Val. Jone[s], his signature in a letter to Thomas de Gray dated Buxton Wells, Derbyshire, England, 25 May 1779


Nationality: Welch
Born: ca.1723
Regimental commission dates:
Colonel, 15 January 1776
Location during the Northern Campaign of 1777: New York
Died: Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire, Wales, 16 November 1779


Although a general in the army, colonel of the regiment, and commandant of the City of New York in 1778, surprisingly little is known of Valentine Jones. Jones's career as an officer in the British army began on 26 March 1744 when he was commissioned as ensign in the 33rd Regiment of Foot. As such, he fought in the famed Battles of Dettingen (1743) and Fontenoy (1745). Jones was promoted to a lieutenancy in the 33rd on 1 May 1745, captain-lieutenant on 26 September 1754, and captain of a company on 13 October 1755; it was with that rank that he transferred to the newly-raised 54th Regiment in December of that year. in 1758, his 54th Regiment was re-numbered as the 52nd, in which he was made major 14 October 1758 and soon after that lieutenant-colonel on 4 March 1760. Jones was able to achieve a brevet promotion to the rank of colonel in the army on 25 May 1772.

After lengthy garrison duties in Ireland throughout the 1760s, the 52nd Regiment was transferred to the Province of Canada, where it remained in the City of Québec. In the spring of 1774, Jones and two regiments under his care (the 10th Regiment and his own 52nd ), were ordered to be transferred elsewhere. Apparently, Jones made a significant impression while in Québec, according to a May 1774 letter addressed to him:


To Valentine Jones, Esq., Lieut.-Colonel of his Majesty's 52d Reg't of Foot.

 The Address of the Subscribers, Merchants, and other Inhabitants of the city of Quebec


It is with much concern we learn that his Majesty's service at this time calls for you and the Regiment under your command from this province; and we should on this occasion be much short of the respect due to you, and which Truth demands of us, if we did not take this public method of returning you our most sincere and hearty thanks for the obliging, regular and humane conduct you have ever observed for the many years you have resided among us; during which you have always paid that just regard to the protection of Civil Rights, and the proper Discipline of the Troops under your Command, as become the prudent and experienced officer.

We heartily wish you and the gentlemen of the Corps under your Command a safe and pleasant voyage, and doubt not that in your next quarters his Majesty's Subjects may have equal cause to bear Testimony of the uprightness of your conduct as the citizens of Quebec.

  We have the honour to be, & c.


Oh how wrong they were, as the destination of Jones and the two regiments was Boston in support of Lieutenant-General, the Hon. Thomas Gage, during the period of growing unrest in that city. By December of that year (1774), Jones was promoted to the local rank of brigadier-general (in America only) and appointed to the command of the 3rd Brigade, consisting of the 10th, 43rd, 59th Regiments, and detachments of the 18th and 65th Regiments. Due to reinforcements of additional generals and regiments to the Boston garrison, by 1 January 1776 Jones's 3rd Brigade was altered to consist of the 10th, 38th, and 52nd Regiments (as well as the 37th Regiment by July 1776). He also received the local rank of major-general (in America only) on 1 January 1776. Only weeks later, on 15 January 1776, he attained the colonelcy of the 62nd Regiment upon the death of it's elderly founding colonel, Lieutenant-General William Strode (ca.1698-14 January 1776), who was, upon his death, the British army's most senior lieutenant-general.

The rank of colonel of a regiment in the British army was titular; regimental colonels usually did not serve with their regiments at home or on campaign. Rather, they managed the regiment from afar, either actively or inactively (depending on their personal preference); either way, the actual physical command of a regiment was generally left to the regiment's lieutenant-colonel. Ironically, as colonels of British regiments were generally not colonels in the army (they were usually general officers instead), Jones was probably expecting an army-level promotion after becoming the 62nd Regiment's colonel; he got it on 29 August 1777, when he was promoted to the rank of major-general in the British army.

As commander of the 3rd Brigade of General Sir William Howe's army, Valentine Jones and his regiments participated throughout the lengthy campaign of 1776, assisting in the subjugation of Long Island, Manhattan, lower New York, and New Jersey. In a letter dated New York 31 December 1776, Sir William Howe, writing to Lord George Germain, expressed his opinions about the capability of each of his British and German general officers of assuming an independent command. Of Major-General Valentine Jones, Howe stated that he was “too inactive and infirm” for such a task.

As is with much of his service, Jones's whereabouts during the period of the Northern Campaign of 1777 are difficult to determine. A letter from Lord Barrington, secretary at war, to Sir William Howe dated the War Office, 20 March 1777, stated that it was "his Majesty's pleasure" that Major-General Jones should repair to Canada in order to take the unusual step and "take charge" of his 62nd Regiment there (to which he had been appointed colonel...and had yet to see for himself), and to serve on the Canada army staff. The letter also mentioned that Sir Guy Carleton was acquainted with the plan. This move appears to have occurred: In his journal entry dated 4 June 1777, Lieutenant James Murray Hadden (Royal Artillery) recorded that "Gen'l Carlton passed [through] here this day on his way to St. Johns: He, with Maj'r Gen'l Jones remains in Canada ...." However, Canada Army general and staff officer returns dated 1776-1778 do not list Jones as present with the northern army. For example, one return dated October 1777 listed one "General" (Sir Guy Carleton, as that was his proper rank) and one "Brigadier General" (Brigadier-General Allan MacLean, lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Highland Emigrants). There was no allowance for a major-general on the list, such as Jones.

By 1778, General Jones was stationed in or about the City of New York. According to a general order dated 30 April 1778:


Major Genl Vaughan is to relieve Major Genl Valent. Jones in the Command of the Troops at Kings Bridge on Saturday May the 2d—Major Genl Valentine Jones is to Command in the City of New York—All applications relative to that Command are to be made to Major Genl Valentine Jones till further orders—


It's very unfortunate that another British general of the same rank and surname also served in America at the same time and place during the war (Major-General Daniel Jones), as nonspecific references to either confuses their identification. Elias Boudinot, rebel commissary general of prisoners, wrote a letter to George Washington dated Baskingridge, New Jersey, 13 May 1778, expressing what he though of them both:


Dear Sir,

On my arrival at Morristown, I found Lieutenant-Colonel [Archibald] Campbell [71st Regiment and POW with the Americans], who proposed my going with him to New York, as he thought he could aid me greatly in furthering some immediate relief to our suffering prisoners. By Colonel [Ethan] Allen [POW with the British] I received General [Sir Henry] Clinton 's permission to attend Colonel Campbell, and then proceed to New York. I found Major-General Daniel Jones in the command, and General Valentine Jones Commandant of the city. Both these gentlemen appear determined to give every relief to prisoners that is in their power. They treated me with uncommon civility, and granted me every thing I asked....


Major James Wemyss, a British officer who served with the main army in America, later wrote a memoir about his thoughts and opinions of the generals and commanders of the main British army in which he served during the war, in a piece he titled “Sketches of the Characters of the General Staff Officers and Heads of Departments of The British Army that served in America during the Revolutionary War (the Northern Army excepted) with some remarks connected therewith” (Draper Papers, Sumter Collection 17VV192-215). Of the 62nd Regiment's colonel, he gave the opinion that "Major Genl. Valentine Jones [was] An honest hotheaded Welchman, altogether destitute of abilities; but hospitable and friendly, and [on] all occasions did the best he could."

Due to failing health, Valentine Jones returned home and was in England by early November 1778; on 18 November, he had the honor to have a conference with the King. By early 1779, things were getting worse for the ailing colonel of the 62nd Regiment. While taking in the waters at Bath, Jones apparently wrote a letter to Lord Amherst, commander-in-chief of the forces, requesting a permanent leave of absence from his command duties in America due to his failing health. Amherst replied with the following letter dated Whitehall, 5 February 1779:



I have received your Letter of the 2d instant which should more properly have been addressed to the Secretary of State for the American department; But to save trouble I will send it to Lord George Germain.

I am sorry to hear of your bad state of health, and hope you will find benefit from the Bath.

The Leave of absence which you mention, will, I apprehend, be impossible to be granted to you; For if your health will not permit you to go back to America some other Major General must be appointed on the Staff in your room.

I have the honour to be
Sir, &c


On 3 May 1779 Jones's health became far worse due to a fall from his horse. At about the same time, he was requested by Parliament to testify during the hearing on Sir William Howe's conduct of the war in America, to which Jones wrote the following letter of reply dated Buxton Wells, Derbyshire, England, 25 May 1779 (CO 5):



The letter you Honoured me with dated the 15th May directed to me at [illegible location name] was forwarded to me here received it this morning.

I request to inform you that in consequence of a Fall I got from my Horse the 3d Instant when out airing for the benefit of my Health I was so much Hurt that for nine days I wuld not turn in my Bed or be but upon the Broad of my Back or sleep but when seated in an armed chair. This confinement renewed my former complaints of the Asthma and Rheumatism I was advised to come Here for the Benefit of Drinking and Bathing in the water: Proceeding on my journey in a carriage at a slow pace and short stages it did not permit it did not prevent my being seized at Birmingham with the gout the town from the Frequent passage of carriages along the streets and the noise of implementing the different Branches of trade made the place after resting one day insufferable to remain longer. At the risque of my life I ventured to come here my right Foot and Leg swelled to an alarming degree. I am in so helpless a situation and suffer so much pain that it is normally impossible with any degree of safety of preserving life to undertake a posting journey to London—if requisite the physician will sign a certificate for the satisfaction of the House. I therefore hope my attendance may be dispensed with—If called upon I can give no information related to the opperations of the campains 1777 and 1778 further than related to the posts immediately dependant on New York where I commanded both campains quite a separate command unconnected with Sr Wm Howe or his Opperations after he left New York with His army to go to the Southward. I hope my infirmities and this will apologize for my absence—

I am
your most obedient &
most humble servant
Val. Jones


Sadly, it was not long before Jones's health completely failed him. According to the Edinburgh Advertiser for 1779:


Died lately Major-General Valentine Jones, aged 56, at Llanidloes, in Montgomeryshire, colonel of the 62d regiment, now in America, who distinguished himself nobly in several engagements, but particularly at the battle of Saratoga [sic]. He came to England about twelve months ago, for the benefit of his health, after thirteen years hard service in that part of the world, in the service of his king and country.


A lengthier—and more militarily accurate—obituary was printed in the November 1779 issue of the Gentleman's Gazette:


He had been in the army thirty-eight years, and during that period had served his country on many important and trying occasions.... At the close of last year [1778] he returned from America, where he had served fourteen years, and where he had been employed on many services, both civil and military, and distinguished for his bravery, humanity, and every other virtue which can adorn the soldier and the man. Increasing infirmities, the consequences of an active and laborious life wholly spent in the duty of his station, necessarily requiring those assistances which could only be afforded to him in his own country, he died at the age of 56, honoured with the confidence of men of the ablest judgment and highest rank in his profession; respected and beloved by the army in general; while his loss will long be deplored, and his memory revered by every domestic connection.


Upon Jones's death, the new colonel appointed to the 62nd Regiment was famed Foot Guards brigade commander, Major-General Edward Mathew (1729-1805).