The boy Jones
Thomas Edward Jones (1824-1893), or the boy Jones, as he was called by the British newspapers of the early Victorian era, was a notorious intruder into Buckingham Palace between 1838 and 1841. He later became the subject of a children's book and the film The Mudlark and the full story of his activities has been told in Jan Bondeson's 2010 book Queen Victoria's Stalker.
Edward Jones was the son of a tailor in Westminster.
In 1838, aged approximately 14, he entered Buckingham Palace, disguised as a sweep. He was caught by a porter in the Marble Hall and, after a chase, captured by the police in St James's Street, with Queen Victoria's underwear stuffed down his trousers. He was brought before Queen Square Police Court on 14 December. It turned out that he had frequently mentioned his intention to enter the palace to his employer, a builder. Although he had apparently stolen linen and a regimental sword from the palace, he was acquitted by the jury.
On 30 November 1840, nine days after the birth of Queen Victoria's first child, Princess Victoria, he "scaled the wall of Buckingham Palace about half-way up Constitution Hill", entered the palace, and left it undetected. On 1 December 1840 he broke in again. Shortly after midnight a nurse discovered him under a sofa in the Queen's dressing room and he was arrested. His father's plea of insanity being without success, he was sentenced to three months in a house of correction. The 1840 incident caused a stir because initially it was feared that it might affect the Queen, happening so shortly after childbirth.
Before his release from Tothill Fields Prison on 2 March 1841, attempts were made to persuade Edward Jones to join the navy. On 15 March 1841, after a snack in one of the royal apartments, "the boy Jones" was caught by the reinforced police force guarding the palace. This time he was sentenced to three months' hard labour. This third incident caused a furore, and three additional palace sentries were appointed.
After his second release he refused an offer of £4 a week (£308 today) for appearances in a music hall, and a short time later he was caught loitering in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace. He was sent to do duty in the Navy and consequently served on HMS Warspite, Inconstant, and Harlequin, but, after a year he found an opportunity to walk from Portsmouth to London. Having been caught before he reached the palace, he was sent back to his ship. He was last mentioned in the newspapers in 1844, when he was rescued after going overboard between Tunis and Algiers.
Jones became the subject of numerous accounts in newspapers and satirical magazines and inspired a children's book and a film called The Mudlark. In an allusion to the famous Renaissance architect Inigo Jones, it was suggested that because of his "extraordinary powers of finding an entrance into the palace" he must be "a descendant of In-I-Go Jones".
He died on Boxing Day 1893 in Bairnsdale, Australia, after falling off the parapet of the east side of the Mitchell River bridge while drunk and landing on his head. It was reported in the Bairnsdale Advertiser that he struck his head on a piece of quartz as he fell to the ground which was a distance of about 12 feet.
Dr Duncan performed the post mortem and made note of a two inch long wound over the parietal bone and that the cause of death was concussion of the brain. Death was determined not to have been instant and the deceased had a hand full of thistles, which he had seized after falling.
He is buried at the Bairnsdale Cemetery in an unmarked grave, though the exact location is unknown due to poorly kept records.
- Story of Boy Jones who stole Queen Victoria's underwear, BBC, 2011-02-02, citing Dr Jan Bondeson whose book Queen Victoria's Stalker: The Strange Case of the Boy Jones (ISBN 978-1606350775) is to be published in May 2011
- Dickens, Charles (5 July 1885) "The boy Jones", All the Year Round, pp. 234–37.
- Strachey, Lytton (1921) Queen Victoria.
- Thomas Murphy, Paul. "Jones, Edward". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- Punch, Volume 1: July–December 1841.
- Howard, Joan (1943) The Boy Jones, New York: Viking.
- "It was Jones's extraordinary powers of finding an entrance into the palace, that caused Samuel Rogers to declare that he must be a descendant of the illustrious in-i-go." — Dickens, Charles (5 July 1885) "The boy Jones", All the Year Round, p. 236.
- "Lady Sandwich wittily wrote that he must be a descendant of In-I-Go Jones, the architect." — Raikes, Thomas (1857). A Portion of the Journal Kept by Thomas Raikes, Esq., from 1831 to 1847. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans. p. 136.
- "The strange tale of the first royal stalker". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "Fatal Accident". The Bairnsdale Advertiser. Thursday, 28th December 1893.