J is for Morgan Jones

This is my contribution to Round Fourteen of ABC Wednesday. For the fifth time I am focusing on people – some famous, some infamous and some half-forgotten, but all with a tale to tell.

Miser's CoatA couple of rounds of ABC Wednesday ago, I wrote about John Elwes, notable eccentric and miser from Oxfordshire, but parsimony seems to have been a local trait because he was followed by Morgan Jones, the miser of Blewbury.

Jones was the vicar of Blewbury for 43 years from 1781 to 1824 and in that time he developed a reputation for inventive miserliness to rival Elwes.

Both enjoyed a fine appetite, at least when someone else was paying, and Jones would buy his bacon from a local farmer. However, he would stretch the deal over three visits – to order, collect and then pay for it – and timed each visit so as to enjoy both tea and supper with the farmer’s family.

Jones wore the same hat and coat throughout his time as vicar, the latter surviving him and kept by a parishioner in a glass case. Above is the only photo I could find, taken from an old postcard on eBay.

The coat was much mended and Jones was ingenious with a needle and thread. He first turned it inside out, then almost upside down to prolong its life, using the frock coat tail and lining to patch the jacket.

The hat also fell to pieces and a quarter of a century’s use, but Jones managed to salvage that too by attaching the brim from a hat he found on a scarecrow to the crown of his own, even though the one was black and the other brown.

St Michael's Church, Blewbury

St Michael’s Church, Blewbury

Despite everything, Jones was a likeable fellow. His sermons were interesting and well prepared and wearing his surplice in the pulpit he looked almost respectable.

Jones would have liked to have stayed on in Blewbury when he retired, but there was no-one willing to give him bed and board for free and he couldn’t bear to part with his own money. He was forced to fall back on relatives he hardly knew in Wales, promising to remember them in his will.

And he was as good as his word. When he died at the age of eighty, he left his heirs £18,000, worth well over a million pounds today.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Sigmund Pudding 19th March 2014

    A theme seems to be developing here – all these miserly old men. You seem to be drawn to them. Maybe this explains why your secret nickname at work was “Old Fagin”.

    Reply
  • Roger Green 19th March 2014

    Oh, I don’t think these scoundrals are anything like SP at all! Maybe as cautionary tales to himself NOT to be that way…
    ROG, ABCW

    Reply
    • Sigmund Pudding 19th March 2014

      Roger – that’s like trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

      Reply
  • Leslie 20th March 2014

    Now I was a Jones “girl,” and think this is so funny. My Dad was so unlike this because he always wanted to show off his nice house and car and dressed my mother and his three daughters very nicely. Another great story.

    Leslie
    abcw team

    Reply

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