Jones, Thomas, 1870-1955.

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Jones, Thomas, 1870-1955.

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Dr Thomas Jones (1870-1955), a native of Rhymney, was a prominent civil servant, administrator and author who was Deputy Secretary to the cabinet from 1916 until 1930. In this capacity he served four Prime Ministers: Lloyd George, Bonar Law, Stanley Baldwin and J. Ramsay MacDonald. He was on especially cordial terms with the first three. He was educated at Rhymney Board School and Lewis School, Pengam, before beginning work as a timekeeper-clerk at the Rhymney Iron Company. In 1890 he entered the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, moved to Glasgow University in 1895 where he came heavily under the influence of Henry Jones, the Professor of Moral Philosophy, and where he graduated with First Class Honours in economic science in 1901. He had in 1895 joined the Independent Labour Party and the Fabian Society and devoted much time to an intensive study of the problems of poverty, living and working at social settlements at Glasgow and Cardiff. From 1900 until 1909 Thomas Jones earned his living as a Glasgow University lecturer in political economy, and he was appointed Professor of Economics at Belfast University in 1909. Within a year, however, he returned to Wales on his appointment as secretary of the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial Association. In 1912 he became secretary of the National Health Insurance Commission (Wales). He became prominent in the public life of Wales, held an array of public offices and was one of the founders of the Welsh Outlook in 1914. By this time Thomas Jones was well known to David Lloyd George who appointed him firstly as assistant secretary (later Deputy Secretary) to the Cabinet in December 1916. He was consequently much involved in the negotiations which led to the celebrated Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 and the industrial troubles of the 1920s which culminated in the General Strike of May 1926. He accompanied Lloyd George on his famous visit to Hitler in 1936. As recreation, Jones immersed himself in an array of charitable and philanthropic works. He was one of the founders of the Gregynog Press in 1923 and was one of the principal founders of Coleg Harlech in 1927. From 1930 until 1945 he was the first secretary of the Pilgrim Trust. During the severe inter-war depression in the South Wales coalfield he was closely associated with voluntary efforts to alleviate the worst ravages of the downturn in trade and industry. In October 1944 Thomas Jones was elected president of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and he lived at Bryn Hir, Penglais Road, Aberystwyth, from 1945 until ill health overtook him in 1954. Among his many published works were Rhymney Memories (1938), Leeks and Daffodils (1942), Welsh Broth (1951), and A Diary with Letters, 1931-1950 (1954). His biography of Lloyd George, which he published in 1951, was generally well received. His political diaries were published in three volumes under the title Whitehall Diary between 1969 and 1971. He received a large number of distinctions and honorary doctorates. In 1902 Thomas Jones had married Theodora Jones (died 1935). Their elder son Tristan became managing director of the Observer newspaper. Their only daughter Mrs Eirene White served as Labour MP for Flintshire from 1950 until 1970, and subsequently entered the House of Lords as Baroness White of Rhymney. The younger son Elphin Lloyd was killed in a motoring accident in 1928. Thomas Jones himself died in London on 15 October 1955.


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