in 1788, but it was not published until 1879, when the New-York Historical Society acquired it from Edward Floyd De Lancey, a distant descendant of Jones's. Jones died in Hoddesdon on 25 July 1792.

SEE ALSO Attainder, Acts of.


Jones, Thomas. A History of New York during the Revolutionary War. 2 vols. New York: New York Times, 1968.

                                  revised by Michael Bellesiles

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