William Jones (law officer)

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Sir William Jones (1631 – 2 May 1682) was an English lawyer and politician.


He was son of Richard Jones, of Stowey, Somerset, M.P. for Somerset in 1654, and entered Gray's Inn on 6 May 1647. He was called to the bar, and acquired a practice in the court of king's bench. George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham befriended him, and he was knighted and made a king's counsel in 1671.

He was solicitor-general from 11 November 1673 till 25 June 1675, when he was appointed attorney-general. He directed the prosecution of the victims of Titus Oates's plot in 1678, but he resigned the attorney-generalship in November 1679. He was returned to the House of Commons as member for Plymouth at a by-election on 3 November 1680. He was a manager for the commons at Stafford's trial (30 November), and was heavily involved in the passage of the Exclusion Bill through the commons.

He was satirised by the court wits, and John Dryden introduced him as 'Bull-faced Jonas' into Absalom and Achitophel (1681). He was re-elected for Plymouth to the abortive parliament summoned to Oxford in March 1681. The king's declaration of 8 April 1681, justifying his dissolution of parliament, was answered by Jones in Just and Modest Vindication of the Proceedings of the last two parliameuts (London, 1681, anon.); this tract was reissued in 1689 as The Design of Enslaving England Discovered. After its publication Jones appeared little in public life, owing, it was reported, to dislike of Shaftesbury. He was on intimate terms with Lord William Russell.

He died on 2 May 1682, "not much lamented", according to his numerous enemies, who included Samuel Pepys. He had married Elizabeth, the daughter of Edmund Alleyn of Hatfield Peverel, Essex and the widow of John Robinson of Denston Hall, Suffolk, with whom he had 2 sons (one of whom predeceased him) and 2 daughters. His estate at Ramsbury, Wiltshire was left to his nephew Richard.[1]