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26th January 2005im related to pvt r jones!
By Shirly Jones
Im related to Robert Jones. He is my great great great great great something is what my mom said. im truly proud of him. i hung his picture on my wall to glaze at the bravery of him. im so upset that his grave is upside down!
27th January 2005Andy Lee

Too right - what an honour to have such a hero in your family.

I strongly disagree with the suicide verdict recorded against Robert Jones and my dream is to clear this verdict from his records something I've investigated in the past.

If you take a good look at the facts, position of body, faulty firing trigger on gun and the ways deaths were investigated in those days, in my opinion it all points to accidental death.

There are differing opinions on the position of the grave but I for one would like it turned so that it faces the church but more importantly the verdict of suicide overturned.

All the Best

Andy Lee
27th January 2005Sarah Jones
Hi shirley i am a relation to robert Jones too.He is my great great grandfather.I agree with you too about his grave being back to front! and that the verdict should be changed.
28th January 2005sarah jones
Hi Shirley have tried to email you but cannot get through,is there a chance that you could email me so i can write you an email about robert jones and the family
28th January 2005Phil Pearce
Hi Shirley'
Nice to 'meet' you . I am Robert Jones Great grandson so in some way we are distant cousins. Which one of his children are you decended through. As you refer to your mother as mom I presume that you are living in the United States of America ?
Where the verdict is concerned Andy is not the only one to dream of reversing it & also the head stone. I remamber as a young child when visiting his grave with my parents I asked why the headstone was in reverse. As it happened the lady verger of the church overheard me & said 2 well your great grand father was a very brave man & also quite famous. Because of this lots of people come to see his grave therefore the headstone faces the walkway instead of the grave to make it easier for visitors to read without having to walk around the front of his grave."
Belive it or not I belived these kindest of words until I was in my early 20's. The reason for this was I belive that my Nan was very young when Robert died. Because of her youth she was always told by her mother & others that his death was a shooting accident. To my knowledge she mercyfully belived this to her dying day. As a result of this all of her children were told the same , that it was a tragic accident. Imagin the shock when I stumbled upon the suicide verdict. Since doing so like Andy I have looked into things & to be diplomatic have come down on the side of a terrible accident. however if I was to be honest deep down inside I ponder the wriggle , suicide or accident , hair tigger or not , how on earth do you manage to shoot yourself in the head TWICE with a shotgun ?
Unfortunatly to overturn a coroners verdic is quite hard especially one that is 106 years old . This could involve examination of remains ( if any ) which I wonder if it would be worth such trauma .After all We the family think it was an accident & if this is true God in heaven will know it to be so. on the other hand I would dearly love to vindicate him of this verdict turn the headstone around & have his grave re-dedicated. Pie in the sky maybe however I wonder if some ' Time Team Invesigation ' television programme such as on Ch4 or S4C in Wales would be interested in such a venture? This may sound a bit goulish & would hate for it to become a media circus but I think this should be put to bed once & for all. I personally do not have the spare cash nor the personal experience to tackle this alone & I doubt whether that many of of combined family do ( without mass negotiations ) Will possibly cost as much to achive this as when we tried to purchase Roberts V.C back in 96 !! I therefore think that a T.V investigation into the death of a Rorkes Drift hero would be the way to go. Not only do these people have considerably more cash than us , they have extensive legal teams, access to fire arm experts , modernday phorensic teams at their disposal , historians left right & centre etc etc ! Whats more given the subject they know that it would make damned good viewing figures. What do the rest of you think ?
All the best
28th January 2005Andy Lee
Phil/Sarah and Shirly

We could have the startings of a good team here.


Well said and what a good idea - perhaps this forum with such talented historians could come together and draw up a proposal for a TV programme.

In my opinion when you look at all the 'facts' I just do not know how a 'Suicide verdict was reached. My problem is that I understand the original coroners report was destroyed in a fire, thus we have no starting point. I also understand that in those days such investigations were carried out quickly usually in the local pub.

I for one would be very uncomfortable with any sort of remain examination but would like to think with the known factual evidence and a good modern day coroner the facts would quosh any definate suicide verdict, what evidence is there to support it was definatly suicide. Surely, if there is any doubt a verdict of accidental death has to be recorded.

All the best


28th January 2005Phil pearce
Hi shirly'
Sent you a private mailing , this has been returned as your mail address cannot be found.
28th January 2005Peter Ewart
Phil & Andy

I've followed your story with interest whenever the death and coroner's verdict on your antecedent Robert Jones VC comes up on the forum. As family members you will know the case inside out by now I'm sure, and will be privy to many family stories which have been handed down.

I've often been tempted to comment but haven't until now - one feels a bit of an outsider, perhaps, when a RD man is "family" to others. Several points come to mind though:

1. Andy's point about coroner's inquests into accidents of about a century or so ago is quite correct. Most did take place within 24 hours or so, by which time the coroner (who might have come some miles) had raised a jury, who would usually view the body. And yes, it is true that many (probably most at that time, especially if rural) took place in a room of a local pub. One has to wonder about the preparation and attention to detail compared with today. I have read scores of inquest reports (almost all in the local press, not from coroner's records) & sometimes wonder at the cursory nature of the procedures or the suspicion of a "set" verdict. On the other hand, the press report was sometimes a precis and not always verbatim, so it is difficult to judge exactly. (Not a primary source!)

Coroner's records are notoriously difficult to track down. When a collection does survive, examination usually reveals that it has been weeded. So some cases disappear and other cases lose some of their papers. Often, only a small sample of cases is retained complete. No good for the historian, although I speak generally here and there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule. For some periods, survival rates are better but the policy has long been (and still is, I believe) for coroner's case papers to be destroyed and/or weeded at some stage. (There is the usual "closed period" on most collections but I won't look that up now - 106 years would normally be outside it & therefore open for research).

Your family always believed it to be an accident. It could well be that they strongly disagreed with the verdict - but it could also be that they passed down the story (whenever asked (or when they needed to clarify) that it had been an accident. This would be much easier, would avoid further questions and continue to conceal something which most families would have wanted concealed at that time - or even today. On the other hand, of course, the verdict had been public so they may have had a job at the time "pushing" the accident story. You'll both realise, I'm sure, that it was very common indeed in families at that time to do its utmost to cover up "unwelcome" incidents. On the other hand, it was also not uncommon for families to insist on their own strongly held views of the truth being passed down, regardless of what others said, especially as their station in life provided them with very little opportunity of having their side of the story heard, let alone achieving redress. Who knows?

On the question of the headstone, it certainly isn't true all headstone face one way in churchyards. Cemeteries may be a bit different, but churchyards may at first appear to set all the stones facing one direction, until one tries a larger sample of churchyards - and finds the exceptions, quite a large minority.

It is also common for stones to face walkways in a churchyard, for obvious reasons, as explained by the verger (even if the others do face the other way). I suspect she was giving an honest answer as she understood it at the time.

Suicides did merit unfortunate burial customs at one time - interments outside the churchard wall for example - but (although I wouldn't say it was impossible) I'd be very surprised to see a case as late as this one. In 1940, a mile from where I live, a C of E clergyman was supposed to have buried two Luftwaffe airmen outside the churchyard fence but this story relies on hearsay & I suspect the burial was just inside - they were reinterred at Cannock Chase in 1960 anyway, but the 20th century was not generally a period of harsh decisions on suicide burials, even though it remained a crime in this country to kill - or try to kill - oneself until 1961.

If I had to bet on it, I'd say the stone was not set in that direction because of the suicide verdict. It is just that way round because it is.

Regarding the campaign to have the verdict overturned - remember the recent difficulty in trying to get the executed of the Great War posthumous pardons, despite considerable public clamour & the usual ill-informed comments in the media. History is history. I don't think a coroner is going to overturn a verdict of over a century ago if the case papers themselves don't survive (the main reason the gov't enquiry declined to re-open the Great War cases).

Technically, the case for shifting the stone round should be a simple matter of applying to the diocesan authorities, via (and supported by) the local parish incumbent, for the appropriate faculty. But be warned - such changes in churchyards are not easily achieved & one can easily see the diocese declining to grant the faculty. (I had a devil of a job getting a rural churchyard war memorial replaced to the same height it was before the 1987 hurricane destroyed it, but the diocese insisted on a lower height in accordance with modern C of E regs, regardless of its original height! I lost).

Finally, I'm no expert on TV, but consider the approach of recent TV programmes with regard to history, especially the AZW. Remember that you'll have no control on what goes out, much of your interview material will be cut, and the aim of the programme (entertainment, controversy, sensationalism?) will not necessarily accord with your own aims, which are deeply personal and genuinely held. Far better, surely, in some form or another, is the written word over a TV programme any day. You retain control.

Does the church guide mention the grave? Why not an insert or a separate leaflet, drawing the visitor's attention to the grave but being careful not to include unverified details?

Apologies for being so lengthy!

29th January 2005Peter Ewart
Further to the above, I've checked up on the usual closure period on coroner's inquest reports and it appears to be 100 years. It was - and in many cases still is - usual for coroners to deposit their records with the country or city record office when five years old, where they remain closed until the usual embargo is lifted - or until they are destroyed instead of being catalogued & released. Things may have changed a bit in recent years and it will always depend on the county/city. The present "clash" between the Data Protection Act & the Freedom of Information Act has made some holdings interesting, but if any coroner's records survive for Robert Jones's case, they'll be open by now.

29th January 2005Tony Jones.
Dear all 716 Robert JonesVC descendants and other respondents to this discussion topic.
I feel that the controversial,and in my opinion,incorrect,so-called 'suicide-verdict','must' be over- turned.I feel very strongly about this as my ancestor,593 Pte.William Jones VC,crossed bayonets with Robert,and to whose joint courage,we all (descendants) owe our existence to today.As the Timewatch special devoted a good deal of it's time to Robert and William,Robert is now a 'topical' subject.Maybe it is time to 'strike whilst the iron is hot' and approach one of the TV channels to research the matter fully;it's well worth an hour's airing and would at least reverse the verdict morally.The monetary considerations may never return Robert's VC to it's appropriate home,but a start has to be made somewhere to reverse the suicide verdict.There's enough information for any researcher to get their teeth into and in my opinion it's well worth a try.
31st January 2005Chris John
To All
I am a member of the 1879 Group who re-dedicate and re-enact this Anglo Zulu War of 1879. The group once looked into this talk of turning the headstone back around and having his name cleared, but this would amouto to nearly £30,000 to change the verdict alone due to the age of the case! Also, R Jones Granddaughter lives a couple of doors down from me, and her mother ws the eldest child from the family. She believes that the headstone should stay as it is, becasue it is facing onto the path so all know where it is. If they turned it, surely it would take us enthusiasts who had never been there ages to find it. And, hopefully one day this month once she is well again, i shall be going down to hear the story of his death and loss of his medals 'straight from the horse's mouth' from what her grandmother and mother told her.

CJ 289
3rd February 2005Phil Pearce
A simple matter to have the stone reversed !!! What world do you live in ? No disrespect but if it were that simple do you not think it would have been done by now ? Do you not think everyone possible has been approached over the past 106 years ?
Where Aunty Alices' daughter is concerned Chrs does she not realise that 'tourists ' stand on Roberts grave to be photographed with the writting of his headstone infront of them ?
I,when visiting his grave to lay a christmas wreath in Dec 2004 had to request that an enthusiast move off his grave in order for me to do so !!! When they firmly told me that they had travelled some distance to have this photo taken & that they were not going to move fora famoly member to lay a wreath I moved them myself ! No problem in people going to Peterchurch but a bit of respect please. This is our family we are talking about not the Tower Of London or Westminster clock tower !!
Where getting the story from as you say ' the horses mouth ' My gran died just before I was 16 yrs & my mum ( Robs grand daughter is still alive & kicking as is one of her siblins) Therefore I was born in the horses stable so to say rather than visiting it .
As great aunt Alice was quite a bit older than my nan who was born in 1895 I didn't realise any of her children were still around. I ask which one is she ? Mum was very fond of Alice & I am certain she would to hear from her first cousins
3rd February 2005Phil Pearce
Further to above , I respect the fact that truths can be covered up tp to protect children & retain family dignity . ( we all tall white lies ) However do you think that given the close knit community where Robert & Elizabeth lived that the truth would not have leaked out if it were a family story ? I live in a small village & you cannot break wind around here without someone gossiping about it .Every small community is the same. Therefore although a suicde verdict may have been reached I think popular concensus was oppossed to the findings.
If it had been an open & shut case of suicide , hero or not given victorian ' public' morals how come local public opinion managed to overturn the Anglican ruling on his burial in concecrated ground ? I could waffle on about this but dispite a decent education I am still a bit ' dirct' in my forgive me if I say THE VERDICT WAS BLOODY WRONG !!
3rd February 2005Andy Lee

So sad to here that people are standing on the grave gives the arguement to reverse the headstone even more urgency.

I'm so glad others think the verdict was such a disgrace and so wrong, hopefully the day will come when we can find a way to overturn it. Should this day come I hope phil you let me buy you a pint to raise a glass in honour of Robert Jones VC a true hero.



3rd February 2005Peter Ewart

You have misquoted me and therefore entirely misrepresented what I wrote. I thought I had worded what I said very carefully to avoid such a misunderstanding, aware as I was from your postings that it was clearly a very longstanding dispute and one that is obviously extremely sensitive.

Where did I write that it was "a simple matter to have the stone reversed"? I didn't say anything of the sort! I said that "technically" it SHOULD be a simple matter of applying for a faculty from the diocese. Simple as in uncomplicated, not as in "easy." I didn't say getting the stone shifted was a simple matter. I said it SHOULD be a simple (uncomplicated) matter to apply. And it is. I didn't say the CASE was uncomplicated, nor did I say that it would be simple or easy to secure an agreement to a faculty. Indeed, I emphatically warned of the very opposite, as I am well aware of the resistance to alterations and to the seriousness attached to the granting of most faculties.

I don't know whether it is the parish or the diocese (or both) which has/have refused your application so far, but it will be self-evident that an application to the diocese would need to be supported by the parish in all usual cases (bearing in mind many faculty applications are already dealing with the unusual anyway).

I actually wrote that such agreements are NOT easily agreed to and that diocesan authorities often DECLINE to grant permissions. I'm sure no effort has been spared on your part and the family's part to get matters changed, both with the inquest verdict and the gravestone, but I posted my contribution in the hope that I may just have something to offer, however small or improbable, with regard either to the system with coroner's papers or the machinations involved in churchyard regulations.

I acknowledged from the beginning that it was a personal and family matter and that I hoped I was treading carefully, as it were. Still, I wish you & the family better luck than you've had so far.

4th February 2005Phil Pearce
Sorry Peter my error. Should not scan read this site at 2am !
Chris , the neighbour you speak of is not the daughter of Robert & Elizabeths eldest child but their second daughter.
Andy , if this day comes i'll be too busy doing backflips to hold a pint !
Best to one & all
4th February 2005Peter Ewart
No problem at all, Phil, we all make mistakes.

I'm slightly puzzled by the whole affair and would normally jump in and ask some questions, but hesitate to do so because (a) you've probably answered them a thousand times before and (b) you may feel it's none of my business.

However, because you air the topic publicly on this forum now & again - or at least join in to contribute - you or Andy may want to do so again. If my questions aren't welcome, or you're simply tired of going over all the same ground again, just say so & I shan't be offended in the least. Only curiosity prompts me to ask them.

Is your (or your family's) reason for wanting the stone turned round the fact that visitors pay too much attention (and occasionally some disrespect) to the grave? Or is it still because you feel (or have reason to believe) it was placed in that direction to reflect the suicide verdict? It is an incontrovertible fact that gravestones face both directions in most churchyards (or even all four directions) and when close to a path they are likely to face that path (even though Robert Jones VC may be the only one near that particular path to do so).

As you'll know, Lee Stevenson's and Alan Baynham Jones' book contains correspondence from Mrs Rose Morgan, whom they describe as the only surviving grand-daughter of Robert Jones VC. Presumably she is therefore the closest living descendant (I'm not sure of your exact relationship) and you'll know that she says most emphatically that she and the family do not want the stone moved in any way & will do all in their power to prevent such an occurrence. Presumably she is pleased that it is visited by admirers of her grandfather and considers it a prominent and suitable memorial in the way it faces the path?

So if you're not too fed up in repeating yourself (I've only seen the recent postings & Mrs Morgan's published account, incidentally) why the wish on yours and Andy's part to have it turned round?


5th February 2005sarah jones
Hi peter, just read your last reply and just want to say that there is another of Robert's grandchildren alive she is my grand fathers sister Betty Griffith so they are wrong in that book, just thought i would let you know
5th February 2005Lee Stevenson
Yes, I'm afraid I, being the one who prepared the manuscript before it went to the publishers, made an extremely clumsy error when typing up some of Alan's notes and am responsible for stating that there was only one surviving grand-daughter of Robert Jones. I contacted Mrs Griffiths personally to apologise as soon as I became of the matter.

7th February 2005Phil Pearce
Hi Prter ,Hi Cousin sarah.
In Addition to My mothers first cousin betty , My mother pat & her sister glenis are both still alive & GRANDDAUGHTERS. FRANKLY LEE YOU REALY NEED TO GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT. What is more until quite recently there was a grandson still livivg mums twin brother.
Where having the stone reversed is concerned it is a family matter of doing the right thing . The stone is in reverse because of an " incorrect verdict 2 (well so I belive ) & the alleged attitude of a parish priest who made things as difficult as possible for Robert to be buried in Peterchurch. My family do not give up easily .
7th February 2005Peter Ewart

Many thanks, Sarah, for the correction & for getting in touch with those details. Also to Lee, for confirmation and explanation. Phil, it's not impossible that I could have helped in a small way with advice, but I think I'll leave it there.

7th February 2005Philip Pearce
Have many aquantances in the higher ranks os th both C of W & C of E . So need no advice there . where else could you assist