John Jones (martyr)

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Saint John Jones, O.F.M.
Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
Born unknown
Clynnog Fawr, Wales
Died 12 July 1598(1598-07-12)
Venerated in Roman Catholicism
Beatified 1929, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Canonized 25 October 1970, Rome by Pope Paul VI
Major shrine Pontoise
Feast 12 July

Saint John Jones, O.F.M., also known as John Buckley, John Griffith, or Godfrey Maurice, was a Franciscan friar, Catholic priest and martyr. He was born at Clynnog Fawr, Caernarfonshire (Gwynedd), Wales and executed 12 July 1598. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.


Jones came from a recusant Welsh family, who had remained faithful Roman Catholics throughout and despite the Protestant Reformation. [1] As a youth, he entered the Observant Franciscan friary at Greenwich, England; at its dissolution in 1559, he went to the Continent, and was professed (took his vows) at Pontoise, France.

After many years, Jones journeyed to Rome, where he stayed at the Ara Coeli friary of the Observants (a branch of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor that followed the Franciscan Rule literally). There he joined the Roman province of the Reformati (an even stricter branch of the Friars Minor). In 1591, Jones requested to go on the English mission.[1]

English mission[edit]

Jones' superiors considered his request, aware that a priest going on mission to Britain often ended his stay by being hanged, drawn and quartered. In spite of this, his superiors finally allowed Jones' mission request, even to receiving a special blessing and commendation from Pope Clement VIII.[1]

The dangers of England[edit]

He reached London about the end of 1592, and stayed temporarily at the house which Father John Gerard, S.J., had provided for missionary priests; he then labored in different parts of the country. His brother Franciscans in England elected him their Minister Provincial.


In 1596 the 'priest catcher' Richard Topcliffe was informed by a spy that Father Jones had visited two Catholics and had said Mass in their home. It was later shown that the two Catholics were actually in prison when the alleged offense took place. Regardless, Jones was arrested, severely tortured and scourged. Topcliffe then took Jones to his house and proceeded to torture him, "To him (Topcliffe) was granted the privilege, unique in the laws of England, or, perhaps, of any country, of maintaining a private rack in his own home for the more convenient examination of prisoners." [2].

Meeting with John Rigby[edit]

Following his torture, Jones was imprisoned for nearly two years. During this time Jones helped sustain John Rigby in his faith, who later also became one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. On 3 July 1598 Father Jones was tried on the charge of "going over the seas in the first year of Her majesty's reign (1558) and there being made a priest by the authority from Rome and then returning to England contrary to statute". He was convicted of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.


By this time people were becoming sympathetic to the Catholic victims of these awful butcheries, so the execution was arranged for an early hour in the morning in order to escape notice. The execution was delayed by about an hour because the hangman forgot to bring a rope; Jones used the time to preach to the people and answer their questions [3].

The place was St. Thomas' Watering, a small bridge over the Neckinger crossing the Old Kent Road, the old road between Canterbury and London known as Watling Street. This marked the boundary of the City of London's authority at this point indicating civil authority was strong, it was also a place of gibbets.


John Jones' dismembered remains were fixed atop poles on roads leading to Newington and Lambeth (now represented by Tabard Street and Lambeth Road respectively). His remains were later reputedly removed by at least two Catholic Englishmen, one of whom suffered a long imprisonment for this offense.^ One of the relics eventually reached Pontoise, where Jones had taken his religious vows.


  • Aliases
  • John Jones
  • John Buckley
  • John Griffith
  • Godfrey Maurice


  1. ^ Roman Catholic, in the text Catholic will be used, but this should be understood to refer to Roman Catholic
  2. ^ Edmund Campion, by Evelyn Waugh, Longmans, Green and Co. 1935, p. 110
  3. ^ Butler's Lives of the Saints. Revised ed. Collegeville: Burns & Oats, 2000, p. 89.


External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.