Silvanus Jones (1827-1914) and Henry Arthur Jones (1851-1929)

Silvanus Jones was born 25 Feb 1827 at Winslow and died 6 Nov 1914 at Winslow, aged 86. His father was William Jones of the Three Pigeons (d. 1857). He was on the managing committee of Yeates's Infant School. He was the tenant of Red Hall Farm when it was sold by the Lowndes estate in 1897.

His eldest son Henry Arthur Jones was born 20 Sep 1851 at Ley Farm, Granborough, and died 7 Jan 1929 at 19 Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead, aged 77. He attended Grace's Classical and Commercial Academy at Winslow until he was 13, and then went to work for his uncle Thomas Jones, a draper at Ramsgate (later satirised as Sam Haggard in Saints and Sinners). He moved to London in 1869, where he was working as a warehouseman in 1871 (and living in a lodging house in Harewood Street, Marylebone). By the 1881 census he was a "dramatic author".

1861: Census
Horn Street [now no.1A-3; Silvanus is recorded there in all censuses to 1911; read more]

The present owners of the house would be very pleased to hear from any descendants of H.A. Jones. Please contact them via

Silvanus Jones head married 34 Cattle Dealer b. Winslow
Elizabeth Jones wife married 35 Mistress of the House b. East Claydon
Henry A. Jones son   9 Scholar b. Granborough
Charles L. Jones son   6 Scholar b. Granborough
Owen E. Jones son   2 Scholar b. Winslow
Elizabeth Silver servant unm 17 House Servant b. Oxon
1875: Buckingham Express, 11 Sep: marriages
  September 2, at St. Andrews Church, Holborn, Henry Arthur Jones of Bradford, Yorks, eldest son of Mr. Silvanus Jones of Winslow, Bucks, to Jane Eliza, eldest daughter of R. Seeley, Esq., of Grays Inn Road London.

H.A. Jones was a friend of Thomas Hardy, but not of Oscar Wilde, who wrote "There are three rules in the theatre: number one is not to write like H.A. Jones. Numbers two and three are the same."

Drawing of H.A. Jones
Drawing of H.A. Jones by the distinguished young American artist Walter Ernest Tittle, 1915

This summary of his early career, from The Figaro, was quoted in the Bucks Herald (25 Oct 1884): "Mr Henry Jones is a young man. Born at Grandborough, in Buckinghamshire, in 1851, he is now in his thirty-fourth year. As a boy he became acquainted with the old village life of England, then undisturbed by the modern industrialism which is fast destroying its distinctive character, and many think its real charms. He received what was in those days an average middle-class education from a local schoolmaster, and at twelve years old was sent into the world to shift pretty much for himself. At this early period he began writing tales and verses, and sent them to the various magazines. Mr. Jones had his first chance in 1879. He had produced one or two trifles at Exeter Theatre, and had written and printed a one-act comedy. This little piece was offered to and refused by every West-end manager in London. At last it was sent to the manager of the Grand Theatre, Leeds, who was unknown to Mr. Jones. Mr. Wilson Barrett has, therefore, the satisfaction of knowing that Mr. Jones came out as a dramatist in the metropolis under his auspices. 'A Clerical Error' was produced at the Court Theatre, and was so successful that when Mr. Barrett took possession of the new Princess's in 1880, he accepted from the author another one-act comedy entitled 'An Old Master'. Mr. Jones's next piece was 'His Wife,' a dramatisation of Mark Hope's 'Prodigal Daughter.' This was produced by Miss Bateman at Sadlers' Wells in 1881, and afterwards in the provinces. In January, 1882, 'A Bed of Roses' had a warm reception at the Globe, but was necessarily withdrawn after a month's run, with the longer piece in the bill. Then followed Mr. Jones's great success, 'The Silver King,' which fairly took the town. In writing this play, he acknowledges he enjoyed valuable assistance from Mr. Henry Herman and Mr. Wilson Barrett. 'Saints and Sinners' is the last of his works which has been submitted to the public, but he has in his possession a five-act blank verse play, which may be produced at one of the leading theatres next autumn, and Mr. Wilson Barrett has a melodrama which will be produced when a suitable theatre can be found."

The Bicester Herald (25 May 1888) reported that H.A. Jones had left Chalfont St Peter, where his play Hoodman Blind was set, and moved to a house in Regent's Park previously occupied by the painter Alma Tadema.

Photo of HA Jones on cigarette cardThe Bucks Herald took a great interest in H.A. Jones' career and often had news or gossip about him. This was about the visitors' book at the Griffin Inn in Amersham, 23 May 1895: "The following [signature] of our Buckinghamshire dramatist interested me more than any others:-
“Henry Arthur Jones, the Hill House, Chalfont St. Peter, Sept. 5th ’87.”
To this someone added :- “This is the author of the Silver King and other popular plays;” to which another scribbler appended “Oh, indeed ! never heard of  'im”;
and the ignoramus was thus sat upon by a succeeding visitor in these terms :-“The man who has never heard of the author of the Silver King and the Middlemen was not wise to display his ignorance. I fear that there are many things that he has not heard of.”" 

Bucks Herald, 2 Nov 1895: "I notice that the Daily News states that Mr. Henry Arthur Jones is anxious to drop his surname.  Why should he be ashamed of the grand old English name of Jones is a mystery, but it is a fact that the Winslow dramatist is alluded to by his friends as Henry Arthur or Henry “Author”. The great family of Jones will be rather disgusted at the idea of losing by name one of the greatest playwrights. Jones, Smith, Brown and Robinson should send him a round robin, asking him to still continue to shed lustre on their prosaic but universal cognomens."

This comment appeared in the Bucks Herald, 2 May 1896, taken from the Westminster Gazette: "Mr Henry Arthur Jones, in his new play, 'The Rogue's Comedy,' at the Garrick Theatre, has introduced names reminding one of the neighbourhood in which he was born. Lord Bicester, for instance, owes his name to the little town of Bicester (pronounced Bister) between Winslow, Bucks, the birthplace of the playwright, and Oxford. Mr Lambert's name is suggested by that of Mr. Nathaniel Grace Lambert, formerly Liberal member for Buckinghamshire, whose agents used to claim Mr. H.A. Jones's father as a supporter. Then Mr. Hubbock is a little variation from Hubbard, the family name of Lord Addington, whose seat is two miles from the dramatist's home. Mr. Jones's brother takes the professional name of Silvanus Dauncey, a combination of the Christian name of Mr. Silvanus Jones, senior, and the surname of an old Buckinghamshire squire of courtly bearing."

According to an article in The Sketch (5 Jan 1898), "Mr. Jones senior … is very highly esteemed by his neighbours. His clever son is not without honour in his own country, his productions being much discussed, and in his earlier plays especially many people thought they could identify local characters."

H.A. Jones' brother was also a playwright, although he seems mainly to have worked as a theatrical manager:

Bicester Herald, 16 March 1888
  “A MONTH AFTER DATE.”- Winslow appears to be congenial soil for the production of dramatic authors.  A second son of Mr. S. Jones – Mr. William Jones (otherwise Silvanus Dauncey) has just entered the dramatic lists, and has won his spurs with a smartly written vaudeville, entitled “A Month after Date,” which has been well received by the Press and public.  The piece, which was privately produced at Highbury in 1885, was first publicly performed at Reading, last week, by Mr. Austin Brereton’s “Red Lamp” Company, to which it forms a most amusing “curtain raiser,” and is to be played during the provincial tour which is in progress.  The Era, the organ of the profession, refers to Mr. Jones’ play in favourable terms.

Bicester Herald, 27 Feb 1891
  THE DRAMATIST who is rapidly making his mark under the name of Mr. Silvanus Dauncey is really a younger brother of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones.  He is a genial, pleasant-faced little man, who was formerly in business as a chemist, but who has now permanently deserted pills for plays.  Before finally settling in London, three years ago, he managed several provincial theatrical companies with decided success.  He is now Mr. Beerbohm Tree’s private secretary, and besides his new one-act play, “Charity’s Cloak,” which is about to be produced, he has a more ambitious venture on the stocks- something in the three act line. Star.

Bicester Herald, 8 Sep 1893
  MR. SYLVANUS DAUNCEY will be the business manager of the Comedy Theatre during Mr. Comyns Carr’s tenure of that establishment.  Mr. Dauncey rejoices in the family name of Jones; he is William John of that notable ilk- in fact, he is a younger brother of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones.  However, he renounced his family name on joining Mr. Wilson Barrett’s company; that manager had already gathered about him some eight Joneses in all sorts of posts, ranging from that of playwright to that of bill-inspector.  “Sylvanus Dauncey” was born at the little market town of Winslow, in 1864, and he was educated at St. Ives - Cromwell’s and Carlyle’s town - and at the Independent College, Taunton.  He came to London when only twenty, and at once obtained employment as secretary to Mr. Wilson Barrett; he accompanied that gentleman on his first American tour.  In 1888 he was engaged by Mr. Tree to manage his tour of “Captain Swift,” and at the conclusion of it was offered his present post at the Haymarket Theatre.  Mr. Dauncey has dabbled in dramatic authorship,and is the author of three or four one-act trifles, which have been fairly successful, and a four-act play “Reckoning.” which was produced at the Globe.- Morning Leader, August 31.

Bucks Herald, 13 Aug 1898
Bilberry of Tilbury,” the comedy by two Winslow men, Mr. G. D. Day and Mr. W. J. Jones (Sylvanus Dauncey), was produced at the Criterion, in London, on Monday night, after running some time at Northampton and Brixton.  The Daily Chronicle speaks favourably of it.  The Daily Mail, on the contrary, considers it dull.

The British Library catalogue lists "A Month After Date", an original comedy-drama in one act by Silvanus Dauncey, published in 1896. Some poems by "Silvanus Dauncey" appeared in the Bicester Herald: "Love's Offering, inscribed to Miss Hetty Arthur" (24 July 1885), "Lines to an Aged Friend" (28 Aug 1885).

Silvanus' third son died young:

Buckingham Advertiser, 25 June 1892
  OBITUARY.- We regret to record the death on Saturday last, of Mr. Davy Owen Jones, youngest son of Mr. Sylvanus Jones, and brother of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, the well-known dramatic author.  Deceased was a most amiable young man and of considerable promise as a lover of music, in which profession he was engaged at Richmond, until illness intervened and after about four months carried him off at the premature age of 21.  The interment took place on Tuesday, and the service was conducted by the Rev. John Pither, at the Congregational Church.

George D. Day was another Winslow connection: he worked for G.D.E. Wigley from 1879 to 1889 before becoming H.A. Jones' secretary and then a theatrical manager and playwright.

Bucks Herald, 26 April 1902

MARRIAGE. – Miss Ethelwyne Jones, the second daughter of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, the dramatist, was married on Thursday afternoon, at St. George’s, Hanover-square, to Mr. M. V. Leveaux, the acting-manager of the Garrick Theatre.  Miss Jones has been on the stage for some time, and was recently playing in her father’s comedy, “The Princess’s Nose,” at the Duke of York’s.  A reception was given during the afternoon at 38, Portland-place, which was attended by a crowd of theatrical notabilities.  There were over 300 wedding presents.

PROPERTY SALES.– On Wednesday evening Mr Geo. Wigley offered for sale by public auction properties situate at Adstock, Padbury, Twyford, and Winslow.  The Booteries, Winslow, sold by order of Lloyds Bank, was purchased by Mr. W. S. Neal, for the Winslow District Council, at £230.   Mr. W. H. Stevens, of Winslow, became the purchaser of a dwelling house on the Market-square, Winslow, sold by direction of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, the price realised being £125. ……

Norman A. Saving's work on Henry Arthur and Silvanus Jones (1979) is reproduced below with the author's permission. Click on the image to download the PDF file (2.4 MB):

Cover of Characters of Winslow no.1

H.A. Jones' will made in 1927 mentions six children (he was predeceased by his wife Jane Eliza Seeley, 1855-1924):

He also left a bequest to his niece Sylvia, wife of Harold Brooks of High Wycombe. In April 1923 at Holy Trinity, Brompton, Harold Brooks married "Miss Sylvia Dauncey, niece of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, the well-known dramatist". In the 1911 Census, Sylvia May Dauncey (aged 20, born in Chelsea) was living in lodgings in Hampstead with her father Silvanus Dauncey, 46, widower, theatrical manager, born in Winslow. Sylvia was born in June quarter 1890, mother's maiden name Arthur (birth registered in St George, Hanover Square). She also occurs in the 1891 Census with her father and a brother Reginald aged 9. According to Doris Arthur Jones' biography of her father, Silvanus Dauncey was the pseudonym of H.A. Jones' brother William, and when Sylvia got married her name was registered as Sylvia May Dauncey Jones. In the 1891 Census, William J. Jones aged 27, "theatrical manager & dra: author" was living in Chelsea Gardens with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law.

At the end of his will (which contains nothing related to Winslow), H.A. Jones made a statement to the world about his views on theatre, written in testamentary style without punctuation:

BE IT KNOWN that Henry Arthur Jones of 19 Kidderpore Avenue Hampstead Middlesex died there on the 7th day of January 1929


[Clause] 14. I have attained great and continued success on the English Stage and my efforts have been abundantly recognised and rewarded I acknowledge this with a deep and hearty gratitude but on several occasioned [sic] when I have felt encouraged to offer to the public my best work regardless of popular success I have been so unfortunate as to meet with the condemnation alike of the Press and the Public I say this in no spirit of bitterness or disappointment but as an excuse for sometimes offering to the Public plays that have been below the level of my aspirations and their expectations I have done this in the hope of capturing that wide and popular approbation without which no dramatist can hope for influence and authority I am convinced that England cannot have a modern drama worthy of her place among the nations a modern drama in which she can take a just and lasting pride and for which she can claim the esteem of other nations until our Theatre is brought into relation with our literature and until the great body of Englishmen of letters take a diligent and understanding interest in the Theatre In this conviction I have endeavoured though the greater part of my life to draw Englishmen of letters to the Theatre I have also tried to persuade English playgoers to read and study modern plays that they may take a more intelligent interest in what is set before them in the Theatre and may get a more refined and enduring pleasure from plays when they see them acted I am conscious that I have largely failed in both these aims It is with some hope that the causes I have advocated may yet succeed that I ask Englishmen of letters and English playgoers to accept from me in a spirit of forbearance and friendliness  this legacy of a last few words.

Sale of Silvanus Jones' property, 1915

Front of sale brochureSale by Geo. Wigley & Sons for W.G.W. Willis, solicitor, instructed by the Administrator of the Estate [H.A. Jones], 7 Dec 1915 at The Bell Hotel

Lot 1 is now 1A & 3 Horn Street. Lot 2 is now Tinkers End Cottage. Lot 3 was previously known as Roses Meadows, and is on the north side of Claydon Road east of Tuckey Covert. Lot 4 is now The Old Homestead (Abbot's House), Church Street, and Lot 5 is the garden behind it.

For Further particulars as to Lots 1, 2 and 3, apply to W. G. W. WILLIS, Esq., Solicitor, Winslow,
and as to Lots 4 and 5, to Messrs. SMALL & BARKER, Solicitors, Winslow, or the Auctioneers, Winslow.

LOT 1.
A Brick-built and Slated DWELLING HOUSE
CONTAINING ENTRANCE HALL, with quarry tiled floor 15ft. by 11ft. with fireplace.  DINING ROOM with fireplace and cupboard, 15ft. by 12ft. 6in., and leading off to a hanging cupboard, and steps to cellar.
Drawing room 15ft. by 12ft.

Bedroom 12ft. with fireplace and a good hanging cupboard.  Another Bedroom 11ft. 6in. by 10ft. 3in. with fireplace, also with a hanging cupboard just off. Another Bedroom 15ft. by 11ft. 3in.  Back bedroom 14ft. by 10ft.

Front Bedroom 16ft. by 12ft.  Another Bedroom 15ft. 9in. by 15ft. 9in.  A Back Bedroom 12ft. 9in. by 10ft. 3in. and landing with cupboard.  There are principal and secondary staircases leading to the Bedrooms.

  At the back of the House and adjoining the stable yard are the DOMESTIC APARTMENTS comprising A GOOD KITCHEN 23ft. by 11ft. 9in., with tiled floor, fitted kitchen range, with cupboard, sink, pump and dresser.  A DAIRY or LARDER with glazed white tiled walls.

  The pebbled STABLE YARD approached from the side road leading from Horn Street, with double entrance gates, contains:- A BRICK BUILT STORE ROOM, COALHOUSE, and COACH-HOUSE, TWO-STALL STABLE with loft over; E.C.

  A DETACHED BRICK & CORRUGATED iron roofed COACH-HOUSE and a DETACHED BRICK & SLATED WASH-HOUSE with Copper, with Coalhouse adjoining, with door to side road and loft over.  Land Tax £1. The property is Copyhold of the Manor of Winslow. Quit Rent 4d.          

LOT 2.
  Together with the OUTBUILDINGS, comprising- A BOARDED and TILED BARN, brick and tiled W.C. and a BOARDED and CORRUGATED IRON ROOF BARN and brick and slated W.C.  Together with a small
  Adjoining the Cottage on the North side is a BRICK and SLATED STABLE for 2 horses, with loft over.
The cottages are let on weekly tenancies to Mr. Jabez Price and Mrs. Ann Turner, respectively, at rentals of 2/- per week each, the stable being let to Messrs. Hopcraft and Norris, at a rental of £2 per annum.
Gross Aggregate Rental £12 8s. 0d.
The Lot is Copyhold of the Manor of Winslow.    Quit Rent 2d.

LOT 3.
2 Valuable Enclosures of Accommodation Pasture Land
Situate abutting the East Claydon Road, known as “CLAYDON MEADOWS” or “DEMORAN [sic] FIELDS,”
Containing 6a. 2r. 33p. (more or less).
  With a substantial and well-built BRICK & TILED MODERN COWHOUSE having accommodation for 8 cows, with CALF PEN.  Small FENCED-IN RICKYARD at back.
  The whole in the occupation of Mr. George Hancock, a yearly (Lady-day) Tenant, at a rental of £30 per annum.  Landlord paying rates.
Land Tax 13s. 1d.    Quit Rent 2s. 9d.
The Property in Copyhold of the Manor of Winslow.

LOT 4.
  Containing:- Good Entrance Hall, Sitting Room, brick and slated lean-to Kitchen, Scullery and Larder.  2 Bedrooms on the first floor and 2 attic bedrooms over.  Court Yard at back with brick and slated Wash-house, Coal Barn and W.C. and a brick and slated Henhouse.  Together with
Adjoining containing:- 2 Sitting Rooms and a large Cupboard, Scullery, 2 Bedrooms and 2 attic Bedrooms, and in the Court Yard at back a good brick and tiled Wash-house (with copper) and Barn, and brick and slated Coal Shed and W.C.
  Whilst at the backs are very large productive KITCHEN GARDENS divided equally between the two houses.
  The first house is now let to Mr. Tom Rolfe at the very moderate rent of £15 per annum (Landlord paying rates), whilst the other House is let to Mr. Wm. Stevens at the low rent of 3/- per week.  (Landlord paying rates).
Both Properties are in an excellent state of repair and are now such as would always command good tenants at increased rentals.
THIS PROPERTY IS FREEHOLD.    There is a well of water on the property.
N. B. – See note to Lot 5.

LOT 5.
Comprises a convenient
Being a brick and tiled Building with four-stall Stable and loft over, and a brick and corrugated-iron roofed Coach-house.
This lot is let to Mr. W. T. Hendley as a temporary tenancy, but is of the estimated Value of £7 per annum.
N. B. – Lots 4 and 5 together with other property adjoining, belonging to Mr. E. A. Illing, have a common approach from Church Street.


LOTS 1, 2 & 3.
4.- The Vendor is Mr. Henry Arthur Jones who is selling as Administrator of Silvanus Jones deceased.
5.- The title to the various lots which are Copyhold of the Manor of Winslow with its members shall commence as follows:-
To Lot 1 with Stewards Copy Admission of Silvanus Jones on the 26th October, 1857.  To Lot 2 with Stewards Copy Admission of the said Silvanus Jones on the 31st October, 1870; and to Lot 3 with Stewards Copy Admission of the said Silvanus Jones on the 29th October, 1877.

Premises in Church Street, Winslow.

LOTS 4 & 5.
4.- The title to both Lots shall commence with a Conveyance on Sale dated the 25th day of June, 1895.
5.- The said Conveyance of the 25th day of June, 1895, contained a covenant by the then Purchaser for himself and his heirs or assigns to erect and for ever maintain a substantial fence 6 feet high to divide the yard forming part of Lot 4 from the adjoining yard now belonging to Mr. E. A. Illing.  The Purchaser of Lot 4 shall assume that the said covenant has been observed down to the date of completion and shall take subject to the obligation imposed by the said covenant and shall in his Conveyance covenant with the Vendor to indemnify the Vendor against all liability in respect thereof.
6.- Lot 4 is sold subject to the following stipulations and the Purchaser shall in his Conveyance enter into proper covenants (so framed as to run with the land as far as possible into whose hands soever it may come) to perform and observe the said stipulations and until the Conveyance is executed the Purchaser shall be bound by the said stipulations
(a) No building or other erection or structure whether permanent or temporary shall at any time erected or built or placed or suffered to be in the garden forming part of the said Lot of a greater height than the lowest of the walls of the said garden.
(b) The sale does not include and the Conveyance shall expressly except from the grant any right to the free passage of light or air through any windows or openings formerly or now existing in the West walls of the dwelling-house and outbuildings and no window or opening shall be made therein.
(c) The Purchaser shall for ever maintain in good and substantial repair the fence (which is included in the sale) forming the northern boundary of the garden.

According to the Buckingham Advertiser (11 Dec), the purchasers were:

  1. failed to meet reserve
  2. John Watts, £50
  3. W.T. Matthews, £420
  4. withdrawn

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