The Ernest Charles Jones Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Letters to and from Ernest Jones, diary of an army officer believed to be Major Charles Jones, Ernest's father, bills, receipts and miscellaneous items.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ernest Charles Jones (1819-1869) was born in Berlin on 25 January 1819, the only child of Major Charles Jones, a veteran of the Peninsular War, and Charlotte, the daughter of Alexander Annesley, a Kent landowner. The family left Germany for London when Jones was nineteen. He entered the Middle Temple in 1841 and was called to the bar on 19 April 1844.

Jones married Jane Atherley (d. 1857) in June 1841. They had four sons.

In 1844 Jones's financial situation deteriorated, and he was declared bankrupt, losing his house in London. Having appeared to show little interest in politics up to this point, his thinking became increasingly radical. He accepted the radicalism of the Chartist movement, publishing a collection of poems known as the Chartist Songs in August 1846. Jones worked with Feargus O'Connor on The Labourer, the journal of the land plan. He became friends with George Julian Harney, through whom he first met Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Jones stood as a candidate for Halifax in the general election of July 1847, and went to Paris in 1848 as part of a three-man delegation to present a congratulatory address to the provisional French government. He had become the most prominent figure in the Chartist movement, and was arrested in Manchester on 6 June 1848 and taken to London to be charged with seditious behaviour and unlawful assembly. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment and bound over for a further two years on release.

Jones was released from prison on 9 July 1850. He found the Chartist movement divided and no longer a national force. During the decade following his release he was in serious financial trouble, and in 1859 he returned to legal practice. His politics moved towards a radical-Liberal position, and he was about to attempt to become one of Manchester's Liberal MPs when he died.

Jones married his second wife, Elizabeth Darbyshire, in 1867, and they had one daughter. He died of pleurisy in Higher Broughton, Manchester, on 26 January 1869.

Taken from John Saville's article on Ernest Charles Jones, Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004-2013).

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection. Viewing is by prior appointment. Please contact archivist@chethams.org.uk.

Alternative Form Available

Microfilm available.

Bibliography

  • Mark Hovell, The Chartist Movement (Manchester, 1918).
  • John Saville, Ernest Jones: Chartist (London, 1952).
  • J.F.C. Harrison, Biography of the Chartist Movement, 1837-1976 (1978).
  • Miles Taylor, Ernest Jones and the Romance of Politics, 1819-69 (Oxford, 2003).